“Mondays with Mary” – The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth

Since this upcoming Thursday is the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (and my Mom’s Birthday), I wanted to briefly share with you a reflection on Mary and Elizabeth’s encounter as well as Mary’s Magnificat. This is a subject that I have written on numerous times over the 6 years of writing these weekly blog articles. Below you can read the previous articles on the Visitation.

After receiving the news from the Angel at the Annunciation that she would be the Mother of God, Mary quickly departs for the hill country, very similar to King David in the Old Testament, where she goes to serve her cousin, Elizabeth. Two major events of grace occur when she goes to Elizabeth. First, Elizabeth declares by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Mary is the Mother of her Lord and the child in womb (St. John the Baptist) leapt for joy. Second, the same Holy Spirit inspires Mary to declare her “Magnificat” or song of praise. A song of praise similar to that of Hannah’s hymn, a hymn that we believe Our Lady would have known by memory.

The two reflections below come from the Dictionary of Mary, a book that recently came into my possession. Next week, I will share with you the exciting news of this book and the other 33 books on Our Lady that are now part of my Marian library. I also have 20 or so more books on a wide variety of Catholic topics and theology. Come back next week and hear the story about these books – some that are so old they are no longer in print.

The first reflection on the Visitation is titled – “Blest Is She Who Trusted [Believed]…” –

At the same time, Elizabeth makes known to us the mystery of Mary and the basic reason why she is blessed. The mystery of Mary stems entirely from the privileged bond of her motherhood, which unites her with the “fruit of [her] womb” (Lk 1:42). To capture the spirit of Elizabeth’s greeting, the translation out to read: “Blest are you among women BECAUSE blest is the fruit of your womb.”  The blessedness, the holiness, of the Son is reflected in the Mother. Better still, the Son is cause of the Mother’s holiness. In the estimation of the Evangelists and the first Christians, there is not a more beautiful title for May this one: “Mother of Jesus” (cf. Jn 2:1), “Mother of my Lord.”

But it is a motherhood first received in faith. Mary is most of all believer, a woman who has given a total yes to God’s Word, unlike Zechariah who doubted.

It is this faith of Mary that Elizabeth extols: “Blest is she who trusted [believed] that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled” (Lk 1:45). Luke sees no opposition between Mary’s motherhood and her hearing the Word of God (cf. 11:27-28). On the contrary, he associates one with the other.

Visitation, Oil on Canvas. For more from Steve Bird, visit his website – http://www.stevebirdart.com

The second reflection on the Visitation is titled – Mary’s Thanksgiving

The scene of the Visitation is extended in Mary’s personal act of thanksgiving, the Magnificat. Mary gives her praise for the intervention of God, her Savior, in the stupendous motherhood that is coming to pass within her: “God who is mighty has done great things for me” (1:49).

But Mary’s vision does not stop at herself. It moves over the whole history of Israel, and her thanksgiving take on the accents of a whole people singing the great deeds of God. This woman, “blessed above all women” (cf. Jdt 13:18), belongs entirely to the history of Israel, the long line of men and women who have experienced the extolled the salvation of God. Like them, Mary sings praise to the God faithful to his Covenant, faithful to the Promise made the Fathers.

To learn more about Mary’s Magnificat, I would encourage you to read one of my very first “Mondays with Mary” here.

To read more about the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I would encourage you to check out the seven articles I have written previously –

“Mondays with Mary” – Pope Benedict on the ‘Visitation of Mary’

“Mondays with Mary” – St. Francis de Sales on the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“Mondays with Mary” – The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“Mondays with Mary”- The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Take 2

“Mondays with Mary” – ‘Bringing Jesus to Others’ 

“Mondays with Mary” – The Visitation of Mary in Advent 

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary Greets Elizabeth  

“Mondays with Mary” – Pope Benedict XVI on the ‘Visitation of Mary’

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.

Visitation, Oil on Canvas. For more from Steve Bird, visit his website - http://www.stevebirdart.com

Visitation, Oil on Canvas. For more from Steve Bird, visit his website – http://www.stevebirdart.com

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.

“Mondays with Mary” – ‘Mary Greets Elizabeth’

This coming Saturday, in the Latin Church, we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Because I believe this to be an important feast of the Church, I have written on this topic numerous times in two and a half years. It’s at the Visitation where Mary greets her older cousin Elizabeth, who is also pregnant and was known to a barren woman. We also hear Mary’s Song of Praise, the Magnificat, during the Visitation.

