Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Feast of the Joy of the Gospel

Egyptian manuscript depiction of
today's feast, from the Walters Museum
Today's Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth was a favorite of Blessed James Alberione. He actually called it the "Feast of the Daughters of St. Paul" since we are to "go out" to others, carrying Jesus in our hearts and in our books.

In the light of Pope Francis' document "The Joy of the Gospel," I think it deserves a new subtitle: The Feast of the Joy of the Gospel. Elizabeth specifically interprets the unborn John's reaction to Mary's voice as "leaping with joy," and Mary herself responds to Elizabeth's praise with "my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." In the Visitation, we see why Pope Francis' insistence that Catholics not stay behind the walls of their schools and churches, perfecting life within those confines. "Go out!" he keeps telling us (and, despite his age, showing us by his example just what he means).

But wait! There's more: "When we live out a spirituality of drawing nearer to others and seeking their welfare, our hearts are opened wide to the Lord’s greatest and most beautiful gifts. Whenever we encounter another person in love, we learn something new about God. Whenever our eyes are opened to acknowledge the other, we grow in the light of faith and knowledge of God. If we want to advance in the spiritual life, then, we must constantly be missionaries" (EG 272).

It's marvelous to celebrate this Feast at the beginning of the Pentecost Novena. The Holy Spirit permeates so much of the story, it is like a promise for Pentecost. You can follow the Pauline Pentecost Novena (which started yesterday) at

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