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PRAYER FOR QUEEN ELIZABETH II ON THE OCCASION OF HER BECOMING THE LONGEST REIGNING MONARCH IN BRITISH HISTORY

V. O Lord, save Elizabeth our Queen.

R. And hear us on the day we call upon you.

V. Lord, hear my prayer.

R. And let my cry come before you.

V. The Lord be with you.

R. And with your Spirit.

 

Almighty God, we pray that Elizabeth your Servant and Our Queen, who, by your providence has received the governance of this Realm, may continue to grow in every virtue, that, imbued with your heavenly grace, she may be preserved from all that is harmful and evil, and being blessed with your favour may, with her Consort and all the Royal Family, come at last into your presence, through him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Prayers for Today

 

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SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST, GOSPEL READING (LUKE 1:57-66, 80)

HIS NAME IS JOHN.

The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.

Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. “No,” she said “he is to be called John.” They said to her, “But no one in your family has that name”, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. “What will this child turn out to be?” they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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TODAY’S GOSPEL READING (THE VISITATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY)

THE ALMIGHTY HAS DONE GREAT THINGS FOR ME, HE HAS EXALTED THE LOWLY.

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, “Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy
– according to the promise he made to our ancestors –
of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.”

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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INTERCESSIONS ON THE VISITATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

INTERCESSIONS ON THE VISITATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

The dawn from on high has broken upon us through the faith-filled consent of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Through her intercession, let us pray:

R. Visit your people, O Lord.

For all those who live in hope of new life:
– reward their patience. (R.)

For all those who encourage the faith of others:
– reward their good work. (R.)

For those who provide others with means to give praise:
– reward their joy. (R.)

For those who bring glad tidings to others:
– reward their generosity. (R.)

(Personal intentions)

Our Father…

O God, you sent the Blessed Virgin Mary to visit her cousin Elizabeth and to share with her the joy of your Son’s coming. Give us the will to do your will, that we may glorify you with her for all eternity, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

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SOLEMNITY OF THE ANNUNCIATION, GOSPEL READING (LUKE 1:26-38)

YOU ARE TO CONCEIVE AND BEAR A SON.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, “Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, “Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?” “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” the angel answered, “and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.” “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” said Mary, “let what you have said be done to me.” And the angel left her.

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 

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23rd DECEMBER, GOSPEL READING (LUKE 1:57-66)

THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.

The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy. Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. “No,” she said, “he is to be called John.” They said to her, “But no one in your family has that name,” and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished.

At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about through the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. “What will this child turn out to be?” they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 
 

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21st DECEMBER, GOSPEL READING (LUKE 1:39-45)

WHY SHOULD I BE HONOURED WITH A VISIT FROM THE MOTHER OF MY LORD?

Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth.

Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, “Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 
 

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19th DECEMBER, GOSPEL READING (LUKE 1:5-25)

THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST IS ANNOUNCED BY GABRIEL.

In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a priest called Zechariah who belonged to the Abijah section of the priesthood, and he had a wife, Elizabeth by name, who was a descendant of Aaron. Both were worthy in the sight of God, and scrupulously observed all the commandments and observances of the Lord. But they were childless: Elizabeth was barren and they were both getting on in years.

Now it was the turn of Zechariah’s section to serve, and he was exercising his priestly office before God when it fell to him by lot, as the ritual custom was, to enter the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense there. And at the hour of incense the whole congregation was outside, praying.

Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense. The sight disturbed Zechariah and he was overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, “Zechariah, do not be afraid, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you must name him John. He will be your joy and delight and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord; he must drink no wine, no strong drink. Even from his mother’s womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah, he will go before him to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the disobedient back to the wisdom that the virtuous have, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him.”

Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is getting on in years.” The angel replied, “I am Gabriel who stand in God’s presence, and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news. Listen! Since you have not believed my words, which will come true at their appointed time, you will be silenced and have no power of speech until this has happened.” Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were surprised that he stayed in the sanctuary so long. When he came out he could not speak to them, and they realised that he had received a vision in the sanctuary. But he could only make signs to them, and remained dumb.

