The First Love Feast (Agape) After The Resurrection
In the open entrance hall outside that of the holy Last Supper, Nicodemus prepared a repast for the Apostles, the holy women, and the disciples. Thomas was not present at it. He kept himself in absolute retirement. All that took place at this feast was in strict accordance with Jesus’ directions. During the holy Last Supper, He had given Peter and John, who were sitting by Him and whom He ordained priests, detailed instructions relative to the Blessed Sacrament, with the command to impart the same to the other Apostles, along with some points of His early teachings.
I saw first Peter and then John communicating to the eight other Apostles, who were standing around them in a circle, what the Lord had entrusted to them, and teaching them the way in which He wished this Sacrament to be dispensed and the disciples instructed. All that Peter taught was repeated in the selfsame manner by John. The Apostles had put on their festal garments. Peter and John had, besides, a stole crossed on their breast and fastened with a clasp. The eight Apostles wore a stole over one shoulder and across the breast and back. It fastened under the arm with a clasp crosswise. Peter and John had been ordained priests by Jesus; the others looked still like deacons.
After that instruction, the holy women, nine in number, entered the hall. Peter addressed them in some words of instruction. I saw John at the door receiving into the house of the master of the feast seventeen (as I counted) of the most trusty disciples, those that had been longest with the Lord. Zacheus, Nathanael, Mathias, Barsabas, and others were there. John served them while they were washing their feet and putting on festal garments, long white robes and girdles. Matthew was sent back to Bethania after Peter’s discourse, in order there to reproduce, at a similar repast given in the house of Lazarus, the instructions just heard and the ceremonies witnessed. There were many disciples present at this feast.
And now a table was prepared in the entrance hall. It was so long that the seats of some of the disciples extended beyond the hall and into the courtyard, planted with trees, that surrounded the Coenaculum. Three avenues were left open to the tables, in order to approach them with the viands. The holy women now sat together at one end of the same table with the men. They too wore long white garments. They were veiled, but without their faces being concealed. They sat cross-legged on little stools that had a kind of upright at the backs. Peter and John sat opposite each other at the center of the table. They closed the men’s row, and then began the women’s. The couches used at this feast were not like those at the Last Supper. They were low cushions. They looked as if they were woven, and were scarcely long enough to receive the upper part of the body, for they hardly reached below the knees. Each had before him a cushion raised upon two higher feet, which were fastened into cross-uprights. It stood in an oblique direction. All reclined near the table, the feet of one at his neighbor’s back. At Simon’s house and at the Last Supper, the guests reclined on stools of a different kind, the feet turned entirely out.
The meal was conducted with ceremony. The guests prayed standing and ate lying, while Peter and John taught. At the end of the meal, a flat, ribbed loaf was placed before Peter, which he divided into small pieces as marked by the ribs. These he distributed right and left on two plates. A large cup was next sent round, and out of it each one drank. Although Peter blessed the bread, yet it was not a sacrament, only an agape, a love feast. Peter said that they should all desire to be one as was the bread that they were eating and the wine they were drinking. After that they sang Psalms, standing.
When the tables were moved aside, the holy women retired to an apartment in the form of a half circle at the end of the hall. The disciples ranged on either side, while the Apostles walked up and down teaching and imparting to these ripe disciples all they durst concerning the Blessed Sacrament. This was like the first catechetical instruction after Jesus’ death. I saw also that they walked around among one another extending hands joyously declaring that they would have all things in common, would resign all things for one another, and would live perfectly united. A feeling of deep emotion stole over them. I saw them flooded with light and, as it were, dissolving into one another. All seemed to resolve into a pyramid of light in which the Blessed Virgin appeared to be not only the apex, but the radiant center of all. All graces flowed in streams from Mary down upon the Apostles, and from them back again through her to the Lord. This vision was symbolical of their union and the reciprocal relations existing among them.
Matthew, in the court of Lazarus’ house, taught a great many more of the disciples who were not so well instructed as the others. They had the same kind of a meal and went through similar ceremonies.
Communion of the Holy Apostles
Early in the morning, Peter and John went with Andrew into the hall of the Last Supper and vested in their priestly robes, while the other Apostles entered the ante hall. Pushing aside the folds of woven tapestry, the three Apostles entered the Holy of Holies, which was curtained in so as to form a little chamber. The ceiling, which was not so high as that of the hall, could be opened by a hanging cord ornamented with tassels, to admit light from the windows in the roof of the hall. The Holy Communion table stood therein. The chalice with the remains of the Wine that Jesus had consecrated and the plate with what was left of the consecrated Bread were standing in the compartments formed like a tabernacle in a niche in the wall. A lamp was hanging, one branch of it lighted, before the Blessed Sacrament. They lighted the lamp of sacrifice that was suspended in the center of the hall, carried the Communion table forward into the hall, placed the Blessed Sacrament on it in its case, and extinguished the lamp in the Holy of Holies. The other Apostles, Thomas among them, took their places around the table. Of the Bread consecrated by Jesus, the Blessed Sacrament of His Body, there was still a great deal on the little plate, which stood on top of the chalice, the whole concealed under a bell-shaped cover surmounted by a knob. A white veil was thrown over it. Peter drew out the leaf from the base, spread the cover upon it, and placed on it the plate with the Blessed Sacrament. Andrew and John were standing behind him in prayer. Peter and John, bowing reverently, received the Blessed Sacrament. Then Peter sent the plate around, and each one communicated himself. Into the chalice, in which there was not so much of the Wine consecrated by Jesus, they poured some wine and water, and drank of it. After that they sang Psalms and prayed, covered the chalice, and carried it, along with the table, back to its place. This was the first divine service that I saw celebrated.
Thomas went after that to some little place near Samaria with a disciple from that part of the country.
