A Meditation for the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
May 31, 2008

Domenico Ghirlandaio
The Visitation
Louvre, Paris, France

The Archangel Gabriel approached Mary with the announcement that she is to bear the Son of God by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. She was filled with the love of God in the silence of her womb. She quietly received the Creator of Heaven and earth so that all division would cease and all would be one — God with man and man with God.

And Mary rising up in those days went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda (Lk 1:39).

Full of the One Life, Mary hastens to the hill country in response to the news that her cousin Elizabeth was with child. The road from Nazareth to the hill country is not one that many women with child, in a family way, would take, yet Mary, the Virgin, hastens to be of service to her cousin, without knowing the full impact of her visit. She lets love lead her in hope. She gives herself in service through a living faith, as we can always experience her, mother of us all.

The miracle in Elizabeth's old age was a baby boy, who would be named John — John the Baptist. It would be he who would go before the Lord to make straight all paths, to call those who would listen to the voice crying in the wilderness "make straight the way of the Lord" to know the God who forever remains faithful to His Promise.

The meeting of Mary and Elizabeth was the moment John the Baptist was cleansed from original sin in the womb of his mother, as the voice of Mary's greeting reached the ears of her old cousin. The Spirit excites the two babies in a meeting and visitation as a sign that all meetings and visits be in the power of the Spirit, enlivened by Love so that salvation can be always celebrated in the full power of life.

Elizabeth proclaims Mary, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, as Mother of God and "blessed among women" (Lk 1:42) We continue to declare this truth every time we acknowledge the Virgin as the "bearer of God" while praying the "hail Mary" as in the "Three Hail Mary's," the Rosary and the chaplet of the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary.

Mary responds to her cousin by singing out the moving hymn, Magnificat — "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord" (Lk 1:46), for she acknowledges, as she always has and will, that nothing is without God and that nothing is impossible to those who, like she, recognize in humility that we are servants of the Lord. The Church uses this hymn in its evening prayer to worship God as it honors the one who, in total self giving — the essence of love — witnesses to the faithful love and mercy of God, "for His mercy endures forever" (Ps 118)

In the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception we take special care to hear the voice of Mary as she visits each of her children with the Fruit of her womb, each Holy Communion an encounter, each adoration such a humble "Yes" that causes us to proclaim the Greatness of the Lord. Her purity of mind and heart invite all mankind today, as always, to accept the cleansing power of Grace, the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. It is because of Him we may leap for joy!

I am come, said Christ, "that they may have life and may have it more abundantly" (Jn 10, 10).