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from honours, loving an humble and abjeet life, though the honours due to a queen were hers, as she was descended from the kings of Isracl. The Blessed Virgin herself revealed to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, that when her parents left her in the temple, she resolved in her heart to have no father, and to love no other good than God.
Saint John saw Mary represented in that woman, clothed with the sun, who held the moon under her feet. "And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet."1 Interpreters explain the moon to signify the goods of this world, which, like her, are uncertain and changeable. Mary never had these goods in her heart, but always despised them, and trampled them under her feet; living in this world as a solitary turtle-dove in a desert, never allowing her affection to centre itself on any earthly thing; so that of her it was said: "The voice of the turtle is heard in our land."And elsewhere: "Who is she that goeth up by the desert?"3 Whence the Abbot Rupert says, 'Thus didst thou go up by the desert, that is, having a solitary soul.'4 Mary then, having lived always and in all things detached from the earth, and united to God alone, death was not bitter, but, on the contrary, very sweet and dear to her; since it united her more closely to God in heaven, by an eternal bond.
Secondly.—Peace of mind renders the death of the just precious. Sins committed during life are the worms which so cruelly torment and gnaw the hearts of poor dying sinners, who, about to appear before the Divine tribunal, see themselves at that moment surrounded by their sins, which terrify them, and cry out, according to Saint Bernard, 'We are thy works, we will not abandon thee.'5 Mary certainly could not be tormented at death by any remorse of conscience, for she was always pure, and always free from the least shade of actual or original sin, so much so, that of her it was said: "Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee."1 From the moment that she had the use of reason, that is, from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception, in the womb of Saint Anne, she began to love God with all her strength, and continued to do so, always advancing more and more, throughout her whole life, in love and perfection. All her thoughts, desires, and affections were of and for God alone: she never uttered a word, made a movement, cast a glance, or breathed, but for God and His glory; and never departed a step, or detached herself for a single moment, from the Divine love. Ah, how did all the lovely virtues she had practised during life, surround her blessed bed in the happy hour of her death! That faith so constant; that loving confidence in God; that unconquerable patience in the midst of so many sufferings; that humility in the midst of so many privileges; that modesty; that meekness; that tender compassion for souls; that insatiable zeal for the glory of God; and, above all, that most perfect love towards Him, with that entire uniformity to the Divine will: all, in a word, surrounded her, and consoling her said: 'We are thy works, we will not abandon thee.' Our Lady and Mother, we are all daughters of thy beautiful heart; now that thou art leaving this miserable life we will not leave thee, we also will go, and be thy eternal accompaniment and honour in Paradise, where, by our means, thou wilt reign as Queen of all men, and of all angels.
i Et signum magnum apparuit in cselo: Mulier amicta sole, et luna sub pedibm ejus.—Apoc. xii, 1.
2 Vox turturis audita est in terra nostra.—Cant, ii, 12.
s Quse est ista quse ascendit per desertum, fee.—Cant, iii, 6. * Talis ascendisti per desertum, idest, animam habens valde sotitariam.—.Ub. iii in Cant. cap. iii. » Opera tua sumus non te deseremus.
In the third place, the certainty of eternal salvation renders death sweet. Death is called a passage; for by death we pass from a short to eternal life. And as the dread of those is indeed great, who die in doubt of their salvation, and who approach the solemn moment with wellgrounded fear of passing into eternal death; thus, on the other hand, the joy of the Saints is indeed great at the close of life, hoping with some security to go and possess God in heaven. A nun of the order of Saint Teresa, when the doctor announced to her her approaching death, was so filled with joy that she exclaimed, 'Oh, how is it, sir, that you announce me such weleome news, and demand no fee?' Saint Lawrence Justinian being at the point of death, and perceiving his servants weeping round him, said: 'Away, away with your tears; this is no time to mourn.' l Go elsewhere to weep; if you would remain with me rejoice, as I rejoice, in seeing the gates of heaven open to me that I may be united to my God. Thus also, a Saint Peter of Aleantara, a Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, and so many other Saints, on hearing that death was at hand, burst forth into exclamations of joy and gladness. And yet, they were not certain of being in possession of Divine grace, nor were they secure of their own sanctity, as Mary was. But what joy must the Divine Mother have felt in receiving the news of her approaching death! she who had the fullest certainty of the possession of Divine grace, elpecially after the Angel Gabriel had assured her that she was full of it, and that she already possessed God. "Hail full of grace, the Lord is with thee . . . thou hast found grace."3 And well did she herself know that her heart was continually burning with Divine love, so that, as Bernardine de Bustis says: 'Mary by a singular privilege granted to no other Saint, loved, and was always actually loving God, in every moment of her life, with such ardour, that Saint Bernard declares, it required a continual miracle to preserve her life in the midst of such flames.
l Tota pulehra ea amica mea, et macula nou est in te.—Cant, iv, 7.