The Disciples Going to Emmaus. Jesus Appears to the Apostles in the Hall of the Last Supper
Luke had been among the disciples only a short time, but he had, before joining them, received John’s baptism. He was present at the love feast and the instruction upon the Blessed Sacrament delivered by Matthew in the evening at Lazarus’, in Bethania. After the instruction he went, troubled and doubting, to Jerusalem where he spent the night in John Mark’s house.
There he met several other disciples, among them Cleophas, a grandson of Mary Cleophas’ paternal uncle. He had been at the instructions and the love feast given in the house of the Last Supper. The disciples were talking about Jesus’ Resurrection and expressing their doubts. Luke and Cleophas, especially, were wavering in faith. As, moreover, the commands of the High Priests were again made known, that no one should harbor the disciples of Jesus or supply them with food, both resolved to go together to Emmaus. They left the assembly. On leaving John Mark’s house, one turned to the right and went around out of the city in a northerly direction, and the other took a route on the opposite side, as if not wishing to be seen together. One went straight out of the city, the other made his way between the walls and out by the gate, beyond which they again met upon a hill. They carried each a staff, and a bundle at his side. Luke had a leathern pocket. I saw him frequently stepping aside from the road and gathering herbs.
Luke had not seen the Lord during those last days, and had not been present at His instructions at Lazarus’. He had been more in the disciples’ inn at Bethania and with the disciples in Machaerus. He had not long been a declared disciple, though he had always gone around with the rest and was very desirous of knowing what was going on.
I felt that both these disciples were anxious and doubting, and that they wanted to talk over all they had heard. They were especially put out at the Lord’s being so ignominiously crucified! They could not understand how the Redeemer and Messiah could have been so shamefully ill-treated.
About the middle of their journey, Jesus drew near to them from a side path. As soon as they saw Him, they went more slowly, as if wanting to let the stranger go on ahead, as if fearing to be overheard. But Jesus likewise slackened His pace, and stepped out on the road only after they were somewhat in advance. I saw Him walking behind them for a little while, then drawing near and asking of what they were talking.
Where the road branched off outside of Emmaus (a pretty, clean little place) Jesus appeared as if He wanted to take that which ran southward to Bethlehem. But the two disciples constrained Him to go with them into a house that stood in the second row of the city. There were no women in it, and it appeared to me to be a public house, for it looked as if a feast had lately been held in it. Some signs of it were still to be seen. The room was quadrangular and very neat. The table was covered, and reclining cushions lay around it, of the same kind as those used at the love feast on Easter day. A man put on it a honeycomb in a woven basket-like vessel, a large, four cornered cake, and a small, thin, almost transparent Passover loaf. This last was set before the Lord as being the guest. The man that put the cake on the table appeared to be good, and he wore an apron, as if he were a cook or a steward. He was not present at the solemn breaking of the Bread. The cake was marked by lines, the spaces between them being about two fingers wide. A knife was lying on the table. It was white, as if made of stone or bone, not straight, but bent crooked, and only as large as one of our large blades. Before eating the bread, they notched along the lines with the sharp edge of the knife, which edge was only at the point. For this reason they had to hold it near the point. The morsel previously notched they then broke off.
Jesus reclined at the table with the two disciples and ate with them of the cake and honey. Then taking the small cake, the ribbed one, He broke off a piece that He afterward divided into three with the short, white bone knife. These He laid on the little plate, and blessed. Then He stood up, elevated the plate on high with both hands, raised His eyes, and prayed. The two disciples stood opposite Him, both intensely moved, and as it were transported out of themselves. When Jesus broke the little pieces, they opened their mouth and stretched forward toward Him. He reached His hand across the table and laid the particle in their mouth. I saw that as He raised His hand with the third morsel to His own mouth, He disappeared. I cannot say that He really received it. The morsels shone with light after He had blessed them. I saw the two disciples standing a little while as if stupefied, and then casting themselves with tears of emotion into each other’s arms.
This vision was especially touching on account of the Lord’s mild and loving manner, the calm joy of the two disciples even before they knew Him, and their rapture as soon as they recognized Him and after He had disappeared. Cleophas and Luke hurried back at once to Jerusalem.
On the evening of the same day, many of the disciples and all the Apostles excepting Thomas assembled with Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea in the hall of the Last Supper, the doors being closed. They stood ranged in a triple circle under the lamp that hung from the center of the ceiling, and prayed. They seemed to be engaged in some after-celebration of mourning or thanksgiving, for the Paschal solemnities ended today in Jerusalem. All wore long white garments. Peter, John, and James the Less were vested in robes that distinguished them from the rest, and they held rolls of writing in their hands. Around their white, flowing garment, which was somewhat longer behind than before, they wore a girdle more than a hand in breadth. From it depended to below the knees scalloped strips, black like the girdle, and covered with large white letters. The girdle was knotted in the back, the ends crossing and reaching as low down as the strips in front. The sleeves were very wide, and one served as a pocket in which the prayer rolls could be stuck. Above the elbow of the left arm hung a broad maniple tripped with tassels of the same color and embroidered in the same way as the girdle. Peter wore a stole around his neck. It was broader from the shoulders down than it was around the neck, and was crossed and fastened on the breast with a little blank shield in the form of a heart and ornamented with stones. The two other Apostles wore their stoles crossed under the arm, and had shorter strips to their girdles. When in prayer, all laid their hands crosswise on their breast. The Apostles occupied the inner circle under the lamp; the two others were formed by the disciples. Peter, between John and James, stood with his back turned to the closed entrance of the house of the Last Supper; two only were behind him, and the circle was not closed in front of him, but open toward the Holy of Holies.
The Blessed Virgin was, during the whole celebration, with Mary Cleophas and Magdalen in the hall outside, which opened into the supper room. Peter preached at intervals during the prayers.
I was surprised to see that although Jesus had appeared to Peter, John, and James, yet the greater number of the Apostles and disciples would not fully believe in His Resurrection. They still felt uneasy, as if His apparition was not a real and corporeal one, only a vision, a phantom, similar to those the Prophets had had.
