Already Jesus, Mary and Joseph had settled in Nazareth and thus changed their poor and humble dwelling into a heaven. In order to describe the mysteries and sacraments which passed between the Divine Child and His purest Mother before His twelfth year and later on, until His public preaching, many chapters and many books would be required; and in them all, I would be able to relate but the smallest part in view of the vastness of the subject and the insignificance of such an ignorant woman as I am. Even with the light given me by this great Lady I can speak of only a few incidents and must leave the greater part unsaid. It is not possible or befitting to us mortals to comprehend all these mysteries in this life, since they are reserved for the future life.
Shortly after Their return from Egypt to Nazareth the Lord resolved to try His most holy Mother in the same manner as He had tried Her in her childhood as the first-born Daughter of the new Law of grace, the most perfect copy of His ideals and the most pliant material, upon which, as on liquid wax, should be set the seal of His doctrine of holiness, so that the Son and the Mother might be the two true tablets of the new law of the world (Exod. 31, 18). For this purpose of the infinite wisdom He manifested to Her all the mysteries of the evangelical law and of His doctrine; and this was the subject of His instructions from the time of Their return from Egypt until His public preaching, as we shall see in the course of this history. In these hidden sacraments the incarnate Word and His holy Mother occupied themselves during the twenty-three years of their stay in Nazareth. As all this concerned the heavenly Mother alone (whose life the holy Evangelists did not profess to narrate), the writers of the Gospel made no mention of it, excepting that which was related of the Child Jesus, when, in His twelfth year, He was lost in Jerusalem. During all those years Mary alone was the disciple of Christ.
In order to rear in the heart of the purest Virgin this edifice of holiness to a height beyond all that is not God, the Lord laid its foundations accordingly, trying the strength of her love and of all her other virtues. For this purpose the Lord withdrew Himself, causing Her to lose Him from her sight, which until then had caused Her to revel in continual joy and delight. I do not wish to say, that the Lord left Her bodily; but, still remaining with Her and in Her by an ineffable presence and grace, He hid Himself from her interior sight and suspended the tokens of His most sweet affection. The heavenly Lady in the meanwhile knew not the inward cause of this behavior, as the Lord gave Her no explanation. Moreover her Divine Son, without any forewarning showed Himself very reserved and withdrew from her society. Many times He retired and spoke but few words to Her, and even these with great earnestness and majesty.
This unannounced and unexpected change was the crucible in which the purest gold of the love of our Queen was cleansed and assayed. Surprised at what was happening, She immediately took refuge in the humble opinion She had of Herself, deeming Herself unworthy of the vision of the Lord, Who now had hidden Himself. She attributed it all to her want of correspondence and to her ingratitude for the blessings She had obtained from the most generous and exalted Father of mercies. The most prudent Queen did not feel so much the privation of His delightful caresses, as the dread of having displeased Him and of having fallen short in His service. This was the arrow that pierced Her heart with grief. One filled with such true and noble love could not feel less; for all delight of love is founded in the pleasure and satisfaction given by the lover to the one beloved, and therefore He cannot rest, when he suspects that the beloved is not contented or pleased. The loving sighs of His Mother were highly pleasing to her most holy Son. He was enamored with Her anew and the tender affection of His only and chosen One wounded His heart (Cant. 4, 9). But whenever the sweet Mother sought Him out in order to hold converse with Him He continued to show exterior reserve. Just as the flame of a forge or a conflagration is intensified by the application of insufficient water, so the flame of love in the heart of the sweetest Mother was fanned to an intenser blaze by this adversity.
The single-hearted Dove exercised Herself in heroic acts of all the virtues. She humbled Herself below the dust; She reverenced Her Son in deepest adoration; She blessed the Father, thanking Him for His admirable works and blessings and conforming Herself to His wishes and pleasure; She sought to know His will in order to fulfill it in all things; She unceasingly renewed her acts of faith, hope and burning love; and in all her actions and in all circumstances this most fragrant spikenard gave forth the odor of sweetness for Him, the King of kings, Who rested in her heart as in His flowery and perfumed couch (Cant. 1, 11). She persevered in her tearful prayers, with continual sighing and longing from her inmost heart; She poured forth her prayers in the presence of the Lord and recounted her tribulation before the throne of the God (Ps. 141, 3).