Of Mary it had already been asked in the sacred Canticles: "Who is she that goeth up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke, of aromatical spices, of myrrh, and frankincense, and all the powders of the perfumer ?"3 Her entire mortification typified by the myrrh, her fervent prayers signified by the incense, and all her holy virtues, united to her perfect love for God, kindled in her a flame so great, that her beautiful soul, wholly devoted to and consumed by Divine love, arose continually to God as a pillar of smoke, breathing forth on every side a most sweet odour. 'Such smoke, nay even such a pillar of smoke,' says the Abbot Rupert, ' hast thou, O Blessed Mary, breathed forth a sweet odour to the most High.'i Eustachius expresses it in still stronger terms: 'A pillar of smoke, because burning interiorly as a holocaust with the flame of Divine love, she sent forth a most sweet odour.'2 As the loving Virgin lived, so did she die. As Divine love gave her life, so did it cause her death; for the Doctors and holy fathers of the Church generally say she died of no other infirmity than pure love; Saint Ildephonsus affirming that Mary either ought not to die or only die of love.
i Abite, abite cum lacrymis vestris: non est tempus lacrymarum.
3 Ave 'rratia plena: Dominus tecum . . . invenisti enim gratiam apud Dean. —Luc. i, 28, SO.
3 Quse est ista quse ascendit per desertum, sicut virgula fi1mi ex aromsttbus myrrha, ct thuris, et universi pulveris pigmentarii ?—Cant, iii, 6.
Second Point.—But now let us see how her blessed death took place. After the ascension of Jesus Christ, Mary remained on earth to attend to the propagation of the faith. Hence the disciples of our Lord had recourse to her, and she solved their doubts, comforted them in their persecutions, and encouraged them to labour for the Divine glory, and the salvation of redeemed souls. She willingly remained on earth, knowing that such was the will of God for the good of the Church; but she could not but feel the pain, of being far from the presence and sight of her beloved Son who had ascended to heaven. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."3 said the Redeemer. Where any one believes his treasure and his happiness to be, there he always holds the love and desires of his heart fixed. If Mary then loved no other good than Jesus, He being in heaven, all her desires were in heaven. Taulerus says, that ' Heaven was the cell of the heavenly and most Blessed Virgin Mary; for, being there with all her desires and affections, she made it her continual abode. Her school was eternity; for she was always detached and free from temporal possessions. Her teacher was Divine truth; for her whole life was guided by this alone. Her book was the purity of her own conscience, in which she always found occasion to rejoice in the Lord. Her mivror was the Divinity; for she never admitted any representations into her soul, but such as were transformed into, and clothed with God; that so she might always conform herself to His will. Her ornament was devotion; for she attended solely to her interior sanctification, and was always ready to fulfil the Divine commands. Her repose was union, with God; for He alone was her treasure, and the restingplace of her heart.'1 The most holy Virgin consoled her loving heart during this painful separation, by visiting, as it is related, the holy places of Palestine, where her Son had been during His life. She frequently visited—at one time the stable of Bethlehem where her Son was born, at another the workshop of Nazareth, where her Son had lived so many years poor and despised; now the garden of Gethsemani, where her Son commenced His Passion; then the pretorium of Pilate, where He was scourged, and the spot on which He was crowned with thorns; but she visited most frequently the Mount of Calvary, where her Son expired; and the Holy Sepulehre, in which she had finally left Him: thus did the most loving Mother soothe the pains of her cruel exile. But this could not be enough to satisfy her heart, which was unable to find perfect repose in this world. Hence she was continually sending up sighs to her Lord, exclaiming with David: "Who will give me wings like a dove, and I will fly and
i Talis fumns, iino talis fumi virgula, tu 0 Beata Maria, suavem odorein spirasti Altissimo.—Lib. iii in Cant. c. iii.
2 Virgula fumi, quia concremata intus in holocaustum inccudio Diviui amons, ex ea flagrabat suavissimus odor. t
* Ubi enim thesanrus Tester est, ibi et cor vestrum erit.—Luc. xii, 34.
i Coelestis . . . luijus ac Bcatissiuue Virginia Maris e cella, fuit cselum: in quo cum universis des,deriis suis tota inclusa fuit. Schola illius, fuit seternitas. Enimvero a rchus temporalibus prorsus remota et libera erat. Psedagogus ejus Divina veritas fuit. Cuncta nainque ipsius vita, juxta hane solam dtrigebat. Liber ejus, conscicntise ipsius fuit puritas, in qua nunquam non inveniebat mule tielectaret in "Domino. Speculum illius, Divinitas fuit. Nullas namque imagines, nisi in Dcum transformatas, et Dcum indutas, in sc recepit. Ornatus ejus, devotio ilhus fuit. Soli quippe interiori vacabat homini. Quies ejus, unitas tpsius cum Deo fuit: quamquiclem cordis illius locus et thesanrus, solus Dcus erat.—Serm. tic Xnt. li. M. V .