The Holy Spirit and the Feast of the Visitation
The Solemnity of Pentecost, celebrated this past Sunday, “overshadows” the Feast of the Visitation on May31st, reminding us of the way Our Blessed Mother was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation.
The Holy Spirit is essential to both the Visitation and Pentecost, and Mary was present and open during all these manifestations.
Visitandines continue to live out this mystery in our own time.
The Holy Spirit’s power pervaded all aspects of the encounter between Mary and Elizabeth. When Mary arrived in the town of Judah, entered the house and greeted Elizabeth, Elizabeth “heard” Mary’s greeting. She listened. Listening, a simple yet intense action is the receptivity needed in order to be grasped by the Spirit.
Elizabeth, in her receptivity, also served as a channel to John in her womb, becoming, as it were, an instrument for her son’s spiritual birth, as he subsequently stirred or leaped within her. We are called to be channels as well.
The Gospel states quite distinctly that Elizabeth “was filled” with the Holy Spirit. Spiritual gifts then flowed out in abundance. She became a witness with a prophetic voice. She began to proclaim the truth about the present moment; deep, essential truths.
Elizabeth proclaimed, loudly, “Blest are you among women and blest is the fruit of your womb”. Her initial truth was a statement about Mary’s identity, as a blessed one.
“But who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” The gift of humility is so clearly expressed here, this cornerstone virtue of a Visitandine as well.
Elizabeth’s proclamation also revealed the gift of knowledge given to her. She knew Mary’s condition, that she was expecting a Child, she knew that the unborn child is Lord, her Lord. We too can ask for the gift of knowledge; it is a gift given within the Gospel event of the Visitation and thus, in a sense, specially bequeathed to Visitation Nuns.
The power of the Holy Spirit within us helps us see and proclaim the truth of our circumstances, our path, and our relationship with the Lord, as each continues to say, “but who am I?”
“Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.”
Trust. We really need to trust and to deepen it. We have received the individual promise of our God to our hearts. We are called to trust that the promises God has made to us will be fulfilled.
This is the heritage, a Gospel-based treasure, that the Visitation Order can call its own.