A simple publication designed to help Mass-goers pray and participate in the Eucharistic celebration has a subscriber-list of more than a quarter million in the United States alone. Published in seven languages, it reaches out to more than a million people each month.
Magnificat celebrated the completion of its 15th year of publication just a few months ago.
It was begun by a French layperson, a father of 12, who wanted to find a way to help families “stay in the rhythm of the Church.”
Pierre Dumont recalled, “As a publisher, I had an idea and presented Magnificat to Rome, where it was approved and even blessed! Later, I met with the US bishops’ conference and a number of American bishops, who were very receptive and actually gave me lots of encouragement and support. In a very real way, Magnificat provides the resource the Second Vatican Council had asked the Church to provide for laypeople.”
In addition to the daily Mass readings, Magnificat provides prayer in the model of the Liturgy of the Hours.
“All Christian life is centered on the gift of the Son back to the Father. The Eucharist. From this flows all authentic Christian prayer, and so the structure of Magnificat became immediately apparent to me,” Dumont explained. “Around daily Mass there needed to be a prayer for the morning and the evening adapted from the Liturgy of the Hours, and a daily meditation as food for a bit of reflection. It is a simple way to heed St. Paul’s encouragement to ‘pray without ceasing.'”
The anniversary issue expanded the selection of Magnificat reflections and features.
Each month’s issue now includes titles such as: “How the Catholic Church Changed the World,” by Anthony Esolen — a series of stories about historic innovations accomplished by committed Catholics that continue to impact the way we live today. “She Pondered These Things in Her Heart” — a reflection on the Faith from the viewpoint of matrimony, motherhood and family life. “Credible Witnesses” by Heather King — the stories of non-canonized heroes of the faith. “Great Conversion Stories” by John Janaro — stories about people whose search for religious truth led them to the Catholic Church. “Saint Who?” by Lisa Lickona — a presentation of the saints according to a select theme each month, such as those who achieved sainthood as children, or those who suffered from chronic illnesses.
Magnificat also publishes a children’s version, called MagnifiKid!, for children ages 6 to 12.
Dumont said that the name “Magnificat” was the appropriate choice for the publication, since Mary’s “yes” is what he wanted to live out in his own life and what he wanted for others.
“I wanted this publication to model and facilitate that ‘yes’ for Catholics around the world,” he said. “I have a passion for art and beauty in all forms, because for me they are expressions of God. We strive to have Magnificat reflect that beauty. That is why I added articles of Catholic interest and commentaries on the artwork that graces our cover each month.”
Dominican Father Peter Cameron has been the editor-in-chief of Magnificat since its introduction in the United States. He reflected on how the growth of the publication has followed indications from Rome.
“When Magnificat first began, it was amazing to see how it fed a real spiritual hunger. Through the years, we have been very attentive to the different spiritual needs of Catholics. We have done this especially by following the Pope … and there have been three of them! Each Holy Father brings his own flair and flavor to the Faith, and we try to capture all that in some way in Magnificat.”
Father Cameron said he expects Magnificat in another 15 years to still be completing that same mission.
“Pope Francis says that ‘the preacher must know the heart of his community in order to realize where its desire for God is alive and ardent, as well as where that dialogue, once loving, has been thwarted and is now barren,'” he said. “That’s what Magnificat will be doing 15 years from now. It will be tending to the heart of the community, to the Church, enlivening her desire for and dialogue with God.”