Upon the request of the loving Mother Saint Joseph had made a couch, which She covered with a single blanket and upon which the Child Jesus rested and took His sleep; for from the time in which He had left the cradle, when they were yet in Egypt, He would not accept of any other bed or of more covering. Although He did not stretch Himself out on this couch, nor even always made use of it, He sometimes reclined in a sitting posture upon it, resting upon a poor pillow made of wool by the same Lady. When She spoke of preparing for Him a better resting-place, her most holy Son answered, that the only couch upon which He was to be stretched out, was that of His Cross, in order to teach men by His example (1 Pet. 2, 21), that no one can enter eternal rest by things beloved of Babylon and that to suffer is our true relief in mortal life. Thenceforward the heavenly Lady imitated Him in this manner of taking rest with new earnestness and attention.
Thirty days passed in this conflict; and they equaled many ages in the estimation of Her, who deemed it impossible to live even one moment without the love and without the Beloved of her soul. After such delay (according to our way of speaking), the heart of the Child Jesus could no longer contain itself or resist further the immense force of His love for His sweetest Mother; for also the Lord suffered a delightful and wonderful violence in thus holding Her in such a suspense and affliction. It happened that the humble and sovereign Queen one day approached her Son Jesus, and, throwing Herself at His feet, with tears and sighs coming from her inmost heart, spoke to Him as follows: "My sweetest Love and highest Good, of what account am I, the insignificant dust and ashes, before Thy vast power? What is the misery of a creature in comparison with Thy endless affluence? In all things Thou excellest our lowliness and Thy immense sea of mercy overwhelms our imperfections and defects. If I have not been zealous in serving Thee, as I am constrained to confess, do Thou chastise my negligence and pardon it. But let me, my Son and Lord, see the gladness of Thy countenance, which is my salvation and the wished-for light of my life and being. Here at Thy feet I lay my poverty, mingling it with the dust, and I shall not rise from it until I can again look into the mirror, which reflects my soul."
These and other pleadings, full of wisdom and most ardent love, the great Queen poured humbly forth before her most holy Son. And as His longings to restore Her to His delights were even greater than those of the blessed Lady, He pronounced with great sweetness these few words: "My Mother, arise." As these words were pronounced by Him, Who is Himself the Word of the eternal Father, it had such an effect, that the heavenly Mother was instantly transformed and elevated into a most exalted ecstasy, in which She saw the Divinity by an abstractive vision. In it the Lord received Her with sweetest welcome and embraces of a Father and Spouse, changing Her tears into rejoicing, her sufferings into delight and her bitterness into highest sweetness. The Lord manifested to Her great secrets of the scope of His new evangelical law. Wishing to write it entirely into her purest heart, the most holy Trinity appointed and destined Her as his first-born Daughter and the first disciple of the incarnate Word and set Her up as the model and pattern for all the holy Apostles, Martyrs, Doctors, Confessors, Virgins and other just of the new Church and of the law of grace, which the incarnate Word was to establish for the Redemption of man.
Some days after our Queen and Lady with her most holy Son and Saint Joseph had settled in Nazareth, the time of the year in which the Jews were obliged to present themselves before the Lord in the temple of Jerusalem, was at hand. This commandment obliged the Jews to this duty three times each year, as can be seen in Exodus and Deuteronomy. But it obliged only the men, not the women (Exod. 23, 17); therefore the women could go or not, according to their devotion; for it was neither commanded nor prohibited to them. The heavenly Lady and her spouse conferred with each other as to what they should do in this regard. The holy husband much desired the company of the great Queen, his wife, and of her most holy Son; for he wished to offer Him anew to the eternal Father in the temple. The most pure Mother also was drawn by her piety to worship the Lord in the temple; but as in things of that kind She did not permit Herself to decide without the counsel and direction of the incarnate Word, her Teacher, She asked His advice upon this matter. They finally arranged, that two times a year Saint Joseph was to go to Jerusalem by himself, while on the third occasion They would go together. The Israelites visited the temple on the feast of the Tabernacles (Deut. 16, 13), the feast of the Weeks, or Pentecost, and the feast of the unleavened Breads or the Pasch of the preparation. To this latter the sweetest Jesus, most pure Mary, and Joseph went up together. It lasted seven days. For the other solemnities Saint Joseph went alone, leaving the Child and the Mother at home.
