Gospel of the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady
39 Mary set out and travelled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, 40 where She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are You among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And how does this happen to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed are You who believed that what was spoken to You by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
46 And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; 47 my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48 for He has looked with favour on His lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: 49 the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name. 50 He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation. 51 He has shown the strength of His arm, He has scattered the proud in their conceit. 52 He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. 54 He has come to the help of His servant Israel for He has remembered His promise of mercy, 55 the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.”
56 Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home (Lk 1:39-56).
I – The Symphony of Servanthood
In a world where the most radical egalitarianism is preached as a remedy to social discord, today’s Gospel runs the risk of being misunderstood. In fact, by means of St. Luke’s pen, the Holy Spirit performs in these verses the most beautiful symphony in praise of servanthood. With God himself as director, the “orchestra” includes “virtuosos” of the highest order, from the Infant Jesus, still hidden in the virginal womb of Mary, to St. John the Baptist, leaping with joy in his mother’s womb. In this beautiful composition, everyone sings the hymn of humility and seeks to treat the others as superior to themselves.
Servanthood is a word proscribed in the dictionary of our egalitarian pseudo-culture, but it has great importance in the Catholic religion. Let us recall that Jesus made himself a servant in order to save us, going to the utmost extreme of humiliation (cf. Phil 2:7); Our Lady exulted in declaring herself the handmaid of God, as we shall contemplate in this article; and St. Paul exhorted Christians to be servants of one another out of love (cf. Gal 5:13). Thus, the Church proposes servanthood as an ideal to be attained by all, because it is the true solution to the world’s problems.
Egalitarianism, as conceived by the bloodthirsty Jacobins, is an illusory remedy for the evil of envy. In a society levelled with iron and fire by the promoters of “liberty”, the proud are urged to sink into the anonymous mass of “equals” with the fallacious promise of never finding themselves overshadowed by a superior. But how to restrain the vehement desire of human pride to impose itself and dominate others? In reality, no egalitarian is satisfied with the uniformity that his supposed ideal propounds. This, in brief, explains the vicious circle brought about by the revolutionary utopia, leading man to terrible frustration, for social hierarchy will always exist, owing to the natural order of things.
At the other extreme, Catholic submission – of which we have a shining example in the Gospel of this feast – readily admires the qualities of others, respects authorities,rejoices at the superiority of others, venerates those who stand out for their virtues, and adores God with all the strength of the soul. It is the best predisposition to true love, which consists in detachment from oneself in the contemplation of the goodness of others. At first sight, it would seem that submission is a negative attitude; nevertheless, it has an unusual power to elevate those who cultivate it, for “whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Mt 23:12).
If we consider that Our Lady, bearer of the Word of God and Queen of the Universe, decides to go in haste to help her cousin – inferior to Her in the order of grace – our spirit is amazed and filled with wonder. The Mother of God serves the mother of the Precursor. It is a gesture diametrically opposed to the spirit of the world. The noblest, without renouncing their own dignity, rush to the aid of those who are lesser, who react to such a profusion of goodness with heartfelt gratitude. This, on Elizabeth’s lips, becomes a sublime hymn of glorification to the Virgin and to her Divine Son.
In the episode of the Visitation we see the pattern of human relationships that will mark the historical era prophesied at Fatima, the Reign of Mary. Looking at those who will have passed unscathed through the crucible of the coming purification, people will exclaim, “See how they are slaves to one another!” Yes, the desire to serve will be the keynote of future centuries, marked by the spirit of the Immaculate.
II – The First Gleam of Mary’s Mediation
The Gospel of the infancy narrated by St. Luke conveys with enchanting scintillations sublime truths of our Faith, some of which have already been solemnly declared by the Supreme Magisterium of the Church, such as the Divine Maternity of Mary, and others, we may say, are waiting to be so. Specifically, the Visitation of Our Lady to St. Elizabeth highlights her role in the Church as the Universal Mediatrix of all graces, in union with Christ. This is a most noble mission, which over the centuries has become more explicit in the theological sphere, and in the latter times will come to manifest itself in its full splendour in the reality of events.
The union of graces and designs between Mother and Son is such that God did not only entrust Her with bearing the adorable Body of Jesus, but also willed to associate Her with His redemptive work in an intimate, inseparable and sublime way. As the most solid theology attests, Our Lady was a Co-redemptrix with the Redeemer, as the New Eve next to the New Adam. And having purchased with Him the graces that heal and elevate fallen man, with Him She also shares them with motherly generosity.
Jesus acts with grandeur in souls, but He does so through Mary, through her voice, her presence and her actions. And thus the distribution of the divine gifts reaches its zenith, producing miracles of sanctification, such as those that took place in the hearts of St. John the Baptist and St. Elizabeth during the Visitation. The more clearly the faithful see the scope of the supernatural mission that the Blessed Virgin must exercise in the world, the greater the flow of graces will become, inaugurating a true supernatural springtime in the whole world, today devastated by the sin of apostasy.
