Wednesday, May 31, 2006

blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!

Today is a wonderful feast of our Lady: the Visitation.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

And mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."

And mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.

Luke 1.39-56

In this passage from Luke, we can see that the exaltation of Mary, her blessedness, and her special estate among humanity is godly and Biblical. We see that Elizabeth's cry is a result of her being "filled with the Holy Spirit": "Blessed are you among women!" In other words, the Holy Spirit himself testifies, through Elizabeth, to the blessedness of Mary.

We also see in this passage why it is that those who fear God call our Lady the "Blessed Virgin Mary." Because "from henceforth all generations will call me blessed." And why? Because God has done great things for Mary, "and holy is his name" and because "His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation."

In short: those on whom is the mercy of God, in every generation, will call Mary blessed. Because the Almighty, whose name is holy, has done great things for Mary; because God saw the lowliness, the humility of Mary his handmaiden, and He exalted her. And his mercy extends to us, in our generation, in our recognition of that blessing and exaltation that he bestowed on her.

What a wonderful mystery! That God chose from among all women the Ever Blessed Virgin Mary to bear in her womb his only and eternal Son. The greatest thing in the history of the cosmos, the Incarnation of the Son of God, in virtue of which we have been delivered from death and hell, took place for nine months in the womb of Mary, the Exalted and Ever Blessed Virgin Mother of God!

Thanks be to God!

PS: The Latin, by the way, in the Illumination of the Visitation (in the picture) above, is Deus in adiutorium meum intende / Domine ad adiuvandum me festina, "O God hold out your favor to me / O God hurry to help me." How appropriate, given that God held out his favor to us through the Blessed Virgin, by sending his Son to be born to us through her. He hurried to help us when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, and in his mercy, he sent us help and assistance: his only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to him, the God and Father of all. His help, his assistance, his Son, he sent to us through the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Latin phrase (Deus in adiutorium... Domine ad...) is the beginning of the Office of Compline. You can pray Compline by going here.


Mark said...

Hey! I visited Smokey Matt's (St. Matthias) today. The rector said you're moving there. Congrats!


Mark said...

Oh, something else. I've become interested in illuminated manuscripts. Would you happen to know what manuscript that illumination is from?

father wb said...

Mark --

I am indeed heading to St. Matthias. I'm pretty excited about it. My fiancee and I have found an apartment (not to be cohabitated, of course), etc.

I'm afraid I don't know whence cometh that illumination beyond its coming from the "Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, Collegeville Minnesota," as it says along the right margin. I think I found it by doing an image search on google for "Visitation" or something.