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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

The Visitation

December 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Advent, Dan Burke, Meditations: Seasonal, The Prince of Peace

THE VISITATION

“And Mary, rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Judah. 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.”
Luke 1:39-45

CarlHeinrichBlochTheVisitation(MaryVisitsElizabeth)smRestoredTraditions1. When Elizabeth knew of the grace of motherhood that had been conferred on her, we are told that she “hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein He hath had regard to take away my reproach among men.” When Mary knew of the same grace conferred on her “she, rising up, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Judah,” and there saluted Elizabeth. The spontaneous actions are significant. Elizabeth is the hermit, and cherishes the gifts of God in the contemplative life; Mary is the more active, and is prompted by the gifts of God to go and share all she has with others. Still, that she loves the contemplative soul is proved by the fact that to it she goes by “preference, to it she goes with haste,” upon it she bestows the greatest blessing.

2. The fruit of the contemplative is John the Baptist; the greatest among the sons of men, “a prophet and more than a prophet, who “shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.” And so indeed it is in all time. The making of an apostle is not in the lecture-room and the public place; there he learns only the use of his weapons; they are his gymnasium. But it is in secret, in that part of his soul which answers most to the life contemplative. The true apostle is the nearest akin to the recluse. And conversely, as is seen in Our Lady, the first work of the apostolate is charity; its first, indeed its only work.

3. The double blessing which Elizabeth has for Mary must be noted. She repeats the blessing of the Angel; the meaning of the repetition has given room for criticism among commentators. But is it to be wondered at that the same line of thought should give rise to the same conclusion? Especially as the conclusion is so exactly fitting that it is repeated again almost immediately after by Our Lady herself, and has been spontaneously repeated ever since by all the faithful! Then she adds the further blessing: “Blessed art thou that hast believed.” As if she would anticipate an answer to that question of our Lord Himself, “Who is My mother, and who are My brethren?” He answered: “Whosoever shall do the will of My Father Who is in heaven, he is My brother, and sister, and mother.” And she answers: “She who said, ‘Be it done to me according to Thy word,' she, on your own showing, is indeed your Mother.”

Summary Meditation Points:

1. In Elizabeth and in Our Lady we have types of the contemplative and apostolic natures, even as seen in active life.

2. From the contemplative comes the apostle, and back to the contemplative goes the apostle, in charity.

3. The contemplative blesses the active with a double blessing.

 

Archbishop Alban Goodier SJ (Mirror View 1)Editor’s Note: This meditation is from Archbishop Alban Goodier’s “The Prince of Peace” (1913).

Art: The Visitation (Mary Visits Elizabeth), Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890), date unknown, Restored Traditions, used with permission. Mirror of Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J., www.stmaryscadoganstreet.co.uk, all rights reserved, used with permission.

 

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Patricia

    From today’s posting, there were two intriguing points:

    1. “Elizabeth is the hermit, and cherishes the gifts of God in the contemplative life; Mary is the more active, and is prompted by the gifts of God to go and share all she has with others.”

    ( I have always thought that Mary was the perfect model of the contemplative life since she pondered all things in her heart, had such great humility, and a special “hiddenness” in the Bible.)

    2. “The making of an apostle is not in the lecture-room and the public place; there he learns only the use of his weapons; they are his gymnasium. But it is in secret, in that part of his soul which answers most to the life contemplative. The true apostle is the nearest akin to the recluse. And conversely, as is seen in Our Lady, the first work of the apostolate is charity;”

    (The question that comes to my mind Is, “What is charity really? Charity today seems to mean ‘loving everyone without boundaries’, continuing to have interactions with anyone who does anything sinful, mean, or lacking in respect, or abusive “to prove” our love for God. Is this what is required of us?)

    So I looked it up and found that there is an ordered approach to exercise charity to protect it as a virtue. This is not to say that a prompting of the Holy Spirit to an act of love or charity towards another should be ignored, but more importantly, that we cannot commit the slightest offense towards God in the name of love for neighbor.)

    So how do we discern what we should do to be charitable, as commanded by Jesus in the gospels in order to be true disciples and go forth with an apostolic mission of charity? How do we prioritize our thoughts and actions?

    The exercise of charity would soon become injudicious and inoperative unless there be in this, as in all the moral virtues, a well-defined order.

    The Christian idea of brotherly love has as its distinctive feature, the motive which prompts its laws and prepares its achievements. The faithful carrying out of the “new commandment” is called the criterion of true Christian discipleship (John xiii, 34 sq.), the standard by which we shall be judged (Matthew 25:34 sqq.), the best proof that we love God Himself (1 John 3:10), and the fulfilment of the whole law (Galatians 5:14), because, viewing the neighbour in God and through God, it has the same value as the love of God. To read more see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09397a.htm

    • LizEst

      Your quote has been edited to bring it within a more reasonable length. Your post was nearly 2000 words long, twice the size of many of the articles/posts on our site. Before you quote, please try to briefly summarize what the author says. If this can’t be done and you cite the newadvent site, we will more often than not approve that citation, as their information is solid. Thank you and God bless you, Patricia.

  • LizEst

    I can understand that reasoning. But, the fact is that people are less likely to read comments of that length. So, if you want to keep someone’s interest: express your ideas, summarize accurately, quote a little if you like, reference if it’s of significant length. Links can be a tricky thing and, in general, most are not approved. NewAdvent often gets a nod from me (because we know it to be Magisterium faithful) unless, of course, the particular link doesn’t pertain to the question at hand.

    • Patricia

      Thanks for the tips!

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