“During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled’ (Lk 1:39-45).
Whenever I read this passage of Scripture or meditate on the Visitation while praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, I am reminded of our roles as women of faith. For so long, our culture did not always send a message to support one another as women. Rather, film, television shows and music ultimately promoted the message of competition among one another. Recently we’ve started to see this shift in helping our fellow sisters out rather than knocking each other down — a lesson we can learn from the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth.
Following the angel’s annunciation, Mary immediately runs to her much older cousin Elizabeth to tell her the news. This part of her story brings back memories of women I have looked up to over the years and to whom I have turned to for advice when I was in need.
Our roles as women over time change due to situation and maturity. We all go through a stage in which we are all Marys — seeking wisdom and sound advice. But as time goes on, we also have a responsibility to become mentors to other women. While this relationship is not purely determined by age, I’m at a stage in my life where I am now the older cousin, the Elizabeth, in the lives of many women.
We commonly hear the word mentor when it comes to school and work, but I also believe it’s incredibly important to have female mentors in our spiritual lives. Our faith journeys were never meant to be a solo adventure, and having that spiritual guidance from someone more experienced can only help us strengthen our relationship with God. Women in particular can find themselves in various stages in life where they need a mentor. When it comes to marriage, starting a family or even just discerning a vocation of religious life, there is a woman who at one point walked in our shoes and can help us along the way.
I’ve been fortunate enough over the last few years to be a part of some amazing communities with incredibly devoted and faith-filled women. I remember praying for a community of women who would be supportive and compassionate but also wise in helping guide me. God answered that prayer in ways I could have never imagined.
A few years ago I needed that support more than ever when I suddenly lost my job. It was at a time where I was contemplating where my life was heading both personally and professionally. My tribe of women in my faith circle took me into their arms and helped carry me through what was a very stressful time. It was in those dark moments where these faith-filled sisters prayed for and over me. They regularly checked on me and even helped me connect with the right people to find a new job. I remember one moment in particular when I felt God’s presence and grace right before my final interview for a job. A group of female friends prayed a Rosary with me just before I walked in the door. I felt Mary and the Holy Spirit with me throughout that final meeting. I landed the job, and to this day I’m grateful for the love and support I received.
Now more than ever, we need to be committed to being a spark of light for those around us. As women, many of us naturally want to nurture and be part of a family. Our faith journey should be no different when it comes to connecting with others.
I still have much to learn about my faith and value those women who have provided me the gift of their wisdom. My faith has certainly been tested over the years, and whether I was struggling with something personal or professional related, my tribe of faith-filled women has carried me in those moments. We all have the opportunity to lend our wisdom to those around us — young and old.
So, who is your Mary? Who is your Elizabeth? Keep these women close as you walk the road toward heaven.