Reflection on the Mystery of Our Lord Jesus Christ Through the Visitation of the Theotokos and Saint Elizabeth
The Second Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary
When I pray this mystery I remember that both of these holy women were prophets, and they both summon us to be prophetic in our witness. We must also seek out prophets so that we can be supported in our own prophetic witness. It is never easy to speak the truth of the Word of God in a world filled with lies. In the Visitation we meditate on two prophetic women who are pregnant. All prophets, both men and women, must be filled with awe and wonder, with holy fear, so that we can give birth to a new creation. Moved by the Holy Spirit to great prayer and fervent service we can fulfill our baptismal call to be priestly, royal, and prophetic.
Our Blessed Lady, the Theotokos, in this mystery of the Holy Rosary, is called “mother of my LORD” and “blessed among women” two phrases that make up the Hail Mary. Also this second joyful mystery contains the Magnificat of the Blessed Virgin Mary; this joyful song of praise and thanksgiving in the mouth of the Theotokos is her heartfelt response to the Lord’s grace and favor in calling her to be the Mother of God. In the Blessed Virgin Mary the LORD God is manifesting his “preferential option for the poor”(Casey). So in her prayer she magnifies the LORD and speaks for us at the same time. We are honored when the LORD honors the Blessed Lady.
Though the historical critical approach would have us marvel at how Saint Luke was inspired to pull together the beautiful poetry of Women of Faith in the Old Testament, the Visitation reveals a much greater wonder: how a grace filled and truly free human being reacts to being aware of God’s own physical presence and growth within (Roten). It is no wonder that the Office of both East and West has Mary’s Magnificat as a part of the official daily prayer of the Church. Among Eastern believers this Gospel Canticle has been utilized in the Morning Office; perhaps so that the individual soul and the whole community begins the day with a joyous act of gratitude for what God has done and what the LORD will continue to do in our lives this day. Among Western believers this Gospel Canticle is chanted in the official daily Vespers; perhaps this becomes an evening song of praise in the West because we need to end the day with gratitude for what the LORD has already done today, and what he will continue to do as we enter into the quiet and more contemplative time of day.
When the Visitation became a Feast in the Western Church, the Body of Christ was in a Great Schism. Pope Urban VI, on 6 April 1389, summoned the Roman Church to pray and meditate on the mystery of the Visitation with the hope that Our Blessed Mother and the Son within her womb would come and visit the Church and heal our brokenness. As cousin and cousin embraced so too would sister church and sister church be reconciled in the love of Christ and His Mother. Perhaps as we pray this joyful mystery we too would plead for the end of the great separation between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. May we be one in love so that the world might know that Father loves His Son and the Son loves His Father in the Holy Spirit, forever and forever!
1. Mary set out, proceeding in haste into the hill country to a town of Judah, where She entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. (Lk. 1: 39-40) – Hail Mary…
We can be sure that her proceeding in haste to an un-named town had nothing to do with an urgency to check out the angel’s prophecy about Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Indeed, the Blessed Virgin Mary had already accepted the word of God through the Archangel Gabriel as true. This holy encounter has both historical reminiscence and theological points to make (Craddock). There is an historical allusion to Rebekah in whose womb Esau and Jacob struggled—so that the younger tried to get the advantage over the elder (Gen 25:21-23). Here without a struggle, rather with great jubilation and even jumping Saint John the Baptist serves his younger cousin, the Lord Jesus Christ. In both cases the elder shall serve the younger (Gen 25:21-23). Indeed, the elder woman, Elizabeth, humbles herself before the younger woman, Mary, in the Visitation just as John does before Jesus in the Baptism (Mt 3:13-15).
“Mary set out” or “she rose and went up” picks up on the same verb as two passages from the book of Genesis. Gen 19:14, “So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had contracted marriage with his daughters. ‘Get up and leave this place’ and he told them: ‘the LORD is about to destroy the city,’ but his sons-in-law thought that he was joking.” Lot was ready and willing to set out, but his sons-in-law were not only not ready, they thought that Lot was just kidding. Sometimes the urgency of the moment is lost on us because we do not listen while we pray. We do not learn how to discern the voice of the LORD calling out to us to “set out” or “rise up and go”. This kind of ignorance could lead to becoming a pillar of salt.
