A Meditation for the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
May 31, 2016

by Melanie Williams

The following is based on meditations from Marian Founder Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski'sInspectio Cordis (Contemplation with the Eyes of the Heart), translated from the original Latin by Fr. Casimir Krzyzanowski, MIC.

The Founder of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski (1631-1701), wrote meditations for before and after receiving Most Holy Communion for many major feast days in the Church liturgical year. He will be canonized June 5, and in light of that, let's look into his reflections and spiritual advice to souls based on the account of the Blessed Virgin Mary's visit to Elizabeth.

The Gospel of Luke gives the account of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth after the angel announces to Mary that she will conceive the Messiah by the Holy Spirit. It begins:

"Mary rising up" (Lk 1:39)

Blessed Stanislaus comments that Mary rose up to go on her way to Elizabeth, her cousin who is elderly and with child. The Blessed Virgin goes to help someone who is weak, to reach out to someone most in need. In preparing for receiving Holy Communion, Blessed Stanislaus writes, "As for you, likewise rise up to help your soul, [for] nothing should be closer, more dear to you than it."

Examine your soul, see what desires fill your heart. If your heart is in need, ask Jesus to provide for its need. If it is filled with good desires, "as if pregnant," then as you receive Holy Communion, ask Jesus, that as He sanctified John the Baptist in the womb of Elizabeth, so He may sanctify all of your desires to be good, pure, and holy. "Yes indeed," Blessed Stanislaus writes, "ask that with the same grace that He freed John from original sin, He may purify and justify you from all sins."

"Went into the hill country with haste" (Lk 1:39).

Blessed Stanislaus points out that Mary gives example here of how we ought to strive for perfection. One way is that of despising the low-lying valleys of our life, our sinfulness, and ascending to the hill country, the heights of Christian love and perfection. Secondly, "work with haste for your salvation and that of your neighbor" and do not allow laziness and the loss of time that could be used for God's glory and helping those most in need.

He encourages souls not to fall into despair. If you feel the burden of passions overwhelming you and desires for things not of God in your heart, pray to Jesus. Ask Him for this grace, that as He comes into your heart in Holy Communion, He may free you from these burdens, "just as at that time He freed His most holy Mother walking through the hill country — to such an extent that, burdened with the divine proof of love, she finished the journey not feeling any burden."

"She entered into the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth" (Lk 1:40).

Blessed Stanislaus meditates, "Consider with what affection this guest from afar, the Virgin Mother of God, having entered into the house of Zachariah, greeted Elizabeth, and finally, what was the result of this greeting: namely, the sanctification of the infant still concealed in the maternal womb."

We, too, should, with enthusiasm, attentiveness, humility, and diligence, prepare ourselves to greet Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament at Mass and in Adoration, so that our greeting of Him may result in the opening of our hearts to better receive Him, the sanctification of our souls, and strengthening for all difficulties that lie ahead.

"The infant leaped in her womb" (Lk 1:41).

Upon the arrival of Christ the Lord, John leaped with joy within his mother's womb. Blessed Stanislaus writes that after receiving Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, "O how much should you rejoice, inside whose heart dwells he who made John so cheerful that he leaped, he who still did not know how to speak, and neither saw the light of the sun, yet he felt the force of that Sun of justice!"

Blessed Stanislaus encourages us not to sin, not to fall for the transient joys of this world, which do not even compare with the least particle of heavenly joy. Rejoice in the Lord alone!

"... and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit" (Lk 1:41).

"After the joyful leaping of the infant, the mother is filled with the Holy Spirit, namely with this Spirit who penetrated the infant, sanctified him, and made him cheerful. For joy is as if a companion of the Holy Spirit, and He, vice versa, a companion of joy; and certainly, because joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit" (see Gal 5:22).

Blessed Stanislaus further explains that sadness, though, should not always be avoided and is not always bad. "Sometimes in a sad heart is concealed a great and true spirit ... and thus, believe that joy is not always good, and sadness is not always evil," he writes. As in Ecclesiastes 3:4, "there is a time to weep and a time to laugh." And as Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Mt 5:4).

The heart of this lesson is to be authentic with the Lord. As you receive Him in Holy Communion, know that He comes as a Comforter, a Friend, One who rejoices with you when you are joyful, and weeps with you when you are sad. He is with you through it all.

"Blessed are you among women" (Lk 1:42).

Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and yet knows that she is not raised to a position above the Virgin Mary, whom she proclaims most blessed among women.

Blessed Stanislaus comments, "This, namely, is the impact of the Holy Spirit: to bestow upon another not slanders but praises, and to ascribe to them the goods in which they abound, and not deny them out of envy. This is the sign of the heart possessed by the Lord: If it gives itself completely in praising others, and forgets praising itself."

By the Holy Spirit you learn humility, and how to praise the virtues of others. You come to serve those most in need, like our Blessed Mother served her cousin Elizabeth. And Jesus visits your soul in Holy Communion, sanctifies it, and fills you with joy so that you can proclaim, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" (Lk 1:46-47).