This is one of a series of lectures by Murshida Vera Corda, dealing with the perfection of womanhood. Each one is an in-depth study of a holy woman, her life, tests and initiations. Research is taken from Judaic, Christian and Islamic studies.
Introduction to Mary's Ancestry
Introduction to Visitation
The Second Initiation
The Flight Into Egypt
The Lost and Found Christ Child
Introduction to Mary's Ancestry
Hanna, Mary's mother, was a priestess in the Jewish temple. She was the first woman of her time to be entrusted with the teaching of the spoken records, the mysteries given to Moses on the Mount of Olives, and to Joshua, and finally to the Chosen Forty.
The Hebrews of early times honored Mary as a goddess.
Mary's grandmother was named Faustina of the House of Israel, a Levite. She predicted that the seventh daughter of her lineage would bear the Messiah.
Hanna had a mode of life exactly like the Essenes. However, she had been raised in a wealthy family who owned a great estate in Nazareth. She was a well-educated woman in a time when all education of girl children was in the temple. There she also served as a teacher of novices.
Joachim, Mary's father, was a nobleman and a high priest; he was a wealthy benefactor of the poor. He prepared for Mary's conception by going to the desert, fasting, and praying for three days and nights. He kept the silence when he returned home and this was interpreted by the unawakened as being struck mute.
During the time of Joachim's retreat, Hanna spent her time in her garden praying and meditating and tuned herself to the flowers and trees. There she has a visitation of the Angel Gabriel who came to her saying, "Peace, be unto thee, O woman. Fear not, for thou hast found mercy with the Lord, and behold, thou shalt conceive and bring forth a daughter and thou shalt call her name Mary. From she shall spring the Light of Creation and Him of whom the world awaits." At the same time Joachim also saw and conversed with Gabriel while still o his desert retreat. Both Hanna and Joachim were overcome with the blessing they had received and promised the Lord that the child should be promised to the Temple.
Hanna underwent great changes during her pregnancy. Everywhere she walked a light preceded her. Healing fires fell from her fingers when she entered a sick room and all arguments ceased in her presence.
On the day of Mary's birth, Hanna was at prayer when a great Light surrounded her. Joachim built a special sanctuary for baby Mary and from her birth to her third year she lived there with her mother. Hanna never put Mary's feet on earth but kept her within the light which surrounded her own aura.
Mary was a very gifted and wise child and she became a neophyte in the Mysteries. Seven maidens accompanied her to Jerusalem when she was dedicated to the Temple. With the seven neophytes, she climbed the 15 steps and was received by the holy woman, Anna the Prophetess, who was henceforth to be her guide and caretaker. The High Priest Zadok, who had also greeted her as she entered for the first time, now also became her teacher and taught her how to leave the physical body.
In a revelation that St. Elizabeth received in vision, we learn something of Mary's early days in the Temple. Here is her schedule:
6 to 9 A.M. : Prayers and spiritual training with her teacher.
9 to 12 A.M. : Work in the temple. Here she was taught to spin and weave. When her apprenticeship was completed she and the other neophytes were assigned to weave the new curtains for the inner temple. The children drew lots for which color they would weave with and Mary chose the royal purple. That was how she got the title of "Queen," for her peers immediately responded by saying, "Mary, thou shalt be a Queen.".
12 to 3 P.M. : Mary ate and rested.
3 to 6 P.M. : Prayers and evening meal. Each evening when she retired angels carried her astral body to God so that the Lord could "tune" her. Mary had naturally good manners and whenever she was spoken to by her elders her natural response was, "Thanks be to God."
Hypolitus, an early church father, wrote describing Mary:
"She personified love and power. She was of Moderate height, fair of complexion with large blue-violet eyes and light auburn hair. She had long slim fingers. At puberty her attributes were majesty, modesty, humility and glory."
From Xavier's Persian History of Christ. we learn of how the Lord chose Mary's name. God made an assemblage of all the waters and called it the sea (mare). He made an assemblage of all the graces and called it Mary (Maria).
