32: Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.
1st February 1944.
I see a couple of people departing from a very modest house. A very young mother comes down an outside staircase holding in her arms a child enveloped in a white cloth.
I recognize our Mother. She is always the same: pale and blonde, agile and so kind in Her behavior. She is dressed in white, with a pale blue mantle and a white veil on Her head. She is carrying Her Child so carefully.
Joseph is waiting for Her at the foot of the steps with a little grey donkey. Joseph is dressed entirely in light brown: both his tunic and his mantle being the same color. He looks at Mary and smiles at Her. When Mary arrives near the little donkey, Joseph places the animal's bridle on his left arm, he takes for a moment the Child, Who is sleeping peacefully, and thus allows Mary to sit more comfortably on the donkey's saddle. He then hands Jesus back to Her and they set out.
Joseph is walking beside Mary, holding the bridle all the time and ensuring that the donkey goes straight on without stumbling. Mary is holding Jesus in Her lap, and lest He might feel cold, She spreads the edge of Her mantle over Him. Joseph and Mary speak very little but they often smile at each other. The road, which is not a model road, winds along a country made barren by the season of the year. Only a few other travellers meet them on the road or overtake them.
Then I see some houses and the walls around a town. They go in through a gate and start walking on the pavement which is all broken up, and very irregular. Progress is now much more difficult, both because the traffic causes the donkey to stop every moment and because the holes where stones are missing make the poor animal jerk continuously and thus Mary and the Child are also disturbed. The road is not flat. It is uphill, although but slightly. It is a narrow road running between high houses with small narrow low doors and only a few windows on the road. High above, the sky can be seen peeping with many thin blue strips between the houses, nay between the terraces. Down in the street there are many people and much shouting. They meet other people on foot or riding donkeys or leading loaded donkeys and a crowd following a cumbersome camel caravan. At a certain moment, a patrol of Roman legionaries passes by with a great noise of hooves and arms and they disappear beyond an arch built across a narrow stony road.
Joseph turns left along a wider and more pleasant road. I can see the embattled town walls, with which I am already familiar, at the end of the street. Mary dismounts from the little donkey near a gate where there is a kind of stall for other donkeys. I say "stall" because it is a kind of shed, or better still, a kind of shed, spread with straw; there are also some poles with rings to which the animals are tied.
Joseph gives some coins to a little man who has gone up to him and with them he buys some hay and he draws a pail of water from a rustic well in the comer. He then feeds the donkey. He joins Mary and they both enter the enclosure of the Temple.
At first, they turn their steps towards an arcade where the merchants are, to whom Jesus later will give a good lashing: the vendors of lambs and doves and the money-changers. Joseph buys two little white pigeons. He does not change any money: he obviously has what is required.
They then make for a side door, with eight steps, as all the doors seem to have, because the centre of the Temple is raised above the surrounding ground. The door opens into a great hall like the doors of our houses in towns, to give you an idea, only this one is larger and more ornate. In the hall there are on the right and on the left two kinds of altars, that is two rectangular constructions, the purpose of which I do not understand at first. They are like low basins, because the internal part is lower than the external rim, which is a few centimeters higher.
A priest approaches them, I do not know whether he was called by Joseph or whether he did so of his own accord. Mary offers Her two little pigeons and since I know their fate, I turn my eyes elsewhere. I watch the decorations of the very heavy portal, of the ceiling and of the hall. But I get the impression, by a side glance, that the priest sprays Mary with some water. It must be water, because I do not see any stains on Her dress. Then Mary, Who had given the priest a handful of coins together with the two pigeons (I had forgotten to mention that), goes into the real Temple, in the company of the priest.
I am watching everything. It is a most ornate place. Sculptured angels' heads, palms and decorations adorn the columns, the walls and the ceiling. Light comes in through strange long narrow windows, obviously without panes, built diagonally with regard to the walls. I suppose the idea is to keep the rain out. Mary moves forward to a certain point. She then stops. A few meters from Her, there are more steps on top of which there is a kind of altar, beyond which there is another construction.
I now realize that I thought I was in the Temple, instead I was in the part surrounding the real Temple, that is the Holy, beyond which no one can proceed, apparently, except the priests. What I therefore thought was the Temple, is but an enclosed vestibule, which on three sides encircles the Temple, in which the Tabernacle is enclosed. I do not know whether I have made myself understood. But I am neither an architect nor an engineer.
Mary offers the Child, Who has woken up and is turning His innocent eyes towards the priest, with the astonished look of infants a few days old. The priest takes Him in his arms and raises Him, with arms fully stretched out, towards the Temple, standing against the kind of altar placed on top of the steps. The rite is over. The Child is handed back to His Mother and the priest goes away. There is a group of onlookers. Amongst them a little old man, bent with age and limping, makes his way leaning on a stick. He must be very old, I would say over eighty. He goes near Mary, and asks Her to give him the Child for one moment. Mary satisfies him, smiling.
Simeon, whom I always thought belonged to the sacerdotal class, and is instead a simple believer, at least according to his garments, takes the Child and kisses Him. Jesus smiles at him with the typical smile of sucklings. He seems to watch him inquisitively, because the old man is crying and laughing at the same time and his tears form a sparkling embroidery running along his wrinkles and beading his long white beard, towards which Jesus stretches His little hands. He is Jesus, but still a child, and whatever moves in front of Him, draws His attention so that He wants to get hold of it to see what it is.
Mary and Joseph smile and so do all the others who praise the beauty of the Child.
