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The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich

2.3 JOACHIM IS COMFORTED BY AN ANGEL AND RETURNS AGAIN TO THE TEMPLE TO SACRIFICE.




At the same time I saw Joachim among his flocks on Mount Hermon beyond the Jordan constantly praying God to grant his supplications. As he watched the young lambs bleating and frolicking round their mothers, he felt sorely distressed at having no children, but did not tell his shepherds why he was so sad. It was near the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, and he and his shepherds were beginning to put up the tabernacles. Remembering his humiliation at the Temple, he had abandoned the idea of going tip as usual to Jerusalem for the feast and offering sacrifices, but as he was praying I saw an angel appear to him, telling him to be of good courage and to journey to the Temple, for his sacrifice would be accepted and his prayers granted. He would meet his wife under the Golden Gate. Thereupon I saw Joachim joyfully dividing his flocks and herds once more into three portions--and what numbers of fine beasts he had! The least good he kept for himself, the next best he sent to the Essenes, and the best of all he drove to the Temple with his herdsmen. He arrived in Jerusalem on the fourth day of the feast, and stayed in his usual lodgings near the Temple.

Anna arrived in Jerusalem also on the fourth day of the feast and stayed with Zechariah's relations by the fish market. She did not meet Joachim until the end of the feast.

Although on the previous occasion it was by a sign from above that Joachim's offerings were rejected, I saw that the priest who had treated him so harshly instead of comforting and consoling him was in some way (I cannot remember how) punished by God. Now, however, the priests had received a divine warning to accept his offerings, and I saw that some of them, on being told of his approach with the sacrificial beasts, went out of the Temple to meet him and accepted his gifts. The cattle which he had brought as a gift to the Temple were not his actual offering. The sacrifice he brought to be slaughtered consisted of two lambs and three lively little animals, kids, I think. I saw, too, that many of his acquaintances congratulated him on his sacrifice being accepted. I saw that because of the feast the whole Temple was open and decorated with garlands of fruit and greenery, and that in one place a Tabernacle had been set up on eight detached pillars. Joachim went from place to place in the Temple exactly as he did before. His sacrifice was slaughtered and burnt at the usual place. Some part of it was, however, burnt at another place, to the right, I think, of the entrance hall with the great teaching pulpit. [27] I saw the priests making a sacrifice of incense in the Holy Place. Lamps, too, were lighted and lights burned on the seven-branched candlestick, but not on all seven branches at once. I often saw that on different occasions different branches of it were lighted. As the smoke arose from the offering, I saw as it were a beam of light falling upon the officiating priest in the Holy Place and at the same time on Joachim without in the hall. There came a sudden pause in what was going on, it seemed from astonishment and the realization of something supernatural. Thereupon I saw that two priests went out into the hall to Joachim as though by God's command, and led him through the side rooms up to the golden altar of incense in the Holy Place. The priest then laid something on the altar. This was not, I could see, separate grains of incense; it looked like a solid lump, but I cannot remember what it was. [28] This lump gave out a powerful and sweet smell of incense as it was burnt upon the altar of incense before the veil of the Holy of Holies. Then I saw the priest going away, leaving Joachim alone in the Holy Place. While the incense-offering was being consumed I saw Joachim in a state of ecstasy, kneeling with outstretched arms. I saw approaching him a shining figure of an angel, such as later appeared to Zechariah when he received the promise of the Baptist's birth. The angel spoke to Joachim, and gave him a scroll on which I recognized, written in shining letters, the three names Helia, Hanna, Miriam. [29] Beside the last of these names I saw the picture of a little Ark of the Covenant or tabernacle. Joachim fastened this scroll to his breast under his garment. The angel told him that his unfruitfulness was no disgrace for him, but on the contrary, an honor, for the child his wife was to conceive was to be the immaculate fruit of God's blessing upon him and the crowning point of the blessing of Abraham. Joachim, being unable to grasp this, was led by the angel behind the veil hanging in front of the Holy of Holies. Between this veil and the bars of the screen before the Holy of