Many modern women own copies of the painting by Nicholas Roerich called "The Mother of Light," the veiled one. She is the bridge between East and West.
Legend tells of a snowy peak in the Himalayas which no human foot has trodden. A shrine to Mary is there. In time of the earth's extreme crisis, she will summon the aid of other worlds in space and, with a shaft of light from her hand, will bring a message of peace to save the world. Is this not prophetic of the message given by the Lady of Fatima?
Introduction to Visitation
Retreat demands the walking away from old patterns of behavior, the letting go of the world, and holding on to the call of the soul. It is both a return to the source and an expansion of consciousness beyond the figment of time we call "our life." in the here and now. The discipline necessary of new discoveries of this dimension of self demands laying aside the concerns of everyday life. To switch our minds onto this track we must first be willing to purify body, mind and hear. We must bring to the immaculate state of Mary the inner being of our individual selves. (This we accomplished by doing ablutions, breathing practices, light practices and drinking hyssop tea before and after retiring.)
At this point a woman is ready to comprehend the divinity of womanhood using the divine mother principle which Mary brought to its culmination of perfection through her life's tests and passing initiations in her life and work.
The development of Mary as a divine woman demanded no fewer trials and self-discipline than in our own modern lives, despite her divine heritage, ancestry, and advanced soul's purpose. Each vision had to be verified by faith, belief in her guidance and willingness to courageously follow through in silence, "keeping all those things in her heart" as life confirmed the truth of the angelic messages. Her experiences in prayer and vision can guide us today in confirming our inner guidance to the satisfaction of our reasoning modern mind. All too often we tend to doubt the validity of that which we receive in audio-vision and, failing to ask in prayer for the confirmation in our world of illusion, lose the gift of sure inner directive.
Mary's testing began when the angel of the annunciation appeared to her in the first scene of the drama of the Magnificat. Her sure, humble, and silent acceptance within her heart confirmed the years of temple training, her divine inheritance and her biological inheritance, which prepared her for this moment. Yet the choice was hers.
In this retreat, we shall imitate the stages of initiation experienced by the Blessed Virgin Mary on our earth plane. These are often referred to as the joyous mysteries. A good retreat always begins with purification, so each session will repeat the same routine.
We shall be using the recorded visions of St. Elizabeth, St. Dominic, and the venerable Maru of Agreda, as well as parts of the writings of Blessed Alan. In all of the messages of these saints you will find a promise of great spiritual reward for those who persevere in following the divine mother principle in their lives. The discovery of the attributes of the Divine Lady within each of us enables us to forgive ourselves for sins against self, thus breaking the bonds that fetter our soul's progress. We are enabled to find a new way through grief, to overcome temptations to repeat the same errors of our lives' patterns, to overcome poverty of spirit, and to reform our spiritual goals. Trivia, such a being dedicated to doing practices regularly at a pace commensurate with our lifestyles, can expand our consciousness. Through new knowledge and the overcoming of pride in the lower self's performance, it is possible for every woman to reach the goal.
The Second Initiation
In the early months of pregnancy, Mary had lived in retirement in Joseph's house in Nazareth. The the divine impulse moved her, as it does so many young women today, to visit a woman friend and to confide the mystery that was taking place within her body to another woman. Her cousin, Elizabeth, lived in the hill country of Judea and Mary was drawn to visit there. As was usual, Joseph granted Mary every consideration and closed his little shop, loaded the little donkey with the necessities of sleeping out and accompanied mary on the pleasant journey.
The ground was rough and rocky as the foothills approached, and Joseph insisted that Mary ride the donkey some of the time. Sometimes Mary would get off and walk on the smoother parts of the trail so that Joseph might have a rest...the distance to Elizabeth's home from their Nazareth home was about 78 miles.
St. Elizabeth tells us that the same angels that guarded Solomon's couch accompanied Mary on this journey and that she could converse with them.
Her pure heart was filled with love as she tuned to the angels and Joseph, all unaware, pursued his silent contemplation trying to understand what was going on in her soul. Since his nature was noble and courteous, he always respected her visions, even though he had to wait for insight through his own receptivity, silence, and contemplation. He was the perfect spouse for a visionary.
