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Header-The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Written by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira 

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

 

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

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

This story is rich in applications to the interior life.

          

Saint Elizabeth and the “Catholic Sense”

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

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

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

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



God Gives Glory According to His Unfathomable Designs

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

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

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

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

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



Immediate Sanctity: A Grace to Ask from Our Lady

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for January 19, 2020

We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out wit...

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January 19

 

We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent!
Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues.
I see that the world is rotten
because of silence.

St. Catherine of Siena


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

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Wulfstan of Worcester

The citizens of Bristol would kidnap men and sell them into...

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St. Wulfstan of Worcester

Wulfstan (Wulstan) was a native of Warwickshire, England.  After his priestly ordination, he became a novice at the monastery of Worcester where he edified all by the innocence and sanctity of his life. He was assiduous at prayer, often watching all night in church.

The first task assigned to him at the monastery was the instruction of children, then treasurer and eventually - though against his fierce resistance - he was made prior. In 1062, he was elected Bishop of Worcester.

Wulfstan was a powerful preacher, often moving his audience to tears.

To his vigorous action is particularly attributed the suppression of the heinous practice among the citizens of Bristol of kidnapping men into slavery and shipping them over to Ireland. St. Patrick who became the great apostle and patron of the Irish was such a slave in his youth.

After the Norman conquest of England, William the Conqueror was initially uncertain about Wulfstan. But acknowledging his capacity and uprightness, Wulfstan was the only bishop William retained at his post under the new rule.

For the next thirty years Wulfstan rebuilt his cathedral, cared for the poor and put forth great effort in alleviating the harsh decrees of the Normans upon the vanquished Saxons. Whenever the English complained of the oppression of the Normans, Wulfstan told them: “This is a scourge of God for our sins, which we must bear with patience.”

The saintly bishop died on January 19 at eighty-seven years of age after washing the feet of a dozen poor men, a humble ritual he performed daily. He was canonized in 1203.

Photo by: Christopher Guy

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him h...

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Mary and the Muslim

Don Octavio del Monaco was a wealthy citizen of 17th century Naples. Like many of his class, Don Octavius had several Muslim slaves in his household. These children of Islam were amazed at the kindness of their “master.” He fed and clothed them better than they received in their native land. In return, his slaves attended to their tasks with diligence, as Don Octavius did not over work them, but assigned them duties in keeping with their dignity as children of God.

If these Muslim slaves had any reason for complaint, it was the gentle persistence with which their master and his wife exhorted them to give up their false religion and become Catholics. Don Octavius even went so far as to invite the slaves to join his family in the chapel to worship the one true God with them!

Our story today is about one young slave in particular. His name was Abel, like the slain son of Adam and Eve. He felt drawn in a peculiar way to a lamp that burned in front of a shrine to Holy Mary. Abel would purchase the oil needed to keep the lamp lit from his own meager stipend. As he continued to practice this humble devotion, he would say, “I hope that this Lady will grant me some great favor.”

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian. At first the Turk resisted. But she placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said to him: “Now no longer resist, Abel, but be baptized and called Joseph,” conferring on him a name that was very dear to her Immaculate Heart indeed.

On August the 10th, 1648, there was much rejoicing in Heaven, for on that day “Joseph” and eleven other Muslims converted to the Christian faith and were baptized. Their conversion was brought about by the kindness shown by Don Octavius and the special intercession of the Mother of God.

Our story does not end here. Even once this son of hers was safely baptized, Mother Mary delighted in visiting him. Once, after having appeared to him, she was about to depart. But the Moor seized her mantle, saying, “Oh, Lady, when I find myself afflicted, I pray you to let me see you.” In fact, she one day promised him this and when Joseph found himself afflicted he invoked her, and Mary appeared to him again saying, “Have patience", and he was consoled.

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

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.

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