Servant of God Terence Cooke (1921-83) was the Archbishop of New York for 15 years (1968-83). Over the decades after his death, he is fondly remembered for his tranquility and willingness to suffer silently and without complaint from grave illness.
“Meditations on Mary” (New York: Alba House, 1993), which has an Introduction from Franciscan Father Benedict J. Groeschel, (1933-2014), has a series of conferences that the then-Msgr. Cooke, who was secretary to the famous Cardinal Francis Spellman, gave at Lourdes, France, in 1958 on the 100th anniversary of those cherished apparitions of Our Blessed Lady to Bernadette Soubirous.
In one of his meditations, the future shepherd of New York described the Madonna — our Blessed Mother — as one who visited others. What a comfort, as we approach Mother’s Day, for those whose mothers are no longer on earth.
Mary’s life has been and still is a continual series of visitations of which that first visit to Elizabeth was the prototype. She is ever bringing Jesus to souls, and leading souls to Jesus. Alone she never comes, for Jesus is always with her. To her we owe every holy Communion we receive, for it is the same body, conceived and nourished in her immaculate womb, that is the food of our souls. To her we owe every spiritual visitation of Divine Grace, for she is the Mediatrix of all graces, interceding and obtaining for us favors and blessings even before we are aware of their necessity. To her we owe every good accomplished, every evil avoided, every temptation overcome, for “without him we can do nothing.” If He is with us or near us, in some way she is responsible for his nearness. (Pg. 54)
We need not try hard to imagine Mary as seeking every opportunity to visit us — her sons and daughters. Her visits urge us, in turn, to “visit” her and her Son. How is this possible? Msgr. Cooke asserted:
“Your daily sacrifices are your visitation to Jesus and Mary, to honor them, to offer thanksgiving, to make reparation, and to petition some new blessing. But before you began to make these sacrifices, or even to plan them, Mary has already made a visitation to you inspiring you to make them.”
Mary is justly hailed as the “Visitrix.” The feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is May 31. Now from Paradise, she cares for her beloved children. And we, according to Cardinal Cooke, approach her because we have been touched by her visits to us.
In encouraging his listeners in the sacred Grotto of Lourdes to consider attentively their relationship with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ and his chaste Mother, the Ever-Virgin, Msgr. Cooke concluded his remarks thus:
“In the Gospel for Christmas, there are two lines which, no matter how often they are read, always have a sad, melancholy tone: ‘He came unto his own, and his own received him not.’ ‘There was no room for them in the inn.’ Your coming on this pilgrimage of Our Lady is a sign that you have made room for them in the inn of your heart. They have come unto their own, and their own have received them.
“It has been said, ‘Happy is the house which the Mother of God visits.’ We might say, ‘Happy is the heart which the Mother of God visits.’ May we have the virtue of thoughtfulness as seen in the Visitation of Mary” (Pg. 55).
May our hearts be visited by the Queen of Heaven — our Blessed Mother — and embrace every chance to visit her in return.
Our Lady of the Visitation, pray for us!
Msgr. Mangan is on the faculty of Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.
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