Friday, December 16, 2016

The Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth

Adrian Dominican Motherhouse, Adrian, Michigan
As we approach Christmas, I have the joy of spending some time in Adrian, Michigan. The night after I arrived, a snowstorm came in, dropping around 8 inches of snow. My days since I have returned have been filled with reunions of those I haven’t seen in the last few months and meeting some of the new people around campus.

As I renew friendships and create new relationships, I have been thinking about the Visitation when Mary traveled over the hill country of Judah to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. I resonate with Mary’s decision in the days following Gabriel’s announcement to seek out the support of community. As Mary travels through the hill country, I am aware of the awe and wonder and joy of her new calling, but also of the fear and anxiety that the town of Nazareth would not believe her story or understand what she had experienced when Gabriel came to her. So, Mary set out to visit her cousin, for support and advice and also to seek reassurance that someone else she knew had been through a life-altering event in that same year.

Once Mary comes to the other end of her journey, Elizabeth is overjoyed at her arrival, and she asks, “Who am I that you should come to visit me?” Mary doesn’t respond in any expected way, but instead sings out her joyous Magnificat, “My soul cries out with the greatness of the Lord!” She sings that all that will be expected will be tossed away, and that a new order will come into being, with the lowly taking up positions of greatness, the hungry being fed, and that Israel will be shown mercy by God.
Myself and my Dominican sisters at a reception at the
Moutherhouse, Adrian, Michigan

I love that we visit people during this Christmas season, and that we reconnect with people we might not have seen for some time. I love the process of reaching out and discovering that, even if we haven’t talked in a while, we can still pick up wherever we left off. Yes, there are always uncertainties. Sometimes a Christmas card comes back and I realize I have the wrong address and no way of getting the right one. Sometimes I realize that time has changed myself and the person I am seeing again for the first time in a long time. But sometimes, something unexpected happens, something wonderful, and we can connect on a level neither have been able to do before. Sometimes, if we are very lucky, we realize that God is calling us to go out together to bring the Reign of God a little closer to fruition.

During this year of novitiate, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about transition. We transitioned on our way to the novitiate, and we’ll transition again when we leave. In between, there are many moments when we change and travel through new countryside. I find myself traveling with Mary, right now, looking forward to seeing Elizabeth and the joy of recognizing God’s work in the world in those around me. And I look forward to Christmas, and the recognition that God is with us through it all.


  1. Katherine,
    What a profoundly insightful reflection. Having returned "home" to my motherhouse after my first semester of grad school and now back in Chicago for the holiday, this reflection as helped me name what I've been feeling.
    Thank You.
    Sr. Kelly Moline (Springfield, IL CDN 2014-2015)

  2. Beautiful reflection! Hope you have a wonderful time!