Visitation: joy, humility, and service

On Tuesday, May 31, Franciscans and pilgrims went to the Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem to celebrate Mary’s encounter with her cousin Elizabeth, which was also in a way Jesus’ encounter with John the Baptist. This sanctuary surrounded by a flower garden exudes an atmosphere of serenity and it is the place where the Magnificat was sung for the very first time.

For the Franciscans of the Custody, the feast of the Visitation is associated with receiving the acolyte ministry for seminarians, and this year there were 18 of all different nationalities.

The congregation was waiting for mass to begin in a packed church. The ceremony was presided over by the vicar of the Custody, Br. Dobromir Jasztal, who in his homily talked about the special grace it is to celebrate the Visitation at the very place of the event. “The Gospel of the day helps us admire Mary’s faith, humility, charity and joy. Humbly she welcomes God’s call and immediately realizes the message of the Son whom she carries in her womb. Mary comes here to Ein Karem, to serve her cousin Elizabeth, accomplishing what the child she bears later said: ‘the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.’”

At the end of the mass, everyone was invited by Br. Wladyslaw Brzezinski, OFM, the superior of the monastery for snacks and refreshments on the church square. “This visit is of great importance,” said Br. Wladyslaw. “Mary, carrying the Ark of the New Covenant in her womb, comes to meet Elizabeth: the Old Testament. This is a place that represents both the old and the new covenants, but above all a place that brings the New Covenant to the world.”

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