For today’s “Mondays with Mary”, I bring you into the mind of one of the great Early Church Fathers and Doctors of the Church, Saint Athanasius of Alexandria. Since St. Athanasius had to battle the Arians in the Early Church, much of his theology focuses on Christology, which in turn led him to defending Mary’s Motherhood and Perpetual Virginity.

Although Mary’s Motherhood (Theotokos) and Perpetual Virginity would not be declared dogmatic till the fifth and seventh centuries, the doctrines were held as truth by many early Church Fathers. Many of them fought with pen and papyrus in defending Mary, which in turn had them defending Jesus Christ. It’s the common understanding that when you state something incorrect about Mary’s nature, you are in fact stating something incorrect about nature of Jesus Christ.

The excerpt below is from St. Athanasius’ Homily of the Papyrus of Turin. In it, he clearly calls out Arius, who thought that Jesus Christ was above man, but below God. For Arius, Jesus Christ is a demi-god like the Marvel Comics hero, THOR.

“[Mary] greets Elizabeth: the Mother of the Master greets [the mother] of the servant; the Mother of the King greets the mother of the solider; the Mother of God greets the mother of the man; the Virgin greets the married woman. She greets Elizabeth with an outward greeting, and when the two greet each other in a visible manner, the Holy Spirit, who dwelt in Mary’s womb, incites him who is in Elizabeth’s womb, as one who urges on his friend, ‘Hurry, get up!’

Visitation of BVM -3

Therefore he who dwelt in Elizabeth’s womb leapt. And behold: [Christ spoke to him] saying, ‘Go forth; make straight my paths, so that I may realize the plan [economy] that has been determined for me.’ When Mary and Elizabeth greeted one another, Christ also greeted John in his mother’s womb, as it is [said] in the Gospel: ‘It happened that, when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby stirred in her womb of joy.’

Come now, raving Arius: do you not hear that he who is in Mary’s womb and he who is in Elizabeth’s womb are exchanging greetings, while the son of the barren woman announces to the whole world: ‘Behold the Son of God in the womb of the holy Virgin, Mary.’

But you say, ‘How does this happen?’ Listen, and I will tell you. The moment John heard his Master’s voice, he greeted him through the mouth of his mother, and then he rejoiced and delighted to hasten forth from this mother’s womb, in advance of his Master. Then, unable to contain his joy, he cried out, through his mother’s mouth, addressing the Virgin: ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. But who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?’

My dear friends, do not think that John was the instrument; Elizabeth is the instrument, and John speaks through her mouth. Now, just as John was not an instrument, so also the Savior greets John, by the greeting Mary addresses to Elizabeth through the mouth of his mother.”

Wow…That is one moving excerpt! When we hear the voice of God, the voice of Jesus Christ in our hearts, let us pray that we have the courage, strength, and grace to – Hurry and Get Up! Let us also pray that the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the greeting She and Jesus brings to Elizabeth and John can be brought to each and every one of us.

Source:

Gambero, Luigi. Mary and the Fathers of the Church. Ignatius Press, 1999.

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the New Testament, Part 1

Recently I gave a talk at a parish here in the Phoenix Metropolitan area that focused on the Person of the Jesus Christ. One of the points I made is that the Old Testament points directly to Jesus Christ. If you read the Scriptures correctly and through the eyes of the Church, there are many prophesies in the Old Testament fulfilled by Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

Although Mary’s role in the Scriptures of the New Testament is smaller than Jesus, she is always there and the focus is on Him, however, the role she does play is fundamental to Salvation History. Her activities in the Incarnation and Redemption of Jesus Christ are essential and continue after Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven through the teachings of the Church and her appearances in apparitions.

Since we are still in the Month of the Rosary, we will focus on Mary being active in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ for this week. These five events should sound familiar if you pray the Holy Rosary, for they are the Joyful Mysteries. Next week, we will focus on the Mary in the Redemption of Jesus Christ.

For this blog post, you will need your Bibles, so make sure you have it next to you.

1. The Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary (Read LK 1:26-38) 

“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” The Annunciation is when the Angel Gabriel comes to Mary to announce to the Virgin of Nazareth that she will bear and conceive a son and name him Jesus. It is here at the Annunciation that Mary gives her “fiat” or “let it be done to me.” Her role as Co-Redemptrix begins here and is brought to fulfillment at Calvary. For more on the Annunciation, please read “Mondays with Mary” – Benedict XVI on the Annunciation of the Lord.

