|Devotion to Our Lady||
1. The Meditation on the Mystery
2. According to Holy Scripture
3. According to the Mystics
The home of St. Zachary and St. Elizabeth was, as tradition has it, in Ein Karem. If one could walk in a straight line all the way, Ein Karem would be about 70 miles south of Nazareth. However since the mountains are in the way, and the Samaritans live along the shortest route, Mary would have had to take much longer route, which would have totaled around 100 miles.
This second mystery of the Rosary is called “The Visitation.” This visit of Mary, to her cousin Elizabeth, is no ordinary visit! In fact, it is quite extraordinary for several reasons. The fact we are so materially minded, added to the fact that we live in the most luxurious and most comfortable surroundings that the world has ever known, dulls our spiritual and natural understanding to the point where we are blind and insensitive to many things of bygone ages. We know only our own time and think little, know little, and care little about things of the past.
According to tradition, St. Elizabeth gave birth to St. John the Baptist in Ein Karem, leading to the establishment of many churches and monasteries in the area. Ein Karem is an ancient village of the Jerusalem District and now a neighborhood in southwest Jerusalem in Israel, several miles south-west of Jerusalem.
The Physical Side of Things
In our modern day form of travel, we think very little of distance—because the car does all the work, and very quickly indeed! Speeds of 30 mph or even 65 mph cover distance rapidly, while we sit on upholstered seats, enjoying protection from wind, rain, cold and heat. However, it was not so easy for the Mother of God. She had a very, very tough life compared to ours!
The mileage from Jerusalem to Nazareth, that Mary and Joseph would have taken, was at least 100 miles (160 km)! The most direct route would be only about 70-75 miles; however this would be through Samaria. This was an area between Jerusalem and the Galilee area to the north. The Jews as a whole hated the Samaritans and they the Jews. Travel through Samaria was to be avoided because of the mountainous conditions and the racial hatred. The travel route was from Jerusalem down to the Jordan valley ‘the Jericho Road’. Then across the Jordan River into the area now as Perea (part of present day Jordan and once a part of Israel with two and a half tribes of Israel living there). One would then go north on the east side of the River Jordan on up into Decapolis still on the east side of the River Jordan. Just below the Sea of Galilee the route crossed back over the River Jordan and then split. One route went on Northwest to Nazareth the other route passing along the West side of the Sea of Galilee past Tiberias and on through Magdala to Capernaum. Both these routes are about the same mileage.
The normal means of transportation was ‘walking’. Most of the time travel to the Passover or other Feasts in Jerusalem was done as a family group or town group. The annual trips are what later became known as pilgrimages. Often, as one group merged with other groups on the main road, the numbers would increase to thousands strung out along the way walking or camping. Every Inn and barn would be full of people overnighting, with others camping along the road or in the fields.
Along the roads there were no toilet facilities, water or other travel needs. Life was tuff in those days for the traveler. In the summer time the heat could reach up to 1200 F. and in the winter there is often snow along that route. The way included mountains, valleys, rivers, desert and wilderness. There were bandits and killers hiding along the wayside. For those who could afford it a donkey was brought along to help carry supplies.
A healthy young man, traveling alone, unencumbered by things to carry, could average a very brisk 4 miles per hour journeying in the spring leaving at sunrise (5:30 a.m.) and taking an hour rest at noon, stopping an half-hour before sunset to make camp (5:30 p.m.), restarting at sunrise (5:30 a.m.), would arrive in Jerusalem around 2:00 p.m. the second day. Have you ever tried walking 4 miles an hour? On a rocky road? You might keep it up for couple of hours, but then….
A heavily laden person, or a group including a family with children or older adults (or a pregnant woman), averaging 2-miles-per-hour, journeying in the spring leaving at sunrise (5:30 a.m.) and taking a half-hour mid-morning break, a two hour food and rest break, a half-hour afternoon break, and stopping an hour before sunset (5:00 p.m.) to make camp, would arrive in Jerusalem around 10:00 a.m. on the fifth day.