When his time of service came to an end, he returned home. Some time later his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept to herself. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said, “now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I suffered among men.”

V. The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

 
 

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MANKIND’S SALVATION HISTORY THROUGH THE HOLY ROSARY: THE JOYFUL MYSTERY “BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST”

THE RUN-UP TO THE NATIVITY AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE

“After Elizabeth gave birth to her child [John the Baptist] she desired to call him John, but her friends and neighbours objected, saying that he should be called Zachary after his father. Zachary was still unable to speak. The kinsfolk and neighbours made signs to him, asking him what name should be given to the child. On a tablet he wrote that the child should be called John, that is, ‘Jahweh hath shown favour.’ Immediately the gift of speech was restored to him and he spoke, blessing God.

THE BENEDICTUS

While the people assembled there were in wonder at this marvellous happening, Zachary himself, inspired by God, uttered a song destined to become famous forever:

‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: because he hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people. And hath raised up a horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant. As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who are from the beginning. Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us. To perform mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy testament. The oath, which he swore to Abraham our father, that he would grant to us. That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear: In holiness and justice before him, all our days. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways: To give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins. Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us: To enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace’ (Luke 1:68-79).

FULFILMENT OF THE ANCIENT PROPHECIES

In the mind of Zachary, as in the mind of Mary, it seems clear that God is about to bring to pass the promise which He made to Abraham, the promise to bless Abraham and, through him, the nations of the world. In an ecstasy induced by the Holy Spirit he seems to allude to the prophecy of Zacharias [Zechariah]: ‘I will bring my servant the Orient’ (Zacharias 3:8). For he cries out: ‘The Orient from on high hath visited us: to enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace.’

THE ROLE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

Moreover, in the same Spirit of God Zachary realised that his own son John will play a secondary role in the great divine plan. John will be the prophet of the Highest, not the Highest Himself. John will go before the face of the Lord to prepare the people for His coming. Surely the words of Zachary, coming after the words of Elizabeth to Mary, emphasise the significance of the role of Mary’s Son.

AN ASCETIC LIFE OF PREPARATION IN THE DESERT

St Luke, who tells us this story of the birth of John, says nothing more of the early years of John except that the boy went at some undetermined date into the desert to live as an ascetic until the day when he began his work of preparing the way for the Lord.

A REAL GENTLEMAN

Meanwhile Mary had returned to Nazareth. She was betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth. On discovering that Mary, his betrothed, was already with child, Joseph was perplexed. His knowledge of her purity and her innocence, his great love for her, did not allow him to suspect her of some shameful sin. Yet he knew that he was not himself the father of the child, and so he was minded to restore to her her freedom, but in such wise that no stigma should attach to her name.

AN UNKNOWN VISITOR APPEARS DURING THE NIGHT

While he was in this frame of mind God sent him an angel in a dream who said to him: ‘Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. For he shall save his people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:20-21). In these words, by addressing Joseph as the son of David, the angel suggests to Joseph that the child is the expected Messias, the Anointed One of the House of David. Moreover, by repeating what Gabriel had already said, that the child is to be named Jesus, that is, Jahweh is a saviour, he intimates the same thing. He also says clearly that Jesus is so-called because He will fulfil His role by saving the people from their sins.

‘THE ROOT OF JESSE’; A DESCENDANT OF KING DAVID

Thus enlightened by the angel of God Joseph takes Mary to himself as his wife. In this way Jesus, the son of Mary, became legally the son of Joseph, and hence also the son of David. St Luke seems to intimate (Luke 1:32, 69). That Mary was also of the House of David, and hence Jesus would have received the very blood of David from His mother.

But in the eyes of the Jews if His legal human father were not of the House of David, He would not have been considered of the family of David. On the other hand, the fact that Joseph was His legal father made Him in their eyes a true descendant of the House of David. On the side then of both His true mother and His legal foster father Jesus was truly of the House of David, and so could be the Child promised by God Who would inherit the throne of David forever.

OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT ORDERS

Now the birth of Jesus was as follows: Augustus, the Roman Emperor, ordered an enrolment or census should be made throughout the whole empire. As St Luke tells us, everyone was to be enrolled, each in his own city of origin. Hence Joseph, though living in Nazareth, had to go to Bethlehem, the city of David, from which the family of David took its origin.

It was this circumstance which led to the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, instead of at Nazareth. In this way was fulfilled the prophecy of Micheas [Micah]: ‘And thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousand of Juda: out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel: and his going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity’ (Micheas 5:2).

ALL BED & BREAKFASTS WERE BOOKED TO FULL CAPACITY BY CENSUS TOURISTS

In obedience to the order of the emperor, Joseph and Mary, who was with child, went to Bethlehem. They were unable to find shelter at the inn. Hence they were forced to seek shelter in one of the surrounding caves. While there Mary gave birth to her Son. She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger.

AMAZING NEWS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

It was not fitting that the birth of the expected Saviour of Israel should go entirely unnoticed. God sent an angel to some shepherds who were pasturing their flocks in the same district.

To them the angel said: ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all the people; for there has been born to you today in the town of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’

Scarcely had he finished speaking when a multitude of heavenly angels appeared and sang joyfully: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will’ (Luke 2:10-12, 14).

And thus, in the silent simplicity of a cave and in proximity to peaceful shepherds with their gentle flocks, the Prince of Peace, God’s peace to men of good will, came in the flesh to their earth.

HISTORICAL DATING

The historians are not in agreement on the exact date of this wonderful event. In the sixth century of our own era a certain Dionysius Exiguus made the year 1 A.D. (anno domini, that is, the year in which the Lord Jesus was born) the year 754 of the city of Rome. He made a mistake. Jesus was born while Herod the Great was still alive, and Herod died in the year 750 of Rome. Hence Jesus must have been born at least before that time, that is, by our present reckoning, at least in the early months of the year 4 B.C. Historians vary in their estimates of the year between the years 8 and 4 B.C.

A STRANGE AND WONDERFUL EVENT

The birth of Jesus is truly a strange and wonderful, even a portentous event. It is heralded in glowing though mysterious terms by the angel Gabriel. The ‘Son of the Most High,’ he says, is to be conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Though Mary is betrothed to Joseph, the child will have no human father. The omnipotent power of God will incarnate Him in the womb of His mother. He will be called Jesus because He will be a saviour. He is the Messias, the Anointed One of Israel because He will inherit the throne of David, His ancestor, and will rule forever.

In Him will be fulfilled God’s ancient promise to Abraham to bring blessings to the whole world. A way will be prepared for Him by John, the son of Zachary; John will go before Jesus in the spirit and power of Elias; John, who will thus fulfil the prophecy of Malachias [Malachi]: ‘Behold I send my angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face. And presently the Lord whom you seek, and the angel of the testament whom you desire shall come to his temple’ (Malachias 3:1).”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

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MANKIND’S SALVATION HISTORY THROUGH THE HOLY ROSARY: THE JOYFUL MYSTERIES “ANNOUNCIATION” AND “VISITATION”

MATERIALLY A ‘GOLDEN AGE’

“To the people of the ancient Roman empire it may have seemed as if the establishment of the empire would bring to mankind a golden age in the history of man. From Parthia in the East to Britain in the West the power of Roman arms and the shrewdness of Roman diplomacy had brought that order in tranquillity which is peace. And with peace had come prosperity and culture.

EMPERORS WERE WORSHIPPED AS GODS

In accordance with the belief of the times the blessings of peace were attributed to the ruler, to the emperor of Rome. People were accustomed to consider the ruler as in some way descended from or related to the gods. In virtue of this close relationship to the gods the ruler was the source of all the prosperity of his people.

