In addition to the “Hail Mary” that is built on the Annunciation scene in the gospels, one can also meditate on Mary’s own prayer which we call the “Magnificat” attributed to her in Luke 1.46-55.
And Mary said:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
And my spirit exults in God my savior;
Because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid.
Yes, from that day forward all generations will call me blessed,
For the Almighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name, and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him.
He has shown the power of his arm,
He has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy
—according to the promise he made to our ancestors
—of his mercy to Abraham and his descendants forever.
While Biblical scholars tell us this prayer is too formalized to have come from Mary herself*, it nevertheless offers a profound window to how the earliest Christians looked at her and her role in history. Both as mother and prophet she truly stirred things up and spoke truth to power.
She lifts up feminine wisdom and strength for sure and calls up our own courage and strength, so important in this time of patriarchal excess and wannabe strongmen.
It lays bare the heart of a healthy Christ follower and invites others to their mystic-prophetic vocation.
Another’s death should be a time for grounding oneself all the more fully in one’s prophetic work and vocation. A recognition of the finality to life gives perspective to our work and limited time on earth.
One asks why such texts as the Magnificat and the medieval Hail Mary are not more prominent in rituals of grief and remembrance in the church of our time.
Prayers that call up the strength and wisdom of our ancestral mothers and healthy fathers are needed more than ever today.
*The Jerusalem Bible notes how this canticle is reminiscent of Hannah’s in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 and incudes allusions to 1 Samuel 1:11; Ps 103:17 and Psalm 111:9; Job 5:11 and 12:19; Psalm 98:3; Psalm 107:9; Is 41:8f.
See Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood For Our Time.
And Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice.
And Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.
Banner Image: “Embraced by Grace.” Stained glass window commemorating the Annunciation, in Swaffham’s Catholic church, Norfolk, England. Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
How does the Magnificat strengthen you and your respect for women and your efforts at being a healthy Christ-follower who is both mystic and prophet?
The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood For Our Time
Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”
“Fox approaches the level of poetry in describing the reciprocity that must be present between one’s inner and outer work…[A]n important road map to social change.” ~~ National Catholic Reporter
A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice
In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity.
“Well worth our deepest consideration…Puts compassion into its proper focus after centuries of neglect.” –The Catholic Register
Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth
Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.