Living in the Two Hearts

My Spiritual Insights and Musings

Trials in Nazareth…

Posted by Anne Elizabeth on December 23, 2008

Greetings!: This is a continuation of an Advent reflection as seen from the eyes of the Mother of the Redeemer, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Please refer to the first post in this series: INTRODUCTION if you are a first time reader.

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Note: In this as in other great mysteries of the Blessed Virgin’s life which she herself described to the mystics, quotations from her own words are printed in italics.

[Biblical Passages will follow in BOLD black print when they apply.]

Trials in Nazareth: chapters 11 & 10

Now…the Blessed Virgin was in her fifth month of pregnancy, [when] one day when St. Joseph saw her coming out of her oratory, [and] he could not help noticing the evident change in her  condition, which she did not once try to conceal. But [Joseph] was completely unable to explain what he saw so clearly.

Naturally, because he loved his dear wife so tenderly, he felt a keen stab of grief in his heart. Yet, as he was a holy and just man, he withheld his judgment, though he began to worry over the matter more and more. He dreaded the terrible thought that he might be forced to give her over authorities to be stoned, according to the Law of Moses.

But he did not dare to speak to her about this subject, since she did not volunteer any information. And so he turned to the Lord in frequent and fervent prayers saying:

“Most High God, my grief is almost killing me!  My reason proclaims her blameless, while my senses accuse her. What shall I do? Why does she conceal this from me?…”

Meanwhile St. Joseph’s suffering was known to Mary, and it filled her affectionate heart with intense compassion for him. But she felt obliged to keep God’s great secret to herself until He gave her permission to reveal it to anyone. With deep wisdom and confidence, she resigned the whole matter into the hands of Divine Providence. And she sought to comfort her good husband in his trouble by serving him with still more devotion and thoughtfulness.

Mary spoke to [Joseph] anxiously about his health and urged him to take some rest and recreation. And in great sorrow she prayed fervently to the Lord to console her unhappy husband.

After beating his tribulation patiently and nobly for two months, St. Joseph finally came to the sad conclusion that the best thing for him to do was…to leave his home…

… before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away… ~Matthew 1:18b-19

Meanwhile, Mary knowing what he was planning also prayed to God:

“I beseech Thee, Lord, not to allow him to carry out this decision and leave me!”

And the Lord answered her:

“My dearest dove, I shall presently visit My servant Joseph with consolation. And after I…have revealed to him by My angel the mystery is now unknown to him, thou may tell him openly all I have done with thee. I will fill him with My Spirit and he will assist thee in all that will happen.”

Now the Lord mercifully sent the Archangel Gabriel to St. Joseph while he slept, and though Joseph did not see the angel, he distinctly heard the inner voice say to him:

“Do not be afraid, Joseph, son of David, to take Mary thy wife, for that which is begotten in her Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou [shall] call His name Jesus. For He shall save His people from their sins.”

But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  ~Mt 1:20-21

Early that morning, when [Joseph] knew that Mary had finished her first prayers and meditation, he went to her room and through himself on his knees before her with the deepest reverence saying:

“My spouse, Mother of the Eternal Word, I beseech you to pardon my audacity. I am certain that none of my thoughts are hidden to your heavenly insight. Great was my presumption in deciding to leave you instead of serving you as the Mother of my Lord. But you know that I did it all in ignorance. Now I consecrate my heart and my life to your service. I will not rise from my knees until I have obtained your pardon and your blessing.”

Raising him to his feet, Mary…[responded] with tender joy and love:

“My master and my husband, I should ask you to forgive me for the sorrow and bitterness which I have caused you. As much as I wanted to, I could, not on my own account, give you any information about the holy sacrament hidden within me by the power of the Almighty. But I will always be your faithful servant Lord has not made me His Mother in order that I should be served in this life, but in order that I should be the servant of all…That is my duty.”