It took the couple four days to reach Zacharius' and Elizabeth's home in the little town of Juda, which it was called in those days. During the journey, Elizabeth was having dreams of Mary, whom she saw coming to visit her on the little donkey. At once she began to prepare for the visitation.
Elizabeth was at this time six months pregnant with John the Baptist. As soon as the cousins greeted each other, the power of the Holy Spirit, in Sufi terms the Qdus, descended into her womb and the baby John jumped for joy in Elizabeth's womb. (See Luke 1:17). From this time on, John was filled with the attributes of faith, hope, charity, adoration, gratitude, humility, and love.
Mary at the same time was transfigured in light, and Elizabeth was made to see into the womb of Mary as through a clear glass, where she perceived the fetus lying on a burning crystal light. She burst forth in amazement, "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb". In a flash, Elizabeth realized the hitherto veiled purposes of this child's life and of her own son's life.
It was Mary who, in response to this outburst of her cousin, then intoned the first Magnificat (see Luke 1:46-55):
"My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced i God my Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall cal me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good thins; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holden his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as He spake to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever."
Mary had indeed been tested in the "the great things" as she called them. She realized that her soul's purpose was to spread over all generations the mercies she had been shown. IN a small way, this is comparable to the awakening of our individual soul's work in the service of humanity in this lifetime, though in no way is it equal to the universal, timeless purpose of the divine Universal Mother.
Three women witnessed the test (Anna the Prophetess who had been Mary's teacher in the Temple days, Elizabeth, and Mary herself). The first two witnessed the Light descending into Mary's crown chakra as Mary received and spoke the Magnificat.
Now Elizabeth offered her own prayer room as guest room for Mary, and there she lived for the next three months, her spirit expanding with full realization of her destiny. This happens even today when, by grace, the light descends unbidden by its recipient. Mary continued to awaken at midnight to say her prayers and to meditate.
When the visitation ended, Mary and Joseph returned from the Judaean hills and lived quietly. Joseph returned to his carpenter shop. As the Winter Solstice approached, plans were made to travel to Jerusalem to pay the tax and register for the census.
It took five days to get there because of the numerous rest stops necessary for Mary due to the lateness of her pregnancy. The saints say that they could very likely have arrived in the city at 4 p.m. on a Saturday evening. The couple went at once to the registry, paid their taxes and signed the census. They then sought lodging. By 9 p.m. Joseph realized that nothing could be found in the city, but he recalled, in desperation, a cave outside of the city walls and there the tired couple trekked. They found the cave unoccupied and this then became the first temple of light.
Mary went to work at once, cleaning out the cave with a faggot broom which she had shaped while Joseph prepared a couch for Mary to rest upon. Mary sanctified the cave by walking and praying as she circled it with heavy footsteps. The angelic guardian appeared to Joseph as he prepared a manger with fresh hay for the crib of the newborn. He build a fire and the couple knelt and gave thanks to God, each sharing what was in the heart, Mary thanking her guardian angels for aiding her in taking an abandoned stable and transforming it into a temple of light for the birth of her son. She acted as a serving maid despite he reception of her true, universal destiny.
As she completed her glorifications that night, she reached the clear vision of divinity as the great blue-white light engulfed her. Having eaten, Joseph had fallen into an exhausted sleep on his pallet of hay, covered with a saddle blanket. During his sleep, Mary was glorified in he illumination as the universal mother descended through the wisdom teaching of the ages. She was instructed in how to become the caretaker of the message of God incarnate.
As midnight approached, Mary found herself still kneeling. It was now Sunday in the Hebrew year 5199. The "hypo-static birth," as the early church fathers called it, was beginning to take place. A ray emanated from the vagina in the same manner in which Jesus' body was later to be transfigured into light at the transfiguration on the mount, which was witnessed by the chosen disciples. (Matthew 17:2):
"And he was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light."