Gen 22:3, “Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey, took with him Isaac, and two of his servants as well, and with the wood that he had cut for the holocaust, set out for the place of which God had told him.” Abraham heard the LORD calling him to sacrifice that which is the most dear to him, the long awaited son of the Promise. Yet, even this horrific command did not slow him down. Abraham rose up swiftly and saddled his donkey. Our readiness to obey the LORD must be like that of Abraham in his sacrifice, and the Holy Virgin in her Annunciation.
Dr. Pius Parsch invites us to feel the rush of warmth and kindness, the sudden urgency of love that sent that young Virgin Mary hurrying over the hills. “Those days,” in which she rose on that impulse, were the days in which Christ was being formed in her, literally in her very flesh, this impulse to generosity was his impulse. We, too, are called to share with the Mother of God in her mission of bringing the Savior to the World. As the Blessed Mother did uniquely about 2000 years ago, we are called to be that generous today. Indeed as Parsch continues to reflect, “If Christ is growing in us, if we are at peace, recollected, because we know that however insignificant our life seems to be, from it He is forming Himself; if we go with eager wills, “in haste,” to wherever our circumstances compel us, because we believe that He desires to be in that place, we shall find that we are driven more and more to act on the impulse of His love.”
Glory be to the Father….
2. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt in her womb. (Lk1: 41) – Hail Mary…
In the Semitic notion of hearing, the ear is seen as a funnel into which words are captured and directed to the human heart where they are understood and planted and bear fruit. When Saint Elizabeth heard the word of Mary’s greeting, she heard the voice of the Mother of God, and that greeting went directly to her heart where it was heard by the Infant Precursor. In the voice of the Theotokos, Saint John heard the good news he was soon to proclaim. “God is with us” Emmanuel is here!
The Greek verb used for “leapt” hints at an eschatological recognition in the heart of Saint Elizabeth and in her son’s heart. For this is the place where the Word encounters the human person. As Saint Paul will soon write to the Romans, “Faith comes by hearing, hearing the Word who is Christ.” In the Prophet Malachi (4:2) the same verb is used to reveal the joy of God’s salvation: “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.” Indeed Saint Elizabeth is one who revered the name of the LORD; she was filled with awe and wonder in His presence. Upon her and upon the infant prophet within her womb, the “sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings”. Can there be any greater healing than the gift of salvation? Both mother and son recognize the salvation for which they wait and their joy is boundless! Indeed the same joy is hinted at in Psalm 113:4 when we read, “The mountains skipped like rams and the hills like yearling sheep.” Do our hearts leap for joy when we behold with eyes of faith this joyful mystery?
“Prenatal activity, because it precedes all merit, all possible merit, or works is a witness to the sovereign will of God” (Craddock). Indeed, it is the unmerited grace of God and his sovereign will that is being accomplished here in this encounter between the two prophetic mothers. What causes this great rejoicing? The early church picks up on the hints in these scriptures and reflects with great awe and wonder. “The infant” — filled, like the mother, with the Holy Ghost — “leaped for joy in her womb”, as if to acknowledge the presence of his Lord. Then was accomplished the prophetic utterance of the angel that the child should “be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb”. Now as the presence of any sin whatever is incompatible with the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the soul, it follows that at this moment John was cleansed from the stain of original sin.” (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08486b.htm) What a wondrous grace. The precursor encounters the Messiah and is reborn; Saint John is filled with the Holy Spirit and made a new creation in the grace of Christ. This is the saving activity of the hidden Christ within the womb of his mother. We too share in this mystery when we go through Mary to Christ. Her maternal presence and her word of greeting so delights our hearts that we leap for joy, eternal, boundless, endless JOY!
The Father of Saint John hears about this joy from the Archangel during the annunciation of the Baptist: “He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1) For the Baptist, joy and delight comes from the sober intoxication of the Holy Spirit. This is true joy for him and for all who hear his preaching. This child and his arrival is good news for all who wait in patience and in faith for the fulfillment of the promises. Perhaps our intercession in this joyful mystery will help prepare the way of the LORD, his Kingdom is at hand. Indeed his voice is anticipated in the greeting of his Holy Mother.
Glory be to the Father….
3. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Lk. 1: 41)- Hail Mary…
“Here the gladness of John’s leap picks up the note of eschatological “gladness” promised by the angel to greet John’s birth. John will in turn announce the eschatological coming of the LORD…” (Parsch) Not only does the son within the womb enjoy the fullness of the Holy Spirit, so does his mother. By analogy she too is freed from sin because the Holy Spirit does not fill a heart full of sin. Elizabeth is saved by the very mystery that is unfolding in her flesh, as her son leaps, and as she welcomes the Savior in the womb of the Theotokos. Indeed the only lasting joy here and here after is the joy of new life in Christ, the joy of being filled with the Holy Spirit, the joy of doing the Father’s will with complete surrender. Such is the joy we embrace in our reflection upon this mystery. Perhaps we too will be filled with the Holy Spirit. For this we pray to the Lord, again and again.
The Visitation “[It] narrates the cleansing of John from original sin in his mother’s womb. Hearing herself addressed by the lofty title of Mother of the Lord and realizing what grace her visit had conferred on John” and on his mother, the Blessed Mother cannot contain her joy. (Dr. Pius Parsch) Still this joy cannot be contained and it is contagious even today. As the Lord Jesus proclaims in Saint John’s Gospel (10:10), he has come that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Indeed, even before his birth, his presence gives life. This mystery anticipates the abundant life and boundless joy of living through him, with him, and in him. Christ is our joy, hidden in his mother’s womb and hidden in our heart encounter with him in our reflection upon this joy in the visitation of the Mother of God and the Mother of the Prophet. Indeed, without the prophetic spirit Saint Elizabeth could not interpret the significance of this visitation. Indeed, as Dr. Pius Parsch inquires: “With what piercing shoots of joy does this story of Christ unfold! First the conception of a child in a child’s heart, and then this first salutation, an infant leaping for joy in his mother’s womb, knowing the hidden Christ and leaping into life.” Hold not back, LORD. Hold not back, we long for your hidden presence to overwhelm us with joy in the Holy Spirit, a joy that never ends!
Glory be to the Father….
4. She cried out in a loud voice: Blessed are You among women and blest is the Fruit of Your womb. (Lk1: 42) – Hail Mary…
The Mother of God is blessed; she is not merely happy! This word “blessed” has the resonance of the biblical tradition meaning the condition of righteous existence before God. She is not just happy; the Theotokos has no big smile on her face. Her very soul is delighted even as her body fills up with the Incarnate One. Saint Elizabeth cannot hold back; she cries out in a loud voice; even at this distant point in history we can hear her cries, “Blessed are you among women and blest is the fruit of your womb.” Saint Elizabeth knows that God has especially chosen the Virgin Mary and that her child is special. Indeed, she knows, without being told, that Mary is pregnant and that Jesus will have significance in salvation history even greater than John. She is not afraid for her son; rather, Elizabeth sees his prophetic role and rejoices in Christ, her savior and that of her son. As she goes on to share her prophetic insight, Elizabeth recognizes the infant as “master” but a deeper dimension is surely implied. Indeed, master is here rendered Lord. This is The TITLE for God, whose name is unspeakable, YHWH which is rendered in the Hebrew Adonoi and in the Latin, Dominus. Perhaps, we too, can recognize the true identity of the Lord Jesus. For he is our everything. Without the Lord Jesus there is no purpose for our journey. There is no identification with him in our suffering. Without the Lord Jesus, without the Fruit of Your womb, we have no visitation, no joy.
The Old Testament is filled with women of faith who sing to the LORD a new song. The mother of the prophet-priest Samuel is often remembered when we study the words of our Blessed Lady in her Visitation. Hannah displayed her deep sorrow before the Ark of the Covenant in the temple at Shilo. The priest Eli thought she was drunk, but she was overwhelmed with sadness at her childless state. Indeed, she was so depressed and frozen in fear that she could not conceive. The LORD heard her cry and gave her great peace and she was no longer downcast. She gave herself to her husband and the LORD fulfilled her petition and she gave her baby boy to the LORD. Besides Hannah, another female canticle-singer who foreshadows the Blessed Virgin Mary is Judith; she too is called “blessed among women” (Judith 13: 18); she also sings “to my God a new song” of the oppressed and marginalized peoples (Judith 16: 1-17).
1″Strike up the instruments, a song to my God with timbrels, chant to the Lord with cymbals; Sing to him a new song, exalt and acclaim his name.
2 For the Lord is God; he crushes warfare, and sets his encampment among his people; he snatched me from the hands of my presecutors.
3 “The Assyrian came from the mountains of the north, with the myriads of his forces he came; Their numbers blocked the torrents, their horses covered the hills.
