Visitation of the B.V.M. 2018

Mary & Elizabeth
Detail of fresco from Saint-Martin, Nohant-Vicq, France, c. 1135–40

I’m not blogging today as I shall be mostly at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford, D.V., but if you are looking for something on today’s feast, you may find these two ‘oldies’ of use:

http://www.ibenedictines.org/2013/05/31/the-kindness-of-kin-and-the-friendship-of-women/

http://www.ibenedictines.org/2016/05/31/the-feast-of-the-visitation-2016/

May Our Lady intercede for us all. Amen.

Note on the Illustration

The Visitation: Elizabeth Greets Mary, detail, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=42422 [retrieved May 30, 2018].

The Annunciation is very often accompanied by a second image of Christ’s conception: the Visitation. This can be depicted with Mary and Elizabeth embracing or with the two women speaking to each other, and Grabar has shown that the Visitation was the Christian equivalent of the parental embrace which was a standard image of conception in the pre-Christian royal biographical cycles. The Annunciation and Visitation were, then, originally ‘two parallel images of the same theme of conception, the second being added — in conformity with common iconographic tradition — to show the first witness to Christ’s conception.’ (Clayton, 144)

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The Feast of the Visitation 2016

Today’s feast of the Visitation, the only Marian feast to occur in May, ‘Mary’s month’, is one we can all enjoy. It is taken directly from scripture, so no quarrels about its origin; it celebrates life rather than death, so no forced attempts to wrest joy from heartbreak; and its chief protagonists are not important people, living gilded lives, but ordinary folk, rather like ourselves, who understand the importance of family and friends and do their best to live lives of uncomplicated goodness. So far so good. But for those of us who live what is called a liturgical spirituality, there is a hidden danger. We can become so distracted by our worship that we forget the message of the feast.

It is not enough to surround our statues with flowers and candles; to sing our light Magnificats into the darkness of a fallen world; to process, heap praises upon the Mother of God, allow a sentimental sigh or two to escape our lips. We are not merely to marvel but to do. Even those of us who are cloistered must act. We are to help, give comfort, welcome — and we are, quite literally, to go out of our way to do so, if necessary. When we celebrate the feast of the Visitation today, we are not simply recalling a more-or-less-historical event, we are affirming our willingness to serve. For most of us there will be no weary trek over the Judean hills, no need to struggle with all the discomforts of early pregnancy, but there will be asked of each of us something that will not be easy, something that will cost. May Our Lady and St Elizabeth help us with their prayers.

Note:
I have often blogged about this feast. Here are  links to two earlier posts:

The Feast of the Visitation 2011

The Kindness of Kin and the Friendship of Women

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