(Published in NZ Catholic, 25 March 2012)

You’ll have to excuse me if the topic of this article is somewhat personal. The date of publication of this issue of NZ Catholic happens to also be the expected due date of our third child. Lent is a fitting time to be heavily pregnant. It happens that all three of my due dates have fallen during a penitential time; both our girls were due during advent. It helps to see the parallel between Christ’s suffering and our experience of lent – a time of suffering and penance, followed by a painful event, culminating in the joyous celebration of new life.

The last weeks of pregnancy are a time of slowing down, nesting and preparing oneself for all that is to come. My mind cannot reach beyond my surroundings – what is going on with my body and baby, my family and how I can best serve them in my condition, what is to come and praying to God to be there through it all. Lent is very much like this – focusing on ourselves, what we can give to others and God.

As mothers and women we have the unique vocation of physically sacrificing and offering our bodies, in much the same way Jesus did. We have the privilege of being able to “walk with Christ”; standing in the garden of Gethsemane with him facing our fears of birth, walking along the path to Calvary as he is beaten and fatigued and perhaps wishing the suffering to be taken away. But we are able to endure for the greater glory and the will of God. Knowing that at the end of the suffering – after the crucifixion and the pinnacle of pain – lies glorious new life for us all.