May 31 Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
This day is called the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary because on it Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, whom, as the angel had told her, God had blessed with a son in her old age.
Patron Saint Index
Do not let your love be a pretence, but sincerely prefer good to evil. Love each other as much as brothers should, and have a profound respect for each other. Work for the Lord with untiring effort and with great earnestness of spirit. If you have hope, this will make you cheerful. Do not give up if trials come; and keep on praying. If any of the saints are in need you must share with them; and you should make hospitality your special care.
Bless those who persecute you: never curse them, bless them. Rejoice with those who rejoice and be sad with those in sorrow. Treat everyone with equal kindness; never be condescending but make real friends with the poor.
Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’
And Mary said:
‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit exults in God my saviour;
because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name,
and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
he has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy
– according to the promise he made to our ancestors –
of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.
My spirit exults in God my saviour; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid
I recently attended a retreat over the long weekend. It was unlike the few other retreats I had attended before – we were told to come spiritually prepared for it, by praying daily and going for the Sacrament of Reconciliation before the retreat. At the past few retreats I had attended, confession was usually one of the key components, so this was something new for me. Many of the retreatants also seemed to be very spiritual and prayerful, so I was also somewhat intimidated.
We were encouraged to surrender our phones after lunch on the first day, something I really struggled with. But as it was also a semi-silent retreat, it made sense to try and disconnect with the outside world for those three days. In the end, I was glad that I could do that and grew to appreciate the silence. It also seemed to me that the act of surrendering my phone was akin to surrendering myself to God and his plans, especially considering how the phone is practically a ‘second skin’.
I came to this retreat with expectant faith, but it was not quite the experience I had anticipated. I felt a lot of emptiness and seemed like I was in a state of desolation. I was envious of those who had shared their extraordinary God experiences of having life-visions and hearing God speak to them so clearly; during adoration and the praying over in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, I felt so unworthy and distant, and honestly almost felt like God had passed me over because I did not receive any extraordinary spiritual high. The silence was truly golden, as I was unable to share this negativity with others and allow it to magnify and fester.
God never forsakes us; He knows what we need even if it does not feel like it. It was only toward the end of the retreat that my spirits were lifted. During the final testimonies, I no longer felt envious as I did previously, but instead was very edified listening to the testimonies. I was also suddenly triggered by some of the testimonies and remembered hurts that I had been suppressing, which was a sign to me that I needed to address them at a later stage when I was ready. The one that touched me the most, was hearing how she did not receive any visions or tangible gifts, but recognised that God spoke to her through other means. And it hit me that this was just like me, but while I had so much bitterness, this person had so much joy.
I reflected back and sifted through my journal, and realised then that God had indeed been speaking to me all this while, just that I had been too stubborn and close-minded to notice. God was speaking to me through all the scripture verses I picked, quotes from saints that was placed around the retreat centre, the talks, and of course through people. I had almost wanted to go up to testify then about the power of testimonies and how God is always there even when you don’t think he is, but I chickened out. However, it was still quite a huge turnaround from feeling rather down during most of the retreat to wanting to go up and proclaim God’s grace.
It was a reminder for me that we need to be open and patient, and that our God is a creative and powerful God! He comes to us when we least expect it, and he allows all types of experiences because he truly knows each person’s unique needs. God is always inviting us, his lowly and unworthy servants, to grow into deeper prayer and build a deeper relationship with Him.
(Today’s Oxygen by Kristel Wang)
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to grow in faith. Teach us to pray deeply so that we can be in stronger communion with you. Guide us to walk in your ways with all our heart.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for your constant grace and mercy even when we do not deserve it. May we always be grateful and recognise you in both trials and joys. Amen.