V.–THE PASSING OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN OUT OF THIS WORLD.
Who can form an idea of the tears and lamentations of the holy Disciples when holy Mary told them she was about to leave them, and they were to be separated from their Mother! But the Blessed Virgin consoled them by saying: “My children, I do not leave you to abandon you, but to help you still more in Heaven. Be at peace! One day we shall meet again in Paradise never to be separated for all eternity.”
Who can form an idea of the tears and lamentations of the holy Disciples at the sad announcement that holy Mary was leaving them, and at the thought that soon they were to be separated from their Mother? All then, weeping, exclaimed, “Then, O Mother, thou art already about to leave us. It is true that this world is not a place worthy of or fit for thee; and as for us, we are unworthy to enjoy the society of the Mother of God; but, remember, thou art our Mother; hitherto thou hast enlightened us in our doubts; thou hast consoled us in our afflictions; thou hast been our strength in persecutions; and now, how canst thou abandon us, leaving us alone in the midst of so many enemies and so many conflicts, deprived of thy consolations? We have already lost on earth Jesus, our Master and Father, Who has ascended into Heaven; until now we have found consolation in thee, our Mother; and now, how canst thou also leave us orphans without father or mother? Our own sweet Lady, either remain with us, or take us with thee.” St. John Damascene makes the loving Queen speak sweetly thus: “No, my children, this is not according to the will of God. Be satisfied to do that which He has decreed for me and for you. To you it yet remains to labour on earth for the glory of your Redeemer, and to make up your eternal crown. I do not leave you to abandon you, but to help you still more in Heaven by my intercession with God. Be satisfied. I commend the holy Church to you; I commend redeemed souls to you; let this be my last farewell, and the only remembrance I leave you. Execute it if you love me, labour for the good of souls and for the glory of my Son; for one day we shall meet again in Paradise, never more for all eternity to be separated.”
The Blessed Virgin then begged them to give burial to her body after death; blessed them, and desired St. John; as St. John Damascene relates, to give after her death two of her gowns to two virgins who had served her for some time. She then decently composed herself on her poor little bed, where she laid herself to await death, and with it the meeting with the Divine Spouse, Who shortly was to come and take her with Him to the Kingdom of the Blessed. Behold, she already feels in her heart a great joy, the forerunner of the coming of the Bridegroom, which inundates her with a new and unaccustomed sweetness. The holy Apostles, seeing that Mary was already on the point of leaving this world, renewing their tears, all threw themselves on their knees around her bed; some kissed her holy feet, some sought a special blessing from her, some recommended a particular want, and all wept bitterly; for their hearts were pierced with grief at being obliged to separate themselves for the rest of their lives from their beloved Lady. And she, the most loving Mother, compassionated all, and consoled each one; to some promising her patronage, blessing others with particular affection, and encouraging others to the work of the conversion of the world; especially, she called St. Peter to her, and as head of the Church and vicar of her Son, recommended to him in a particular manner the propagation of the Faith, promising him at the same time her especial protection in Heaven. But more particularly did she wish St. John to come to her, who more than any other was grieved at this moment when he had to part with his holy Mother; and the most gracious Lady, remembering the affection and attention with which this holy disciple had served her during all the years she had remained on earth since the death of her Son, said: “My own John, I thank thee for all the assistance thou hast afforded me. My son, be assured of it, I shall not be ungrateful. If I now leave thee, I go to pray for thee. Remain in peace in this life until we meet again in Heaven, where I await thee. Never forget me. In all thy wants call me to thy aid, for I will never forget thee, my beloved son. I bless thee. I leave thee my blessing. Remain in peace. Farewell!”