Welcome to our celebration of Advent!
Journey through Advent with the Most Rev. Joseph Dabrowski
Cheminer ensemble durant l’Avent.avec Monseigneur Paul-André Durocher
New video reflection posted each week.
Reflections by Sheila O’Handley, Diocesan Hermit
Advent Reflections this year will take a slightly different approach in preparation for the Christmas Feast – the birth of Jesus, the Christ in human form. The reflections will focus on the Archetype of the Feminine. This approach might open our hearts anew, providing new and renewed understanding of the Christmas Mystery, the Christian Story, and the human spirit.
The Christmas Mystery is deeper than simply recalling and celebrating the historical birth of Jesus. It is about the fulfillment of the Promised Hope that Divine Presence is among and with us today making new things possible in new ways for a new world order.
Evidence of a new world order within the Church and its Mission in the world is gestating hopeful glimpses in its preparations for the forth coming Synod on Synodality in 2023 and now extended to 2024. I see these efforts by the Church – the People of God – as a graced moment for the possible emergence of the Divine Feminine assuming Her rightful place in our lives and in the Church.
Before feelings of intimidation, anxiety, fear or the decision to dismiss these reflections takes hold allow me to underscore that I am not dismissing the importance of the Masculine Archetype and its expression of the Sacred Masculine in the Christmas story, far from it. I am simply focusing on aspects of the Feminine Archetype and its disclosure of the Divine Feminine, which resides in both men and women.
I will highlight aspects of the Divine Feminine embodied in three significant women of the Christian Scriptures.
Week one – Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus, and wife of Joseph.
Week two – I will focus on Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, a resident of Ain Karim in the countryside of the city of Judah, wife of Zachery, and mother of John the Baptist.
The third week – I will highlight Mary Magdalene, intimate friend of Jesus, and acclaimed Apostle to the Apostles. It is believed that she lived in the town of Magdala near the Sea of Galilee. This proximity to the Sea of Galilee would have facilitated her easily encountering Jesus and his followers.
A defining and a clarification of the Feminine Archetype might be helpful. Briefly stated the Feminine Archetype is a principle of unconscious psychic energy, a center of soul energy in us and in the Cosmos.
The Feminine Archetype is definitely not gender identification. Nor is it defined by the stereotypes so often assigned to the female gender. The Divine Feminine is ensouled, alive and active in both men and women, which is so needed today. It is in a sense the Archetypal challenge of our times and indeed an axial conversion time for Christianity, since most of its doctrines, dogmas, rituals and structure have been filtered through the lens of patriarchal ideology. Christmas has also.
Christmas, for the most part has been reduced to commercialization and consumption. What would change if we viewed Advent and Christmas through the lens of the Feminine?
Mary of Nazareth as an Archetype of the Divine Feminine
“The Lord, himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.”
As I mentioned in last week’s invitation, Advent Reflections this year will focus on the Feminine Archetype, highlighting three significant Jewish women of the Christian Scriptures who embodied the Divine Feminine. The women are Mary of Nazareth – mother of Jesus, Elizabeth – cousin of Mary, and Mary Magdalene – friend of Jesus.
Presently we are experiencing a collective awakening. I don’t think anyone is about to challenge that. Something new is birthing. A new cosmic world order, and a new face of the family of Nations is gestating, sculptured in the darkness and the light of the uncertainty of our historical situation. The collective awakening is also making its appearance felt within institutions, both civic and religious. It is demanding our attention and our choices. Might it be the Archetypal Feminine awakening us to the Divine Feminine? I believe so.
The Feminine Archetype is a principle of unconscious, instinctive psychic energy, a center of soul energy in both men and women, and in the Cosmos. The Divine Feminine refers to those qualities in the Trinity that are associated with the feminine.
Advent is not about the past – it is about present choices and decisions which gestate the Advent coming of the Presence of the Holy One in our day. Today the Church – the people of God – has embarked upon a new Advent of sorts, in the Synodal preparations of walking together, and which speak of hope filled expectations of a renewed Church, and even of new ways of being Church.
