In keeping with my series on the Rosary, this month, I discuss the mystery of The Visitation.
August is such a special month for Our Lady.
Not to steal her thunder, but instead to add to it, we remember St. Dominic’s feast day on August 8th. That is also my birthday. I’ll be blowing out 53 candles and making extra wishes in the form of prayers for myself and for those I love. I know that as a good Mom, Mary loves those I love too. She also works deeper conversion within me to make sacrifices for the salvation of all souls. But since it is my birthday, I’ll splurge and have an extra slice of cake in honor of St. Dominic.
The great Dominic, as Pope Leo XIII called him, is the saint commissioned by Our Lady to preach her Psalter, known as “The Hail Mary,” along with meditation upon the life of the events of her Son’s life. This was during the early 1200s when heresy threatened French culture. Up until that point, Dominic was an enthusiastic preacher, but his evangelizing, lacked punch. Isn’t it interesting that Mary’s humility and obedience is what crushes the head of the serpent? The name Dominic correlates with the breed of dog, the doberman. The Dominicans would become the dogs of God who would sniff out heresy and bring the lost sheep of God’s flock back to pasture. I learned this from Father Don Calloway’s book, Champions of the Rosary, published by Marian Press.
So you see why I’m so proud that I was born on August 8th.
In addition, we observe Mary’s holiness especially on August 15, when we remember the feast of her Assumption into Heaven.
And why not? If you were Jesus, wouldn’t you assume your Blessed Mother into Heaven? Wouldn’t you surround her with all the choirs of angels and roses and carry her on the clouds with you to eternal paradise? I would. I think she’s earned that. But of course, it’s not about merit. It’s about love. All the more reason that Our Lady, Blessed Among Women, would enjoy a peaceful passing into the arms of her Son, her Lord and Savior.
If it weren’t for Mary . . .
The Visitation marks the time when Mary, upon receiving Gabriel’s message, made haste travelling through hill country to visit her older cousin, Elizabeth. It would be this crucial moment in time that a special relationship would be formed between Jesus and John the Baptist. And it would take place when the two were fetuses (Latin for ‘little ones’), within the wombs of their mothers.
Elizabeth would greet Mary with “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” I can see it. I can see Elizabeth, the older of the two, tenderly smiling and embracing Mary with all the hospitality and love she held. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1: 41-42).
Elizabeth also felt quite a kick when she heard Mary’s greeting. John, an unborn baby leapt in the womb! An unborn baby was the first to recognize Christ. We hear very little from Mary in scripture, but following she proclaims her great Magnificat. (Luke 1: 46-55)
One day I was praying the Joyful Mysteries and I deliberately contemplated this mystery. I had this thought: “Mary goes out of her way to reach each one of her children. She was the first missionary.” Isn’t that profound?!
So here are the 10 Susan thoughts for each Hail Mary for the decade of the Visitation:
- Mary goes out of her way for LOVE. . . .Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee . . .
- Pregnant, she walked over lumpy terrain, to reach her beloved cousin. I imagine her feet sore, her body beginning the signs of nourishing another human being within one’s own body; the hunger, the fatigue, the queasiness. There was an awareness that God was calling her to something much higher than her own life; that of giving up one’s life for another; to lose one’s life for His sake, and therefore gaining the Truth, the Way, the Life. . . . Hail Mary, full of grace . . .
- John leapt. For Heaven’s sakes! That little baby knew within the tiny yet supernatural soul of his being who Jesus was, is and ever shall be. . . . Hail Mary, full of grace . . .
- The closeness of female relatives. The happy childhood of sisters, aunts and nieces, cousins. Hail Mary, full of grace . . .
- I wonder if she travelled alone or with Joseph. . . . Hail Mary, full of grace . . .
- Sharing the good news of new life with another mother. Hail Mary, full of grace . . .
- Out of the mouths of babes. Hail Mary, full of grace . . .
- The two mothers sharing household tasks while talking and bonding (kneading dough, washing clothes, carrying water, brushing each other’s hair). Hail Mary, full of grace . . .
- The easiness of good relationships between women, in contrast with strained discourses with women who are unequally yoked. Hail Mary, full of grace . . .
- The unspoken communication between boys and men expressing friendship and loyalty from womb to tomb. Showing true love of neighbor through action, not words. Hail Mary, full of grace . . .
May I go out of my way to love my neighbor the way Mary goes out of her way. She walks the extra mile, worshipping her Lord, not alone, but in community with other believers.
Copyright 2017 Susan Anderson