THS MOST HIGH ENLIGHTENS THE PRIEST CONCERNING THE SPOTLESS INNOCENCE OF MOST HOLY MARY; SHE HERSELF IS INFORMED OF THE APPROACHING DEATH OF HER MOTHER, SAINT ANNE, AND IS PRESENT AT THIS EVENT.
713. The Lord did not sleep, nor did He slumber (Psalm 120, 4) during the clamors of his beloved spouse Mary, although He pretended not to hear them, delighting in the prolonged exercise of her sufferings, which occasioned so many glorious triumphs and the admirations and praises of the supernal spirits.
［经文〈圣咏121: 4〉：看，那保护以色列者，不打盹也不会睡着。 ］
The smouldering fire of the persecution already mentioned continued unabated, in order that the Phenix, Mary, might many times renew Herself from the ashes of her humility, and in order that her most pure heart be regenerated over and over again to new estates and conditions of divine grace.
But when the opportune time arrived for putting an end to the blind envy and jealousy of those ensnared maidens, and in order that their petulance might not altogether discredit Her who was to be the excellence of nature and grace itself, the Lord spoke to the priest in his sleep and said to Him: “My servant Mary is pleasing in my eyes, and She is my perfect and my chosen One: She is entirely innocent of anything of which She is accused.”
The same revelation was given to Anne, the instructress of the maidens. That morning the priest and the instructress conferred with each other about the message, which both had received.
Being now certain, they repented of the deceit, into which they had been led, and called the Princess Mary, asking her pardon for having given credit to the false report of the girls and offering Her all the reparation necessary to defend Her from the persecution and the sufferings consequent upon it.
714.She that was the Mother and origin of humility, after listening to their words, answered the priest and the instructress: “My superiors, I am the one that deserves your reprehensions and I beseech you do not hold me unworthy of undergoing them, since I ask for them as most necessary to me.
The intercourse with my sisters, the other maidens, is most highly prized by me, and I do not wish to be deprived of it through my fault, since I owe them so much for having borne with me; and as a return for that benefit, I desire to serve them more faithfully; nevertheless if you command me anything else, I stand prepared to obey your will.”
This answer of the most holy Mary still more comforted and consoled the priest and the instructress; and they approved of her humble petition, but from that time on they attended to Her and observed Her with new reverence and affection.
The most humble Maiden begged to kiss the hand of the priest and of the matron, asking for their blessing according to her custom; with this they dismissed Her.
Just as the parched desire of the thirsty for drink is increased at the sight of clear water withdrawn beyond their reach, so was the heart of Mary our Mistress filled with yearning regret for the exercise of suffering.
Thirsting and burning for the divine love She feared lest through the watchful care of the priest and of the instructress, She should from thenceforward be deprived of the treasure of affliction.
715.Seeking solitude and speaking with God alone, She addressed Him: “Why, O Lord and most beloved Master, such severity with me?
Why such a long absence and such a forgetfulness of her, who cannot live without Thee?
And if in the protracted solitude and separation from thy sweet and loving presence, I was consoled by the pledges of thy affection, given to me in the afflictions and sufferings for thy sake, how shall I be able to live now in my dereliction without this solace ?
Why, O Lord, dost Thou so soon withdraw thy beneficent hand from me in refusing me this favor?
Who besides thyself could have changed the sentiments of the priests and of the instructress?
But I do not merit the benefit of their charitable reprehensions, nor am I worthy to bear affliction; for I am equally unworthy of thy most loving visit and delightful presence.
If I have not been able to please Thee, my Father and Lord, I will make amends for my negligence.
There can be no relief from the depression of my spirit as long as the joy of thy presence is wanting to my soul. But I continue to hope that thy divine pleasure, O my Spouse, be fulfilled in all things.”
716.The enlightenment of the priests and the instructress concerning Mary abated the persecutions of the maidens. The Lord also restrained them and prevented the demon from inciting them thereafter.
But the time, during which He absented Himself and during which He hid Himself from this heavenly spouse, lasted (wonderful to relate!) ten years; although the Most High interrupted this absence a few times by allowing the veil to fall from his face for the relief of his Beloved ; but it was not often that He dispensed this favor during that time, and He did it with less lavishness and tenderness than in the first years of her childhood.
