The Visitation is one of the most significant events in our Catholic faith tradition.

Mary, newly pregnant with our Lord, traveled 70-some miles of rough territory to help her elderly cousin, Elizabeth. Elizabeth, who was thought to be barren, was in her sixth month of pregnancy. Both pregnancies were miraculous, and both involved key figures in salvation history: John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.

When the two women meet, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her womb the second he heard Mary’s voice. In that single moment, our Lord was revealed as the Savior and his cousin became the herald of his coming.

But there’s another moment in the Visitation narrative, the significance of which I believe we often miss.

It’s the Magnificat, or The Canticle of Mary.

After greeting Elizabeth, and humbly accepting her words of veneration, Mary speaks this prayer of praise, greatness, and power.

But, it’s not her own praise, greatness, and power to which she’s referring. It’s God’s. 

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever. (Lk 1:46-55)

As is the case in every instance of her life, Mary pointed away from herself and toward God.

If more people understood that, the accusations of idolatry of Catholics and the grave misperception that Catholics worship Mary would cease. But, I digress…

The Magnificat is all at once a history lesson, song of praise, and prophetic message. In it, Mary lauded the magnificent things God has done for his people throughout the centuries. She praised him for his might, wisdom and goodness. Then, she accepted the incredible responsibility God had given her – to be called blessed by every generation henceforth.

All without giving herself one iota of credit.

This is exactly how we should conduct ourselves as well.

Of course, we’re not bound to have every generation call us blessed as Mary is. Yet, in similar fashion, God has done great things for us in our lives and has endowed us with his favor and bestowed on us a specific position and responsibility in salvation history.

Because of that, we have our very own Magnificat.

Each one of us has a heritage and history of how God has worked in our life, how he has cared for us and protected us in the past, and how he has led us to where we are at right now. If we look back, we can name occasion after occasion in which he showered us with his mercy and guided us with the strength of his arm.

Each one of us has a long list of gifts, abilities, qualities, and characteristics that are uniquely ours and for which we not only can, but must give praise to God. We are all blessed by God, individually and unequivocally.

The problem is, we seldom stop to take all of this into account.

If we did consider these things as Mary did, we could write our own Magnificat, our own prayer of praise, thanksgiving, and awareness of what God has done for us and what we can do for him in return.

That would be an interesting meditation for this Feast of the Visitation, don’t you agree?

I think that, if you sat down to write your own Magnificat, you’d be amazed at all that God has done for you, with you, and through you in your lifetime. You’d also be amazed at the potential for what he can and will do in the future. And as with Mary, you’d realize that everything, always, points to God.