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Advent Reflections – Marialaine Wagner and Dr. Gerry Tobin

Published on December 5, 2013 | By Lindsay Cox

Mercyhurst University faculty and staff reflect on “how has your faith provided happiness for you”? 


By: Marialaine Wagner

Marialaine Wagner

Marialaine Wagner

Not every form of happiness is accompanied by bells and whistles and fireworks. As the mom of two college-aged children and one preteen, I am adjusting to not always being physically present with my kids. That was a hard transition for me; I agonized over any incident that upset them. I was no longer there to kiss their “boo-boos” and make it all better.

So one day I got down on my knees and prayed to the Blessed Mother to keep my children in her care. An overwhelming sense of peace engulfed me. Maybe I couldn’t always be with my children, but she could. I can’t say I have completely stopped worrying, but remembering the ones I love always have some motherly guidance with them gives me a comforting sense of peace and happiness.


By: Dr. Gerry Tobin

Dr. Gerry Tobin

Dr. Gerry Tobin

Ignatian spirituality has received some attention since the election of the first Jesuit pope. One form of prayer taught by St. Ignatius Loyola is called “composition of place.” Using our imagination we are invited to place ourselves in a Gospel scene – to see, hear, feel all that is happening. It is often surprising what we learn.

I often wonder what it was like for young Mary, unwed and pregnant, and what it might have been like for those who loved her. Being who we are, we don’t like unanswered questions and will often fill in the blanks with answers that make sense or serve our purpose. Sometimes we are right, sometimes we misjudge. In first century Palestine we might have heard, “Oh my, not Mary! She was such a good girl. Such shame for her family! I wonder who the father is?” Friends may have said to her parents, “You raise them as best as you can. We’re so sorry for you.” And what was Mary to say – “God did this!” – the truth only makes it worse.

Each of us at different points in our lives knows Mary’s experience of being misjudged and feeling powerless to respond. Perhaps it was when we were young and we were punished for something a brother or sister or classmate did; friends or lovers rejected us and no longer wanted to be friends and we never knew why. Shy and reticent, we long for companionship but people think we are aloof. Always the clown, we ache when no one takes us seriously. We chafe defenselessly against the whispers when a marriage has ended or a job is lost. For the wrongly judged, it hurts.

How amazing it is, then, that Mary’s response is to say, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Wow! But being human, I bet, like us, she was hurt, too – and we are not alone.

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