The Life of Mary: Magnificat Song©

The charts below are direct quotes from Post-Vatican II Magisterial Documents concerning the theme, Mary's Magnificat. These teachings of the Catholic Church may prove useful to include in talks, in homilies or for research. For the full title and document data, click on the abbreviation code (for example, BYM leads you to the document, Behold Your Mother). This will also lead you to the complete document on this website or assist you in locating it elsewhere.

For an index of the documents used in the study see: List of Magisterial Documents
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Documents VI. The Life of Mary
2e. Sacred Scripture: New Testament elements Infancy: Magnificat Song
Lumen Gentium, 1964
  • according to her own prophetic words: "all generations shall call me blessed, because he that is mighty hath done great things to me." (Lk 1:48) 66
Signum Magnum, 1967
  • [Ephesus] Their hymns and songs of praise in honor of her Son, and hence in her honor also, must have sounded to her like an echo of the prophetic canticle she had uttered under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: "My soul magnifies the Lord...because he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid; for, behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; because he who is mighty has done great things for me...." [Lk 1:46 and 48-49] 3
  • celebrated his arrival in her womb with the Magnificat 25
Basic Teaching for Catholic Education (USA), 1973
  • The Gospel of Luke gives us Mary's words:" My spirit finds joy in God my savior, for he has looked upon his servant in her lowliness; all ages to come shall call me blessed."
Behold Your Mother (USA), 1973
  • Mary's "song of poverty," the Magnificat, concludes: "He has upheld Israel his servant ever mindful of his mercy; even as he promised our fathers, promised Abraham and his descendants forever." (Lk 1:54-55)
  • Mary's unique holiness: "All ages to come will call me blessed. . . . God who is mighty has done great things for me." (Lk 1:48) 51
Marialis Cultus, 1974
  • Magnificat [exemplar of the Church, esp. in liturgy] the Virgin in prayer ... "In her exultation Mary prophetically declared in the name of the Church: 'My soul proclaims the glory of the Lord'...." (Adversus Haereses III) And in fact Mary's hymn has spread far and wide and has become the prayer of the whole Church in all ages. 18
  • In Mary's prophetic canticle (cf. Lk. 1:46-55) they saw a special working of the Spirit who had spoken through the mouths of the prophets. (Origen) 26
Creed, Paul VI, 1968
  • The Gospel of Luke gives us Mary's words: "My spirit finds joy in God my savior, for he has looked upon his servant in her lowliness; all ages to come shall call me blessed." (Lk 1, 47f) [identical to BT] 106
Dives in Misericordia, 1980
  • The liturgy of Eastertide places on our lips the words of the Psalm: Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo (Psalm 88(89):2) [The favors of the Lord I will sing forever, through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness. NAB] These words of the Church at Easter re-echo in the fullness of their prophetic content the words that Mary uttered during her visit to Elizabeth, the wife of Zechariah: "His mercy ... is from generation to generation." (Lk 1:50) 9
  • At the very moment of the Incarnation, these words open up a new perspective of salvation history. 9
  • After the resurrection of Christ, this perspective [mercy from generation to generation] is new on both the historical and the eschatological level. From that time onwards there is a succession of new generations of individuals in the immense human family, in ever-increasing dimensions; there is also a succession of new generations of the People of God, marked with the Sign of the Cross and of the resurrection and "sealed: (cf. 2 Cor 1:21-22) with the sign of the Pascal Mystery of Christ, the absolute revelation of the mercy that Mary proclaimed on the threshold of her kinswoman's house: "His mercy...is from generation to generation." (Lk 1:50) 9
  • We have every right to believe that our generation too was included in the words of the Mother of God when she glorified that mercy shared in "from generation to generation" by those who allow themselves to be guided by the fear of God. The words of Mary's Magnificat have a prophetic content that concerns not only the past of Israel but also the whole future of the People of God on earth. 10
  • In connection with this picture of our generation, a picture which cannot fail to cause profound anxiety, there come to mind once more those words which, by reason of the Incarnation of the son of God, resounded in Mary's Magnificat, and which sing of "mercy from generation to generation." The Church of our time, constantly pondering the eloquence of these inspired words, and applying them to the sufferings of the great human family, must become more particularly and profoundly conscious of need to bear witness in her whole mission to God's mercy. VII, preceding 13
Redemptoris Mater, 1987
  • [See 27, because she believed, "All generations, ....]
  • The "Magnificat" of the pilgrim Church - Articles 35-37
  • [main ideas] the Church seeks to rediscover the unity of all who profess their faith in Christ in order to show obedience to her Lord, who prayed ... "Like a pilgrim in a foreign land, the Church presses forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God, announcing the Cross and Death of the Lord until he comes." (LG 8) 35
  • strengthened by the power of God's grace promised to her by the Lord (LG 9) 35
  • The Virgin Mother is constantly present on this journey of faith of the People of God towards the light. This is shown in a special way by the canticle of the "Magnificat," which, having welled up from the depths of Mary's faith at the Visitation, ceaselessly re-echoes in the heart of the Church down the centuries. ... proved by its daily recitation in the liturgy of Vespers and at many other moments of both personal and communal devotion. 35
