By Cory J. Howat
I’ve been known to tell a story or two. It is not often that I pass up a good conversation and enjoy hearing people’s tales. Though often teased for dragging the stories on, I have always been a fan of building up the tension in a story to really drive home the climax. My wife even joked the other day that I have one of the longest pregnant pauses… Ha! I gently joked back that she was the one 8 ½ months pregnant.
As a chance to brush up on literary terms and to make sure I wouldn’t be in the “dog house”, I looked for an official definition for “pregnant pause.” What I found got my wheels spinning… So, a pregnant pause is a “pause that builds up suspension in the listener/viewer, for a greater dramatic effect of what follows after the pause.” I could go no further. You could tell me that I am sleep deprived, but I immediately thought of Advent.
As you may know or have been reminded in a recent homily, Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” We are familiar with the societal and Catholic expectations of Christmas and how they sometimes compete during this time of year. Society has us scrambling for gifts, decorating the house to the nines, and bouncing from party to party to party. Our Catholic faith can feel sometimes like it has us more bridled like a horse, telling us to slow up…expect…wait…… so that we cherish this “arrival.” Suddenly, I saw a connection to what the Lord desires for us during this Advent time. It was my pregnant-paused wife. It was the journey of our Blessed Mother as she anticipated the birth of her son, Jesus Christ.
My wife and I are expecting our fourth child any day now. With this being our second child with the due date of December 25th, we can really connect Christmas with new-life. What a long-lasting gift! During my wife’s pregnancies, I am always in awe of how being pregnant and bringing forth new life is the ultimate self-sacrifice. If my wife wants to do anything at all when she is pregnant, it usually takes a little longer with a little more thought. Her body won’t let her do otherwise… in a good way. Especially late in pregnancy, every thought and action is a bit more intentional. My Advent is right in front of me.
I could then only prayerfully imagine Mary, pregnant, and how she was intentional in her expecting of Jesus. Even the physical limitations of pregnancy gave Mary pause for this arrival. It is in this waiting that truly prepares us for the arrival of a Savior. If we numb out the waiting with too many distractions, the dramatic effect of the arrival can be lost. If we don’t pause, we can’t build anticipation. May the example of Mary teach us this valuable lesson. I pray that you will be able to experience a “pregnant pause” this Advent so that Christmas will have a greater dramatic effect in our hearts and in our lives.
Cory J. Howat is the Director of Stewardship for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. His love for traveling, culture and adventure provide a unique perspective on life and the universal Church. For more about this blogger, click here.