2. The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth (Read Lk 1:39-56)

Mary quickly departs for the hill country, very similar to King David in the Old Testament, where she goes to serve her cousin, Elizabeth. Two major events of grace occur when she goes to Elizabeth. First, Elizabeth declares by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Mary is the Mother of her Lord and the child in womb leapt for joy. Second, the same Holy Spirit inspires Mary to declare her “Magnificat” or song of praise. For more on the Visitation, please read “Mondays with Mary” – The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and The Magnificat.

3. The Nativity of Jesus (Read Lk 2:4-20)

Mary “brought fourth her first-born Son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes” (Lk 2:7). In a cave, in Bethlehem (“house of bread”), Mary gives birth to God the Son. The second person of the Trinity becomes incarnate – “The Word Became Flesh!  God himself becomes Man.

4. The Presentation of the Infant Jesus to the Temple (Read Lk 2:22-39)

To fulfill the Jewish law, Jesus, being only eight days old, is presented in the Temple as Jesus would be presented at Calvary upon the cross. We see at the Presentation in the Temple the beginning of the Immaculate and sorrowful heart of Mary through the prophetic words of Simeon – “And a sword will pierce your own heart too” (Lk 2:35).  For more information, please read “Mondays with Mary” – The Immaculate Heart of Mary.

5. The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple (Read Lk 2:41-52)

After searching through the caravan of family and friends for three days, Mary and Joseph return to Jerusalem and find the child in the Temple talking with the priests and scholars. The three days foreshadow his time in the tomb. After Mary asks Jesus where he was, his reply is, “I must be about my Father’s business” (Lk 2:49). The gospel writer, St. Luke, tells us that Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Because Mary is free of original sin, she has an infused knowledge to know the will of God (just like Adam and Eve before the Fall). She can fully reflect on the activities of her Son and truly hold them in her heart.

Source:

Miravalle, Mark. Introduction to Mary. Queenship Publishing, 2006.

Mary’s Song of Praise

Today is the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a very important feast in the life of the Church where we celebrate Mary’s journey to the hill country, to a city of Judah, to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth. I would encourage you to pray the Magnificat (below) today along with Our Blessed Mother and allow the words to enter your heart. However, just having the words in your heart is not enough. As Catholics, we must be able to explain this important Scriptural passage to all those who lack it’s true meaning and the role that Mary plays in Salvation History. Please read – The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (2012), The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Part 2 (2012), The Magnificat (2012), and Saint Francis de Sales on the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (2013). All of these posts come from my weekly series – “Mondays with Mary”.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown the strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the might from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.” (Lk 1:46-55)

Holy is His Name (Based on The Magnificat) – John Michael Talbot

Today’s post is dedicated to my Mother, whose birthday is today. Happy Birthday Mom! What a great day to be born! 

“Mondays with Mary” – Saint Francis de Sales on the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This coming Friday, May 31, is the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We pray this Scriptural event when we recite the Second Joyful Mystery of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s an important typological event in the Scriptures since it fulfills Mary’s role as the New Ark of the Covenant and Hannah’s Song in 1 Samuel. For a thorough explanation of this biblical event, please read – “Mondays with Mary” – The Visitation and the Magnificat. Understanding this event in the life of Christ and Mary is essential for all Christians.

For this week’s “Mondays with Mary”, I have chosen to provide you with some great St. Francis de Salesexcerpts from Saint Francis de Sales’ sermon, first preached by the great Doctor of the Church on July 2, 1618 (the original day of the feast). The feast of the Visitation is of medieval origin and was first celebrated by the Franciscan Order (1263 A.D.) and then eventually by the universal Church. It is now celebrated between the Annunciation and the birth of St. John the Baptist to coincide with the Gospel accounts.

Saint Francis de Sales says…

“Upon hearing from the same holy Gabriel that her kinswoman Elizabeth had in her old age conceived a son [Lk. 1:36], she desired, being her relative, to go to see her, so that she might wait upon her and be a comfort to her during her pregnancy, for she knew that such was the divine will…thus, aware of divine inspiration, she started out. She was not drawn by any curiosity to see if what the angel had told her was really true, for she had not the least doubt about it, but rather she was quite certain that things were exactly as he had declared.”