All had ranged again for prayer after Peter’s instruction when Luke and Cleophas, hurrying back from Emmaus, knocked at the closed doors of the courtyard and received admittance. The joyful news they related somewhat interrupted the prayer. But scarcely was it again continued when I saw all present radiant with joyful emotion, and glancing in the same direction. Jesus was come in through the closed doors. He was robed in a long white garment simply girded. They did not appear to be really conscious of His approach, until He passed through the circles and stood in their midst
under the lamp. Then they became very much amazed and agitated. He showed them His hands and feet and, opening His garment, disclosed the Wound in His side. He spoke to them and, seeing that they were very much terrified, He asked for something to eat. I saw rays of light proceeding from His mouth. The Apostles and disciples were as if completely ravished.
And now I saw Peter going behind a screen, or hanging tapestry, into a recess of the hall which one might fail to remark, since the screen was like the entire wainscoting. In the center of this recess, on the Paschal hearth, stood the Blessed Sacrament. There was a side compartment into which they had pushed the table, which was one foot high, after they had eaten reclining around it under the lamp. On this table stood a deep oval dish covered with a little white cloth, which Peter took to the Lord. In the dish were a piece of fish and some honey. Jesus gave thanks and blessed the food, ate and gave a portion of it some, but not to all. To His Holy Mother also and the other women, who were standing in the doorway of the outer hall, He likewise distributed some.
After that I saw Him teaching and imparting strength. The circles around Him were still triple, the ten Apostles forming the inmost. Thomas was not there. It appeared wonderful to me that part of Jesus’ words and instructions was heard by the ten Apostles only, though I ought not to say for I did not see Jesus moving His lips. He was resplendent. Light streamed over them from His hands, His feet, His side, His mouth, as He breathed upon them. It flowed in upon them. They became interiorly recollected, and felt themselves endued with power to forgive sins, to baptize and heal and impose hands; and I saw that, if they drank any poisonous thing, it would be without receiving harm from it. But here I saw no talking with the mouth, no hearing with the ears. I knew not how it was, but I felt that Jesus did not impart these gifts with words, that He spoke not in words, and that all did not hear what He said; but that He infused these gifts substantially, with a substance as it were, with a flashing of light in upon their soul. Still, I do not know whether the Apostles felt that they had received them in this way, or whether they thought that they had simply heard the words uttered naturally. I felt, however, that it was only the innermost circle, the Apostles, that took or received these gifts. To me it was like an interior speech, but without a whisper, without the softest word.
Jesus explained to the Apostles several points of Holy Scripture relative to Himself and the Blessed Sacrament, and ordered the Latter to be venerated at the close of the Sabbath solemnities. He spoke of the Sacred Mystery of the Ark of the Covenant; of the bones and relics of ancestors and their veneration, thus to obtain their intercession; of Abraham, and of the bones of Adam which he had had in his possession and which he had laid on the altar when offering sacrifice. Another point relating to Melchisedech’s sacrifice, which I then saw, I have forgotten, although it was very remarkable. Jesus further said that the colored coat which Jacob gave to Joseph was an emblem of His own bloody sweat on the Mount of Olives. At these words, I saw that coat of many colors. It was white with broad red stripes. It had three black cords on the breast, with a yellow ornament in the middle. It was full around the body so that things could be put into it as into a kind of pocket, and girded at the waist. It was narrow below and had slits at the side to afford more room for walking. It reached to the ankles, was longer behind than before, and on the breast, was open down to the girdle. Joseph’s ordinary dress reached only to the knee.
Jesus likewise told the disciples that Adam’s bones, which had been preserved in the Ark of the Covenant, Jacob gave to Joseph along with the many colored coat. I saw then that Jacob gave them to Joseph without the latter’s knowing what they were. Jacob’s love prompted him to bestow them upon Joseph as a means of protection, as a treasure, because he knew that his brothers did not love him. Joseph carried the bones hanging on his breast in a little pouch formed of two leathern tablets, not square, but rounded on top. When his brothers sold him, they took from him only the colored coat and the undergarment, leaving him a bandage round his loins and a scapular on his breast. It was under the latter that the little pouch hung. On going into Egypt, Jacob questioned Joseph about that treasure and revealed to him that it was Adam’s bones. Again I saw the bones under Mount Calvary. They were white as snow and still very hard. Some of Joseph’s own bones were preserved in the Ark of the Covenant.
Jesus spoke too of the Mystery contained in the Ark of the Covenant. He said that that Mystery was now His Body and Blood, which He gave to them forever in the Sacrament. He spoke of His own Passion and of some wonderful things relating to David of which they were ignorant and which He explained. Lastly, He bade them go in a couple of days to the region of Sichar, and there proclaim His Resurrection. After that He vanished. I saw the Apostles and disciples going around among one another, perfectly intoxicated with joy. They opened the doors, went in and out, and assembled again under the lamp, to sing canticles of praise and thanksgiving.
The Apostles Preaching The Resurrection
On that same night a part of the Apostles, at Jesus’ bidding, betook themselves to Bethania, while the rest set out for Jerusalem. The older disciples remained in Bethania to teach the younger and weaker in the Faith, which they did partly at the house of Lazarus and partly in the synagogue. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were staying at Lazarus’. The holy women were in a neighboring building surrounded by the same moat and courtyard that enclosed Lazarus’ house. It had an entrance on the street, and was formerly occupied by Magdalen and Martha.
The Apostles went with a troop of disciples, among them Luke, in the direction of Sichar. Peter said joyfully as they were setting out: “We shall go to the sea and catch fish,” by which words he meant souls. They separated and went different ways, teaching at the inns and in the public places of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. This was a preparation for the conversions of Pentecost.
They met together again at the inn outside Thanath-Silo. Thomas also, with two disciples, joined them as they were gathered at a meal prepared for them by Silvan’s father, who had care of the inn. The Apostles told Thomas of the apparition of the risen Saviour in their midst. But he raised his hands to silence them, and said that he would not believe it until he had touched His wounds. He did the same before the disciples when they declared to him that they had seen the Lord. Thomas had kept a little aloof from the followers of Jesus, and was thereby somewhat weakened in faith.
