“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my savior, for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant.”
Recently, as a penance, a priest in confession told me to pray and meditate upon Mary's Magnificat of praise. On the occasion of her birthday, my thoughts return to that gorgeous prayer...
In the scriptures Mary is nearly always moving-going in haste to visit Elizabeth, traveling to Bethlehem where she’ll give birth to the Lord, fleeing to Egypt to escape Herod, searching for Jesus in Jerusalem. Her Magnificat is also a prayer of movement. In it she moves from gratitude, to praise, to reflection upon God’s treatment of the proud and humble, and finally ending with the reminder that God keeps his promises. Fr. John Hardon, SJ notes that throughout the Magnificat the stress is always on God. In other words, Mary leads us to Jesus, she moves toward Him.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that the Magnificat is both a prayer of the Mother of God and of the Church, that is, each one of us. Mary teaches us that the Church is called to sing praise to God in all situations and when we praise God, joy will follow. Because the Magnificat is a prayer of the entire Church it's good for us to remember that when praying this ancient prayer our Mother brings us to God and we acknowledge that the Lord has done great things for us, too, and Holy is His Name.
- My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
- my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
- for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
- From this day all generations will call me blessed:
- the Almighty has done great things for me,
- and holy is his Name.
- He has mercy on those who fear him
- in every generation.
- He has shown the strength of his arm,
- he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
- He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
- and has lifted up the lowly.
- He has filled the hungry with good things,
- and the rich he has sent away empty.
- He has come to the help of his servant Israel
- for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
- the promise he made to our fathers,
- to Abraham and his children for ever.