CONTINUATION OF THE HISTORY OF THE MOST HOLY CHILD MARY IN THE TEMPLE THE LORD PREPARES HER FOR TROUBLES, AND JOACHIM, HER FATHER, DIES.
660.We left our sovereign Princess, most holy Mary, passing the years of her childhood in the temple, while we made a diversion to speak of the virtues, gifts and divine revelations, which She, a child in years but an adult in supreme wisdom, received from the hand of the Most High and which She put to practical use in her life.
The most holy Child grew in age and grace before God and men: but always in such a proportion, that zeal exceeded the powers of nature, and that grace was measured not by her age, but by the beneficent designs and high purposes of the Divinity, whose impetuous currents sought their gathering-place and resting-place in this City of God.
The Most High continued his gifts and favors, renewing every hour the marvels of his powerful arm, as if all its activity were reserved solely for most holy Mary.
And so well did her Majesty correspond in her tender age to this divine influx, that She filled the heart of the Lord with a perfect and adequate complacency, and all the angels of heaven with admiration.
The celestial spirits were witnesses of something like a wonderful strife and competition between the Most High and the child Princess: the divine power, in order to enrich Her, daily drawing from his treasures new and old blessings reserved solely for the purest Mary, and She, as blessed earth, not only causing the seed of the divine word to sprout and God's gifts and favors to yield fruit a hundredfold, as was the case with the saints;
but exciting the admiration of all the heavens that She, a tender child, should exceed in love, thanksgiving, in praise and all virtues, the highest and most ardent seraphim, without losing time, place, occasion, or any service, in which She did not practice the highest possible perfection.
661.Even in the years of her tender infancy it was noticeable that She understood the Scriptures and She spent much time in reading them.
As She was full of wisdom She conferred in her heart what She knew from the divine revelations made to her own self, with what is revealed to all men in the holy Scriptures; and therefore in her reading and private meditation She sent up continual and fervent prayers and petitions for the Redemption of the human race and for the incarnation of the Word.
She read more ordinarily from the prophets Isaias and Jeremias and from the Psalms, because the mysteries of the Messias and the law of grace are more plainly expressed and repeated in these writings.
In addition to what She herself understood and comprehended, She extended her knowledge by asking deep and wonderful questions, and proposing difficulties to the angels, and many times She spoke of the mystery of the humanity of the Word with incomparable tenderness, lovingly wondering, that He was to become an infant, that He was to be born of a Virgin Mother, come to manhood, as other men, suffer, and die for all the children of Adam.
662.In these conferences and questionings the holy angels and seraphim gave their answers, illuminating Her, confirming and inflaming Her virginal heart with new ardors of divine love. But they always concealed from Her her own most high dignity, although She many times offered Herself in profoundest humility as a slave to the Lord and to the happy Mother, whom He was to select for his birth into the world.
At other times, interrogating the holy angels, She spoke full of admiration : “My princes and lords, is it possible that the Creator himself is to be born of a creature and shall call her Mother?
That the Omnipotent and the Infinite, He that has made the heavens and is not encompassed by them, should be enclosed in the womb of a woman, and should clothe Himself with the limited human nature?
He that vested in beauty the elements, the heavens and the angels, is to become subject to suffering?
Is it possible, that there should be a Woman endowed with our human nature, who shall be so fortunate as to be able to call Him Son, who has made Her out of nothing, and that She should be called Mother by Him, who is uncreated and who created the whole universe?
O unheard of wonder! If the Author himself would not have declared it, how could earthly frailty conceive a thing so magnificent ?
O miracle of all his miracles! O happy eyes that shall see it and happy times that shall merit it!”
To these sentiments and exclamations the angels would on their part respond, explaining these divine sacraments, in as far as they did not involve and affect her own Self.
663.Each of these high and ardent affections of humility in the child Mary was as one of those locks of the Spouse, or darts of love, with which She so wounded the heart of God, that, if it had not been befitting to wait until She had arrived at the competent and opportune age for conceiving and bringing forth the incarnate Word, his delight could not (according to our way of thinking) contain itself and would have assumed humanity at once in her womb.
