31 May 2013
England has been named “Mary’s Dowry” since mediaeval times. At Agincourt the Mother of God was invoked as Protectress of the country before the battle. Yet I have managed to reach the last day of May, the month of Mary, without a mention of her.
Well, today is the feast of the Visitation, when Mary hastened to visit her cousin Elizabeth who, against all the odds, was pregnant. Elizabeth recognised immediately that Mary was also pregnant, for the “child leapt in her womb” at Mary’s greeting. Every mother will recall the first tentative movement of their unborn child – but a leap! This was someone unique. Mary responds with her prayer of humility and thanksgiving, the Magnificat, one of the tremendous prayers of praise in the gospel.
In 1990 our band of pilgrims to the Holy Land also hastened to visit the Church of the Visitation in Ein Kerem, not far from Jerusalem. My friend Avril and I hastened faster than the others and got to the gates first, alas shut fast in our faces. Our group came up and we pressed our faces against the bars and called out in polite, diffident English voices. Of course no-one came. Lunch time, or the monks were saying their midday Office. It was a beautiful spot, high on the side of a hill. We all sat down with the holy land spread before us and recited the appropriate decade. Then ate our sandwiches in the sun.
Incidentally, in 2011 the BBC made an excellent and stirring film for TV called The Nativity. While not quite 100% according to Holy Writ, it is more so than any other of its kind and well worth having on the family DVD shelf.
Someone remarked that this site is too religious. I can’t really apologise because that is what I am, I suppose. There’ll be more of it in a day or so . . .