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!
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:
- Today, Pope Francis invites us to join as brothers and sisters throughout the world, to gather at Marian Shrines, and to place the entire synod process under the protection of Mary, Mother of the Church.
- Tomorrow, Pope Francis will receive the fruits of our own Discerning Deacons and CEAMA Marian pilgrimage as he welcomes three courageous, brave, and prophetic women leaders of the Church in the Amazon: Sr. Laura Vicuña Pereira Manso, Patricia Gualinga, and Yesica Patiachi
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.”
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.”
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,