Yesterday, in the Latin Church, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, and although solemnities and Sundays take precedence over feasts and memorials, May 31 is commonly known as the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As many people know, the Visitation, the second mystery of the Joyful Mysteries, is when Mary goes up to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth after the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary (The Annunciation) that she has found favor with God and will conceive and bear the Son of God.
This is a topic that I have written about quite a bit in this weekly series. I encourage you to read the following “Mondays with Mary” for more catechesis on this very important event in the Sacred Scriptures – The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales on the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Take Two, Bringing Jesus to Others, and Mary Greets Elizabeth.
For today’s post on the Visitation, I give you the words of Pope Benedict XVI from his 2006 address, which concluded the Month of Mary on May 31. Not only do we receive excellent theology; we see the insight the Holy Father gives in his relationship to the Blessed Mother and how important her intercession is his papacy in regards to day-to day decisions. Like his predecessor and successor, Benedict has a great love and devotion to Mary.
Pope Benedict says,
“I would also like to express to Mary my gratitude for the support she offers me in my daily service to the Church. I know that I can count on her help in every situation; indeed, I know that she foresees with maternal intuition all her children’s needs and intervenes effectively to sustain them: this has been the experience of the Christian people ever since its first steps in Jerusalem.
On today’s Feast of the Visitation, as in every passage of the Gospel, we see Mary docile to the divine plan and with an attitude of provident love for the brethren. In fact, the humble maiden from Nazareth, still amazed at what the Angel Gabriel had announced to her – that is, that she would be the mother of the promised Messiah -, learned that in her old age her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth had also conceived a son.
She immediately set out with haste for the house of her cousin, the Evangelist notes (cf. Lk 1: 39), to offer her help at a time of special need. How can we fail to see that the hidden protagonist in the meeting between the young Mary and the by-then elderly Elizabeth is Jesus? Mary bears him in her womb as in a sacred tabernacle and offers him as the greatest gift to Zechariah, to Elizabeth, his wife, and also to the infant developing in her womb. “Behold”, the Mother of John the Baptist says, “when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy” (Lk 1: 44)
Whoever opens his or her heart to the Mother encounters and welcomes the Son and is pervaded by his joy. True Marian devotion never obscures or diminishes faith and love for Jesus Christ Our Saviour, the one Mediator between God and humankind. On the contrary, entrustment to Our Lady is a privileged path, tested by numerous saints, for a more faithful following of the Lord. Consequently, let us entrust ourselves to her with filial abandonment!
As always, it’s my hope that you will share this blog post with your family and friends so that they come to know the importance the Blessed Virgin Mary plays in Salvation History.
If you have never read Pope Benedict (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger), I would highly suggest you read something. In my humble opinion, reading him is like reading an Early Church Father. I see him as one of the greatest Catholic minds and theologians in the last 500, maybe even 1000 years.