III. — THE PASSING OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN OUT OF THIS WORLD.
After the Ascension of her Divine Son, Mary remained, indeed, willingly on this earth, knowing that such was the will of God, but she could not but feel the pain of being far from the sight of her beloved Son. Hence she was sending up continual sighs to her Lord, saying with the Psalmist: Who will give me wings like a dove, and I will fly away and be at rest?
Let us now consider how Mary’s blessed death took place.
After the Ascension of Jesus Christ, she 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 (Luke xii. 34), 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.
Tauler says that Heaven was the dwelling-place of the 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 mirror 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 resting-place of her heart.
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 at 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 Gethsemanai, where her Son began His Passion; then the Praetorium 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 Sepulchre 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 sufficient 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 be at rest? (Ps. liv. 7). Who will give me wings like a dove, that I may fly to my God, and there find my repose? As the heart panteth after the fountains of water: so my soul panteth after thee, O God (Ps. xli. 1). As the wounded stag pants for the fountain, so does my soul, wounded by Thy love, O my God, desire and sigh after Thee.
Yes, indeed, the sighs of this holy turtle-dove could not but deeply penetrate the Heart of her God, Who indeed so tenderly loved her. The voice of the turtle is heard in our land (Cant. ii. 12). Wherefore being unwilling to defer any longer the so-much-desired consolation of His beloved, behold, He graciously hears her desire, and calls her to His kingdom.