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Mary’s Wonder Is Praise
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.” Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, draw me into this moment of prayer, this place of encounter with you, together with your Mother and my mother, Mary. I believe you have something to say to me today; I trust that even if I feel you are silent, you are with me. Help me to receive your word in this moment of prayer and to welcome you, soon, into my heart on the day of your birth. Mother Mary, draw me into the wonder and praise that flow from your heart in your Magnificat.
- Praise Goes up First (cf. Judges 20:18): Praise spontaneously flowed from Mary’s heart as she encountered her cousin and was called “Mother of the Lord” for the first time. Her words were true at the moment she prayed them, and they are still true, on this day as Mother Church is united around the world praising God for the gift of his Son. Today we make her words our own. Our souls proclaim the greatness of the Lord.
- He Lifts up the Lowly: Our Lady knew well how God lifted up the lowly throughout the history of her people, and now she was experiencing it personally in a way beyond her imagining. She wholeheartedly acknowledged her lowliness and must have marveled that God asked her to participate so intimately in his plan of salvation for the whole world. Perhaps resting her hands on her slowly growing baby bump, she would also contemplate how he had come to make himself lowly—an infant, totally helpless and in need of love, so as to bring us the Father’s love and let us love him, too.
- He Remembers His Promise: Mary reminds us that God did not forget his people as they continued throughout the Old Testament to seek his face. And he doesn’t forget us as we beseech him for graces and blessings! In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, “Often, his plan is hidden under the opaque terrain of human vicissitudes, in which the ‘proud,’ the ‘mighty’ and the ‘rich’ triumph. However, in the end, his secret strength is destined to manifest who God’s real favorites are: the ‘faithful’ to his Word, ‘the humble,’ ‘the hungry,’ ‘his servant Israel,’ namely, the community of the People of God that, as Mary, is constituted by those who are ‘poor,’ pure, and simple of heart” (February 16, 2006).
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you have come into this world as an infant to make yourself lowly so that I can approach your mangerside without fear of judgment or rejection. I wish to praise you for your goodness and mercy! Grant me your grace, these last days of Advent. Grant me the grace to be unafraid to present my lowliness before you. I will not hide my lowliness, for I know that you love faithful and humble souls. And oh Jesus, you have come for love of me. I want to stay at the mangerside for love of you, too.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will strive to pray the Magnificat in my examen prayer at the end of, or at some moment during, the day.
For Further Reflection: You may wish to read Hannah’s song of praise to God, in the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 2:1-10, which finds an echo in Mary’s own Magnificat.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid and Valencia, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families and young people she’s there to serve.