Skip to content
Little girl looking Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Pope Benedict's Commentary on the Magnificat

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

"The Lord Places Himself on the Side of the Least"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 16, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave at Wednesday's general audience, which he dedicated to comment on the Magnificat, the canticle in Luke 1:46-55.

With this address, he concluded the cycle of catecheses on the Psalms and biblical canticles begun by Pope John Paul II in 2001.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

1. We have come to the end of the long itinerary begun exactly five years ago by my beloved predecessor, the unforgettable Pope John Paul II. In his catecheses, the great Pope wished to go through the whole sequence of Psalms and canticles that make up the fabric of the fundamental prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours and of Vespers. On arriving at the end of this pilgrimage through the texts, as a journey through a garden full of flowers of praise, invocation, prayer and contemplation, we now make room for that canticle that seals the whole celebration of Vespers, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).

It is a canticle that reveals the spirituality of the biblical "anawim," namely, of those faithful who acknowledged themselves "poor" not only because of their detachment from all idolatry of wealth and power, but also because of their profound humility of heart, free from the temptation to pride, open to saving divine grace. The whole Magnificat, which we just heard interpreted by the Choir of the Sistine Chapel, is characterized by this "humility," in Greek "tapeinosis," which indicates a situation of concrete humility and poverty.

2. The first movement of the Marian canticle (cf. Luke 1:46-50) is like a soloist who raises her voice to heaven to the Lord. To be pointed out, in fact, is the use of the first person which resounds constantly: "my soul ..., my spirit ..., my Savior ..., will call me blessed ..., has done great things in me...." The soul of the prayer is, therefore, the celebration of divine grace that has come into Mary's heart and life, making her the Mother of the Lord. We hear precisely the Virgin's voice speaking in this way of her Savior, who has done great things in her soul and body.

The profound structure of her canticle of prayer is praise, thanksgiving, grateful joy. But this personal testimony is not solitary and private, merely individualistic, as the Virgin Mary is conscious that she has a mission to fulfill for humanity and that her life is framed in the history of salvation. Thus she can say: "His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him" (verse 50). With this praise to the Lord, the Virgin gives voice to all creatures redeemed after her "fiat," who in the figure of Jesus, born of the Virgin, find the mercy of God.

3. At this point develops the second poetic and spiritual movement of the Magnificat (cf. verses 51-55). It has the tone of a choir, as if to Mary's voice were joined that of the community of the faithful, which celebrates God's amazing decisions. In the Greek original of the Gospel of Luke we find seven verbs in aorist, which indicate many other actions that the Lord has carried out permanently in history: "he has shown strength with his arm ..., he has scattered the proud ..., he has put down the mighty from their thrones ..., exalted those of low degree ..., he has filled the hungry with good things ..., the rich he has sent empty away ..., has helped his servant Israel."

Evident in these seven divine works is the "style" in which the Lord of history inspires his conduct: He places himself on the side of the least. Often, his plan is hidden under the opaque terrain of human vicissitudes, in which the "proud," the "mighty" and the "rich" triumph. However, in the end, his secret strength is destined to manifest who God's real favorites are: the "faithful" to his Word, "the humble," "the hungry," "his servant Israel," namely, the community of the People of God that, as Mary, is constituted by those who are "poor," pure and simple of heart. It is that "little flock" which Jesus invites not to be afraid, as the Father has willed to give it his kingdom (cf. Luke 12:32). Thus, this canticle invites us to associate ourselves to this little flock, to really be members of the People of God in purity and simplicity of heart, in love of God.

4. Let us accept, then, the invitation that St. Ambrose makes to us in his commentary on the Magnificat. The great doctor of the Church exhorts: "In the heart of each one may Mary praise the Lord, in each may the spirit of Mary rejoice in the Lord; if, according to the flesh, Christ has only one mother, according to faith all souls engender Christ; each one, in fact, receives in himself the Word of God ... Mary's soul magnifies the Lord and her spirit rejoices in God as, consecrated with her soul and spirit to the Father and to the Son, she adores with devout affection only one God, from whom everything proceeds, and only one Lord, in virtue of whom all things exist" ("Esposizione del Vangelo Secondo Luca," 2,26-27: Saemo, XI, Milan-Rome, 1978, p. 169).

In this wonderful commentary on the Magnificat of St. Ambrose I am always moved by this amazing word: "If, according to the flesh, Christ has only one mother, according to faith all souls engender Christ; each one, in fact, receives in himself the Word of God." Thus the holy doctor, interpreting the words of the Virgin herself, invites us to offer the Lord a dwelling in our souls and in our lives. Not only must we bear him in our hearts, but we must take him to the world, so that we too might engender Christ for our times. Let us pray to the Lord to help us to praise him with Mary's spirit and soul and to take Christ again to our world.

[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father read the following summary in English:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we bring to a conclusion the cycle of reflections, begun by my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II, on the Psalms and canticles found in the Liturgy of the Hours.

We do so with a meditation on the Magnificat, which extols the biblical poor, the "anawim," who live in deep humility of heart and openness to God's saving grace. They are free from pride and detached from aspirations to human greatness.

The first part of the canticle portrays Mary rejoicing in the grace which has come into her heart and her life. She does this in a personal way, but is aware also of her mission to all humanity.

The second part places Mary's words of praise in harmony with the whole history of the faithful. They celebrate the surprising choices of God who "scatters the proud-hearted" ... "casts the mighty from their thrones" ... "fills the starving with good things."

Let us conclude by associating ourselves with the invitation of the great St. Ambrose: "May each one of us glorify the Lord with the soul of Mary and rejoice in God with the spirit of Mary."

[The Pope then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I am happy to offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today's audience. I extend particular greetings to the groups from England, Ireland, Denmark, Norway and the United States of America. May your time in Rome strengthen your faith and renew you love for the Lord and his Blessed Mother. May God bless you all!


Catholic Online CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000



Pope, Benedict, Commentary, Magnificat, Lord

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,716

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Join the Movement
When you sign up below, you don't just join an email list - you're joining an entire movement for Free world class Catholic education.

Saint of the Day logo
Prayer of the Day logo

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2024 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2024 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.