The Feast of the Visitation

“The staying of the Mother of God quiets the human mother. The angel could calm Mary with just a few words; Mary, as a human, must proceed more slowly; she calms Elizabeth by staying with her. But she has learned from the angel how one gives peace. She knows from her own experience that the explosive effect of receiving a mission means a disturbance which requires guidance into a new form of calm.”

Handmaid of the Lord, Adrienne von Speyr, page 46

Artwork:  “The Visitation”, by Giotto Di Bondone, circa 1310.  Location:  North transept, Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi

Pentecost and Mother Mary

I was thinking about how lovely it was that this year Pentecost Sunday, the day we celebrate the Holy Spirit coming to fill all those who were enclosed in a room with the Blessed Virigin, coincides with the secular day we celebrate Mother’s Day in North America. 

In “Handmaid of the Lord”, in the chapter entitled “Pentecost”, Adrienne von Speyr reflects on how closely related Mary’s motherhood is to Pentecost.  She writes, “For Mary is present by design at this feast of the Church’s foundation.  She is there as the Mother, as the one who from the very beginning has experienced and known everything about the Lord.”   She goes on to tell us that Mary is, “also present now, beyond motherhood and bridehood, as the womb of the Church.”  Christ, von Speyr writes of Mary, “reshaped her spirit from being that of an individual into the spirit of the Church.” 

When the Holy Spirit overshadowed her the first time, he made the incarnate Son come into being as a concrete, individual human being in the womb of her body.  The Spirit in her created the physical Son.  Then came a second period; the Son within her recreated her in the Spirit, from being physical mother to becoming Bride and Church as well.  It was a period of expansion, of transformation of the earthly into the Christian, the catholic, the universal.  And so the third period matures:  the Son, having returned to the Father, sends the Holy Spirit down upon her again so that the whole concreteness of the Church’s body may come into being now in this second overshadowing. 

How is the whole concreteness of the Church’s body to come about?  Once again, it will be through Mary’s Fiat, Mary’s perpetual Fiat:

General responsibility for the Church and for all whom it must lead to the Lord must be given to someone.  The Mother, who had volunteered for every responsibility, will surely assume this one.  The Apostles have functions in the Church which are somehow divided and partial.  The Mother is responsible for the whole.  In her, the Apostles and their different missions have their unity, the unity of the whole catholic mission:  to bring together all those who have gone astray or who are seeking, all those who are to be redeemed.  It is starting from this Pentecost community of the Apostles – with the women and the Mother in their midst – that all the scattered are brought back to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

[Adrienne von Speyr: The Handmaid of the Lord] From the Chapter, “Pentecost”   

Feast of the Annunciation

“Mary’s meeting with the angel is like the summation of her entire preceding life of contemplation.  It is the first thing we learn about her.  We do not know who she is, we do not know her past.  But when we learn that she saw the angel, the whole composition of her soul becomes visible.  The angel which appears is the fulfillment of her prayer – not in the sense that she had prayed for the appearance or prepared herself for it, but rather in the sense that she has held herself in readiness for a mission still unknown to her.  She has lived in an attitude of prayer, and in virtue of this life she is capable in the crucial moment of seeing and obeying the angel who comes to her.  Both vision and obedience flow from the same source in her; from the openness toward the mission which God may give her, when and in whatever way he likes.  Her obedience is the prototype of every future instance of Christian obedience, which draws its whole meaning from the life of prayer and the perception of God’s will.”  [Adrienne von Speyr: Handmaid of the Lord. From the Chapter, “Mary and the Angel“, pg. 27]

Magnificat (J.S. Bach) – turn off the Sonific Songspot before playing!