If traveling in the rainy season (December - February) add additional time for muddy roads and shorter days with less daylight. Also add additional time for the longer route along the Jordan River or the Coastal route. If traveling in summer, longer days with more daylight is offset by more frequent rest stops due to heat.
Add to these difficulties the absence of washrooms to wash away the sweat and grime of a full day’s walking; no shelter from the elements, which would mean having to walk in wet clothes if it rained; exposure to all the bugs and insects that would have been in abundant supply; usually having to sleep with the bugs in the open air; the threat of bandits and robbers. All this makes it a bit more unpleasant and mortifying than our usual trip in the car to see friends! How easily we complain today about difficulties, without thinking to the past and how people had to live and cope in those days!
The Spiritual Side of Things
Each and every mystery of the Rosary is a bottomless treasure chest of teaching and example. It is a spring or well that will never run dry. No matter how much we try to reflect upon its mysteries, there is always something new to learn, something else to imitate. It is saddening how some people can say they find the Rosary boring. The truth of the matter is that they cannot be bothered to dig for the waters of grace that lay beneath the surface—and, consequently, they dehydrate spiritually and die of spiritual thirst.
We cannot possible come anywhere to doing this, or any other mystery, justice. We can only select one aspect for now, and cover some of the others later. However, before beginning, we could perhaps just list some of the areas or topics upon which we could meditate at a future date.
1. We see here, again, the constant intervention of Divine Providence in the lives of men and women.
2. Another topic would be that of Angels—as they frequently play a role in many of the mysteries.
3. Then we have the topic of miracles—in the case of Zachary.
4. There are a myriad of virtues that shine forth from this mystery of the Visitation, for us to contemplate:
Humility of the personages.
Charity and hospitality shown.
Faith by Mary in Angels message about Elizabeth (as opposed to Zachary's disbelief in the Angel's message)
Hope and Long-suffering by Zachary during his punishment.
Fortitude by Mary in making the journey.
Temperance by Mary and Joseph in the way they live.
Prudence by Mary in her keeping the Annunciation hidden from Joseph.
Love of God by Mary & Elizabeth.
Fraternal Charity by Mary.
Obedience of Mary.
Gratitude by Mary.
Justice & Praise by Elizabeth.
Spontaneous Prayer by Mary (Magnificat) and Zachary (Benedictus).
Chastity by Joseph and Mary.
Traditionally, the virtue that is associated with this mystery is that of Fraternal Charity. So that is the virtue that we will meditate in this reflection. The others, as said, we will gradually treat over time.
Though we associate the Annunciation with the virtue of Humility, it can also be associated with Charity—more specifically, with the Love of God. For God offers Himself to Mary. She accepts. She unites her will to God's will—that is what love is all about. As St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, the union of wills is an effect of love. Mary becomes the loving spouse of the Holy Ghost and the Fruit of that union is the Son of God—in fact, we could say the "Son of Love" for, as St. John says: "God is charity" (1 John 4:8).
In this mystery of the Visitation, Mary carries and brings that Love to others. She first communicates with God, and then she carries God to others, so that they too can communicate with Him also. The double communion at Mass should remind us of this—firstly, the priest privately communicates with Our Lord by himself (Annunciation), then he carries Our Lord to the communion rail in order to give Our Lord to the faithful (Visitation). He may even go long-distances, like Mary's journey to Elizabeth, in order to bring Our Lord in Holy Communion for the sick (like Zachary—who was struck dumb).
You may not be able to take and bring Holy Communion to people, but as Our Lord said: "Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Is Jesus not called the "Word of God"? Yes, He is! And we are all capable of bringing the Word of God to others.
