Go, roads, to the four quarters of our quiet distance, While you, full moon, wise queen, Begin your evening journey to the hills of heaven, And travel no less stately in the summer sky Than Mary, going to the house of Zachary.
The woods are silent with the sleep of doves, The valleys with the sleep of streams, And all our barns are happy with peace of cattle gone to rest. Still wakeful, in the fields, the shocks of wheat Preach and say prayers: You sheaves, make all your evensongs as sweet as ours, Whose summer world, all ready for the granary and barn, Seems to have seen, this day, Into the secret of the Lord’s Nativity.
Now at the fall of night, you shocks, Still bend your heads like kind and humble kings The way you did this golden morning when you saw God’s Mother passing, While all our windows fill and sweeten With the mild vespers of the hay and barley.
You moon and rising stars, pour on our barns and houses Your gentle benedictions. Remind us how our Mother, with far subtler and more holy influence, Blesses our rooves and eaves, Our shutters, lattices and sills, Our doors, and floors, and stairs, and rooms, and bedrooms, Smiling by night upon her sleeping children: O gentle Mary! Our lovely Mother in heaven!
~ A poem by Thomas Merton
Happy & Blessed Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary!
O my Mother, most holy Virgin Mary, be always my model, my support, and my guide.
“And Mary, rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda.” These words are from today’s Gospel (Lk 1, 39-47). Mary, in the exquisite delicacy of her charity, has such a profound sense of the needs of others, that as soon as she hears of them, she acts spontaneously and decisively to bring help. Having learned from the Angel Gabriel that her cousin was about to become a mother, she goes immediately to offer her humble services.
If we consider the difficulty of traveling in those days, when the poor, such as Mary, had to go on foot over difficult roads, or at best, by means of some rude conveyance, and also the fact that Mary remained three months with Elizabeth, we can readily understand that she had to face many hardships in performing this act of charity. However, she was in no way disturbed: charity urged her, making her wholly forgetful of herself, for as St. Paul says: “Charity seeketh not her own” (1 Cor 13,5). How many times, perhaps, have you omitted and act of kindness, not to spare yourself a hard journey, but only to avoid a little trouble. Think how uncharitable you are and how slow to help others. look at Mary, and see how much you can learn from her!
Charity makes Mary forget not only her hardships but also her own dignity, which was greater than that given to any other creature. Elizabeth is advanced in years, but Mary is the Mother of God; Elizabeth is about to give birth to a man, but Mary will give birth to the Son of God. Nevertheless, before her cousin as before the Angel, Mary continues to look upon herself as the humble handmaid of the Lord, and nothing more. Precisely because she considers herself a handmaid, she comports herself as such, even in respect to her neighbor. In your case, perhaps, although you know how to humble yourself before God and recognize your lack of perfection in the secrecy of your heart, it displeases you to appear imperfect before your neighbor, and you quickly resent being treated as such. Are you not anxious to have your dignity, education, and ability recognized, as well as the more or less honorable offices or charges which have been entrusted to you? Your dignity is a mere nothing, and yet you are so jealous of it. Mary’s dignity approaches the infinite, yet she considers herself and behaves as if she were the least of all creatures.
~ A Meditation by Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.
O Mary, how great is your humility when you hasten to serve others! If it is true that he who humbles himself will be exalted, who will be more exalted than you who have humbled yourself so much?
“When Elizabeth caught sight of you she was astonished and exclaimed: ‘Whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? But I am still more astonished to see that you, as well as your Son, came not to be served, but to serve… It was for this purpose that you went to Elizabeth, you the Queen, to the servant, the Mother of God to the mother of the Precursor, you who would give birth to the Son of God, to her who would bring forth a mere man.
“But your profound humility in no way lessened your magnanimity; the greatness of your soul was not opposed to your humility. You, so small in your own eyes, were so magnanimous in your faith, in your hope in the Most High, that you never doubted His promises, and firmly believed that you would become the Mother of the Son of God.
“Humility did not make you fainthearted; magnanimity did not make you proud, but these two virtues were perfectly combined in you!
“O Mary, you cannot give me a share in your great privileges as Mother of God; these belong to you alone! But you want me to share in your virtues, giving me examples of them in yourself. If, then, sincere humility, magnanimous faith, and delicate, sympathetic charity are lacking in me, how can I excuse myself? O Mary, O Mother of mercy, you who are full of grace, nourish us, your poor little ones, with your virtues!” (cf. St. Bernard).