The criminal act of tampering with the calendar of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church by the scions of the counterfeit church of conciliarism is one of the great felonies of all time. The harmony and rhythm of the inherent order found in the calendar of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church is laden with deep theological meaning and full of material for spiritual reflection and meditation. Such is the case with the feast that is celebrated today in the calendar of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin, Saint Elizabeth, in the hill country of Judah.
The calendar of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church places feasts at times of the year for very specific reasons. Today’s feast, the Visitation, a mystery we meditate upon every day if we pray all fifteen decades of Our Lady’s Most Holy Rosary daily, is celebrated eight days after the birth of Saint John the Baptist, that is, on the day of the circumcision of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’s cousin and precursor.
This is the day that Our Lady left the hill country of Judah to return to Nazareth for the final six months of her own pregnancy. Thus, the liturgical Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary commemorates the end of her period of visiting Saint Elizabeth, a period that had begun on April 2, which was eight days after Our Lady had been told the news of Saint Elizabeth’s pregnancy by Saint Gabriel the Archangel at the Annunciation. Thus, the actual day of the Visitation was April 2. The period of Our Lady’s visit lasted three months, meaning that the first trimester of her carrying the preborn Jesus was spent away from home helping her cousin prepare to deliver her own Divine Son’s precursor. The placement of this liturgical feast in the calendar of the Protestant and Masonic Novus Ordo service on May 31, therefore, makes no sense whatsoever (other than randomly selecting a Marian feast to close the Marian month of May).
God does nothing by accident or happenstance. Our Lady was visited by Saint Gabriel the Archangel on March 25, giving her perfect fiat to the will of the Father so as to enflesh the Son by the power of the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, God the Holy Ghost. She set off immediately for the hill country of Judah, a journey that took her eight days to complete. Upon arriving for her three month period of assisting Saint Elizabeth and Saint Zacharias, Our Lady heard Saint Elizabeth was inspired by the Holy Ghost to complete the first part of the Ave Maria had been begun by Saint Gabriel the Archangel eight days before. Saint Gabriel said, Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum; Benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus. . Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women. Saint Elizabeth said: Benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. “Blessed art thou amongst women.” How can any Protestant say that the Angelic salutation given by Saint Gabriel to Our Lady and continued by Saint Elizabeth is unworthy of being on the lips of everyone who truly believes in the Sacred Divinity of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made Man, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? The exaltation of Our Lady as being the Mother of God and thus the Blessed Mother of us all is present in Saint Luke’s Gospel for all who have the honesty and the humility to see it and to recognize in Our Lady the very means by which our salvation was made possible.
Saint Elizabeth went on:
“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.” (Lk. 1:43-44)
The Church teaches us that it was at the moment Saint John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother’s womb that he was freed of Original Sin. The moment of Saint John’s preborn ecstasy thus teaches us about the inviolability of all innocent human life. The preborn Saint John heard the voice of Our Lady, who was carrying within her the preborn Jesus, the One Whose precursor Saint John was meant to be. This should serve as a fundamental lesson to all Catholics everywhere about the inviolability of the fruit of mother’s wombs.
The God-Man placed Himself in total solidarity with every child in every mother’s womb when He was conceived as a helpless embryo in Our Lady’s womb by the power of the God the Holy Ghost at the Annunciation. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine: Et homo factus est. That both Saint Elizabeth, who knew that the fruit of Mary’s womb was her Lord, and Saint John the Baptist, were exultant over the fact of the Incarnation should remind us once more that the Incarnation changes everything about human existence–and that there is not one aspect of daily life that is not meant to be lived in the conscious and public recognition that the Word became Flesh to dwell amongst us and to win back for us on the tree of the Holy Cross what was lost for us on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. This is a lesson that the naturalists among us, ever eager to speak and act as though the Incarnation and the entirety of the Deposit of Faith are matters of complete indifference to social order, ought to remember.
Our Lady went on to proclaim her Magnificat, which is required under pain of mortal sin in most instances to be prayed every evening by all priests around the world near the close of vespers:
My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because He as regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because He that is mighty, hath done great things for me; and holy is His name. And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him.
