Saturday, 31 May 2008

The Visitation of the B.V.M.

“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country…” (Lk 1:39a).
When Luke says hill country he really means hill country. The photos attached will give you an idea of what kind of hills Luke is talking about – very steep ones. The photograph above is an aerial view of the place where today’s feast really happened. Our Lady, carrying the child Jesus, visits Elizabeth; their joy is shared with John and Jesus, both still in the wombs. This joy is clearly expressed by Blessed Mary as she bursts forth in singing God’s praises and utters those sweet words that still echo every day all around the world: Magnificat!

Ain Karim is the village where this event took place. Elizabeth was still in her summer residence on the hill and that is where Mary went to meet her. As soon as you come to the village you start a very steep ascent to get to the Basilica of the Visitation. It is uphill and difficult, especially for those of us who experienced it in the heat of August. However, there is a spiritual reality hidden here which we must not loose sight of. Mary climbs the hill, climbing is a struggle and an ascent. Like Mary we need to climb and ascend towards God. This is difficult as it calls for renunciation of self and the mastering of passions. It gets hard and tiresome, however holiness is in the struggle.

When I climbed this hill last year, half way through, I was following someone who was getting very tired. Another pilgrim realised and turned to this person and said: “Don’t give up, you will forget this when you get there.” How true this was, this person looked so refreshed on arriving at the top. The ascent towards God is tiring but how worthwhile and how happy a climb it is when we purify ourselves in the struggle of ascent, when we leave behind our passions, self-centeredness and just let God fill us with his light and his peace. Then when we get there like Mary our souls too will sing: “My soul magnifies the Lord!" The Magnificat: what a fitting conclusion to the month of May.

I have just finished my morning devotions. The order of the day now is: breakfast, packing, last minute shopping and Noon Mass. After Mass straight in the car to return home. Please pray for someone advanced in age and whom I love dearly who is facing more amputation surgery today. Thank you.

+ 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."

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