The School of Saints “My most holy Son and myself are trying to
find, among those who have arrived at the Way of the Cross, some soul, whom We
can instruct systematically in this Divine Science; and whom We can withdraw
from the worldly and diabolical wisdom, in which the sons of Adam, with blind
stubbornness, are rejecting the salutary discipline of sufferings. If thou
wishest to be our disciple, enter into this school, in which alone is taught the
Doctrine of the Cross and the manner of reaching true peace and veritable
delights. With this wisdom, the earthly love of sensible pleasures and riches
is not compatible; nor the vain ostentation and pomp, which fascinates the
bleary-eyed worldlings, who are so covetous of passing honors, and so full of
ignorant admiration for costly grandeur” (Our Lady to the Venerable Mary of Agreda). The Science of Saints “My daughter, in all that thou art made to understand and write concerning these mysteries, thou drawest upon thyself, and upon mortals, a severe judgment, if thou dost not overcome thy pusillanimity, ingratitude and baseness, by meditating day and night on the Passion and Death of Jesus crucified. This is the great Science of the Saints, so little heeded by the worldly, it is the Bread of Life and the Spiritual Food of the little ones, which gives Wisdom to them and the lack of which starves the lovers of this proud world . In this science I wish thee to be studious and wise, for with it thou canst buy thyself all good things. My Son and Lord taught us this Science when He said: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: no one cometh to My Father except through Me’ (John 14:6). ” (Our Lady to the Venerable Mary of Agreda).
THE SECOND SORROW OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY The Flight into Egypt
When faced with danger, the instinctive human reaction is one of either fight or flee. It seems strange to us that almighty God, even though under the form of an Infant Child, chooses to flee from a mere man, whom, if Jesus had so wished, He could have destroyed there and then. Even the Blessed Virgin Mary, by her powerful prayers could have done something! Yet, the King of good, flees from a king of evil! Why? Quite simply, it was not yet time to fight! As Jesus would say later: “My hour is not yet come” (John 2:4).
The 'fleeing' Jesus Many times He avoided the inevitable ‘fight’ or fled from situations that He did not desire, as testified by Holy Scripture: “Jesus therefore, when He knew that they would come to take Him by force, and make Him king, fled again into the mountain Himself alone” (John 6:15). When the Pharisees had become His enemies, “They sought therefore to apprehend Him: and no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come … And some of them would have apprehended Him: but no man laid hands on Him” (John 7:30, 44). A little later, in another setting, Jesus evades His enemies once again: “Jesus spoke in the treasury, teaching in the temple: and no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come” (John 8:20). Finally, the hour when Jesus would enter the battle came! It was the hour of His Passion: “Behold, the hour cometh, and it is now come, that you shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me” (John 16:32).
The 'fleeing' Saints Jesus was not first, not will be He be last to flee. Many of the heroes of the Old and New Testament, likewise, fled in certain circumstances—yet they remain heroes. Abraham was told to flee from Sodom and Gomorrah.
Jacob fled from his father-in-law rather than have a confrontation with him: “Jacob would not confess to his father in law that he was flying away. And when he was gone…it was told Laban, on the third day, that Jacob fled” (Genesis 31:20-22). Jacob also fled from his brother Esau.
Moses fled from the Egyptian king: “And Pharao…sought to kill Moses: but he fled from his sight, and abode in the land of Madian.” (Exodus 2:15).
David fled from King Saul—more than once: “And Saul endeavoured to nail David to the wall with his spear. And David slipped away out of the presence of Saul: and the spear missed him, and was fastened in the wall, and David fled and escaped that night. Saul therefore sent his guards to David's house to watch him, that he might be killed in the morning. And when Michol, David's wife, had told him this, saying: ‘Unless thou save thyself this night, tomorrow thou wilt die,’ she let him down through a window. And he went and fled away and escaped” (1 Kings [1 Samuel] 19:10-12). In fact, David keeps on fleeing! Sometime later, we read that David again flees from Saul: “David arose and fled that day from the face of Saul: and came to Achis the king of Geth” (1 Kings [1 Samuel] 21:10). “And it was told Saul that David was fled to Geth, and he sought no more after him” (1 Kings (1 Samuel) 27:4).
