Monday, May 31, 2021

S. Bede the Venerable commenting on the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth

Today is the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, journeyed up into the hill country to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth, who herself was pregnant with John the Baptist. It is a beautiful narrative. I don’t know if it was easy or difficult for Mary to climb up those hills, but the fact is that she made the effort, and when she greeted Elizabeth, little John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother’s womb. Imagine that! And then S. Luke says that Elizabeth was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ and honoured Mary as the ‘Mother of my Lord.’

There are so many ways in which Mary represents and symbolises the Church. On this occasion what she did reminds us of what we are supposed to do. She made the effort to take Jesus within her up to the hill country and in so doing brought joy and blessing into the lives of others.   

Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth is a reminder that the Church in our time is called to ‘bring Jesus to a waiting world’.

Last week we celebrated the Feast day of S. Bede the Venerable. Here, from this morning’s Office of Readings, is a passage from one of his sermons in which he reflects on the Visitation: 

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour. With these words Mary first acknowledges the special gifts she has been given. Then she recalls God’s universal favours, bestowed unceasingly on the human race.

When a man devotes all his thoughts to the praise and service of the Lord, he proclaims God’s greatness. His observance of God’s commands, moreover, shows that he has God’s power and greatness always at heart. His spirit rejoices in God his saviour and delights in the mere recollection of his creator who gives him hope for eternal salvation.

These words are often for all God’s creations, but especially for the Mother of God. She alone was chosen, and she burned with spiritual love for the son she so joyously conceived. Above all other saints, she alone could truly rejoice in Jesus, her saviour, for she knew that he who was the source of eternal salvation would be born in time in her body, in one person both her own son and her Lord.

For the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. Mary attributes nothing to her own merits. She refers all her greatness to the gift of the one whose essence is power and whose nature is greatness, for he fills with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe in him.

She did well to add: and holy is his name, to warn those who heard, and indeed all who would receive his words, that they must believe and call upon his name. For they too could share in everlasting holiness and true salvation according to the words of the prophet: and it will come to pass, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. This is the name she spoke of earlier: and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour.

Therefore it is an excellent and fruitful custom of holy Church that we should sing Mary’s hymn at the time of evening prayer. By meditating upon the incarnation, our devotion is kindled, and by remembering the example of God’s Mother, we are encouraged to lead a life of virtue. Such virtues are best achieved in the evening. We are weary after the day’s work and worn out by our distractions. The time for rest is near, and our minds are ready for contemplation.

Friday, May 7, 2021


ASCENSION DAY is this Thursday 13th May, and there are TWO Masses at All Saints Benhilton:
        10.00 a.m. Low Mass

          7.30 p.m. Low Mass with Choral Anthems

PENTECOST SUNDAY is the 23rd May.


is a special time of prayer for evangelisation, reflecting the experience of the first disciples who were told by Jesus at his Ascension that they were to proclaim the Good News to ‘all nations’.

But he  also told them that they should first go back into Jerusalem and wait in prayer for the ‘promise of the Father’ - the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Only then would they be able to fulfil what God asked of them, not relying on their own strength, but on the power, the strength and the courage given to them by the Holy Spirit. 

That’s why in the Catholic tradition we pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit (the ‘Pentecost Novena’) between Ascension Day and Pentecost.

Under the name THY KINGDOM COME, this has evolved into a global prayer movement inviting Christians of all traditions to do the same, and to pray for more people to come to know Jesus. There are many different ways this might be done . . . using prayers from a prayer book, old or new; praying with our families each day; going to Mass daily during the week as well as on Sundays.

There are these helpful resources online:


The booklet can be downloaded and printed from HERE

The podcasts are HERE


Suitable for family catechesis or in a larger group. Download from HERE

During these days, let us all pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our communities, and let us pray for those we know and love to find new life in Jesus.