a priest's musings on the journey

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: May 31 (or July 2)

Today the Western Church celebrates the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was originally celebrated on July 2 by the Franciscans, who were the first to observe the day. However, now the feast is observed by most on 31 May so that it will fall between the Feast of the Annunciation and the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist. This feast remembers the visit of the Mother of God to her kinswoman, St Elisabeth, shortly after Holy Mary had received the news from the Archangel Gabriel that she would be the Mother of our Lord. The story is told by St Luke (1:39-56). When Mary greeted Elizabeth, who had conceived in her old age, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to prophecy, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."
Mary replied with the beautiful prophetic words of the Magnificat (which you can hear below).

Today we celebrate the meeting of two women: one too old to have child, about to bear the last prophet of an age that is passing away, the other not ready to have a child, about to bear the One who will inaugurate an age of peace and justice that will never pass away.

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The Evening of the Visitation - Written in 1947
by Thomas Merton

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
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!

The icon above is in the Maronite tradition
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 7:47 PM


Thank you Rob - lovely - quite made my day! No wonder the seminary found it hard to cope with you! Pity sound not working on widget or maybe I'm doing something wrong?
Blogger John the organist, at 1:16 PM  
It helps to plug in the speakers! Love it - gorgeous Howells! HAve sung this often!
Blogger John the organist, at 1:17 PM  
Beautiful music! Thank you. I'm listening to it in lieu of Vespers AND Compline :-).
Blogger Jane R, at 9:07 PM  

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