2nd April 1944.
It is morning. I see Mary sewing, sitting in the room on the ground floor. Elizabeth is going to and fro, busy with the housework. And when she comes into Mary's room, she never fails to go and caress Her fair head, which looks even more fair against the rather dark walls and in the beautiful sun rays that enter through the door open on to the garden.
Elizabeth bends down to look at Mary's work – the embroidery She had in Nazareth – and she praises its beauty.
« I have also some linen to spin » says Mary.
« For your Child? »
« No. I had it already when I never thought…» Mary does not say anything else. But I understand: « …when I never thought I was to be the Mother of God »
« But now You will have to use it for Him. Is it good? Fine? Children, You know, need very soft material. »
« I know. »
« I had begun… Late, because I wanted to be sure that it was not a deception of the Evil One. Although… I felt such a joy within me, that it could not possibly come from Satan. After… I suffered so much. I am old, Mary, really old, to be in this state. I suffered so much. Don't You suffer… »
« No. I don't. I have never been so well. »
« Of course. Quite right. You… there is no stain in You, as God chose You for His Mother. And that is why You are not subject to Eve's sufferings. The One You bear is holy. »
« I feel as if I had a wing in My heart and not a burden. I seem to have within Me all the flowers and all the birds that sing in springtime, and all the honey and all the sunshine… Oh! I am so happy! »
« Blessed Mary! Neither do I feel any longer burden, tiredness or pain, since I saw You. I seem to be new, young, freed from the miseries of woman's flesh. My child, after leaping happily at the sound of Your voice, is now quiet in his joy. And I seem to have him, in me, as in a living cradle, and I see him sleeping satisfied and happy, breathing like a little bird under the wing of its mother… I will now start working. He will no longer be a weight. I cannot see very well, but… »
« Never mind, Elizabeth. I will see to the spinning and weaving both for you and for your baby. I am quick and My sight is very good. »
« But you will have to see to Your… »
« Oh! There will be plenty time!… First I will take care of you, since you are going to have your baby very shortly, and later I will see to My Jesus. »
It is beyond human possibility to tell you how sweet are Mary's expression and voice, how bright Her eyes are with sweet happy tears, and how She smiles in pronouncing that Name, looking at the clear blue sky. She seems to be enraptured simply saying: « Jesus ».
Elizabeth exclaims: « What a beautiful name! The name of the Son of God, of Our Redeemer! »
« Oh! Elizabeth! » Mary becomes sad and She seizes the hands of Her relative who had laid them across her enlarged abdomen. « Tell Me, since you were illuminated by the Spirit of the Lord, when I came here, and you prophesied what the world does not know, tell Me: what will My Creature have to suffer to save the world? The Prophets… Oh! What do the Prophets say of the Savior? Isaiah… Do you remember Isaiah? “He is the Man of sorrows. Through His wounds we are healed. He was pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins. Yahweh has been pleased to crush Him with suffering. After being condemned He was lifted up…” What lifting is he referring to? They call Him the Lamb and I cannot help thinking of the lamb of the Passover, of the lamb of Moses, and I associate it with the serpent elevated by Moses on a cross. Elizabeth!… Elizabeth!… What will they do to My Creature? What will He have to suffer to save the world? » Mary is crying.
Elizabeth comforts Her. « Mary, don't cry. He is Your Son, but He is also the Son of God. God will see to His Son, and will look after You, His Mother. And if so many will be cruel to Him, so many will love Him. So many!… Forever and ever. The world will look at Your Son and will bless You with Him. They will bless You, for You are the Spring from which redemption gushes out. The destiny of Your Son! He will be raised to the rank of King of the whole creation. Just think of that, Mary. King, because He will redeem the whole creation, and as such, He will be universal King. And He will be loved also in the world, in its lifetime. My son will precede Yours and will love Him. The angel told Zacharias. And he wrote it down for me. How painful it is to see him dumb, my Zacharias! But I hope that when the baby is born also the father will be freed from his punishment. Will You pray, too, since You are the Seat of the Power of God and the Cause of delight in the world. To obtain this grace I make my offers to the Lord, as best I can. I offer my creature: because it belongs to Him, as He lent it to His servant to grant her the joy of being called “mother”. It is the testimony of what God has done for me. I want his name to be “John”. Isn't my son a grace? And didn't God grant me it? »
« And God, I am sure, will grant you the grace. I will pray… with you ».
« I suffer so much seeing him dumb!… » Elizabeth is crying.
« When he writes, as he can no longer speak to me, there seem to be mountains and oceans between me and my Zacharias. After so many years of sweet conversation, now there is nothing but silence from his mouth. And particularly now, when it would be so nice to talk about who is about to come. I even refrain from speaking to avoid seeing him getting strained in his efforts to reply to me by gestures. I have cried so much! How much did I long for You! The people of the village watch, talk and criticise. Such is the world. But when one has a pain or a joy, one needs to be understood, not criticised. But now my life seems completely improved. I feel a joy in me since You came here. I feel that my test is about to end and that I will soon be completely happy. I am right, am I not? I have resigned myself to everything. But if God would only forgive my husband! If I could only hear him pray once again! »
Mary caresses and comforts her and in order to divert her attention, she invites her to take a little walk in the sunny garden.