Yet, there is another truth, or axiom, that says "One cannot give what one has not got." We cannot teach anyone Spanish, unless we know the language ourselves. We will give a poor account of the Word of God, if we do not nourish ourselves upon it first. People can spend hours and hours watching movies, sports, sitcoms, talk shows and the like—but mention an hour of reading the Bible, or the Fathers of the Church, or some other spiritual book, and they cannot imagine a worse fate to befall them. Sadly, lukewarmness, indifferentism, selfishness and a lack of love and generosity are the diseases that plague the vast majority of souls today. That is why we are only capable of short clichés of spiritual advice, that barely skim the surface and leave souls, that could have profited from our sharing of the Word, weak, undernourished and dying.
In a certain sense, the Catholic world has been struck dumb like Zachary—because it has been faithless and unbelieving. Did not Our Lord say of Himself: "the Son of man, when He cometh, shall He find, think you, faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8) and "because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold" (Matthew 24:12).
God needs you, like Mary, to bring the His Word to others: "Going therefore, teach ye all nations ... Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:23-24). You are to "sow the seed" of the Word of God. "But all do not obey the Gospel ... Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:16-17). "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved. How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be sent, as it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good things!’" (Romans 10:13-15).
Mary's feet took her on a long journey to bring the Good News of the Gospel to Elizabeth. She brought the object of Faith
—Jesus— to the unbelieving Zachary. Once the Word of God had been proven to be true, and St. John the Baptist was finally born, Zachary's tongue was loosened and he could speak! His first words were what we now call the canticle Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79). If only we would do the same—speak first of the things of God, bring the Word of God to others and teach them to know, love, serve and profit from the Word of God. Unfortunately, most of day's words and conversations (thoughts too) are not about God, but about other vain, empty, secondary, and sometimes even sinful, things.
To bring the Word of God to others is a great act of charity—it is a fraternal charity, a love of neighbor, for we bringing and sharing that which can mean the difference between eternal misery and damnation, or eternal joy and salvation. The greatest gift you can give anyone on earth is Jesus. The greatest gift after life on earth is Heaven, where we are eternally united to Him.
Now to bring the Word of God to others do not necessarily mean going door-to-door like the Legion of Mary do—though that would not be a bad thing if it is possible, but one can simply begin by bringing the Word of God more and more into daily family conversations, conversations with others outside the home, or in the letters and e-mails that we send. Mary goes to Elizabeth, and not to a stranger. Their conversations, during the three months that Mary spends there, are not gossip about what is happening in Jerusalem, Nazareth or Ein Karem. They were, no doubt, divine conversations. As St. Paul says: "But our conversation is in Heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20). "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury; but be ye filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:18-19).
So there we have it—just a small grain of a meditation from the endless sands of the mysteries of the Rosary. Let us ask Our Lady, through whom all graces come, to obtain for us the grace to be truly devoted to the Holy Rosary and to open our minds to the infinite treasures found therein! Ave Maria!
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zachary...and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Elizabeth. And they were both just before God, walking in all the commandments and justifications of the Lord without blame. And they had no son, for that Elizabeth was barren, and they both were well advanced in years. And it came to pass, when he executed the priestly function in the order of his course before God, according to the custom of the priestly office, it was his lot to offer incense, going into the temple of the Lord. And all the multitude of the people was praying without, at the hour of incense.
And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the alter of incense. Zachary seeing him, was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him: "Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John: and thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice in his nativity. For he shall be great before the Lord; and shall drink no wine nor strong drink: and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people."
And Zachary said to the angel: "Whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years."
And the angel answering, said to him: "I am Gabriel, who stand before God: and am sent to speak to thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be able to speak until the day wherein these things shall come to pass, because thou hast not believed my words, which shall be fulfilled in their time."
And the people were waiting for Zachary; and they wondered that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak to them: and they understood that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he made signs to them, and remained dumb. And it came to pass, after the days of his office were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days, Elizabeth his wife conceived, and hid herself five months, saying: "Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he hath had regard to take away my reproach among men."
And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin, espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women ... Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: because no word shall be impossible with God."
And the angel departed from her. And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she cried out with a loud voice, and said:
"Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. [And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord."