Peter taught till late at night in the school of Thanath-Silo. He spoke out quite freely of how the Jews had dealt with Jesus. He related many things of His last predictions and teachings, of His unspeakable love, of His prayer on Mount Olivet, and of Judas’ treachery and wretched end. The people were very much amazed and troubled at all they heard, for they loved Judas, who in Jesus’ absence, had assisted many by his readiness to serve them, and had even wrought miracles. Peter did not spare himself. He recounted his flight and denial with bitter tears. His hearers wept with him. Then with still more vehement expressions of sorrow, he told of how cruelly the Jews had treated Jesus, of His rising again on the third day, of His appearing first to the women, then to some of the others, and lastly to all in general, and he called upon all present that had seen Him to witness to His words. Upwards of a hundred hands were raised in answer to his call. Thomas, however, remained silent and responded by no sign. He could not bring himself to believe. Peter then called upon the people to leave all things, to join the new Community, and to follow Jesus. He invited the less courageous to go to Jerusalem, where the Faithful would share all they had with them. There was, he said, no reason to fear the Jews, for they were now themselves afraid. All were very much impressed by Peter’s words, and many were converted. They wanted the Apostles to remain longer with them, but Peter said that they must go back to Jerusalem.
The Apostles cured many sick persons in Thanath-Silo, among whom were some lunatics and some possessed. They went about these cures just as Jesus had done, that is, they breathed upon the sick, they imposed hands while leaning over them. Some of these invalids Jesus had passed without curing on the occasion of His last visit to the place. The inhabitants of Thanath-Silo were very friendly toward the Apostles. The disciples performed no cures, but they served the others, carrying, lifting, and leading the sick. Luke, who was a physician, now became quite a nurse.
I saw the Mother of God in Bethania. She was quiet and grave, more deeply absorbed in feelings of holy awe than in natural sorrow. Mary Cleophas was remarkably amiable and, of all the women, most like Mary. I often saw her leaning over her gently and consoling her in the most touching manner.
Magdalen, in her sorrow and love, was above all fear. She was perfectly heroic and without a thought of danger. She took no rest, but often left the house, hurried through the streets with streaming hair, and wherever she found listeners, whether in their homes or in public places, she accused them as the murderers of the Lord, vehemently recounting all they had done to the Saviour, and announcing to them His Resurrection. If she found no one to listen to her, she wandered through the gardens and told it to the flowers, the trees, and the fountains. Oftentimes a crowd gathered around her, some compassionating her, others insulting her on account of her past life. She was little esteemed by the crowd, for she had once given great scandal. I saw that her present violent conduct scandalized some of the Jews, and about five of them wanted to seize her, but she passed straight through them and went on as before. She had lost sight of the whole world, she sighed only after Jesus.
During the dispersion of the disciples and the Passion of the Lord, Martha had a heavy duty to ful-fill and she still discharged it. Though torn with grief, she had to see to everything, to lend a help-ing hand everywhere. She had to feed the dispersed and wandering, attend to their wants, provide nourishment for all. Her assistant in all this, as well as in the cooking, was Johanna Chusa, a widow whose husband had been a servant of Herod.
Simon of Cyrene was now in Bethania with the disciples, among whom he found his two sons. He was a pious man from Cyrene who was accustomed to sojourn in Jerusalem during the Paschal time, working for different families that knew him, doing up gardens and cutting hedges. He took his meals sometimes in this house, sometimes in that. He was perfectly silent and upright. His sons were already some time among strangers and with the disciples without his knowing it, as occasionally happens to the children of the poor.
In those days, the emissaries of the High Priests went throughout Jerusalem, visiting all the houses whose owners kept up communication with Jesus and the disciples, discharging them from whatever public employments they might happen to hold, and arresting any of Jesus’ followers found there. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea had, since Christ’s burial, nothing more to do with the Jews. Joseph of Arimathea was something like an Elder of a congregation. He always stood among the Jews like a man who, by his unobtrusive merit and multiplied good works modestly performed, had won the esteem of even the wicked. What very much rejoiced me was to see how Veronica’s husband condescended to her when she told him that she would rather separate from him than from the crucified Jesus. I saw that he too was discharged from his public office. But I was informed that he bore it more for love of his wife than for love of Jesus. The Jews, moreover, caused the ways and paths to the Holy Sepulcher on Mount Calvary to be obstructed by ditches and hedges, because they had become a resort for many, and diverse moving incidents and miracles took place in them.
Pilate’s interior disquietude drove him from Jerusalem. Herod, a couple of days previously, had gone to Machaerus, but finding no rest there, he proceeded to Madian. Here, where they had once refused to receive the Lord, they now opened the gates to the murderer.
I saw Jesus appearing in many places during these days, and lastly in Galilee, in a valley across the Jordan in which was a large school. Many people were standing together, speaking about Him and expressing their doubts upon the report of His Resurrection. He appeared among them, and vanished again after some words. I saw Him appearing in this way in different localities.
The Apostles very quickly returned from the region of Sichar. They sent a messenger on ahead to Bethania, to announce their return and to direct several of the disciples to go to Jerusalem for the Sabbath. Others were commanded to celebrate it in Bethania, for they already had a certain law and order. The Apostles only passed through the different places on the road without stopping. Thaddeus, James the Less, and Eliud went in their travelling dress, and ahead of the rest, to see the Blessed Virgin and Mary Cleophas at John Mark’s. As they had not seen the newcomers for a considerable time, the holy women were very much rejoiced. I saw that James was carrying on his arm a priestly vestment, a mantle, which the holy women in Bethania had made for Peter, and which he was taking to the house of the Last Supper.