The Apostles fled at the arrest of Jesus: “Then the disciples, all leaving Him, fled” (Matthew 26:56) … “Then His disciples leaving Him, all fled away” (Mark 14:50).
St. Paul and St. Barnabas fled when the Jews wanted to arrest and stone them: “And when there was an assault made by the Gentiles and the Jews with their rulers, to use them contumeliously, and to stone them: they, understanding it, fled to Lystra, and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the whole country round about, and were there preaching the Gospel” (Acts 14:5-6).
Speaking of the ‘Flight to Egypt”—it was form Egypt and the surrounding area that we got the great saints, the Desert Fathers (and some Desert Mothers too)! They did not want to be contaminated by the spirit of the world, nor did they want to undergo the persecutions that were raging against the Catholic Church, so they fled to the solitude and safety of the desert, there to fight a different kind of battle, a supernatural battle, that led many of them to high degrees of sanctity and sainthood. “Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord, to thee have I fled” (Psalms 142:9).
Fleeing in the End Times Our Lord even tells us to flee in the end times, when persecution breaks loose: “And when they shall persecute you in this city, flee into another” (Matthew 10:23). And again: “When therefore you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand. Then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains: and he that is on the housetop, let him not come down to take anything out of his house: and he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat … For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be. And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:15-18, 21-22).
“And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with an army; then know that the desolation thereof is at hand.
Then let those who are in Judea, flee to the mountains; and those who are in the midst thereof, depart out: and those who are in the countries, not enter into it. For these are the days of vengeance” (Luke 21:20-22).
An army, or even a sports team, can never been on the attack perpetually. They attack at times and then at other times they have to retreat and defend as they are attacked. This is even true of the Church that Christ founded. It had its days of hiding in the catacombs and caves in Rome, or the case of the English Protestant Revolution causing priests to have ‘hiding-holes’ and the faithful to go ‘underground’. Then it has had its times of glorious conquest in many parts of the world, where it brought and planted the Faith.
So, too, for ourselves. As Holy Scripture says: “All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under Heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to kill, and a time to heal. A time to destroy, and a time to build. A time to keep silence, and a time to speak. A time of love, and a time of hatred. A time of war, and a time of peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). We may add to this “a time to flee and a time to fight”!
Fleeing SIn and Worldliness The first thing we must do is pursue good and flee evil! As Scripture says: “Turn away from evil and do good” (Psalm 33:15). “Seek ye good, and not evil” (Amos 5:14). “Be not delighted in the paths of the wicked, neither let the way of evil men please thee. Flee from it, pass not by it: go aside, and forsake it” (Proverbs 4:14-15). “But flee thou youthful desires” (2 Timothy 2:22). “Flee from sins as from the face of a serpent: for if thou comest near them, they will take hold of thee” (Ecclesiasticus 21:2).
We should seek to flee from sin and sinful companions. As St. Paul asks: “And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:15). We cannot serve God and mammon, though many truly think they can! But, alas, they are wrong! “Fools hate them that flee from evil things” (Proverbs 13:19).
Satan is the prince of this world, says Our Lord, and we should not be of this world, just as Our Lord said He was not of this world: “And He said to them: ‘You are from beneath, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world’” (John 8:23). Therefore, St. James the Apostle writes: “Know you not that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Let us flee the world, lest we be judged with the world. That is where fleeing takes courage, because we have to overcome the fear of what our Liberal family members, worldly relatives, pagan work colleagues may do, say or think about our retreat from their circles and company! We will have to overcome the weakness that says we must “Go along to get along!” Remember that the road to Hell is broad and wide, as Our Lord puts it, and many there are who “Go along” that road! Narrow and straight is the path that leads to salvation, and few there are who find it! Flee that broad road before it is too late!
“Iniquity is risen up into a rod of impiety: nothing of them shall remain, nor of their people, nor of the noise of them: and there shall be no rest among them. The time is come, the day is at hand…Blow the trumpet, let all be made ready…for my wrath shall be upon all the people thereof. The sword without: and the pestilence, and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die by the sword: and they that are in the city, shall be devoured by the pestilence, and the famine. And such of them as shall flee shall escape: and they shall be in the mountains like doves of the valleys, all of them trembling, every one for his iniquity” (Ezechiel 4:11-16).