He hath shewed 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: as He spoke to Abraham and his seed for ever. (Lk. 1: 46-55)
Dom Prosper Gueranger provided us with a superb commentary on Epistle that is read in today’s offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass:
The Church introduces us into the depth of the mystery. What she has just been reading to us is the explanation of that word of Elizabeth’s which sums up the whole of to-day’s feast: ‘When thy voice sounded in mine ear, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.’ O voice of Mary, voice of the turtledove, putting winter to flight, and announcing springtime flowers and fragrance! At this sweet sound John’s soul, a captive in the darkness of sin, casts off the badge of slavery, and suddenly developing germs of highest virtues, appears as beautiful as a bride decked in nuptial array: and, therefore, how Jesus hastes unto this well-beloved soul! Between John and the Bridegroom, oh! what ineffable outpourings ! what sublime dialogue passes between them, from womb to womb of Mary and Elizabeth! In this happy meeting, the sight, the hearing, the voice of the mothers belong less to themselves than to the blessed fruit each bears within her; thus their senses are the lattices through which the Bridegroom and the friend of the Bridegroom see one another, understand one another, speak one to the other!
The animal man, it is true, understands not in this language. ‘Father,” the Son of God will soon exclaim: “I give thee thanks for that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones. Let him, therefore, that hath ears to hear, hear; but, Amen, I say unto you, unless ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven, nor know its mysteries.’ Wisdom shall nevertheless be justified by her children, as the Gospel says. The simple-hearted in quest of light, with all the straightforwardness of humility, let pass unheeded those mocking shadows playing over the marshes of this world; they know that the first ray of the eternal Sun will disperse these phantoms, leaving emptiness before those who run in pursuit of them. These wise little ones already feed upon that which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, having a foretaste, here below, of eternal delights.
Ineffably is John the Baptist experiencing all this. Accosted by the divine Friend who has been beforehand in seeking him, his soul at once awakens to full ecstasy. Jesus, on this side, is now making his first conquest; for it is to John that is addressed amongst all creatures (Mary of course excepted) the sacred nuptial-song uttered to the soul of the Word made Flesh, making his divine Heart throb with emotion. To-day the prophecy of the Magnificat was first uttered, and to-day also the divine union expressed by the Holy Ghost in the Canticle of Canticles is fully realized. Never more fully than on this happy day shall the sacred transports of the Spouse be justified; never shall they find a more faithful response! Let us warm ourselves at these celestial fires; let us join our enthusiasm to that of eternal Wisdom, who makes his first step, this day, in his royal progress towards mankind. Let us unite with our Lord in imploring the Precursor at last to show himself. Were it not ordered otherwise from on high, his inebriation of love would verily have made him at once break down the wall that held him from appearing, then and there, to announce the Bridegroom. For he knows that the sight of his countenance, preceding the face of the Lord himself, will excite the whole earth to transports; he knows that his own voice will be sweet when once it has become the organ of the Word calling the bride to him.
Together with Elizabeth let us extol, in the Gradual, the Blessed Virgin to whom we owe all these joys, and within whom love still encloses him whom the whole world could not contain. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)
The prayer composed by Dom Prosper Gueranger at the conclusion of his commentary on this great feast is worth repeating in its entirety:
Who is she that cometh forth beautiful as the morning rising, terrible as an army set in array. O Mary, this is the day on which thine exquisite brightness, for the first time, gladdens the earth. Thou bearest within thee the Sun of justice; and his early beams, striking first the mountain tops whilst the vales below are yet left in darkness, at once enlighten the Precursor, who is said to be the greatest ever born of woman. The divine Son, swift in his ascending course, will soon bathe the lowly valleys in his radiant fires. But how full of race and beauty are these his first gleams peering through the veiling cloud! For thou, O Mary, art the light cloud, the hope of earth, the terror of hell. Contemplating from afar, through its heavenly transparency, the mystery of this day, Elias, the father of prophets, and Isaias, their prince, did both of them descry the Lord. They beheld thee speeding thy way across the mountains and they blessed God; ‘for,’ saith the Holy Ghost, ‘when winter hath congealed the waters into crystal, withered the valleys, and consumed as with fire the green mountains, a present remedy to all is the speedy coming of a cloud.’
Haste, O Mary! Come thou to all of us; do not let the mountains alone, enjoy thy benign influence, bend thee down to those lowly, ignoble regions wherein the greater part of mankind but vegetates, helpless to scale the mountain heights; let thy kindly visit reach down even to the deepest abyss of human perversity wellnigh bordering on the gulf of hell; let the beams of saving life reach even there. Oh! would that from the thralldom of sin, from the plain where the vulgar throng is swaying to and fro, we were drawn to follow in thy train! How beauteous are thy footsteps along our humble pathways, how aromatic the perfumes wherewith thou dost inebriate earth this day! Thou wast all unknown, nay, thou was even an enigma to thyself, O thou fairest among the daughters of Adam, until thy first going forth led thee unto our poor hovels and manifested thy power. The desert, suddenly embalmed with heavenly fragrance, hails the passage, not of the figurative Ark, but of the ‘litter of the true Solomon.’ in these days of the sublime nuptials which he has vouchsafed to contract. What wonder, then, if at rapid pace thou dost speed across the mountains, since thou art bearing the Bridegroom who, as a giant, strideth from peak to peak.
