for the Public Life
DURING THE FOUR YEARS between the death of St. Joseph and
the beginning of Christ's public ministry, the Blessed Virgin did not
have to work so much and was able to spend more time in prayer. Jesus
and Mary usually took only one meal a day, at about six o'clock in the
evening. Frequently they ate nothing but bread, although sometimes Mary
added fish or fruit or vegetables. She served her Divine Son on her
Often in the privacy of their home Mary would remain prostrate on the
ground, adoring her Lord, until He told her to rise, and then with
tears of reverence, love and humility she would kiss His feet or hands.
She did all the housework for Him with joy and eager zeal, and whenever
her Angels would begin her tasks before she did, she would order them
to stop, so that she could do the work herself. At such times she would
say to them: "My friends, permit me to do this work, since I can
thereby gain merits which you, do not need. I know the value of such
work which the world despises, and the Lord has given me this knowledge
in order that I may perform it myself and not let it be done by
At work or in prayer she composed and sang lovely hymns in honor of her
Once when Mary was almost overcome at the thought of the future
ingratitude of men toward their Saviour, Jesus ordered the Angels to
console her by singing canticles of praise to God for her. Then Christ
gave His Mother a still deeper understanding of the mystery of sin and
redemption, and He encouraged her by revealing to her the great number
of the predestined Apostles and Saints of the Church.
As the time for His public ministry approached, Jesus and Mary prayed
more and more fervently together for the Apostles whom He was soon to
call to His service. The Lord also showed His Mother how He was going
to conduct His preaching and how she was to co-operate with Him and
help Him to found His Church. Some time after the death of St. Joseph,
Jesus and Mary decided to move to an isolated cottage near Capharnaum
on the northern shore of the Lake of Galilee. When Jesus began to spend
most of His time in prayer and traveling in preparation for His public
ministry, some of the inhabitants of Nazareth criticized Him. He
therefore accepted this cottage by the lakeside when a man named Levi
who lived in Capharnaum offered it to Him, for He would be able to meet
there more conveniently with His future disciples. Jesus and Mary made
several trips between Nazareth and Capharnaum, transporting their
modest belongings on a donkey. Finally they thoroughly cleaned and then
closed up their house in Nazareth, although later they stayed there
whenever the Saviour preached in Nazareth or its surroundings.
... One day Jesus said to her:
"My dearest Mother, the time has come when, in accordance with the will
of My Eternal Father, I must begin to prepare the hearts of
certain persons to receive the light of My teaching. In this work I
want you to follow Me and assist Me."
Henceforth Mary accompanied Him on many of the short trips which He
took to the towns and villages of Galilee. Usually she humbly
walked behind her Son along the country paths. And she stood silently
praying beside Him during conversations with men and women, while He
announced: to them the imminent coming of the Messias, assuring them;
that the Promised One was already in the world and in the Land of
Israel. Thus He became acquainted with those whom He knew to be
prepared and able to accept the Truth.
In His appearance Jesus showed so much beauty, grace, peace, kindness
and gentleness of manner, and His way of speaking was so vivid and
strong, that with the help of Divine grace many persons decided to give
up their sinful ways of life and thus became capable of believing that
the Messias had already begun His reign.
In addition, usually accompanied by Mary, Jesus visited the sick and
the grief-stricken, especially among the poor. He restored health of
body to many, and assisted the dying, giving them true peace of mind.
Mary did the same, particularly among the women.
During this preparatory ministry Jesus and His Mother worked alone
together, accompanied only by Angels. Some of the nights they passed in
prayer in the open. Often they begged for their food, and sometimes the
Angels brought it to them.
Meanwhile in the desert, St. John, the son of Elizabeth and Zacharias,
having reached the age of thirty, was commanded by the Lord to come
forth and prepare the way for the Messias as a forerunner. John the
Baptist was intensely devoted to the Mother of God, for until he was
nine years old she had regularly sent him food by her Angels, and since
then she had often told them to give him news of his Lord, Whom he
fervently loved and worshipped from afar.
Now St. John left the desert and appeared among the people of Israel,
preaching penance and baptizing on the banks of the River Jordan. He
was clothed in a camel skin, with a leather belt. His feet were bare,
and his features thin and ascetical. Yet in manner he was graceful,
modest and kind, though he could be terrifying to the proud, the
hard-hearted and the greedy.
One day, when Jesus was thirty years old, Mary heard a Voice of
marvelous power say to her:
"Mary, My Daughter and My Spouse, offer your Son to Me as a sacrifice."
