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Listening To Mary’s Voice – Part 4 (The Magnificat)

 

As we continue our look at Mary’s words in the Bible, the scene shifts from Mary’s encounter with Gabriel (the Annunciation) and moves to her visit with Elizabeth (the Visitation).  After traveling in haste to be with her pregnant relative, Mary is greeted with the words:

“Most 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.” (Luke 1:42-45)

Mary, in turn, responds with the great prayer that we’ve come to know as the Magnificat:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”(Luke 1:46-55)

By listening to Mary’s words and studying this visit with Elizabeth, we see a concise overview of our Blessed Mother’s virtues.  Let’s examine some of them:

1. Mary’s Humility – The humility of the Blessed Mother can be seen in her response to Elizabeth’s words of praise.  Instead of accepting the compliments and taking full credit for her “being blessed”, Mary instead praises the Lord.  She knows that God is the source of her goodness.  That is TRUE humility!

2. Mary’s Gratitude – The words of Mary’s prayer illustrate her gratitude to Almighty God.  Beginning with the initial proclamation of joy for her salvation (Mary needed a savior, but as written by Pope Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus, she was saved “by a unique gift of grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Christ”), we see someone who is very grateful for God’s unmerited gift.  Basing her remaining words on the Song of Hannah (1 Sam 2:1-10) and other Old Testament passages, Mary uses her knowledge of Scripture to express a deep appreciation for the Lord’s benevolence.

3. Mary’s Love For Her Neighbor – As soon as Mary discovered that Elizabeth was pregnant, she went “with haste” (Lk 1:39) to visit her.  Not worrying about the inconvenience that goes along with being pregnant and traveling to the hill country, Mary put the needs of Elizabeth ahead of her own comfort.  As a further example of her concern for the well being of others, Mary stayed with her elderly relative for 3 months (Lk 1:56) before returning home.  When one considers what was going on in her own life, Mary’s actions provide us with a tremendous example of what it means to “love thy neighbor” without counting the cost.

4. Mary’s Faith –  Giving us further scriptural proof that Mary embraced and believed the incredulous words of Gabriel, Elizabeth proclaimed “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45)  In his book The Glories Of Mary, Saint Alphonsus Liguori stated that “it was as a tribute to her faith that Elizabeth called Our Lady blessed.”  Mary trusted fully in God and did whatever He asked, thus giving credibility to her words, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord”!

5. Mary’s Obedience –  Although some people are disturbed by the term “fear of the Lord”, Mary understands the true meaning of the concept.  When she states “His mercy is from age to age to those who fear Him”, the Blessed Mother acknowledges the importance of obeying God’s commandments as an expression of love! Those who truly love the Lord have a fear of being separated from Him or letting Him down.  That desire to please Him results in obedience.  According to Archbishop Fulton Sheen, obedience “springs from the love of an order and of Him who gave it…Obedience is servility only to those who have not understood the spontaneity of love.” (The World’s First Love)  Mary reminds us that we should obey the Lord because we love Him and don’t want to disappoint Him!

As we read through the words of Mary’s Magnificat, we see a heartfelt profession of faith from someone who was grateful for God’s mercy and providence in her life.  Too often, we take the Lord’s mercy for granted and don’t trust in His providence.  May our Blessed Mother intercede for us and help us to love God with all our hearts and truly “rejoice in Jesus Christ, Our Savior”!

Listening To Mary’s Voice – Part 3 (Submission)

 

As we continue with Part 3 of a 7-Part series on Mary’s words in Scripture, I’ll be taking a look at the final words of the Blessed Mother to the angel Gabriel.  Last time we focused on Mary’s declaration that she is the Lord’s handmaid (servant).  Essentially, Mary informed Gabriel that she considers herself to be the Lord’s servant.  Furthermore, as a sign that she fully accepts her mission to bring the Savior into the world, Mary adds the words:

“May it be done to me according to your word. ” (Luke 1:38)

A recap of the facts helps to illustrate the profundity of Mary’s statement.  She has just been informed that:

