How do we find the peace, joy and hope of Christ amidst our prolonged, and often heartbreaking, unanswered prayers? Please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to Ein Karem, Israel, the location where Mary visited her cousin, Elizabeth, as we search for reassurance and understanding. No passport necessary.
Book Excerpt. Chapter Eighteen: A House Built on Rock. (The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. By: Karen Sheehy)
Remembering the darkness of her first marriage, the newlywed cherished every moment with her loving spouse. Realizing that God indeed had a wonderful plan for her life, she decided it was time to add a child to their family. She stopped her prescribed birth control pills, despite the risk of an endometriosis flare up, and embraced her plans with great hope. Aware of her probable infertility, she remained confident that God would send them the child of her dreams. Three months, six months and finally twelve months later, no gift of life was given. The wife, failing to remember the wisdom in asking, continued to impatiently plead for God’s divine intervention, wanting Him to provide all that she desired. How quickly she had fallen back into self-reliance, pride and arrogance towards her heavenly Father. Heartbroken and angry at His silence, she turned to medical professionals for answers.
The Church of the Visitation, located just outside of Jerusalem in the city of Ein Karem, is believed to have been constructed by St. Helena, the mother of the first Christian Emperor, Constantine I. In 1937, the Franciscans purchased this ancient two-story church, and subsequently, excavated, restored, and expanded it to it’s current form. Tradition tells us that this holy site, built atop the home of Elizabeth and her husband, Zachariah, is where Mary, the mother of Jesus, greeted her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist. John, upon hearing the voice of Mary, leapt with joy in his mother’s womb. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out, “Blest are you among women and blest is the fruit of your womb,” (Luke 1:41-42). In response, Mary recited her glorious song of praise to God, known today as the Magnificat, “God who is mighty has done great things for me, holy is his name, His mercy is from age to age on those who fear him, (Luke 1:49-50).
John the Baptist was born through the intercession of God to Zachariah and Elizabeth, who were childless, “for Elizabeth was sterile and both were advanced in years,” (Luke 1:7). According to scriptures, the Angel Gabriel visited Elizabeth and Zachariah to tell them they would have a son and that they should name him John. Zachariah was rendered mute, due to his skepticism, until his son was born and named, all according to God’s will, (Luke 1:13, 20, 63-64). The lower church of the Visitation contains several Italian frescoes depicting this announcement, as well as Mary’s visit with Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s hiding of her son during the Massacre of the Innocents in nearby Bethlehem.
So here, at the site of the Visitation, do we find the answer to our unanswered prayers, as we witness:
- Elizabeth’s faithful perseverance and subsequent gift of life,
- Zachariah’s miraculous healing, as skepticism is replaced by faithfulness and doubt by obedient surrender to God’s will,
- Elizabeth’s filling with the Holy Spirit and recognition of Mary as the Mother of God and Jesus as the promised Messiah,
- Mary’s deliverance of the joy and promised glory of Christ to those in need, and
- Elizabeth’s unwavering faith and protection of her child, John, even amidst grave danger and intense uncertainty.
In closing, let us prayer, that we too, may call upon our spiritual mother, Mary, to bring the peace, joy and hope of Christ into our lives. That, like Elizabeth, we may be filled with the Holy Spirit and find the courage to hope for the impossible. Finally, like Zachariah, that we may learn to surrender our uncertainties and doubt to God, trusting that all things are possible when done according to His will. Amen
Closing 3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.
Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.
For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).
Jesus, I trust in You.
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