4 He threatened to burn my land, put my youths to the sword, Dash my babes to the ground, make my children a prey, and seize my virgins as spoil.”
5 “But the Lord Almighty thwarted them, by a woman’s hand he confounded them.
6 Not by youths was their mighty one struck down, nor did titans bring him low, nor huge giants attack him; But Judith, the daughter of Merari, by the beauty of her countenance disabled him.
7 She took off her widow’s garb to raise up the afflicted in Israel. She anointed her face with fragrant oil;
8 with a fillet she fastened her tresses, and put on a linen robe to beguile him.
9 Her sandals caught his eyes, and her beauty captivated his mind. The sword cut through his neck.”
10 “The Persians were dismayed at her daring, the Medes appalled at her boldness.
11 When my lowly ones shouted, they were terrified; when my weaklings cried out, they trembled; at the sound of their war cry, they took to flight.
12 Sons of slave girls pierced them through; the supposed sons of rebel mothers cut them down; they perished before the ranks of my Lord.”
13 “A new hymn I will sing to my God. O Lord, great are you and glorious, wonderful in power and unsurpassable.
14 Let your every creature serve you; for you spoke, and they were made, You sent forth your spirit, and they were created; no one can resist your word.
15 The mountains to their bases, and the seas, are shaken; the rocks, like wax, melt before your glance.” “But to those who fear you, you are very merciful.
16 Though the sweet odor of every sacrifice is a trifle, and the fat of all holocausts but little in your sight, one who fears the Lord is forever great.”
17 “Woe to the nations that rise against my people! the Lord Almighty will requite them; in the day of judgment he will punish them: He will send fire and worms into their flesh, and they shall burn and suffer forever.”
If the holy women Hannah and Judith could sing such a song of joy, how much more could the Theotokos sing and leap for joy! For the son of the Blessed Virgin is the Son of the Eternal Father who alone can rescue and save every generation from the hands of the only true enemy of the children of God. And finally, the matriarch Leah, the wife of Jacob/Israel, provides another hint of the joy of the Theotokos through her response to her God-provided miracle sons: “Because the Lord has regarded my low estate … Fortunate am I, for all women call me fortunate” (Gen29:32;30:13). Profoundly though, Mary’s self-description in the Magnificat moves well beyond the observations of Leah, Hannah, Judith, or Elizabeth, because now not only all women – but “all generations” – will deem Mary fortunate because “He has regarded the low estate of His handmaid” and “He who is mighty has done great things for me” (Casey). Indeed The Mighty Savior of all the nations has done great things for all of us in and through the Blessed Lady.
Glory be to the Father….
5. Blest is She who trusted that the Lord’s words to Her would be fulfilled. (Lk1: 45)-Hail Mary…
Saint Elizabeth continues to praise the true beauty of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her faith. Indeed, this is the praise that the Theotokos receives from her own Son in the gospel: “Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it!.” This is the only praise that will ever come our way. If we pray, we will hear the word of the LORD and if we trust the one who speaks to our hearts, then and only then will we be fulfilled. Indeed our lives are hidden in the mystery of Christ. As Saint Paul reminds us our true life is hidden with Christ in God. The Rule of Saint Benedict teaches the same kind of wisdom when he reminds us that we should never long to be called holy until we truly are holy. Indeed, we find our greatest importance in being forgotten like the glass through which the light enters into the house. The light dispels the darkness and the window is no hindrance to that light. The Light of Christ is not hidden under a bushel basket or under a bed; this Light shines boldly into the darkness all around us. The Light is not hidden; we are hidden. In the brightness of the joy of the Visitation, Saint Elizabeth praises the Mother of God for her true beauty, her faith-filled response to the Word of God. We pray that the Light of Christ consume all our desire for glory, and that all we are remembered for is our hearing and responding to the Word of God. Indeed, as Saint John of the Cross teaches, may we not even desire that the Lord behold our good deeds. May our motivation be singular and our love pure, empty of our own self-gratification and self-fulfillment. May we only delight that the Light of Christ shine through the pains of our humanity.