But although She was fit for this mystery from her childhood, as far as merits and grace were concerned, He waited in order to conceal and disguise more effectively the sacraments of the Incarnation, and in order to protect and safeguard the honor of his most holy Mother by postponing her virginal parturition to the age approaching that of married women.
During this delay the Lord (according to our concept) entertained Himself with the affectionate discourses and love-canticles of his Daughter and Spouse, who was soon to be the worthy Mother of the divine Word.
These canticles and hymns of our Queen and Lady, as has been shown to me by special enlightenment, were so many and so exalted, that, if they were written, the holy Church would possess many more than all the Prophets and Saints have left behind; for She expressed and comprehended all that they have written, and over and above understood and expressed much more than they ever could attain.
But the Most High has provided, that the Church militant should possess abundantly sufficient matter of that kind in the writings of the Apostles and Prophets; while his revelations to his most holy Mother, are preserved and written in his divine mind, afterwards to be made known to the triumphant Church in as far as shall serve for the accidental glory of the blessed.
664.Moreover the divine condescension yielded to the holy wish of Mary our Mistress, that, for the increase of her prudent humility and for an example of her great virtues to mortals, the sacrament of the King should remain concealed (Tob. 12, 7), and, whenever it became necessary partly to reveal it for the service of his Majesty and the welfare of the Church, the most holy Mary proceeded with such heavenly prudence, that though She was the Teacher, She never ceased to be the most humble Disciple.
In her infancy She consulted the angels and followed their counsels; after the incarnate Word was born, She looked upon the Onlybegotten as her Teacher and example in all her actions and at the close of his mysterious life and after his Ascension into heaven, the great Queen of the universe obeyed the Apostles, as we shall relate.
This is one of the reasons why, in the Apocalypse, saint John the evangelist disguised the mysteries of the Lady, beneath such enigmatic words, that they can be interpreted and applied just as well to the Church militant as to the triumphant.
665.The Most High resolved, that the plenitude of the graces and virtues of the princess Mary should, as it were, anticipate the time set for reaching the apex of her merits, and that they should extend to the most difficult and magnanimous undertakings, as much as possible, even in her most tender years.
In one of the visions in which the Majesty of God manifested Itself to Her, He said: “My Spouse and my Dove, I love thee with an infinite love and I desire of thee what is most pleasing in my eyes and the fulfillment of all my desires.
Thou art not unaware, my Daughter, of the hidden treasure, which is contained in hardships and tribulations, so much dreaded by the blind ignorance of mortals, nor is it unknown to thee that my Onlybegotten, when He shall clothe Himself in human nature, shall teach the way of the cross as well in words as in deeds; that He shall leave it as a heritage to my chosen ones; and that He shall choose it for Himself and establish upon it the law of grace, making humility and patience in suffering the foundation of the firmness and excellence of that law.
For this is best suited to the present condition of human nature, and much more so, after it has been depraved and evilly inclined by so many sins.
It is also conformable to my equity and providence, that the mortals should attain and merit for themselves the crown of glory through hardships and the cross, since my onlybegotten Son is to merit it by the same means in human flesh.
Therefore, my Spouse, thou wilt understand, that, having chosen thee by my right hand for my delight, and having enriched thee with my gifts, it would not be just, that my grace should be idle in thy heart, nor that thy love should want its fruit, nor that thou shouldst be excluded from the inheritance of my elect Hence I wish that thou dispose thyself for tribulations and sorrows for love of Me.”
666.To this proposal of the Most High the invincible Princess Mary answered with a more courageous heart than all the saints and martyrs have ever shown in the world; and She said: “Lord God and my highest King, all my faculties and their operations, and my being itself, which I have received of thy infinite bounty, I hold in readiness as a sacrifice to thy divine pleasure, wishing that it be fulfilled entirely according to the desires of thy infinite wisdom and goodness.