What is needed today, as was needed in the Roman occupied Palestine before the birth of Jesus, is Hope, an abundance of Hope. Hope is a living predisposition, trusting implicitly that the unknown gestating in the darkness will come to Light. Advent invites us to live by Hope in God’s Promise – which is life in abundance.
The Prophet Isaiah proclaimed the coming of the Promised Hope: “The Lord, himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14.
I have chosen the maiden Mary to offer insight into the Divine Feminine. The Maiden Archetype is also known as the Virgin Archetype. A clarification is needed here. The Divine Feminine expressed in the Virgin Archetype does not refer to a physical condition – that is, absence of sexual experience. Often the maiden-virgin archetype is misunderstood when it is viewed primarily as a commitment to chastity and celibacy, and when it is solely aligned with women.
Actually the maiden-virgin archetype is distinguished by an intuitive clarity of purpose, and of receptivity, which means a welcoming of creativity – the readiness for birthing: biological, spiritual, and personal (the authentic self). The maiden-virgin’s positive archetypal energy provides an environment of openness to embrace new possibilities.
Virginity is one aspect of the spiritual energy of the Divine Feminine residing in the interior lining of the soul of both men and women. It is an inner standpoint which constitutes a desire for God alone, an intent to be for what God desires, and is focused and strong in one’s own individuality. Is this not what Mary is the witness to in her YES in the Annunciation. “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.” Luke 1:38. It can be put this way … Mary was the maiden-virgin that God desired, as are we.
David Richo, in his refreshing little book, When Mary Becomes Cosmic, remarks that, “Mary’s humility at the Annunciation is a way of saying that the soul of the virgin archetype is tenanted by God alone not by ego. Only in that way could Mary say yes to something that she does not understand, “How can this be?” becomes “Let it happen”.
All archetypes carry maturing potential toward human and spiritual transformation. Life does engage each of us at times with Mysteries. Mysteries that we can not understand the “How can this be?”. These moments of Annunciation happen to all of us. We await, in trust, the fullness of birthing “Let it happen”.
The Maiden Archetype is prolific hope blossoming future possibilities. Advent then is an opportunity to reflect: What is it that preoccupies the inner space of our soul – what is blossoming there? Imagine what the world family would look like if new possibilities became a reality. Are we maturing toward an openness to the Mystery of Life, as Mary of Nazareth was, so that we may also give birth to the presence of Christ in the world?
Mother of God Similar to Fire
author, William M Nichols
When Mary Becomes Cosmic
author, David Richo
Elizabeth as an Archetype of the Divine Feminine
The Visitation Luke 1:56
Last week’s reflection highlighted one aspect of the Archetype of the Divine Feminine – the Maiden-Virgin Archetype. Given that these reflections for the most part are short in nature, it is next to impossible to develop all aspects of anyone of the archetypes. Therefore, I have been selective re what is emphasized with respect to the archetype under consideration. Hopefully, the reflections might nudge the reader’s interest into further exploration of the Archetypes and their goal: human, spiritual, and cosmic development.
Let us begin this week’s reflection with a further word on Archetypes: Archetypes are innate universal predispositions – blueprints, if you wish, that engage us in life. Once again it is essential that we underscore that the Feminine Archetype is the feminine side of the soul in each man and woman, as the Masculine Archetype is the masculine side of the soul present in both women and men. The ultimate goal of the Archetypes in human, spiritual and Cosmic development is a divine marriage of sorts, bringing to a rightful balance these opposite energies.
Each archetype carries a positive/creative, and a negative/ destructive energy. For example, if the maiden-virgin archetype is left unattended, and underdeveloped,the readiness for the creativity of birthing is obstructed, even aborted. The neglect to bring to maturity the maiden-virgin archetype keeps the individual an eternal little girl, and the boy an eternal little boy, and our institutions, both religious and civic, deadlocked in the social construct of patriarchy. It is more and more evident each day that patriarchy is about dying, and certainly not about enhancing life.