It was so late when the Apostles assembled in the house of the Last Supper that they could not partake of the meal prepared for them. They had to begin the Sabbath solemnities. They at once put on their robes of ceremony, preceded of course by the customary foot washing. The lamps were lighted, and I already remarked some departure from the Jewish Sabbatical ceremonies. First, the curtains were opened in front of the Holy of Holies, and the seat upon which Jesus had reclined at table at the institution of the Holy Eucharist was placed before it. They spread a cover over it, and laid upon it their prayer rolls. Peter knelt before it, John and James a little in the rear, the rest of the Apostles behind them, and then came the disciples. When they knelt they bowed their heads to the ground, burying their faces in their hands. The cover was removed from the chalice, but the white linen cloth was still left hanging over it. Only those disciples were present who were already initiated into the mystery of the Blessed Sacrament, just as those chiefly had been taken on the journey to Sichar who had seen the Lord after His Resurrection that they might be able to attest the fact.
Peter, with John and James at his side, delivered a meditation, or prayer, in which the holy Institu-tion of the Lord and also His Passion were considered, and an interior sacrifice of prayer was offered. After that, standing under the lamp, they began the usual ceremonies of the Sabbath. When all was over, they took a repast in the outer hall. In the Supper Hall itself, I saw no more eating going on after the institution of the Holy Eucharist, excepting perhaps the taking of bread and wine.
On the occasion of His apparition through the closed doors, Jesus had taught the Apostles that addition to the service of the Sabbath which relates to the Blessed Sacrament.
The Blessed Virgin was taken to Jerusalem by Mary Marcus; and Veronica, who now went round with her openly, accompanied them, along with Johanna Chusa from Bethania.
The Blessed Virgin liked to be in Jerusalem, for she could there go alone in the twilight and dark-ness over the Way of Jesus’ Passion, pray and meditate on the places upon which He had suffered or had fallen. And as she could not reach them all, on account of the Jews’ having hedged some of them in and filled others up, she made the Holy Way at home, also, or in the open air, for she had all the distances and the numbers connected with it deeply engraven in her soul, and thus she constantly revived, in her compassionate contemplations, the whole of that sorrowful journey of her Son.
It is a certainty that after the death of her Son, the Blessed Virgin was the first to begin the devo-tion of the Way of the Cross and the practice of meditating upon the bitter Passion, a practice that she ever after continued.
The Second Love Feast (Agape). Thomas Puts His Hand Into the Marks of Jesus’ Wounds
After the close of the Sabbath, the Apostles having laid aside their robes of ceremony, I saw a great meal spread in the outer hall. let was a love feast, such as had taken place on the preceding Sunday. Thomas must have celebrated the Sabbath somewhere in the neighborhood, for I did not see him come in till after the meal, when they had again returned to the Supper Room. let was still early in the evening; the lamps were not yet lighted. Several of the Apostles and disciples were in the hall, and I saw others entering. They robed themselves again in long white garments, and prepared for prayer as on the preceding occasion. Peter, John, and James again put on the vestments that distinguished them as priests.
While these preparations were being made, I saw Thomas entering the Supper Room. He passed through the Apostles who were already robed, and put on his own long white garment. As he went along, I saw the Apostles accosting him. Some caught him by the sleeve, others gesticulated with the right hand as they spoke, as if emphatically protesting against him. But he behaved like one in a hurry to vest and as if he could not credit the account given him of the wonderful things which had happened in that place. While all this was going on, a man entered the hall. He appeared to be a servant. He wore an apron and had in one hand a little lighted lamp, in the other a rod terminating in a hook. With the latter he drew down the lamp that was suspended from the center of the ceiling, lighted it, and again pushed it up. Then he left the hall! And now I saw the Blessed Virgin, Magdalen, and another woman come into the house. The Blessed Virgin and Magdalen entered the hall, Peter and John going to meet them. The third woman remained in the antechamber. The entrance hall was opened into the Supper Room, also some of the side halls. The exterior doors leading into the courtyard, as well as those of the court itself, were shut. A great many disciples were gathered in the side halls.
As soon as Mary and Magdalen entered, the doors were closed and all ranged for prayer. The holy women remained reverently standing on either side of the door, their arms crossed upon their breast. The Apostles kneeling before the Holy of Holies, prayed again as before; then standing under the lamp, they sang Psalms, choir and choir. Peter stood before the lamp, his face toward the Holy of Holies, John and James the Less at his side. Right and left of the lamp were the other Apostles. The side toward the Holy of Holies was left free. Peter stood between the two, his back to the door, so that the two holy women were standing behind him at some distance.
After some time there was a pause in the assembly, an intermission of prayer, or as if prayer was at an end, and they began to speak of going to the Sea of Tiberias and of how they would disperse. But soon they assumed an expression of rapt attention, called up by the approach of the Lord. At the same moment, I saw Jesus in the courtyard. He was resplendent with light, clothed in white garments and a white girdle. He directed His steps to the door of the outer hall, which opened of itself before Him and closed behind Him. The disciples in the outer hall saw the door opening of itself, and fell back on both sides to make room. But Jesus walked quickly through the hall into the Supper Room and stepped between Peter and John who, like all the other Apostles, fell back on either side.
Jesus did not enter walking properly so called, that is, in the usual way of mortals, and yet it was not a floating along, or hovering, as I have seen spirits doing. It reminded me, as I saw them all falling back, of a priest in his alb passing through a crowded congregation. Everything in the hall appeared to become suddenly large and bright. Jesus was environed with light. The Apostles had fallen back from the radiant circle, otherwise they would not have been able to see Him.