Far different art thou, O Mary, from her who is portrayed in the sacred Canticle as hesitating, in spite of the heavenly call, to betake herself to active work, foolishly captivated by the sweets of mystic repose in such a way as to dream of finding it elsewhere than in the absolute good pleasure of the Beloved! Thou art not one, at the voice of the Spouse, to make difficulties about clothing thyself again with the garment of toil, of exposing thy feet, were it never so much, to be soiled within the dusty roads of the earth. Scarcely has he given himself to thee immeasurably as none else can know than, ever on thy guard against the mistake of remaining all absorbed in the selfish enjoyment of his love, thou thyself dost invite him to begin at once the great work which brought him down from heaven to earth: “Come, my Beloved, let us go forth into the fields, let us rise up early to see if the vineyards flourish, to hasten the budding of the fruits of salvation in souls; there it is, that I wish to be all thine.’ And leaning upon him, no less than he upon thee, without thereby losing aught of heavenly delights, thou dost traverse our desert; and the Holy Trinity perceiveth between Mother and Son sympathies, harmonious agreements, unknown until then even to thee; and the friends of the Bridegroom, hearing thy sweet voice, on their side also comprehend his love and partake in thy joy. With him, with thee, O Mary, ae after age shall behold sols innumerable who, swift-footed even as the roe and the young hart, will flee away from the valleys and gain the mountain heights where, in the warm sunshine, heaven’s aromatic spices are ever fragrant.
Bless, O Mary, those whom the better part so sweetly attracts. Protect that Order whose glory is to honour in a special manner thy Visitation. Faithful to the spirit of their illustrious founders they still continue to justify their sweet title by perfuming the Church on earth with the fragrance of that humility, gentleness and hidden prayer which made this day’s mystery so dear to the angels eighteen hundred years ago. Finally, O Lady, forget not the crowded ranks of those whom race presses, more numerous than ever nowadays, to tread in thy footsteps, mercifully seeking out every object of misery, teach them the way in which alone is possible to devote themselves to their neighbour without in any way quitting God; for the greater glory of god and the happiness of man multiply such faithful copies of thee. May all of us, having followed, in the degree measured out to us by him who divides his gifts to each one as he wills, meet together in our home yonder, to sing in one voice together with thee, an eternal Magnificat! (Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year.)
This Magnificat of Our Lady can be ignored only at the great peril of one who says, albeit falsely as Protestantism is not Christianity (as Father Frederick Faber noted, there is no Christianity where there is no Mass), he follows Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ but who believes that honoring His Blessed Mother is somehow un-Scriptural. “For behold henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” either means what it says or it does not. We must pray that those outside of the true Church that Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ founded upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope, will make the Magnificat their prayer and come into the true Church, found today in the catacombs where no concessions are made to conciliarism or to the ravenous wolves who dare to cast off dogmatic truths as they see fit to suit their own Modernist proclivities, to be devoted and totally consecrated sons and daughters of Our Lady, the woman who made possible our salvation and who was given to us by her Divine Son to be our Mother as He hung dying on the wood of the Holy Cross to redeem us.
Those of us who are Catholics have an obligation to meditate quite carefully on the Second Joyful Mystery, which we celebrate liturgically today, July 2, 2016. We must meditate upon the selflessness of Our Lady, who thought nothing of making a journey immediately after receiving the news of the miraculous conception of the Word as Flesh in her own virginal and immaculate womb by the power of the Holy Ghost. We must have that same selflessness to perform both the Corporal and the Spiritual Works of Mercy no matter how much we are taxed physically as a result. If we are totally consecrated to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through Our Lady’s Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, then we know that she will use our unseen efforts and prayers and penances and sacrifices in ways that will be made manifest to us only in eternity. And we must learn from the Visitation that the assaults upon innocent human life in the womb demand our prayers and our attention as we seek to plant the seeds for the restoration of the Social Reign of Christ the King as the ultimate fruit of the Triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. For just as the fruit of Our Lady’s womb was recognized by Saint Elizabeth and by Saint John the Baptist, so must the world recognize the fruit of Our Lady’s womb as its King in every aspect of its life and social activity.