Another aspect of an Archetype when activated is an experience of the numinous – a felt sense of the Presence of Mystery, of Inspiration, and/or of the Sacred which transcends both rational thought and/or analysis. It can be put this way: Archetypes are companion energies of the Holy Spirit.
The Visitation is one example of the numinous presence of the Divine. Both of these women, Mary of Nazareth, and Elizabeth, mothers to be, are clothed in the mystery of the Mother Archetype, co-creators with the Holy Spirit. The numinous becomes tangible in their experience of joy. Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary, “The moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.” Luke 1:44, and Mary’s song of praise in response, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit finds joy in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46.
Now that we are entering the Second Week of Advent our focus turns to Elizabeth, cousin to Mary, wife of Zachary, and mother of John the Baptist. Elizabeth is representative of the Feminine Archetype – the Crone, the store-house of Wisdom. The Crone Archetype is also known as the Wise One, the Guide, and/or as the Sage. The Crone Archetype is often expressed in an individual as a guide, a counselor, and/or truth-teller. How often have we heard remarked, ‘Oh she is just an old cronie, or he is just an old crone’. Seldom are we conscious of our elders as wisdom keepers. Croning is about coming of age.
Our present historical reality calls for the retrieving of the collective wisdom of our ancestors; it also calls for the retrieving of the respective religious traditions which are stored within the collective unconscious of the human family. This wisdom is carried in the Archetype of the Crone.
Pope Francis, recently present at a conference on the Pastoral Care of the Elderly, described quite simply and clearly the Crone Archetype, “old age is a precious treasure that takes shape in the journey of every man and woman’s life. Life is a gift and when it is long it is a privilege for oneself and for others”.
The Crone Archetype is the aging process of the accumulated wisdom gathered from all of life’s changes, challenges, losses, sufferings, the letting goes and the surprise of joy. The coming of age of one’s personal Crone – wisdom, is marked by a time of deep personal interior reflection. The Crone Archetype is a graced time of storytelling, of seeking out the wise ones – the carriers of wisdom, listening to them who will assist us individually and collectively, opening for us the way to the future.
Something that has always left me pondering regarding the Visitation is the following: there are two mentioned timings that sparked my interest; one timing is that Mary visited Elizabeth in her sixth month of pregnancy, and the second mentioned timing is that she remained three months, returning home to Nazareth after the birth of John the Baptist. I wondered was it possible that Mary was midwife to Elizabeth as she gave birth to her son John.
Historically, midwifery was a common practice in those days, so did Joseph in his wisdom seek out a midwife to be present with Mary in the birthing of Jesus? At that time there certainly would not have been a shortage of women who were also going to Bethlehem for the census taking.
Advent provides the time not only to explore, in joyful expectation, the riches of our faith traditions, and to engage the wisdom of the elders present in our homes, and in both our local and faith communities, but also to become midwives in birthing communities of inclusion, of peace, and of justice.
When have I experience the numinous presence of the wisdom of the Crone Archetype in my life?
Who have been my wisdom guides in my life’s challenges?
Sit with an elder in your home, your community or your faith community; have a conversation with them, exploring the wisdom that they received from their response to life.
The Visitation Luke 1:56
The Book of Proverbs
Mary Magdalene as Archetype of the Feminine
“Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him then…” John 20 -16
I hope that your reflection on the Crone Archetype last week offered you the occasion to seek out your personal accumulative wisdom, and also provided you with some reflecting time on the accumulative riches of your faith traditions. The wisdom of the Crone Archetype can be activated within the soul at any time, and at any sage of life’s process. Each moment of life carries the potential for wisdom to be initiated, to be learned, and thus inherited.
As was also mentioned last week, each archetype has a dark side, a destructive side which is often referred to as the shadow lurking within the archetype. Should the shadow side of the Crone Archetype take control, it will manifest itself at times as a possible victim, for example, “ life has dumped on me, that’s it no more”; or as a possible controller: “I will see to it that it is done my way or not at all”; or as a possible saboteur – the destroyer of possible change or renewal, all of which prevent the voice of the ancestors from being heard.
