Blessed Virgin Mary: June 2008 Archives


Oh, the joy of First Vespers of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist: a glorious set of antiphons and (in the monastic Office) an inhabitual sequence of psalms — 112, 145, 146, and 147. What do these four Vespers psalms have in common? The first and third begin with Laudate; the second and fourth with Lauda! In the liturgy there are no insignificant details; the details set the tone.

In my Rosary after Vespers, I stayed with the First Chapter of Saint Luke for my five mysteries; 1. The Annunciation to Zachary (Luke 1:5-22); 2. The Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-38); 3. The Visitation (Luke 1:39-55); 4. The Birth and Circumcision of John the Baptist (Luke 1:56-79); 5. John in the Wilderness (Luke 1:80).

John the Baptist and the Immaculate Heart of Mary

John the Baptist, while yet an infant hidden in Saint Elizabeth’s womb, was the first to experience the sweet mediation of the Virgin Mother’s Immaculate Heart. It was the God-bearing Virgin’s Heart, full of solicitude for her cousin Elizabeth, that moved her to “arise and go with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah” (cf. Lk 1:39). There the Mother of God bearing her Son beneath her Immaculate Heart, “entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth” (Lk 1:40).

The Light of the Real Presence Shining in Her Eyes

This was, in a sense, the first mission of the Immaculate Heart of Mary: to carry the hidden Christ to the “little child” (Lk 1:76) destined to be the Friend of the Bridegroom (Jn 3:29), the Prophet of the Most High (Lk 1:76). With the flame of love burning in her Immaculate Heart and the light of the real presence shining in her eyes, Mary “became in some way a “tabernacle” — the first “tabernacle” in history” (John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, art. 55). With the arrival of the Virgin–Tabernacle enclosing within her the “Dayspring from on high” (Lk 1:78), John the Baptist was sanctified, washed clean of original sin, and quickened by the Holy Spirit.


The birth of John the Baptist was an occasion of jubilation. Having already been touched by the Heart of Mary, the Cause of our Joy, the Baptist comes into the world as the Herald of Joy. His prophetic ministry, even as he advances toward a cruel death, is illumined by a supernatural joy. “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn 3:29–30).

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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