Jesus’ first words were: “Peace be to you!” Then He spoke with Peter and John, and rebuked them for something. They had departed a little from His directions, in order to follow their own ideas about something, and consequently they had not met with success. It related to some of the cures they had sought to effect on their return from Sichar and Thanath-Silo. They had not followed Jesus’ directions to the letter, and therefore had not been entirely successful. They had done something according to their own ideas. Jesus told them that if it happened again, they should act otherwise. Jesus now stepped under the lamp, and the Apostles closed around Him. Thomas, very much frightened at the sight of the Lord, timidly drew back. But Jesus, grasping his right hand in His own right hand, took the forefinger and laid the tip of it in the wound of His left hand; then taking the left hand in His own left, he placed the forefinger in the wound of His right hand; lastly, taking again Thomas’ right hand in His own right, He put it, without uncovering His breast, under His garment, and laid the fore and middle fingers in the wound of His right side. He spoke some words as He did this. With the exclamation: “My Lord, and my God!” Thomas sank down like one unconscious, Jesus still holding his hand. The nearest of the Apostles supported him, and Jesus raised him up by the hand. That sinking down and rising up had some peculiar signification.
When Jesus grasped Thomas’ hand, I saw that His wounds were not like bloody marks, but like lit-tle radiant suns. The other disciples were very greatly touched by this scene. They leaned forward, without, however, crowding, to see what the Lord was allowing Thomas to feel. I saw the Blessed Virgin during the whole time of Jesus’ stay, perfectly motionless, as if absorbed in calm, deep interior recollection. Magdalen appeared more agitated, yet manifesting far less emotion than did the disciples.
Jesus did not disappear immediately after Thomas’ declaration of faith. He still continued to speak to the Apostles, and asked for something to eat. I saw a little oval dish brought to Him again from the partitioned recess in which the table stood. It was not precisely like that presented to Him the first time. There was on it something that looked like a fish, of which He ate, then blessed and distributed what was left to those around Him, beginning with Thomas.
Jesus then told them why He stood in the midst of them, although they had abandoned Him, and why He did not place Himself nearer to those that had remained faithful to Him. He told them also that He had commissioned Peter to confirm his brethren, and explained why He had given him that charge. Then turning to them all, He told them why He wished to give them Peter for a leader, although he had so recently denied Him. He must, He said, be the shepherd of the flock, and He enlarged upon Peter’s zeal.
John brought on his arm from the Holy of Holies the large, colored, embroidered mantle which James had received from Mary and on which, in those last days, the holy women had worked at Bethania. Besides that, he brought also a hollow, slender staff, high and bent at the top like a shepherd’s crook. It was shining and looked like a long pipe. The mantle was white with broad red stripes; and on it were embroidered, in colors, wheat, grapes, a lamb, and other symbols. It was wide, and long enough to reach to the feet. It was fastened over the breast with a little four-cornered metal shield, and bordered down the front with red stripes which were crossed by shorter ones on which were letters. It had a collar and a kind of hood, of a sky-blue color, which could be drawn up over the neck and head.
Peter next knelt down before Jesus, who gave him to eat a round morsel, like a little cake. I do not remember seeing any plate, nor do I know where Jesus got the morsel, but I do know that it shone with light. I felt that Peter received with it some special power, and I saw also strength and vigor poured into his soul when Jesus breathed upon him. This action of Jesus was not a simple, ordinary breathing. It was words, a power, something substantial that Peter received, but no merely spoken words. Jesus put His mouth to Peter’s mouth, then to his ears, and poured that strength into each of the three. It was not the Holy Spirit Himself, but something that the Holy Spirit was to quicken and vivify in Peter at Pentecost. Jesus laid His hands on him, gave him a special kind of strength, and invested him with chief power over the others. Then He placed upon him the mantle that John, who was standing next to Him, was holding on his arm, and put the staff into his hand. While performing this action, Jesus said that the mantle would preserve in him all the strength and virtue that He had just imparted to him, and that he should wear it whenever he had to make use of the power with which he had been endued.
Peter addressed the assembly in his new dignity. He had become as it were a new being, a man full of vigor and energy. His hearers were greatly moved; they listened with tears. He consoled them, alluded to many things that Jesus had before told them, and which were now being fulfilled. He told them, as I still remember, that Jesus, during His Passion of eighteen hours, had borne insult and outrage from the whole world. In that discourse mention was made of how much was wanting to the completion of Jesus’ thirty-four years. While Peter was speaking, Jesus vanished. No alarm, no exclamations of surprise broke in upon the attention with which Peter’s words were received. He appeared to be endowed with strength entirely new. The discourse ended, they sang a Psalm of thanksgiving. Jesus addressed neither His Blessed Mother nor Magdalen.
Jesus Appears to the Holy Apostles At the Sea of Galilee
Before going to the sea, the holy Apostles went over the Way of the Cross to Mount Calvary, and thence to Bethania, from which place they took with them some disciples. They went by different routes and in several companies to the Sea of Galilee. Peter went with John, James the Greater, Thaddeus, Nathanael, John Mark, and Silas, seven in all, to Tiberias, leaving Samaria to the left. All chose routes remote from cities. They went to a fishery outside Tiberias, which Peter had held on lease, but which was now rented by another man, a widower with two sons. They took a repast with this man, and I heard Peter saying that he had not fished here for three years.
They went aboard two ships, one somewhat larger and better than the other. They gave to Peter the choice of the former, into which he mounted with Nathanael, Thomas, and one of the fisherman’s servants. In the second ship were John, James, John Mark, and Silas. Peter would not suffer another to row. He wanted to do it himself. Although so distinguished by Jesus, he was exceedingly humble and modest, especially before Nathanael, who was polished and educated.
They sailed about the whole night with torches, casting the nets here and there between the two ships, but always drawing them in empty. At intervals they prayed and sang Psalms. When day was beginning to dawn, the ships approached the opposite side of the mouth of the Jordan, on the eastern shore of the sea. The Apostles were worn out and wanted to cast anchor. They had laid aside their garments while fishing, retaining only a linen bandage and a little mantle. When about resuming their clothing preparatory to taking a little rest, they saw a figure standing behind the reeds on the shore. It was Jesus. He cried out: “Children, have you any meat?” They answered: “No!” Then He cried out again, telling them to cast the net to the west of Peter’s ship. They did it, and John had to sail round to
the other side of the ship. And now the net was so heavily filled that John recognized Jesus, and called to Peter across the silent deep: “It is the Lord!” At these words Peter instantly girded his coat about him, leaped into the water, and waded through the reeds to the shore where Jesus was standing. But John pushed on in a boat, very light and narrow, that was fastened to his ship. Two of this kind were hooked together. They pushed one before the other, and crossed over it to land. It held only one man, and was needed only for shallow water near the land.
