These are fictive meditations on the fifteen traditional mysteries of the Rosary. This second is the Visitation, the feast of which was celebrated two days ago, and is the major Marian feast of my parish. By it, Our Lord is brought to the Church for the first time for public worship, and Our Lady gives us the wonderful Magnificat. This book is finished and preparing for publication. If you are aware of the Rosary and do not pray it, or if you do pray it and do not attempt to meditate upon it, then you are acting foolishly. May the Lord reward you for your labors.
Dedicated also to St. Joseph,
And the Holy Family, and Sts Zechariah, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist,
And the whole Communion of Saints,
Pray for us,
That we share in that heavenly conversation.
I was not present for that humble conversation, but I sorely wish I were, for every word which ever proceeded from one or the Other mouth was so much glory to me, and if I preferred the one for his resemblance to the Man, then it was because the Other was too high for me, and always She seemed hidden, and I was ever unable to contemplate Her.
But I was told later of what took place. For ever since my servitude was a gift upon their wedding day, I have enjoyed some sparse intimacy with that father. Sparse not for lack of his generosity, but rich in terms of how much any received: for he never spoke but when necessary, and always at all times preferred the interior of his own soul, where he spent so many hours working that labor of Adam, and cultivating the majestic garden which God had given him. This it was that made his humility profound, for how can a man in possession of the best of Edens think it lowly among the slime of the Earth? But then the answer immediately presents itself: for even in the later years he spoke but little, and this in the presence of Our Lord Himself, for what splendor could not be muted by the shadow of God’s Own interior stature?
He did speak of it to me though. He was always so tender to me before I left his employment. His decorum and tranquility and dignity never lapsed for this, because on the day after their wedding they disputed: him preferring that She lead them, perceiving the order of Heaven, and She requiring that he lead them, and winning out, for his was the Image of God, and She the magnification of it. So he led, no doubt with interior trembling, but with exterior dignity of all the Patriarchs, as befits a Son of David.
He said that She had come to him, relating the message of the angel in part, that Her cousin was with child five months, and that it was fitting She go to her. She revealed not that greatest of Happenings, which even now, having been baptized by the apostle Bartholomew, I shudder to attempt to describe to you. And as for the visitation upon which She designed, it came only as a humble request to the father whom She called at times Lord, as Sarah did to Abraham: My lord, would it be possible in your sight that we should visit Elizabeth, my cousin, to assist her in her bearing?
No doubt had he known Her own similar condition, he would have inclined against it, always preferring for Her all the comfort and dignity of a Queen, which indeed he considered Her, having the wisdom of one beyond Solomon and Isaiah. For did he not seek to put Her away quietly when he discovered the fact? And was this in some sense of shame for Her? No! He was a just man, and justly considered himself unfit for the place which God had chosen for him, and would see Her in the palace of David, and not with himself in humble poverty. As all just men have always been, and God delights in bringing their seat up close to His.
But he did agree to Her request in gentleness and boundless affection for Her. For immediately he espied Her intention, to serve the very woman as a Washer and Handmaid, whom would upon seeing Her declare herself so unworthy simply to obtain a visitation, let alone service. This affection of his, how can any one of us ever approach it? I have told you the smoke which hangs before my eyes of the thought of Her, and She always treated me as a Mother, with tender solicitude and even intimacy. But I am stained with the worst of sins, owing to my upbringing, and it is not fitting that One so pure should occupy the same mind as where once impure thoughts reposed, and God shall set it straight at Judgment, but I have offered all myself to Her as a possession.
They traveled then to the hill country before Jerusalem. I traveled with them, keeping their belongings as I could, but he always cared for Her and the ass which she rode, and indeed I was very superfluous. I watched them at times, attempting vainly to comprehend their communion, for their conversation was so sparse, so simple, and so poignant in objective. It was very different indeed from that of the father and Zechariah, which I was privileged to witness: The one being mute and the other being quiet, they yet exchanged so many heavenly thoughts on the imminent approach of the Redeemer, Who was then amongst them, in Zechariah’s own house, in the womb of the father’s Bride visiting, unknown and hidden. This communion far outpaced in volume that which was exchanged between him and Her upon the road, and it was certainly that sweetness of Communion between the Saints, so earnestly exchanging words of the glory before their eyes, when before the Holy Face of God, and of His Mother, in silence, they only contemplate.
I know for I saw it that he kept often upon the road a watch of the night, delighting in the practice, for God’s sake, so faithful was he to the interior life. He told me of his prayers, for I asked, and reluctantly he deemed it charitable to my perfection that I know:
You come to me, oh Body, and you are here, oh Soul, behind him, to register your complaints. Well, I hear them, and you know that often I relieve you of your pains. But it is deemed by God that you should suffer for your concupiscence for the sake of our father, Adam, who even now waits in darkness for us. Far be it from me to forgive you or think I should save you, when God so justly condemns you. But know this, that you approach a great and undeserved reward, that you should avoid all pains of hereafter, and receive glorification, your viscera abolished, and sweetness added to your veins, and light to your bowels. So suffer well, oh Body, and bear your burden, oh Soul, and we shall be rewarded much more in repose and delight! Now be quiet.
I did not, neither me nor my benefactor, witness that first worship of the Church to Her God. For first the herald leapt in joy, receiving justification, having seen the Lamb approach the altar, and then the laywoman spoke, praising God. But I did not see it. Now all the Church knows what words She did speak, the only account which She ever gave of Her own glory, distinct from all men: and even that was a praise of what God had done in Her, in Her people, and in the midst of the just and unjust. Here, being overwhelmed, I terminate my unworthy account, and simply transpose the more perfect words of Her lips:
Magnificat anima mea Dominum
Et exsultavit spiritus meus:
in Deo, salutary meo.
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae:
ecce enim ex hoc beatem me
dicent omnes generations.
Quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est:
et sanctum nomen ejus.
Et misericordia ejus, a progenie in progenies:
Fecit potentiam in bracchio suo:
dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
Deposuit potentes de sede:
et exaltavit humiles.
Esurientes implevit bonis:
et divites dimisit inanes.
Suscepit Israel puerum suum:
recordatus misericordia suae.
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros:
Abraham, et semini ejus in saecula.
My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
Because He hath regarded
the humility of His handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all
generations shall call me blessed.
Because He that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is His Name.
And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him.
He hath shewed might in His arm:
He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel His servant,
being mindful of His mercy:
As He spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to His seed for ever.