“Flee, save your lives: and be as heath in the wilderness” (Jeremias 48:6) … “Flee and turn your backs, go down into the deep hole” (Jeremias 49:8) … “Flee ye, get away speedily, sit in deep holes, saith the Lord: for Nabuchodonosor, king of Babylon, hath taken counsel against you, and hath conceived designs against you” (Jeremias 49:30) … “Flee ye from the midst of Babylon, and let everyone save his own life: be not silent upon her iniquity: for it is the time of revenge from the Lord, he will I render unto her what she hath deserved” (Jeremias 51:6).
Our Lady has spoken many times of this “time of revenge” that God has in store for a world that ignores Heaven’s messages, pleas and warnings. Let us flee from this world unto our Mother in Heaven. Let us be the Noe’s of our time, who take God’s messages and commands seriously and put them into practice by doing what Heaven wants doing. In this way we will build an ‘Ark’ of salvation and perhaps safety (though salvation comes before safety) in the woeful days that lay ahead. For is God us with us, who can stand against us? Ave Maria!
Below you will find two accounts of the prophecy of the Flight into Egypt, as related by Our Lady to the Venerable Mary of Agreda, taken from the book, Mystical City of God. The first account is a shortened version of the full account, which takes up three entire chapters. For those who would like to read and reflect upon all three chapters, these will be included after the shortened version at a later date.
THE MYSTICAL CITY OF GOD by the Venerable Sr. Mary of Agreda Volume 2 : The Incarnation; Book 1 : An abridgement of Chapters 21, 22 and 23 "The Flight into Egypt"
Our heavenly Pilgrims left Jerusalem and entered upon their banishment, while yet the silence and obscurity of night held sway. They were full of solicitude for the Pledge of Heaven, which they carried with them into a strange and unknown land. Although faith and hope strengthened them (for in no other beings could these virtues be more firmly and securely established than in our Queen and her most faithful spouse), nevertheless the Lord afforded them occasion for anxiety. Their love for the Infant Jesus would naturally excite in them anxiety and suffering on an occasion like this. They knew not what would happen during such a long journey, nor when it should end, nor how they would fare in Egypt, where they would be entire strangers, nor what comfort or convenience they would find there, for raising the Child, nor even how they would be able to ward off great sufferings from Him on the way to Egypt.
Therefore the hearts of these holy Parents were filled with many misgivings and anxious thoughts when they parted with so much haste from their lodging-place; but their sorrow was much relieved when the ten thousand heavenly courtiers above mentioned again appeared to them in human forms and in their former splendor and beauty, and when they again changed the night into the brightest day for the holy Pilgrims. As they set forth from the portals of the city the holy angels humiliated themselves and adored the incarnate Word in the arms of the Virgin Mother. They also encouraged her by again offering their homage and service, stating that it was the will of the Lord that they guide and accompany her on the journey.
In this town of Gaza they remained two days, for Saint Joseph and the beast of burden which carried the Queen were worn out by the fatigue of the journey. From that place they sent back the servant of Saint Elisabeth, taking care to caution him not to tell any one of their whereabouts. But God provided still more effectually against this danger; for He took away from this man all remembrance of what Saint Joseph had charged him to conceal, so that he retained only his message to Saint Elisabeth.
Most holy Mary expended the presents sent by Elisabeth in entertaining the poor; for she, who was Mother of the poor, could not bear to pass them by unassisted. Of the clothes sent to her she made a cloak for the divine Infant, and one for Saint Joseph, to shelter them from the discomforts of the season and of the journey. She also used other things in their possession, for the comfort of her Child and of Saint Joseph. The most prudent Virgin would not rely on miraculous assistance whenever she could provide for the daily needs by her own diligence and labor; for, in these matters, she desired to subject herself to the natural order and depend upon her own efforts. During the two days which they spent in that city, the most pure Mary, in order to enrich it with great blessings, performed some wonderful deeds. She freed two sick persons from the danger of death and cured their ailments. She restored to another person, a crippled woman, the use of her limbs. In the souls of many, who met her and conversed with her, she caused divine effects of the knowledge of God and of a change of life. All of them felt themselves moved to praise their Creator. But neither Mary nor Joseph spoke a word about their native country, nor of the destination or object of their journey; for if this information had been added to the public notice caused by their wonderful actions, the attention of Herod's agents might have been drawn toward them, and they might have found sufficient inducement to follow them after their departure.
