The Church's Year
ON THE FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF MARY. [July
is this festival called the Visitation of Mary?
BECAUSE on this day Mary visited her cousin
Elizabeth, whom, as the angel had told her, God had blessed with
a son in her old age.
Introit of the Mass is the same as on the festival of the Immaculate
(Cant. ii. 8—14.) behold, he cometh, leaping upon the mountains,
skipping over the hills: my beloved is. like a roe or a young hart.
Behold, he standeth behind our wall, looking through the windows,
looking through the lattices. Behold, my beloved speaketh to me:
Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come.
For winter is now past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have
appeared in our land: the time of pruning is come: the voice of
the turtle is heard in our land: the fig-tree hath put forth her
green figs: the vines in flower yield their sweet smell. Arise,
my love, my beautiful one: and come: my dove in the clefts of the
rock, in the hollow places of the wall, show me thy face, let thy
voice sound in my ears: for thy voice is sweet, and thy face comely.
The Church here applies this lesson to Christ's love for His Mother,
from whom He received His flesh. From the beautiful words of this
day's lesson, thou mayest, therefore, comprehend the love which
Jesus and Mary had for each other, and consider that Jesus so loves
thy soul, that He calls on thee to rise up, that is, to leave earthly
thoughts, and come to Him, to live for Him only, and entertain thyself
in prayer with Him only, like Mary who because of this was so beautiful
in His sight.
COLLECT O Jesus, sweet Bridegroom of my soul, come,
hasten with Thy grace to visit my soul, that she may be purified
and sanctified by Thy love, come prepare her for Thy worthy dwelling,
visit me as thou once didst visit with Mary the child John and sanctify
him. Do not permit my ears ever to close to Thy warning voice, but
grant that I may always obey Thy holy admonitions, and thus become
ever more and more pleasing to Thee.
(Luke i. 39—47). At that time, Mary rising up, went into the
hill-country with haste, into a city of Juda: and she entered into
the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass
that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped
in her womb: and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, and she
cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, as soon
as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in
my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed,
because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee
by the Lord. And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord: and my
spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Mary rising up went into the hill-country,
and as St. Luke says, with haste: "And tell us now, O Mary,"
exclaims St. Alphonsus Liguori, "why dost thou hasten so?"
"I have a duty to fulfill she replies, "which the love
of my neighbor requires. I go to assist a pious family." —
In like manner you also should hasten to carry help and consolation
to your neighbor. II. Mary visited her cousin out of true love,
not from inconsiderate curiosity or according to the custom of the
world. From such motives we should make all our visits. They should
aim always only at the honor of God and the spiritual advantage
of our fellow-men, they should not come from false politeness or
through bad intentions, which alas! are too often the motives of
worldly visits. III. Mary in this visit gives a special example
of humility, when she, although the Mother of God, visits the mother
of His servant, John, saluting her first, and rendering her for
three months the services of a maid. -— Learn from Mary, and sincerely
ask her to obtain for you the virtue of humility. IV. When Mary
was praised by her cousin and called blessed, she turned the praises
at once to God and gives Him all the honor. — When we do any good,
we should always give the honor to God, not to ourselves, as the
prophet says: Not to us, not to us, but to thy name give glory!
V. When Mary entered into Zachary's house, wonderful grace entered
with her. The infant John leaped for joy, because sanctifying grace
was then given to him, before he was born; Elizabeth was filled
with the Holy Ghost, and Zachary, St. John's father, was soon to
be consoled by regaining the use of speech.
"It is then but true," exclaims
St. Alphonsus Ligouri, "that through thy mediation, my Queen
and Mother, God's graces are dispensed and souls sanctified! Forget
me not, Oh! my beloved Mother Mary, forget not me, thy servant,
who loves thee and places in thee all his hopes!"
EXPLANATION OF THE MAGNIFICAT
does this canticle contain?
THE praise of God, Mary's gratitude and humility.
In it she praises God, and rejoices that He saw the humility of
His hand-maid, and made her the Mother of His only-begotten Son,
and, therefore, all generations shall call her blessed. She says
that God's mercy is great from generation to generation to those
that fear Him: He humbles the proud and casts them down from their
seat, which they had erected in their conceit, but gives His grace
to the humble and exalts them: He richly fills those who hunger
and thirst after virtue and heavenly treasures, but lets those who
think themselves rich, go away empty; He receives all true Israelites
for His worshipers and leads them to salvation, which He promised
to their fathers. "God is mighty;" says St. Augustine,
"if thou exaltest thyself, He turns from thee; if thou humblest
thyself, He descends to thee."
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living- God! who didst descend from
the heights of heaven into the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
didst remain for nine months in it, deigning to visit and sanctify
St. John through her, grant, that we may participate, through the
practice of good works and especially of humility, in the fruits
of Thy holy Incarnation.