Letter from General Prioress – Advent & Christmas 2023

Advent – Christmas 2023

Dear Sisters,

            With the season of Advent, a new liturgical year begins. On this important occasion of passage from one liturgical year to another, the Church invites us to pause for a moment in order to examine our lives, the values we live and to see what God wants and expects of us in order to live His call deeply within the reality that surrounds us.

            “Keep watch.”  This year’s Gospel message of the first Sunday of Advent exhorts us to vigilance, to actively await the Lord’s coming, to fight against negligence or any obstacle that prevents us from welcoming Him with our whole being. How can we put this invitation into practice? Pope St. Paul VI, in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus offers us the figure of Mary as model, “vigilant in prayer and joyful… in praise”, to prepare ourselves to meet the Savior who is to come (cf. nº 4).

            Mary has an extraordinary importance in Advent and Christmas because it is through her that our main reason for celebrating has become a reality: the most awaited event of humanity, the birth of the Messiah, the Word who becomes flesh in a manger, and thus dwells among us.  I would like to highlight what is imitable about her, the virtues that made her a listener of the Word, a prayerful virgin and a prolific mother: her faith, her hope and her charity.

Faith.  Mary is full of faith; she is a woman who trusts fully in God’s Word.  She accepted the angel’s message and said “yes” that God would come into her life.  Although the angel’s word disturbed her, she opened herself to God’s plan of salvation.  Mary is the woman with whom God dwells and the woman who is always with God. She lived with strong faith her passage in Bethlehem, in the flight to Egypt, at the foot of the Cross and her role as Mother of all… Because she is full of faith, she recognized God’s work in her and in history. Advent is a time of grace to purify and strengthen our faith each day, trusting that our God is faithful, that He never fails or backs down.  With renewed faith, let us welcome the God who calls us, who involves us in his salvific work in our time.  Let us live in faith, so that we can see God’s work in this present moment of our history.

Hope.  Mary is the woman of hope; of hope in God’s promises and in the God of promises.  She lived a constant and active hope, collaborating in the fulfillment of God’s promises by accepting that the Word becomes incarnate in her womb during the nine months of pregnancy, and she did so with her whole being, with her body, with her blood, with her mind and heart, with her work and rest.  Advent offers us an opportunity to rekindle our hope, trusting that God fulfills his promise.  In our world, wounded by wars, a renewed hope could strengthen the spirit to continue seeking the Lord’s way.

Pope Benedict XVI, in the Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi, proposes “settings” for learning and practicing hope.  The first and most essential place is prayer.  In intimate and personal dialogue with God, we experience the real existence and closeness of a Father who listens and speaks to us. Frequent contact with the Lord, in prayer, revives and renews our hope because we do it with the conviction that God always hears our pleas and is ready to help us. “When no one listens to me anymore, God still listens to me. When I can no longer talk to anyone or call upon anyone, I can always talk to God. When there is no longer anyone to help me deal with a need or expectation that goes beyond the human capacity for hope, he can help me.” (nº 32)

Charity.  Mary is the woman of love; of love for God, ready to do His will; of love for those who need her help: she assisted her cousin Elizabeth, who is old and pregnant, she did her best to put the best wine for the bride and groom at the wedding feast in Cana, she supported the apostles in the Upper Room with her maternal presence, praying and waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit…; and of love for all men, especially the poor and those who suffer most.  As St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus says: “charity must not remain locked up in the depths of the heart”, the season of Advent and Christmas is a favorable time to bring out through concrete gestures what we keep in the depths of our hearts.  We recall what Pope Francis advises us in his message on the World Day of the Poor 2023 that “whenever we encounter a poor person, we cannot look away, for that would prevent us from encountering the face of the Lord Jesus… Everyone is our neighbor.  Regardless of the color of their skin, their social standing, the place from which they came… We are called to acknowledge every poor person and every form of poverty, abandoning the indifference and the banal excuses we make to protect our illusory well-being.” (nº 3)

May the Virgin Mary help us so that, as we approach Christmas, we do not dwell on what is superficial, but strive to make our faith, hope and charity grow so that we can make room in our hearts for the One who has already come and wants to come again to establish His Kingdom in us and fill us with His joy, peace and love.

            I wish everyone a Happy Advent and Merry Christmas!


Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.

                                                         Prioress General



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