Father in heaven, by your grace the virgin mother of your Incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping your word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP TEC)
The feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth originated in the Middle Ages. “In 1389 Pope Urban VI, hoping thereby to obtain an end to the Great Western Schism, inserted it in the Roman Calendar, for celebration on 2 July [8 days after celebrating the Birth of John the Baptist!]….The 1969 revision of the calendar moved it to 31 May, between the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord (25 March) and that of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (24 June), so that it would harmonize better with the Gospel story.” Pope Paul VI moved the celebration of the Visitation to the last day of the Marian month of May. It is now celebrated between the feasts of the Annunciation and the Birth of Saint John the Baptist.
In the Anglican Church of Or, The Visitation can be celebrated on 31 May OR 2 July (where, this year, it competes with the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, or Refugee Sunday).
Mother Teresa of Calcutta said:
In the mystery of the Annunciation and the Visitation, Mary is the very model of the life we should lead. First of all, she welcomed Jesus in her existence; then, she shared what she had received. Every time we receive Holy Communion, Jesus the Word becomes flesh in our life – gift of God who is at one and the same time beautiful, kind, unique. Thus, the first Eucharist was such: Mary’s offering of her Son in her, in whom he had set up the first altar. Mary, the only one who could affirm with absolute confidence, “this is my body”, from that first moment offered her own body, her strength, all her being, to form the Body of Christ.
Two frequently used prayers connect with this feast: “Blessed are you amongst women and blessed is the fruit of your womb” and The Magnificat. There is much to reflect on (and live): The (Risen) Christ life growing within us; recognising Christ in others; living with gratitude…
by whose grace Elizabeth rejoiced with Mary
and greeted her as the mother of the Lord:
look with favour on your lowly servants
that, with Mary, we may magnify your holy name
and rejoice to acclaim her Son our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. (Common Worship CofE)
by your grace Elizabeth rejoiced with Mary
and hailed her as the mother of the Lord.
Fill us with your grace,
that we may acclaim her Son as our Saviour
and rejoice in our fellowship with him;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God of the humble and expectant,
you bless those who believe when you promise;
help us, like Mary and Elizabeth,
simply to delight
in the good things you prepare for us,
to say, ‘Yes’. (NZPB)