5th September 1944.
How beautiful Mary is dressed as a bride, among Her joyful friends and teachers! There is also Elizabeth amongst them.
She is dressed in snow-white linen, so soft and refined that it looks like precious silk. She is wearing round Her slender waist a burin wrought belt in gold and silver, made of medallions held together by little chains – each medallion is an embroidery of gold threads on heavy silver burnished by age. Probably because the belt is too long for Her, still a gentle girl, the last three medallions hang down in the front and fall amongst the folds of the very wide dress that is so long as to form a sort of train. On Her feet She is wearing white leather sandals with silver buckles.
Around Her neck the dress is held by a chain of small gold roses and silver filigree, reproducing on a smaller scale the design of the belt. Running through large holes on the loosely cut neck, the chain gathers the cloth and forms a kind of small frill. Mary's neck emerges from the white pleated cloth with the grace of a stem wrapped in a precious fabric and seems even more slender and whiter than ever, the stem of a lily ending in a lily-like face, which is even paler than usual for the excitement – and purer. The face of a most pure victim.
Her hair no longer hangs over Her shoulders. It is arranged in a knot of plaits in a charming style, and precious burnished silver hairpins, all made with embroidered filigree at the top, hold it in position. Her mother's veil is placed over the plaits and it falls in beautiful folds under the precious thin plate that encircles Her snow-white forehead. The veil falls down Her sides and since Mary is not as tall as Her mother, it falls lower than Her hips, whereas it reached Anne's waist. She has nothing on Her hands, but is wearing bracelets on Her wrists. Her wrists are so thin that the heavy bracelets of Her mother cover the back of Her hands and would fall to the ground if She tossed Her hands.
Her friends gaze upon Her and admire Her. They twitter gaily like sparrows asking questions and expressing their admiration.
« Are they Your mother's? »
« They are antique, are they not? »
« How beautiful, Sarah, this belt is! »
« And what about this veil, Susan? How refined it is. Just look at those lilies woven in it! »
« Let me see Your bracelets, Mary. Were they Your mother's? »
« Yes, she wore them. But they are of My father's mother.»
« Oh! Look. They have the seal of Solomon interwoven with thin little branches of palm and olive-trees and amongst these there are lilies and roses. Oh! Who did such perfect and refined work? »
« They belong to the House of David » explains Mary. « The women of the family have worn them for centuries, when they get married and they are left in heritage to the heiress.» « Certainly! You are the heiress... »
« Did they bring You everything from Nazareth? »
« No, they did not. When My mother died, My cousin took My trousseau to her house to keep it safely. Now she has brought it back to Me.»
« Where is it? Where is it? Show it to Your friends.»
Mary does not know what to do... She would like to be kind, but she is not anxious to pull out all the things which are nicely laid in three heavy trunks.
Her teachers come to Her help: « The groom is about to arrive » they point out. « This is not the moment to cause confusion. Leave Mary alone. You are tiring Her. Go and get ready.»
The chattering group go away somewhat sulkily. Mary can now enjoy in peace the company of Her teachers who say words of praise and blessing to Her.
Also Elizabeth has come near. And as Mary, deeply moved, is crying because Anna of Phanuel has called Her « daughter » and has kissed Her with true motherly love, Elizabeth says to Her: « Mary, Your mother is not here, and yet she is present. Her soul is rejoicing with Yours. Look, the things that You are wearing are giving You her caresses once again. You can still find in them the flavour of her kisses. One day, a long time ago, the day You came to the Temple, she said to me: “I have prepared Her dresses and Her trousseau, because I wish to be the one who weaves Her linens and makes Her bridal dresses, so that I shall not be absent on the day of Her joy.” And listen. In the last days, when I was assisting her, every evening she wanted to caress Your first little dresses and the ones You are now wearing and she would say: “I can smell the jasmine perfume of my little one and I want Her to perceive here the kiss of Her mummy.” How many kisses on this veil that is now shading Your forehead! There are more kisses than threads!... And when You will wear the cloth woven by her, just think that it was woven more by her motherly love than by the shuttle. And these jewels... Also in hard circumstances they were saved by Your father for You, that You might be beautiful in this hour, as befits a princess of the House of David. Be happy and cheerful, Mary. You are not an orphan, because Your parents are with You and Your husband is a father and a mother to You, such is his perfection... »
« Yes, that is true! I certainly cannot complain. In two months he has been here twice, and today he has come for the third time, facing the rain and the windy weather, to take orders from Me... Fancy: orders from Me who am a poor woman and much younger than he is! And he has denied Me nothing. He does not even wait for Me to ask. I think an angel must tell him what I want, because he tells Me before I can speak. The last time he said: “Mary, I think that You prefer to stay in Your father's house. Since You are a daughter heiress, You can do so, if that is Your wish. I will come to Your house. However, in order to accomplish the rite, You will go for one week to my brother Alphaeus' house. Mary already loves You so much. And from there the procession will start that will take You to Your house in the evening of the wedding day.” Was that not very kind of him? It did not even matter to him if the people should say that he has not a house which I would like... I would have liked it, because he is there and he is so good. Certainly... I prefer My own house... because of memories... Oh! Joseph is so good! »
« What did he say about Your vow? You haven't told me yet.»