I hear the words of the holy old man and I see the astonished gaze of Joseph, the deeply moved look of Mary as well as the glances of the little crowd, partly surprised and moved, partly laughing at the words of the old man. Amongst the latter there are some bearded and conceited members of the Sanhedrin, who shake their heads giving Simeon an ironic pitying look. They must think he is a dotard.
Mary’s smile fades into paleness when Simeon mentions sorrow. Although She knows, that word pierces Her soul. She goes closer to Joseph, to be comforted, She presses Her Child to Her breast passionately and like a thirsty soul, She takes in the words of Anna of Phanuel, who being a woman, has mercy on Her suffering and promises Her that the Eternal Father will soothe the hour of sorrow with a supernatural strength. "Woman, He Who gave a Savior to His people, will not lack the power to send His angel to console Your tears. The great women of Israel never lacked the help of the Lord and You are far greater than Judith and Jael. Our God will give You a heart of the most pure gold to withstand the storm of sorrow, so that You will be the greatest woman in Creation: the Mother. And You, Child, remember me in the hour of Your mission."
And the vision ends here.
2nd February 1944.
"Two teachings, applicable to everybody, derive from the description given by you.
The former: truth is not revealed to a priest engrossed in rites, but absent with his spirit, it is instead revealed to a simple believer.
The priest, always in contact with Divinity, devoted to what concerns God and to everything which is above the flesh, should have realized at once who was the Child Who was being offered that morning in the Temple. But it was necessary for him to have a living spirit, in order to realize it. A mere robe covering a drowsy spirit, if not a dead spirit, was not sufficient.
The Spirit of God can thunder if It wants, and rouse like a thunderbolt and shake like an earthquake the dullest spirit. It can. But generally, as It is an orderly Spirit, as God is Order in each Person and way of acting, It inspires and speaks, not where there is sufficient merit to deserve its effusion – in which case Its effusions would be most rare and not even you would know their light – but where It sees the “good will” to deserve such effusion.
How is such will exerted? With a life devoted, as far as possible, entirely to God: in faith, obedience, purity, charity, generosity and in prayer. Not in practices: in prayer. There is less difference between night and day than there is between practices and prayer. The latter is communion of the spirit with God, from which you emerge with fresh strength and a decision to belong more and more to God. The former are common habit exerted for various purposes, which are always selfish, and they leave you exactly as you were, nay, they aggravate your burden with the faults of falsehood and sluggishness.
Simeon had such good will. He had not been spared troubles and trials in his life. But he had not lost his good will. Age and misfortunes had not impaired or shaken his faith in the Lord and in His promises, neither did his good will to be more and more worthy of God tire or falter. And God sent Him the ray of the Spirit to guide him to the Temple, that he might see the Light that had come to the world, before his eyes of a faithful servant closed to the light of the sun, awaiting to be reopened to the Sun of God glowing in the Heavens, which I had reopened when I ascended after my Martyrdom.
“Prompted by the Holy Spirit” says the Gospel. Oh! If men only knew what a perfect Friend the Holy Spirit is! What Guide, what Teacher! If they only loved and invoked Him, this love of the Most Holy Trinity, this Light of Light, this Fire of Fire, this Intelligence, this Wisdom! How much more they would know of what is necessary to know!
Look, Mary; listen, My children. Simeon waited all his long life before “seeing the Light” and before knowing that God's promise was fulfilled. But he never doubted. He never said to himself: “It is useless to persevere in hoping and praying.” He just persevered. And he deserved “to see” what neither the priest nor the proud and dull members of the Sanhedrin saw: the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior in the flesh of a Child Who warmed him and smiled at him. He received the smile of God from the lips of a Child, his first reward for an honest and pious life.
The other lesson: the words of Anna. She also, a prophetess, saw in Me, a newborn Baby, the Messiah. And this is quite natural, considering her prophetic prerogative. But listen to what she says to My Mother, moved by faith and charity. And use her words as a light for your souls that quiver in these days of darkness and in this Feast of Light. “Who gave a Savior will not lack the power to send His angel to console Your tears.”
Consider that God gave Himself to obliterate Satan's work in your souls. And will He not be able now to defeat the satans that torture you? Will He not be able to wipe your tears routing these satans and sending you once again the peace of His Christ? Why do you not ask Him with faith? A real overbearing faith, a faith before which the rigour of God, indignant at your many faults, may turn into a smile and He may grant you His forgiveness, which is relief, and His blessing which will be a rainbow in this world submerged in a deluge of blood which you wanted yourselves.
Remember: the Father, after punishing men with the Deluge, said to Himself and to His Patriarch: “Never again will I curse the earth because of man, because his heart contrives evil from his infancy. Never again will I strike down every living thing as I have done.” And He has been faithful to His word. He has not sent a Deluge again. But how many times have you said to yourselves and to God: “If we are spared this time, if You save us, we shall never make wars again, never again”, and after, you have always made more terrifying ones? How many times, o false men, who have no respect either for God or for your own word? And yet God would help you once again, only if the large mass of the faithful would invoke Him with faith and ardent love.
Lay your worries at the feet of God: you who are too few to counterbalance the many who keep God's rigour alive, you who have remained devoted to Him, notwithstanding the dreadful times which are increasing from day to day. He will send you His angel, as He sent the Savior to the world. Do not be afraid. Be united to the Cross. It has always defeated the snares of the demon, who with the cruelties of men and the sadness of life endeavors to drive to desperation, that is, to separation from God, the hearts he cannot conquer in any other way."