They walk under a well cultivated pergola, as far as a little rustic tower, in the holes of which doves have nested.
Mary scatters the birdseed laughing, because the doves have rushed on Her, cooing loudly and flapping noisily, forming iridescent circles around Her. They alight on Her head, shoulders, arms and on Her hands, stretching their rosy beaks to snatch the grains from Her hands, gracefully pecking the Virgin's rosy lips and Her teeth that shine in the sun. Mary takes the golden corn from a little sack and She laughs in the middle of that tournament of intrusive greed.
« How fond they are of You! » points out Elizabeth. « You have only been here a few days and they love You more than me, although I have always taken care of them. »
They continue walking until they reach an enclosure, at the end of the orchard, where there are about twenty goats with their little kids.
« Have you come back from the pasture? » Mary asks a little shepherd, caressing him.
« Yes, because my father said to me: “Go home, because it is going to rain shortly and there are some sheep about to lamb. Make sure they have dry herb and litter.” There he is, he is coming. » And he points to the wood, whence a continual trembling bleating can be heard.
Mary caresses a little kid, as fair as a child, which rubs itself against Her, and together with Elizabeth She drinks some new milk that the little shepherd offers them.
Then the sheep arrive led by a shepherd as hairy as a bear. But he is obviously a good man because he is carrying a groaning sheep on his shoulders. He puts her down gently and explains: « She is about to lamb. She can only walk with difficulty. I put her on my shoulders and I hurried all the way to get here in time. » The sheep, still limping painfully, is led into the fold by the boy.
Mary is sitting on a stone and is playing with the little kids and the lambs, offering clover flowers to their pretty rosy little faces. A black and white kid puts its little hooves on Her shoulder and smells Her hair. « It is not bread » says Mary laughing. « I will bring you some crumbs tomorrow. Be good, now. »
Once again cheerful, Elizabeth also laughs.
I see Mary Who is spinning very quickly under the pergola, where the grapes are growing bigger and bigger. Some time must have elapsed because the apples are beginning to redden on the trees and the bees are humming near the fig flowers already mature.
Elizabeth is now quite stout, and she is walking heavily. Mary looks at her carefully and lovingly. Also Mary's sides appear more round when She gets up to pick up the spindle which has fallen far away from Her. The expression on Her face has changed. It is more mature; before She was a girl, now She is a woman.
The women go into the house because it is now getting dark, and the lamps are lit in the room. While waiting for supper, Mary begins to weave.
« Does it never tire You? » asks Elizabeth, pointing to the loom.
« No, you can be sure of that. »
« I am exhausted by this heat. I have not suffered any longer, but now the weight is too heavy for my old kidneys. »
« Take courage. You will soon be free. How happy you will then be. I am longing to be a mother. My Child! My Jesus! What will He be like? »
« As beautiful as You are, Mary. »
« Oh no! More beautiful! He is God. I am His maid. What I meant is, will He be fair or dark? Will His eyes be like a clear sky, or like the eyes of a mountain deer? I imagine Him more beautiful than a cherub, with golden curly hair, His eyes the same color as the Sea of Galilee when the stars begin to peep on the horizon, His tiny little mouth as red as a pomegranate that bursts when it matures in the sun, and His cheeks as pink as this pale rose, with two little hands that could be contained in the hollow of a lily, they are so small and tiny, and two tiny feet that I can hold in the hollow of My hand, so soft and smooth, even more so than the petal of a flower. See. The idea I form of Him is taken from all the beautiful things that nature suggests to Me. And I can hear His voice. When He cries – because My Child will cry a little when He is hungry or sleepy, and it will always be a great pain for His Mummy Whose heart will be pierced every time She hears Him cry – when He cries, His voice will be like the bleating that now comes from a little lamb, only a few hours old, when it seeks its mother's breast, and her warm maternal fleece to sleep. When He laughs – and My heart in love with my Creature will then be full of Heaven, for I can be in love with Him, because He is My God, and it will not be against My consecrated virginity to love Him as a lover – His voice when He laughs will be like the merry cooing of a happy little dove which is full and content in its cosy little nest. And I think of Him when He is taking His first steps… a little bird hopping on a flowery meadow. The meadow will be His Mother's heart, it will be laid under His tiny pink feet with all Her love, so that He may not tread on anything that may hurt Him. Oh, how I will love My Child! My Son! Also Joseph will love Him. »
« But You will have to tell Joseph. »
Mary's face darkens, and She sighs. « Yes, I will have to tell him… I wish Heaven would tell him, because it is so difficult to tell. »
« Shall I tell him? We will ask him to come for John's circumcision… »
« No. I have entrusted God with the task of informing him of his happy destiny of putative father of the Son of God, and He will do so. The Spirit said to Me that evening: “Be silent. Entrust Me with the task of justifying You.” And He will do so. God never lies. It is a great trial, but with the help of the Eternal Father, it will be overcome. No one must learn from My mouth what the benignity of the Lord has done. Certainly you are the exception, because the Spirit revealed it to you. »
« I have not mentioned it to anybody, not even to Zacharias who would have been very happy. He thinks you are a mother according to nature. »
« I know. And I decided that out of prudence. The secrets of God are holy. The angel of the Lord did not reveal My divine maternity to Zacharias. He could have done so, if God had wanted, because God knew that the time for the Incarnation of His Word in Me was already imminent. But God hid this joyful light from Zacharias, who rejected your late maternity as something impossible. I have complied with the will of God, as you have seen. You perceived the secret living in Me. He did not perceive anything. Until the screen of his incredulity does not fall before the power of God, he will be separated from supernatural lights. »
Elizabeth sighs and becomes silent.
