Mary, the Visitation, and Care for our Common Home


Just as Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth in the time of her need, we, too, listen for the needs of those in our neighborhoods.

By Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ

Mary is a beacon for us today and she continues to be a beacon through those people who, like Mary, are practicing the virtues of patient listening, active service, courageous advocacy, tender mercy, and non-violent resistance for peace and justice in our world and for our common home, our precious Earth.

The Second Vatican Council presented the Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and of the Church. It is through the Incarnate Word made flesh and born of Mary that we are united to God.

As we read the words of Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si, “On Care for Our Common Home,” we hear him remind us that “in her glorified body, together with the Risen Christ, part of creation has reached the fullness of its beauty. #241

The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) in a special way shows us the movement in the journey of faith toward the light.

Mary, as the Queen of All Creation, can be pictured within the variety of cultures throughout the world. For instance, in Japan, the people of that culture picture Mary and Jesus as people who take on the features they have. This is so that they can identify with Mary and Jesus more closely.

Mary is a beacon for us today and she continues to be a beacon through those people who, like Mary, are practicing the virtues of patient listening, active service, courageous advocacy, tender mercy, and non-violent resistance for peace and justice in our world and for our common home, our precious Earth.

Granny, a sixty-seven-year-old grandmother in Philadelphia with three dependent children, shared some of her thoughts. She said, “I was living in an apartment that belonged to the city. I have the children of my daughter because their mother is deceased. In March our home was boarded up. We were on the street. It was cold so the local paper did a front page article on us. We had no place to go. Then we met Mrs. Young. Mrs. Young, a volunteer in the homeless shelter, is the closest I have ever come to Jesus Christ. She listens to everyone’s problems. This has become my second home. Someone was heard saying, ‘When I leave next week, I will never forget what happened to me here.’”

The shelter is filled to capacity. Volunteers from parishes in the region have formed an advisory board that cooperates with Catholic Social Services and the city in helping the shelter. Mary’s virtues of patient listening and compassion are alive today in people like Mrs. Young, Granny and the volunteers.

One experiences Mary’s heart in people like the parishioners in the Aid for Friends Program from Sacred Heart, who visit neighbors living alone, isolated and without the support they need to prepare meals for themselves that we witness the giving of self through taking time to be with them that we see Mary today.

Parishioners participate in prison ministry to visit the local detention center to pray with and to listen to our brothers and sisters who are incarcerated.

People who have made food donations at Thanksgiving or Christmas have now joined the community organization called POWER to advocate for affordable housing, decent jobs and good education since they have seen that a donation is not enough to sustain a family. If we are to imitate Mary in our times, what are some questions we might ask?

As Mary spent time pondering all these things in her heart, we who have pondered in prayer the agonizing truth of oppression and suffering around us are energized by the same Spirit that moved Mary to search for answers to the suffering that was a part of her life.

Will we be able to stand with Mary today in that faith grounded in compassion and acts of justice?

Will the world see in us a reflection of Mary, Mirror of Justice, because we witness for life and peace?

In addition, will we see in the suffering of our common home a need for our attention and response?

Just as Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth in the time of her need, we, too, listen for the needs of those in our neighborhoods.

Bulletin Board Ideas

Mary Map

  • On a bulletin board, display a large world map.
  • Find images of Mary from many different cultures and display them around the map.
  • With yarn, connect an image of Mary with characteristics of the particular country on the bulletin board.
  • Invite students to research a particular country and how Christians in that culture honor Mary, the Mother of God. Discuss these different customs about honoring Mary.
  • Invite students to research hymns about Mary from different cultures. If possible, play the music for the class to join in with the refrain.

Bringing the Visitation Home

  • On one side of the bulletin board, display pictures of Mary and Elizabeth at the Visitation (celebrated May 31 this year).
  • On the other side, display pictures or short descriptions of what students are doing today to help their neighbors in need.

PRAYER

Loving God, enable all to meet Christ, the Way and the Truth and the Life. Sustain us, O Virgin Mary, on our journey of faith and obtain for us the grace of eternal salvation. O clement, O loving, O sweet Mother of God and our Mother Mary, pray for us. Amen.

Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ, Director of the Sisters of Saint Joseph Earth Center, is Special Assistant to the President for Sustainability of Chestnut Hill College. She is also an Ambassador for the U.S. Catholic Bishops Catholic Coalition on Climate Change and has had eighteen years of experience in elementary religious education in Catholic schools.

Mary, the Visitation, and Care for our Common Home
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