By: Ivonne Hernandez
“Let us unite with Mary in her expectation, during the hours that preceded the blessed moment of her Son's birth. Like her let us redouble our love and fervor. Let us unite in her recollection, and from her dispositions draw this lesson, that we must serve Our Lord as He wishes us to serve Him, and not as we would ourselves. Mary knew by the Prophets all that her Son would have to suffer, and she disposed herself to serve Him as He willed, and to follow Him everywhere.”  - St. Peter Julian Eymard
Tomorrow is the eighth day before Christmas. These words bring a twinge of anxiety, as I think of all the things I still need to do to prepare, not just for Christmas Day, but for the whole 12 Days of Christmas. There are parties to attend and parties to host, food to prepare and cookies to bake, guest rooms to clean and presents to wrap. And with all the wonderful gatherings to look forward to, there comes something else that brings me one more twinge of anxiety: expectations. When my expectations and reality don’t meet, I experience the difference as disappointment, “unhappiness from the failure of something hoped for or expected to happen.”  I can’t change reality, so if I don’t want to be disappointed, I need to change my expectations.
I have tried different ways of adjusting my expectations, but it hasn’t really worked out that well for me. I have tried “lowering” them, expecting nothing from people, but I find that what I end up doing is lying to myself. I still “hope” and “wish” for certain reactions or outcomes, but I tell myself that it probably won’t happen. I am not really lowering my expectations. I still “wish” for something, but I deny myself the hope. I start to believe the lie that my desires won’t be fulfilled and that I should not bother to even hope. No wonder this approach hasn’t worked! This is not the way of the Holy Spirit, who always brings us to a greater faith, hope and love. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 15:13)
So where do I go from here? How do I change my expectations without losing hope? St. Peter Julian has the answer: “Let us unite with Mary in her expectation.” I do not need to lower my expectations, but rather elevate them. Mary did not place her hope in the innkeepers, she placed her hope in God. She knew that His Divine Providence would arrange for everything. “She disposed herself to serve Him as He willed, and to follow Him everywhere.” How can we dispose ourselves to do the same? As we wrap up our time of preparation and wrap the last of the presents, let’s spend some time in His Presence. Let’s turn our gaze upwards and see the one whose perfect love will never disappoint us. “My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope.” (Psalm 62:6)
 Eymard, Pierre Julien, Saint, 1811-1868. Month of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (Kindle Locations 767-771). New York : Sentinel Press.
 "Disappointment." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2017.
We are Ivonne Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.