And so it was that Mary first saw her son when she was still in a glorified state. It was the archangels Michael and Gabriel, who presented the babe from the womb to Mary's breast and the bonding began. Eyes met eyes and the babe communicated, "Mother become like me!" And Mary answered, according to Canticle 1:3:
"Raise me, elevate me Lord and I will run after Thee in the offer of Thy ointments."
Canticle 2:16 continues:
"My Beloved to me and I to Him and His desire is toward me. Behold, Thou art beautiful my friend, and Thy eyes are doves' eyes. Behold my Beloved, Thou art beautiful."
This expresses so beautifully the ideal relationship of friendship, not sonship, between a mother and son who have identical soul purposes to humanity. From that day forward, from the time of Mary's fulfillment in divine motherhood, she became the disciple of her son and modeled her life after him. The holy spirit then veiled the soul of the babe and he became an earthly baby that needed nursing, protection, and care as any other Nazarene baby would.
As Mary nursed her son on that first birth-night, her lap became the altar of God for all who entered the cave to adore Him. And angels, shepherds, and kings knelt before her. Joseph awakened fro his sleep, enlightened by his angelic guides who prepared him for the foster-fathering he would do in the years to come. Mary arose from the kneeling position of the birthing, wrapped her son in the swaddling clothes from the saddle bags and laid him in the manger. An ox came from the neighboring field, running in great haste into the cave and Mary commanded him to stop and adore his Creator. The ass and the ox warmed the Babe as they stood over Him with the warmth of their breath. Thus the prophecy was fulfilled, "the ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib, but Israel hath not known me, and my people hath not understood."
On this wondrous night many angels appeared and were heard singing by people of every station in life, simple shepherd boys, old men, wise men, and kings. Zacharia, Hanna and John, Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna the prophetess also saw and heard. The initiation of birthing a God-man confirmed in Mary the prophecies she had heard and studied and recited in the Temple School so many years before. Now she was witness and participant in the fulfillment of these prophecies. This then was the descent from the higher spheres and union with the divine beloved down to earth from the realms of glory where she had received illumination' the reward of being merely human after knowing union.
The little family then left the cave, went back into the city in a few days and sought out a priest at the ?Bethlehem Temple for the circumcision. Here, unlike the custom of the day, Mary insisted upon holding the babe during the operation. When the priest asked the name of the child, both parents answered simultaneously, "Jesus," for both had received the same name, one in vision, the other in dream.
The Flight Into Egypt
After the presentation of the child in the temple, Mary and Joseph were overwhelmed with the honors and prophecies given to their son and with all of the graces they had received before and after the birth. Mary suggested that they go to the temple each day at 3 o'clock and find a quiet corner where, for nine days, they might pray and meditate while the baby Jesus napped. This they did for the first five days.
On the fifth day, while holding the sleeping baby in her lap, Mary was lifted up in the astral body and heard God speak to her in person. Always before it had come through the angels or archangels. This time, He told her that she must leave home and country and flee at once into Egypt to save her son's life or Herod, the wicked king, would kill him. Mary, though shocked, asked God that no pain should be suffered by her son and that she be allowed to carry the pains of his life instead. God agreed and charged her with the power of the holy spirit.
When Mary came back into her physical body, the infant Jesus awoke and the little family had to leave the temple at once. To the distraction of Joseph, Mary wept all the way home for she could not speak of why she grieved.
That night, as Joseph slept fitfully, an angel came to him in his dreams and gave this message: "Arise, take the child and its mother and flee into Egypt, and there you must stay until I return to give you other advice, for Herod is trying to take away Jesus' life." Joseph awoke and awakened Mary gently. Now he understood her unspoken grief! Joseph told her of what the angel had told him. Swiftly, the packed to leave, Joseph taking his precious tools and Mary getting together the food, clothing, and bedding they must take with them. They loaded the little donkey and shortly after midnight were on their way.
Mary was to learn that home is where the heart is; and her heart was with her son. With deep gratitude, she thanked the Divine Father for the guidance he had given her at the crucial moment. "What shall I render to God for all He hath rendered to me?" she questioned.