This absence of the Lord was ordained for our Queen in order that She might, by actual exercise of all perfection, be made worthy for the dignity to which She was destined by the Most High.
For if She had continually enjoyed the vision of his Majesty in the manner described by us in the fourteenth chapter of this book, She could not have suffered according to the common order of a mere creature.
717.But during this retirement and absence of the Lord, although most holy Mary missed the intuitive and abstractive visions of the divine Essence and of the angels as mentioned above, her most holy soul and her faculties enjoyed more gifts of grace and more supernatural enlightenment, than all the saints ever attained or received. For in regard to this the hand of God never withdrew from Her.
But in comparison with the frequent visitations of the Lord in her first years, I call the state of her privation of his presence for such a long time, an absence and withdrawal of the Lord.
It commenced eight days before the death of her father, saint Joachim, and afterwards the persecution of hell began, followed by the persecutions on the part of creatures. They lasted until our Princess reached the age of twelve years.
Having passed this age, the holy angels on a certain day, without manifesting themselves, spoke to Her as follows : “Mary, the end of the life of thy holy mother Anne as ordained by the Most High, is now about to arrive, and his Majesty has resolved to free her from the prison of her mortal body and bring her labors to a happy fulfillment.”
718.At this unexpected and sorrowful message the heart of the affectionate Daughter was filled with compassion. Prostrating Herself in the presence of the Most High, She poured forth a fervent prayer for the happy death of her mother saint Anne in the following words:
“King of the ages, invisible and eternal Lord, immortal and almighty Creator of the Universe, although I am but dust and ashes and although I must confess, that I am in debt to thy greatness, I will not on that account be prevented from speaking to my Lord (Gen. 18, 17), and I pour out before thee my heart, hoping, O my God, that Thou wilt not despise her, who has always confessed thy holy name.
［经文〈创 18:17〉：上主说：我要作的事，岂能瞒着亚巴郎？ ］
Dismiss, O Lord, in peace thy servant, who has with invincible faith and confidence desired to fulfill thy divine pleasure.
Let her issue victoriously and triumphantly from the hostile combat and enter the portal of thy holy chosen ones; let thy powerful arm strengthen her; at the close of her mortal career, let that same right hand, which has helped her to walk in the path of perfection, assist her, and let her enter, O my Father, into the peace of thy friendship and grace, since she has always sought after it with an upright heart.”
719.The Lord did not respond expressly in words to this petition of his Beloved; but his answer was a marvelous favor, shown to Her and to her mother, saint Anne.
During that night his Majesty commanded the guardian angels of the most holy Mary to carry Her bodily to the sickbed of her mother and one of them to remain in her stead, assuming for this purpose an aerial body as a substitute for hers.
The holy angels obeyed the mandate of God and they carried their and our Queen to the house and to the room of her holy mother Anne.
Being thus brought to the presence of her mother, the heavenly Lady kissed her hand and said to her: “My mother and mistress, may the Most High be thy light and thy strength, and may He be blessed, since He has in his condescension not permitted me in my necessity to remain without the benefit of thy last blessing; may I then receive it, my mother, from thy hand.”
Holy Anne gave her last blessing to Mary and with overflowing heart also thanked the Lord for the great favor thus conferred upon Herself. For She knew the sacrament of her Daughter and Queen, and she did not forget to express her gratitude for the love, which Mary had shown her on this occasion.
720.Then our Princess turned toward her mother and comforted her against the approach of death; and among many other words of incomparable consolation, She spoke also the following: “Mother, beloved of my soul, it is necessary that we pass through the portal of death to the eternal life, which we expect; bitter and painful is the passage, but also profitable.
For it is instituted by the divine Goodness as the beginning of our security and rest; it satisfies by itself for the negligences and shortcomings of the creature in fulfilling the duties.
Accept death, O my mother; through it pay the common debt with joy of spirit, and depart in confidence to the company of the holy Patriarchs, Prophets, the just and the friends of God, who were our ancestors.
