One can hardly well doubt that the great S. Joseph died before the passion and death of our Saviour, who otherwise would not have commended his mother to S. John. And how can one then imagine that the dear child of his heart, his beloved foster-child, did not assist him at the hour of his departure? Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. Ah! how much sweetness, charity and mercy, did this good foster-father use towards our Saviour, when he was born a little child in the world! And who can then believe but that, at his departure out of it, this divine child rendered him the like a hundred-fold, filling him with heavenly delights? Storks are the true representation of the mutual piety of children towards their parents and of parents towards their children: for, being birds of passage, they bear their old parents with them in their journey, as their parents had borne them while they were yet young, on the like occasions. While our Saviour was yet a little child, the great S. Joseph his foster-father, and the most glorious Virgin his mother, had many times carried him, but especially in their journey from Judea to Egypt, and from Egypt to Judea. Ah! who then can doubt that this holy father being come to the end of his days, was reciprocally carried by his divine foster-child, in the passage from this to another life, into Abraham's bosom, to be translated thence into his own, into glory, on the day of his Ascension? A saint who had loved so much in his life, could not die but of love; for his heart not being able to love his dear Jesus as much as he desired while he continued amongst the distractions of this life, and having already performed the duty which was required in the childhood of Jesus, what remained but that he should say to the eternal Father: O Father, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do: and then to the Son, O my child! as thy heavenly Father put thy tender body into my hands the day of thy coming into this world, so do I render up my soul into thine, this day of my departure out of the world.
Such, as I conceive, was the death of this great patriarch, a man elected to perform the most tender and loving offices that ever were or shall be performed to the Son of God, save those that were done by his sacred spouse, the true natural mother of the said Son. Now of her it is not possible to imagine that she died of any other kind of death than of love, the noblest of deaths, and consequently due to the noblest life that ever was amongst creatures: a death of which the very angels would desire to die, if die they could. If the primitive Christians were said to have but one heart and one soul, by reason of their perfect mutual love, if S. Paul lived not in himself, but Jesus Christ lived in him, by reason of the close union of his heart to his Master's, whereby his soul was as it were dead in his heart which it animated, to live in the heart of the Saviour which it loved, -- O true God! how much more really had the sacred virgin and her son but one soul, one heart and one life, so that this heavenly mother, living, lived not, but her son lived in her! 'Twas a mother the most loving and the most beloved that ever could be, yea loving and beloved with a love incomparably more eminent than that of all the orders of angels and men, as the names of mother-only and only-son, are names passing all other names in matter of love. And I say mother-only and only-son, because all the other sons of men divide the acknowledgment of their production between their father and mother; but in this son, as all his human birth depended on his mother alone, who alone contributed that which was requisite to the virtue of the Holy Ghost for the conception of this heavenly child, so to her alone all the love which sprang from that production was due and rendered: wherefore this son and this mother were united in a union by so much more excellent, as her name is excellent in love above all other names. For which of all the seraphim can say to our Saviour: Thou art my true son, and I love thee as my true son? And to which of all his creatures did our Saviour ever say: Thou art my true mother, and as my true mother I love thee: thou art my true mother, entirely mine, and I am thy true son wholly thine? If then a loving servant durst say, and did say, that he had no other life than his master's -- Ah! how confidently and fervently might this mother exclaim: I have no life but the life of my son, my life is wholly in his, and his wholly in mine; for it was no longer union but unity of hearts between this mother and this son.
And if this mother lived her son's life, she also died her son's death. The phoenix, as report goes, grown very aged, gathers together on the top of a mountain a quantity of aromatical wood, upon which, as upon its bed of honour, it goes to end its days: for when the sun, being at its highest, pours out its hottest beams, this sole bird, to contribute an increase of activity to the ardour of the sun, ceases not to beat with its wings upon its bed, till it has made it take fire, and burning with it is consumed, and dies in those odoriferous flames. In like manner, Theotimus, the virgin-mother, having collected in her spirit all the most beloved mysteries of the life and death of her son by a most lively and continual memory of them, and withal, ever receiving directly the most ardent inspirations which her child, the sun of justice, has cast upon human beings in the highest noon of his charity; and besides, making on her part also, a perpetual movement of contemplation, at length the sacred fire of this divine love consumed her entirely as a holocaust of sweetness, so that she died thereof, the soul being wholly ravished and transported into the arms of the dilection of her son. O, death, amorously life-giving! O, love, vitally death-giving!
Several sacred lovers were present at the death of the Saviour, amongst whom those who had the most love had the most sorrow; for love was then all steeped in sorrow, and sorrow in love; and all they who for their Saviour were impassioned with love were in love with his passion and sorrow. But the sweet Mother, who loved more than all, was more than all transfixed with the sword of sorrow. The sorrow of the Son at that time was a piercing sword, which passed through the heart of the Mother, because that Mother's heart was glued, joined and united to her Son, with so perfect a union that nothing could wound the one without inflicting a lively torture upon the other. Now this maternal bosom, being thus wounded with love, not only did not seek a cure for its wound, but loved her wound more than all cure, dearly keeping the shafts of sorrow she had received, on account of the love which had shot them into her heart, and continually desiring to die of them, since her Son died of them, who, as say all the Holy Scriptures and all Doctors, died amidst the flames of his charity, a perfect holocaust for all the sins of the world.