The Lily Of Israel By The Abbe Gerbet. Part 17.


THE elders of the city showed Joseph a small cottage which chanced to be empty, and the field adjoining it, telling him that he might take possession of these while he cared to remain with them. During the first few days these truly charitable people helped the exiled family in all necessary things, and when there was finally some semblance of order, when the little cottage was cleaned and made ready, and the field partly sown, Joseph began to look about him for work at his trade. This was soon forthcoming. Mary, carefully concealing her miraculous maternity, gave up her days, even as she had at Nazareth, to the cares and duties of her humble station as the wife of Joseph the carpenter. She, whom the Wise Men of the East had come to visit; she before whom the angels of God had bent ill homage; she who had given birth to the Son of God, and carried Him in her arms; she, the chosen one of all Israel, walked among the women of her race, as simple a woman as they, as devoted a mother. Many of her hours were spent among them. She washed her linen at the fountain as they did, and in the evening, by the brilliant light of the moon, she spun wool and flax before her cottage door, and fashioned the tunics of Joseph and her Son. She had a pleasant word for all, conversing not of the wonderful favors God had bestowed upon her, but of the blessing which may be had by following His commandments.

Her example gave point to her counsels. Mary possessed extraordinary mildness, but her gentle manner did not lessen her influence. She was just in everything, but just with an amiable kindness, and her soul was full of that holy, heavenly affection which is often called charity, and sometimes sympathy, and which, in order to be of true comfort, must really feel and understand sorrow. The women of her neighborhood dearly loved her.

"In Mary we possess an angel," they said. "In her presence all trouble is changed to joy. Young as she is, she seems like a mother to all of us, superior to us in kindness and in virtue."

Though concealed in obscurity, yet her virtues betrayed her, revealing the true loftiness of her nature—as the beautiful violet, hidden by its leaves and shrinking from the gaze of men, may be discovered by its delicious perfume. Mary, hidden from the world, was the Mother of God. She adored Him. He was hers—He, the sovereign Lord of the universe—and the days went by in such ecstasy of joy that nothing in our existence can give us the faintest idea of her happiness.

Tears of intense rapture would fill her eyes as she gazed upon Him.

"Ah!" she would exclaim. "This beautiful One, this gentle Child, whose intelligence and sweet smile of affection would be the blessing of every mother! This Child, whom every mother envies me without knowing that He is anything more than x the son of a poor workman and a simple woman! This Child is my God! This Child is the Sovereign of the world! This Child is the Master, the Creator, before whom all must tremble!

"O Intelligence of God! O Word of God! O Infinite Love! O uncreated Word made flesh, Thou art mine! This precious and dear life is entrusted to me! Before His birth into this world He was mine! I can kneel before my God at any hour of the day or night. What has happened? What wondrous law of love will govern this world since I, a weak mortal, carry in my arms that powerful God who struck with thunder the Levite Oza for having dared to place his hand upon the falling ark of the Covenant!" (I Paralip. xiii, 9.)

And the holy Virgin humbled herself before this tremendous mystery.

Nor is this to be marveled at. Who among us can realize with what a feeling of adoration she looked upon her Son, and what delight she experienced at His slightest caresses? He whom the heavens can not contain was in her arms; He whom angels contemplated on bended knees slept upon her bosom, drew His life from her. And the first word which will issue from His lips will be the word Mother . . . and He will address it to her  . . to one of His creatures!

What heart would be capable of containing such joy? What heart could be sufficiently strong to hold such exalted happiness? It was necessary that God should prepare it. Weak humanity like ours would break under so great, so incomprehensible a favor. For the Virgin loved her Son as a Child, as a Father, as a God.

Yes, her heart would have burst under the intensity of such a love if God had not supplied her with the strength to endure it.

O Mary! Bestow upon us one drop, one single drop of that sea of love with which thou wert overflowing! It would help us to sing the praises of thy Son. Without thy assistance, beloved Mother, we feel ourselves unworthy to pronounce His holy name.