The Lily Of Israel By The Abbe Gerbet. Part 13.


BUT, ere the Wise Men came to adore Him, Mary, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Mary, the gentle and humble, desired to take up her ordinary occupations, thus to veil the divine gifts bestowed upon her. As a simple woman, to whom legal purification might have become necessary, in order to wash away the stains which Eve had placed upon such as become both wife and mother, Mary bent her way toward the Temple, accompanied by her grave and dignified spouse, whose presence was safeguard and shield to her and to her Son. The holy Virgin was without spot, immaculate as a lily, perfect as the mystical rose of Sharon, but the wonders of her miraculous motherhood were long to remain hidden from the world.

When Mary entered the Temple, with her Son in her arms, an old man named Simeon—a man most righteous among the righteous—drew near. He had received a promise, through an angel, that he should not die until he had seen the Saviour of the world. When his eyes fell upon the Child, he advanced toward Him and extending his arms, exclaimed, in a trembling voice:

"Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word, in peace. Because my eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples. A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel." (St. Luke ii, 29-32.)

Uttering this canticle of love, the old man raised his trembling hands, and blessed Joseph, Mary, and the divine Infant. But twice he blessed Mary, saying: "Strengthen thy heart by prayer, for thine own soul a sword shall pierce on account of this Child !"

And Anna, daughter of Phanuel, who still lived within the sacred precincts of the Temple, as when Mary served with the consecrated virgins, came also to salute her.

"Behold the young shoot from the house of Jesse, which I promised to you when you left the shelter of the Temple. Do you remember, Mary?"

The Virgin recalled the words worked in embroidery upon the* girdle which Anna had given her and of which, at the time, she had thought but little.

"Your many days of holiness in the house of God have given you great knowledge," she replied.

Anna's eyes were suffused with tears. Putting her arms about the young Virgin, she blessed her.

"Great is the joy in thy heart, O Mary, because the Lord hath wrought glorious things within thee.

But fortify thyself, for on account of this Child thy heart will be pierced with an excess of grief."

"Peace!" said Mary, gently. "Let us leave for each day its own pain and suffering—doubting not that he who hopes in God will have strength for evils as they come."

Thus did she speak to show her trust in the Most High. But the mother-heart within was sorely troubled, and she left the Temple oppressed with sorrow, clasping her beautiful Child to her bosom, wishing, indeed, that she might hide Him therein, to shield and preserve Him from every threatening danger and suffering. The dreadful words of Simeon and Anna had partly opened the door of the future. The opprobrium, the torments, Calvary, the dying moments of that One so well-beloved, seemed to sting her very soul, her tender heart, even as a sharp-edged sword might pierce that heart to its core. At that trying moment she was almost ready to ask God to take her from this world ere that time arrived.

But who would suffer with that dear, that precious, that beloved Son, if His Mother shrank from sharing His grief and torture? And the holy Virgin, in whom were united all the simple and sublime virtues, strengthening herself with love, regained her usual calm by a tremendous effort.

"May the will of God be accomplished toward His Son, and toward me, and toward the whole world! May He sustain me that I may submit to it without a murmur. Who am I to resist God?"