And Mary said:
"My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold, from henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed. Because He that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is His Name. And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him. He hath shown might in His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy: as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever."
And Mary abode with her about three months; and she returned to her own house. Now Elizabeth’ s full time of being delivered was come, and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and kinsfolks heard that the Lord had shewed his great mercy towards her, and they congratulated with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they called him by his father’s name Zachary. And his mother answering, said: "Not so; but he shall be called John."
And they said to her: "There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name!" And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And demanding a writing table, he wrote, saying: "John is his name!" And they all wondered. And immediately his mouth was opened, and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came upon all their neighbours; and all these things were noised abroad over all the hill country of Judea. And all they that had heard them, laid them up in their heart, saying: "What an one, think ye, shall this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him!"
And Zachary his father was filled with the Holy Ghost; and he prophesied, saying:
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; because He hath visited and wrought the redemption of His people: and hath raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David His servant: as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who are from the beginning. salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us: to perform mercy to our fathers, and to remember His holy testament, the oath, which He swore to Abraham our father, that He would grant to us, that, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve Him without fear, in holiness and justice before Him, all our days. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways: to give knowledge of salvation to His people, unto the remission of their sins: through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us: to enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace."
And the child grew, and was strengthened in spirit; and was in the deserts until the day of his manifestation to Israel.
And Mary rising up in those days," says the sacred text, "went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Jude" (Luke 1:39). This rising up of our heavenly Queen signified not only her exterior preparations and setting out from Nazareth on her journey, but it referred to the movement of her spirit and to the divine impulse and command which directed her to arise interiorly from the humble retirement, which she had chosen in her humility. She arose as it were from the feet of the Most High, whose will and pleasure she eagerly sought to fulfill, like the lowliest handmaid, who according to the word of David (Ps. 122:2) keeps her eyes fixed upon the hands of her Mistress, awaiting her commands. Arising at the bidding of the Lord she lovingly hastened to accomplish his most holy will, in procuring without delay the sanctification of the Precursor of the incarnate Word, who was yet held prisoner in the womb of Elizabeth by the bonds of original sin. This was the purpose and object of this journey. Therefore the Princess of Heaven arose and proceeded in diligent haste, as mentioned by the Evangelist Saint Luke.
Leaving behind then the house of her father and forgetting her people (Ps. 44:11), the most chaste spouses, Mary and Joseph, pursued their way to the house of Zacharias in mountainous Judea. It was twenty-six leagues distant from Nazareth, and the greater part of the way was very rough and broken, unfit for such a delicate and tender Maiden. All the convenience at their disposal for the arduous undertaking was an humble beast, on which she began and pursued her journey. Although it was intended solely for her comfort and service, yet Mary, the most humble and unpretentious of all creatures, many times dismounted and asked her spouse Saint Joseph to share with her this commodity and to lighten the difficulties of the way by making use of the beast. Her discreet spouse never accepted this offer; and in order to yield somewhat to the solicitations of the heavenly Lady, he permitted her now and then to walk with him part of the way, whenever it seemed to him that her delicate strength could sustain the exertion without too great fatigue. But soon he would again ask her, with great modesty and reverence, to accept of this slight alleviation and the celestial Queen would they obey and again proceed on her way seated in the saddle.
Thus alleviating their fatigue by humble and courteous contentions, the most holy Mary and Saint Joseph continued on their journey, making good use of each single moment. They proceeded alone, without accompaniment of any human creatures; but all the thousand angels, which were set to guard the couch of Solomon, the most holy Mary, attended upon them (Cant. 3:7). Although the angels accompanied them in corporeal form, serving their great Queen and her most holy Son in her womb, they were visible only to Mary.