On the third day after our Pilgrims had touched Gaza, they departed from that city for Egypt. Soon leaving the inhabited parts of Palestine, they entered the sandy deserts of Bersabe, which they were obliged to traverse for sixty leagues in order to arrive and take their abode in Heliopolis, the present Cairo in Egypt. This journey through the desert consumed a number of days, for the distance they could travel each day was but short, not only on account of the laborious progress over the deep sand, but also on account of the hardships occasioned by the want of shelter. There were many incidents on their way through this solitude; I will mention some of them, from which others can be conjectured; for it is not necessary to relate all of them.
In order to understand how much Mary and Joseph and also the Infant Jesus suffered on their pilgrimage, it must be remembered that the Almighty permitted his Only-begotten, with his most holy Mother and Saint Joseph, to suffer the inconveniences and hardships naturally connected with travel through this desert. And although the heavenly Lady made no complaints, yet she was much afflicted, which was also true of her most faithful husband. For both of them suffered many personal inconveniences and discomforts, while the Mother, in addition thereto, was afflicted still more on account of the sufferings of her Son and of Saint Joseph; and the latter was deeply grieved not to be able by his diligence and care to ease the hardships of the Child and his Spouse.
During all this journey of about one-hundred and eighty miles, through the desert, they had no other night-shelter than the sky and open air; moreover, it was in the time of winter, for this journey took place in the month of February, only six days after the Purification, as was indicated in the last chapter. In the first night on these sandy plains they rested at the foot of a small hill, this being the only protection they could find. The Queen of heaven with the Child in her arms seated herself on the earth, and with her husband she ate of the victuals brought with them from Gaza. The Empress of Heaven also nursed the Infant Jesus at her breast and He, on his part, rejoiced his Mother and her husband by his contentment.
In order to furnish them with some kind of shelter against the open air, however narrow and humble it might be, Saint Joseph formed a sort of tent for the divine Word and most holy Mary by means of his cloak and some sticks. During that night the ten thousand angels who, full of marvel, assisted these earthly Pilgrims in visible human shapes, formed a guard around their King and Queen. The great Lady perceived that her divine Son offered up to the eternal Father the hardships and labors both of Himself and of Mary and Joseph. In these prayers and in the other acts of his deified Soul, the Queen joined him for the greater part of the night. The divine Infant slept for a short time in her arms, while she continued wakeful and engaged in heavenly colloquies with the Most High and his angels. Saint Joseph slept upon the ground, resting his head upon the chest, which contained the clothing and other articles of their baggage.
On the next day they pursued their journey and their little store of fruit and bread was soon exhausted, so that they began to suffer great want and to feel the hunger. Although Joseph was more deeply concerned, yet both of them felt this privation very much. On one of the first days of their journey they partook of no sustenance until nine o'clock at night, not having any more even of the coarse and poor food which until then had sustained them in their hardships and labor.
As nature demanded some refreshment after the exertion and weariness of travel, and as there was no way of supplying their want by natural means, the heavenly Lady addressed herself to the Most High in these words: "Eternal, great and powerful God, I give Thee thanks and bless Thee for thy magnificent bounty; and also that, without my merits, only on account of thy merciful condescension, Thou gayest me life and being and preservest me in it, though I am but dust and a useless creature. I have not made a proper return for all these benefits; therefore how can I ask for myself what I cannot repay? But, my Lord and Father, look upon thy Only-begotten and grant me what is necessary to sustain my natural life and also that of my spouse, so that I may serve thy Majesty and thy Word made flesh for the salvation of men."
In order that the clamors of the sweetest Mother might proceed from yet greater tribulation, the Most High permitted the elements to afflict them more than at other times and, in addition to the sufferings caused by their fatigue, destitution and hunger. For there arose a storm of wind and rain, which harassed and blinded them by its fury. This hardship grieved still more the tender-hearted and loving Mother on account of the delicate Child, which was not yet fifty days old. Although she tried to cover and protect Him as much as possible, yet she could not prevent Him from feeling the inclemency of the weather, so that He shed tears and shivered from the cold in the same manner as other children are wont to do.
