July - September 2004, No. 20

The Rosary Crusade Clarion

The Visitation
By Rev. Fr. Emanuel Herkel SSPX
"Mary rising up in those days went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth."

Fr. Emanuel Herkel


These words taken from St. Luke’s Gospel set the stage for our consideration of the second joyful mystery of the rosary. The Visitation is the second great event in our Lord’s early life that has immediate reference to the plan of our redemption. This Mystery and the graces that accompany it may be looked on as the sequence of the Incarnation, and the first fruits of sanctification effected through means of the corporal presence of the Savior. In the Visitation three great effects of the workings of grace are recalled to us: the charity of the Blessed Virgin in visiting her elderly cousin, St. Elizabeth; the sanctification of St. John the Baptist, together with the spirit of prophecy infused into his mother; and the gratitude and humility of Mary as expressed in her sublime canticle of the “Magnificat.”

Charity is the first great effect of grace shown forth in the Visitation. No sooner does our Blessed Lady learn from the angel that her cousin, St. Elizabeth, is in a delicate condition and needs her assistance, than she sets out to succor her. Neither the consideration of the disturbance to her domestic arrangements by her long absence from home; nor the inconvenience of a tedious journey to the mountain country, restrain her in her mission of mercy. She thinks only of the good she can effect in the house of Elizabeth; and this thought gives lightness to her feet. She goes with haste impeded by the ardor of charity. She enters the house of Zachary. She salutes her aged cousin with words of congratulation and sympathy, and offers her assistance and company during the anxious period that is before her. Nor does she leave her until she sees her happily deliver the child with which God had blessed her.

The Visitation

How admirable, in our eyes, is the charity of our Lady! Let us strive to imitate it in our own conduct by succoring those who are in need; by compassionating the miserable; by opening our hands to relieve all forms of distress with a charity diffusive as hers, which recognizes in every human being a brother or sister in Jesus Christ; to be treated, therefore, with all respect and tenderness, and to be aided according to the measure of our power and that neighbor’s temporal or spiritual needs. And let the contemplation of Mary’s tenderness and Mary’s charity redouble our confidence in her, and make us look up to her in all the dangers that surround us in life. We may be sure that she who is all-powerful as our advocate will not desert us, but will bring to our poor afflicted souls grace and sanctification.

Such were the results of Mary’s visit to St. Elizabeth. Scarcely has she saluted her aged cousin when mother and son feel at once the sanctifying effects of her benign presence. The child John the Baptist, in the womb of St. Elizabeth is cleansed from Original Sin and leaps for joy at the presence of Jesus; while at the sound of the Virgin’s voice, Elizabeth, his mother, is rapt in prophecy, and cries out: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb,” and, “how have I deserved this happiness that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?”

The ordinary effects of the presence of Jesus and Mary are now, as when they lived in the world; grace comes out from the One and flows to us through the other. Where Jesus and Mary are, there is sanctity effected. The mind is enlightened with divine truth, the heart is warmed with celestial love, the whole man is sanctified, and strength is given to accomplish a glorious victory over our own passions and the power of our spiritual foes.

Now let us go on to remark on the third great effect of grace laid open to us in the mystery of the Visitation – the gratitude and humility of Mary as expressed in her lovely canticle of the “Magnificat.”

God looks for the companion virtues of gratitude and humility in His servants, and when He finds them He sends off a shower of heavenly gifts. The Almighty, who is ready to confer on us all manner of good things, wills to have all His gifts return to Him by gratitude; and He will not part with His glory by allowing us to proudly attribute to ourselves what belongs to Him alone. While pride and ingratitude, therefore, go hand in hand, and both repel grace from our souls; gratitude and humility, like golden keys, open the treasury of heaven and draw down upon us God’s choicest gifts.

And how resplendently these virtues dwell in Mary, we learn from the sentiments expressed in her lovely canticle. Forgetful of herself, of her dignity and greatness, she thinks only of returning thanks to God. Lowly in her own esteem, she gives all praise to Him to whom she attributes all her greatness and privileges. God had exalted her above all creatures. She thinks only of magnifying Him, her Benefactor. “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”

The whole human race rejoices in her as their Queen and Patron. Her “spirit rejoices in God” alone, whom she calls “her Savior.” God had raised her to the highest dignity in His power in choosing her to be the Mother of His Son made man. She, in her humility, looks upon herself as His lowly “handmaid.”

“All generations,” she prophecies, “shall call her blessed.” She attributes blessedness to God, whom she styles essential Holiness; “Holy is His Name.” “Great things,” she acknowledges, “have been done in her.” Yet, all glory she attributes to the Almighty. God’s mercy, His power, His justice, His charity; all are praised in this sublime canticle.

Let us learn from Mary’s conduct in her supreme exaltation to attribute excellence to Him to whom alone it belongs; to preserve humility in the midst of the advantages God may have showered on us; to return unceasing thanks to Him for His many favors; that thus we may be found worthy of the frequent visits of Jesus and Mary to our hearts in this life, and of the invitation to come and live with them for all eternity in the next.


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