The great feast that we celebrate today beckons us to meditate upon the Joyful Mysteries of Our Lady’s Most Holy Rosary. Indeed, we should try to pray all fifteen decades of the Rosary every day, should we not? And Saint Louis de Montfort, the great apostle of True Devotion to Mary, gave us a wonderful prayer with which to start the mystery of the Rosary that comprises today’s glorious liturgical feast:
We offer you, Lord Jesus, this second decade in honour of the Visitation of your holy Mother to her cousin Saint Elizabeth. Through this mystery and the intercession of Mary we ask for a perfect love of our neighbour. . . .
(After the decade is completed:) May the grace of the mystery of the Visitation come into me and make me truly charitable.
And what is true Charity?
It is to seek with urgency the unconditional conversion of all those outside of the true Church into her maternal bosom, something that the counterfeit church of conciliarism eschews, meaning that true Charity, the Charity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus that beat within the Virginal and Immaculate Womb of Our Lady as It was formed out of her own Immaculate Heart, so full of that true Charity, is not be found therein.
Readers who read yesterday’s revised reflection, The Laver of Redemption, might recall that I included a commentary on the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ written by Saint John Chrysostom that is read at Matins on July 1. The readings for today’s feast likewise refer to the “golden tongued” defender of the Holy Faith, a doctor of Holy Mother Church who was not very “ecumenical” in his denunciations of Judaism as a dead religion. Saint John Chrysostom reflected on today’s feast in honor of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as follows:
As soon as our Redeemer was come among us, He went with haste, while as yet He was in His mother's womb, to visit His friend John. And John, in the one womb, becoming conscious of the Presence of Jesus in the other womb, dashed himself impatiently against the narrow walls of his natural prison, as though crying out: I see the very Lord who hath given nature her bounds, and I wait not for the due season of my birth. There is no need for me to linger here till nine months are ended, for He That is Eternal is with me! I will break out of my dark cell; I will proclaim my full knowledge of many wonders. I am the sign. I will show that the Christ is here. I am the trumpet; let me peal forth the news that the Son of God is come in the flesh. Let me give my trumpet-note, let me bless my father's tongue, and make it to speak again. Let me give my trumpet-note, let me quicken my mother's womb.
Thou seest, O beloved, how new and how strange a mystery is here! John is not born, but by leaping he speaketh; he is yet unseen, and he giveth warning; he is not yet able to cry, but by his acts he is heard. He draweth not yet the breath of life, but he preacheth God. he seeth not yet the light, but he maketh known the Sun! He is not come out of the womb, but he hasteth to play the Fore-runner in the Presence of the Lord. He cannot restrain himself; he rebelleth against the bounds set by nature, and struggleth to break out of the prison of the belly. His longing is to herald the coming Saviour. He saith, as it were: Behold, the Deliverer cometh and am I to remain still bound to abide here? The Word cometh, that He may set right all things and am I still to tarry in prison? I will go forth. I will run before Him, and cry aloud to all men: “Behold the Lamb of God Which taketh away the sin of the world.”
But do thou tell us, O John, how it came to pass that while thou wast still in the darkness of thy mother's womb, thou didst see and hear? How didst thou behold the things of God? How didst thou leap and bound for joy? Great, saith John, is the mystery of that which taketh place here, far from the understanding of men are these doings. It is meet that I should do a new thing in nature for the sake of Him Who is making new things which are beyond nature. I see in the womb, because I see the Sun of righteousness in a womb. I hear, because I am coming as the herald of the Great Word. I cry out, because I espy the Only-begotten Son of the Father clad in Flesh. I bound for joy, because I see that He by Whom all things were made, hath taken upon Him the form of a servant. I leap, because I think of the Redeemer of the world being made Flesh. I run before His coming, and herald His approach unto you with this, as it were, my confession. (The Divine Office, Matins, Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.)
Today’s Divine Office also includes a brief but nevertheless poignant account of the martyrdom of Saints Processus and Martinian, who are commemorated on this most joyful Marian feast day:
At what time Peter and Paul were kept in the Mamertine Prison, at the foot of the Tarpeian Rock, two of the gaolers, named Processus and Martinian, along with other forty, were moved by the preaching and miracles of the Apostles to believe in Christ, and were baptized in a spring which suddenly brake forth out of the rock. These men let the Apostles depart if they willed it. But Paulinus, Prefect of the soldiers, when he heard what was come to pass, strove to turn away Processus and Martinian from their purpose. And when he found that he but wasted time, he ordered their faces to be bruised and their teeth to be broken, with stones. Moreover, when he had had them led to the image of Jupiter, and they still boldly answered that they would not worship the gods, he caused them to be tormented on the rack, and white-hot plates of metal to be put to their flesh, and that they should be beaten with sticks. While they were suffering all these things they were heard to say only this one word Blessed be the Name of the Lord. They were afterwards cast into prison, and in a little while they were taken outside the city, and slain with the axe, upon the Aurelian Way. The Lady Lucina buried their bodies upon her own farm, upon the 2nd day of July, but they were afterwards brought into the City, and are buried in the Church of the Prince of the Apostles. (The Divine Office, Matins, July 2.)