There await with them the beatitude, which the Most High will send to us through our Savior and his Redemption. The certainty of this hope will be thy consolation until we attain to the full possession of that which we expect.”
721.Saint Anne answered her Daughter with a return of love and in a spirit of joy worthy of herself and of such a Daughter on such an occasion.
In maternal tenderness she said: “Mary, my beloved Daughter, fulfill now thy obligation by not forgetting me in the presence of our Lord God and Creator and reminding Him of the need I have of his protection in this hour.
Remember what thou owest to her, who has conceived Thee and bore Thee in her womb nine months, who afterwards nourished Thee at her breast and has always held Thee in her heart.
Beseech the Lord, my Daughter, that He extend a hand of mercy toward me, his useless creature, who has her beginning only through his mercies, and that I may receive his blessing in this hour of my death; for I place my confidence and have always placed it altogether in his holy name.
Do not leave me, my Beloved, before Thou hast closed my eyes. Thou wilt be left an orphan and without the protection of man; but thou wilt live under the guardianship of the Most High; confide in the mercies which He has shown of old.
Daughter of my heart, walk in the path of the justifications of the Lord and ask his Majesty to govern thy aspirations and thy powers and to be thy Teacher in the holy law.
Do not leave the temple before choosing thy state of life, and let it be done only with the sound advice of the priests of the temple, and continue to pray to the Lord that He dispose of thy affairs according to his own pleasure.
Pray that, if it be his will to give Thee a spouse, he may be of the tribe of Juda and of the race of David. The possessions of thy father Joachim and of myself, which shall belong to Thee, share with the poor, with whom thou shouldst deal in loving generosity.
Keep thy secret hidden within thy Bosom and ask the Omnipotent without ceasing to show his mercy by sending his salvation and redemption through his promised Messiah.
Ask and beseech his infinite bounty to be thy protection, and may his blessing come over Thee together with mine.”
722.In the midst of such exalted and heavenly colloquies the blessed mother saint Anne felt the throes of death approaching and, reclining upon the throne of grace, that is, in the arms of her most holy Daughter Mary, she rendered her most pure soul to her Creator.
Having closed the eyes of her mother, as saint Anne had requested, and leaving the sacred body in position for burial, the Queen Mary was again taken up by the holy angels and restored to her place in the temple.
The Most High did not impede the force of her filial love, which naturally would cause a great and tender sorrow at the death of her mother and a sense of loneliness at being deprived of her assistance.
But these sorrows were most holy and perfect in our Queen, governed by the graces of her most prudent innocence and purity.
In the midst of them She gave praise to the Most High for the infinite mercies, which He had shown to her mother both in life and in death, while her sweet and loving complaints on account of the absence of the Lord continued unabated.
723.However this most holy Daughter could not know the full extent of the consolation afforded her mother in having Her present at her death.
For the Daughter was not aware of her own exalted dignity and the sacrament connected with Her, as was known to the mother.
This she had always kept secret, as the Most High had commanded her.
But finding at her bedside Her, who was the light of her eyes and of the whole world, and having the privilege of expiring in her arms, all the desires of her mortal life were fulfilled, making its end more happy than that of all the mortals up to that hour.
She died, not so much in the fullness of years as in the fullness of merits, and her most holy soul was placed by the angels in the bosom of Abraham, where she was recognized and reverenced by all the Patriarchs, Prophets and the just, who were in that place.
This most holy matron was naturally endowed with a great and generous heart, with a clear and aspiring intellect fervent and at the same time full of tranquillity and .
She was of medium stature, somewhat smaller than her Daughter, most holy Mary; her face was rather round, of a suffused whiteness, her countenance was always equable and composed, and finally She was the mother of Her, who was to be the Mother of God himself; this dignity in itself included many perfections.
Saint Anne lived fifty-six years, portioned off into the following periods; at the age of twenty-four she espoused saint Joachim and she remained without issue for twenty years; then in the forty-fourth year she gave birth to the most holy Mary, and of the twelve years which she lived during the lifetime of Mary, three were passed in her company and nine during her absence in the temple, which altogether make fifty-six years.
