VI. — THE HOLY DEATH OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY.
The death of Mary is now at hand. Divine Love, with its vehement and blessed flames, had almost entirely consumed her, and the heavenly phoenix is already losing her life in the midst of this fire. Wrapped in the flames of Divine love, and in the midst of her sighs of love, Mary gave a last sigh of still more ardent love of God, and breathing forth her soul, expired.
The death of Mary is now at hand; Divine love, with its vehement and blessed flames, had already almost entirely consumed the vital spirits; the heavenly phoenix is already losing her life in the midst of this fire. Then the host of Angels come in choirs to meet her, as if to be ready for the great triumph with which they were to accompany her to Paradise. Mary was indeed consoled at the sight of these holy spirits, but was not fully consoled; for she did not yet see her beloved Jesus, Who was the whole love of her heart. Hence she often repeated to the Angels who descended to salute her: I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my Beloved, that you tell him that I languish with love (Cant. v. 8). Holy Angels, O fair citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, you come in choirs kindly to console me; and you all console me with your sweet presence. I thank you; but you do not fully satisfy me, for as yet I do not see my Son coming to console me. Go, if you love me, return to Paradise, and on my part tell my Beloved that I languish with love. Tell Him to come, and to come quickly, for I am dying with the vehemence of my desire to see Him.
But, behold, Jesus is now come to take His Mother to the Kingdom of the Blessed. It was revealed to St. Elizabeth that her Son appeared to Mary before she expired with His Cross in His hands, to show the special glory he had obtained by the Redemption; having, by His death, made acquisition of that great creature, who for all eternity was to honour Him more than all men and Angels. St. John Damascene relates that our Lord Himself gave her the Viaticum, saying with tender love “Receive, O my Mother, from my hands that same Body that thou gavest to me.” And the Mother, having received with the greatest love that last Communion, with her last breath said: “My Son, into Thy hands do I commend my spirit. I commend to Thee this soul, which from the beginning Thou didst create rich in so many graces, and by a singular privilege didst preserve from the stain of original sin. I commend to Thee my body, from which Thou didst deign to take Thy flesh and blood. I also commend to Thee these my beloved children [speaking of the holy disciples, who surrounded her]; they are grieved at my departure. Do Thou, Who lovest them more than I do, console them; bless them, and give them strength to do great things for Thy glory.”
The life of Mary is now closing. The most delicious music, as St. Jerome relates, was heard in the apartment where she lay; and, according to a revelation of St. Bridget, the room was filled with a brilliant light. The sweet music, and the unaccustomed splendour, warned the holy Apostles that Mary was then departing. This caused them again to burst forth in tears and prayers; and raising their hands, with one voice they exclaimed: “O Mother, thou already goest to Heaven! Thou leavest us! Give us thy last blessing, and never forget us miserable creatures!” Mary, turning her eyes around upon all, as if to bid them a last farewell, said: “Adieu, my children; I bless you; fear not, I will never forget you.” And now death came; not indeed clothed in mourning and grief, as it does to others, but adorned with light and gladness. But what do we say? Why speak of death? Let us rather say that Divine love came, and cut the thread of that noble life. And as a light, before going out, gives a last and brighter flash than ever, so did this beautiful creature, on hearing her Son’s invitation to follow Him, wrapped in the flames of love, and in the midst of her loving sighs, give a last sigh of still more ardent love, and breathing forth her soul, expired. Thus was that great soul, that beautiful dove of the Lord, loosened from the bands of this life; thus did she enter into the glory of the Blessed, where she is now throned, and will be throned, Queen of Paradise, for all eternity.
Mary, then has left this world; she is now in Heaven. Thence does this compassionate Mother look down upon us who are still in this valley of tears. She pities us, and, if we wish it, promises to help us. Let us always beseech her by the merits of her blessed death, to obtain us a happy death; and should such be the pleasure of God, let us beg her to obtain us the grace to die on a Saturday, which is a day dedicated in her honour, or on a day of a Novena, or within the Octave of one of her Feasts; for this she has obtained for so many of her clients, and especially for St. Stanislaus Kostka, for whom she obtained that he should die on the Feast of her Assumption.
O sweetest Lady and Mother, thou hast already left the earth and reached thy kingdom, where, as Queen, thou art enthroned above all the choirs of Angels, as the Church sings: She is exalted above the choirs of Angels to the celestial kingdom. We well know that we sinners are not worthy to possess thee in this valley of darkness; but we also know that thou, in thy greatness, hast never forgotten us miserable creatures, and that by being exalted to so great glory thou hast never lost compassion for us poor children of Adam; nay, even that it is increased in thee. From the high throne, then, to which thou art exalted, turn thy compassionate eyes upon us, and pity us. Remember, also, that in leaving this world thou didst promise not to forget us. Behold us and succour us! See in the midst of what tempests and dangers we constantly are, and shall be until the end of our lives. By the merits of thy happy death obtain us holy perseverance in the Divine friendship, that we may finally quit this life in God’s grace; and thus we also shall one day come to kiss thy feet in Paradise, and unite with the blessed Spirits in praising thee and singing thy glories as thou deservest. Amen.