On the Feast of the Visitation and the Eve of a Papal Visit

LEON, SPAIN - JULY 17, 2014: Stained glass window depicting the Visitation, the visit of Mother Mary with Elizabeth in the cathedral of Leon, Castille and Leon, Spain.

Greetings on this Feast of the Visitation! 

Today seems like a fitting one to share good news with you friends, pilgrims, and fellow discerning deacons…I’m expecting!

Felipe (Casey’s husband) and Casey together with their children Teddy (8) and Micaela (10) receive a blessing at the closing liturgy of the pilgrimage. Photo by Arumi Ortiz

In our household, this is a source of tremendous delight and anticipation. My about-to-turn 11 and 9 year-old keep track of the baby’s developments, and they eagerly await the day when they can feel the baby’s kicks. 

My own instinct is to seek out the wise women in my life who can see and name the power of God at work within me and our family in this season.

And so it is consoling to remember today’s Gospel journey that Mary makes to her cousin Elizabeth, an encounter that inspired her to sing out her prophetic Magnificat, which we each proclaim each day in evening prayer. 

My own good news feels magnified in what is unfolding in our Church this week: 

I commend this interview with Patricia Gualinga, vice president of CEAMA  (in Spanish) – who shares her work with indigenous communities fighting against extractive companies, and names primary concerns that each of the women in the delegation are bringing with them from their communities as they meet with Pope Francis this week.

Archbishop Roque Paloschi of Porto Velho, Brazil, who accompanied us on our synodal journey in Mexico City, offers a poignant reflection for today’s Gospel which he wrote for our pilgrimage synthesis:

“In the Magnificat, Mary exalts the wonders of God in her life: ‘The Almighty has done great things for me’; she recognizes His liberating power; she announces and denounces: ‘He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.’ She places herself at the service of all humanity, carrying in her womb the very force of life, the Liberating God. In her womb she carries the Son of God, Jesus Christ in all his humanity and divinity.

Pilgrims Lisa Amman and Jane Cavanaugh embrace outside of the Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Photo by Arumi Ortiz

Fifty-six pilgrims from across the Americas journeyed together in the liminal time between the listening consultation process, and the continental synthesis which gathered the voices of the people of God around the world into “Enlarge the space of your tent.”

We went to Mexico City to place our own offerings before Our Lady of Guadalupe, and to ask her to guide the Church as it seeks new paths to rebuild trust, to be a voice for the poor, and to live the mission of Jesus in the world. As Archbishop Paloschi summarizes: 

Mary, mother invoked by so many names, Mother of the Amazon, Mother of the Pilgrims, Mother of the Refugees, Mother of Sorrows, Mother of the Original peoples and Mother of the Americas. Mary, brown-skinned Mother of Heaven, Our Lady of Guadalupe, prophet of hope and of a new dawn, helps us to recognize the strength, the gift, and the diakonia of women in the Church.”

And another image of “visitation” and “encounter” across generations… as Arumi Ortiz and Elisabeth Roman embrace after praying before the Tilma.

We continue fervent in prayer, entrusting Sr. Laura Vicuña Pereira Manso, Patricia Gualinga, and Yesica Patiachi to be protected under Mary’s Mantle. May they know they do not walk alone as they bring the wisdom and experience from the peripheries to the center. Opening up a space of encounter as they reflect on the ministeriality of women, the diakonia that women already exercise for the life of the Church, and the path forward to more fully receive the gifts women bring to serve the whole People of God. 

I’ll close by sharing the Irish Bishops Conference reflection on the Joyful Mystery of the Visitation, which includes a litany to Mary of the Synodal Way….

Our Lady of the Way, Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Way, Stay with us.
Our Lady of the Way, Walk with us.

In peace and hopeful expectation,

Share this Article

“[I hope the Church ordains women to the diaconate] to bring a wider witness and expression of God’s life, love, and presence to the people of God. Women’s voices and leadership will heal, encourage and empower the lives of men, women, and children. It will call forth a new understanding of church vocation and enrich Catholic family life.”
Deedee Van Dyke
Catholic Chaplain, Joliet, IL
“The first Apostle was a woman, Mary Magdalena. She continues to remain a tower of strength for women in ministry today. If more women were ordained to the diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church, I believe we would have more meaningful and spiritually enriching homilies, and our liturgies would embrace and welcome all to the Eucharistic table.”
Sonja Grace
“If I was ordained as a deacon, it would not be a means to an end, but rather it would be a continual invitation to a deeper and broader journey with Christ. Deacons are asked to become outwardly more visible as hands in service to the Church. To respond to such a vocation would be a treasure, a deepening of my inner faith life enriched by the outward experiences of ministry and service. Both the inner and outer journey become a longing to seek and know the Christ we are called to serve.”   
Nina Laubach
Student, MDiv program at Princeton Theological Seminary

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