In the company of the angels and of Saint Joseph, the Mother of grace journeyed along, filling the fields and the mountains with the sweetest fragrance of her presence and with the divine praises, in which she unceasingly occupied Herself. Sometimes she conversed with the angels and, alternately with them, sang divine canticles concerning the different mysteries of the Divinity and the works of Creation and of the Incarnation. Thus ever anew the pure heart of the immaculate Lady was inflamed by the ardors of divine love. In all this her spouse Saint Joseph contributed his share by maintaining a discreet silence, and by allowing his beloved spouse to pursue the flights of her spirit; for, lost in highest contemplation, he was favored with some understanding of what was passing within her soul.
At other times the two would converse with each other and speak about the salvation of souls and the mercies of the Lord, of the corning of the Redeemer, of the prophecies given to the ancient Fathers concerning Him, and of other mysteries and sacraments of the Most High. Something happened on the way, which caused great wonder in her holy spouse Joseph: he loved his spouse most tenderly with a chaste and holy love, such as had been ordained in Him by the special grace and dispensation of the divine love itself (Cant. 2:4); in addition to this privilege (which was certainly not a small one) the saint was naturally of a most noble and courteous disposition, and his manners were most pleasing and charming; all this produced in him a most discreet and loving solicitude, which was yet increased by the great holiness, which he had seen from the beginning in his spouse and which was ordained by Heaven as the immediate object of all his privileges.
Therefore the saint anxiously attended upon most holy Mary and asked her many times, whether she was tired or fatigued, and in what He could serve her on the journey. But as the Queen of Heaven already carried within the virginal chamber the divine fire of the incarnate Word, holy Joseph, without fathoming the real cause, experienced in his soul new reactions, proceeding from the words and conversations of his beloved spouse. He felt himself so inflamed by divine love and imbued with such exalted knowledge of the mysteries touched upon in their conversations, that he was entirely renewed and spiritualized by this burning interior light. The farther they proceeded and the more they conversed about these heavenly things, so much the stronger these affections grew, and he became aware, that it was the words of his spouse, which thus filled his heart with love and inflamed his will with divine ardor.
Having pursued their journey four days, the most holy Mary and her spouse arrived at the town of Juda, where Zachary and Elizabeth then lived. This was the special and proper name of the place, where the parents of Saint John lived for a while, and therefore the Evangelist Saint Luke specifies it, calling it Juda, although the commentators have commonly believed that this was not the name of the town in which Elizabeth and Zacharias lived, but simply the name of the province, which was called Juda or Judea; just as for the same reason the mountains south of Jerusalem were called the mountains of Judea. But it was expressly revealed to me that the town was called Juda and that the Evangelist calls it by its proper name; although the learned expositors have understood by this name of Juda the province, in which that town was situated. This confusion arose from the fact that some years after the death of Christ the town Juda was destroyed, and, as the commentators found no trace of such a town, they inferred that Saint Luke meant the province and not a town; thus the great differences of opinion in regard to the place, where most holy Mary visited Elizabeth, are easily explained.
It was at this city of Juda and at the house of Zacharias that most holy Mary and Joseph arrived. In order to announce their visit, Saint Joseph hastened ahead of Mary and calling out saluted the inmates of the house, saying: "The Lord be with you and fill your souls with divine grace." Elizabeth was already forewarned, for the Lord himself had informed her in a vision that Mary of Nazareth had departed to visit her. She had also in this vision been made aware that the heavenly Lady was most pleasing in the eyes of the Most High; while the mystery of her being the Mother of God was not revealed to her until the moment, when they both saluted each other in private. But Saint Elizabeth immediately issued forth with a few of her family, in order to welcome most holy Mary, who, as the more humble and younger in years, hastened to salute her cousin, saying: "The Lord be with you, my dearest cousin," and Elizabeth answered: "The same Lord reward you for having come in order to afford me this pleasure." With these words they entered the house of Zacharias and what happened I will relate in the following chapter.
After the first salutation of Elizabeth by the most holy Mary, the two cousins retired, as I have said at the end of the preceding chapter. And immediately the Mother of grace saluted anew her cousin saying: "May God save thee, my dearest cousin, and may his divine light communicate to thee grace and life" (Luke 1:40). At the sound of most holy Mary's voice, Saint Elizabeth was filled by the Holy Ghost and so enlightened interiorly, that in one instant she perceived the most exalted mysteries and sacraments.
