Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 12/18

The Visitation by Laura McGowan, fsp

This weekend finds us at the Fourth Sunday of Advent. The gospel on this day always features Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and this year tells the story of Mary visiting her kinswoman, Elizabeth, who in her old age has also conceived a child who will grow up to be John the Baptist.  The story of their meeting is a beautiful one and to share our prayer this morning, I'm offering you a poem by Fr. Harry Hagan. (I suggest that before reading the poem, you click on the link above and take the time to read Sunday's gospel.)


Two women meet,
cousins yet more than kin—
bound now to one another
by pregnant surprise.

Their unpredictable God has laughed at nature
and made the childless and the virgin bear.
She of the leaping womb, thought barren,
bears the restlessness of her God.

And the virgin unknown
becomes the magnifying glass
that makes great her God for all to see.

The women embrace:
forgotten hope surprised by life
embraces surpassing love.

Meeting they touch
the old and the new
the forgotten and the unknown
now revealed in mystery
as ancient desire and time’s fullness.

The simple majesty
of their common meeting
is remembered as the uncommon visitation
of God come among us.
Shall our own forgotten hope
protect us from surprise?


Shall our fear of being known
cause us to turn and hide
from this—God’s embrace?

It is possible.

Shall we trade
the restlessness of God
for oblivion?

Also possible.

But these women,
Elizabeth and Mary,
desire and fullness,
call us to laugh with our unpredictable God
who comes to visit
such a warm and generous embrace
upon our quaking hearts.

- Fr. Harry Hagan in Thirsting for God: Prayers from a Monastery




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