Speaking about the virtues of charity and humility – “…It was these two virtues which motivated her, and made her leave her little Nazareth, for charity is never idle; it burns in the hearts where it dwells and reigns, and the most blessed Virgin was full of it, because she bore Love Itself in her womb. She made continual acts of love, not only for God…she also loved her neighbor in a most perfect degree…”

Visitation of BVM -3

“…Our Lady went quickly that he might be sanctified, and that this sacred Child who was God, to whom alone belongs the sanctification of souls, might during this visit bring it about in the glorious St. John, purifying him and delivering him from Original Sin…It was charity, therefore, which made the Most Blessed Virgin cooperate in this sanctification. But it is so no wonder that her sacred heart was quite full of love and desire for the salvation of people, since she bore within her chaste womb Love Itself, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world…”

“Along with charity, she was gifted with a profound humility, as it testified by those words which she uttered upon His servant in her lowliness, all ages to come will praise her and call her blessed…The most holy Virgin, hearing what her kinswoman Elizabeth said in her praise, humbled herself and referred all the glory to God. Then declaring her that all her happiness, as I said, came from the fact that He had looked upon His servant in her lowliness, she entoned that beautiful and wonderful canticle, the Magnificat [Lk. 1:46-55]…”

Let us pray that we will always strive to have the Marian disposition of saying “Yes” to Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us strive in the virtues of charity and humility – always willing to love others and to never allow our pride to get in the way of that love.

“Mondays with Mary” – Pope Benedict XVI on the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes

When I went to bed last Sunday night, I had scheduled my blog post – “Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of Lourdes to publish at 5:00 a.m. as I always do. Never did I think that Pope Benedict XVI would drop an ecclesiastical bomb on the world. Since the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes was overshadowed by the Holy Father’s announcement, I am choosing to re-post my writings on this memorial (see link above) as well as provide you with the words of Pope Benedict XVI from February 11, 2010, the Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 18th World Day of the Sick –

“The Church, entrusted with the task of extending Christ’s mission in time and space, cannot neglect these two essential tasks: evangelization and the care of the sick in body and in mind. Indeed, God wants to heal the whole of man and in the Gospel the healing of the body is a sign of the deeper recovery that is the forgiveness of sins (cf. Mk 2: 1-12). It is therefore not surprising that Mary, Mother and model of the Church, is invoked and venerated as “Salus infirmorum Health of the sick”. As the first and perfect disciple of her Son, in guiding the Church on her journey she has always shown special solicitude for the suffering. Witness to this are the thousands of people who go to Marian shrines to invoke the Mother of Christ and find in her strength and relief. The Gospel account of the Visitation (cf. Lk 1: 39-56) shows us how, after the announcement of the Angel, the Virgin did not keep the gift she had received to herself but immediately set out to go and help her elderly cousin Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant with John. In the support that Mary offered this relative who was experiencing a delicate condition such as pregnancy at an advanced age, we see prefigured the whole of the Church’s action in support of life that is in need of care…

…The Liturgy of the Word today presents two main themes: the first is Marian in character and links the Gospel and the First Reading, from the last chapter of the Book of Isaiah, as well as the Responsorial Psalm taken from the Judith’s canticle of praise. The other theme, which we find in the passage from the Letter of James, is that of the Church’s prayer for the sick and, in particular, the sacrament reserved for them. On the Memorial of the apparitions in Lourdes, where Mary chose to manifest her maternal solicitude for the sick, the Liturgy appropriately echoes the Magnificat, the canticle of the Virgin who exalts the wonders of God throughout salvation history: the humble and the poor, like all who fear God, experience his mercy which overturns earthly destinies, thus showing the holiness of the Creator and Redeemer…

…The Church’s motherhood is a reflection of God’s tender love of which the Prophet Isaiah speaks: “As one whom his mother comforts, / so I will comfort you; / you shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (Is 66: 13). It is a motherhood that speaks without words, that awakens in hearts consolation, deep joy, a joy that paradoxically lives side by side with pain, with suffering. The Church, like Mary, preserves within her the tragedies of humankind and the consolation of God, she keeps them together on the pilgrimage through history. The Church down the centuries has shown the signs of the love of God who continues to work great things in humble and simple people. Suffering, when accepted and offered up, and solidarity, when sincere and selfless: are these not perhaps miracles of love? Is not the courage to face evil unarmed like Judith with the power of faith and hope in the Lord alone a miracle that God’s grace continuously inspires in so many people who spend their time and energy helping those who are suffering?”

As we watch the Papacy of Pope Benedict XVI come to a close, let us pray for his intentions, his life of prayer that he will engage, and the Church as a universal whole. Let us pray for the conclave of Cardinals that will gather in the weeks ahead, that through their guidance and understanding of the Church today, they will choose a worthy successor with the direction of the Holy Spirit. We are clearly living in epic times with epic Popes. Let us pray that Benedict XVI will continue to write for his knowledge, wisdom, and guidance can still impact the Church today…even if he is retired.