As I have said, Mary and Joseph repeated their visit to the temple at the feast of the unleavened Bread every year. Also when the Divine Child was twelve years old and when it was time to allow the splendors of His inaccessible and Divine light to shine forth, They went to the temple for this feast (Luke 2,42). This festival of the unleavened Bread lasted seven days, according to the command of the Divine law; and the more solemn days were the first and the last. On this account our heavenly Pilgrims remained in Jerusalem during the whole week, spending their time in acts of worship and devotion as the rest of the Jews, although on account of the sacraments connected with each of Them their worship and devotion was entirely different and greatly exalted above that of the others. The blessed Mother and holy Joseph received during these days favors and blessings beyond the conception of the human mind.
Having thus spent all the seven days of the feast They betook themselves on their way home to Nazareth. When His parents departed from Jerusalem and were pursuing their way homeward. the Child Jesus withdrew from them without their knowledge. For this purpose the Lord availed Himself of the separation of the men and women, which had become customary among the pilgrims for reasons of decency as well as for greater recollection during their return homeward. The children which accompanied their parents were taken in charge either by the men or the women, since their company with either was a matter of indifference. Thus it happened that Saint Joseph could easily suppose that the Child Jesus had remained with His most holy Mother, with whom He generally remained. The thought that She would go without Him was far from his mind, since the heavenly Queen loved and delighted in Him more than any other creature human or angelic. The great Lady did not have so many reasons for supposing that her most holy Son was in the company of Saint Joseph: but the Lord Himself so diverted her thoughts by holy and Divine contemplations, that She did not notice His absence at first. When afterwards She became aware of her not being accompanied by her sweetest and beloved Son, She supposed that the blessed Joseph had taken Him along and that the Lord accompanied His foster-father for his consolation.
Thus assured, holy Mary and Joseph pursued their home journey for an entire day, as Saint Luke tells us. As the pilgrims proceeded onwards they gradually thinned out, each taking his own direction and joining again with his wife or family. The most holy Mary and Saint Joseph found themselves at length in the place where they had agreed to meet on the first evening after leaving Jerusalem. When the great Lady saw that the Child was not with Saint Joseph and when the holy Patriarch found that He was not with His Mother, the two were struck dumb with amazement and surprise for quite a while. Both, governed in their judgment by their most profound humility, felt overwhelmed with self-reproach at their remissness in watching over their most holy Son and thus blamed themselves for His absence; for neither of them had any suspicion of the mysterious manner in which He had been able to elude their vigilance. After a time they recovered somewhat from their astonishment and with deepest sorrow took counsel with each other as to what was to be done (Luke 2, 45). The loving Mother said to Saint Joseph: "My Spouse and my master, my heart cannot rest, unless we return with all haste to Jerusalem in order to seek my most holy Son." This they proceeded to do, beginning their search among their relations and friends, of whom, however, none could give them any information or any comfort in their sorrow; on the contrary their answers only increased their anxiety, since none of them had so much as seen their Son since their departure from Jerusalem.
Thus this sincerest Dove persevered in her tears and groans without cessation or rest, without sleeping or eating anything for three whole days. Although the ten thousand Angels accompanied Her in corporeal forms and witnessed her affliction and sorrow, yet they gave Her no clue to find her lost Child. On the third day the great Queen resolved to seek Him in the desert where Saint John was; for since She saw no indications that Archelaus had taken Him prisoner, She began to believe more firmly, that her most holy Son was with Saint John. When She was about to execute her resolve and was on the point of departing for the desert, the holy Angels detained Her, urging Her not to undertake the journey, since the Divine Word was not there. She wanted also to go to Bethlehem, in the hope of finding Him in the cave of the Nativity; but this the holy Angels likewise prevented, telling Her that He was not so far off. Although the blessed Mother heard these answers and well perceived that the holy Angels knew the whereabouts of the Child Jesus, She was so considerate and reserved in her humility and prudence, that She gave no response, nor asked where She could find Him; for She understood that they withheld this information by command of the Lord. With such magnanimous reverence did the Queen of the Angels treat the sacraments of the Most High and of His ministers and ambassadors (2 Mach. 2, 9). This was one of the occasions in which the greatness of her queenly and magnanimous heart was made manifest.
