Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth
“Restore us, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance and we shall be saved.” I love that line from Psalm 80. God, turn your face toward us. Look at us. See us. See me. A small yet significant request, to be seen. When we are seen in love, when another’s face lights up at seeing ours, we feel love.
Mary set out and went quickly to visit Elizabeth, a normal visit turned extraordinary. By divine power and blessing, now both Mary, a young virgin, and Elizabeth, a barren elder, are pregnant. They also bear the burden of public shame. The scandal since Mary claims pregnancy through the dream of an angel. Who did she think she was? The long years of ridicule for Elizabeth who had never born a child. Rumors swirled about why she was now.
Bearing children and shame, Mary goes to Elizabeth. This holy visit. They both believe, have faith in what they can’t see or explain. Both are filled with Holy Spirit. Elizabeth exclaims in a loud voice. The baby leaps in her womb. Mary sings her song.
The Restoration of the Religious Life
In the late 1530s, King Henry VIII disbanded all the monasteries, convents, and friaries in England, Wales, Ireland – there were almost 900 religious houses in England alone – with both people and properties left for ruin, an appalling chapter in western history. More than 300 years would pass until in 1841, on this day, Marian Rebecca Hughes made religious vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience. She was the very first woman to take such vows in the Church of England since the Dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century. Our own community, the oldest Anglican men’s religious community, was founded 25 years later, in 1866. Down through the centuries many things have changed in the religious life, true to life. Some qualities about the religious life have survived the test of time.
Colossians 3:12-17; John 15:9-17
The story is told of a weary man, aged beyond his years, who walked slowly into the office of a country doctor. The man appeared spent, even by the brief walk back to the doctor’s examination room, and he sat down heavily onto the examination table.
“What seems to be the problem?” asked the doctor.
The man answered, “Doctor, life is very short and very hard, and I find no joy.”
The doctor listened to the man describe his symptoms, then examined him. On finding no physical abnormalities, the doctor wondered how he could possibly be of help? Finally, the doctor’s face lit up when he thought he might have a remedy. The doctor said, “There’s an amazing clown appearing in our local theater. Prokevia is his name. He’s absolutely marvelous! Go and see him, and perhaps he will remind you of the joy that lies hidden in your life.”
The man looked up at the satisfied doctor, breathed a sigh and said, “My dear doctor… I am Prokevia.”
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.