Being Elizabeth

I love the visitation for all sorts of reasons: because it's full of life, hope and exuberance, certainly, but beyond that, because it is all about ENCOUNTER, leading to RECOGNITION and DISCOVERY. Here we have two women, from different generations, but each uniquely called by God, beyond impossibility, to bear new life. Each had been alone with her call; Elizabeth no doubt quietly savouring hers, while Mary would have wondered incredulously and, I'm sure, fearfully.

And then they meet! Mary's greeting brings affirmation, which causes that leap of joy within Elizabeth. She, in turn, speaks her own words of confirmation which must surely have been music to Mary's ears and heart!

Two different women; two unique calls. In that meeting they recognise the life and call of God within each other, and, in the process, their knowledge of the life and call within themselves is affirmed, deepened and strengthened.

Fifteen years ago, in my early thirties, I chose this gospel for my vows ceremony. At that time I was Mary, the younger woman, overflowing with energy, passion and new life, delighting in God's love and almost unbeliveable choice of me. Today, in my late forties, I realise I am Elizabeth: definitely older, hopefully wiser, still energetic and full of joie de vivre, but less inclined to take every flight of stairs two at a time. It's a sobering thought.

Wonderfully, though, there are some Marys in my life: younger women at different stages of discerning with us in the hope of joining us. Whenever I interact with them, hear their questions and insights, their reasons for being drawn to our charism and way of life, their desire to make known the love of God's Heart, I am challenged, yes, but also affirmed and strengthened. I recognise old truths and discover new ones, while my sense of call, of God's life in me and my identity as an RSCJ, are renewed and deepened.

The gospel tells us that Mary proclaimed the magnificat, but I'm sure it wasn't a solo. After all those years of barrenness and waiting Elizabeth wouldn't have just stood by and left all the singing to Mary! She, more than her younger cousin, knew what it meant to be one of the hungry, now being filled with good things; she, especially, knew of God's fidelity in fulfilling his promises. Those lines are definitely hers. And this new phase in her life would surely have put a spring in her step and re-kindled the waning fire within. So I like to think that both women - one with youthful energy and exuberance, the other with the mellowness of experience - were able to proclaim together:
 My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my saviour...
For the Mighty One has done great things for me
And his name will be forever holy...


  1. Back in August 2007 when I first began to feel 'called' to consecrate my life to God it was this piece of scripture that came to me in prayer. It's always been a very significant passage in my spiritual journey and I have been waiting upon the Lord to unravel it step by step ever since. So thank you for your reflection Silvana. It rings home some truths for me and feels very familiar.

    Isn't it all just so exciting?! I have so much joy I could burst.


Post a Comment