Saints Processus and Martinian were as “ecumenical” as Saint John Chrysostom. They were Catholics, something that the “popes” and “bishops” of the counterfeit church of conciliarism are not. Indeed, they mock the true Faith, making them the most uncharitable men on the face of this earth.
A blessed Feast of the Vistiation of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to you all!
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saint John the Evangelist, pray for us.
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel the Archangel, pray for us.
Saint Raphael the Archangel, pray for us.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Saints Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, pray for us.
Saint Elizabeth, pray for us.
Saint Zachary, pray for us.
Saints Processus and Martinian, pray for us.
From The Mystical City of God on the Visitation
When the most holy Mother Mary arrived at the house of Zacharias, the Precursor of Christ had completed the sixth month of his conception in the womb of saint Elisabeth. The body of the child John had already attained a state of great natural perfection; much greater than that of other children, on account of the miracle of his conception by a sterile mother and on account of the intention of the Most High to make him the depositary of greater sanctity than other men (Matth. 11, 11). Yet at that time his soul was yet filled with the darkness of sin, which he had contracted in the same way as the other children of Adam, the first and common father of the human race; and as, accord ing to the universal and general law, mortals cannot receive the light of grace before they have issued forth to the light of the sun (Rom. 5, 7) ; so, after the first, the original sin contracted by our nature, the womb of the mother must serve as a dungeon or prison for all of us, who have laden upon ourselves this guilt of our father and head, Adam. Christ our Lord resolved to anticipate this great blessing in his Prophet and Precursor by conferring the light of his grace and justification upon him six months after his conception by saint Elisabeth, in order that he might be distinguished as well in holiness, as he was in his office of Precursor and Baptist.
216. After the first salutation of Elisabeth by the most holy Mary, the two cousins retired, as I have said at the end of the preceding chapter. And immediately the Mother of grace saluted anew her cousin saying: “May God save thee, my dearest cousin, and may his divine light communicate to thee grace and life (Luke 1, 40). At the sound of most holy Mary’s voice, saint Elisabeth was filled by the Holy Ghost and so enlightened interiorly, that in one instant she perceived the most exalted mysteries and sacraments. These emotions, and those that at the same time were felt by the child John in the womb of his mother, were caused by the presence of the Word made flesh in the bridal chamber of Mary s womb, for, making use of the voice of Mary as his instrument, He, as Redeemer, began from that place to use the power given to Him by the eternal Father for the salvation and justification of the souls. And since He now operated as man, though as yet of the diminutive size of one conceived eight days before, He assumed, in admirable humility, the form and posture of one praying and beseeching the Father. He asked in earnest prayer for the justification of his future Precursor and obtained it at the hands of the blessed Trinity.
217. Saint John was the third one for whom our Redeemer made special petition since his presence in the womb of his mother. His Mother was the first for whom He gave thanks and prayed to the Father; next in order was her spouse, saint Joseph, for whom the incarnate Word offered up his prayers, as we have said in the twelfth chapter; and the third one was the Precursor saint John, whom the Lord mentioned by name in his prayers to the Father. Such was the great good for tune and privilege of saint John, that Christ our Lord presented to the eternal Father the merits of his Passion and Death to be endured for men; and in view thereof He requested the sanctification of this soul. He appointed and set apart this child as one who is to be born holy as his Precursor and as a witness of his coming into the world (John 1, 7); as one who was to prepare the hearts of his people in order that they might recognize and receive Him as the Messias. He ordained that for such an exalted ministry the Precursor should receive all the graces, gifts and favors which are befitting and proportionate to his office. All this the Father granted just as the Onlybegotten had requested it of Him.