As Father Johann Roten, SM reflects, the pregnancy of the Blessed Virgin Mary evolves into a unique faith experience: it involves the total woman, the physical, psychological and mental dimensions of her being. Indeed, as the saints of old have taught the motherhood of the Blessed Virgin first takes place in her soul, for there the Word of God is received and conceived. Mary is mother in the spirit before she is mother in the flesh. Indeed, her faith experience is the culmination of all of the holy men and women of the Old Testament; her genuine openness to the LORD is a personal identification with the generations that came before her. Indeed, her faith represents a qualitative leap from conditional to unconditional faith. “For the Blessed Virgin Mary, faith is no longer only a quality of life, it is life itself (Rev. Johann G. Roten, SM).” Indeed, our Blessed Lady is a model of faith for all who follow her Son the Lord Jesus Christ. The joy of a living faith is embraced in the mystery of the Visitation, where we behold the true blessedness of the Blessed Virgin.
Glory be to the Father….
6. Then Mary said: My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord; My spirit finds joy in God My Saviour. (Lk1: 46-47)- Hail Mary…
In the ancient antiphonaries found in the Western Church the Magnificat was often styled Evangelium Mariæ, the “Gospel of Mary”. In this song of praise we hear the Good News, indeed the entire gospel is summed up in the words of her song. First of all it is the greatness of God, the LORD, that she proclaims. She does not magnify herself; the Blessed Virgin does not blow her own trumpet. She proclaims, she magnifies the glory, the greatness of the LORD who has always been faithful to his covenant. Indeed, in her own flesh that covenant is fulfilled! The only true joy of the Virgin Mary is found in God her savior. The very son she now bears is GOD, Her Savior. Indeed, at her very conception she was first rescued from the disaster of the first Eve. She is a dwelling place worthy of GOD, her Savior and the Savior of all the children of Eve. Indeed, Christ the Son of God and the Son of Mary is the joy of our salvation. What a great sigh of relief arises before the icon of this Second Mystery of Joy! Indeed, we do not have to try to save ourselves. This impossible task is taken up by the One for whom nothing is impossible. The GOD who made us saves us. This is our only true joy; this is the joy of the Virgin Mother who sings and proclaims.
Saint Bede the Venerable reflects upon this Gospel of Mary: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior. He writes, “With these words Mary first acknowledges the special gifts she has been given. Then she recalls God’s universal favors, bestowed unceasingly on the human race. When a man devotes all his thoughts to the praise and service of the Lord, he proclaims God’s greatness. His observance of God’s commands, moreover, shows that he has God’s power and greatness always at heart. His spirit rejoices in God his saviour and delights in the mere recollection of his creator who gives him hope for eternal salvation. These words are often for all God’s creations, but especially for the Mother of God. She alone was chosen, and she burned with spiritual love for the son she so joyously conceived. Above all other saints, she alone could truly rejoice in Jesus, her savior, for she knew that he who was the source of eternal salvation would be born in time in her body, in one person both her own son and her Lord.” Pope Benedict XVI points out that this hymn of The Mother of God is the culmination of our liturgy every day, in the Divine Office, but above all in the Mass. Indeed in that daily sacrifice of praise that is the offering of our whole life through Him, with Him and in Him. Indeed, our whole life is a prayer first spoken in the prayer of the Theotokos. Indeed, we pray her Magnificat and make it our own so that we might be one with the perfect sacrifice of praise Her Son offered upon the Altar of the Cross (Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, FI).
Glory be to the Father….
7. For He has looked upon His servant in Her lowliness; all ages to come shall call Me blessed. (Lk1:48)- Hail Mary…
What God has done for the Blessed Virgin Mary he will do for the poor because in her poverty the Theotokos has received the full gaze of the Father and the full self-gift of the Son in the gracious outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, this is not just mental attitude of humility; it is also the objective condition of poverty and powerlessness. Indeed it is the opposite of arrogance and self-righteousness. By her whole being the Blessed Lady has much to teach us about being humble and honest before the pure and loving gaze of the LORD Our God. Our Holy Father Saint Bede reflects that the Blessed Virgin Mary attributes nothing to her own merits, her own greatness. Indeed, the Theotokos refers all her greatness to the gift of the one whose essence is power and whose