For the Love of Saint Andrew: A Christmas Novena, Day 7

Call me dangerously distracted, but not until I saw this lovely acrylic painting by Roger Hutchison, a parishioner at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbia, South Carolina, did I realize why the Saint Andrew’s Christmas Novena also is a novena for couples trying to conceive. How obvious this now all seems.

Mary, a poor unwed teenager, spent the weeks before Christmas Day anticipating the birth of her son, a son conceived “by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary.”

As someone who struggled with infertility during her childbearing years, I can say the Christmas season is the worst of all. Everything is centered on a couple joyously awaiting the miraculous birth of their child. Plus, Christmas comes at the end of the calendar year and can be yet another reminder of one’s empty womb.

Please share this Christmas Novena with others. As we pray it, let’s keep in mind the couples who are longing to build their families. The Apostolate of Hannah’s Tears is a wonderful resource for Catholics struggling with infertility. Does your parish offer seasonal celebrations for all its members – for singles and childless couples – or only for families with children? What do we do in our parish to encourage families to consider foster parenting and adoption? What can we do to welcome all this Advent Season?

  • Jill

    And just to add, the bereaved parents. It's very hard losing your child and then having to watch all the excitement going on around you. The hope that Jesus brings has become that much more important to me, but those first few years after my daughter's death were very hard at Christmas time.

  • Roger Hutchison

    Thank you for sharing my painting – and for your words. This painting, for me, came out of a sense of waiting—of expectation. Mary is soon to give birth to Jesus. She is searching, watching, waiting. The star in the sky is also watching – waiting. The world is in a place of waiting—a place of fear and war. We await the Christ-child. We are hungry for peace and understanding."This sense of searching, waiting and watching captures the spirit of Advent, the season in which we long for both our celebration of Jesus birth at Christmas and for his return in glory. This longing is captured in that 12th century Latin hymn we know through the text of the Hymnal 1982's hymn 56,O come, O come, EmmanuelAnd ransom captive IsraelThat mourns in lonely exile hereUntil the Son of God appearRejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

  • Allison

    Jill: Thanks for reading and for commenting. I am so very sorry for your loss.My husband and I lost two children before they were born and it was incredibly tough. The first baby was due a few days after Christmas Day. So it was painful to celebrate the holiday for many years.Blessings to you and your family Jill.

  • Allison

    Roger: Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your reflections on Advent and on your painting.May I ask the size of the painting and where it is displayed? It is so beautiful!A blessed Advent to you and your loved ones.

  • Roger Hutchison

    Thank you Allison! The painting measures 9×12 inches – and is acrylic on canvas. It hangs in the home of a family here in Columbia. I have been amazed how this painting has taken on a life of its own. It has graced the cover of countless Advent bulletins/devotions all over the world -from England to Africa and Australia. It has been used on websites, blogs, and magazine covers. I have lost count of just how many times I have received a request for permission to publish…I am so honored…and grateful.Blessings to you!

  • allison welch

    Wow. Thanks for a great post. It has never occurred to me how difficult this season would be for people struggling with infertility. Thank you for helping me to see my brothers and sisters with more compassion during this season. I recently discovered the Seven Sorrows of Mary We pray them in the chapel before school starts. I will be bringing you along in my heart…

  • Allison

    @ Allison Welch: I will definitely check out your link. I find I am constantly trying to expand my understanding (compassion) of others. Even though I suffered through a few Advent seasons with my own burdens I truly forgot about the difficulty of the season until I saw this painting.