Mary died happily with full assurance of hope

August 24, 2021 • 4 min

From The Glories of Mary, page 480
By St. Alphonsus Liguori

In the third place, the certainty of eternal salvation renders death sweet.

Death is called a passage, since, through death we pass from this short life to life eternal.

And, as the dread is great of those who die in doubt of their salvation, and who approach the solemn moment with just fear of passing into an eternal death, thus, on the other hand, very great is the joy of the saints at the end of life, hoping with some security to go and possess God in heaven.

A nun of the order of St. Theresa, when the physician announced to her that death was near, was so full of joy that she said to him: “And how does it happen, sir, that you tell me this good news and ask no fee for it?”

St. Lawrence Justinian being at the point of death, and seeing his friends weeping around him, said to them: “Away, away with your tears, this is no time for tears.” Go elsewhere to weep; if you will remain with me you must rejoice, as I rejoice, in seeing the gate of paradise open to unite me with my God.

And thus, also, a St. Peter of Alcantara, a St. Louis of Gonzaga, and so many other saints, on hearing that death was at hand, burst forth into exclamations of joy and gladness.

And yet they were not certain of the divine favor, nor secure of their own sanctity, as Mary was secure of hers.

But what joy must the divine mother have felt in learning that her death was at hand; she, who had the fullest security of enjoying the divine favor, especially after the angel Gabriel had assured her that she was full of grace, and already possessed God! “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee … thou hast found grace.”

And well did she herself know that her heart was burning continually with divine love, for that as Bernardine de Bustis says, Mary, by a singular grace not granted to any other saint, loved, and was always actually occupied in loving God every moment of her life, and so ardently, that, as St. Bernard says, it required a perpetual miracle to preserve her life in the midst of such burning flames.

It was before said to Mary in the sacred canticles: “Who is she that goeth up by the desert as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh, and frankincense, and of all the powders of the perfumer?”

Her entire mortification was prefigured in the myrrh, her fervent prayers were signified by the incense, and all her holy virtues united to her perfect charity towards God, kindled in her a flame so great, that her holy soul, wholly devoted to, and consumed by divine love, arose continually to God as a pillar of smoke that on all sides breathed sweet odor.

As a pillar of smoke, oh blessed Lady, wrote Rupert, thou hast breathed forth a sweet odor to the Most High. And Eustachius still more strongly expresses it: A pillar of smoke, because burning interiorly as a holocaust with the flame of divine love, she sent forth a most sweet odor.

As the loving Virgin lived, such she died. As the divine love gave her life, so it gave her death; for she died as the holy Doctors and Fathers of the Church generally affirm, of no other infirmity than pure love; for St. Ildephonsus says, that Mary either ought not to die, or only die of love.

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