Lenten Reflection on the Nativity

Written on: March 6, 2018

I noticed the other day that I still have a Nativity scene displayed at home. Not a big deal since I usually leave this up year round as it was something my Mother loved. That day, however,  I was struck that my attention was drawn to it, particularly during Lent.

St. Francis, when creating the first nativity display, wanted us to remember that the birth of our Lord wasn’t warm, comfortable and perfumed, but rather took place outdoors, in the elements where the only perfume was the stench of animals in tight quarters.

What does this have to do with Lent?

Perhaps most of the year, I pretend that my spiritual stable is in good order. I pray regularly, attend daily Mass often, Sunday Mass always, contribute to charities, perform works of service and ministry, read spiritual and inspirational books, behave kindly toward others… what else is a good Christian expected to do?

Lent is a time to remind us (me) that we can always go deeper. Stretch more, be more, learn more, sacrifice more. And, sometimes that more comes through doing less. Less noise, less rush-rush, less striving.

When I looked at my Nativity scene that day, everything paused. The lamb lays quietly across the shepherd’s shoulders, the Mother and Father gaze in joy at their new born Son, the Wise Men assume positions of reverence. As I focus my attention, stillness breaks over me, and I am struck anew at just how deep God’s love really is for us.

“Be still and know that I am God.”


Maryellen Glackin is the Coordinator of Social Media and Vocation Ministry for the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart. She and her husband Joe have been married for 37 years and are the proud parents of four young adults. Because they were married at Christmas time, they have an extensive collection of Nativity scenes, but only one that is displayed year round.


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