And if Thou give me any freedom of choice in regard to anything, I wish only to chose suffering unto death in love for Thee; and I beseech Thee, my only Good, that Thou make of thy slave a sacrifice and holocaust of suffering acceptable in thy eyes.
I acknowledge, Lord, powerful and most liberal God, my debt, and that no creature owes to Thee so great a return, nor are all of them together so much indebted to Thee as I alone, who am so entirely unequal to the task of discharging this indebtedness to thy magnificence.
But if Thou wilt admit suffering as a sort of return, let all the sorrows and tribulations of death come over me.
I will only ask for thy divine protection, and, prostrate before the throne of thy infinite Majesty, I supplicate Thee not to forsake me.
Remember, O my Lord, the faithful promises, which Thou hast made to our Ancestors and Prophets, that Thou wilt favor the just, stand by those who are in tribulation, console the afflicted, be a protection and a defense to them in their tribulations.
True are thy words, infallible and certain are thy promises; the heavens and the earth shall sooner fall to pieces than that thy words should ever fail.
The malice of the creature cannot extinguish thy charity toward those that hope in thy mercy; fulfill in me thy holy and perfect will.”
667.The Most High accepted this morning offering from his tender Spouse and holy child Mary, and with a most benign countenance He said to Her: “Beautiful art thou in my thoughts, Daughter of the Prince, my Dove, my beloved and chosen One.
I accept thy desires as highly pleasing to me and I wish that as a beginning of their fulfillment thou take notice, that according to my divine ordainment, thy father Joachim must pass from this mortal to the eternal and immortal life.
His death will happen shortly and He will pass in peace and shall be placed among the saints in race.”
This announcement did not disturb the royal heart of the Princess of heaven, the blessed Mary; but as the love of children for their parents is a just debt of nature, and as in this most holy Child this love had attained its highest perfection, the natural sorrow for the loss of her father Joachim could not be wanting, for She loved him with a holy love.
The tender and sweet Child therefore felt, that this sorrowful compassion was perfectly compatible with the serenity of her magnanimous heart, and, working in all things with grandeur, giving nature and grace each their due, She offered an ardent prayer for her father saint Joachim.
She besought the Lord to give him grace to depend upon Him as his powerful and true God in his transit through a blessed death; and asked Him to defend Joachim against the demon especially in that hour, preserve him for and constitute him among the number of the elect, since during his life He had confessed and magnified his admirable and holy name.
And in order to oblige his Majesty the more, the most faithful Daughter offered to suffer all that the Lord might ordain.
The Lord accepted this petition and consoled the heavenly Child by assuring Her, that He would assist her father as a most merciful and kind Rewarder of those that love and serve Him, and that He would place him among the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
At the same time He prepared Her anew for the acceptance and endurance of troubles. Eight days before the death of the patriarch Joachim the most holy Mary received another notice from the Lord, advising Her of the day and hour in which He was to die. His death took place only six months after Her entrance into the temple.
Having received this notice from the Lord, She requested the twelve angels, mentioned by saint John in the Apocalypse, to assist her father Joachim and to comfort and console Him in his sickness, which they did. For the last hours of his life She sent all the angels of her guard asking the Lord, to make them visible to him for his greater consolation.
God conceded this favor and confirmed all the wishes of his chosen and only One; and the great patriarch, most happy Joachim, saw the thousand angels which guarded Mary. In response to her prayer and wishes the Almighty allowed his graces to overflow, commanding the angels to address Joachim as follows:
669.“Man of God, may the Most High and powerful Lord be thy eternal salvation and may he send thee from his holy place the necessary and opportune help for thy soul.
Mary thy Daughter has sent us in order to assist I thee in this hour, in which thou must pay the debt of mortality to thy Creator.
She is a most faithful and powerful Intercessor before the Almighty, in whose name and peace thou wilt now pass consoled and joyous from this world, because He has made thee the father of such a blessed Daughter.