Holies was a space large enough to stand in. I saw the angel approach the Ark of the Covenant, and it seemed to me as if he took something out of it, for I saw him hold towards Joachim a shining globe or circle of light, bidding him breathe upon it and look into it. (When he held the circle of light so near his face, it made me think of a custom at our country weddings where the sacristan gives one a little board to kiss with a head painted on it, and makes one pay three halfpence for doing so.) Then I saw as if all kinds of pictures appeared in the circle of light when Joachim breathed on it and that these were visible to him. His breath had in no way dimmed the circle of light, and the angel told him that the conception of Anna's child would be as untarnished as this globe, which had remained shining in spite of his having breathed on it. Thereupon I saw as if the angel lifted the globe until it stood like an encircling halo in the air, in which I saw, as through an opening in it, a series of pictures starting with the Fall and ending with the Redemption of mankind. The whole course of the world passed before my eyes as one picture merged into another. I knew and understood it all, but I cannot reproduce the details. Above, at the very summit, I saw the Blessed Trinity, and below and on one side of the Trinity, I saw the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve, the Fall, the promise of Redemption and all its prototypes--Noah, the Flood, the Ark, the receiving of the blessing through Abraham, its handing on to his firstborn Isaac, from Isaac to Jacob, how it was taken from Jacob by the angel with whom he struggled, how the blessing came to Joseph in Egypt and increased in glory in him and in his wife. I saw how the sacred presence of the blessing was removed by Moses from Egypt with relics of Joseph and his wife Asenath, and became the Holy of Holies of the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of the living God among His people. Then I saw the reverence paid by God's people to this sacred thing and their ceremonies respecting it; I saw the relationships and marriages which formed the sacred genealogy of the Blessed Virgin's ancestry, as well as all the prototypes and symbols of her and of Our Savior in history and in the prophets. All this I saw in encircling symbols and also rising from the lower part of the ring of light. I saw pictures of great cities, towers, palaces, thrones, gates, gardens, and flowers, all strangely woven together as it were by bridges of light; and all were being attacked and assaulted by fierce beasts and other figures of might. These pictures all signified how Our Blessed Lady's ancestral family, from which God was to take Flesh and be made Man, had been led, like all that is holy, by God's grace through many assaults and struggles. I remember, too, having seen at a certain point in this series of pictures a garden surrounded by a thick hedge of thorns, which a host of serpents and other loathsome creatures attempted in vain to penetrate. I also saw a strong tower assaulted on all sides by men-at-arms, who were falling down from it. I saw many pictures of this kind, relating to the history of the ancestry of the Blessed Virgin; and the bridges and passages which joined all together signified the victory over all attempts to disturb, hinder, or interrupt the work of salvation. It was as if by God's compassion there had been poured into mankind, as into a muddy stream, a pure flesh and a pure blood, and as if this had, with great toil and difficulty, to reconstitute itself out of its scattered elements, the whole stream striving the while to draw it into its troubled waters; and then, as if by the countless mercies of God and the faithful cooperation of mankind, it had at last issued forth, after many pollutions and many cleansings, in an unfailing stream out of which rose the Blessed Virgin, from whom the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us.

Among the pictures that I saw in the globe of light there were many which occur in the litany of the Blessed Virgin. Whenever I say that litany, I see them and recognize them and venerate them with great devotion. The pictures in the globe unfolded themselves still further till they reached the fulfillment of all God's compassion towards mankind, so divided and dispersed in its fallen state, and ended, on the side opposite the Garden of Eden, with the heavenly Jerusalem at the foot of the Throne of God. After I had seen all these pictures, the globe (which was really a series of pictures passing in and out of a circle of light) disappeared. I think that all this was a communication to Joachim of a vision revealed to him by the angel and also seen by me. Whenever I receive such a communication, it appears in a circle of light like a globe.











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