Once again a host of angels guided them over the back roads that Joseph chose as they made their way through the dark of night into a foreign land with an unknown language and people. This was the final test of faith: to follow the revelation of the voice of God without question. It demanded renunciation of their home and all of their worldly goods and deprivation without blaming God, learning to suffer with a magnanimous heart, serving humanity with humbleness of spirit.
The Lost and Found Christ Child
Around the time that Jesus reached his eleventh year, he began to veil his mind so that his mother could no longer read and converse with him via thought-form. This grieved Our Lady, making her feel that, in some way, she had failed her son. Jesus became increasingly reserved and non-communicative with her. This, in turn, make Mary feel that she had not fulfilled her commitment to the Father-God; to guide and nurture the Son.
At the same time, Joseph had commitments that took him away from the home and carpenter shop. Three times a year, the Jewish men had to go to the Temple in Jerusalem but the women were not required to. Jesus and Joseph talked it over and decided that two times a year Joseph would go alone and the third time they would all go as a family to the feast of the unleavened bread (Pasch). This lasted for seven days. During the travel time, the men would go with the menfolk and the women with the women and young children. Boys of Jesus' age would go with their friend in either part of the entourage. By the end of the first day's travel, both parents felt that Jesus was with the other. At the day's end, when Mary and Joseph hot together, they were dumbfounded to find that neither had seen him all day.
Both went back and forth between relatives and friends camped for the night but no one had seen Jesus. Mary was beside herself and insisted that they return to Jerusalem and check along the way. When they got there they would part, each to search in his own way, meeting again at a common hour and place. Heartsick, they retired to start out early the next morning. Mary stopped every woman who lived along the road, asking if they had seen her boy. When asked for a description, she would say, "my beloved is white and ruddy with courteous manner and beautiful countenance, chosen out of thousands." (Canticles 5:10)
Several women said that such a boy had begged alms of them and that they had given donations to him. Yes, he had gone into the city. Mary then went in desperation to the hospices. There she was told that such a boy had visited, consoling the sick and giving alms but none knew the direction he had taken after leaving. At four o'clock Mary went to the ore-arranged meeting place to join Joseph. There the exhausted and worried traded news and decided there was only one other place to look... the temple.
This was the third day of searching and both were exhausted and heartsick. Mary could not understand why she could not get her angels to help in this time of earthly need. But the tests of life seldom bring angels to our aid until the test is passed. At the Temple the great teachers and rabbis were conferring about whether the Messiah had come or not, since so much of prophecy pointed to this time as being ripe for his appearance. Also, many false prophets claimed to be he. Here Jesus had presented himself and, because of his youth and beauty, wisdom and poverty, he was listened to. The learned men were enthralled by his knowledge and manner. Here Mary and Joseph confronted Jesus, asking why he had done such and unheard of and unprecedented thing. Jesus answered calmly, Didn't you know I had to be about my Father's business?" This was the beginning of his mission and the severing of the psychic umbilical cord from Mary. The bonding would not cease but the child had become a young man with a purpose and a goal that Mary could no longer consider her own.
From this day forth, Mary would be forced out of her quiet retiring manner, so natural to Nazareth life and be pushed into joining other followers of her son.
The work of the holy women who, one by one, followed the master was beginning. It led Mary into becoming the living world mother to the many women from different walks of life who would be drawn to her son.
In retracing Mary's testing and spiritual transitions, we cannot fail to become more vital, alive, and fruitful in our service to our loved ones, our families, and to the call to serve humanity in a meaningful and rewarding manner. Mary taught us by example how to accept our visions, keeping all these things in our heart, and patiently and humbly awaiting the life experiences that reinforce our faith in divine guidance and the validity of the inner voice as angelic directive in our lives.
In Joseph's noble nature and devoted acceptance of the angelic guides who filled his dreams, we have learned how to observe in silence the spiritual experiences of our brothers and sister, being ready to aid in time of need while respecting the right of the individual on the path to receive the message of God in his/her own way. Much wisdom in parenting can be learned from the Holy Family.