218. This happened before the most holy Mary had put her salutation into words. At the pronunciation of the words mentioned above, God looked upon the child in the womb of saint Elisabeth, and gave it perfect use of reason, enlightening it with his divine light, in order that he might prepare himself by foreknowledge for the blessings which he was to receive. Together with this preparation he was sanctified from original sin, made an adopted son of God, and filled with the most abundant graces of the Holy Ghost and with the plenitude of all his gifts; his faculties were sanctified, subjected and subordinated to reason, thus verifying in himself what the archangel Gabriel had said to Zacharias; that His son would be filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb of his mother (Luke 1, 17). At the same time the for tunate child, looking through the walls of the maternal womb as through clear glass upon the incarnate Word, and assuming a kneeling posture, adored his Redeemer and Creator, whom he beheld in most holy Mary as if enclosed in a chamber made of the purest crystal. This was the movement of jubilation, which was felt by his mother Elisabeth as coming from the infant in her womb (Luke 1, 44). Many other acts of virtue the child John performed during this interview, exercising faith, hope, charity, worship, gratitude, humility, devotion and all the other virtues possible to him there. From that moment he began to merit and grow in sanctity, without ever losing it and without ever ceasing to exercise it with all the vigor of grace.
219. Saint Elisabeth was instructed at the same time in the mystery of the Incarnation, the sanctification of her own son and the sacramental purpose of this new wonder. She also became aware of the virginal purity and of the dignity of the most holy Mary. On this occasion, the heavenly Queen, being absorbed in the vision of the Divinity and of the mysteries operated by it through her most holy Son, became entirely godlike, filled with the clear light of the divine gifts which She participated; and thus filled with majesty saint Elisabeth saw Her. She saw the Word made man as through a most pure and clear glass in the virginal chamber, lying as it were on a couch of burning and enlivened crystal. The efficacious instrument of all these wonderful effects was the voice of most holy Mary, as powerful as it was sweet in the hearing of the Lord. All this force was as it were only an outflow of that which was contained in those powerful words: “Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum; by which She had drawn the eternal Word from the bosom of the Father down to her soul and into her womb.
220. Filled with admiration at what She saw and heard in regard to these divine mysteries, saint Elisabeth was wrapt in the joy of the Holy Ghost; and, looking upon the Queen of the world and what was contained in Her, she burst forth in loud voice of praise, pronouncing the words reported to us by saint L,uke: “Blessed are 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 has believed, because those things shall be accomplished, that were spoken to Thee by the Lord.” In these prophetic words saint Elisabeth rehearsed the noble privileges of most holy Mary, perceiving by the divine light what the power of the Lord had done in Her, what He now performed, and what He was to accomplish through Her in time to come. All this also the child John perceived and understood, while listen ing to the words of his mother; for she was enlightened for the purpose of his sanctification, and since he could not from his place in the womb bless and thank her by word of mouth, she, both for herself and for her son, extolled the most holy Mary as being the instrument of their good fortune.
221. These words of praise, pronounced by saint Elisabeth were referred by the Mother of wisdom and humility to the Creator; and in the sweetest and softest voice She intoned the Magnificat as recorded by saint Luke (Ch. 1, 46-55). 46. My soul doth magnify the Lord; 47. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48. Because He hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49. Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. 50. And his mercy is from generation unto generation to them that fear Him. 51. He hath shewed might in his arm; He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. 52. He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble. 53. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away. 54. He hath received Israel, his servant, being mindful of his mercy; 55. As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed forever.
222. Just as saint Elisabeth was the first one who heard this sweet canticle from the mouth of most holy Mary, so she was also the first one who understood it and, by means of her infused knowledge, commented upon it. She penetrated some of the great mysteries, which its Authoress expressed therein in so few sentences. The soul of most holy Mary magnified the Lord for the excellence of his infinite Essence; to Him She referred and yielded all glory and praise (I Tim. 1, 17), both for the beginning and the accomplishment of her works. She knew and confessed that in God alone every creature should glory and rejoice, since He alone is their entire happiness and salvation (II Cor. 10, 17). She confessed also the equity and magnificence of the Most High in attending to the humble and in conferring upon them his abundant spirit of divine love (Ps. 137, 6). She saw how worthy of mortals it is to perceive, understand and ponder the gifts that were conferred on the humility of Her, whom all nations were to call blessed, and how all the humble ones, each one according to his degree, could share the same good for tune. By one word also She expressed all the mercies, benefits and blessings, which the Almighty showered upon Her in his holy and wonderful name; for She calls them altogether “great things”; since there was nothing small about anything that referred to this great Queen and Lady.
