An Introduction to Mary’s Magnificat

What happens when a prayerful young peasant receives a whisper so powerful that she dares not tell it? She hugs the secret close. And it is incarnated.

Going over and over the reality in her mind, she touches it timidly and unwraps it with equally unspeakable thrill each time. Looking at its significance from every possible angle, replaying the words repeatedly, jumping up and down and twirling around in her soul until she’s dizzy with the implications, she “ponders it in her heart.”

And when someone else, a cousin, reveals that she too knows and understands and believes what unspeakable thing has happened, the riot of praise and poetry and stupendous irony fizz out of her, spreading out in a pool of song that runs up the sides of the hills of history like a wave.

This is Mary’s Magnificat. This is Mary’s Song. Hers is the song of the Church.

 


Scripture References for The Show

Luke 1:46-55, the words of the Magnificat

And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is on those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
52 he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”

1 Samuel 2:1-10,  The Magnificat is based on the Song of Hannah.

Fixed Hour Prayer in OT

  • Psalm 55:17, David prays evening, morning, and noon.
  • Daniel 6:10, Daniel prays toward Jerusalem three times a day.
  • Jeremiah 39:8, There were public prayer places in the first temple that the Chaldeans destroyed when they razed it.
  • I Kings 8:48 and Daniel 6:10, Jews prayed three times daily toward Jerusalem when in exile.

Fixed Hour Prayer in NT

  • Acts 2:15, Apostles pray at third hour, 9am.
  • Matthew 15:36; Acts 27:35, Jesus’ “lunch prayers” at midday
  • Luke 1:10, Zechariah serves at the incense altar at “the hour of incense,” (incense, itself, symbolic of prayer) while the people pray outside.
  • Luke 18:10, Jews go to the temple to pray at appointed times when in Jerusalem.
  • Acts 3:1; 10:30, Apostles go to the temple to pray at the ninth hour, or 3pm.

Galatians 4:4, The woman, Mary, is the “fullness of time” and axis of salvation history.

 


**New Weekly Feature!**

Interactive Scripture Meditation Excercise (Lectio Divina)

I am SO excited to begin offering this new interactive feature for you! The scripture meditation exercise will be a weekly addition to each show from here on out. I will always follow the traditional stages of lectio divina (holy reading), which we will cover in another show in the Magnificat series, so stay tuned!

Since our study this week was somewhat cerebral, I am offering a sensory lectio exercise (a Franciscan approach) to balance it out. Go on! Try it!

Read (Lectio)

Scroll up the page to re-read the Magnificat.

Meditate (Meditatio)

Please click on the piece of music, below, to enlarge it. Look intently at it. What are your thoughts? How does it make you feel?

Follow this link to listen to the sound of its score. Savor its beauty.

As you consider Mary’s Magnificat and Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody, try to imagine the emotions and thoughts that inspired each piece of music.

Pray (Oratio)

Spend a few moments composing your own song to God about the blessings and wonders He has worked in your own life.

Rest (Contemplatio)

Perhaps you’d like to simply rest in His presence for a moment.

 


Episode Resources

Daily Scripture Reading (Lectio Divina) Resources

Print:

  • Magnificat – http://us.magnificat.net/flipbook/US/holy_week/
  • Give Us This Day – https://www.giveusthisday.org/Home/LookInside
  • Word Among Us – https://myaccount.wau.org/signup
  • Living Faith – http://www.livingfaith.com/index.php

Websites:

  • Universalis – http://universalis.com/
  • United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – http://usccb.org/bible/readings/010717.cfm
  • Blessed Is She – https://blessedisshe.net/

Apps: https://catholicapptitude.org/2017/01/03/essential-catholic-apps-for-your-phone-or-tablet-or-watch/

Quotes from the Show

“Now I do not know in all the Scriptures anything that so well serves such a purpose as this sacred hymn of the most blessed Mother of God, which ought indeed to be learned and kept in mind by all…Truly she sings in it most sweetly of the fear of God, what manner of lord He is, and especially what His dealings are with those of high and of low degree.

“Let another listen to his love singing a worldly ditty; this pure Virgin well deserves to be heard…as she sings her sacred, chaste and salutary song. It is a fine custom, too, that this canticle is sung in all the churches daily at vespers, and to a particular and appropriate setting that distinguishes it from the other chants. May we all draw therefrom wholesome knowledge and a praiseworthy life, and thus come to chant and sing this Magnificat eternally in heaven. Amen.” (Letter to Prince Fredrick Duke of Saxony, Martin Luther, Wittenberg, 10 March, 1521)

It is precisely Mary’s faith which marks the beginning of the new and eternal Covenant of God with man in Jesus Christ; this heroic faith of hers “precedes” the apostolic witness of the Church, and ever remains in the Church’s heart hidden like a special heritage of God’s revelation. All those who from generation to generation accept the apostolic witness of the Church share in that mysterious inheritance, and in a sense share in Mary’s faith” (Redemptoris Mater, St. JPII). 

“Mary was given the grace of interior knowledge. The Blessed Virgin knew that she had conceived the Messiah, the Son of the Most High. All that was within her was open to the eyes of her spirit. But she did not then know that the Throne of David His father, which was to be given Him by the Lord God, was a supernatural one; nor did she then know that the House of Jacob, over which He was, as Gabriel declared, to rule for all eternity, was the Church, the congregation of regenerated mankind. She thought that the Redeemer would be a holy king, who would purify His people and give them victory over Hell. She did not then know that this King, in order to redeem mankind, must suffer a bitter death” (Visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich).

Full notes of Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant are here.

Article on Mary as the Biblical “Portent” or “Sign” of the Church, here:

A list of quotes from Church History regarding Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant, along with the year of the writing.

 


I post each show on Monday morning every week. If you subscribe at the bottom of the page, you will automatically get every episode for free.

 

My Journey Home episode is available to view here or on the homepage.


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God created you to know and love Him as only you can through your unique personality, temperament, and circumstances and duty in life. Until next week, I pray you will love and lift this question up to God: What does God desire to do for you?

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let me know how you liked the interactive scripture meditation.


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7 thoughts on “An Introduction to Mary’s Magnificat

  1. Thank you, Sonja, for this beautiful study on The Magnificat! I am learning things I never knew about Our Blessed Mother and the Old Testament, as well as the early Church. Your research is excellent and I just love hearing your voice explaining Scripture to me. Love the song video, too! Please keep doing what you are doing! God Bless You!!

  2. Which daily prayer time do you use from the breviary? If you just do one time each day how do you get all the Old Testament or New Testament, psalms etc? Or did I misunderstand what you were telling us? I have the iBreviary app and am just wondering what would be the best of the 6 prayer times to use. Thanks! Loved the first episode!

    1. Hi Sarah, You won’t get them all just doing one time a day, but most people don’t have time for more than that, and that’s fine. The Gospel from the Mass readings is most important in that case, and everyone has time for that. I like the “Pray as You Go” podcast on the Laudate app (Under Daily Readings and Saints) for just the Gospel and a short meditation (all usually in British accents and glorious music). Starting small helps prevent resolution remorse when we realize what we planned is not realistic.

      Should you decide to add more once that’s comfortable, using just the morning, midday, and evening prayers you will
      • Pray through all 150 Psalms once each month.
      • Read through the entire New Testament (and Proverbs) once each year.
      • Read through the entire Old Testament once every two years.

      Our ordained and orders do the whole schedule in the Breviary every day. I don’t have stats on how much scripture that is, but A LOT!

  3. Your southern accent and your forthrightness act like a whip to get us slack ones moving! You are a breath of fresh air. Keep up the good work.

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