Monday, May 31, 2010

Monastery and Visitation


Today is the Feast of the Visitation, commemorating Mary’s visit to Elizabeth after saying her “yes” to Gabriel. According to Luke’s account the visit of these two women is a profound moment of grace as they share the wonder and power of God in their lives and in history.

I like to think that the Visitation is a profoundly monastic feast, a feast about community and seeking God together. Mary knows that God’s call in her life is something that is to be shared, that she needs community and support. She doesn’t think that this invitation and journey will be something that she has to do alone. Mary runs to Elizabeth for support, for understanding, for celebration. Together they hold each other up, made stronger by their mutual presence as they acclaim God’s action in bringing to birth the new reality that will turn the world upside down.

In the same way monastic life is a continual journey of the visitation. We go to God together. Together we support one another, we celebrate how God is working in our lives, we support one another when what God is asking of us seems too much to bear. Every day we sing Mary’s Magnificat and our own as God is continually born in and through our lives.

Of course the feast is also a wake-up call and perhaps even a rude wake up for us monastics. Mary and Elizabeth supported, celebrated and challenged each other. They modeled what it means to be strong women who can hear and respond to God’s call as healthy, powerful women. Do we do the same? Perhaps our challenge in monastic community is to truly listen to the songs we sing, are we singing of God’s wonderful deeds or is our song a low murmur of discontent and criticism? Do we run to support one another or undermine God’s work in our sisters lives by backbiting and murmuring?

Those of us who live in community have a wonderful opportunity and challenge. Today each of us is being called to do what Mary and Elizabeth did. We are called to recognize the coming of Christ in our midst. Each of us is called to bear the presence of God in our hurting world. Each of us is called to recognize and support Mary and all those who manifest God’s saving presence. Each of us is called to sing the Magnificat every day with full knowledge that our God is truly doing great things for us here, today, in our presence. The Feast of the Visitation is truly something to celebrate not just today but every day.

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