nature is greatness, for he fills with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe in him. Our Lady did well to add: and holy is his name, to warn those who heard, and indeed all who would receive his words, that they must believe and call upon his name. For they too could share in everlasting holiness and true salvation according to the words of the prophet: and it will come to pass, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. This is the name she spoke of earlier: and my spirit rejoices in God my savior. Therefore, it is an excellent and fruitful custom of the Church that we should sing the hymn of the Mother of God at evening prayer. By meditating upon the incarnation, our devotion is kindled, and by remembering the example of the Holy Mother, we are encouraged to lead a life of virtue. Indeed, some virtues are best achieved in the evening. We are weary after a day of work and worn out by many distractions. The time for rest is near, and our minds are ready for contemplation. Indeed, we are ready to enter into the one companion left, darkness. There we will find, or be found by the LORD who first loved us. Saint Ambrose, the great Doctor of the Church, addresses to us in his commentary on the text of the Magnificat, “May Mary’s soul be in each one to magnify the Lord, may Mary’s spirit be in each one to rejoice in God; if, according to the flesh, the Mother of Christ is one alone, according to the faith all souls bring forth Christ; each, in fact, welcomes the Word of God with in… Mary’s soul magnifies the Lord and her spirit rejoices in God because, consecrated in soul and spirit to the Father and to the Son, she adores with devout affection the one God, from whom come all things, and the one Lord, for the sake of whom all things exist” (Exposition of the Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke, 2:26-27 by Saint Ambrose). Saint Ambrose goes on to write, “If, according to the flesh the Mother of Christ is one alone, according to the faith all souls bring forth Christ: indeed, each one intimately welcomes the Word of God.” Thus, interpreting Our Lady’s very words, the Holy Doctor invites us to ensure that the Lord can find a dwelling place in our own souls and lives. Not only must we carry him in our hearts, but we must bring him to the world, so that we too can bring forth Christ for our epoch. (Fehlner) Again we recall that it is our joy to bear the mystery of Christ, fully human and fully divine, into the world so dark without his light and so barren without the tree of his cross. Without the blessedness of the cross of Christ, we have no blessing and we are no blessing for anyone.
Glory be to the Father….
8. God Who is mighty has done great things for Me, holy is His name. (Lk1:49)- Hail Mary…
The commentators invite us to notice the variation of verb tenses in the Song of The Blessed Virgin Mary. “God Who is mighty” “has done” “holy is His name;” such a use of verb tense draws attention to itself. The Blessed Singer is both expressing confidence in the certainty of that already accomplished and the expectation for the future. We already glimpse the final judgment in the Song of the Virgin. The eschatological reversals has begun already and the LORD’s choice of the Blessed Virgin Mary is concrete evidence of this future already present reality. The Virgin becomes the Mother, yet remains a virgin; the lowly one is raised on high, yet remains humble. Unexpected signs and wonders fill our hearts as the Day of The LORD draws near. Father Johann reflects, “This is why the Magnificat, the reaction of the woman who knows that God inhabits her virginal womb, reaches out both to the past and to the future, is retrospective and prophetic at the same time. The Magnificat is totally imbued with the faith and hope of Israel, but simultaneously it becomes the “scale of perfection” for all future generations. Its meaning and substance are both private and public, for Mary’s experience is essentially open to the future. Her song announces not only the birth of Christ, but also the birth of a new people, a liberated people, a people whose life will be centered on the Spirit of Life.” (Roten) Indeed, the Magnificat is the crown of the Old Testament singing, the last canticle of the Old and the first of the New Testament. One can see the Magnificat is a revolutionary document of passionate conflict and vindication, the voice of the Theotokos calls all believers to a journey of solidarity with the oppressed in every age. This Song of our Blessed Lady is the great new Canticle of Liberation, praising a God who has promised common unity with those who suffer from personal and systemic injustice, and more importantly have been faith filled in response to those sustaining promises. Mary’s vocation is our vocation. Mary teaches us courage and solidarity in all liberating strife. The Blessed Virgin lifts up the small horizon of our sighted vision to the abundant insight of her boundary-breaking Son. (Casey)
Glory be to the Father….