« He made no objection. On the contrary, when I told him the reasons, he said: “I will join my sacrifice to Yours.”»
« He is a holy young man » says Anna of Phanuel.
The « holy young man » is coming in just now in the company of Zacharias.
He is really magnificent. All dressed in gold yellow he seems an eastern sovereign. A splendid belt supports his bag and his dagger, the former of morocco embroidered in gold, the latter with a morocco sheath and gold decorations. On his head he is wearing a turban, that is the usual piece of cloth worn like a hood, as is still customary amongst certain people in Africa, such as the bedouins, and it is held by a precious ring, a thin wire of gold, to which there are tied some small bunches of myrtle. He has on a new mantle, with fringes, and he wears it with great dignity. He is sparkling with joy. He has in his hands small bunches of myrtle in bloom.
« Peace to you, my spouse! » he greets Her. « Peace to everyone.» When he has received a reply to his greetings, he says: « I saw Your joy the day I gave You a branch from Your garden. I thought I should bring You some myrtle which I picked near the grotto You love so much. I wanted to bring You some of the roses that are already beginning to bloom near Your house. But roses do not last long. After a journey of several days I would have arrived here with only the thorns. And I want to offer You, my dear, only roses and spread Your way with soft scented flowers, so that Your feet may rest on them without touching anything dirty or harsh.»
« Oh! Thank you, you are so good! But what did you do to keep it so fresh?»
« I tied a vase to the saddle and I put in it the branches of the flowers in bud. During the journey they have burst into flower. Here they are, Mary. May Your forehead be garlanded with purity, the symbol of a bride, which, however, is much inferior to the purity of Your heart.»
Elizabeth and the teachers adorn Mary with a little garland of flowers which they form attaching to the precious ring the little white bunches of myrtle and they insert small white roses which they take from a vase placed on a small chest.
Mary is on the point of taking Her large white mantle to put it on Her shoulders, but Joseph precedes Her and helps Her to fasten it at the top of Her shoulders with two silver buckles. The teachers then arrange the folds with loving care.
Everything is ready. While they are awaiting I do not know what, Joseph takes Mary to one side and says to Her: « I have pondered a lot on Your vow these last days. I told You that I will share it with You. But the more I think of it, the more I realise that a temporary Naziritism is not sufficient, even if renewed several times. I have understood You, Mary. I do not yet deserve the word of Light, but a murmur of it comes to me. And it causes me to read Your secret, at least in its main lines. I am a poor ignorant man, Mary. A poor workman. I know nothing of letters and I have no treasures. But I place at Your feet my treasure: my absolute chastity, forever, to be worthy of being beside You, Virgin of God, “my sister spouse, enclosed garden, sealed fountain,” as our Ancestor says, who perhaps wrote the Song of Songs seeing You... I shall be the guardian of this garden of spices in which are the most precious fruits and from which a spring of living water gushes out in a gentle surge: Your kindness, o spouse, has conquered my soul with Your innocence, o most beautiful one. You are more beautiful than dawn, You are a sun that shines because Your heart shines, You are full of love for Your God and for the world, to which You wish to give a Saviour with Your sacrifice of a woman. Come, my beloved spouse » and he takes Her gently by the hand and leads Her towards the door. All the others follow them and outside the joyful companions, all dressed in white and wearing veils, join them.
They go through yards and porches, among the crowds that watch them, up to a point that is not the Temple, but seems to be a hall used for ceremonies, because there are lamps and rolls of parchment as in synagogues. They go as far as a tall lectern, almost a desk, and they wait. The others stand orderly behind them. Other priests and curious people gather at the end.
The High Priest enters solemnly.
There is whispering amongst the curious crowd: « Is he going to marry them? »
« Yes, because She is of royal and sacerdotal rank. A flower of David and Aaron, the bride is a virgin of the Temple. The groom is of the tribe of David.»
The Pontiff joins the right hand of the bride with the right hand of the groom and he blesses them solemnly: « May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob be with you. May He join you and fulfill His blessing in you giving you His peace and numerous descendants with a long life and a happy death in the bosom of Abraham.» He then withdraws as solemn as when he entered.
The promise has been exchanged. Mary is Joseph's spouse. (1)
(1) In Israel, also at the time of Our Lady, a marriage comprised two phases: the engagement and the wedding. The rite of the engagement, by which the marriage was essentially established, implied that the young couple should be blessed by a priest while holding each other's right hand; a legal contract was made in regard to property and rights. During this first phase they did not live together. The wedding was the solemn accomplishment of the contract and the couple began to live together.
