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Feast of the Visitation Prayer Service

Prepared by Donna Wuhrer

Introduction

Leader: We gather today to celebrate the Feast of the Visitation. “Visitation” refers to the momentous, intimate, and joyful encounter of Mary, the mother of Jesus, with her cousin, Elizabeth. Each woman lived a radical openness to the Holy Spirit; each needed the support and companionship of the other; each responded humbly, gently, and with great liberty of spirit to the designs of God in her life. (www.visitationmonasteryminneapolis.org)

All: Mary, Elizabeth, and Marguerite be here with us. Pray for us that, like you, we may live with a radical openness to the Holy Spirit. Be our companions on the journey so that we may be women and men who are birth givers, peace keepers, joy bringers, and light bearers to all!

Song: Mary’s Alleluia (Ave or Songs of the Visitation © KP Deignan, CND)

 *Refrain: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Blessed am I, your humble handmaid, if I live believing

that the promises of the Lord will be fulfilled.*

Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary, for your firm believing

that the promises of the Lord would be fulfilled.*

Blessed are we, your faithful people, if we live believing

that the promises of the Lord will be fulfilled.*

Opening Prayer

All: God of Mary’s MAGNIFICAT, we come to you in praise and thanksgiving. You have richly blessed our Congregation. You have given us life, and You have been faithful. What return can we make to you for your goodness to us?

We pray to you, Holy Trinity, source of all life. Wrap this gift in our flesh and blood, use our hands and feet, our hearts and beings to go out--little, humble and poor--so that the compassion of Jesus may cover our world and all its’ people. Amen.

Reader 1/Scripture: Luke 1: 39-56

At that time, Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"

Response (All): My soul proclaims your greatness, O my God, my spirit rejoices in you!

Pause for silent reflection

Reader 2: The story of Mary’s Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth gave Marguerite an image for understanding the pivotal journey in her life, i.e. responding to the invitation to travel as a single woman to be the educator in Montreal. It continued to inspire her in her three journeys back to France and, for her and her sisters, in their many journeys to far-flung settlements.

Sr. Mary Ann Foley, CND, in her book based on the Spirituality of Visitation, Moving Towards the Other, discusses three movements in the Visitation—The Journey, The Visit, and The Song. During our prayer service today, we will reflect on the first two movements.

Reader 3 : “ T h e J o u r n e y ”

Mary went “with haste” to her cousin, Elizabeth. Why in haste? In the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38) the sign given to Mary that “nothing is impossible for God” is that her barren relative Elizabeth has conceived a son in her old age and is in her sixth month. Did Mary go to help and support Elizabeth or did she go with her own need to be supported and affirmed by her older cousin? Perhaps, like us, Mary’s motivations were mixed. What was Mary’s journey like? What was she thinking and feeling as she travelled through the hill country?

Before Marguerite’s initial journey from France to Canada she looked for assurance from others and then Mary visited her, “Go, I will not abandon you”. Still on the three month voyage, she must have experienced uncertainty and considered the many unknowns before her.

Like Mary and Marguerite, we seek to believe that God is with us on the little and big journeys of our lives and that we will meet God both on the way and in the destination of the journey. We ask for trust that God will provide and guide us, that we can travel simply knowing that what is most important is that we bring ourselves as loved by God.

Pause for silent reflection

Reader 4: “ T h e V i s i t ”

There is great power in the meeting of these two women. In the presence of Mary and the Christ within her, the child in Elizabeth’s womb “leapt for joy”. Elizabeth is “filled with the Holy Spirit”. Mary is affirmed by Elizabeth for her believing that God’s promises would be fulfilled. Who is the giver and who is the receiver? In a meeting of deep listening, respect, and freedom, believing in the promises God has made to them, both women are changed and each speaks her truth. When we are truly open to the other in our “visits”, we are visited by God.

Marguerite saw the mission of the Congrégation rooted in this visit. “We go on mission to contribute to the education of children because the Blessed Virgin, when she visited Elizabeth, contributed to the sanctification of St. John the Baptist.” (The Writings of Marguerite Bourgeoys, p. 47)

Pause for silent reflection

Let us reflect and share . . .

When I consider both my life-long journey and my journey during this past year, how have I been aware of God’s being with me?

Have I been more mindful this year in journeying towards “the other” by living interculturality and going to the peripheries?

During this year, when have I experienced a visit with another in which we both gave and received? How was I changed?

Leader: In “the same spirit of grace that has gathered us together…a spirit of charity, of simplicity, of littleness, of poverty, of detachment from all things and surrender to God.” (WMB, p.187), the Sisters and Associates gathered here will now renew our commitments.

Renewal of Vows by Sisters:

To reaffirm my response to the call of God, and to live my baptismal consecration, I, Sister _________________, renew the vow I made freely and for the rest of my life, to observe poverty, chastity, and obedience, according to the Constitutions of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal. Inspired by the spirituality of Mary in the Visitation and in her life among the Apostles, I wish by this covenant to praise God who is ever faithful, to render God thanks by my entire life, and to share with my brothers and sisters the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ.