Then the anxious Mother, making use of her power as Queen and Mistress of creatures, commanded the elements not to afflict their Creator, but to afford Him shelter and refreshment, and wreak their vengeance upon her alone. And, as related once before, at the occasion of the birth of Christ and of the journey to Jerusalem, again the wind immediately moderated and the storm abated, not daring to approach the Mother and Child. In return for this loving forethought, the Infant Jesus commanded his angels to assist his kindest Mother and to serve her as a shield against the inclemency of the weather. They immediately complied and constructed a resplendent and beautiful globe round about and over their incarnate God, his Mother and her spouse. In this they were protected and defended more effectually than all the wealthy and powerful of the world in their palaces and rich garments. The same they did several times during the journey through the desert.
Nevertheless, they were in want of food, and they were destitute of other things unprovidable by their own mere human effort. But the Lord allowed them to fall into this need in order that, listening to the acceptable prayers of his Spouse, He might make provision also for this by the hands of the angels. They brought them delicious bread and well-seasoned fruits, and moreover a most delicious drink; all of which they administered and served with their own hands. Then all of them together sang hymns of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, who gives food to all creatures at opportune times, in order that the poor may eat and be filled (Ps. 135:25) whose eyes and hopes are fixed upon his kingly Providence and bounty. Of such a kind was the delicate feast, with which the Lord regaled his three exiled Wanderers in the desert of Bersabe (3 Kings 19:3), for it was the same desert in which Elias, fleeing from Jezabel, was comforted by the hearth cake, brought to him by the angel in order that he might travel to Horeb mount.
So then the Infant Jesus, with his Mother and Saint Joseph, reached the inhabited country of Egypt. On entering the towns the divine Infant, in the arms of his Mother, raised his eyes and his hands to the Father asking for the salvation of these inhabitants held captive by Satan. And immediately He made use of his sovereign and divine power and drove the demons from the idols and hurled them to the infernal abyss. Like lightning flashed from the clouds they darted forth and descended to the lowermost caverns of hell and darkness (Luke 10:4). At the same instant the idols crashed to the ground, the altars fell to pieces, and the temples crumbled to ruins. The cause of these marvelous effects were known to the heavenly Lady, for she united her prayers with those of her most holy Son as Co-operatrix of his salvation. Saint Joseph also knew this to be the work of the incarnate Word; and He praised and extolled Him in holy admiration. But the demons, although they felt the divine power, knew not whence this power proceeded.
The Egyptian people were astounded at these inexplicable happenings; although among the more learned, ever since the sojourn of Jeremias in Egypt, an ancient tradition was current that a King of the Jews would come and that the temples of the idols would be destroyed. Yet of this prophecy the common people had no knowledge, nor did the learned know how it was to be fulfilled: and therefore the terror and confusion was spread among all of them, as was prophesied by Isaias (Is. 9:1). In this disturbance and fear, some, reflecting on these events, came to our great Lady and Saint Joseph; and, in their curiosity at seeing these strangers in their midst, they also spoke to them about the ruin of their temples and their idols.
Making use of this occasion the Mother of wisdom began to undeceive these people, speaking to them of the true God and teaching them that He is the one and only Creator of heaven and earth, who is alone to be adored, and acknowledged as God; that all others are but false and deceitful gods, nothing more than the wood, or clay, or metal of which they are made, having neither eyes, nor ears, nor any power; that the same artisans that made them, and any other man, could destroy them at pleasure; since any man is more noble and powerful than they; that the oracles which they gave forth were answers of the lying and deceitful demons within them; and that the latter had no power, since there is but one true God.
The heavenly Lady was so sweet and kind in her words, and at the same time so full of life and force; her appearance was so charming, and all her communication was accompanied by such salutary effects, that the rumor of the arrival of these strange Pilgrims quickly spread about in the different towns, and many people gathered to see and hear them. Moreover, the powerful prayers of the incarnate Word wrought a change of hearts, and the crumbling of the idols caused an incredible commotion among these people, instilling into their minds knowledge of the true God and sorrow for their sins without their knowing whence or through whom these blessings came to them.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph pursued their way through many towns of Egypt, performing these and many other miracles, driving out the demons not only from the idols, but out of many bodies possessed by them, curing many that were grievously and dangerously ill, enlightening the hearts by the doctrines of truth and eternal life. By these temporal benefits and others, so effectual in moving the ignorant, earthly-minded people, many were drawn to listen to the instructions of Mary and Joseph concerning a good and salutary life.
