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Meditation on the Visitation of Mary

The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori is the culmination of over eighteen centuries of Marian devotion and teaching, expressed with the utmost care by one of the greatest writers in Church history. This excerpt offers a beautiful meditation and prayer on Mary’s Visitation to Elizabeth.


Meditation

After the Blessed Virgin had heard from the archangel Gabriel that her cousin Saint Elizabeth had been six months pregnant, she was internally enlightened by the Holy Ghost to know that the Incarnate Word, who had become her Son, was pleased then to manifest to the world the riches of His mercy in the first graces that He desired to impart to all that family. 

Therefore, without interposing any delay, according to Saint Luke, “Mary, rising up, . . . went into the hill-country with haste.” Rising from the quiet of contemplation to which she was always devoted, and quitting her beloved solitude, she immediately set out for the dwelling of Saint Elizabeth; and because “charity beareth all things,” and cannot support delay, as Saint Ambrose remarks on this Gospel, ‘the Holy Ghost knows not slow undertakings;’ without even reflecting on the arduousness of the journey, this tender Virgin, I say, immediately undertook it. 

On reaching the house, she salutes her cousin: “And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.” Saint Ambrose here remarks that Mary was ‘the first to salute’ Elizabeth. The visit of Mary, however, had no resemblance with those of worldlings, which, for the greater part, consist in ceremony and outward demonstrations, devoid of all sincerity; for it brought with it an accumulation of graces. 

The moment she entered that dwelling, on her first salutation, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost; and Saint John was cleansed from original sin, and sanctified; and therefore gave that mark of joy by leaping in his mother’s womb, wishing thereby to manifest the grace that he had received by the means of the Blessed Virgin, as Saint Elizabeth herself declared: “As soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” 

Thus, as Bernardine de Bustis remarks, in virtue of Mary’s salutation Saint John received the grace of the Divine Spirit which sanctified him: ‘When the Blessed Virgin saluted Elizabeth, the voice of the salutation, entering her ears, descended to the child, and by its virtue he received the Holy Ghost.’

Prayer

Immaculate and Blessed Virgin, since thou art the universal dispenser of all divine graces, thou art the hope of all, and my hope. I will ever thank my Lord for having granted me the grace to know thee, and for having shown me the means by which I may obtain graces and be saved. 

Thou art this means, O great Mother of God; for I now understand that it is principally through the merits of Jesus Christ, and then through thy intercession, that my soul must be saved. 

Ah! my Queen, thou didst hasten so greatly to visit, and by that means didst sanctify the dwelling of Saint Elizabeth; deign, then, to visit, and visit quickly, the poor house of my soul. 

Ah! hasten, then; for thou well knowest, and far better than I do, how poor it is, and with how many maladies it is afflicted; with disordered affections, evil habits, and sins committed, all of which are pestiferous diseases, which would lead it to eternal death. 

Thou canst enrich it, O Treasurer of God; and thou canst heal all its infirmities. Visit me, then, in life, and visit me especially at the moment of death, for then I shall more than ever require thy aid. I do not indeed expect, neither am I worthy, that thou shouldst visit me on this earth with thy visible presence, as thou hast visited so many of thy servants; but they were not unworthy and ungrateful as I am. I am satisfied to see thee in thy kingdom of heaven, there to be able to love thee more, and thank thee for all that thou hast done for me. At present I am satisfied that thou shouldst visit me with thy mercy; thy prayers are all that I desire.

Pray, then, O Mary, for me, and commend me to thy Son. Thou, far better than I do, knowest my miseries and my wants. What more can I say? Pity me; I am so miserable and ignorant, that I neither know, nor can I seek for, the graces that I stand the most in need of. 

My most sweet Queen and Mother, do thou seek and obtain for me from thy Son those graces which thou knowest to be the most expedient and necessary for my soul. I abandon myself entirely into thy hands, and only beg the Divine Majesty, that by the merits of my Saviour Jesus He will grant me the graces which thou askest Him for me. 

Ask, ask, then, O most Holy Virgin, that which thou seest is best for me; thy prayers are never rejected; they are the prayers of a Mother addressed to a Son, who loves thee, His Mother, so much, and rejoices in doing all that thou desirest, that He may honour thee more, and at the same time show thee the great love He bears thee. Let us make an agreement, O Lady, that while I live confiding in thee, thou on thy part wilt charge thyself with my salvation. Amen.

This article is taken from a chapter in The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori which is available from TAN Books

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