“Behold he comes, leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills. My beloved is like a roe or a young hart. Behold he stands behind our wall; looking through the windows, looking through the lattices. Behold my beloved speak to me, Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come. For winter is now past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have appeared in our land, the time of pruning is come, the voice of the turtle is heard in our land: the fig-tree has put forth her green figs, the vines in flower yield their sweet smell. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come. My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hollow places of the wall, show me your face, let your voice sound in my ears, for your voice is sweet and your face comely.” ~Epistle for today’s Mass – Canticles ii. 9‒15
Today, in the old calendar, the Roman Catholic Church commemorates the second joyful mystery of the Rosary, the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Elizabeth. The second joyful mystery of the Rosary is, indeed, the detailing of a very joyful event in the history of the world; and, for this day, I am posting a Visitation-themed entry, as I have done in the past, but with changes and edits.
Set in summer, the Visitation is a happy feast because we, the Catholic people, experience the joy of viewing the Ark of the Covenant, the expectant Mary, as she visits her cousin St. Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s unborn son, St. John the Baptist. It is a feast of the active and contemplative church combined; as Our Lady takes to the byways to care for another while simultaneously carrying Jesus, the Light of the World, close to her heart in her chaste and immaculate womb. Dom Prosper Gueranger (b. 1805- d. 1875) explains the Epistle, posted above, from today’s Mass:
The Church introduces us into the depth of the Mystery. What she has just been reading to us is but the explanation of that word of Elizabeth’s which sums up the whole of today’s feast: “When your voice sounded in my ear, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” Voice of Mary, voice of the turtle, putting winter to flight and announcing spring-tide, flowers and fragrance! At this sweet sounds, John’s soul, a captive in the darkness of sin, casts off the badge of slavery and suddenly developing germs of highest virtues appears beauteous as a bride decked in nuptial array: and therefore, how Jesus hastes to this well-beloved soul! Between John and the Bridegroom, what ineffable out-pourings! What sublime dialogues pass between them, from womb to womb of Mary and Elizabeth! Admirable Mothers! Sons yet more admirable! In this happy meeting, the sight, the hearing, the voice of the Mothers belong less to themselves than to the blessed fruit each bears within her. Thus their senses are the lattices through which the Bridegroom and Friend of the Bridegroom see one another, understand one another, speak one to the other!
The animal man, it is true, understands not this language (1 Corinthians ii. 14) “Father,” the Son of God will soon exclaim: “I give you thanks for that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to little ones” (Matthew xi. 25). “Let him, therefore, that has ears to hear, hear (Matthew xi. 15; xii. 9), but Amen, I say to you, unless you become as little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew xviii. 3) nor know its mysteries (Matthew xiii. 11).” Wisdom will nevertheless be justified by her children, as the Gospel says (Matthew xi. 19). The simple-hearted in quest of light, with all the straightforwardness of humility, let pass unheeded those mocking flickers that sport across the marshes of this world. They know right well that the first ray of the Eternal Sun will disperse these thin phantoms, leaving sheer emptiness before those who run in pursuit of them. For their part, these wise little ones already feed on that which eye has not seen, nor ear heard (1 Corinthians ii. 9), having a foretaste, here below, of eternal delights.
Ineffably is John the Baptist experiencing all this. Accosted by the divine Friend who has been beforehand in seeking him, his soul at once awakens to full ecstasy. Jesus on His side, is now making His first conquest. For it is to John that is first addressed among all creatures (Mary of course excepted) the sacred Nuptial-song uttered in the Soul of the Word made Flesh, making His divine Heart throb with emotion. Yes, it is today (our Epistle tells us so), that in concert with the Magnificat, the divine Canticle of Canticles is likewise inaugurated in the entire acceptance that the Holy Ghost wishes to give it. Never more fully than on this happy day will the sacred ravishments of the Spouse be justified. Never will they find a more faithful response! Let us warm ourselves at these celestial fires. Let us join our enthusiasm to that of Eternal Wisdom who makes His first step, this day, in His royal progress towards mankind. Let us unite with our Jesus in imploring the Precursor at last to show himself. Were it not ordered otherwise from on High, his inebriation of love would verily have made him at once break down the wall that held him from appearing, then and there, to announce the Bridegroom. For well knows he that the sight of his countenance, preceding the Face of the Lord Himself, will excite the whole Earth to transports. He knows that sweet will his own voice be, when once it has become the organ of the Word calling the Bride to Him. (source)
That is beautiful; and, yet, as usual, there is much more to be said about this feast, and if you have time you might read about it here and here. St. Louis de Montfort (b. 1673- d. 1716) explains Our Lady here.
May you have a beautiful day, and may Our Lady kindly visit us with her motherly care as she did St. Elizabeth. Our Catholic ancestors (one example: Dom Prosper Gueranger, above) have told us that where Mary is, there is life and hope.
~Image: The Visitation, source and information.