This vision of peace descends from Heaven, amid the disgusting things which the world nowadays offers us, and I do not know how that can be, because I am like a little twig at the mercy of the wind in my continuous conflicts with human wickedness so discordant with what lives within me.
We are still in Elizabeth's house. It is a beautiful summer evening, still clear in the last rays of the sun, and yet the sky is already decorated with a falcated moon that looks like a silver comma attached to a large deep blue cloth.
The rosebushes give off strong perfume and the bees, like humming gold drops, are making their last flights in the quiet warm evening air. From the meadows, there is a strong smell of hay dried in the sun, it is almost like that of bread, of warm bread, just taken out of the oven. Perhaps it comes also from the many sheets hanging everywhere to dry, and which Sarah is now folding.
Mary is walking with Her cousin, linking arms with her. They go up and down very slowly, under the semi-dark pergola. But Mary watches everything and, while taking care of Elizabeth, She sees that Sarah is ill at ease in folding a long sheet which she has taken off a hedge. « Sit down here, and wait for me » She says to her relative. And She goes to help the old servant, pulling the sheet to straighten it, and then folding it carefully. « They still smell of sun, they are warm » She says with a smile. And to make the old lady happy, She adds: « This sheet, after your bleaching, has become as beautiful as ever. You are the only one who knows how to do things so well. »
Sarah goes away, overjoyed, with her load of scented sheets.
Mary goes back to Elizabeth and says: « Let us take a few more steps. They will do you good. » And as Elizabeth is tired, and does not wish to move, Mary says to her: « Let us go only to see if your doves are all in their nests, and if the water in their tub is clear. We shall then come back home. »
Doves must be the favorite pets of Elizabeth. When they are in front of the rustic tower where all the doves are gathered, Elizabeth is deeply moved; in fact the hens are in the nests and the cocks are in front of them, but neither of them move, instead they all start cooing loudly when they see the two women: a gentle form of greeting. Elizabeth is overcome by the weakness of her condition and by fears which make her cry. She expresses her fears to her cousin. « If I should die… what will happen to my poor little doves? You will not be staying here. If You were to remain in my house, it would not matter if I died. I have had the greatest joy a woman can possibly have. The joy which I was no longer expecting to have, and I cannot even complain of death with the Lord, because He has overwhelmed me with His benignity, may He be blessed for it. But there is Zacharias-… and then there will be the child. An old man who would feel as though he were lost in a desert without his woman. And the other is so small, that he would be like a flower, condemned to die of cold because he is without his mother. Poor baby, without the caresses of his mother!… »
« But why are you so sad? God has given you the joy of being a mother, and He will not take it away from you when it is full. Little John will receive all the kisses of his mummy, and Zacharias all the attentions of his faithful wife until the very end of his long life. You are two branches of the same tree. One will not die, leaving the other alone. »
« You are good, and You comfort me. But I am so old to have a son. And now that I am about to have one, I am afraid. »
« Oh! No! There is Jesus here. We must not be afraid where there is Jesus. My Child relieved your pain, you said that yourself, when He was just a bud newly formed. Now that He is becoming more and more mature, and He already lives as My Creature -- I can feel in My throat the beating of His little heart, and I feel as if a little nestling with a light pulsating heart were resting on My throat He will remove all dangers from you. You must have faith. »
« I have. But if I should die… don't leave Zacharias at once. I know that You are concerned with Your own house. But please remain here a little longer to help my husband in his first days of sorrow. »
« I shall stay to take delight in your joy and in the joy of your husband, and I will leave you when you are strong and happy. But now be quiet, Elizabeth. Everything will be all right. Nothing will happen to your household while you are suffering. Zacharias will be served by the most loving maid, your flowers will be looked after, and your doves will be attended to, and you will find them all beautiful and happy to rejoice with, when their loved mistress comes back. Let us go in now, because you are getting pale… »
« Yes, I think I am beginning to suffer again. Perhaps my time has come. Mary, pray for me. »
« I will support you with My prayer until your labor ends in joy. »
The two women slowly go back into the house.
Elizabeth withdraws to her rooms. Mary, a capable and provident woman, gives the necessary instructions, prepares everything that may be necessary, and at the same time, She comforts Zacharias who is worried.