Although his incomprehensible Majesty, on account of his hidden decrees, has not as yet revealed the sacraments and dignity, in which He shall invest thy Daughter, He wishes thee to know it now in order that thou mayest magnify and praise Him, and in order that the pain and sorrow of natural death may be relieved by the joy of thy spirit at this news.
Mary, thy Daughter, is chosen and ordained by the Almighty as the One, in whom the divine Word shall vest Himself with human flesh and form.
She is to be the happy Mother of the Messias and the Blessed among women, the most exalted among all creatures, and only inferior to God himself.
Thy most fortunate Daughter is to restore what the human race lost by the first sin, and She is the high mountain on which is to be established and constructed the new law of grace.
Since thou leavest to the world a Daughter, through whom God will restore it and prepare a full remedy, do thou part from it in the joy of thy soul, and may the Lord bless thee from Sion (Psalm 127, 5) and constitute thee in the inheritance of the saints and bring thee to the vision and enjoyment of the blessed Jerusalem.”
［经文〈圣咏 128:5〉：惟愿上主由熙雍圣山向你祝福，使你一生得见耶路撒冷的福禄， ］
670.During these words of the holy angels to Joachim, his spouse, holy Anne, stood at the head of his bed and by divine disposition She heard and understood what they said.
In the same moment the holy patriarch lost the use of speech and, treading into the path common to all flesh, he commenced his agony in a marvelous struggle between his joy at this message and the pain of death.
In this conflict of the interior powers of his soul he made many fervent acts of divine love, of faith, of admiration, of praise, of thanksgiving, of humility and heroic acts of many other virtues.
Thus absorbed in the knowledge of so divine a mystery, he arrived at the term of his natural life and died the precious death of the saints (Psalm 115, 15).
His holy soul was carried by the angels to the limbo of the Patriarchs and just souls; and, for a new consolation and light in the protracted night in which they lived, the Most High sent the soul of Joachim as the last messenger and legate of the Lord to announce to the whole congregation of the just:
that the dawn of the eternal day was at hand; that the morning light was breaking upon the world in most holy Mary, the Daughter of Joachim and Anne;
that from Her was to be brought forth the Sun of the Divinity, Christ, the Redeemer of all the human race.
This great news the holy fathers and the just in limbo heard and received with jubilee and in their exultation they sang many hymns of thanksgiving to the Most High.
671.This happy death of the patriarch saint Joachim happened as I said about a half year after his most holy Daughter Mary had entered the temple. Hence She was three and a half years old, when She was left without an earthly father.
The age of the patriarch was sixty-nine years, divided as follows: at the age of forty-six years he accepted saint Anne as his spouse, in the twentieth year of his marriage, they were blessed with most holy Mary; and the three and a half years of the age of her age at his death complete the sixty-nine and a half years, a few days more or less.
672.After the death of the holy Patriarch and father of our Queen the angels of her guard at once returned to the presence of Mary and related to Her what had happened in the passing away of her father:
and immediately the most prudent Child turned in solicitous prayers to the Lord, asking Him to console, govern and assist her Mother Anne with fatherly kindness in her solitude after the death of her husband.
Saint Anne also sent notice of the death of Joachim to the instructress of the heavenly Princess, asking Her to console the Child in breaking this news to Her.
The teacher acted accordingly and the most wise Child listened to her thankfully, concealing her own knowledge.
However it was with the patience and modesty of a Queen, and of one who was not oblivious of the possibility of the event, which her instructress related to Her as new.
Acting in all things according to the highest perfection, She betook Herself at once into the temple, reiterating her sacrifice of praise, humility, patience and of other virtues, and progressing always with more accelerated and beautiful steps in the eyes of the Most High (Cant. 7, 1).
As a climax of these exercises, She, as usual, requested the holy angels to concur and assist in blessing God.
INSTRUCTION WHICH THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN GAVE ME.
673.My daughter, renovate many times in the secret of thy heart thy esteem for the blessing of tribulations, which the hidden providence of God dispenses for the justification of mortals.
