A blessed feast of the Visitation, to all our readers, wherein we recall the meeting of four chosen souls: Our Lady, Saint Elizabeth, and their respective embryonic children, the newly-conceived Son of the Most High, and Saint John the Baptist, six months along. Quite the event, putting the Council of Nicaea in perspective, if more hidden from the world’s eyes.
The commemoration of this feast goes back to the Middle Ages, when it was originally celebrated on the octave after the Birth of Saint John the Baptist, July 2nd. The feast of the Messiah’s precursor, June 24th, has been largely secularized, if not entirely forgotten – in Quebec it is now la Fete Nationale, the Catholic roots of la belle province all but withered, but still with some life. The liturgical revision after Vatican II in 1969 moved the feast to this last day of May, between the Annunciation (March 25th) and the Baptist’s birth, to harmonize more fittingly with the Gospel story.
The meeting of Mary and Elizabeth and their children, the six-month old John the Precursor who would prepare the way for His coming, is a poignant one for our age. With mother degraded, if not derided, unborn children expendable, not even persons, dependent upon the whim – ‘choice’ in our euphemistic language – of the mother. But how can non-persons ‘leap for joy’? And if they can feel joy, so too sorrow and pain.