…St. Joseph, with profound humility reverence, bowed his head and adored his Lord in her womb, [and] God looked down upon good St. Joseph with kindly favor and accepted him as His foster father, filling his pure heart with holy graces.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took [Mary as] his wife.  ~Mt 1:22-24

After learning that Mary was the chosen Mother of God, St. Joseph was changed spiritually into a new man. He resolved henceforth to act toward her with much greater reverence. Whenever he passed her or spoke to her alone, respectfully genuflected, and he would no longer let her serve him or clean the house or wash the dishes. As she protested, he did these chores during the time which she spent in contemplation.

Therefore in her humility Mary appealed to the Lord, and St. Joseph’s guardian angel was sent to tell him: “Exteriorly allow her to serve thee, and interiorly treat her with the highest reverence. Always worship in her the Lord of all creation. It is His will and Mother’s to serve and not to be served, in order to teach the world the value of humility.”

St. Joseph and Mary now frequently read and discussed together the various prophecies in Holy Scripture concerning the Messiah, especially all that related to His birth…Often during these conversations, St. Joseph would become so moved by Mary’s inspiring words that with tears in his eyes he would exclaim:

“Is it really possible that I shall see my God in your arms and hear Him speak, and touch Him – that He will live with us – that we shall eat at the same table with Him and talk with Him? I do not deserve this good fortune…”

[Mary replied]:

“My master and husband, the Lord is coming to redeem the world and to guide men on the path to life eternal, and this is to be done by means of humility and poverty.  In humility and poverty He wishes to be born, to live, and to die, in order to break the chains of greed and pride in the hearts of men. That is why He chose our poor and humble home and did not want us to be rich in passing goods, which are but vanity and which darken the understanding.”

As Mary’s pregnancy was now far advanced, one said to St. Joseph:

“My master, it is time that we prepare the things net for the birth of my holy Son. If you give me your permission, I will make the various clothes ready. I have already woven a piece of linen for His first swaddling clothes. Now please try to find some woolen cloth of soft texture and plain color for the other coverings. Later on I will weave a seamless tunic for Him. But let us pray to the Lord together for the guidance in treating Him worthily.”

Then as they knelt in prayer, each heard a Voice:

“I have come from heaven to earth in order to exalt humility and discredit pride, to honor poverty and scorn riches, to destroy vanity and establish truth, and to enhance the value of labor. Therefore it is My will that exteriorly you treat Me according to the humble position which I have assumed, as if I were your natural child, and that interiorly you love and revere Me as the Man-God, Son of My Eternal Father.”

Soon in exchange for his work Joseph obtained two pieces of woolen cloth of the best quality available, one white the other gray. Of these Mary made the first little robes for her Son.

[Then] one day St. Joseph, while away from home on errand, heard that a recently proclaimed Roman edict ordered all heads of families in Palestine to be registered on the tax lists in their native cities.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. ~Luke 2:1-4

When he sadly told Mary this disturbing news, she answered reassuringly:

“Do not let this edict cause you any concern, for all that happens to us is ordained by the Lord, and in all events His providence will assist and direct us.”

Mary obediently presented St. Joseph’s petitions to God…and she received the following answer in prayer:

“My dearest dove, accompany My servant Joseph on the journey. I shall be with you and I shall assist you with paternal love in the tribulations you will suffer for My sake.  Although they will be very great, do not fear.”

and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. ~Lk 2:7b

Her heart being thus prepared for what lay ahead, calmly told St. Joseph that she was going to travel with him.  He was filled with joyful consolation, and thanking Lord, he said to her:

“My Lady, now my only source of grief will be the hardships you will have to undergo. But in Bethlehem we find friends and relatives, and there you will be able rest from the journey.”

Mary…always kept to herself all the secrets of God which she was not told to reveal. Instead she now said to her good husband, quietly and humbly:

“My master, I will accompany you with great joy. And we will make this journey as poor people, in the name of the Lord, for He will not despise poverty, which He has come to seek with so much love. Relying on His help, we will go with confidence to Bethlehem.”

[emphasis added]

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Previous Posts:

Anne & Joachim
Nativity (Birth) of Mary
Infancy of Mary
Presentation/Service to the Temple
* Part I
* Part II
In The Temple
The Espousals
Preparation for the Annunciation
* Part I
* Part II
* Part III
The Annunciation

The Visitation

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