The traditions, which in many parts of Egypt kept alive the remembrance of wonders wrought by the incarnate Word, gave rise to differences of opinion among the sacred and other writers in regard to the city, in which our Exiles lived during their stay in Egypt. Some of them assert that they dwelt in this city, some in another. But all of them may be right and in accordance with facts, since each one may be speaking of a different period of the sojourn of our Pilgrims in Memphis, or Babylon of Egypt, or in Matarieh; for they visited not only these cities, but many others. I for my part have been informed that they passed through these and then reached Heliopolis, where they took up their abode. Their holy guardian angels instructed the heavenly Queen and Saint Joseph, that they were to settle in this city. For, besides the ruin of the temples and idols, which, just as in other places, took place at their arrival here, the Lord had resolved to perform still other miracles for his glory and for the rescue of souls; and the inhabitants of this city, (according to the good fortune already prognosticated in its name as "City of the Sun"), were to see the Sun of justice and grace arise over them and shine upon them. Following these orders, Saint Joseph sought to purchase for a suitable price some dwelling in the neighborhood; and the Lord ordained that he should find a poor and humble, yet serviceable house, at small distance from the city, just such as the Queen of heaven desired.
The most prudent Lady and her spouse, forsaken and destitute of all temporal help, accommodated themselves joyfully to the poverty of their little dwelling. Of the three rooms, which it contained, they assigned one to be the sanctuary or temple of the Infant Jesus under the tender care of the most pure Mother; there they placed the cradle and her bare couch, until, after some days, by the labor of the holy spouse, and through the kindness of some pious women, they could obtain wherewith to cover it. Another room was set aside for the sleeping place and oratory of Saint Joseph. The third served as a workshop for plying his trade. In view of their great poverty, and of the great difficulty of sufficient employment as a carpenter, the great Lady resolved to assist him by the work of her hands to earn a livelihood.
She immediately executed her resolve by seeking to obtain needlework through the intervention of the pious women, who, attracted by her modesty and sweetness, were beginning to have intercourse with her. As all that she attended to or busied herself with was so perfect, the reputation of her skill soon spread about, so that she never was in want of employment whereby to eke out the slender means of livelihood for her Son, the true God and man.
In order to obtain the indispensable victuals and clothing, furnish the house ever so moderately, and pay the necessary expenses, it seemed to our Queen that she must employ all day in work and consume the night in attending to her spiritual exercises. This she resolved upon, not for any motives of gain, or because she did not continue in her contemplations during the day; for this was her incessant occupation in the presence of the infant God, as I have so often said and shall repeat hereafter. But some of the hours, which she was wont to spend in special exercises, she wished to transfer to the night-time in order to be able to extend the hours of manual labor, not being minded to ask or expect God's miraculous assistance for anything which she could attain by greater diligence and additional labor on her own part. In all such cases we ask for miraculous help more for our own convenience than on account of necessity. The most prudent Queen asked the eternal Father to provide sustenance for her divine Son; but at the same time she continued to labor. Like one who does not trust in herself, or in her own efforts, she united prayer with her labors, in order to obtain the necessities of life like other men.
On account of the excessive heat prevailing in Egypt, and on account of many disorders rampant among the people, the distempers of the Egyptians were widespread and grievous. During the years of the stay of the Infant Jesus and his most holy Mother, pestilence devastated Heliopolis and other places. On this account, and on account of the report of their wonderful deeds, multitudes of people came to them from all parts of the country and returned home cured in body and soul. In order that the grace of the Lord might flow more abundantly, and in order that his kindest Mother might have assistance in her works of mercy, God, at the instance of the heavenly Mistress, ordained Saint Joseph as her helper in the teaching and healing of the infirm. For this purpose He was endowed with new light and power of healing. The holy Mary began to make use of his assistance in the third year of their stay in Egypt; so that now he ordinarily taught and cured the men, while the blessed Lady attended to the women.
