Revealing Beauty and Saintly Relationships: The Feast of the Visitation

Giotto, The Visitation, via WikiCommons, public domain.

Giotto, The Visitation, via WikiCommons, public domain.

From Seeing Beyond Depression by Jean Vanier:

Loving someone does not simply mean doing things for them; it is much more profound. To love someone is to show to them their beauty, their worth, and their importance; it is to understand them, understand their cries and their body language; it is to rejoice in their presence, spend time in their company and communicate with them. To love is to live a heart-to-heart relationship with another, giving to and receiving from each other (19).

This is how Mary loved Elizabeth. It's also how she continues to love each of us.

As a convert, it took me a long time to understand my relationship to Mary and the saints as just that - a human relationship. Human relationships take time; they're also reciprocal.

Because they are in heaven, the saints for their part are more present to us than if they had been our contemporaries here on earth. It's hard to believe, of course, because we can't see them. But they see us, and their friendship with us has a depth that only the Beatific Vision can give; they love because they see Love Himself.

On our part, however, these friendships take time. My friendship with Mary has been a slow, uphill battle. After all, we were estranged until I was 24 years old. After my conversion I placed high expectations on myself to love Mary as I "ought," which resulted in what you might expect: scruples. Had I been patient with myself as Mary had been patient with me, I may have spared myself a good deal of stress.

Now, she and I sit down over a cup of coffee and chat. Affection is there, and I know that the more I spend time with her, the greater my love will grow. After all, like Vanier says, Mary loves by showing me my beauty, my worth, and my importance; she rejoices in my presence because I'm her friend and daughter, slowly being transformed into the likeness of her Son.