A Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent


By: Zachary Cimaglio, Bus Ad ’17 and Julia (Hilbert) Cimaglio, Nurs ’18

2020 was not the year any of us planned for or expected. In many ways we all suffered losses of one kind or another. As we baptized our 2-month-old daughter, Elsie, on the First Sunday of Advent, it struck me that in the eyes of the church, 2020 is effectively over. We are starting a new journey. As I looked at my daughter and was filled with the most intense love and joy for her life as she was welcomed into the church, I swear I got a little glimpse into what God feels for all of us and that this year too shall pass.

Zachary and Julia Baptizing their daughter, Elsie at Old St. Mary’s Church in Milwaukee
Zachary and Julia baptizing their daughter, Elsie

Our journey to parenthood was not what we expected. I was violently ill until almost the 3rd trimester. In a culture that loves to speak about positivity and sugar coat many things, we often felt alone in how this pregnancy was filled with more suffering than joy. It was hard to grieve parts of our old life that we knew were ending especially with COVID taking away many of the things we hoped to do in our last 9 months, child free. No one told us it was okay to not love being pregnant and not love the season we were in. That just because you did not love the process you wouldn’t be overjoyed and in love with the result.

As I thought of Mary in her last month of pregnancy, she was most likely filled with the same emotions we had. Yes, anticipation and joy, but also discomfort, fear and loneliness. She was traveling to a place she had most likely never been before, with her new husband, very pregnant on a donkey. Her mom wouldn’t get to be at the birth with her and she and Joseph would in many ways not get to share the joy of the birth with their loved ones. It had to be hard and frustrating and those emotions, no matter what you faced and are facing this year, are valid.

When Mary finally gave birth to her son, Jesus, this new journey began. One still filled with some of those anxieties, but also more so overwhelmingly filled with joy, love, and hope. Now when I look at my daughter, her face and life shine hope and beauty onto a year that was filled with death, darkness, hate, and fear. Her life is a promise of good things to come. The hardships of pregnancy, 2020, and whatever we are going through do not and cannot last forever. Beautiful things do come from places of darkness. So, as the Church has entered a new year, let us recognize the difficulties 2020 dealt us, but also look with hope and joy to all that there is to come.

Cimaglio family photo

Zachary, Bus Ad ’17 and Julia, Nurs ’18, met during their time at Marquette. They married at Gesu in August 2019 and welcomed their daughter Elsie in September 2020. They live in Milwaukee with their dog Diesel and look forward to when Marquette men’s basketball returns with in-person season ticket holders.