378. The enforced silence of other children in their first years, and the slow evolution of their intellect and of their power of speech arising from natural weakness, was heroic virtue in the infant Queen. For if speech is the product of the intellect and as it were the result of its activity, and if She was in perfect possession of all her faculties since her Conception, then the fact of her not speaking as soon as She was born, did not arise from the want of ability, but because She did not wish to make use of her power. Other children are not furnished with the natural forces, which are required to open their mouth and move their tender tongue as required for speech, but in the child Mary there was no such defect; for as far as her natural powers were concerned She was stronger than other children, and as She exercised sovereignty and dominion over all creation, She certainly could exercise it in regard to her own powers and faculties, if She had chosen to do so. Her not speaking there fore was virtue and great perfection, which opportunely concealed her science and grace, and evaded the astonishment naturally caused by one speaking in infancy. Besides, if it is wonderful that one should speak, who according to the natural course ought to be incapable of speech, I do not know, whether it is not more wonderful, that one, who is able to speak from her birth should be silent for one year and a half.
379. It was ordained therefore by the Most High, that the sovereign Child should voluntarily keep this silence during the time in which ordinarily other children are unable to speak. The only exception made was in regard to the conversation held with the angels of her guard, or when She addressed Herself in vocal prayer to the Lord. For in regard to intercourse with God, the Author of speech, and with the holy angels, his messengers, when they treated in a visible manner with Her, this reason for maintaining silence did not hold good : on the contrary it was befitting, that, since there was no impediment, She should pray with her lips and her tongue ; for it would not be proper to keep them unemployed for so long a time. But her mother never heard Her, nor did she know of her being able to speak during that period ; and from this it can be better seen, what perfection it required in Her to pass that year and a half of her infancy in total silence. But during that time, when ever her mother freed her arms and hands, the child Mary immediately grasped the hands of her parents and kissed them with great submission and reverent humility, and in this practice She continued as long as her parents lived. She also sought to make them understand during that period of her age, that She desired their blessing, speaking more by the affection of her heart than by word of mouth. So great was her reverence for them, that never did She fail in the least point concerning the honor and obedience due to them. Nor did She cause them any trouble or annoyance, since She knew beforehand all their thoughts and was anxious to fulfill them before they were made manifest.
380. In all her actions and movements She was governed by the Holy Ghost, being perfect in all her actions ; yet her most ardent love was never satisfied, but She unceasingly renewed her fervent aspirations to emulate still greater gifts (I Cor. 12, 31). The presence of the Most High continually preserved in this sovereign Child the divine revelations and the intellectual visions. And if sometimes his Providence suspended one kind of vision or enlightenment, She was enraptured by others; for from the clear vision of the Divinity, which I have mentioned above and which took place as soon as She was born and raised to heaven by the angels (No. 332) She retained the images of what She had seen. Thus coming from the wine cellar, where charity is set in order (Cant. 2, 4) her heart was wounded with love, and returning ever toward it in contemplation, She was again and again set afire body and soul in all her being. As her body was yet weak and tender and this love strong as death (Cant 8, 6), She soon felt the death pangs of love, of which She in her tenderness would have died, had not the Almighty strengthened Her and preserved by a miracle the inferior part of her being and her natural life. Many times however, the Lord permitted, that this tender and virginal little body should be overcome by the violence of love, so that the holy angels might sustain Her and comfort Her in the fulfillment of the saying of the Spouse : “Fulcite me floribus, quia amore langueo.” “Stay me up with flowers, because I languish with love” (Cant. 11, 5). And this the most noble kind of martyrdom was a thousand times repeated in this heavenly Lady surpassing in it all the martyrs in merit, and also in sufferings.
381. The pain of love is so sweet and attractive, that the more it prevails the more it is sought, and he who suffers it, longs to hear him spoken of, whom he loves, thus seeking to be cured by renewal of the wound. This most sweet deception serves to keep the soul in suspense between a painful life and a sweet death. This was the state of the child Mary, when speaking to her angels and hearing them discourse about her Beloved. She asked them many times, saying: “Ministers of my Lord, his messengers and most beautiful works of his hands, sparks of that divine fire, which consumes my heart, since you enjoy his eternal beauty unveiled and unrestrained, reveal to me the tokens of my Beloved; what are his conditions? Tell me whether perhaps I have displeased Him ; tell me what He desires and seeks of me, and do not delay in lightening my pain, for I am dying of love.”
382. And the supernal spirits replied: “Spouse of the Most High, thy Beloved is the only One, He that is for Himself, who has no need of anything but of whom all stand in need. He is infinite in his perfections, immense in his greatness, without limit in his power, in effable in his wisdom, without measure in his goodness; He gives a beginning to all things without having a be ginning Himself; He governs the world without asking consent, preserves it without having need of it, sees the beauty of all creation without ever being comprehended in his beauty by any one, and raises to blessedness by his beauty those who succeed in seeing Him face to face. Infinite are, O Lady, the perfections of thy Spouse : they exceed thy comprehension and his high judgments are inscrutable to the creature.”
