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A. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) Walsh.

Mary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus online

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into a revery from which Miriamne roused her with the question: “Art too
weary to hear more?”

“No, no; read, on. These things strangely move and rest me.”

Miriamne continued:

“When eight days were fulfilled, they circumcised the Child,
calling him Joshua, offering, according to the law, a pair of
turtle doves.”

“Circumcised? Ah, I’m glad! They were good Jews, though poor ones, since
they offered the gifts of the poor, two pigeons,” exclaimed Rizpah.

Miriamne read onward:

“There was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man
was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel.

“And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see
death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

“And he came by the Spirit into the Temple; and when the parents brought
in the child.

“Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God and said:

“Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy
word:

“For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

“Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

“A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

“And Joseph and his mother marveled at these things which were spoken of
him.

“And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold this
child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a
sign which shall be spoken against;

“(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also;) that the thoughts
of many hearts may be revealed.”

“How mysterious and contradictory, and yet how true the old man’s word,
Miriamne? He blessed the parents amid their pious services toward their
offspring, yet predicted a sword thrust for the mother. Ah, the sword for
the mother is ever impending! But read further.”

Miriamne continued:

“And Anna, a prophetess, who was a widow of about fourscore and four
years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings
and prayers night and day.

“And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and
spoke of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”

“What a finished picture, Miriamne,” interrupted Rizpah. “See, a young
mother committing her child to God; a blessing and a sword of pain
revealed; then the finest human sympathy in the form of motherhood
chastened by years coming to encourage her. Oh, the years have sadly
wrecked a true woman if they have put her beyond saying, from her heart:
‘Poor girl, I love thee,’ to her younger sister in her hour of maternal
trial. But what followed?”

Miriamne replied by again reading:

“The angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and
take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou
there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to
destroy him.”

“Ha! the jealous old hypocrite! But I remember, Herod murdered his wife.
A man brute enough to do that could easily seek the life of an innocent
babe. If Apollyon ever be dethroned because of the appearing of one more
devilish than himself, the dethroner will be a wife-murderer!” exclaimed
Rizpah, almost in a passion.

Miriamne continued:

“Joseph took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into
Egypt.

“And was there until the death of Herod.”

“So Jewry, our Jewry, gave one of its young mothers a stable for a bed
chamber, a manger for her babe; then refused her these by making her an
exile. Cruel Israel said go or be childless! Oh, Israel! how Pagan Rome
defiled thee!” passionately exclaimed the Jewish matron.

Miriamne paused until the mother questioned:

“Was there a pursuit?”

“A hot one, though a vain one; my manuscript reads as follows:

“Herod had charged the Magi to tell him, on their return from
their quest, the abode of the Child born under the star. He
pretended to desire to pay it homage, but in heart he was
intending to murder it. The Magi, impressed by the goodness
and sanctity of mother and Infant, never returned to Herod to
betray them.”

“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was
exceeding wroth, and sent forth and slew all the children that were in
Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under,
according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

“Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy, the prophet, saying:

“In Ramah there was a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and a great
mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted,
because they are not.”

“So a dark wave of misery rolled over Bethlehem. Hundreds of
women, weeping over their own dead, were led to understand
the cruel injustice of the spirit that drove the Virgin and
her child into exile, and that, until the end of time, there
will be sorrow in the homes of the land that does despite to
the virtues and characteristics exemplified, so well, by that
mother and that Child.”

With these words Miriamne rolled up her parchment, saying: “This is all
there is written here.”

“All? It is well, for thou art weary, child. We’ll now retire; to-morrow
I must speak with thee about the book. Good-night, now.”

“Good-night, mother.”




CHAPTER XXI.

THE QUEEN WITH HER FAMILY IN EGYPT.

“It is curious to observe, as the worship of the Virgin mother
expanded and gathered to itself the relics of many an ancient
faith, now the new and the old elements became amalgamated....
The Madonna assumed the characteristics ... of the types of
fertility.”—ANNA JAMISON.

“Babe Jesus lay on Mary’s lap,
The sun shone in His hair,
And so it was she saw, mayhap,
The crown already there.”—GEORGE MCDONALD.


The day following Miriamne’s readings to her mother, she eagerly sought
Father Adolphus that she might receive more of the narrative, delightsome
to herself and evidently interesting to her parent.

Finding the priest at dawn in one of his accustomed walks amid the ruins,
she scarcely waited for his “Peace, daughter,” until she exclaimed,
“More! I want more of the story!”

“Hast finished that I gave thee so soon?”

“Yes, and read it all to my mother! Is that not wonderful?”

“Temerity!”

“No; it charms her. She has fallen in love with the child-wife. Oh, what
if my mother should come to think and believe as you—then I would!”

“Thou mayst alone; but what part of the story desirest thou?”

“All! Nothing less than all! What became of the Holy Family in Egypt?”

