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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 April 19, 2021

He asked to die like a thief and steal Paradise....

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April 19

 

A dying man asked a dying man for eternal life. 
A man without possessions asked a poor man for a Kingdom. 
A thief at the door of death asked to die like a thief and steal Paradise. 
 
One would have thought a saint would have been the first soul 
purchased over the counter of Calvary by the red coins of Redemption. 
 

But in the Divine plan it was a thief 
who was the escort of the King of kings 
into Paradise.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

 
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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Alphege of Canterbury

Alphege hastened to the defense of his people, and pressing...

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St. Alphege of Canterbury

As a youth, Alphege became a monk in the monastery of Deerhurst in Gloucestershire, England, afterwards an anchorite and later an abbot in a monastery in Bath. At thirty, at the insistence of St. Dunstan and to his great consternation, he was elected Bishop of Winchester. As bishop, he maintained the same austerity of life as when a monk. During his episcopate he was so generous toward the poor that there were no beggars left in the diocese of Winchester.

Alphege served twenty-two years as bishop of this see and was then translated to the see of Canterbury at the death of Archbishop Aelfric.

During this period, England suffered from the ravages of the Danes who joined forces with the rebel Earl Edric, marched on Kent and laid siege to Canterbury. When the city was betrayed, there was a terrible massacre, men and women, old and young, dying by the sword.

The Archbishop hastened to the defense of his people, and pressing through the crowd begged the Danes to cease the carnage. He was immediately seized, roughly handled, and imprisoned.

A mysterious and deadly plague broke out among the Danes, and, despite the fact that the holy prelate had healed many of their own with his prayers and by giving them blessed bread, the Danes demanded an exorbitant ransom for his release. As the Archbishop protested that the country was too poor to pay such a price, he was brutally assassinated.

St. Alphege was the first Archbishop of Canterbury to die a violent death. In 1023, the martyr's body was translated with great ceremony to Canterbury accompanied by the Danish King Canute. Although he did not die directly in defense of the Faith, St. Alphege is considered a martyr of justice.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a...

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The Robber Who Stole Heaven

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. His occupation being what it was, he would only increase his property by decreasing that of his victims.

One day, he was admonished by a local religious to change his course of life and thereby insure his eternal salvation. The only answer the robber gave was that for him there was no remedy.

"Do not say so," said the religious, "do what I tell you. Fast on each Saturday in honor of the Virgin Mary, and on that day of the week do no harm to anyone. She will obtain for you the grace of not dying in God’s displeasure.”

The robber thought to himself, “This is a small price to pay to insure my salvation; I will do as this holy man has prescribed.” He then obediently followed the religious’ advice, and made a vow to continue to do so. That he might not break it, from that time on he traveled unarmed on Saturdays.

Many years later, our robber was apprehended on a given Saturday by the officers of justice, and that he might not break his oath, he allowed himself to be taken without resistance. The judge, seeing that he was now a gray-haired old man, wished to pardon him.

Then the truly miraculous occurred. Rather than jump for joy thanking the judge for his leniency, the old robber, said that he wished to die in punishment of his sins. He then made a public confession of all the sins of his life in that same judgment hall, weeping so bitterly that all present wept with him.

He was beheaded, a death reserved for the nobility, rather than hanged. Then his body was buried with little ceremony, in a grave dug nearby.
Very soon afterwards, the mother of God came down from Heaven with four holy virgins by her side. They took the robber’s dead body from that place, wrapped it in a rich cloth embroidered with gold, and bore it themselves to the gate of the city.

There the Blessed Virgin said to the guards: "Tell the bishop from me, to give an honorable burial, in such a church to this dead person, for he was my faithful servant." And thus it was done.

All the people in the village thronged to the spot where they found the corpse with the rich pall, and the bier on which it was placed. And from that moment on, says Caesarius of Heisterbach, all persons in that region began to fast on Saturdays in honor of she who was so kind to even a notorious robber.

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

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. 

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