This day is called the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary because on it Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, whom, as the angel had told her, God had blessed with a son in her old age.
In the Introit of the Mass the Church sings:
"Hail, holy parent, who didst bring trth the King Who rules heaven and earth forever. My heart hath uttered a good word; I speak of my works for the King."
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, we beseech Thee, unto us Thy servants the gift of Thy heavenly grace, that, as in the childbirth of the Blessed Virgin our salvation began, so from the votive solemnity of her visitation we may obtain an increase of peace. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, etc. Amen.
Epistle: Canticle 2:8-14
Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills. My beloved is like a roe or a young hart; behold he standeth behind our wall, looking through the windows, looking through the lattices. Behold my beloved speaketh to me: Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come. For winter is now past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have appeared in our land, the tune of pruning is come; the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig-tree hath put forth her green figs; the vines in flower yield their sweet smell. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come; my dove in the clifts of the rock, in the hollow places of the wall, show me thy face, let thy voice sound in my ears; for thy. voice is sweet, and thy face comely.
Gospel: Luke 1:39-47
At that time: Mary rising up went unto the hill-country with haste, into a city of Juda; and she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost; and she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. And Mary saId: My soul doth magnify the Lord; and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
1. As soon as Mary heard that Elizabeth was with child she hastened to her. The alacrity of the Blessed Virgin teaches us that we should take part with gladness in the happiness of our fellow-men, and quickly make ourselves ready to discharge our duties, sacrificing for that object, if necessary, even our own much-loved retirement, our devotions and other exercises of piety.
2. Mary visited her cousin out of real love, not out of unmeaning ceremony. Would that her example were followed in our visits!
3. By the visit of the Blessed Virgin John was sanctified in his mother's womb, and Elizabeth, enlightened by the Holy Ghost, knew, by the miraculous movements of her child, that Mary was the Mother of the Lord. Such effects did this visit produce. What would Jesus effect in us if we received Him with due preparation!
Explanation of the Canticle "Magnificat," Or "My Soul Doth Magnify The Lord"
In this hymn Mary with joy praises God, the Lord, that He has regarded her humility, aud made her to be the Mother of His only-begotten Son, wherefore she should be called blessed by all generations; and she declares the truths and mysteries which the incarnation brought to light. The mercy of God, namely, reaches from generation to generation to them that fear Him. He scatters the thoughts of the proud, and puts down from their seats the mighty; but He exalts the humble. He fills those who hunger for justice with good things, but those who think themselves rich He sends away empty. He receives all true Israelites, and performs in them the promises which He gave to the fathers. This hymn is repeated by the Church every day at Vespers, in praise of the work of redemption, begun by the incarnation of the Son of God in Mary. Would that every Christian, since he becomes one only by Christ being, as it were, born in him, might share those feelings which the Blessed Virgin and Mother has expressed in this hymn of praise, and, with the Church, daily praise God for the mystery of the incarnation!
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, Who didst descend from the highest heavens io the womb of the Virgin Mary, didst therein rest for rune months, and with her didst condescend to visit and sanctify Saint John, grant that we, by the practice of good works, particularly of humility, may become partakers of the fruits of Thy incarnation.
--Goffine's Devout Instructions