383. In such colloquies and many others, too high for our capacity, most holy Mary passed her infancy, conversing with the angels and the Most High, becoming more and more like to Him. As her fervor and longing to see our highest Good increased, being entirely enraptured in Him, She was by the disposal of the Lord many times borne bodily by the hands of the angels to the empyrean heaven, where She enjoyed the presence of the Divinity. On those occasions She would at times see God face to face, at other times by infused images of the highest and most godlike kind. She saw also the angels by clear and intuitive vision, their degrees, orders and hierarchies, and many sacraments were made manifest to Her on each occasion. As these visions were often repeated She gradually, by becoming accustomed to them and by acts of virtue which She exercised in connection with them, began to appear more a divine than a human creature. No one else would ever be capable of such favors and of others connected therewith ; and even the mortal nature of that Queen her self would have been deprived of life, if She had not been preserved by a miracle.
384. When in her childhood it was necessary to accept any service or benefit at the hands of her parents or of any other creature, She always received it with interior humility and thankfulness, beseeching the Lord to reward the good which they did in love toward Her. Though She had attained such a high degree of sanctity and though She was filled with the light of God and his mysteries, She nevertheless judged Herself to be the least of all creatures, and whenever She made comparisons, She ascribed to herself the last place of all. Even of the nourishment necessary to sustain life, She considered Herself unworthy, though She was the Queen and Mistress of all creation.
Instruction given by the Queen of Heaven.
385. My daughter, he that received more ought to consider himself more needy, since his debt becomes so much the greater. All should humiliate themselves since of themselves they are nothing, nor can they do any thing or possess ought. On this account they that are raised up by the hand of the Almighty, should humiliate themselves as mere dust. For, left to themselves and to their nothingness and unworthiness, they should esteem themselves so much the more indebted and bound to thankfulness for that which by themselves they can never repay. Let man acknowledge its condition : for no one can say: I have made myself, I preserve myself in existence, I can prolong my life or postpone death. All his being and preservation is in the hands of the Lord; let each one therefore humble himself in his presence, and thou, my dearest, do not forget these truths.
386. I wish also that thou esteem as a great treasure the virtue of silence, which I have practiced from my birth. By the light which the Most High gave me, I was conversant with all the virtues; but I attached my self to this one with great predilection, resolving to ad here to it as a companion and as a friend during all my life. Therefore I kept it inviolate, although I could speak from the moment of my entrance into the world.
To speak without moderation and forethought is a two-edged sword, which wounds both him that speaks and him that hears, and thus in two ways destroys charity or hinders it in all the virtues. From this thou canst understand, how much God is offended by the vice of inconsiderate and loose talk, and how justly loquacity, and the tumult of disputation estranges his spirit and veils his presence. For, those that talk much, cannot keep free from grievous sins (Prov 10, 19). Only with God and with his saints one can speak with security, and even then it must be with forethought and discretion. With creatures it is very difficult to preserve the golden middle, without danger of passing from the correct and necessary to the imperfect and superfluous.
387. The way to avoid this danger is to tend continually toward the other extreme, striving rather to reflect and be silent. For the prudent medium of speaking only what is necessary, is found more in reflection than in immoderate speech. Remember, my soul, that thou canst not disport thyself in self-sought conversation with creatures without relinquishing God in the secret interior of thy soul; and that which thou canst not do without impudence and insult in thy intercourse with other creatures, thou shouldst not do in thy dealings with thy Lord and the Lord of all. Close thy ears to the deceitful conversations, which might induce thee to speak what thou shouldst not; for it is not just, that thou speak more than what is enjoined thee by thy Lord and Master. Listen to his holy law, which He has, with so liberal a hand, written in thy heart ; hear the voice of thy Pastor, and answer Him there, and Him only. I wish to impress thee with the fact, that if thou art to be my disciple and companion, it must be by signalizing thyself especially in this virtue of silence. Reflect much, and write this doctrine in thy heart today, and attach thyself more and more to this virtue ; for first I wish to see thee established in this, and then I will teach thee how to speak.
388. I do not dissuade thee from speaking words of admonition and consolation to thy daughters and thy subjects. Speak also with those, who can give thee tokens of thy Beloved, and who can instruct and in flame thee with his love. In such kind of conversation thou wilt acquire a profitable silence of the soul; since in them is excited a horror and disgust for conversation of men and thou wilt learn to relish conversation about the wished-for eternal Good only. Then with the force of love transforming thy being into that of thy Beloved, the impetus of thy passions will weaken and thou shalt arrive at that kind of sweet martyrdom, which I suffered, when I complained of my body and of mortal life ; for they seemed to me a dreary imprisonment which hindered my flight, although not my love. O my daughter, forget all the earthly things in the hiding place of thy silence, and imitate me with all thy fervor and all thy strength; for thus shalt thou arrive at that state, to which thy Spouse invites thee. There thou shalt hear the consoling words, which sustained me in the pangs of my love : “My dove, dilate thy heart, and give admission, my cherished one, to that sweet pain, for my heart is wounded by thy love.” Thus the Lord spoke to me, and this thou thyself hast heard repeatedly, for to those that are alone and in silence does his Majesty speak.