The First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the Annunciation, is here.
PARENTING TIP: Notice that my letter here is broken into 3 parts: painting reflection, Rosary prayers, and Advent application. You know your children best, and you have options:
The period of Advent should be peaceful, not stressful. Do what you can. Jesus knows your heart.
Mary Acevedo, Director of Religious Education
Second Decade: The Visitation
There are four Gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Let's think about St. Luke a bit today.
St. Luke is a true artist whose writings have inspired countless painters, engravers, sculptors, poets, lyricists, composers, and writers all over the world since the beginning of Christianity. St. Luke is the Evangelist who gives all the details of Jesus' boyhood starting with stories about His cousins and His mother. If you look in your Bible, you will see that Chapter 1 of Luke's Gospel is called "The Infancy Narrative" and is broken into parts called The Announcement of the Birth of John, The Announcement of the Birth of Jesus, and Mary Visits Elizabeth. This chapter also includes two canticles (songs). Chapter 2's stories include The Birth of Jesus, The Visit of the Shepherds, and The Presentation in the Temple.
You know, if all of this sounds familiar, you just might be an almost-expert in the Gospel of St. Luke!
by Raphael (c.1519)
oil on wood transferred to canvas
Currently located in The Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain
I'd like you to take a book from your prayer space and open it anywhere near the middle. Just look at it. It doesn't matter what page it's open to, and it doesn't have to be perfectly in the middle -- just open it sort of in the middle and lay it on a table or the floor or your lap. Look at it. See how the pages are joined? There's probably some thread or glue there holding the book together, and the pages smoothly come up from the binding and slope beautifully downward.
While John's work was coming to a close, Jesus' work was just beginning.
The Old Testament has ended, and the New Testament has begun.
Like I said at the beginning, St. Luke inspired many artists, so the scene of the Visitation has been painted a lot. All of them tend to show St. Elizabeth bending or bowing toward Mary. In almost all paintings, they touch -- in our painting, they hold hands, but in some they are hugging or they are touching each other's bellies.
Sometimes Elizabeth and Mary are alone, and sometimes other women are in the room. These other women might be related to St. Joseph, Jesus' foster father, or maybe they are the mothers of some of the future Apostles.
You probably know that shells are a symbol of baptism. Can you find any in some paintings? If there are plants, look at those closely-- artists think of everything! Strawberries are a symbol of righteousness, and lilies signify the coming of Christ. Plants that look like weeds represent the humble path we walk with Christ.
Now, with the Visitation in our imagination,
Season's Greetings, Favorite Families!
It's time to add to your Nativity scene. Last week we displayed just the Virgin Mary and Archangel Gabriel pieces to depict the Annunciation. This week, let's add any palm trees and camels. If you don't have camels, display your donkey. Make it look like Mary is traveling between towns to visit Elizabeth. If you have a large Nativity set, you may use one of the village women to signify St. Elizabeth. Gabriel is Mary's Guardian Angel, and since our Guardian Angels never leave us, he should stay in the scene. How I wish I could see your display! If you'd like to, upload a photo in the comments, or send it to my email address!
Also last week I told you that the words of the Hail Mary prayer come from St. Luke's Gospel, particularly Luke 1: 28 and Luke 1: 41. This week, the Canticle of Mary (Luke 1: 46-56), sometimes called the Magnificat, is the important Scripture passage to focus on.
Have you chosen to use an Advent wreath? This week you will light two violet candles. (If you don't have an Advent wreath, light any other candles you have, even the electric ones, preferably white.)
Turn down the lights in the rest of your home. Turn on your Christmas tree lights, if they are already up.
Hold your Rosary in your hands. Play the video below, and while you are listening, look at the crucifix. Kiss it if you are moved to.
Close your eyes and listen, or view the two paintings and see the similarities in symbolism to the one I featured. The first painting is by Domenico Ghirlandaio (c.1491) and the second is by Jacopo Pontormo (c.1528).
The words you hear so beautifully chanted are the words the Blessed Virgin Mary said; nowadays, we hear and possibly use the hashtag #blessed. Mary had so much more to say than just that. You're hearing Latin in the video; her words in English are in your Bible Luke 1: 46-55, and are copied here:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
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