Devout meditation on the mystery of the Visitation will give us some idea of what this new historical phase will be like, bathed in the purest waters of Marian grace, capable of raising humanity to a very close union with God and transforming the earth into a reflection of Heaven. Only the most humble and unassuming creature could be the golden bridge by which the Lord of hosts will convey His best gifts, to enrich mankind and transfigure it under the rays of purest splendour.
“If any one would be first, he must be servant of all”
39 Mary set out and travelled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah…
Our Lady is the model of docility to the inspirations of her mystical Spouse, the Holy Spirit. We can imagine how inclined She would be, conscious of being the Mother of God to remain recollected in order to give the best possible care to the Unborn Child, to shield Him from any risk, and to take advantage of the heavenly intimacy with the Incarnate Word, who had entirely dedicated to Her the nine blessed months of pregnancy. However, knowing that the divine will was otherwise, Mary travelled in haste.
This promptness of the Virgin, without the least hint of agitation, demonstrates her perfect slavery. She had declared to the Archangel Gabriel that She was the handmaid of the Lord (cf. Lk 1:38) and, at the slightest indication of His will, She acted with utmost diligence, fully submissive to the determinations of the Most High. It could not be otherwise, for She followed the example of the Son She carried in her virginal cloister, who had come down from Heaven to depend entirely on Her, becoming Mary’s first slave.
Mary’s voice is the bearer of efficacious graces
40 …where She entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit…
If proof were needed of the obedience-driven nature of the journey undertaken by Mary, we have it in the spiritual fruit of extraordinary proportions which She obtained for her cousin and for St. John the Baptist. The voice of the Blessed Virgin is the bearer of a torrent of efficacious graces, which produce effects even more surprising and magnificent, under certain aspects, than those of Pentecost.
Indeed, the episode of the Visitation can well be said to have been the first Pentecost in history, a Marian Pentecost that presages with its radiance new outpourings of the Holy Spirit, of unimagined proportions, through His mystical Spouse. Our Lady’s greeting – a simple word of hers! – spoken in a soft, discreet and pure tone, was the blessed aqueduct that flooded Elizabeth’s soul with the fullness of union with God. This makes us think that it would be enough for the Queen of Heaven to call us by name, for us to be filled with the presence of the Divine Paraclete. Why not ask for that favour?
On this occasion we see clearly that Our Lady is the most eminent Mediatrix of grace, through whom the Consoler visits souls and purifies them in the most chaste flames of His love.
The marvellous fruits of the Holy Spirit
42 … cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are You among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And how does this happen to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed are You who believed that what was spoken to You by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
St. Elizabeth exulted in God and blessed her cousin with inspired words, repeated hundreds of times each day by devotees of the Holy Rosary. The Holy Spirit instructed her most perfectly regarding the Divine Maternity, for she declares that the fruit of Mary’s virginal womb is her Lord, that is, God.
This truth of Faith, which the Pharisees would deny despite witnessing astonishing miracles, an elderly lady of in a village of Judea confesses with crystalline clarity, elevation and simplicity.
Her praise also refers to Mary’s docility and trust in hearing the Angel’s announcement, adhering firmly to his words: “Blessed are You who believed that what was spoken to You by the Lord would be fulfilled.” In a single instant, therefore, she knew not only of the divinity of the Child that the Blessed Virgin carried in her womb, but also of the revelation that had been made to Her. There is no better teaching or catechesis than the direct action of grace: when God wills, He instructs hearts with the rapidity, power and splendour of a majestic bolt of lightning.
Elizabeth proclaims all these truths with vigour, raising her voice, as a result of the action of the Holy Spirit who purifies the Precursor from sin and fills him with grace even before he is born: “As soon as your greeting reached my ears, the child leaped in my womb for joy.” This is a sanctifying power unheard of in history, surpassed only by the immaculate conception of Our Lady. Without yet having seen the light of day, the Sun of Justice, hidden within the virginal walls of Mary’s cloister, had dawned on St. John the Baptist.
Mary’s exultant unpretentiousness
46 And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; 47 my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour…”
Our Lady’s reaction to such praise was to look up to Heaven and glorify God. The Magnificat can be considered the canticle of Mary’s exultant unpretentiousness: it is not She who is the centre but the Most High, and so her soul, humble in the extreme, “magnifies the Lord” by focusing its attention on Him alone.
48 “…for He has looked with favour on His lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: 49 the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name. 50 He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation.”
The spirit of Mary Most Holy, of regal and simple beauty, resembles a Gothic arch at whose point seemingly opposing virtues meet: grandeur and humility. She is modest because She considers the Lord the only source of her gifts and virtues, placing herself in the category of a poor servant; nevertheless, She does not hesitate to prophesy: “From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” Few prophecies have been fulfilled as faithfully as this one, in spite of the attempts of many adversaries of the Mother of God to blur her figure down through the centuries. Our Lady will be acclaimed by the Church for ever and ever, evincing the glory with which the Almighty has adorned Her.
A warrior hymn par excellence
51 “He has shown the strength of His arm, He has scattered the proud in their conceit. 52 He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.”