  • [text Lk 1:46-55 given] 35
  • In these sublime words, which are simultaneously very simple and wholly inspired by the sacred texts of the people of Israel, (89) Mary's personal experience, the ecstasy of her heart, shines forth. In them shines a ray of the mystery of God, the glory of his ineffable holiness, the eternal love which, as an irrevocable gift, enters into human history. 36
  • Mary is the first to share in this new revelation of God and, within the same, in this new "self-giving" of God. 36
  • In her exultation Mary confesses that she finds herself in the very heart of this fullness of Christ. She is conscious that the promise made to the fathers, first of all "to Abraham and to his posterity for ever," is being fulfilled in herself. She is thus aware that concentrated within herself as the mother of Christ is the whole salvific economy, in which "from age to age" is manifested he who, as the God of the Covenant, "remembers his mercy." 36
  • [Church models on Mary and repeats her Magnificat: overcoming evil, dignity of humans, service to the poor, meaning of freedom and liberation] 37 [regarding "dignity" see also 46]
Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday, 1988
  • As we celebrate the Eucharist at so many altars throughout the world, let us give thanks to the Eternal Priest for the gift which he has bestowed on us in the Sacrament of the Priesthood. And in this thanksgiving may there be heard the words which the Evangelist puts on Mary's lips on the occasion of her visit to her cousin Elizabeth: "The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name." (Lk 1:49) Let us also give thanks to Mary for the indescribable gift of the priesthood, whereby we are able to serve in the Church every human being. 8
  • Is it not through our priestly ministry that there is accomplished what the next verses of Mary's Magnificat speak of? Behold, the Redeemer, the God of the cross and of the Eucharist, indeed "lifts up the lowly" and "fills the hungry with good things." He who was rich, yet for our sake became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich (cf. 2 Cor 8:9), has entrusted to the humble Virgin of Nazareth the admirable mystery of his poverty which makes us rich. And he entrusts the same mystery to us too through the Sacrament of the Priesthood. 8
Mulieris Dignitatem, 1988
  • The words which the Evangelist puts on Mary's lips after the Annunciation, during her visit to Elizabeth: "He who is mighty has done great things for me" (Lk 1:49) ...certainly refer to the conception of her Son, who is the "Son of the Most High," (Lk 1:32) ... but they can also signify the discovery of her own feminine humanity. He "has done great things for me": this is the discovery of all the richness and personal resources of femininity, all the eternal originality of the "woman," just as God wanted her to be, a person for her own sake, who discovers herself "by means of a sincere gift of self." 11
  • clear awareness of God's gift, of his generosity... this awareness bursts forth in all its power in the words of the biblical "woman" of Nazareth. 11
Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 1994
  • As she herself says in the Canticle of the Magnificat, great things were done for her by the Almighty, whose name is holy. (cf. Lk 1:49) 54
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994
Fidei Depositum, 1992
[See also: 273] 722 ... It is the thanksgiving of the whole People of God, and thus of the Church, which Mary in her canticle (cf. Lk 1:46-55) lifts up to the Father in the Holy Spirit while carrying within her the eternal Son.
Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 2002
  • The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium. (MC 42) It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. 1
  • Today, as I begin the twenty-fifth year of my service as the Successor of Peter, I wish to do the same. How many graces have I received in these years from the Blessed Virgin through the Rosary: Magnificat anima mea Dominum! 2
Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 2003
  • In the Eucharist the Church is completely united to Christ and his sacrifice, and makes her own the spirit of Mary. This truth can be understood more deeply by re-reading the Magnificat in a Eucharistic key. The Eucharist, like the Canticle of Mary, is first and foremost praise and thanksgiving. When Mary exclaims: "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior," she already bears Jesus in her womb. She praises God "through" Jesus, but she also praises him "in" Jesus and "with" Jesus. This is itself the true "Eucharistic attitude." At the same time Mary recalls the wonders worked by God in salvation history in fulfillment of the promise once made to the fathers (cf. Lk 1:55), and proclaims the wonder that surpasses them all, the redemptive incarnation. Lastly, the Magnificat reflects the eschatological tension of the Eucharist. Every time the Son of God comes again to us in the "poverty" of the sacramental signs of bread and wine, the seeds of that new history wherein the mighty are "put down from their thrones" and "those of low degree are exalted," (cf. Lk 1:52) take root in the world. Mary sings of the "new heavens" and the "new earth" which find in the Eucharist their anticipation and in some sense their program and plan. The Magnificat expresses Mary's spirituality, and there is nothing greater than this spirituality for helping us to experience the mystery of the Eucharist. The Eucharist has been given to us so that our life, like that of Mary, may become completely a Magnificat! 58


© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
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