Renewal of Commitment by Associates:

Responding to a call to live more fully my baptismal consecration, I, _____________, renew my commitment as an Associate of the Congregation de Notre Dame. I wish to integrate in my life the charism of Marguerite Bourgeoys, Visitation-Pentecost spirituality, and the CND Mission Orientation, in keeping with my personal vocation.

Conclusion of Commitment: One Heart Statement of the U.S. Associate Steering Committee

Recite together: We, Associates and Sisters, embody the call of Marguerite Bourgeoys.

We radiate Visitation spirituality in our daily lives,

as we strive to be a more visible presence of God’s love in the world today.

As followers of Jesus, we stand in solidarity with those in need and the planet.

In a pioneering Pentecostal spirit, we are actively transforming Church and Society.

With audacity and creativity, we pray, we gather, we celebrate.

We are united in our shared charism.

Associates sign the Renewal of Commitment

Music or Song while signing/Suggestion: Living Water (Ave, Kathleen Deignan, CND)

*Refrain: Let us be as living water, crystal clear, springing up from the fountains of the Savior.

1. Unless our lives are joined unto their source,

 We shall not be refreshment for all those who thirst.*

2. We pray to join our lives unto their source,

 And so we follow Mary’s way and Mary’s course.*

3. She is the wellspring of the living one.

 She is the overflowing of God’s graciousness.*

Intercessions

Leader: Let us bring our petitions to our loving God. The response is…Gracious God, hear our prayer.

  1. For all the Sisters and Associates in our CND family, may Marguerite Bourgeoys bless us and keep us rooted in Jesus Christ, we pray with faithful hearts...
  2. For those making their first commitment as Associates in May: from Wilton, Connecticut-Francoise Telo; from Chicago, Illinois-Cathy Holmquist, Barbara Lea, Karen Stack, and Elizabeth Wilschke Walton; from Kankakee, Illinois-Ema Elvir and Sylvia Esparza; from South Holland, Illinois-Sylvia Stasinski; and from Hayesville, North Carolina-AJ Borowski and Janet Michaelson…we pray with joyful hearts…
  3. For Associates celebrating her 30 – 34th anniversaries of commitment this year, Georgia Anderson, Arlene Carlon, Kitty Carty, Candace Bryan, Connie Falkenstein, Peg Gombas, Ellen Lynch, Marie Madden, and Helen Rothermich; and for Sisters who are celebrating special anniversaries: 75 years--Sister Rose Daly; 70 years--Sisters Dorothy Siemsen, and Martha Bowes; 60 years-- Sisters Bernadette Desrochers, Margaret Farley, Catherine Molloy, Margaret Egan, Marilyn Medinger, Julia Lydon, Nancy McDermott, and Kathleen Dorney, we pray with jubilant hearts…
  4. For the deceased CND Sisters and Associates of Blessed Sacrament Province who have traveled the Visitation journey before us, especially those who have died this past year: Associates Peg Hammerl, Anna Byrnes, Josie Connelly and Ann Kearney; and Sisters Dorothy O’Brien, Marie Buckley, Denise Conway, Mary Gillespie, Marie Cafferty, and Elizabeth Scully, we pray with hopeful hearts…
  5. For vocations to Vowed Membership and the Associate Relationship as signs of richness and hope for the Congregation and the Church, we pray with open hearts . . .
  6. For all CND Associates and Sisters, especially those in Central America and Cameroon who are experiencing government unrest, that Mary of the Visitation and St. Marguerite will show all people the way of peace, healing, and hope, we pray with trust-filled hearts… (Please add any additional intentions….)

Concluding Prayer

All: Lord, you call us to be true missionaries, joyful bearers of the Gospel serving our brothers and sisters in humanity. As Sisters and Associates of the Congregation de Notre Dame, help us to continue to go to the peripheries, live interculturality, and honor and respect our “common home”. Sharpen and develop our sense of caring in order that peace may shine among us and your love bring freedom to our lives. We ask this through Jesus, your living Word. Amen.

Let us offer each other a Sign of Peace

Sending Forth

Leader: Go, like Mary and Elizabeth, keeping in your heart the memory of God’s gifts!

 Go, like Mary and Elizabeth, knowing that God visits His people now and always!

 Go, like Mary and Elizabeth, living the gifts of the Holy Spirit!

 Go in the peace of Christ!

All: With Marguerite, let us praise and thank God. According to her desire, let us imitate Mary. May this give meaning to our lives! Like Marguerite, let us give thanks to God.

Closing Song Suggestion : Magnificat (Ave or Songs of the Visitation © KP Deignan, CND)

 Text and music by Mary Anne Foley, CND

*Refrain:

Our being proclaims Your greatness, O God.

Our spirit finds joy in You.

 

For You’ve looked on us in our littleness:

Now we are blest.

And You in Your strength do great things for us—

Holy Your name.*

 

Your mercy lasts from age to age

for those who seek your love.

The ways of Your power, O Holy One,

confuse the proud of heart.*

 

You put the mighty from their thrones,

raise up the little ones.

You fill the hungry with good things,

the rich go empty away.*

 

For You’ve helped your servant Israel,

remembering Your love,

As You promised to Sarah and Abraham

and their children, love without end.*

 

 

 

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