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Header-The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Written by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira 

 The following text is adapted from a lecture Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on July 2, 1970. It has been translated and edited for publication without his revision.  

 

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The VisitationThe story of the Visitation of Our Lady to Saint Elizabeth is well known:  When Saint Gabriel appeared to Our Lady during the Annunciation, he informed her that her cousin, Saint Elizabeth, was with child. Our Lady traveled with Saint Joseph to Saint Elizabeth’s house, to care for her until her son, Saint John the Baptist, was born. Although Our Lady had already conceived the Child Jesus, she had not told anyone.

Nevertheless, Saint Elizabeth had a presentment that the Child Jesus was in Our Lady’s womb. Thus, she greeted Our Lady, saying: “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” (Luke 1:42)  When Our Lady spoke to her, Saint John the Baptist heard Our Lady’s voice, was sanctified by it and leapt for joy, inside Saint Elizabeth’s womb.

This story is rich in applications to the interior life.

          

Saint Elizabeth and the “Catholic Sense”

First of all, it highlights the virtue of Saint Elizabeth, whereby she sensed the presence of Our Lord in Our Lady’s womb. Obviously, this was a special gift. However, every Catholic should have a high degree of this sense, albeit with less intensity and excellence.

Through corresponding to the grace of Baptism, a Catholic begins to perceive, so to speak, where God is and where He is not. This applies less to God’s physical presence, as in the Eucharist, than His moral and supernatural presence.

Thus, the true Catholic senses whether or not something is compatible with God. To do this, he need not have intelligence, culture or theological training, but rather a “Catholic sense” of things.

Saint Elizabeth epitomized this “Catholic sense” when she perceived the presence of the Child Jesus in Our Lady’s womb.



God Gives Glory According to His Unfathomable Designs

This seemingly creates a problem:  Saint Joseph was unaware of Our Lord’s presence, even though he was greater than Saint Elizabeth. While the Church counsels the faithful not to compare saints, since such comparisons are below the dignity of saints and above human wisdom, the fact remains that Saint Joseph was the most chaste spouse of Our Lady. As such, he had a much greater union with her than Saint Elizabeth, who was only Our Lady’s relative. Since a saint’s greatness is proportional to his union with Our Lady, it would seem that Saint Joseph was much greater.

The Visitation 2However, if the knowledge of the presence of God is a virtue and Saint Joseph was a greater saint, one would think he also would have perceived the Incarnation.

Furthermore, he was truly Our Lady’s husband. As such, he possessed a true right over the legitimate fruit of her womb, even though he was not Our Lord’s father.

This problem is easily resolved. God distributes glory to men according to His unfathomable designs. He glorified Saint Elizabeth by allowing her to sense Our Lord’s presence. Thus, she will be forever venerated for having perceived the Incarnation so early and sung the praises of Our Lady as Mother of the Child Jesus.

However, God also glorified Saint Joseph by hiding Our Lord’s presence from him. His ignorance was glorious because it produced a great perplexity in his soul when he was confronted with the reality of Our Lady’s pregnancy. It forced him to prove his love of God and demonstrate the height of his virtue. No man in history weathered so great a storm while practicing such virtue as he. Therefore, for all times he will be the patron of those who suffer perplexities.



Immediate Sanctity: A Grace to Ask from Our Lady

Although it is something the faithful are not obliged by the Church to believe, many authors propose that Saint John the Baptist, being the last and greatest prophet of the Old Testament, synthesized all the glories of official prophetism.

The Visitation 3They suggest that he was entirely lucid in his mother’s womb. Thus, he appraised the sacredness of the Mother of God and the Incarnation, heard Our Lady’s voice, felt the presence of God and leapt for joy. At that moment, he was sanctified.

This is the power of Our Lady. The mere echo of her voice instantly converted Saint John to a high degree of sanctity. We too should hope for this grace.

We should ask her to speak to the innermost regions of our souls and instantly sanctify us. One word from her can bring us to a degree of virtue that years of struggle, without her help, would not obtain.

Whenever we lose spirit, feel sadness or are perplexed in our spiritual lives, I recommend we pray, paraphrasing the prayer the priest says before communion:  “Lord I am not worthy that Thou should enter into my house, but only say a word and my soul shall be healed.”