In the house that is sleepless that night, and where one can hear the strange voices of women called in to help, Mary is watchful like a lighthouse on a stormy night. The whole house rotates around Her, and She sees to everything, smiling sweetly. And She prays. When She is not called for this or that matter, She concentrates in prayer. She is now in the room where they always gather for their meals and to work. Zacharias is with Her, and he sighs and walks up and down uneasily. They have already prayed together. Then Mary has continued to pray. Also now that the old man, being tired, has sat down on his big chair near the table, and is quiet and sleepy, She prays. And when She sees him sleeping with his head resting on his arms crossed on the table, She takes Her sandals off to make no noise and walks barefooted and, making less noise than a butterfly fluttering around the room, She takes Zacharias' mantle, and lays it on him so gently that he continues to sleep in the comfort of the woollen cloth that protects him from the cold air of the night that comes in, in gusts from the door, which is very often opened. Then She starts praying again, and She prays more and more intensely, kneeling down, raising Her arms, when the painful cries of Elizabeth become heart-rending.
Sarah comes in and invites Her to go out. Mary goes out barefooted into the garden. « My mistress wants You » she says.
« I am coming. » And Mary walks along the house, goes upstairs… She looks like a white angel, wandering in the peaceful starry night. She goes into Elizabeth's room.
« Oh! Mary! Mary! What a pain! I can't stand it any longer, Mary! How much pain one must suffer to be a mother! »
Mary caresses her lovingly, and kisses her.
« Mary! Mary! Let me put my hands on Your bosom! »
Mary takes the two wrinkled and swollen hands, and lays them on Her round abdomen, pressing them tightly with Her smooth, slender little hands. And She speaks in a low voice, now that they are alone: « Jesus is here, and He hears and sees you. Have faith, Elizabeth. His holy heart is beating more strongly because He is acting for your good. I can feel it throbbing as though I were holding it in My hands. And I understand the words that My Child says to Me. He is now saying: "Tell the woman not to be afraid. Only a little more pain. And then, with the first rays of the sun, among the many roses awaiting the morning's rays to open out on their stems, her house will have the most beautiful rose, and it will be John, My Predecessor". »
Elizabeth now presses also her face against Mary's bosom, and weeps gently.
Mary stands for some time in that attitude because the pain seems to ease giving a moment's relief. And she beckons everybody to be quiet. She remains standing, beautiful and white in the pale, faint light of an oil lamp, like an angel near a person who suffers. She is praying. I can see Her moving Her lips. But even if I did not see them move, I would understand that She is praying from the enraptured expression on Her face.
Some time goes by, and Elizabeth is in the throes once again. Mary kisses her again, and goes out. She goes downstairs very quickly in the moonlight, and goes to see if the old man is still sleeping. He is sleeping, and moaning in his sleep. Mary makes a gesture of compassion, and starts to pray once again.
More time passes. The old man awakes from his sleep and lifts up his head, and he is confused, because he does not recollect why he is there. Then he remembers, makes a gesture, and utters a guttural exclamation. He then writes: « Is he not born yet? » Mary shakes Her head in denial. Zacharias writes: « How much pain! Oh my poor woman! Will she manage without dying? »
Mary takes the hand of the old man, and reassures him: "At dawn, in a short while, the baby will be born. Everything will be all right. Elizabeth is strong. How beautiful this day will be -- it will soon be daybreak -- how beautiful this day will be when the child sees the light! It will be the nicest day of your life! The Lord has kept aside great graces for you and your child is the announcer of them."
Zacharias shakes his head sadly, and points to his dumb mouth. He would like to say many things, but cannot.
Mary understands, and replies: « The Lord will complete your joy. Believe in Him completely, hope in Him indefinitely, love Him totally. The Most High will grant you more than you dare hope for. He wants this total faith from you, to wash out your past mistrust. Say in your heart with me: "I believe". Say it with every beat of your heart. The treasures of God are opened for those who believe in Him and in His powerful bounty. »
The light begins to filter in through the partly open door. Mary opens it. Dawn makes the dewy earth completely white. There is a strong smell of humid earth and green herbs, and the first chirping of the birds, calling one another from branch to branch, can be heard.
The old man and Mary move towards the door. They are pale because of the sleepless night, and the light at dawn makes them look even more pale. Mary puts on Her sandals, and goes to the foot of the staircase and listens. A woman looks out, nods, and then goes back in. Nothing yet.
Mary goes into the room, and comes back with some warm milk which She gives to the old man. She goes to the doves, comes back, and disappears into the same room. Perhaps it is the kitchen. She moves around watching. She looks as though She had slept the most perfect sleep, She is so quick and serene.