724.Concerning this great and admirable woman, as I have been informed, some grave authors assert, that saint Anne was married three times and that in each one of these marriages she was the mother of one of the three Marys; others have the contrary opinion.
The Lord has vouchsafed to me, solely on account of his goodness, great enlightenment concerning the life of this fortunate saint; yet never was it intimated to me that she was ever married except to saint Joachim, or that she ever had any other daughter besides Mary, the Mother of Christ.
Perhaps because it does not pertain to nor was necessary for the history which I am writing, information was not given to me whether the other Marys who are called her sisters, were or were not her cousins, that is daughters of the sister of saint Anne.
When her spouse saint Joachim died, she was in the forty-eighth year of her age, and the Most High selected and set her apart from the race of women, in order to make her the mother of Her, who was the Superior of all creatures, inferior only to God, and yet his Mother. Because of her having such a Daughter and of her being the grandmother of the Word made man, all the nations may call the most fortunate saint Anne blessed.
INSTRUCTION BY THE MOST HOLY QUEEN MARY.
725.My daughter, the most valuable science of man is to know how to resign himself entirely into the hands of his Creator, since He knows why he has formed him and for what end each man is destined.
Man’s sole duty is to live in obedience and in the love of his Lord. God will charge himself most solicitously with the care of those that thus confide in Him; He will take upon Himself the management of all the affairs and all the events of this life in order to draw blessings and benefits for those that thus trust in his fidelity.
He afflicts and corrects the just by adversities, He consoles and rejoices them with his favors, He inspires them with hope in his promises, and threatens them and inspires them with fear by his threats; He absents Himself in order to attract their love, He shows Himself to the souls in order to reward and preserve them in fervor, and in all these things He makes the lives of the chosen ones more delightful and beautiful.
All this happened to me in that which thou hast written of me; He visited me and prepared me in his mercy with many different kinds of blessings, difficulties and labors, persecutions of creatures, and the separation from my parents and from all men.
，726.In the midst of these various trials the Lord did not forget my weakness, for with the sorrow for the death of my mother, holy Anne, He combined the consolation and comfort of permitting me to be present at her death.
O my soul, how many blessings do men lose by not attaining to this wisdom! They hold themselves aloof from the divine Providence, which is powerful and sweet and unfailing, which measures the orbs of heaven and the elements; which counts the footsteps, discerns the thoughts, and disposes everything for the benefit of the creatures.
Instead of all this men are given over to their own solicitudes, which are inefficient and weak, blind, uncertain and inconsiderate. From this false beginning originate and follow irreparable evils for man; for he deprives himself of the divine protection and falls from the dignity of having his Creator as his Helper and Defender.
What is still worse, if by his carnal wisdom and by diabolical astuteness to which man resigns himself, he succeeds sometimes in obtaining what he seeks, he deems himself fortunate on account of this, his own misfortune!
And with sensible pleasure he imbibes the poison of eternal death in the deceitful delight, which he has gained, while incurring the alienation and abhorrence of his God.
727.Mind well, then, my daughter, this danger, and let thy whole solicitude be to cast thyself securely into the arms of thy provident God and Lord.
He being infinite in wisdom and power, loves thee much more than thou lovest thyself, and He knows and desires for thee greater goods, than thou ever canst learn to desire and request.
Confide in his goodness and in his promises, which do not admit of failure; remember what He says through his Prophet to the just: that it is well with man (Is. 3, 10) since God takes upon Himself his desires and cares, and charges Himself with them in order to deal with them according to his generosity.
［经文〈依撒意亚 3: 10〉：你们要说：“义人是有福的，因为他们必享受自己行为的善果。 ］
By means of this most secure confidence thou wilt even in this mortal life enjoy the blessedness of a tranquil and peaceful conscience; and although thou mayest find thyself surrounded by the tempestuous waves of trial and adversity which cast over thee the sorrows of death (Psalm 17, 5), and although the terrors of hell may surround Thee, suffer thou and hope in patience, so that thou err not from the portal of the grace and the good will of the Most High.
［经文〈圣咏 18:5〉：死亡的狂涛环围着我，凶恶的险波惊吓着我。 ］