With respect to the accumulated wisdom of religious tradition, it is noteworthy that TRADITION does not mean staying the course of fossilized rituals and doctrines; it literally means a LIVING TRADITION which is open to adjustment, change, and even to that which has never yet been.
As we move into the Third Week of Advent and our final reflection on the Feminine Archetype, I begin with a quote from the English poet William Blake. the quote is from his poem,“The Little Black Boy”, and sums up the essence of the Archetype of the Lover, and the central meaning of Christmas. The quote is, “and we are put on this earth a little space that we might bear the beams of love”. If we do not accomplish becoming “the bears of the beams of love”, we have skipped living, and what a sad and tragic disappointing story that is.
I have chosen Mary Magdalene to personify the Archetype of the Lover. Next to Mary of Nazareth she is the most significant woman in the life of Jesus, in the ministry of Jesus, and in the Jesus Movement of early Christianity. She is indeed no afterthought. Throughout Christianity’s history she has been the most revered faithful disciple and lover of Jesus. And until the efforts of recent biblical scholarship, and the Church‘s liturgical renewal in 1969, Mary Magdalene had also been portrayed as the most reviled, ignored, distorted, sexualized, and demon-possessed woman prostitute.
The question is, how could one woman carry so much projection, and why was that woman Mary Magdalene? Might it be as simple as the fear of the feminine, fear of the body, and the fear of sexuality that lurks in the shadow side, the dark side of the Lover Archetype? In society today, the dark, destructive shadow of the Lover Archetype is manifested in the stalker, the controller, and the jealous one, all of whom actually kill love.
If we hold true to the position that the Archetypes are universal predispositions, living energies that accompany with the Holy Spirit, and which not only influence our mental, emotional and spiritual development, but also affect our relationship with self, others, and the world, maybe what is called for is an evolution of the Lover Archetype.
Let us look a little closer at the Lover Archetype. The Lover Archetype is certainly not that which is portrayed in Hollywood. Nor is it what I expect the loved one to give to me, but rather it is what I give of myself to the loved one. Love is primarily about the loved one. Love is a union of like-minded hearts and minds, and is not necessarily expressed only in romantic love, or in the sexual expression of love, yet it can be. The poems recorded in The Song of Songs give testament that love expressed sexually is wholesome and holy.
Actually, the Lover Archetype is about the human heart, its longings, and its yearnings to be both Lover and the Beloved – to love and to be loved. It is also about the sorting out, the discerning of these longings and yearnings, and at times this sorting out feels like a labyrinth of pathways.
Put in the language of the soul’s purpose, the Lover Archetype is the yearning of the soul for the DIVINE. It is the wound of LOVE, the gift from the Divine who first loved us. We seek the healing, the completion of union of this Wound, in each and every pursuit of loving and of being loved. Love is what shapes our lives. It is Love that dissolves us finally into the Mystery that God is, and where we come to know experientially that we are the Beloved of God and that we are in love with God. Love is all there is.
Cynthia Bourgeault book, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, explores poignantly Mary Magdalene’s healing journey to union, where she not only becomes the faithful disciple of Jesus, but she also becomes the faithful intimate lover of Jesus. These words of Jesus, the most touching in all of Scripture, reveal all; “Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him then…” John 20:16
During Advent the deep longings and yearnings of the human spirit for LOVE surface. We express our response to the yearnings and longings of LOVE in the self-giving of preparing and sharing of meals, of celebratory gatherings with family and friends, in the giving and receiving of gifts, and in religious rituals of prayer and Eucharist.
Advent is a time to assess the chambers of our heart.
What is it that I long for at this time?
What love/s rest therein?
Who has loved me?
Who have I loved?
The Crucifixion John 19:25- 27
The Resurrection John 20:1-18
The Song of Songs
The Meaning of Mary Magdalene
Author: Cynthia Bourgeault