These emotions, and those that at the same time were felt by the child John in the womb of his mother, were caused by the presence of the Word made flesh in the bridal chamber of Mary's womb, for, making use of the voice of Mary as his instrument, He, as Redeemer, began from that place to use the power given to Him by the eternal Father for the salvation and justification of the souls. And since He now operated as man, though as yet of the diminutive size of one conceived eight days before, He assumed, in admirable humility, the form and posture of one praying and beseeching the Father. He asked in earnest prayer for the justification of his future Precursor and obtained it at the hands of the blessed Trinity.
This happened before the most holy Mary had put her salutation into words. At the pronunciation of the words mentioned above, God looked upon the child in the womb of Saint Elizabeth, and gave it perfect use of reason, enlightening it with his divine light, in order that he might prepare himself by foreknowledge for the blessings which he was to receive. Together with this preparation he was sanctified from original sin, made an adopted son of God, and filled with the most abundant graces of the Holy Ghost and with the plenitude of all his gifts; his faculties were sanctified, subjected and subordinated to reason, thus verifying in himself what the archangel Gabriel had said to Zacharias; that His son would he filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb of his mother (Luke 1:17).
At the same time the fortunate child, looking through the walls of the maternal womb as through clear glass upon the incarnate Word, and assuming a kneeling posture, adored his Redeemer and Creator, whom he beheld in most holy Mary as if enclosed in a chamber made of the purest crystal. This was the movement of jubilation, which was felt by his mother Elizabeth as coming from the infant in her womb (Luke 1:44). Many other acts of virtue the child John performed during this interview, exercising faith, hope, charity, worship, gratitude, humility, devotion and all the other virtues possible to him there. From that moment he began to merit and grow in sanctity, without ever losing it and without ever ceasing to exercise it with all the vigor of grace.
Saint Elizabeth was instructed at the same time in the mystery of the Incarnation, the sanctification of her own son and the sacramental purpose of this new wonder. She also became aware of the virginal purity and of the dignity of the most holy Mary. On this occasion, the heavenly Queen, being absorbed in the vision of the Divinity and of the mysteries operated by it through her most holy Son, became entirely godlike, filled with the clear light of the divine gifts which she participated; and thus filled with majesty Saint Elizabeth saw her.
Filled with admiration at what she saw and heard in regard to these divine mysteries, Saint Elizabeth was wrapt in the joy of the Holy Ghost; and, looking upon the Queen of the world and what was contained in her, she burst forth in loud voice of praise, pronouncing the words reported to us by Saint Luke: "Blessed are Thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy, and blessed art Thou, that has believed, because those things shall be accomplished, that were spoken to Thee by the Lord."
In these prophetic words Saint Elizabeth rehearsed the noble privileges of most holy Mary, perceiving by the
divine light what the power of the Lord had done in her, what He now performed, and what He was to accomplish through her in time to come. All this also the child John perceived and understood, while listening to the words of his mother; for she was enlightened for the purpose of his sanctification, and since he could not from his place in the womb bless and thank her by word of mouth, she, both for herself and for her son, extolled the most holy Mary as being the instrument of their good fortune.
These words of praise, pronounced by Saint Elizabeth were referred by the Mother of wisdom and humility to the Creator; and in the sweetest and softest voice she intoned the Magnificat as recorded by Saint Luke (Ch. 1:46-55).
46. My soul Both magnify the Lord;
47. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
48. Because He hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
49. Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me; and holy is his name.
50. And his mercy is from generation unto generation to them that fear Him.
51. He hath showed might in his arm; He bath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
52. He bath put down the mighty from their seat and bath exalted the humble.
53. He bath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away.
54. He bath received Israel, his servant, being mindful of his mercy;
55. As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed forever."