Thursday, August 13, 2009
The Death of Mary
Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
From the Glories of Mary, here is an account of Mary's death, as written by Saint Alphonsus Liquori. It's a great meditation for the feast of the Assumption which is just two days away.
Some days before Mary's death, Our Lord sent her the Archangel Gabriel, the same that announced to her that she was that blessed woman chosen to be the Mother of God: "My Lady and my Queen," said the angel, "God has already graciously heard thy holy desires, and has sent me to tell thee to prepare thyself to leave the earth; for He wills thee in heaven. Come, then, to take possession of thy kingdom, for I and all its holy inhabitants await and desire thee."
On this happy annunciation, what else could our most humble and most holy Virgin do, but with the most profound humility answer in the same words in which she had answered Saint Gabriel when he announced to her that she was to become the Mother of God: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord... May the will of my Lord and my God be ever accomplished in me."
After receiving this welcome intelligence Mary imparted it to Saint John, who heard the news with grief and tender feelings, he who for so many years had attended upon her as a son, and had enjoyed the heavenly conversation of this Holy Mother.
Mary then once more visited the holy places of Jerusalem, tenderly taking leave of them, and especially of Mount Calvary, where her beloved Son had died. She then retired to her poor cottage, there to prepare for death.
During this time the angels did not cease their visits to their beloved Queen, consoling themselves with the thought that they would soon see her crowned in heaven. Many authors conclude that before her death, the apostles and also many disciples who were scattered in different parts of the world, were miraculously assembled in Mary's room, and when she saw all these, her dear children, in her presence, she thus addressed them: "My beloved children , through love for you and to help you, my Son left me on this earth. The holy faith is now spread throughout the world, already the fruit of the divine seed is grown up; hence, my Lord seeing that my assistance on earth is no longer necessary, and compassionating my grief in being separated from Him, has graciously listened to my desire to join Him in heaven. Remain here then, to labour for His glory. To you it yet remains to labour on earth for the glory of your Redeemer, and to make up your eternal crown. If I leave you, my heart remains with you, the great love I bear you I shall carry with me and always preserve. I go to Paradise to pray for you."
Mary then begged them to give burial to her body after death, blessed them, and desired Saint John to give after her death two of her gowns to two virgins who had served her for some time. Mary then decently composed herself on her poor little bed where she laid herself to await death; and with it, the meeting of the Divine Spouse.
Then the host of angels came 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 consoled at the sight of the heavenly spirits, but she did not yet see her beloved Jesus, who was the love of her heart. Hence, Mary 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. Tell Him to come, and to come quickly, for I am dying with the vehemence of my desire to see Him." Canticles, 5:8
Saint John Damascene relates that Our Lord Himself gave his Mother the Viaticum, saying with tender love," Receive, O, My Mother, from My hands, that same body that thou gavest to Me."
And Mary, 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 didst thou create rich in so many graces, and by a singular privilege didst thou preserve from original sin. I commend to thee my body, from which didst thou deign to take thy flesh and thy 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 loves them more than I do, console them, bless them and give them strength to do great things for your glory."
The life of Mary, being now at its close, the most delicious music, as Saint Jerome relates, was heard in the room where she lay, and according to a revelation of Saint Bridget, the room was filled with a most brilliant light. This caused the holy apostles to burst forth in tears and prayers. And as a light going out gives off one last bright flash, 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 amorous 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 glories of the blessed, where she is now seated, and will be seated for all of eternity as the Queen of Paradise.