In such a climate of belief it was natural enough that both the people and the rulers themselves should regard a ruler as himself a god. The Ptolemies of Egypt held themselves as the direct descendants of the gods. Antiochus IV, of the Seleucid dynasty in Syria and Palestine, had called himself Epiphanes, that is, ‘God manifested.’ The Roman emperors, from Augustus Caesar on, were worshipped as gods.

THEY BELIEVED THAT THE GODS WERE SMILING ON THEM

The vast extent of the Roman Empire, its enormous wealth, the clear rationality of its Hellenistic culture, the stabilising influence of Roman law, all these, combined with the popular belief in the divinity of the emperors, must have nourished in the minds of men the thought that the gods were smiling on mankind, the idea that God, or the gods, was with men, bringing in an era of beneficient peace.

OF DEEPER SIGNIFICANCE

In a sense the people of the Roman Empire were right, and in a sense they were wrong. Peace was being ushered into the world of men, but it was not simply the political and economic peace which they were consciously experiencing. God was with men, but the emperor was not the God in question. God was smiling upon men, but His smile was much more significant than they imagined.

THE ONE AND TRUE GOD WAS COMING THROUGH THE UNIVERSALLY DESPISED JEWS

Rome and its emperor and the peace and prosperity they brought were only secondary elements in the great drama of human history. Strangely enough, the peace of God and God Himself were coming to all men, not in Rome or in the person of the emperor, not through the most peaceful nor the most powerful elements of the empire, but through and in the Jews, the most turbulent and the most universally despised group within the empire.

THE PRINCE OF PEACE ARRIVES UNEXPECTEDLY

That the blessings of true peace would come to the world through the Jews was not, of course, an idea unfamiliar to the Jews themselves. Their faith in Jahweh had led them to. Expect it to come to pass. But to the Gentile world of the empire it would have seemed absurd. Yet this was God’s design, and it came to pass in the time of the Roman Empire. Moreover, it came to pass in a way that was surprising and unexpected both to Jews and to Gentiles alike. So surprising and so unexpected was it that the most startling reversal of roles in history took place; the Jews who had awaited it refused it, and the Gentiles who had not expected it ultimately accepted it.

A MOST STARTLING REVERSAL OF ROLES

It is this coming of God’s peace to all men which we must now examine in its historical circumstances. Its coming was in this wise.

A PIECE OF ‘UNBELIEVABLE’ NEWS

In the days of Herod the Great, King of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zachary. He was married to Elizabeth, also a descendant of Aaron. They were old and childless. One day while he was burning incense to Jahweh in the Temple at Jerusalem, an angel of God appeared to him and said: ‘Fear not, Zachary, for thy prayer is heard: and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son. And thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness: and many shall rejoice in his nativity. For he shall be great before the Lord and shall drink no wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias: that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people’ (Luke 1:13-17).

JOHN THE BAPTIST’S FATHER DID NOT BELIEVE THE ANGEL

Because of the advanced age of himself and his wife, Zachary was loath to believe this. For his lack of faith the angel Gabriel struck him dumb until the birth of the child.

MEANWHILE, IN THE COUNTRYSIDE…

[THE FIRST JOYFUL MYSTERY: THE ANNUNCIATION]

Meanwhile, in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy the angel Gabriel again appeared, this time to a virgin named Mary who was espoused to Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth, of the House of David. ‘Hail, full of grace,’ he said to her, ‘the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women… Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God. Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end’ (Luke 1:28-33).

A SIGNIFICANT QUESTION

Mary replied to Gabriel: ‘How shall this be done, because I know not man?’ (Luke 1:34). Now, since Mary was betrothed to Joseph, a descendant of King David, and so could in the natural course of events have expected to bear children who would be descendants of David, this question might seem very naïve. But we must remember that we are here concerned with a divine communication to a person apparently highly favoured by God, a virgin ‘full of grace,’ a virgin who is destined to be the mother of the ‘Son of the Most High.’ It would be naïve to suspect her of such childish naivete.