223. And as the mercies of the Most High over flowed from Mary s plenitude to the whole human race, and as She was the portal of heaven, through which they issued and continue to issue, and through which we are to enter into the participation of the Divinity; therefore She confessed, that the mercy of the Lord in regard to Her is spread out over all the generations, communicating itself to them that fear Him. And just as the infinite mercies raise up the humble and seek out those that fear God; so also the powerful arm of divine justice scatters and destroys those who are proud in the mind of their heart, and hurls them from their thrones in order to set in their place the poor and lowly. This justice of the Lord was exercised in wonderful splendor and glory upon the chief of all the proud, Lucifer and his followers, when the almighty arm of God scattered and hurled them (because they themselves precipitated themselves) from their exalted seats which befitted their angelic natures and their graces, and which they occupied according to the original (Isaias 14; Apoc. 12) decree of the divine love. For by it He intended that all should be blessed (I Tim. 2, 4) while they, in trying to ascend in their vain pride to positions, which they neither could attain nor should aspire to, on the contrary cast themselves from those which they occupied (Isaias 14, 13). In their arrogance they were found opposed to the just and inscrutable judgments of the Lord, which scattered and cast down the proud angel and all his followers (Apoc. 12, 8). In their place were installed the humble of heart through the mediation of most holy Mary, the Mother and the treasure house of his ancient mercies.
224. For the same reason this divine Lady says and proclaims that God enriches the needy, filling them with the abundance of his treasures of grace and glory; and those that are rich in their own estimation and presumptuous arrogance, and those who satisfy their heart with the false goods, which the world esteems as riches and happiness, the Most High has banished and does banish from his presence, because they are void of the truth, which cannot enter into hearts filled and occupied with falsehood and deceit. He received his servants and his children, the people of Israel, remembering his mercies in order to teach them, wherein prudence, truth and understanding (Bar. 3, 14), wherein free and abundant life and nourishment, wherein the light of the eyes and peace consists. He taught them the way of prudence and the hidden paths of wisdom and discipline, which is concealed from the princes of the gentiles, and is not known to the powerful, who dominate over the beasts of the earth and entertain themselves and play with the birds of the air and heap up treasures of gold and silver. Nor can the sons of Agar and the inhabitants of Teman, who are the wise and the proudly prudent of this world, ever attain this wisdom. But to those that are sons of the light (Galat. 3, 7), and who are sons of Abraham by faith, hope and obedience, the Most High distributes it; for in this manner has it been promised to his posterity and his spiritual children, made secure by the blessed and happy Fruit of the virginal womb of the most holy Mary.
225. Saint Elisabeth looking upon Mary the Queen of creation understood these hidden mysteries ; and not only those, which I am able to express here, did this fortunate matron understand, but many more and greater sacraments, which my understanding cannot comprehend; nor do I wish to dilate upon all that have been shown to me, lest I unduly extend this history. But the sweet discourses and conversations, which these two holy and discreet ladies held with each other, reminded me of the two seraphim, which Isaias saw above the throne of the Most High, repeating the divine and always new canticle: Holy, holy, etc., while they covered their head with one pair of wings, their feet with another, flew with the third pair (Isaias 6, 2). It is certain that the inflamed love of these two holy women exceeded that of all the seraphim, and Mary by Herself loved more than they all together. They were consumed in the flame of divine love, extending the two wings of their hearts in order to manifest to each other their love and in order to soar into the most exalted intelligence of the mys teries of the Most High. With two more wings of rarest knowledge they covered their faces; because both of them discussed and contemplated the sacrament of the King (Tob. 12, 7), guarding its secrets within themselves all their lives; also because they restrained their discourse and subjected it to their devoted faith, without giving scope to proud inquisitiveness. They also covered the feet of the Lord and their own with the third pair of seraphic wings, because they were lowered and annihilated in their own humble estimation of themselves at the sight of such great Majesty. Moreover since most holy Mary enclosed within her virginal womb the God of majesty himself, we can with reason and with literal truth say, that She covered the seat where the Lord sat enthroned.
226. When it was time to come forth from their retirement, saint Elisabeth offered herself and her whole family and all her house for the service of the Queen of heaven. She asked Her to accept, as a quiet retreat, the room which she herself was accustomed to use for her prayers, and which was much retired and accommodated to that purpose. The heavenly Princess accepted the chamber with humble thanks, and made use of it for recollecting Herself and sleeping therein, and no one ever entered it, except the two cousins. As for the rest She offered to serve and assist Elisabeth as a handmaid, for She said, that this was the purpose of visiting her and consoling her. O what friendship is so true, so sweet and inseparable, as that which is formed by the great bond of the divine love! How admirable is the Lord in manifesting this great sacrament of the Incarnation to three women before He would make it known to any one else in the human race! For the first was saint Anne, as I have said in its place; the second one was her Daughter and the Mother of the Word, most holy Mary; the third one was saint Elisabeth, and conjointly with Her, her son, for he being yet in the womb of his mother, cannot be considered as distinct from her. Thus “the foolishness of God is wiser than men,” as saint Paul says.