In the Immaculate Heart of Mary reside, quintessentially, all the warrior virtues that adorned the most courageous holy women of history, from Judith to St. Joan of Arc. That is why She rejoices in the imminent victory of good over the tyranny of evil.
In fact, the vast majority of the elites of the Chosen People were dominated by false children of Abraham, who acted like malicious infiltrators eager to distort Revelation for selfish interests. These proud ones, who are special objects of Mary’s execration, would finally be scattered, cast down from the thrones they occupied as impostors and sent away empty-handed. The humble, on the other hand, who gave everything back to the good God, would be lifted up to positions of authority and filled with good things, in order to re-establish the true worship of the Lord and purify with the fire of truth the walls of the defiled sanctuary.
In this sense, the graces dispensed by Virgo Potens will raise up the humble and put down the proud, while hell is rendered powerless. These souls will be immensely effective in purifying and purging the Holy Church, today the victim of the greatest betrayal in history.
54 “He has come to the help of His servant Israel for He has remembered His promise of mercy, 55 the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.”
The Blessed Virgin is Queen of the Prophets, and no one shines like Her as a witness to the fidelity of God, who always keeps His promises. That is why She exclaims full of joy that the Lord of hosts has remembered His mercy by coming to the aid of the chosen people, as He promised to Abraham and his descendants.
And just as our most loving Mother attested to the fulfilment of the ancient prophecies, we too, her children and slaves, must live from the certainty of being able one day to proclaim the triumph of her Immaculate Heart, as She herself, the faithful Virgin, announced at Fatima and ratified on other occasions.
A long visit described in a few words
56 Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
In a short phrase, the Evangelist sums up the sacred and diaphanous conviviality of three months! How many wonders did She work in that time, She who inundated her interlocutors with the Holy Spirit with a greeting? How can we imagine the joy with which the Queen of Angels devoted herself to humble household tasks, while uplifting the souls of those who lived with Her to the highest peaks of contemplation?
What is certain is that the home of Zacharias was blessed in an archetypal manner, in order to symbolize the future sanctification of the Church through Our Lady, when all her members, from the highest in the hierarchy to the simple faithful, open the doors of their souls to Her with the same dispositions as St. Elizabeth and St. John the Baptist.
III – Foretelling of the Marian Era
At Fatima Our Lady announced her triumph, as well as the desire of her Divine Son to establish devotion to her Immaculate Heart in the world. These two elements are of capital importance in illuminating the chaotic darkness of present-day society with a ray of light from Heaven.
We have seen that St. Elizabeth praised the Blessed Virgin as the one who believed the words that were announced to Her. Thanks to this faith, God’s plan was fulfilled and the promises made to the patriarchs and prophets were wonderfully accomplished, surpassing all imagination: the uncreated and eternal God himself entered into time, descending to earth as true Man, in order to bring us salvation. But Mary’s bold and strong faith will go further, as She herself has announced.
The Our Father prayer is without any doubt among the most valuable treasures left by Incarnate Wisdom. Of a sublime simplicity in its form, its content is of divine nobility. At each Mass, after the consecration, the Holy Church recites it, crying out to the First Person of the Holy Trinity: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Besides imploring the coming of the Kingdom, this prayer also prophesies it in a sense, by the simple fact of it having been prayed by Jesus Christ and by the Church in union with Him, for His intercession before the Father is infallible. It remains to be seen when this will happen.
In the golden ages of medieval Christianity, the Kingdom of God was established in the world to some degree, but just as this magnificent tree was about to bear its best fruit, the poisonous serpent of the Revolution coiled around it, bringing about a calamitous sterility. The events that followed chronicle the progressive demise of this magnificent civilization, once animated by the maxims of the Holy Gospel. It is a sadly truncated history that has precipitated humanity into a horrific barbarism. From then until now, although countless glorious Saints have appeared as beautiful stars in the firmament of the Church, society as a whole has progressively closed itself to the action of divine grace.
Nevertheless, the prophecies of the Cova da Iria give us a fairly clear idea of the time of the most perfect fulfilment of God’s Kingdom among men. In effect, Our Lady foretold to the little shepherds the outbreak of the Second World War, the spread of Marxist errors throughout the world, the annihilation of various nations and, finally, the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.
Thus everything points to a proximate coming of the Reign of Mary, a historical period which, amidst the struggles and difficulties inherent in this vale of tears, will lead humanity to a summit of holiness that is difficult to imagine. The infallible prophecy contained in the Our Father will come true through the mediation of Our Lady, by whom the Most High has decided to fulfil His highest designs.
In the light of the Gospel of the Visitation, we can glimpse the Marian note of graces that will transform even the most hardened hearts, so as to render them extraordinarily luminous. Through Mary, with Mary and in Mary, Jesus Christ will work wonders on earth, setting souls ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit. In this way the face of the earth will be completely renewed as a mirror of Heaven. Let us raise our hearts to this hope and live in the joyful certainty of God’s victory. ◊