Not all the sorrows suffered by all the Martyrs ever reached the height
of the sorrows of most holy Mary in this trial; nor will the patience,
resignation and tolerance of this Lady ever be equaled, nor can they;
the loss of Jesus was greater to Her than the loss of anything created,
while her love and appreciation of Him exceeded all that can be
by any other creature. Since She did not know the cause of the loss,
anxiety was beyond all measure, as I have already said. Moreover,
these three days the Lord left Her to her natural resources of nature
of grace, deprived of special privileges and favors; for, with the
of the company and intercourse with the Angels, He suspended all the
consolations and blessings so constantly vouchsafed to her most holy
From all this we can surmise what sorrow filled the loving heart of the
heavenly Mother. But, O prodigy of holiness, prudence, fortitude and
in such unheard of affliction and sorrow She was not disturbed, nor
her interior or exterior peace, nor did She entertain a thought of
or indignation, nor allowed Herself any improper movement or
nor fell into any excess of grief or annoyance, as is so common in
affliction with other children of Adam, who allow all their passions
faculties to be disarranged, yea even in small difficulties! The
of all virtue held all her powers in heavenly order and harmony; though
her sorrow was without comparison great and had pierced her inmost
She failed not in reverence and in the praise of the Lord, nor ceased
her prayers and petitions for the human race, and for the finding of
most holy Son.
With this heavenly wisdom and with greatest diligence She sought Him for three successive days, roaming through the streets of the city, asking different persons and describing to the daughters of Jerusalem the marks of her Beloved, searching the byways and the open squares of the city and thereby fulfilling what was recorded in the Canticles of Solomon (Cant. 5, 10). Some of the women asked Her what were the distinctive marks of her lost and only Son; and She answered in the words of the Spouse: "My Beloved is white and ruddy, chosen out of thousands." One of the women, hearing Her thus describing Him, said: "This Child, with those same marks, came yesterday to my door to ask for alms, and I gave some to Him; and His grace and beauty have ravished my heart. And when I gave Him alms, I felt myself overcome by compassion to see a Child so gracious in poverty and want." These were the first news the sorrowful Mother heard of her Only-begotten in Jerusalem. A little respited in her sorrow, She pursued her quest and met other persons, who spoke of Him in like manner. Guided by this information She directed her steps to the hospital of the city, thinking that among the afflicted She would find the Spouse and the Originator of patient poverty among His Own legitimate brethren and friends (Matt. 5, 40). Inquiring at that place, She was informed that a Child of that description had paid His visits to the inmates, leaving some alms and speaking words of much consolation to the afflicted.
The report of these doings of her Beloved caused sentiments of sweetest and most tender affection in the heart of the heavenly Lady, which She sent forth from her inmost heart as messengers to her lost and absent Son. Then the thought struck Her, that, since He was not with the poor, He no doubt tarried in the temple, as in the house of God and of prayer. The holy Angels encouraged Her and said: "Our Queen and Lady, the hour of thy consolation is at hand: soon wilt Thou see the Light of thy eyes; hasten thy footsteps and go to the temple." The glorious patriarch Saint Joseph at this moment again met his Spouse, for, in order to increase their chance of finding the Divine Child, they had separated in different directions. By another Angel he had now been likewise ordered to proceed to the temple. During all these three days he had suffered unspeakable sorrow and affliction, hastening from one place to another, sometimes without His heavenly Spouse, sometimes with Her. He was in serious danger of losing his life during this time, if the hand of the Lord had not strengthened Him and if the most prudent Lady had not consoled him and forced him to take some food and rest. His sincere and exquisite love for the Divine Child made him so anxious and solicitous to find Him, that he would have allowed himself no time or care to take nourishment for the support of nature.
