THE DEATH OF MARY
3. A Sweet Agony.
God could not any more resist these loving longings and finally resolved to acquiesce. According to a tradition, the Lord sent the Archangel Gabriel with this sweet message: "Hail Mary, Thou full of grace today much more than on the day of the Annunciation! The Lord has yielded to thy longing and sends me to inform Thee to make ready to quit the earth, since Thou art going to be crowned in Heaven. Make haste, then, because all the angels are longing for the day when they will keep Thee in their company as their Queen and Mistress." Listen again to the answer of this most humble Virgin on hearing this embassy. Again She prostrates Herself on the ground and repeats: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to Thy word!"
The beloved disciple has become aware that Mary is about to depart for Heaven. He cannot stand the thought of it. How can he live if, used as he was to that maternal glance, to that tender fondling, they snatched that jewel from him? How will he be able to survive? How great will be his sorrow? He had received Mary in legacy a cherished treasure on Calvary! He had eagerly kept it. He had looked after Her with so much care; and now death was going to snatch it all from him!
The sorrow of all the other apostles and disciples, of all the Christians and especially those holy, pious women in whose company Our Lady had been living would be similar. How sad and desolate must have been that departure for them all! But for Mary it was so sweet; and She would certainly try to ease the separation by telling those around Her: "Do not weep. It is good for you that I go in order to look after you from heaven. I shall never fail you until the end of time." This promise of Our Lady is most consoling for us. How true it is that Our Lady is always with us! The Church is not sad, nor does she don funeral apparel on the anniversary of Mary's death. Rather does she array herself in festive garments. The death of the saints is precious, says the Holy Scripture. What then could be said of the death of Mary? St. John Damascene says that Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself came to give Her last Communion and said to Her: "Receive, O Lady and Mother of mine from My own hands the Body that you gave me, the One shaped in Your most pure womb." And Our Lady answered: "My Son, into Thy hands I entrust my soul!" And then the Lord bidding that most holy soul come out from that holy body, took it in His hands exclaiming: Come now, My Beautiful One, My Dove, come because the winter is over in this vale of tears. Come from the Lebanon and You will be crowned."
So Mary died in the only way She could, of love. St. Francis de Sales says the angels if they were mortal would die of the same cause. Would that we could have a similar death! Do not forget that death is just a reflection of our life. Do you want to die like Mary? Do you live like Her? Neither help nor protection will ever be wanting from Her. So let there not be wanting on your side that constant and true devotion to Mary which will ensure you a holy and sweet death. Ask that grace daily from your Beloved Mother.
[Excerpted from 'MARIAN MEDITATIONS' Book by Rev. Dr. Ildefonso R. Villar, Salesian Philippine Province, Nihil Obstat; Imprimatur]