Mary is model, teacher, guide, inspiration, life, sweetness and hope to all to raise their eyes to her with love. In the beautiful prayer of St. Bernard, the Memorare, we pray with confidence: “Never was it known that anyone who had recourse to Mary was left unaided…”
May is the month of Mary and it concludes with one of the most beautiful Marian Feast days— the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin St. Elizabeth. Many superb spiritual lessons can be learned from this Marian gem, which also is the 2nd Joyful Mystery. Let us descend into the “Spiritual mine” and grab on to the excellent treasures.
1. CONNECTION BETWEEN THE ANNUNCIATION AND VISITATION. The last part of the prior mystery— the Annunciation/Incarnation— ends with Mary’s “Fiat”— that is to say Mary’s “Yes” to God. The exact words are: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.” In that moment, one of the most sublime moments in the history of the world took place: the Incarnation of the Son of God. That is to say, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, descended from His heavenly throne, and became Incarnate (man) in the most pure womb of the Virgin Mary! In rapt awe, we humbly adore this sublime mystery!
2. COMMUNION AND FRATERNAL CHARITY. Mary did not keep the “Gift” of Jesus to herself, but went in haste to share the gift to others. She started an 80 kilometer journey, travelling uphill to Ain Karim to visit her cousin Elizabeth to help her in her need. Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Exhortation “Sacramentum Caritatis” insists that Mass and Holy Communion must transform us into ardent missionaries, to bring the Good News of Jesus to the whole world.
3. IN HASTE. Mary did not procrastinate, put off, delay, make excuses, rationalize or justify postponing her trip; rather, she followed the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and moved immediately. Lesson! Upon receiving good inspirations from the Holy Spirit, we should be both docile and prompt and obedient to respond.
4. TRAVEL WITH MARY AND TALK TO HER. Enter into an Ignatian contemplative scene and imagine Mary travelling. Her joy, her quick pace, her awareness of Jesus within her, her determination to carry out God’s will despite the possible obstacles— all of these, made up the long trek to Ain Karim. You can accompany Mary, admire her majesty, but also be inspired by her humility and simplicity; during this long journey with Mary, open up your heart and talk to her about what is going on in your life. Why not even tell her what is most heavy on your mind. Mary is the best of listeners!
5. EUCHARISTIC PROCESSION. Remember! The little Jesus is already present in the womb of Mary. Therefore, as you travel, remember that this indeed is a “Eucharistic Procession” (a Corpus Christi procession). Mary always wants to draw us closer to Jesus; her last words at the wedding Feast of Cana were: “Do whatever He tells you!” Great advice! Beg for the grace to have a greater faith, love and devotion towards the Eucharist!
6. JOY! This is the 2nd Joyful Mystery. Being with Jesus and Mary is the true and authentic source of joy. Mary’s canticle (Her Magnificat) emphasizes this truth: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices (finds joy) in God my Savior…” May we always seek joy in the authentic source: JESUS THE LORD!
7. GREETING! Most likely, Mary greeted Elizabeth with the typical Jewish greeting, SHALOM— peace be with you! Our homes, our families, our communities, our groups, our parishes, our activities, should be characterized by a “Shalom” atmosphere. A warm, welcoming, and inviting milieu should be created. An essential note of apostolic effectiveness is that of creating a warm and welcoming environment. Mary teaches us this by her greeting!
8. BABY JOHN LEAPS FOR JOY! At the sound of Mary’s greeting the infant John in the womb of St. Elizabeth leaps for joy. What is happening here? Jesus, already even before being born, is acting as Redeemer, by freeing John His cousin and Precursor from the bond of Original Sin. Message! Contact with Jesus and Mary through prayer undoubtedly will serve as a powerful means to diminish the grip of sin upon us and to eventually shatter the binding force and slavery of sin. Sin indeed is slavery and Jesus and Mary came to give us true freedom, the freedom of the sons and daughters of God! “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
9. PRO-LIFE PASSAGE “PAR EXCELLENCE!” Both of these women in the modern society could be candidates for abortion. Why? One was very young, Mary; whereas, the other was very old, Elizabeth. However, both had an infinite trust in God’s Divine Providence and gave birth to the greatest: St. John the Baptist and JESUS, THE SON OF GOD! At all times, by our meditation on the mystery of the Visitation, may we be staunch defenders of human life, from the moment of conception until natural death. God is the author and origin of life and only He has the right to take life to Himself!
10. MARY AND ACTIVE SERVICE. Love for God cannot limit itself to words, but must manifest itself in actions, in service, in seeing Jesus truly present in others! Not only did Mary greet Elizabeth, but she also actively served her aged, pregnant cousin in her need! With a little bit of imagination(Ignatian Contemplation), we can picture Mary and accompany her in active service! What might have been some of the activities that Mary would have carried out with joy and love? Travelling to the well to gather water— no running water back then! Sweeping the dust and dirt from the humble home—no vacuum cleaners 2000 years ago! Washing, hanging and drying clothes— no expensive washing machines to quicken the work. Cooking, baking, preparing meals, setting the table, washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen— No Burger King, Pizza-Hut or KFC available! Nor were there overflowing refrigerators, to be checked and emptied of the waste every week! All of these humble, domestic chores Mary would have carried out with the greatest love and attention to aid her cousin Elizabeth. Remember! Holiness does not depend on the greatness of the act, but in the great love that accompanies every action— even if it appears to be small and insignificant in the eyes of the world. The secret of the sanctity of St. Therese and Mary in the mystery of the Visitation, is to do the ordinary things of daily life with extraordinary love! That is sanctity!
In conclusion, let us contemplate the life, words, gestures, actions of Mary, most holy, especially in the Mystery of the Visitation, and be motivated to transfer our contemplative life into active service of our brothers and sisters, who are really Jesus Christ! “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”