The Second Dolor of Mary,
Of the Flight of Jesus to Egypt


The Flight into Egypt - by TINTORETTO - from Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice

The Flight-into-Egypt is a Biblical Event, described-in the Gospel-of Matthew (Matthew 2:13-23). An Angel appears-to Joseph, in a Dream, and warns him to take Jesus and His Mother into Egypt, in order to avoid the Wrath-of King Herod. Egypt had been regarded as a Place-of Safe Refuge, since the Time-of the Maccabees. Tintoretto depicts the fleeing-Fugitive Family in a secluded Wooded Hollow, after Furtively-avoiding every Inhabited Place; Mary and Joseph, together with the Holy Child, prepare to take a Rest. The Donkey is exhausted, Joseph is getting ready to Tie it up, and the Baggage lies-on the ground. The Oak Tree offers Protection, and the Palm Tree yields Dates, for Food. Water is also available.

Mary and Joseph fled-into Egypt with Jesus, Sorrowing that He, the Son-of-God, was 'Threatened' and 'Unwanted', by the same Men He came-to Save. And all to keep Himself for Calvary, where He was to-shed, with a Thousand-fold more Cruel Suffering, His Precious Blood for us! Our Lady didn't have to Suffer-alone in all of Her Seven (7) Dolors. Saint Joseph, the Trophy-of God's Sweetest Graces, kept her company in Three (3) of the Seven (7), until Death took him, from her.

 

 

Of the Flight of Jesus to Egypt

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

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As the Stag, Wounded-by an Arrow, carries the Pain with him, wherever he goes, because he Carries-with him the Arrow, which has Wounded him; so did the Divine Mother, after the Sad Prophecy-of Saint Simeon, as we have already seen in the consideration-of the First (1st) Dolor, always carry her Sorrow with her, in the Continual Remembrance-of the Passion-of her Son. Hailgrino, explaining this Passage-of the 'Canticles', "The Hairs of thy Head, as the Purple of the King, Bound in the Channel", says that these Purple Hairs were Mary's Continual Thoughts-of the Passion-of Jesus, which kept the Blood, which was One Day to-Flow-from His Wounds, always-before her Eyes: "Thy Mind, O Mary, and thy Thoughts, steeped-in the Blood-of our Lord's Passion, were always Filled-with Sorrow, as-if they Actually Beheld, the Blood flowing-from His Wounds". Thus, her Son Himself, was that Arrow in the Heart-of Mary; and the more-Amiable He appeared-to her, so-much the more-Deeply did the Thought-of Losing Him, by so Cruel a Death, Wound her Heart. Let us now consider the Second (2nd) Sword-of-Sorrow, which Wounded Mary, in the Flight-of her Infant Jesus into Egypt, from the Persecution-of Herod.

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Slaughter of the Innocents - by DUCCIO di Buoninsegna -
from Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena
 

Herod, having heard that the 'Expected' Messiah was Born, Foolishly Feared, that He would 'Deprive' him of his Kingdom. Hence Saint Fulgentius, Reproving him for his Folly, thus addresses him: "Why art thou Troubled, O Herod? This King Who is Born, comes not to Conquer Kings by the Sword, but to Subjugate them Wonderfully, by His Death". The Impious Herod, therefore, waited to hear from the Holy Magi, where the King was Born, that he might Take His Life; but, finding himself Deceived, he 'Ordered' all the Infants, who could be Found-in the Neighborhood-of Bethlehem, to be Put-to Death. Then it was, that the Angel appeared-in a Dream to Saint Joseph, and Desired him to "Arise, and take the Child and His Mother, and Fly into Egypt". According-to Gerson, Saint Joseph 'Immediately', on that very-Night, made the 'Order' known-to Mary; and taking the Infant Jesus, they Set-out on their Journey, as it is sufficiently evident-from the Gospel itself: "Who Arose and Took the Child and His Mother, by Night, and Retired-into Egypt". O God, says Blessed Albert-the-Great, in the Name-of Mary, "must He then Fly-from Men, Who came-to Save Men"? Then the Afflicted Mother, knew that already the Prophecy-of Simeon, concerning her Son, began to be Verified: "He is Set-for a Sign, that shall be Contradicted". Seeing that He was no-sooner Born, than He was Persecuted unto Death, what Anguish, writes Saint John-Chrysostom, must the Intimation-of that Cruel Exile-of herself and her Son have caused-in her Heart: "Flee-from Thy Friends, to Strangers, from God's Temple, to the Temples-of Devils. What Greater Tribulation, than that a new-Born Child, Hanging from Its Mother's Breast, and she too in-Poverty, should with Him, be Forced-to Fly"?

