‘Magnificat anima mea Dominum! Mary’s great “Fiat”. Gabriel has carried her answer to God’s throne. The Holy Spirit has overshadowed her. Mary is now Virgin and Mother, the blessed tree in the midst of the new Paradise bearing the fruit of life. “He that shall find me, shall find life and shall have salvation from the Lord.”
“With haste” the Virgin Mother leaves Nazareth and goes up to Judea to render service to an expectant mother. “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord” (Introit). “With haste” she pursues her journey, “because the grace of the Holy Spirit knows no slow working” (St Ambrose), all the while “rejoicing in God her Saviour” whom she is carrying with inexpressible love in her chaste womb.
The Mother of God with the Son of God on her way to a hill country, to the home of Zachary and Elizabeth, radiating peace and joy! Mary salutes Elizabeth, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and her predestined child is sanctified, leaping for joy in his mother’s womb.
And now the divine Spirit descends on Mary, replenishment with such an abundance of heavenly sweetness, that from a heart overflowing with gratitude she chants that sublime canticle which henceforth shall resound throughout the age: “Magnificat, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoiced in God my Saviour... He that is mighty has done great things unto me, and holy is His name.”
Today Mother Church renders present this particular event of the work of redemption. Today our Holy Lord will continue in us the saving work wrought from within the sanctuary of His Mother’s bosom for Elizabeth and her herald-son, John, a truth so strikingly expressed in the postcommunion: “May the holy reception of this sacrament renew our inner life, cleanse us from our former ways and make us partakers of the mystery of salvation.”
In conclusion let us take to heart the words of St Ambrose addressed to a group of virgins, and read in today's divine office: ‘"You have learnt, O virgins, the modesty of Mary. Learn also her humility. She went as a relative to her relative, the younger to the elder; and not only did she go there, but she first greeted Elizabeth. For the most chaste a virgin is, the more humble should she be. She will know how to submit to her elders. She who professes chastity should be mistress of humility. For humility is the root of piety, and the very rule of its teaching. It is to be noted that the superior comes to the inferior so that the inferior may be assisted, Mary comes to Elizabeth, Christ to John.”
“He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted the humble!”
Let us pray: “Stir up Thy might, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and come: that they who trust in Thy goodness may be more speedily delivered from all adversity” (collect)
from a meditation on the Ember Friday in Advent in Vine and Branches, 1948, by Mgr Martin Hellriegel
Fr Lee Kenyon