It was very near to the gate of the city, that the Divine Child turned and hastened back through the streets. Foreseeing in His Divine foreknowledge all that was to happen, He offered it up to His eternal Father for the benefit of souls. He asked for alms during these three days in order to ennoble from that time on humble mendicity as the first-born of holy poverty. He visited the hospitals of the poor, consoling them and giving them the alms which He had received; secretly He restored bodily health to some and spiritual health to many, by enlightening them interiorly and leading them back to the way of salvation. On some of the benefactors, who gave Him alms, He performed these wonders with a greater abundance of grace and light; thus fulfilling from that time on the promise, which He was afterwards to make to His Church; that he who gives to the just and to the prophet in the name of a prophet, shall receive the reward of the just (Matt. 10, 41).
Having thus busied Himself with these and other works of His Father, He betook Himself to the temple. On the day which the Evangelist mentions it happened that also the rabbis, who were the learned and the teachers of the temple, met in a certain part of the buildings in order to confer among themselves concerning some doubtful points of holy Scriptures. On this occasion the coming of the Messias was discussed; for on account of the report of the wonderful events, which had spread about since the birth of the Baptist and the visit of the Kings of the east, the rumor of the coming of the Redeemer and of His being already in the world, though yet unknown, had gained ground among the Jews. They were all seated in their places filled with the sense of authority customary to those who are teachers and considered as learned. The Child Jesus came to the meeting of these distinguished men; and He that was the King of kings, and Lord of lords (Apoc. 19, 16), the infinite Wisdom Itself (1 Cor. 1, 24), and Who corrects the wise (Wis. 7, 15), presented Himself before the teachers of this world as an humble disciple, giving them to understand that He had come to hear the discussion and inform Himself on the question treated of, namely: whether the Messias was already come, or, if not, concerning the time in which He should come into the world. Therefore the Divine Child presented Himself to the disputants, manifesting the grace poured out over His lips (Ps. 44, 3). He stepped into their midst with exceeding majesty and grace, as one Who would propose some doubt or solution. By His pleasing appearance He awakened in the hearts of these learned men a desire to hear Him attentively.
The scribes and learned men who heard Him were all dumbfounded. Convinced by His arguments they looked at each other and in great astonishment asked: "What miracle is this? and what prodigy of a boy! Whence has He come and Who is the Child?" But though thus astonished, they did not recognize or suspect Who it was, that thus taught and enlightened them concerning such an important truth. During this time and before Jesus had finished His argument, His most holy Mother and Saint Joseph her most chaste spouse arrived, just in time to hear Him advance his last arguments. When He had finished, all the teachers of the law arose with stupendous amazement. The heavenly Lady, absorbed in joy, approached her most loving Son and in the presence of the whole assembly, spoke to Him the words recorded by Saint Luke: "Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing" (Luke 2, 48). This loving complaint the heavenly Mother uttered with equal reverence and affection, adoring Him as God and manifesting her maternal affliction. The Lord answered: "Why is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?"
The Evangelist says that they did not understand the mystery of these words (Luke 2, 50); for it was hidden at the time to most holy Mary and Saint Joseph. And for two reasons; on the one hand, the interior joy of now reaping what they had sown in so much sorrow, and the visible presence of their precious Treasure, entirely filled the faculties of their souls; and on the other hand, the time for the full comprehension of what had just been treated of in this discussion had not yet arrived for them. Moreover, for the most solicitous Queen there was another hindrance just at that time, and it was, that the veil, concealing the interior of her most holy Son had again intervened and was not removed until some time later. The learned men departed, commenting in their amazement upon the wonderful event, by which they had been privileged to hear the teaching of eternal Wisdom, though they did not recognize it. Being thus left almost alone, the blessed Mother, embracing Him with maternal affection, said to Him: "Permit my longing heart, my son, to give expression to its sorrow and pain; so that it may not die of grief as long as it can be of use to Thee. Do not cast me off from Thy sight; but accept me as Thy slave. If it was my negligence, which deprived me of Thy presence, pardon me and make me worthy of Thy company, and do not punish me with Thy absence." The Divine Child received Her with signs of pleasure and offered Himself as her Teacher and Companion until the proper time should arrive. Thus was the dove-like and affectionate heart of the great Lady appeased, and They departed for Nazareth.