Winter Rest on the Flight into Egypt -
by REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn -
from National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin
(Click Image to enlarge)
 

Any one may Imagine what Mary must have Suffered-on this Journey. To Egypt, the Distance was Great. Most Authors agree that it was Three (3) Hundred Miles; so that it was a Journey-of upwards-of Thirty (30) Days. The Road was, according to Saint Bonaventure's description-of it, "Rough, Unknown, and little Frequented". It was in the 'Winter Season'; so that they had to Travel-in Snow, Rain, and Wind, through Rough and Dirty Roads. Mary was then Fifteen (15) Years of-age, a Delicate Young Woman, unaccustomed-to such Journeys. They had no-one to attend upon them. Saint Peter-Chrysologus says, "Joseph and Mary have no Male or Female Servants; they were themselves, both Masters and Servants". O God, what a Touching Sight must it have been, to-have Beheld that Tender Virgin, with her new-Born Babe in her arms, Wandering-through the World! "But how", asks Saint Bonaventure, "did they obtain their Food? Where did they Repose at Night? How were they Lodged? What can they have Eaten, but a piece of Hard Bread, either brought-by Saint Joseph or Begged-as an Alms? Where can they have slept on such a Road (especially on the Two Hundred Miles of Desert, where there were neither Houses nor Inns, as Authors relate), unless on the Sand or Under a Tree in a Wood, Exposed-to the Air and the Dangers-of Robbers and Wild Beasts, with which Egypt abounded. Ah, had any one met these Three Greatest Personages in the World, for whom could he have taken-them, but-for Three Poor Wandering Beggars".

'Probable' Route of the Holy Family in Egypt,
according to the Coptic Church
(Click Image to Enlarge)

They resided-in Egypt, according-to Brocard and Jansenius, in a District called Maturea; though Saint Anselm says that they Lived-in the City-of Heliopolis, or at Memphis, now called Old Cairo. Here let us consider the Great Poverty they must have Suffered during the Seven (7) Years which, according to Saint Antoninus, Saint Thomas, and others, they spent there. They were Foreigners, Unknown, without Revenues, Money, or Relations, barely able to-Support themselves by their Humble Efforts. "As they were Destitute", says Saint Basil, "it is evident that they must have Labored-much, to provide themselves with the Necessaries-of-Life". Landolph-of-Saxony has, moreover, written (and let this be a Consolation-for the Poor), that "Mary lived there in the Midst-of such Poverty, that at-times, she had not even a Bit-of-Bread to give to her Son, when, Urged by Hunger, He asked for it".

After the Death of-Herod, Saint Matthew relates, the Angel again Appeared-to Saint Joseph in a Dream, and 'Directed' him to 'Return' to-Judea. Saint Bonaventure, speaking-of this 'Return', considers how much-Greater the Blessed Virgin's Sufferings must have been, on-account-of the Pains of-Jesus, being so-much Increased, as He was then about Seven (7) Years of-Age, an Age, remarks the Saint, at which "He was too Big to be Carried, and not Strong enough, to Walk-without Assistance".

The Sight, then, of Jesus and Mary, wandering-as Fugitives through the World, teaches us that we also must Live-as 'Pilgrims', here below, detached-from the Goods which the World offers us, and which we must soon-Leave, to enter Eternity (∞): "We have not here a Lasting City, but seek one that is to-Come". To which Saint Augustine adds: "Thou art a Guest; thou givest a Look, and Passest on". It also Teaches us to-Embrace Crosses, for without them, we cannot Live-in this World. Blessed Veronica-da-Binasco, an Augustinian Nun, was carried in-Spirit, to-accompany Mary, with the Infant Jesus, on their Journey-into Egypt; and after it, the Divine Mother said, "Daughter, thou hast seen with how much Difficulty we have reached this Country; now Learn that no one Receives Graces without Suffering". Whoever Wishes-to Feel-less, the Sufferings-of this Life, must go-in Company-with Jesus and Mary: "Take the Child and His Mother". All Sufferings become Light, and even Sweet and Desirable, to him, who by his Love, Bears this Son and this Mother, in his Heart. Let us, then, Love them; let us Console Mary, by Welcoming-in our Hearts her Son, Whom Men, even now, continue-to Persecute by their Sins.

 

Example

The most Holy Virgin, One Day appeared-to Blessed Collette, a Franciscan Nun, and showed her the Infant Jesus in a Basin, Torn-to Pieces, and then said: "Thus it is, that Sinners continually Treat my Son, renewing His Death and my Sorrows. My Daughter, Pray for them, that they may be Converted". To this we may add another-Vision, which the Venerable Sister Joanna-of-Jesus-and-Mary, also a Franciscan Nun, had. She was One Day, Meditating-on the Infant Jesus, Persecuted-by Herod, when she heard a Great Noise, as-of Armed Men, pursuing some one; and Immediately she saw before-her, a most Beautiful Child, who, all out-of Breath and Running, exclaimed: "O my Joanna, help Me, conceal Me! I am Jesus of Nazareth; I am Flying from Sinners, who Wish to Kill Me, and Persecute Me as Herod did. Do thou Save Me".

 

Prayer

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Then, O Mary, even after thy Son hath Died-by the Hands-of Men, who Persecuted Him unto Death, these Ungrateful Men have not yet ceased, persecuting Him by their Sins, and continue-to Afflict thee, O Sorrowful Mother!

And, O God, I also have been One-of these. Ah, my most Sweet Mother, obtain me Tears to weep-over such Ingratitude. By the Sufferings thou didst endure-in thy Journey-to Egypt, assist me in the Journey, in-which I am now engaged towards Eternity; that thus I may at-length, be United-with thee, in Loving my Persecuted Savior, in the Kingdom-of the Blessed.

Amen.