December 14, 2021
This Sunday is the fourth and final of Advent. We will be invited to revisit, in faith, the mystery of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. There is more than meets the eye in this encounter. St. Ambrose (+397), Doctor of the Church (a sure guide and companion on our faith journey), traditionally credited with composing the hymn Te Deum, carefully considers this encounter:
Elizabeth is the first to hear Mary’s voice, but John is the first to be aware of grace. She hears with the ears of the body, but he leaps for joy at the mystery. She is aware of Mary’s presence, but he is aware of the Lord’s: a woman aware of a woman’s presence, the forerunner aware of the pledge of our salvation. The women speak of the grace they have received while the children are active in secret, unfolding the mystery of love with the help of their mothers, who prophesy by the spirit of their sons.
As we approach the Christmas season (Christmas Eve through Epiphany, January 6)! and we are surrounded by the panic of remaining shopping for impossible gifts, and of preparations for holiday entertainment, I invite you to spend some quiet time, close to Mary, asking her to help you, as she does so well, to “treasure all these words and ponder them in your heart” (Luke 2:19), to cherish the presence of the Lord within. In so doing, we purify our hearts and thus prepare for His coming. As the same St. Ambrose so lovingly exhorts,
Let Mary’s soul be in each of you to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith. Every soul receives the Word of God if only it remains pure. The soul that succeeds in this proclaims the greatness of the Lord, just as Mary’s soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior.
I look forward to celebrating Christmas with you. If you will be traveling, I wish you an abundance of blessings. Trust that the Lord will work in and through you—even in the most complex of holiday situations! The Lord be with you.
Faithfully in Him,
The Rev. Dominique Peridans