Zacharias comes in. He offers some parchment rolls to Mary. It is the hour of prayer before supper. Mary prays in a loud voice in place of Zacharias. Then they settle down at the table.
« When You are no longer with us, how we shall regret having no longer anyone to pray for us » says Elizabeth, looking at her dumb husband.
« You will pray then, Zacharias » says Mary.
He shakes his head and writes: « I will never be able to pray again for other people. I became unworthy when I doubted of my God. »
« Zacharias, you will pray. God forgives. »
The old man wipes a tear and sighs.
After supper, Mary goes back to the loom.
« That's enough! » says Elizabeth. « You will become too tired. »
« Your time is approaching, Elizabeth. I want to prepare for your child clothes worthy of him who will precede the King of the House of David. »
Zacharias writes: « Of whom will He be born? And where? »
Mary replies: « Where the Prophets said, and of whom the Eternal Father will choose. Whatever our Most High Lord does, is well done. »
Zacharias writes: « Well, in Bethlehem then! In Judah. We shall go and worship Him, woman. And You will come to Bethlehem, too, with Joseph. »
And Mary, bowing Her head over the loom says: « I will come. » The vision ends thus.
« The first charity towards our neighbors is to be exerted towards our neighbors. This must not seem a pun to you. There is charity towards God and charity towards our neighbors. Charity towards our neighbors comprises also charity towards ourselves. But if we love ourselves more than our neighbors, we are no longer charitable, we are selfish. Also in lawful matters, we must be so holy as to always give priority to the needs of our neighbor. Be sure, My children, that God provides for the generous by means of His power and His bounty.
It was this certainty that led Me to Hebron to assist My relative in her condition. And to My eagerness for human help, God, giving beyond measure as He is wont, added an unforeseen gift of supernatural assistance. I went to give material help and God sanctified My good intention by sanctifying, through it, the fruit of Elizabeth's womb, and by means of that sanctification, by which the Baptist was presanctified, He relieved the physical pain of the elderly daughter of Eve, who had conceived at an unusual age.
Elizabeth, a woman of fearless faith and confident submission to God's will, deserved to understand the mystery that was enclosed within Me. The Spirit spoke to her through the bouncing in her womb. The Baptist pronounced his first speech, as the Announcer of the Word, through the veils and the diaphragms of veins and flesh that separated and united him at the same time to his holy mother. Neither did I deny My prerogative of being the Mother of the Lord, because she was worthy of the information and the Light had revealed Itself to her. To deny it would have meant denying God the praise that it was just should be given to Him, the praise that I bore in Me, and which, since I could not tell anyone, I repeated to the herbs, to the flowers, to the stars, to the sun, to the singing birds and the patient sheep, to the warbling waters, to the golden light that kissed Me descending from Heaven. But it is sweeter to pray together rather than say our prayers by ourselves.
I would have liked all the world to know of My destiny, not for My own sake, but that they might join Me in praising My Lord.
Prudence forbade me to reveal the truth to Zacharias. That would have implied going beyond the work of God. And if I was His Spouse and Mother, I was still His servant, and I could not take the liberty of substituting Him and exceeding Him in a decree, simply because He had loved Me beyond measure. Elizabeth in her holiness understood, and was silent. Because a holy person is always submissive and humble.
The gift of God must increase our goodness. The more we receive from Him, the more we must give. Because the more we receive, the more obvious it is that He is with us and within us. And the more He is with us and within us, the more we must endeavor to reach His perfection.
That is why I worked for Elizabeth, postponing My own work. I was not afraid that I would not have time. God is the master of time. He provides for those who hope in Him, also in normal things. Selfishness does not speed matters up, it delays them. Charity does not delay, it speeds up. Always bear that in mind.
How much peace there was in Elizabeth's house! If I had not been worried about Joseph and… and my Child, Who was the Redeemer of the world, I would have been happy, But the cross was already casting its shadow on My life and I heard the voices of the Prophets like a knell…
My name was Mary. Bitterness was always mingled with the sweetness that God poured into My heart. And it increased more and more until the death of My Son. But when God calls us, Mary, to the destiny of victims for His glory, oh! it is sweet to be ground like corn in the millstone, to convert our pain into a bread that can strengthen the weak and make them capable of reaching Heaven! Now, it is enough. You are tired and happy. Rest now with My blessing »