As we prepare our hearts for Advent, Team Busted Halo welcomes back Sister Miriam James Heidland to the show to discuss her new journal, “Behold: A Guided Advent Journal for Prayer and Meditation.” Sister Miriam belongs to the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, and is a popular Catholic speaker and podcast host.
The journal invites readers to journey with the Holy Family this Advent, and to look inward at their own familial relationships. Sister Miriam notes that Advent is a busy time, but says, “It’s so much more than just the exterior…it’s a coming home to our deepest identity as beloved children, and that’s what we all ache for. We want to go home to a happy family…and that’s really what the Holy Family invites us into this Advent season.”
Father Dave reflects on how the holiday season can highlight brokenness in families. In describing family divisions, he says, “When that happens, I don’t think people are satisfied with that [and say] ‘Oh, good. They didn’t come because I disagree with all of their views.’ People yearn for and ache for our families to be whole.”
Sister Miriam says, “All of us have an idea in our hearts of what we want our family to be, and then all of us see the places where it’s not like that. It can be deeply disillusioning.” She continues, “We don’t have to pretend that differences in our families don’t exist. But what is the Lord inviting us to in our lives, so that we can allow those places where our hearts have been broken to be brought into communion and wholeness with him? Whatever you’re facing in your family right now, it doesn’t have to be the end of the story.”
The format of the journal prompts the reader to dig into these relationships in our lives. She explains, “They’re very short reflections every day. The first week is about healing with your mom and spending time with Our Lady. The second week is about healing with your dad and spending time with St. Joseph. The third week is about the healing of yourself as a child and spending time with Jesus as a child. And then the fourth week is about the healing of our families. So it really invites you into some tender places of your heart, not alone, but with the Lord.”
Sister Miriam describes her own relationship with Mary, and how it was strained at first. She recounts how she was born out of wedlock to teenage parents, and eventually was adopted after time in foster care. “By the time I was adopted, that was already mother number three. I had, even from the womb, sorrows that were there and I grew up distancing myself from a mother’s love, because it seemed too dangerous.” Early in her vocation as a religious sister, she says, “I was kind of overwhelmed and just thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m supposed to be like Our Lady, but I don’t even know what that means.’ And I remember kneeling before the statue of Our Lady one day saying, ‘I need to know you. I need to know not just about you…I need to know what it means to be loved by you.’”
As readers journey with the Blessed Mother and the Holy Family this Advent, Sister Miriam says, “The vision I have is, if you would allow me to just take your hand for the month. Just to lead you and to gently let you rest where you need to rest, and to encourage you when you need encouragement. And just for an encounter with the Lord.”