Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

                                         "The Visitation," Chartres Cathedral

Today is the Feast of the Visitation, which commemorates the second Joyful Mystery of the rosary, the Blessed Virgin's visit to her cousin Elizabeth.   At the time of the Visitation, Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist, and Mary was pregnant with Jesus.  According to the Gospel of St. Luke, Elizabeth greeted Mary in this way:

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.

 Mary responded with the "Magnificat:"

My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him. He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

The Feast of the Visitation was begun by St. Bonaventure in 1263 AD, and was extended to the entire Church in 1389. 

Let us pray with St. Athanasius:

O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all, O Ark of the Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which Divinity resides.

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