Realizing that the time had at last come for the redemption of mankind
through the Public Life and Death of Christ, she replied generously:
"Eternal King and Almighty God, Lord of all, He is Thine and so am I.
What then can I offer Thee that is not more Thine than mine? Yet
because He is the life of my soul and the soul of my life, to yield Him
into the hands of His enemies at the cost of His life is a great
sacrifice. However, let not my will but Thine be done. I offer up my
Son in order that He may pay the debt contracted by the children of
The Blessed Trinity immediately rewarded and consoled her by a vision
in which she was shown the glory and the good that would result from
Jesus' sacrifice and hers. When she came out of this rapture, Mary was
prepared to endure the pain of being separated from her beloved Son and
Jesus therefore called her and said: "My Mother, give Me your consent
to accomplish the will of My eternal Father, for the time has come when
I must begin My work for men. Although I must now leave you alone for
awhile, My blessing and powerful protection will remain with you. Later
I will return and claim your help and company in My task."
Both Jesus and Mary were so deeply moved in this moment of parting that
they were weeping quietly, and the Lord tenderly placed His arms around
His Mother's shoulders. Among other things He told her that He would
still go to Jerusalem three times for the Passover, and that the third
time her heart would suffer cruelly. Then Mary fell at His feet and
said with intense sorrow and reverence:
"My Lord, I offer Thee my own will as a sacrifice. And as Thy Mother I
ask only that I may be allowed to share Thy labors and Thy Cross."
They went to the door together, and Mary kissed her Son's feet as He
gave her His blessing. Then Jesus set out on His journey to the River
Jordan, where John was baptizing.
During the absence of Christ, Mary spent nearly all her time in prayer,
shut up in her house. Many times each day, in order to practice penance
and reverence for God, she genuflected and prostrated herself on the
floor, interceding for sinners by her prayers and mortifications. The
rest of the time she conversed with her holy angels, whom the Lord had
commanded to attend her in visible form. They kept her informed of all
her Son's actions and prayers, so that she was able to pray with Him
whenever He prayed, in the same posture and with the same words.
Meanwhile she continued to visit the sick and the poor in her
In addition to the detailed reports of Jesus' doings which she received
from the angels, the Blessed Virgin was also able to witness in visions
all the most important incidents of the public life of Christ, no
matter where He was at the time. Thus she saw Him being baptized by
John and then go up into the mountainous desert and begin His forty
days' fast. Mary then locked the door of her house, and entering her
little oratory she began to pray and fast with her Son, imitating and
co-operating with Him in His work for mankind. After forty days of
uninterrupted prayer and fasting, she witnessed the threefold
temptation of Christ by Satan, and from her retreat she likewise
entered into conflict with the Tempter. When she saw the devil carrying
Jesus from place to place she wept, but soon she rejoiced over the
victory of the Lord. Then her Angels brought her some of the heavenly
food which they administered to Jesus at the same time, and with them
came a number of birds that had kept Him company during His fast, and
they gathered around her and sang sweetly while she ate the miraculous
food, which quickly restored her strength, for Jesus had sent it to her
with His blessing.
The Saviour now spent several months preaching and preparing some of
the men and women who were to become His disciples. In order to imitate
Him, Mary left her solitude and devoted nearly all her time to visiting
on foot some sick and poor women and children, instructing and healing
and consoling them. ...
BLESSED VIRGIN SAID TO ST. BRIDGET OF SWEDEN:
are not able to see my Son as He is in Heaven, but let me describe to
you His physical appearance as He was in the world. His features were
so beautiful that no one looked at His Face without feeling filled with
joy and consolation, even when depressed. Yes, even the wicked were
free from worldly gloom while looking at Him. Consequently persons
suffering from sorrow used to say: 'Let us go and see Mary's Son, and
we shall be without our grief at least that long.'
"When He was
twenty years old, He reached His full growth in manly stature and
strength. He had no superfluous flesh. His muscles were well-developed.
And He was powerfully built. His hair, eyebrows and beard were light
brown. His beard measured the width of a hand. His forehead was neither
prominent nor retreating; but straight and erect. His nose was
well-proportioned, neither large nor small. His eyes were so clear and
pure that even His enemies enjoyed looking at Him. His lips were not
thick but light red. His chin did not jut out and was not overlong, but
pleasing and finely proportioned. His cheeks were moderately full, and
His complexion was a clear white mixed with fresh red. He held Himself
straight and erect, and there was not a spot on His whole Body."