While the Apostles were on the sea fishing, I saw the Saviour floating out of the Valley of Josaphat and surrounded by many souls of the ancient Patriarchs whom He had freed from Limbo, also by others that had been banished to different places, caves, swamps, and deserts. During the whole period of these forty days, I saw Jesus, when not among the disciples, with the holy souls. They were principally from Adam and Eve down to Noe, Abraham, and other ancient leaders of the people. He went over all places remarkable in His life, showing them all things, and instructing them upon what He had done and suffered for them, whereby they became indescribably quickened and through gratitude purified. He taught them, in a certain measure at this time, the mysteries of the New Testament, by which they were released from their fetters. I saw Him with them in Nazareth, in the Crib Cave and Bethlehem, and in every place in which anything remarkable had happened to Him. One could distinguish, by a certain weakness or vigor in the appearance of the souls, whether they animated men or women when on earth. I saw them in long, narrow garments that fell around them in shining folds, and floated behind in a long train. Their hair did not look like ordinary hair, but like rays of light, each of which signified something. The beards of the men were composed of similar rays. Though not distinguished by any external sign, yet I recognized the kings, and especially the priests that from the time of Moses had anything to do with the Ark of the Covenant. In the journeys of the Saviour I always saw them floating around Him, so that here too the spirit of order reigned in everything. The movements of these apparitions were exceedingly graceful and dignified. They seemed to float along, not exactly in an upright position, but inclining gently forward. They did not touch the earth like bodies that have weight, but appeared to hover just above the ground.
I saw the Lord arrive at the sea in company with these souls while the Apostles were still fishing. Back of a little mound on the shore there was a hollow in which was a covered fireplace, for the use of the shepherds, perhaps. I did not see Jesus kindling a fire, catching a fish, or getting one in any other way. Fire and fish and everything necessary appeared at once in presence of the souls as soon as ever it entered into the Lord’s mind that a fish should here be prepared for eating. How it happened, I cannot say.
The spirits of the Patriarchs had a share in this fish and in its preparation. It bore some significa-tion relative to the Church Suffering, to the souls undergoing purification. They were in this meal bound to the Church Militant by visible ties. In the eating of this fish, Jesus gave the Apostles an idea of the union existing between the Church Suffering and the Church Militant. Jonas in the fish was typical of Jesus’ stay in the lower world. Outside the hut was a beam that served for a table.
I saw all this before Jesus crossed the mound and went down to the sea. Peter did not swim, he waded through the water. The bottom could be seen, although the water was tolerably deep. Peter was already standing by Jesus when John came up. Those on the ship now began to cry to them to help draw in the net. Jesus told Peter to go bring in the fish. They drew the net to land, and Peter emptied it on the shore. In it were one hundred and fifty-three different kinds of fishes. This number signified that of the new believers who were to be gained at Thebez. There were on the ships several people in the employ of the fishermen of Tiberias, and they took charge of the ships and the fish, while the Apostles and disciples went with Jesus to the hut whither He invited them to come and eat.
When they entered, the spirits of the Patriarchs had vanished. The Apostles were very much surprised to see the fire and a fish, not of their own catching, also bread and honeycakes.1 The Apostles and disciples reclined by the beam while Jesus played the host. He handed to each on a little roll a portion of the fish from the pan. I did not see that the fish became less. He gave to them also of the honey cakes and then reclined with them at table and ate. All this took place very quietly and solemnly.
Thomas was the third of those that had on the ship a perception of Jesus’ presence. But they were all timid and frightened, for Jesus was more spirit like than before, and the whole meal and the hour had in them something full of mystery. No one dared ask a question. A feeling of holy awe stole over them and gave rise to solemn silence. Jesus was wrapped in a mantle, His wounds not visible.
After the meal, I saw Jesus and the Apostles rise from table. They walked up and down the shore, and at last stood still while Jesus solemnly addressed Peter: “Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me more than these?” Peter timidly answered. “Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee!” Jesus said to him: “Feed My lambs!” And at the same instant I saw a vision of the Church and the Chief Pastor, I saw him teaching and guiding the first Christians, and I saw the baptizing and cleansing of the new Christians, who appeared like so many tender lambs.
After a pause, Jesus again said to Peter: “Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me?” (They were walking all the time, Jesus occasionally turning and pausing while they regarded Him with attention). Peter very timidly and humbly, for he was thinking of his denial, again answered: “Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee!” Jesus again addressed him solemnly: “Feed My sheep!” Again I had a vision of the rising Church and her persecutions. I saw the Chief Bishop gathering together the numerous scattered Christians, protecting them, providing them with shepherds, and governing them.
After another pause and still walking, Jesus said once more: “Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me?” I saw that Peter grew troubled at the thought that Jesus asked him so often, as if He doubted his love. It reminded him of his thrice-repeated denial, and he answered: “Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee!” I saw that John was thinking: “Oh, what love must Jesus have, and what ought a shepherd to have, since He thrice questions Peter, to whom He confides His flock, concerning his love!” Jesus again said: “Feed My sheep! Amen, amen, I say to thee: when thou wast younger, thou didst gird thyself, and didst walk where thou wouldst. But when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldst not. Follow Me!”
Jesus turned again to go on. John walked with Him, for Jesus was saying something to him alone, but what it was I could not hear. I saw that Peter, noticing this, asked the Lord while pointing to John: “Lord, what will become of this man?” Jesus, to rebuke his curiosity, answered: “So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee? Follow thou Me!” And Jesus turning again, they went forward.