“Now sit down on this shattered column and I’ll recount to thee the
traditions in order, leaving thee to judge which is true.”

“Tell me what you believe and I’ll believe it. That’s enough!”

“I scarcely am able to do that, not knowing whether to believe or
disbelieve some of the things reported. But I remember them, and
perceiving that though they are only traditions, they are very beautiful
and very natural, I remember them with delight, that is very near to
giving them full credence.”

“Then, so will I do.”

“It may be the wise way, for I’ve believed that the good angels who,
under God, watched over the little outcast family drifting about in
strange places, have also watched over the drifting stories of their
wanderings, letting the facts profitable for us to know, come safely to
us, though they have come without the seal of authenticated history.”

“Now, I believe all this, too.”

“Well, then, ardent catechumen, listen. For three years the queenly Mary,
with her consort and child, tarried in Egypt—”

“How did they subsist?”

“Oh, the God of the outcasts Ishmael and Elijah, who provided water for
one and bread for the other of those two, was the One who sent the Holy
Family to Egypt with the charge that they ‘be there until He brought them
word.’ Now, thou hast learned that when God sends any on His work He
charges Himself with their support.”

“Did they find friends in Egypt?”

“Thou wilt learn in time, daughter, that two of that family had, as
none on earth before, the secret of making friends. They had the
love-enchantment from on high, which has been winning its way ever since
over the world. But I’ll proceed. There were in Egypt at that time
multitudes of Israelites who had sought its refuge from the persecutions
practiced toward them nearer home. Doubtless these exiles received
Joseph’s family kindly. Also, in all the East at that time there were
many artizan leagues, banded together to aid their fellow-craftsmen.
Joseph being a carpenter, I doubt not, found among these sympathy and
help.”

“At what place did the family abide?”

“Tradition says they tarried for a considerable period at Heliopolis, the
city celebrated the world over for its splendid temple, where centered
the Egyptian Sun worship. To me this tradition seems most reasonable,
when I remember that the child of that family was pointed out before,
by a miraculous star, which led the Fire worshipers of Persia to his
cradle. The Fire worshipers of the far East and the Light worshipers of
Egypt were much alike in their beliefs. They were all seeking light, and,
impelled by the necessity of man’s nature for some religion, revealed or
man-made, able to do no better, looked up to the sun, the greatest light
of which they knew. God’s hand was in that meeting of the old and the
new. There is a tradition that when the Holy Family arrived at Heliopolis
all the idols in the Sun Temple fell on their faces. Be that as it may,
the pathos of the poor prayers of the Light worshipers moved the Divine
Mercy to send them the Sun of Righteousness, and all the handiwork of
Rhameses, at On, lies in great, grim silent ruins, while the faith that
had its germ in that little outcast family is overspreading the earth.
Alas, poor Egypt!”

“Why poor Egypt?” questioned Miriamne, wonderingly.

“Those living now are so like their ancients who, in fright and helpless
doubt, sought to save themselves by placating both good and evil; the
light struggles in Egypt to-day, entering slowly and often retiring.
Yea, poor Egypt, I pity thee! But I digress. It is said that the Holy
Family also tarried for a season at Memphis, on the Nile, the city where
chiefly was practiced the worship of _Apis_, the sacred bull. Thou
rememberest how Israel was nearly ruined by doing homage to a golden calf
at Sinai? That calf-worship was the same as the Apis-worship of Egypt.
The Egyptians, in common with all mankind of old, earnestly looked for
a manifestation of God in visible form—an incarnation. Their priests
practiced on their pitiful yearnings and credulity, and taught them to
believe that their greatest god appeared from time to time under the form
of a bull, which _Avatars_ they, the priests, claimed that they only
could discover. The Egyptians, highly esteeming endurance and passionate
vigor, readily accepted the animal pre-eminent in these things as the
abiding place and expression of their god. The Child Jesus, the token
of a better faith, was fittingly brought, therefore, to Egypt’s Temple
of _Apis_. Thus the _Light and Immortality_ confronted that typified
grossly at Memphis, and the incarnations that were as false as they were
offensive, were brought face to face with the _Incarnation_ sung by the
angels. The devotees at the fanes of Memphis degraded man by preferring
the beast. He that made man a little lower than the angels first,
afterward exalted him to sonship by appearing garbed in the likeness of a
man. Christ, at Memphis, was to do what Moses did at Sinai.”

“I do not comprehend these words!”

“As Moses ground the golden image worshiped by Israel to powder, so
Christ came to overthrow and blot out of the world every vestige of the
religions or believings that exalts the animal and degrades the spiritual
in man. He heralded the age of gold and fire.”

“And was _Apis_ overthrown by the child?”