We should pray:  “O Lady, I am not worthy to hear thy voice, but only say a word and my soul will be changed. If thou so will it, I will be changed in an instant.”

We should ask Our Lady to grant us the same grace she gave to Saint John the Baptist, namely that she speak to our souls, make them leap for joy and instantly sanctify us.

 


 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for May 25, 2020

“I will take away not the grace but the feeling of grace...

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May 25

 

“I will take away
not the grace but the feeling of grace.
Though I will seem to leave you
I will be closer to you.”

Our Lord to St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

Pope St. Gregory VII

In 1073 at the death of Alexander II, the people of Rome cri...

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Pope St. Gregory VII

Pope Gregory VII was born Hildebrand in Tuscany, Italy. Little else is known of his early life. Hailed, historically, as one of the greatest of the Church's pontiffs and one of the most remarkable men of all time, his name, Hildebrand, meant “bright flame”. Those who hated him, which were many, interpreted the name as “brand of Hell”.

Hildebrand was a Benedictine monk, for a time living in Cluny, from whence he certainly gleaned the monastery’s ideal of societal reform.

As a cleric, he became chaplain to Pope Gregory VI, and a few years later, under Leo IX was made Cardinal Deacon. A man of outstanding energy and insight, Hildebrand became a power in Rome. It is greatly due to him that the practice of electing popes through a college of cardinals was established.

In 1073 at the death of Alexander II, the people of Rome cried out for the holy genius who had helped steer the Church for twenty years, “Hildebrand for Pope! Holy Peter wants Hildebrand, the Archdeacon!” Once before the holy monk had eluded the tiara but this time a proper college of cardinals, seconding the popular cry, induced him to accept an honor duly his.

Hildebrand assumed the name Gregory VII, and threw his energy and zeal into a continued reform, especially fighting simony (the sale of ecclesiastical posts) and clerical incontinence.

He confronted Emperor Henry IV head- on about his practice of choosing men for ecclesiastical positions. On meeting with dogged resistance, the pontiff finally had recourse to excommunication which drastically curtailed the proud monarch’s power, ultimately bringing Henry on foot to the Pope at the Castle of Canossa. Because of Henry’s rebellious obstinacy, Pope Gregory saw fit to leave him out in the cold for three days before receiving and reinstating the royal penitent.

But Henry failed to make any true personal reform and alienated his princes who elected another ruler. Still, he later rallied and went as far as electing another Pope, a Clement III, calling down upon himself another sentence of excommunication. He also attacked and entered the Eternal City in 1084, which forced Pope Gregory into exile. Henry had his protégée “pope” crown him Emperor. Ultimately repelled by an army fighting for the true pope, the Emperor Henry left Rome, but complications sent Gregory VII again into exile, this time to die.

His last words before his death were a summary of how he had lived, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile.”

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion t...

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Mary and the Simple Country Wife

There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion to Holy Mary, just as her mother had taught her to do. This simple young lady considered herself fortunate to have married a handsome soldier. Little did she know that her soldier-husband had made a deal with the devil, that he would sell his wife for a certain sum of money.

One crisp, autumn morning the couple went out for their customary walk. Oddly, this time the young man insisted on heading towards the forest. It was at the forest where he intended to deliver his young bride over to the devil.

On their way to the forest, the couple passed in front of a Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The wife, overtaken with a desire to enter the church begged her husband to allow her to pray a Hail Mary in that church.

As the young lady entered the church, Holy Mary came forth from it, taking the form of the wife and accompanied the man into the forest.

When they at last approached the devil at the forest, he said to the man, “Traitor! Why have you brought me instead of your wife, my enemy, the mother of God?”

“And you,” said Mary, addressing the devil, “how have you dared to think of injuring my servant? Go, flee to hell.”

And then, turning to the man, Mary said to him, “Amend your life, and I will aid you.”

She then disappeared and that wretched man repented, amended his life and became a husband worthy of his simple country wife.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

 

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There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion to Holy Mary, just as her mother had taught her to do. This simple young lady considered herself fortunate to have married a handsome soldier.

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