Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Magnificat

A 17th-century Christian view of the Virgin Mary: The Immaculate Conception by Sassoferrato. 
Photograph: Christie's Images/Corbis

By Madeline Pantalena

I’ve had a deep love of the Magnificat since I first heard it as a child. To me, it is one of the most hopeful passages in the Bible.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.”

My earliest memory of Mo Lederman, now my sponsoring rector, but then my elementary school chaplain, was her leading a chapel full of elementary schoolers in learning the Magnificat. Her strong voice echoed across the chapel as our high voices chimed in on the chorus.

Meeting Mo was another kind of hope. From the age of 8, I dreamed of becoming a priest. My mother, a staunch Roman Catholic, laughed and told me I never could do that. That I was a girl, and only boys could be priests. When I was transferred to St. Thomas’s Day School, an Episcopal school, I met Mo and for the first time saw a reflection of myself leading a congregation in worship. My dreams were rekindled.

At St. John’s North Guilford, where Mo is now the rector, we still sing the Magnificat the same way I did with Mo as a 10 year old. I am always immediately brought back to that first moment of rekindled hope—that I too could be like Mo, leading a congregation in a song of exquisite praise.

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