The evangelist Luke compendiously mentions all the mysteries in few words, saying the Child Jesus was subject to His parents, namely most holy Mary and Saint Joseph, and that His heavenly Mother noted and preserved within her heart all these events; and that Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men (Luke 2, 52) . . . I wish only to mention, that the humility and obedience of our God and Master toward His parents were the admiration of the Angels. But so was also the dignity and excellence of His most blessed Mother, who thus merited that the incarnate God should subject Himself and resign Himself to her care; so much so, that She, with the assistance of Saint Joseph, governed Him and disposed of Him as her own.
To the obedience and subjection of her most holy Son the great Lady on
her part responded by heroic works. Among her other excellences She
as it were an incomprehensible humility and a most heartfelt gratitude
for having regained the companionship of her Son. This blessing, of
the heavenly Queen deemed Herself unworthy, vastly increased in her
pure heart her love and her anxiety to serve her Divine Son. And She
so constant in showing her gratitude, so punctual and solicitous to
Him, kneeling before Him and lowering Herself to the dust, that it
the admiration of the highest seraphim. Moreover, She sought with the
attention to imitate Him in all his actions as they became known to Her
and exerted Herself most anxiously to copy them and reproduce them in
own life. The plenitude of her perfection wounded the heart of our
and Lord, and, according to our way of speaking, held him bound to Her
with chains of invincible love. (Osee 11, 4). His being thus bound as
and as Son to this heavenly Princess, gave rise to such an interchange
and Divine reciprocity of intense love, as surpasses all created
For into the ocean of Mary's soul entered all the vast floods of the
and blessings of the incarnate Word; and this ocean did not overflow
1, 7), because it contained the depth and expanse necessary to receive
OF THE QUEEN
My daughter, all the works of my most holy Son and my own actions are full of mysterious instruction and doctrine for the mortals who contemplate them diligently and reverently. The Lord absented Himself from me in order that, seeking Him in sorrow and tears, I might find Him again in joy and with abundant fruits for my soul. I desire that thou imitate me in this mystery and seek Him with such earnestness, as to be consumed with a continual longing without ever in thy whole life coming to any rest until thou holdst Him and canst lose Him no more (Can. 5, 4). In order that thou mayest understand better this sacrament of the Lord, remember, that the infinite Wisdom made men capable of his eternal felicity and placed them on the way to this happiness. but left them in doubt of its attainment, as long as they have not yet acquired it and thus filled them with joyful hope and sorrowful fear of its final acquisition. This anxiety engenders in men a lifelong fear and abhorrence of sin, by which alone they can be deprived of beatitude and thus prevent them from being ensnared and misled by the corporeal and visible things of this earth. This anxiety the Creator assists by adding to the natural reasoning powers, faith and hope, which are the spurs of their love toward seeking and finding their last end. Besides these virtues and others infused at Baptism He sends His inspirations and helps to keep awake the soul in the absence of its Lord and to prevent forgetfulness of Him and of itself while deprived of His amiable presence. Thus it pursues the right course until it finds the great goal, where all its inclinations and longing shall be satiated.
Hence thou canst estimate the listless ignorance of mortals and how few stop to consider the mysterious order of the creation and justification and all the works of the Almighty tending toward this exalted end. From this forgetfulness flow so many evils endured by men while they appropriate so many earthly goods and deceitful delights, as if they could ever find in them their ultimate end. The height of perversity opposed to the order of the Creator, is that mortals in this transitory and short life rejoice in visible things as if they were their last end, while they ought, on the contrary, to make use of creatures to gain, not to lose, the highest Good. Do thou, therefore, my dearest, be mindful of this dangerous human folly. Consider all delights and joys of the world as insanity, its laughing as sorrow, sensible enjoyment as self deceit, as the source of foolishness, which intoxicates the heart and hinders and destroys all true wisdom. Live in constant and holy fear of losing eternal life and rejoice in nothing except in the Lord until thou obtainest full possession of Him.