We begin May, the month of Mary with a brief meditation on the Magnificat.
“And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty, hath done great things unto me; and holy is His name. And His mercy is from generation to generations unto them that fear Him. He hath shewed strength 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 helped Israel his servant, being mindful of His mercy: As He spoke unto our fathers, to Abraham and his seed for ever.” [Luke 1, 46-55]
Considering Mary’s Magnificat, her beautiful hymn of praise to God, gives us insight into the Visitation, the second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Luke’s Gospel tells us that “when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: 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, 41-45]
Note that Elizabeth “was filled with the Holy Ghost” when she said, “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” This means that Elizabeth’s praise of Mary was inspired by the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit, referred to earlier in Luke 1, 35, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee.”
To understand the Magnificat, consider that even as Elizabeth praised Mary, Mary responded with a hymn of praise to God. Mary, as the creature most perfect, most beloved of God, acknowledges that she is nothing without God. This perfect humility in Mary, this perfect obedience to God’s will in all things is what makes our devotion to Mary so beneficial. Mary is our quickest, surest way to the Heart of her beloved Son.
“My soul doth magnify the Lord.” How can a mere mortal “magnify” the Divine Lord? In the pure, clear soul of the Immaculata, God’s glory is reflected back as a mirror reflects back the brightness of the blazing sun. This image alone is such a rich source of contemplation, it would take volumes to begin to express properly.
Mary then proclaims, “my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaid.” In this, she confirms that she is only the servant of God, her Saviour. When, in the Magnificat Mary refers to herself as “His handmaid”, it is the second time she has done so. The first was when she said at the Annunciation, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” By this repetition, Mary is emphasizing the importance of her humble obedience. Mary’s entire role in the salvation of mankind is based on humility and obedience.
The following verse, “behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed”, must be overlooked by those who reject devotion to Mary. Our Blessed Mother quickly adds to that verse, “Because He that is mighty, hath done great things unto me; and holy is His name”. Thus, we see that Mary always keeps the divine order, and never fails to attribute her every blessing to God alone. It is impossible to be truly devoted to Mary and not at the same time adore the most Holy Trinity; Mary is the most beloved Daughter of God the Father, the most pure Mother of God the Son and the most glorious Spouse of God the Holy Spirit. Thus, Mary has no existence nor worth without God.
Mary’s hymn reflects also her adoration of God’s most sacred name, “holy is His name.” This, of course is our first duty and Mary’s hymn exemplifies this exquisitely. The Magnificat is a salutary prayer to remedy the all-pervasive blasphemy of these times.
When Mary proclaims, “His mercy is from generation to generations, unto them that fear Him”, she is stating that God’s mercy is inextricably united with fearing Him. How long has it been since you heard a sermon on “fear of the Lord”? Unless you are as old as I am, or attend an SSPX Chapel, it is unlikely that you have ever heard any priest speak of this important virtue. Yet the Bible teaches, “Come, children, hearken to me: I will teach you fear of the Lord.” [Psalm 33, 12] Father Gabriel tells us that “this is the first lesson the Divine Paraclete teaches the soul” who is seeking closer union with God. (Divine Intimacy, Tan Publishers)
Fear of the Lord is such a tremendous love for God, such intimacy with Our Saviour, that we live in a holy fear of wounding Him in any way. If we truly love God as Mary teaches us, then we will always fear the loss of His love. Father Gabriel then says, “Captured by love for such a good father, the soul has but one desire, to return Him love for love, to give Him pleasure and to be united with Him forever.”
Mary goes on to proclaim God’s justice, which has, “scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart… 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”. This reminder of God’s justice, following as it does the promise of His mercy “from generation to generations”, helps us understand the divine order. Our Blessed Mother, from Quito to Fatima has spoken of God’s mercy while warning of His justice. We must be mindful of the coming justice of God, even as the great mass of humanity continue to spurn God’s mercy.
When we meditate on the Passion of Our Lord, we are always struck by the blind disdain of God’s chosen people for the meek and humble Suffering Servant . But their disdain is easily exceeded by those in the Church’s hierarchy, given the fullness of Holy Orders, who disdain Our Lord today, indifferent to the Prisoner of Love suffering in silence within the tabernacle. Let’s pray for them in this month of Mary.
The closing verses return to the mercy of God, “He hath helped His servant Israel, being mindful of His mercy: As He spoke unto our fathers, to Abraham and his seed for ever.” Israel refers to the Church, founded by Christ to fulfill the law, enduring until He comes again. And so we return to our Rosaries, renewed in our faith, encouraged by the promise of God’s mercy and justice, and inspired by our Most Blessed Mother to pray for the liberty and exaltation of our holy Mother the Church, seeking always the restoration of all things in Christ Jesus Our Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Pray the Rosary and confound the devil
(originally posted by evensong May 1, 2013)
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