9. His mercy is from age to age on those who fear Him. (Lk. 1: 50)- Hail Mary…
The song of the Theotokos expresses awe and wonder in the creative and ongoing action of the LORD God Almighty in the daily struggle of Saint Luke’s people of faith, the Anawim, the humble “Poor Ones” in spirit and body, those who are “left over” after the powerful and talented are taken into captivity. The Blessed Virgin Mary takes on the identity of all who experience the joy of God’s saving deeds in a world of power and oppression (Casey). This Magnificat sings of the Virgin’s movement from being a natural mother, in birthing and nursing the Son of God in the Flesh to being the Theotokos and the mother of the Church. It is a witness to God&39;s power to save, and a witness to the faith of this poor one, this powerless Virgin Mother. In her own lifetime the Blessed Lady would be near and life-giving as he comes into the world, and she would be near and life-giving as she receives the Beloved Disciple from the Crucified. At the incarnation and at the cross this poor Mother is held high for all of us to imitate, even as she sings the mercy of God upon all who fear him, from age to age. In these Infancy Narratives found in the Gospel of Saint Luke, we catch a glimpse of the Divine Teacher’s unexpected and revolutionary good news in “The Beatitudes” from Saint Matthew’s sermon on the mount and the “Blessings and Woes” from Saint Luke’s sermon on the plain. Indeed, many spiritual writers and historical critical commentators come together in the Magnificat to hear the song of reversals or the song of the revolution. The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Canticle foreshadows the reversals proclaimed by the Lord Jesus. Indeed all through his public ministry the Lord Jesus taught by word and example the power of God to break through our injustice and bring his Kingdom into history. Indeed, the Father’s unbounded and unexpected mercy makes itself known in the ministry of the Lord Jesus and in the Magnificat of his Holy Mother. Indeed, he scatters the proud and the conceited; he puts down the mighty and exalts the lowly; he fills the hungry with good things and the rich he sends empty away. Such a reversal only the LORD God Almighty could accomplish, and he does in Christ and through the Theotokos. Indeed, the Song of the Mother of God is our song of rejoicing as we behold the Kingdom coming into our world, into our history, into our own hearts.
Glory be to the Father….
10. Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned home. (Lk1:56)-Hail Mary…
Our Blessed Lady stayed with Elizabeth as long as she was needed to help her give birth and take care of her son. Saint Luke is consistently teaching us how to pray and what prayer does to us. The Theotokos is gracious and attentive to the needs of her cousin, Elizabeth. She spends three months with her elderly and pregnant cousin; this love reveals the very love of God that motivates all of us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. The LORD God has chosen the Virgin Mary as his own unique shrine; her heart abounds with thanksgiving and charity. She pours out her heart in praise and thanks for the mighty acts of our Father, and she pours out her energy in loving service to her cousin Saint Elizabeth. As Father Roten challenges us, we are not only to call the Virgin, blessed; we are summoned to become a blessing, as was our Blessed Lady. Indeed the Theotokos is both the way and the scale of our faith response. The mystery of the Visitation enables us to join Saint Elizabeth in praising the Blessed Virgin for her great faith and join the Blessed Mother in magnifying the LORD who is mighty and faithful. Within this second joyful mystery we ponder the praise of Our Lady for the LORD who continues to do mighty things in his church and in each soul who seeks to bring forth Christ into the world through a life of faith, hope and love. Indeed, in this mystery we find the hidden ministry of Christ in bringing salvation to his precursor, Saint John the Baptist. This is the same ministry that our Lord Jesus continues to perform within the blessed womb of our Mother the Church. Indeed, like the Blessed Lady, we become a holy place were the Most High dwells. Indeed, we contain the mystery of Christ Crucified and Risen, and he continues to reach out to future generations for the glory of the Father and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Glory be to the Father….
The Gospel of Luke A Michael Glazier Book, By Luke Timothy Johnson, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minesota (1991)
Days of the LORD, The Liturgical Year Vol. 7, Solemnities and Feasts, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minesota (1994)
Interpretation: A Bible-Commentary for Teaching and Preaching Luke, By Fred B. Craddock, John Knox Press, Louisville (1990)
Church’s Year of Grace, Volumes 1-5, By Dr. Pius Parsch, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, (1964)
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15480a.htm
Catholic Encyclopedia: Saint Bede the Venerable http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/118/Visitation____Mary_s_Soul_Proclaims_God_s_Greatness__St._Bede_.html
The May Magnificat http://www.bartleby.com/122/18.html
All generations will call me Blessed http://www.freewebs.com/mother/magnificat.htm
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked with favor on the lowliness of His servant.” Luke 1:46b-47 [NRSV]. http://188.8.131.52/www1/ofm/mag/MAen9909.html By Prof. Daniel W. Casey, Jr, Professor of Biblical Interpretation and Archeology Scholar in Residence at Tantur Ecumenical Institute,
The “Merciless” Magnificat http://campus.udayton.edu/mary//meditations/MercilessMagnificat.html Rev. Johann G. Roten, SM
Magnificat of Mary: Magnificat of the Church http://www.marymediatrix.com/magazine/doctrine-and-devotion/magnificat-of-mary-magnificat-of-the-church/ Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, FI