Incredible was the fruit resulting from their labors in the souls of men; for her uninterrupted beneficence and the gracious efficacy of her words drew all toward our Queen, and her modesty and holiness filled them with devoted love. They offered her many presents and large possessions, anxious to see her make use of them: but never did she receive anything for herself, or reserve it for her own use; for they continued to provide for their wants by the labor of her hands and the earnings of Saint Joseph. When at times the blessed Lady was offered some gift that seemed serviceable and proper for helping the needy and the poor, she would accept it for that purpose. Only with this understanding would she ever yield to the pious and affectionate importunities of devout persons; and even then she often made them a present in return of things made by her own hands. From what I have related we can form some idea how great and how numerous were the miracles wrought by the holy Family during their seven years' stay in Egypt and Heliopolis; for it would be impossible to enumerate and describe all of them.
Neither the tongue of creatures can describe, nor intellect comprehend, the vast merits and increase of sanctity accumulating in the most holy Mary through these continued and wonderful works; for in all things she acted with a prudence more than angelic. What moved her to the greatest admiration, love and praise of the Almighty was to see how, at the intercession of herself and her Son for the holy Innocents, His providence showed itself so liberal toward them. She knew as if she were present the great number of children that were killed and that all of them, though some were only eight days, two or six months old, and none of them over two years, had the use of their reason; that they all received a high knowledge of the being of God, perfect love, faith and hope, with which they performed heroic acts of faith, worship, and love of God, reverence and compassion for their parents. They prayed for their parents and, in reward for their sufferings, obtained for them light and grace for advance in spiritual things. They willingly submitted to martyrdom, in spite of the tenderness of their age, which made their sufferings so much the greater and consequently augmented their merits. A multitude of angels assisted them and bore them to limbo or to the bosom of Abraham. By their arrival they rejoiced the holy ancients and confirmed them in the hope of speedy liberation. All these were effects of the prayers of the divine Child and his Mother. Aware of all these wonders, she was inflamed with ardor and exclaimed: "Praise the Lord, ye children"; and joined with them in the praise of the Author of these magnificent works, so worthy of his Goodness and Omnipotence. Mary alone knew of them and appreciated them properly.
INSTRUCTION WHICH THE MOST HOLY QUEEN MARY GAVE ME
My daughter, in what thou hast written I wish that thou learn a lesson from the very sorrow and apprehension with which thou hast performed this task. Well-founded is thy sorrow to see how such a noble creature as man, made according to the likeness and image of the Lord, endowed with such divine qualities, and gifted with the power of knowing, loving, seeing, and enjoying God eternally, should allow himself to be degraded and defiled by such brutal and abominable passions as to shed the innocent blood of those who can do no harm to anyone. This should induce thee to weep over the ruin of so many souls; especially in the times in which thou livest, when that same ambition which incited Herod has kindled such great hatred and enmity among the children of the Church, occasioning the ruin of countless souls and causing the waste and loss of the blood of my most holy Son, poured out for the salvation of men. Do thou bitterly deplore this loss.
But likewise be warned by what thou hast seen in others; ponder the effects of passions admitted into the heart; for if once they have mastered the heart, they will either smother it in lust when it finds success, or consume it with wrath at meeting any opposition. Fear thou, my daughter, this danger, not only on account of the results thou seest of ambition in Herod, but also on account of what thou seest going on every hour in other persons. Be very careful not to allow thyself to be mastered by anything, be it ever so small; for in order to start a great fire, the smallest spark is sufficient.
I have often repeated to thee this same warning, and I shall continue to do so more often in the future; for the greatest difficulty in practicing virtue consists in dying to all that is pleasurable to the senses. Thou canst not be a fit instrument in the hands of the Lord, such as He desires thee to be, if thou dost not cleanse thy faculties even of the images of all creatures, so that they do not find entrance into thy desires. I wish it to be to thee an inexorable law that all things, except God, His angels and saints, be to thee as if they did not exist. These should be thy sole possession; on this account, the Lord has opened to thee His secrets, honors thee with His familiarity and intimacy, and for this purpose also do I honor thee with mine, that thou neither live, nor wish to live, without the Lord.