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Mary, Promised Land

Mary, Promised Land by Br. Mickey McGrath, OSFS

Artwork Narrative:

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod.
(Gospel of Matthew 2:13-15)

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I saw the whole Promised Land withered and parched with drought, and I saw Elijah ascending Mount Carmel with two servants to beseech God to give rain. First they climbed over a high ridge, then up steps of rock to a terrace, then up many more rock steps, and so reached a great open space with a hill of rocks in its midst in which was a cave. Elijah climbed up steps to the top of this rocky hill. He left the servants at the edge of the open space and bade one of them look towards the Sea of Galilee, which had, however, a terrible aspect, for it was quite dried up and was full of hollows and caverns with rotting bodies of animals in the swampy ground. Elijah crouched down on the ground with his head sunk between his knees, and covering himself in his mantle prayed fervently to God and cried seven times to his servant to know whether he did not see a cloud rising out of the lake. At his seventh call I saw the cloud rise up, and saw the servant announce it to Elijah, who sent him to King Ahab. I saw a white eddy form itself in the middle of the lake; out of this eddy rose a little black cloud like a fist, which opened and spread itself out. In this little cloud I saw from the first a little shining figure like a virgin. I saw, too, that Elijah perceived this figure in the spreading cloud. The head of this virgin was encircled with rays; she stretched her arms out in the form of a cross, and had a triumphal wreath hanging from one hand. Her long robe seemed to be tied beneath her feet. She appeared as if hovering above the whole Promised Land in the cloud as it spread ever farther. I saw how this cloud divided into different parts and fell in eddying showers of crystal dew on certain holy and consecrated places inhabited by devout men and those who were praying for salvation. I saw these showers edged with the colors of the rainbow and the blessing taking shape in their midst like a pearl in its shell. It was explained to me that this was a symbolic picture, and that the favored places watered by the showers from the cloud were in fact those which had had their share in contributing to the coming of the Blessed Virgin.

 

I saw as well a prophetic vision of how Elijah, while the cloud was rising, discerned four mysteries relating to the Blessed Virgin. Unfortunately, I have forgotten the details, and much else, as a result of disturbances and interruptions. Elijah discerned in the cloud, among other things, that Mary would be born in the seventh age of the world; hence his sevenfold call to his servant. He saw, too, from what family she was to come. On one side of the country he saw a low but very broad family tree, and on the other a very high one, broad at the base but tapering towards its top, which bent down into the first tree. He understood all this, and discerned in this way four mysteries relating to the future mother of the Savior. Hereupon I had a vision of how Elijah enlarged the cave above which he had prayed and how he made the Sons of the Prophets into a more regular organization. Some of these were always praying in this cave for the coming of the Blessed Virgin and paying her honor in anticipation of her future birth. I saw that this devotion to the Blessed Virgin continued here uninterrupted, that the Essenes carried it on during Mary's earthly life, and that subsequently it was perpetuated up to our time by hermits and the Carmelite Order which eventually succeeded them.

 

Elijah’s Vision of the Blessed Virgin