Friday, September 8, 2017

The Apparition of Christ To His Mother

       The enthusiastic and increasing veneration for the Madonna, the large place she filled in the religious teaching of the ecclesiastics and the religious sentiments of the people, are nowhere more apparent, nor more strikingly exhibited, than in the manner in which she was associated with the scenes which followed the Passion; -- the manner in which some incidents were suggested, and treated with a peculiar reference to her, and to her maternal feelings. It is nowhere said that the Virgin-mother was one of the Maries who visited the tomb on the morning of the resurrection, and nowhere is she so represented. But out of the human sympathy with that bereaved and longing heart, arose the beautiful legend of the interview between Christ and his Mother after he had risen from the dead.
       There existed a very ancient tradition (it is mentioned by St. Ambrose in the fourth century, as being then generally accepted by Christians), that Christ, after his return from Hades, visited his Mother even before he appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden. . . . The reasoning which led to the conclusion was very simple. He whose last earthly thought was for his mother would not leave her without that consolation it was in his power to give; and what, as a son, it was his duty to do (for the humanity of Christ is never forgotten by those who most intensely believed in his divinity) ; that, of course, he did do.
       The story is thus related: -- Mary, when all was "finished," retired to her chamber, and remained alone with her grief-- not wailing, not repining, not hopeless, but waiting for the fulfillment of the promise. Open before her lay the volume of the prophecies ; and she prayed earnestly, and she said, "Thou didst promise, O my most dear Son! that thou wouldst rise again on the third day. Before yesterday was the day of darkness and bitterness, and, behold, this is the third day. Return then to me thy mother; O my Son, tarry not, but come!" And while thus she prayed, lo! a bright company of angels, who entered waving their palms and radiant with joy ; and they surrounded her, kneeling and singing the triumphant Easter hymn, Regina Coeli Laetare, Alleluia! And then came Christ partly clothed in a white garment, having in his left hand the standard with the cross, as one just returned from the nether world, and victorious over the powers of sin and death. And with him came the patriarchs and prophets, whose long-imprisoned spirits he had released from Hades. All these knelt before the Virgin, and saluted her, and blessed her, and thanked her, because through her had come their deliverance. But, for all this, the Mother was not comforted till she had heard the voice of her Son. Then he, raising his hand in benediction, spoke and said, "I salute thee, O my mother! " and she, weeping tears of joy, responded, " Is it thou indeed, my most dear Son? " and she fell upon his neck, and he embraced her tenderly, and showed her the wounds he had received for sinful man. Then he bade her be comforted and weep no more, for the pain of death had passed away, and the gates of hell had not prevailed against him. And she thanked him meekly on her knees, for that he had been pleased to bring redemption to man, and to make her the humble instrument of his great mercy. And they sat and talked together, until he took leave of her to return to the garden, and to show himself to Mary Magdalene, who, next to his glorious mother, had most need of consolation. by Mrs. Jameson

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