“Not immediately; that is not the way of Him who knows no haste; but
in His own good time its fall came. Egypt, hoar with deep thinkings on
the master problems of life, death, eternity, did much in distant times
to color and express the beliefs of all peoples. It became a school of
religious as well as the theater of some of their greatest, bloodiest
conflicts. Let me recall some of the steps. First, I’ll begin with the
revival of the true faith under Moses, which was the revival of escape,
the only way to preserve God’s people from utter defilement. Thou hast
read in thy Holy writings how the conflict began between the king and
Israel’s leader:

_And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye,
sacrifice to your God in the land._

_And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall
sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God:
lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before
their eyes, and will they not stone us?_

_We will go three days journey into the wilderness, and
sacrifice to the Lord our God, as he shall command us._”

“Why was Moses so anxious to get away so far!”

“I’ll show thee; that was then a mystery, now explained. Egypt worshiped
a bull devoutly; the Israelites were commanded to sacrifice to God a red
heifer. The color, red, was an antetype of the saving blood to be shed on
red Calvary. Moses, methinks, desired to get away that he might reveal
this sacred mystery, so far as he discerned it, to those to whom it was
sent. Follow me now with pious, frank heart. The Israelites antagonized
the customs of Egypt sharply by offering before God the finer, weaker
animal, and now, girl, as I read of Mary and her child waiting about
Memphis, I discern the past and that present meeting. It seems to me
that He who thundered to Pharaoh ‘_let my people go_’ rëappears in the
form of the child, the pitying shepherd, seeking the lost sheep amid
earth’s offscourings. More, as I think of Mary, the beautiful outcast,
following the fortunes of her Divine Child down into that dark land, and
also remember how His blood finally crimsoned her life, I recall the red
heifer offered on Israel’s ancient altars. Mary, for the world’s sake,
through her maternity, was laid on the altar.”

“Father Adolphus, you dazzle and yet convince me. How wonderful all this
seems!”

“I see the Holy Child in Egypt, the building nation of earth, as
the founder of a new order of building. Now follow me, child. After
the garden and the wilds, where primitive man abode, there came the
Tabernacle and Temple. When man enters into the benign influences of
social life, he begins building a house to shelter and seclude his own.
When he takes God or a god into his society he builds a temple. If
there be growth and culture he decorates his buildings, hideously at
first, æsthetically after practice. Presently he becomes a scientific
builder and a philosopher. Then to him life is all building. He grasps
the thought that he is the architect of himself, of his character, of
his future. If his religious life is deepened he expresses all his
philosophy, all his aspirations in monuments and temples. Moses and
Solomon, in tabernacle and temple, but repeated the deeds of Egypt. But
Egypt built under the sun, the patriarchs under the Spirit. Egypt had
done its best, reached the end of its resources, having filled the land
from the Delta to the cataracts of the Nile with pyramidial monument and
august fanes. But building under the sun, in the light of nature only,
was building in the dark, at least half the time. Christ, the architect
of all that is enduring, confronted the achievements of those ancients as
a merciful destroyer. He came to them to turn and overturn that, after
the ruins, their mind be turned to a building upon and with the precious
living Corner-Stone! Try to remember all this. Christianity is on the eve
of a new building age. The crusades are ended. Now for religious palaces!
But these in turn will be thrust aside, that all may give themselves to
build souls up for eternity!”

“I am dazzled good father, indeed; but oh, I can not remember all these
things! I’m like a child in my love for stories, and I can re-tell such
to my mother, as I can not these deeper things you utter.”

“I forgot, child. But we priests preach by habit everywhere!”

“Tell me more of Mary and Joseph and Jesus. Were the Egyptians kind to
them?”

“As kind as the followers of the Pharaohs to the descendants of Joseph!
No more. There was no more room in Egypt for Jesus at His coming than
there was among His own people. But the God of Moses, ever the living
God, though opposed, may never be thwarted nor killed!”

“Oh, now do not tell me these things, too deep for me; just tell me the
simple story of the sojourn in that strange land.”

“So be it, girl. If I digress, recall me. They say that the Holy Family
found in that land a few to accept them kindly. One such was a robber,
who, happening upon them, was at first about to do them violence; but he
was restrained by the demeanor of the saintly mother, and his heart was
all changed toward compassion of the little company. Instead of robbing,
he gave them a temporary home in his mountain retreat. It is said that
he was the one to whom the child of Mary, long after, while dying on the
cross, companion in death with that same robber, gave repentance, with
the promise of Paradise.”

“How good and natural!”

“Then there’s another legend. It is that Mary and her loved ones were
met in that strange country by one of the world’s pilgrims of pilgrims—a
gipsy, who was a sorceress. There’s a charming little dialogue, part in
prose and part in verse, all about that meeting, which I have here. I’ll
read it. The sorceress begins chanting:

GIPSY—I come, I come from the land of the sun,
From the dim, dim past of the far-off dawn;
The waif of the world, the froth of the sea,
Of a clan that has been and ever shall be.