PIOUS VOWS OF VIRGINITY WERE NOT UNCOMMON AT THE TIME

It seems more likely, as theologians tell us, that Mary had made a vow of virginity and wished, if it were not against the will of God, to keep the vow. Hence her question really meant, ‘How shall this be done, since I have vowed not to know man?’

It is true that Mary was betrothed to Joseph and intended to marry him. We must, therefore, suppose that Joseph (perhaps in common with the ideas of the Essenes, a Jewish sect of that time) was of the same mind as Mary in this matter of virginity and intended to practise virginity with her in the married state.

GOD HAD NO INTENTION OF ASKING HER TO GIVE UP HER VOW

In his reply to Mary the angel Gabriel revealed to her that God had no intention of asking her to give up her vow of virginity. Instead God would bring her to conceive without the agency of any man: ‘The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God’ (Luke 1:35). Her child, then, is to have no father but God.

A DIVINE SIGN

Though Mary had asked for no divine sign that this mysterious conception and birth-giving might come to pass, nevertheless the angel gives her a sign: ‘And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren. Because no word shall be impossible with God’ (Luke 1:36-37).

MARY’S ‘FIAT’

At that moment there took place the most momentous free decision ever made by any human being. Mary, the virgin of Nazareth, consented to be the mother of the ‘Son of the Most High.’ ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord,’ she said, ‘be it done to me according to thy word’ (Luke 1:38).

EVERY JEWISH PERSON KNEW THE PROPHECIES ABOUT THE AWAITED MESSIAH

Whether or not Mary knew the complete identity of the Child Who became flesh in her womb at that moment, this much at least she must have realised, that He was the Messias, the Anointed One of Israel. Had not the angel told her to call her son Jesus, that is, Jahweh is a saviour? Had not the angel called him the ‘Son of the Most High’ and the ‘Son of God’? Had Gabriel not said that Jesus would inherit the throne of David His father? Had he not said that the reign of Jesus on the throne of David would be eternal? Who could this Jesus be but the Promised One of Israel? Might not Mary have thought at that moment of the words of Isaias [Isaiah]: “For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace. His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace. He shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom: to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this’? (Isaias 9:6-7).

‘BLESSED ART THOU THAT HAST BELIEVED’

[THE SECOND JOYFUL MYSTERY: THE VISITATION]

The impression that something extraordinary, something marvellous is happening is strengthened by what follows after this mysterious interchange between God and the Virgin of Nazareth. Mary, moved no doubt by a concern for her aged cousin Elizabeth who, according to the words of Gabriel, was already six months with child, went with haste to the town of Juda in which her cousin lived. When she entered the house of Elizabeth, her cousin, filled with the spirit of God, cried out: ‘Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb! And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord’ (Luke 1:42-44).

JOHN THE BAPTIST FELT JESUS CHRIST’S PRESENCE

Under the inspiration of God Elizabeth realised both that Mary was with child and that the child was, in some way, her Lord. Moreover, Elizabeth’s own child in the darkness and silence of her own womb felt himself in the presence of One Who would bring joy to the world, and so he stirred in exultation because of this wondrous presence.

THE MAGNIFICAT IS SPOKEN FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER

Mary, in her turn, was filled with the spirit of God and she spoke that wonderful acknowledgement of God’s design which the world has since known as the ‘Magnificat.’

THE MAGNIFICAT

‘My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his hand-maid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation to generations, to them that fear him. He hath showed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy. And he spoke to our fathers: to Abraham and his seed forever’ (Luke 1:46-55).

In this paean of praise to God Mary manifests her understanding of the wonderful things which God is preparing for mankind. She knows that through her, God is in some way fulfilling the promises He made to Abraham and his seed forever. She knows, too, that God’s blessings come only to those who fear Him. She realises that God is so mighty that He will accomplish His designs through her own self, through the humility of her own child, in the face of the mighty ones of this human world.”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

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