Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today is the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which recalls Mary’s visit with her cousin Elizabeth. This event is also the second joyful mystery of the rosary — the first being the Annunciation.
Elizabeth had been barren all her life, but in the Annunciation, Mary learned that her cousin was miraculously expecting a child in her old age. Upon hearing this good news, Mary fervently desired to share in Elizabeth’s joy and serve her during the last part of her pregnancy. So she went “with haste” to visit Elizabeth Both women rejoiced over their good fortune. What wonderful and exciting news they both had to share! I know what it is like to experience the heartbreak of infertility and can only imagine what a joy it would be to experience pregnancy and to share that bond with another woman. God wants all women to experience the beauty and joy of motherhood, even if they are unable to biologically have children. He wants some of us to adopt children and some of us to be spiritual mothers. There are so many who need the gift of maternal love.
Mary’s first action after God had come to dwell in her was one of great maternal love. She shared the gift of self-denying charity. She undertook a long, hard journey in order to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Thus, she proclaimed charity to be the virtue which above all Christ brought with Him from heaven. God made Mary’s visit the occasion of a wonderful miracle. On her entrance into St. Elizabeth’s dwelling, St. John the Baptist was cleansed from sin in his mother’s womb. Mary was the channel of this exceptional privilege of the cleansing away of sin in the case of the unborn child. As then, so now: Mary is the channel of all graces, and above all, of the restoration of the sinner to friendship with God. Mary’s charity is not less present now than at the time of the Visitation. She is far more eager now than then to promote the happiness and console the sorrows of those who come to her for help.
St. Elizabeth is the patroness of expectant mothers.
“Let Mary’s soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each to rejoice in the Lord.”—Saint Ambrose
Almighty ever-living God,
who, while the Blessed Virgin Mary was carrying your Son in her womb,
inspired her to visit Elizabeth,
grant us, we pray,
that, faithful to the promptings of the Spirit,
we may magnify your greatness
with the Virgin Mary at all times.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
~ copyright Jean M. Heimann 2017