MARY—God give thee grace and forgive thee thy sins.

GIPSY—Ye are pilgrims, too; no lodge for to-night,
Ye are outcasts here in a flight of fright!
But the mother charms and my heart say come.
Ye may come; shall come to my gipsy’s home.

“‘The gipsy, Zingarella, took the babe in her arms, but then suddenly
broke forth into a mournful chant, as she held the hand of the infant:

‘Here’s a cradle song, and a tear and a moan;
Here’s a crown of thorns and a cross, when grown.
Here’s a vale of blood and a black, black night.
Here’s a flocking world and a rising light.’

“‘And then suddenly falling upon her knees, the gipsy asked alms; but
this time, as never before, with both palms extended and craving neither
silver nor gold, but eternal life. It was granted.’”

“Oh, father Adolphus, I’ll never forget this story.”

“Forget not, either, its simple lesson; the gospel comes to the very
waifs of life, and so there is help for the sinning, wherever found, in
the Holy Child; encouragement to all holy longings in the meanest breast
of the meanest woman, once within that circle, all radiant with the
beautiful virtues of that Saviour’s mother.”

“Surely, I’ll treasure this lesson, which is both balm and heart’s ease.”

“I must go now, so must thou. I’ll send at noon to the Reservoir,
another parchment. Let one of the lads meet the messenger. It will be
suitable for reading to thy mother, Rizpah. Be not so soon over-hopeful.
We must proceed with her slowly. Those most needing the light will curse
it if, coming too suddenly, it chance to dazzle. Israel still goes down
all unconsciously to Egypt for gods, and the spectacle of man changing
the invisible down, down, continues everywhere. Slowly, we who would be
faithful, must raise up His only true presentment. We must allure after
us, with all wisdom and tenderness, those we would win, while striving
ourselves to rise toward Divine ideals ever beyond and above us. God
bless my little missionary.”

They parted; and there were tears on Miriamne’s face; but not of anguish.




CHAPTER XXII.

THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS.

“Day followed day, like any childhood passing;
And silently Mary sat at her wheel
And watched the boy Messiah as she span;
And as a human child unto his mother,
Subject the while, He did her low-voiced bidding—
Or gently came to lean upon her knee
And ask her of the thoughts that in him stirred.

“And then, all tearful-hearted, she paused,
Or with tremulous hand spun on—
The blessing that her lips instructive gave,
Asked Him with an instant thought again:”


“Mother, I’ve another volume of that charming story, full of wonderful
things. Shall we peruse them to please our woman’s curiosity, to-night?”

“Woman’s curiosity?” angrily ejaculated Rizpah.

“They say all women are inquisitive; do they not?”

“They! The fling of the ‘lords of earth!’ Eaten up with anxiety solely
concerning themselves, they plunge into introspections and questionings
pertaining to their own worth; the ultimate of their own preciousness,
that they call philosophy. Our sex, in self-forgetfulness, ask questions
out of sympathy, and with desire to help others; that’s ‘curiosity!’
Faugh, the fling is sickening!”

“My book is both curious and philosophical; it’s interesting to both
sexes therefore. Shall I read?”

“On thy promise to tell me later whence it came, who its author, thou
mayst read it to me.”

Miriamne, perceiving that her mother was curious to hear the whole story,
though the former placated her conscience by a show of indifference,
responded: “I’ll begin with the return of the wanderers.” So saying, she
read:

“‘But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a
dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, arise, and take the young child and his
mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought
the young child’s life.

“‘And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into
the land of Israel.

“‘Being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of
Galilee:

“‘And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be
fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets. He shall be called a
Nazarene.’”

“Nazarene!” Rizpah ejaculated, interrupting the reader. “Does the word
not taste like wormwood, girl?”

The maiden replied, adroitly: “We read the pagan inscriptions on the
monuments about us without being harmed! Surely we may safely read these
nobler peoples’ words and deeds.” So saying, the maiden continued:

“‘Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the
passover.

“‘And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the
custom of the feast.

“‘And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus
tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and His mother knew not of it.

“‘But they, supposing Him to have been in the company, went a day’s
journey; and they sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.

“‘And when they found Him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem,
seeking Him.

“‘And it came to pass that after three days they found Him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them
questions.

“‘And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.

“‘And when they saw Him, they were amazed: and His mother said unto Him,
Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, Thy father and I have
sought Thee sorrowing.

“‘And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I
must be about my Father’s business?’”

“That was rude, was it not, daughter? Was not his father’s business
his mother’s? He was young for such philosophy, so like that of tyrant
husband.”

“He meant God’s business!”

“Then his earnestness was just. God first, kin after—mother or
husband—say I. Did the mother gain-say him?”

“It is thus recorded,” replied the maiden.

“‘And they understood not the saying which He spake unto them.



Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 20 of 40)