When Jesus said for the third time: “Feed My sheep!” and that Peter would in his old age be bound and led away, I had a vision of the spreading Church. I saw Peter in Rome bound and crucified, also the martyrdom of the saints. Peter too had a vision of his own martyrdom and of John’s future sufferings. While Jesus was predicting his death to Peter, the latter glanced at John and very naturally thought: “Shall not this man whom Jesus loves so dearly be crucified like Him?” Putting the question to Jesus, he was answered with a rebuke. I had at this moment a vision of John’s death in Ephesus. I saw him stretch himself out in his grave, address some words to his disciples, and die. After his death I saw his body no longer on earth, but in a place as resplendent as the sun off toward the southeast, and it seemed as if John here received something from above that he transmitted to the earth. I became aware also that some understand these words of Jesus falsely and think they mean: “I will that he remain,” or “If I will that he remain.” But they mean: “If I will that They therefore that heard these words thought that John would not die. But he did die. I had on this occasion, as I have said, a vision of his death and his subsequent sojourn.
The Apostles and disciples went on a little farther with Jesus, who was instructing them upon their future conduct. He then vanished before them eastward of the sea toward Gerasa and they returned to Tiberias, though not by a route that would lead them past the place in which Jesus had given them to eat.
Of the fish that the Apostles caught, none were used at that meal. When Jesus said that they should bring them ashore, Peter threw them in rows at Jesus’ feet, that they might be numbered. By this it was acknowledged that they had caught the fish not by themselves and for themselves, but by His miraculous power and for Him. When the fish were deposited on the shore, Jesus said to the Apostles: “Come and eat!” and conducted them over the little hill, or mound, where the sea could no longer be seen, to the mud hut over the furnace. Jesus did not at once place Himself at table, but went to the pan and brought to each a portion of fish on a piece of bread. He blessed the portions and they shone with light. The honey cakes were not in the pan. They were already prepared, and lay in a pile one above the other. Jesus distributed them, and when all were served, He too ate with them. There was only one fish in the pan, but it was larger than any they had caught. There was some mystery connected with this meal. The presence of the souls of the Patriarchs and others, their participation in the preparation of the meal, and the subsequent call of Peter, gave me to understand that in this spiritual meal the Church Suffering, the holy souls, should be committed to Peter’s care, should be incorporated with the Church Militant, and the Church Triumphant, in short, that they should occupy a third place in the Church as a whole. I cannot explain how this was to be done, but I had in vision this intimate conviction. It was in reference to this also that Jesus closed with the prophecy of Peter’s death and John’s future.
Jesus next went with the souls of the ancient Patriarchs to the country in which He had driven the demons into the swine. There He released some other souls that had been confined in dreary and desolate regions, for there were many possessed in these parts, and innocent people had here been murdered whose souls, according to God’s decrees, were here condemned to sojourn.
Jesus went with the souls to Paradise also, which I distinctly saw as beautiful as ever. He explained to them all that their first parents had lost by their fall, and what a happiness it was for them that He could free them from its effects. I saw that the souls sighed indeed after Redemption, though ignorant of the way in which it was to be effected, just as men on earth had only vague notions on the same point. Jesus walked with them and instructed them in a manner suited to their peculiar condition, as He had done in His communications with men upon earth. I again understood that man was created to fill up the places of the angelic choirs that had fallen from Heaven. If the Fall had not taken place, men would have multiplied only until that number was reached, and then creation would have come to an end. But by the Fall, a dispersing, an arbitrary scattering, a transplanting arose mixed up with impurity and darkness; therefore is the punishment of death a necessary consequence, a real benefit, a real kindness to man. As to what is said of the end of the world, this much is certain: it will not end until all the wheat is separated from the chaff and those choirs of the fallen angels filled up with it.
I saw Jesus with the souls on great battlefields, explaining to them how they had been led to salva-tion. As He was speaking, I saw visions of the battles and everything connected with them, just as if they were going on under my eyes. I never saw anyone terrified in these ghostlike encounters. It was like a pleasant breeze blowing over the country, and joy abounded in all creatures. Jesus went with the ancient Patriarchs to those regions also into which the Apostles were first to carry the Gospel, and blessed them with His presence. In this way, He visited the whole universe.
When Peter, with the three Apostles and the three disciples, returned that afternoon to the fisherman Aminadab, who for the last two years had had possession of Peter’s fishery, they took a meal with him. Peter related the miracle that they had witnessed, the apparition of the Lord, the meal, and the abundant draught offish, and gave an instruction on leaving all things and following the Lord. The old fisherman, on seeing the ship approaching laden with fish and hearing from his sons who accompanied it an account of the same miracle, resolved at once to abandon all his worldly goods. The fish were distributed among the poor, the fishery was handed over to another, and he went that night with his two sons, Isaac and Josaphat, to join the disciples. Their route lay for some distance along the west side of the sea, and then turned off inland. The fisherman’s inten-tion was not perfectly pure. He thought that by leaving all he had he would get something in return.
Toward dawn the next morning, the Apostles reached a synagogue of considerable size. It stood in an open field, surrounded by inns, and formed the central point of three villages. A great many dis-ciples were here assembled, to whom Peter related the miracle of the draught of fishes and the meal, and repeated the words of Jesus. He taught in the school, taking for his subject the miraculous draught and the following of the Lord. There was a large gathering of people here, among them many sick, also some possessed. Peter was the only one that healed on this occasion, and he did it in the name of Jesus; the other Apostles and disciples served and taught. All the good and those best disposed toward Jesus’ doctrine were here gathered from the whole country around. Peter spoke also of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection, told how the Apostles had seen Him, and invited his hearers to follow Him. The people were carried away by Peter’s words, for his whole deportment had undergone an entire change since the last two apparitions. He was full of inspiration, full of gentleness. He so touched the hearts of these people that all wanted to follow him right away, and he had to command many of them to go back to their homes.