These are the judgments justified in themselves (Psalm 18, 10, 11) and more valuable than precious stones and gold, more sweet than the honeycomb, to those who know how to hold them in proper esteem.
［经文〈圣咏19: 10~11〉：上主的训诲是纯洁的，永远常存；上主的判断是真实的，无不公允；比黄金，比极纯的黄金更可爱恋；比蜂蜜，比蜂巢的流汁更要甘甜。 ]
I wish thee to remember, my beloved, that to suffer and to be afflicted with or without one’s fault is a benefit of which one cannot be worthy without special and great mercy of the Almighty; moreover to be allowed to suffer for one’s sins, is not only a mercy, but is demanded by justice.
Behold, however, the great insanity of the children of Adam nowadays in desiring and seeking after emoluments, benefits, and favors agreeable to their senses, and in sleeplessly striving to avert from themselves, that which is painful or includes any hardship or trouble.
It would be to their greatest benefit to seek tribulations diligently even when unmerited, yet they strive by all means to avoid them even when merited, and even though they cannot be happy and blessed without having undergone such sufferings.
674.When gold is untouched by the furnace-heat, the iron by the file, the grain by the grinding stone or flail, the grapes by the winepress, they are all useless and will not attain the end for which they are created.
Why then will mortals continue to deceive themselves, by expecting, in spite of their sins, to become pure and worthy of enjoying God, without the furnace or the file of sorrows?
If they were incapable and unworthy of attaining to the crown and reward of the infinite and eternal Good when innocent, how can they attain it, when they are in darkness and in disgrace before the Almighty?
In addition to this the sons of perdition are exerting all their powers to remain unworthy and hostile to God and in evading crosses and afflictions which are the paths left open for returning to God, in rejecting the light of the intellect which is the means of recognizing the deceptiveness of visible things, in refusing the nourishment of the just which is the only means of grace, the price of glory, and above all in repudiating the legitimate inheritance, selected by my Son and Lord for Himself and for all his elect, since He was born and lived continually in afflictions and died upon the cross.
675.By such standards, my daughter, must thou measure the value of suffering, which the worldly will not understand. Since they are unworthy of heavenly knowledge, they despise it in proportion to their ignorance.
Rejoice and congratulate thyself in thy sufferings, and whenever the Almighty deigns to send thee any, hasten to meet it and welcome it as one of his blessings and pledges of his glorious love.
Furnish thy heart with magnanimity and constancy, so that when occasion of suffering is given thee thou mayest bear it with the same equanimity as the prosperous and agreeable things.
Be not filled with sadness in executing that which thou hast promised in gladness, for the Lord loves those that are equally ready to give as to receive.
Sacrifice thy heart and all thy faculties as a holocaust of patience and chant in new hymns of praise and joy the justification of the Most High, whenever in the place of thy peregrination He signalizes and distinguishes thee as his own with the signs of his friendship which are no other than the tribulations and trials of suffering.
676.Take notice, my dearest, that my most holy Son and myself are trying to find among those who have arrived at the way of the cross, some soul, whom We can instruct systematically in this divine science and whom We can withdraw from the worldly and diabolical wisdom, in which the sons of Adam, with blind stubbornness, are rejecting the salutary discipline of sufferings.
If thou wishest to be our disciple enter into this school, in which alone is taught the doctrine of the cross and the manner of reaching true peace and veritable delights.
With this wisdom the earthly love of sensible pleasures and riches is not compatible; nor the vain ostentation and pomp, which fascinates the blear-eyed worldlings, who are so covetous of passing honors, and so full of ignorant admiration for costly grandeur.
Thou, my daughter, choose for thyself the better part of being among the lowly and the forgotten ones of this world.
I was Mother of the Godman himself, and, on that account, Mistress of all creation conjointly with my Son: yet I was little known and my Son very much despised by men.
If this doctrine were not most valuable and secure, We would not have taught it by word and example. This is the light, which shines in the darkness (John 1, 7), loved by the elect and abhorred by the reprobate.