They all go out and they orderly move to a hall where they stipulate the wedding contract in which it is stated that Mary, the daughter heiress of Joachim of David and of Anne of Aaron gives Joseph, as Her dowry, Her house and the estate attached to it, Her personal property and what She has inherited from Her father.
It is now all over.
The betrothed go out into the yard and they move toward the exit near the dwellings of the women assigned to the Temple. A comfortable heavy waggon is waiting for them. A tent is laid over it as a shelter and Mary's heavy trunks are already loaded on it.
After farewell words, kisses and tears, blessings and advice, Mary gets into the waggon with Elizabeth, while Joseph and Zachar ias sit in the front. They have taken off their best mantles and are all wearing dark ones. The waggon departs at the heavy trot of a big dark horse. The Temple walls and then the city walls are receding and here is the country, new, fresh, blooming in the early springtime sunshine, with the corn a few inches off the ground, its little leaves, which look like emeralds, waving at a gentle breeze, which carries the scent of peach and apple flowers, of clover flowers and of wild mint.
Mary is weeping silently, under Her veil, and now and again She removes the tent and looks at the far away Temple and the city She has left...
The vision ends thus.
« What does the Book of Wisdom say, singing her praises? “Within wisdom is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle.” And it goes on listing her endowments, ending the period with the words... “almighty, all-surveying, penetrating all intelligent, pure and most subtle spirits. She is so pure she pervades and permeates all things. She is a breath of the power of God, hence nothing impure can find a way into her... image of His goodness. Although alone she can do all, herself unchanging, she makes all things new, she passes into holy souls, she makes them friends of God and Prophets.”
You have seen how Joseph, not by human culture, but by supernatural education can read in the sealed book of the Immaculate Virgin and how he borders upon prophetic truths by his “seeing” a superhuman mystery where others could only see a great virtue. Since he is imbued with this wisdom, which is a breath of the power of God and a definite emanation of the Almighty, he sails with a secure spirit the sea of this mystery of grace which is Mary. He penetr ates with Her spiritual contacts, in which, rather than the lips, the two spirits speak to each other in the sacred silence of their souls, where God only can hear voices and those who are well liked by God, because they are His faithful servants and are full of Him.
The wisdom of the Just man, which increases by his union and closeness to Mary, Full of Grace, prepares him to penetrate the deepest secrets of God and enables him to protect and defend them from the snares of man and demon. And in the meantime it invigorates him. It makes the just man a saint, and the saint the guardian of the Spouse and of the Son of God.
Without removing the seal of God, he, a chaste man, now elevating his chastity to angelical heroism, can read the word of fire written by God on the virginal diamond, and he reads what his wisdom does not repeat, but is greater than what Moses read on the stone tablets. And to prevent profane eyes from prying into the mystery, he places himself, seal upon the seal, as an archangel of fire on the threshold of Paradise, within which the Eternal Father takes His delight, “walking in the cool of the evening” and talking to Her Who is His love, Garden of lilies in bloom, Air scented with perfumes, fresh morning Breeze, lovely Star, Delight of God. The new Eve is there, in front of him, not bone from his bones, nor flesh from his flesh, but companion of his life, living Ark of God, Whom he receives in guardianship and Whom he must return to God as pure as he received Her.
“Spouse to God” was written in the immaculate pages of that mystical book... And when in the hour of trial suspicion hissed its torture, he suffered as a man and as a servant of God, as no man suffered, because of the suspected sacrilege. But this was to be the future trial. Now, in this time of grace, he sees and he puts himself at the most true service of God. Then the storm of the trial will come, as for all saints, to be tested and made coadjutors of God.
What do you read in Leviticus? “Tell Aaron, your brother, that he must not enter the sanctuary beyond the Veil in front of the Throne of mercy that is over the Ark, whenever he chooses. He may die; for I appear in a cloud on the Throne of mercy, unless he has done these things first: he will offer a young bull for a sacrifice for sin and a ram for holocaust, he is to wear a linen tunic and cover his nakedness with a linen girdle.”
And Joseph really enters the sanctuary of God, when and as far as God wants, beyond the veil that conceals the Ark on which the Spirit of God hovers and he offers himself and will offer the Lamb, a holocaust for the sin of the world and in expiation of such sin. And he does that dressed in linen, and mortifying his virile limbs to abolish their faculty of sensation, which once, at the beginning of times, did triumph, impairing the rights of God on man and which will now be crushed in the Son, in the Mother and in the putative father, to lead men back to Grace and restore the right of God on man. He does that with his perpetual chastity.
Was Joseph not on Golgotha? Do you think he is not amongst the co-redeemers? I tell you solemnly that he was the first and therefore he is great in the eyes of God. Great for his sacrifice, his patience, his perseverance, his faith. Which faith is greater than this one that believed without seeing the miracles of the Messiah?
Praise be to My putative father, an example to you of what you lack most: purity, faithfulness and perfect love. Praise be to the magnificent reader of the sealed Book, imbued with Wisdom to be able to understand the mysteries of Grace and chosen to protect the Salvation of the world from the snares of all enemies.»