The Servant of God Terence Cooke (1921-1983) was the Archbishop of New York for fifteen years, starting in 1968. Over three decades after his death, he is fondly remembered for his love of God, Our Lady, the Church and human life, as well as his tranquility and willingness to suffer from grave illness silently and without complaint.

In the book, Meditations on Mary (New York: Alba House, 1993), which has an Introduction from the late Father Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R., one finds a series of conferences that the then-Monsignor Cooke, who was secretary to the well-known Francis Cardinal Spellman, gave at Lourdes, France, in 1958, on the 100th anniversary of those cherished apparitions of Our Blessed Lady to little Bernadette Soubirous.

In one of his meditations, the future shepherd of Gotham described the Madonna as one who visited others. “Mary’s life has been and still is a continual series of visitations of which that first visit to Elizabeth was the prototype. She is ever bringing Jesus to souls, and leading souls to Jesus. Alone she never comes, for Jesus is always with her. To her we owe every Holy Communion we receive, for it is the same Body, conceived and nourished in her immaculate womb, that is the food of our souls. To her we owe every spiritual visitation of Divine Grace, for she is the Mediatrix of all graces, interceding and obtaining for us favors and blessings even before we are aware of their necessity. To her we owe every good accomplished, every evil avoided, every temptation overcome, for ‘without Him we can do nothing.’ If He is with us or near us, in some way she is responsible for His nearness.”

To think that the Mother of God even now constantly and selflessly makes visitations! What does this tell us about her indescribable charity? She loves God and his People unspeakably. Our Lady never tires in introducing Christ to souls. The visitation of Jesus to us par excellence is when He feeds us with His Body and Blood in the Most Blessed Eucharist. This Food and Drink is the lasting nourishment for our souls. And we can only bow before the mystery of her maternal mediation—“interceding and obtaining for us favors and blessings even before we are aware of their necessity.” The Creator so employs the Blessed Virgin in helping us here and in going to Heaven.

We need not try hard to imagine Mary as seeking every opportunity to visit us—her sons and daughters. Her visits urge us, in turn, to “visit” her and her Son. How is this possible? Monsignor Cooke asserted: “Your daily sacrifices are your visitation to Jesus and Mary, to honor them, to offer thanksgiving, to make reparation, and to petition some new blessing. But before you began to make these sacrifices, or even to plan them, Mary has already made a visitation to you inspiring you to make them.”

Mary is justly hailed as the “Visitrix.” Now, from Paradise, she cares for her beloved children. And we, according to Cardinal Cooke, approach her because we have been touched by her visits to us.

It is a privilege for us to be visited by Jesus and Mary. The Son and His Mother waste no time in coming to embrace us, to reassure us and to lighten our burdens.

In encouraging his listeners in the sacred Grotto of Lourdes to consider attentively their relationship with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ and His chaste Mother, the ever-Virgin, Monsignor Cooke concluded his remarks thus:

In the Gospel for Christmas there are two lines which, no matter how often they are read, always have a sad, melancholy tone: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” “There was no room for them in the inn.” Your coming on this pilgrimage of Our Lady is a sign that you have made room for them in the inn of your heart. They have come unto their own, and their own have received them.

It has been said, “Happy is the house which the Mother of God visits.” We might say, “Happy is the heart which the Mother of God visits.”

Are we ready for a visit? How have we previously received the Immaculate Heart of Mary? If not so well, then the next time can be different.

May our hearts be visited by the Queen of Angels, and may we welcome every chance to visit her and her Son in return.

Our Lady of the Visitation, pray for us!