Day Four:

Mary Visits Elizabeth

Olga Kirichenko . Theotokos of the Sign

“You are blessed because you believed,” Elizabeth said to Mary.  “You believed that what the Lord said, would actually happen!”  Elizabeth knew the consequence of not believing.  Her husband had doubted the angel who foretold Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  Before she was pregnant her husband, Zechariah, had been chosen to go into the most holy place of the temple.  One priest went in once each year.  While Zechariah was standing in front of the Ark of the Covenant, in the most holy spot of all Israel, an angel appeared to him and gave him the news that his barren aging wife would conceive and give birth to a baby.

And Zechariah asked, “How can I be sure this will really happen?”  Considering the circumstances, that doesn’t seem like the brightest question to ask.  Evidently, the angel agreed because he made Zechariah literally dumb; he was unable to speak until the child was born.


Elizabeth, on the other hand, exhibited faith and spiritual understanding.  She recognized the movements of her unborn child for what they really were: leaps of joy.  And she recognized Mary, too, not as just a younger cousin, but as the mother of her yet unborn Lord.  With the help of the Holy Spirit she saw the true nature of things.  She demonstrated that she knew the truth of what the angel told Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God.”


How I wish that I had the eyes of Elizabeth instead of the eyes of Zechariah!  Elizabeth challenges me to believe God even in the face of circumstances and doubts because nothing is impossible with him!

Lord, how much juice you can squeeze from a single grape.
How much water you can draw from a single well.
How great a fire you can kindle from a tiny spark.
How great a tree you can grow from a tiny seed.
My soul is so dry that by itself it cannot pray;
Yet you can squeeze from it the juice of a thousand prayers.
My soul is so parched that by itself it cannot love;
Yet you can draw from it boundless love for you and for my neighbor.
My soul is so cold that by itself it has no joy;
Yet you can light the fire of heavenly joy within me.
My soul is so feeble that by itself it has no faith;
Yet by your power my faith grows to a great height.
Thank you for prayer for love, for joy, for faith;
Let me always be prayerful, loving, joyful, faithful.


—Guigo the Carthusian, a monk of the 12th century*