Quinceañera Visitation

Today I celebrate Mass for the fourth time this month with the Visitation gospel reading from St. Luke.

This is the gospel reading assigned for a Quinceañera Mass, when a young Mexican woman renews her baptismal promises and consecrates herself anew to the service of God.

Recalling the Visitation suits the occasion of a Quinceañera Mass perfectly.

The Blessed Mother showed the kind spirit of a Christian woman in thinking of her cousin and going to help her. The moment when Mary and Elizabeth met gave the world a beautiful, quiet sign of the coming of the Messiah, when St. John recognized Christ–womb-to-womb, so to speak. And the Blessed virgin expressed the heart of a prayerful quinceañera when she sang her Magnificat, glorifying God for His immeasurable goodness and generosity.

We give thanks that we have life. We give thanks that Christ has given us every reason to hope for eternal consolation. We give thanks that He chose us and made us His own. The Almighty has done great things for us. Holy is His name.

Good Company Evangelizes

Mary set out in those days and traveled. (Luke 1:39)

We read about our Lady’s holy Visitation of St. Elizabeth during this season of much visitation. We wish safe journeys to everyone about to set out in haste.

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leapt in her womb.”

Of course, at this moment, supernatural grace operated, and St. John had his first interaction with Christ–womb-to-womb, so to speak.

But grace, as we know, builds on nature. Can we not imagine that the sound of the Blessed Virgin’s voice simply brought joy to the ears of her friends? That a visit from our Lady meant the pleasure of good company?

Does the sound of my voice bring joy to the people I visit? If not, is it because I nag or criticize? Is it because I never make the effort to contribute in a thoughtful manner to a decent conversation? Is it because all I ever talk about is myself?

The Blessed Mother brought Christ with her when she came to visit Elizabeth and Zechariah. She brought her love, her friendship, her affectionate care. She brought unassuming peace, patient devotion to the truth, ready attentiveness, and—I think we can imagine—a sweet sense of humor. How could she have gotten through everything she had to get through without one?

Being good company makes a pretty respectable witness to Christ. We might not be able to convince everyone to go to Mass with us. But if we are good company, we’ve got a shot at it.

Hidden in the Womb

The Basilica of the Visitation

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb. –Luke 1:41

We all started off our lives in our mothers’ wombs. We were hidden from the eyes of men, but we were very much alive.

When St. John the Baptist was in St. Elizabeth’s womb, he realized that the Son of God had come to his house. In other words, St. John exercised his mission as a prophet even before he was born.

Christ Himself also exercised His mission before birth. At the moment the Lord Jesus was conceived, God first lived with a human soul. At that moment, Christ made an act of submission to the Father. The act is perfectly expressed in the words of the fortieth Psalm:

I waited, waited for the LORD, who bent down and heard my cry, drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp, set my feet upon rock, steadied my steps, and put a new song in my mouth, a hymn to our God.

Happy those whose trust is the LORD, who turn not to idolatry or to those who stray after falsehood…

Sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require; so I said, “Here I am; your commands for me are written in the scroll. To do your will is my delight; my God, your law is in my heart!”

Our lives begin at the moment of conception. Life begins to unfold in the womb. St. John’s mission in life was to point out the Lamb of God. He began to fulfill this mission even before he was born. The Lord Jesus’ mission was to offer Himself completely to the Father, to sacrifice Himself for the redemption of the world. Christ accomplished His self-offering perfectly even while He was still hidden in Mary’s womb. His 33 years on earth were simply a matter of living out what He had already resolved to do.

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