1. She will become the mother of the Son of God while being able to retain her virginity.

2. The virgin pregnancy and birth will come about through the action of the Holy Spirit.

3. Elizabeth (her elderly relative) is now six months pregnant.

4. All of this will happen because “nothing will be impossible for God”.

After hearing the details, most of us would have many more questions and would be begging the angel to stick around.  Mary, on the other hand, heard all that she needed to hear.  In fact, Gabriel’s final statement surely wasn’t news to Mary at all.  To someone with a strong faith, a belief that God can do all things is implied.  Contrasting Mary’s faith with my own faith is painful, but enlightening.  Hardly a day goes by when I don’t question the Lord’s ability to resolve some crisis in my life.  Although the angel’s words are right there in Scripture and they are etched in my memory, I need to get better at believing them.  As long as I’m comparing Mary with myself, there’s another really big difference. Mary didn’t even flinch at the fact that her pregnancy is going to be really difficult to explain to Joseph, her family and to just about all of her other relatives and friends.  That’s because she loved God with all of her heart and TRULY was His servant.  The fact that she was going to be inconvenienced didn’t matter to her.  She meant what she just said about being the Lord’s handmaid.  If He wanted her to do something, she would do it with no questions asked.  Is anyone else feeling really inadequate right now?

Each day, you and I are given the opportunity to say “yes” to God.  Like Mary, we are often asked to submit to His will without knowing all of the details.  Whether it’s being open to having additional children, pursuing a religious vocation or contributing more to charitable causes, the Lord often requests our consent.  Are we so concerned about the details or potential difficulties that we say “no thanks”?  Or, like the Blessed Mother, do we declare ourselves to be the Lord’s servants, trusting in His providence?

While discerning God’s will often requires prayer and meditation, sometimes it’s A LOT easier to discover.  By simply accepting those things that happen to us on a daily basis (at our jobs, in our families, when we become ill), we are saying “yes” to God and following His will.  When asked how to determine God’s will, Mother Angelica replied, “Honey, if it’s happening, it’s God’s will; and you have to correspond with it in the present moment”.  When unpleasant or painful events occur in our lives, we can complain or we can echo the words of Our Blessed Mother…

“May it be done to me according to your word. ”

“Mary was like a wheel which was easily turned by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Her only object in the world was to keep her eyes constantly fixed on God, to learn His will, and then to perform it.” (St. Bernardine of Siena)

Next Time: The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)

Sacred Heart Radio Needs You!

If you’re a regular listener of The Son Rise Morning Show on EWTN, you probably know that the show originates from the studios of Sacred Heart Radio in Cincinnati, Ohio.  On Thursday, December 8th, 2011, Sacred Heart Radio will be hosting a one day membership drive.  As a regular guest of the show, I’ll be appearing on the air from 6:15-6:30 AM Eastern to do my part in helping to raise some much needed funds. 

Have you benefited at all from the Son Rise Morning Show?  If so, I’d ask you to keep this membership drive in your prayers and consider making a monetary donation.  I know that Catholic radio is greatly responsible for my love of the Faith and I’m sure many of you feel the same way.  Without the help of folks like us, many Catholic radio stations would cease to exist!

If you’re not in the Cincinnati area and would like to share in this day of special programming, you can listen live at http://www.sacredheartradio.com/  You can also make an online donation using that link.  The tentative lineup of guests is as follows (all times are Eastern):

6:00-6:15 Kevin Prendergast (studio)

6:15-6:30 Gary Zimak (phone)

6:30-6:45 Randy Hain (phone)

6:45-7:00 Cheryl Dickow (phone)

7:00-7:15 Pete Ellerhorst (studio)

7:15-7:30 Teresa Tomeo (phone)

7:30-7:45 Rita Heikenfeld (studio)

7:45-8:00 Stephanie Mann (phone)

8:00-8:15 Fr Kyle Schnippel (studio)/Marcel LeJeune (phone)

8:15-8:30 Paula Westwood (studio)/Liz Carter (studio)

8:30-8:45 Emily Bissonnette (studio)

8:45-9:00 Marybeth Hicks (phone)

4:00-4:30 Collin Raye (studio)

4:30-4:45 Lisa Hendey (phone)/Fr Rob Jack (studio)

4:45-5:00 Thom Price (phone)/Fr Rob Jack (studio)

5:00-5:15 Bishop Joseph Binzer (studio)

5:15-5:30 Kent Linneman (studio)

5:30-6:00 Kevin Lowry (studio)