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Magnifying and glorifying

Magnifying and glorifying

Magnificat anima mea Dominum‘ sings Mary, in Latin.  The Book of Common Prayer records her song as, ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord‘, while in our own Divine Office each evening we pray ‘My soul glorifies the Lord…’

Given that God is ‘that than which nothing greater can be thought‘*, I wonder how Mary’s soul – or mine or yours – could possibly magnify the Lord – could make the Lord any bigger?  And similarly, how can anything I do or say add to the glory of God?  Surely if this were possible, implication is that God is less than perfectly glorious?

Let’s consider what we do when we ‘magnify’ something.  We don’t make it bigger, we make it appear bigger to our eyes.  We enable ourselves to see it more clearly; perhaps to see previously imperceptible details and so appreciate it more fully.  If an astronomer sets up a telescope in just the right place and invites us to look, we can see some amazing star or planet that has been around for way longer than any of us, yet we’ve never seen it before. It was a reality to which we had been blind.  God’s grace sometimes works like that astronomer, revealing something of Himself hitherto unseen, or at least unnoticed.

So when our souls ‘magnify’ the Lord, it’s a – Wow! – moment: it turns out God is even greater, even more glorious than we’d had previously thought!  The life of God is greater in us.  We cannot help but praise, adore and then what do we do?  Like Mary, we rush to share that great news, to show others what we have seen and tell of the wonderful things the Lord has done.

‘Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.’

These are the words we hear in the Concluding Rite.  When we hear these words, how do we respond?  In words, we say ‘Thanks be to God’, remembering that it is through God’s grace that we are able to ‘glorify’ Him.  In deeds, please God may we always respond like Mary, with swift obedience, humility and charity.



* says St Anslem.  More on him here.

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