Zacharias is walking up and down the garden very nervously. Mary looks at him compassionately. She then goes again into the usual room, and kneeling near Her loom, She prays intensely, because the cries of Elizabeth are becoming sharper. She bows down to the ground imploring the Eternal Father. Zacharias comes back in, and seeing Her in this prostrate state, the poor old man cries. Mary gets up and takes him by the hand. She is so much younger than he is, but She looks as though She were the mother of the poor old desolate soul, and She pours Her consolation on him.
They are standing thus, one beside the other, in the sun that makes the morning air rosy, and it is thus that the joyful news reaches them: « He is born! He is born! It's a boy! Happy father! A boy as beautiful as a rose, as beautiful as the sun, as strong and good as his mother! Joy for you, father, blessed by the Lord Who gave you a son that you may offer him to the Temple! Glory to God, Who has granted posterity to this house! Blessed are you, and your son who was born to you! May his offspring perpetuate your name for centuries, from generation to generation, and may his descendants always be in union with the Eternal Lord. »
Mary blesses the Lord weeping for joy. Then the two receive the little one, who has been brought to the father, that he may bless him. Zacharias does not go to Elizabeth. He receives the child, who is screaming desperately, but he does not go to his wife.
Mary instead goes, carrying with love the little one, who becomes quiet, as soon as She takes him in Her arms. The woman who is following Her notices this, and she says to Elizabeth: « Woman, your child became quiet immediately, when She took him. Look how peacefully he is sleeping, and only Heaven knows how restless and strong he is. But look now! He seems a little dove. »
Mary lays the creature near his mother and caresses her, tidying up her grey hair. « The rose is born » She whispers in a low voice, « and you are alive. Zacharias is happy. »
« Does he speak? »
« Not yet. But hope in the Lord. Rest now. I am staying with you. »
« If My presence had sanctified the Baptist, it did not nullify for Elizabeth the sentence against Eve. "You shall give birth to your children in pain" the Eternal Father had said.
Only I, because I was without stain, and I had not had any human copulation, was exempted from generating with pain. Sadness and pain are fruits of fault. I, Who was the Innocent One, had to know also sorrow and sadness, because I was the Co-Redeemer. But I did not know the torture of generating. No. I did not know that torture.
But believe Me, daughter, that there never was, and never will be a torture of puerpery like Mine as the Martyr of a spiritual Maternity, which was accomplished on the hardest of beds, the bed of My cross, at the foot of the scaffold of My dying Son. Which mother is compelled to generate thus? To blend the torture of Her bowels which contract spasmodically because of the death rattle of Her dying Creature, with the torture which tears Her bowels apart in the strain of overcoming the horror of having to say: "I love you, come to Me Who am your Mother" to each murderer of Her Son, born of the most sublime love that Heaven ever saw, of the love of a God with a virgin, of the kiss of Fire, of the embrace of Light which became Flesh, and made the womb of a woman the Tabernacle of God?
"How much pain to be a mother!" says Elizabeth. So much! But nothing when compared to Mine.
“Let me press my hands on Your bosom". Oh, if you always asked Me for that when you suffer!
I am the Eternal Bearer of Jesus. He is in My womb, as you saw last year, like the Host in the monstrance. Who comes to Me, finds Him. Who leans on Me, touches Him. Who addresses Me, speaks to Him. I am His Dress. He is My Soul. My Son is united to His Mother more, much more now, than He was in the nine months that He was in My womb. And every pain is appeased, every hope flourishes and every grace flows for those who come to Me and rest their heads against My bosom.
I pray for you. Remember that. The beatitude of being in Heaven, living in the ray of God, does not cause Me to forget My children who are suffering on the earth. And I pray. And all Heaven prays, because Heaven loves. Heaven is living charity. And Charity has mercy on you. But even if I were all by Myself, My prayer would be sufficient for the needs of those who hope in God. Because I never stop praying for you all, for the holy and the wicked, to give joy to the holy, to give repentance to the wicked that they might be saved.
Come, come, o children of My sorrow. I am waiting for you at the foot of the Cross to grant you graces. »
Written by Maria Valtorta. From POEM OF THE MAN-GOD, Volume #1, Chapter 23.
Copyright 1986 Centro Editoriale Valtortiano, srl, Isola del Liri, Italy. All rights reserved in all countries.