1. Pregnancy presents challenges throughout the entire 9 months and post partum period. Even early pregnancy saps mom's strength and endurance.
Yet it is in the early months of her pregnancy that Mary undertakes a journey to visit and help her cousin Elizabeth.
It's easy to become a little too self-centered when one is growing a new life within. From Mary's example we can witness the beauty of reaching outside of our selves to acknowledge and help another - especially another mom-to-be!
2. Some say that the miracle of the Visitation is that one pregnant woman was able to reach out to another. But I think it is also miraculous that a younger woman reached out to visit an older woman. Our society does not value old age and the wisdom that comes with it. The retired and elderly are the only other group (besides the pre-K through 12 set) that we segregate out of society because of age. Mary shows us the value of spending time to live, laugh and love with an older woman that she calls cousin and friend.
3. Elizabeth teaches us some lessons as well. She treats Mary as a welcomed guest and as a peer. She doesn't patronize her and she greets her warmly, with love and hospitality. I think it can be so easy to treat our younger women friends as girls and children instead of the young adults they have be come. Elizabeth shows us that there can be joy and happiness in welcoming friendships with the younger women in our lives!
4. Of course the silent exchange between Baby Jesus and Baby John is precious. John exuberantly jumps in his mother's womb in the presence of his Lord, an exuberance and enthusiasm we see later as John preaches and baptizes in the desert. Babies are little people, and their personalities are evident early, even in the womb!
5. Mary does not say a whole lot in the scriptures, but her thoughts and feelings burst forth in the presence of her beloved cousin. Like the Lord's Prayer, Mary's Magnificat is another example of the things we should include in our own prayers - simple adoration and thankfulness:
In the book The Year and Our Children, Mary Reed Newland talks about the little shrines she made throughout her house for the Blessed Mother. Today might be a good day to do that. (Check out this lovely homemade Marian shrine!) If you live near a Marian shrine today or tomorrow might be good days to visit.
It might also be a good day to plant some flowers around your Mary Statue and clean her up a bit, which is what we are going to do today.