227. The most holy Mary and Elisabeth came forth from their retirement at nightfall, having passed a long time together; and the Queen saw Zacharias standing before Her in his muteness, and She asked him for his blessing as from a priest of the Lord, which the saint also gave to Her. Yet, although She tenderly pitied him for his affliction, She did not exert her power to cure him, because She knew the mysterious occasion of his dumbness; yet She offered a prayer for him. Saint Elisabeth, who already knew the good fortune of the most chaste spouse Joseph, although he himself as yet was not aware of it, entertained and served him with great reverence and highest esteem. After staying three days in the house of Zacharias, however, he asked permission of his heavenly Spouse Mary to return to Nazareth and leave Her in the company of saint Elisabeth in order to assist her in her pregnancy. The holy husband left them with the understanding that he was to return in order to accompany the Queen home as soon as they should give him notice; saint Elisabeth offered him some presents to take home with him; but he would take only a small part of them, yielding only to their earnest solicitations, for this man of God was not only a lover of poverty, but was possessed of a magnanimous and noble heart. Therewith he pursued his way back to Nazareth, taking along with him the little beast of burden, which they had brought with them. At home, in the absence of his Spouse, he was served by a neighboring woman and cousin of his, who, also when most holy Mary was at home, was wont to come and go on the necessary errands outside of the house.
INSTRUCTION WHICH THE QUEEN AND LADY GAVE ME.
228. My daughter, in order that thy heart may be ever more and more inflamed with the desire of gaining the grace and friendship of God, I wish very much that thou grow in the knowledge of the dignity, excellence and happiness of a soul, that has been endowed with this privilege; however, remember that it is so admirable and of so great a value that thou canst not comprehend it, even if I would explain it to thee; and much less canst thou express it in words. Look upon the Lord and contemplate Him by means of the divine light, which thou receivest, and then thou wilt understand that the Lord performs a greater work in justifying a soul than in having created all the orbs of heaven and the whole earth with all the beauty and perfection contained within them. And if on account of the wonders which creatures are able in part to perceive in these works by the senses, they are impressed with the greatness and power of God, what would they say and think if they could see with the eyes of their soul the preciousness and beauty of grace in so many creatures, who are capable of receiving them?
229. There are no terms of human language equal to the task of expressing what participations and perfections of God are contained in sanctifying grace. It is little to say that it is more pure and spotless than the snow; more refulgent than the sun; more precious than gold or precious stones, more charming, more amiable and pleasing than all the most delightful feasts and entertainments, and more beautiful than all that in its entirety can be imagined or desired by the creatures. Take notice also of the ugliness of sin, in order that by the opposite thou mayest come to so much the better under standing of the beauty of grace; for neither darknesses, nor rottenness, nor the most horrible, the most dreadful, nor the foulest of creatures can ever be compared to sin and to its ugliness. The martyrs and saints understood much of this mystery (Heb. 11, 36), who in order to secure the beauty of grace and preserve themselves from the ruin of sin, did not fear fire, nor wild beasts, nor the sword, nor torments, nor prisons, ignominies, pains, afflictions, nor death itself, nor prolonged and perpetual suffering; for to escape all these must be counted for little or nothing, and must scarcely be thought of in comparison with one degree of grace, which souls may attain, even though they be the most abject of the whole world. All this the men, who esteem and seek after the fugitive and apparent beauty of creatures, are ignorant of; and whatever does not present to them this deceitful beauty, is for them vile and contemptible.
230. Thou perceivest therefore something of the greatness of the blessing, which the incarnate Word conferred upon his Precursor in the womb of his mother; and because saint John recognized it, he leaped for joy and exultation in the womb of his mother. Thou wilt also see what thou thyself must do and suffer in order to attain this happiness, and in order not to lose, or in the least impair this most precious beauty by any fault, nor retard its consummation by any imperfection, no matter how small. I wish that in imitation of my cousin Elisabeth, thou do not enter into any friendship with any human creatures, except those, with whom thou canst and shouldst converse about the works of the Most High and of his mysteries, and with whom thou canst learn to pursue the true path of his divine pleasure. Although thou art engaged in important undertakings and works, do not forget or omit thy spiritual exercises and the strictness of a perfect life; for this must not only be preserved and watched over, when all things go smoothly, but also under the greatest adversity, difficulty and labor; for imperfect human nature takes occasion of the slightest circumstance to relax its vigilance. (The Venerable Mary of Agreda, The Mystical City of God, Volume II: The Incarnation, pp. 174-186. For a corrected translation of the text above, please see Mr. Timothy Duff's New English Edition of The Mystical City of God: The New English Edition of The Mystical City of God: The Incarnation, Book III, Chapter XVII.)