The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 4 chapter 27 verses 672-680 Index

 Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary By Sor Marķa of Agreda


  INDEX            Book 4  Chapter  27    Verses:  672-680

672. We will now leave the Infant Jesus, most holy
Mary and Joseph in the work of sanctifying Egypt by
their beneficent presence, and return to Judea, which was
unworthy of it. Thus we will understand the course of
the devilish cunning and hypocrisy of Herod. That
wicked king was waiting for the message of the Magi
concerning the newly born King of the Jews, ready to
devote Him to an inhuman death. He trusted for a
while to his own cunning, until his anxiety caused him
to inquire. But when he was informed of their stay in
Bethlehem, their departure, their escape from Palestine
on a different route, and of other happenings in the
temple, he awoke to the fact that he had been foiled in
his purpose. He consulted anew some of the experts of
the Law; and as their interpretation of the Scriptures
concerning Bethlehem and the happenings at Bethlehem
coincided with his suspicions, he ordered a strict search
to be made for our Queen, her Child and the glorious
saint Joseph. But the Lord, who had commanded their
flight from Jerusalem in the night, also concealed them
on their journey, so that there was none that knew any
thing of it, or that could discover a trace of their flight.
Not being able to find Them, and no one having any
knowledge of Them, the henchmen of Herod brought
back the answer that no such man, woman or child could
be found in the whole country.
673. This inflamed the fury of Herod (Matth. 2, 16)
and increased his anxiety ; in vain he sought some means
to prevent the evil threatening Him from a rival King.
But the devil, who knew him to be ready for any wick
edness, stirred up in his heart the enormous thought of
using his royal power to murder all the children under
two years of age around Bethlehem. For in that way
the King of the Jews, recently born there, would in
evitably be murdered among them. The tyrant was highly
satisfied with this scheme, which never yet had been
thought of by any even the greatest barbarian; and he
set about its execution without any of the aversion of
horror that it was apt to excite in other rational beings.
Having studied out his wrathful plans to his satisfaction,
he ordered some troops to be gathered in that region and
privately instructed some of the more intimate of his
officers under severe penalties to kill all the children
under two years in Bethlehem and its vicinity. The com
mand of Herod was executed and the whole country was
filled with confusion and wailing, and with the tears of
the parents and of the other relations of the innocent
victims, who were thus doomed without any possibility
of resistance or prevention.
674. This command of Herod was issued six months
after the birth of the Savior. When it began to be exe
cuted the great Queen happened to hold her divine Son
in her arms, lost in contemplation of his most holy Soul.
Looking into it as into a clear mirror, She saw all that
passed in Bethlehem more clearly than if She herself
had been present to hear the wailing of the children and
the parents. She saw also how her Son prayed to his
eternal Father for the parents of these innocents; that
He offered up the murdered children as the first fruits
of his own Death ; asking Him also that they receive the
use of reason, in order that they might be a willing sac
rifice for their Redeemer and accept their death for his
glory. Thus He would be able to reward them with the
crowns of martyrdom for what they suffered. All this
the eternal Father granted, and as it was made known
to the Queen in her Onlybegotten Son, She joined Him
in his prayers and sacrifices. She also pitied the parents
of the martyred infants in their heartrending tears and
sorrows for their sons. She, indeed, was the first and
true Rachel weeping for the children in Bethlehem
(Jer. 31, 15) ; and there was no mother who sorrowed
for them as She did, since no one could be such a Mother
as She was to them.
675. She did not know at the time what saint Elisabeth
had done in order to safeguard her son John pursuant to
the warning of the angel sent to her by the Queen Her
self, as narrated in the twenty-second chapter. Although
She had no doubt as to the fulfillment of all the mysteries
known to Her concerning the Precursor by divine en
lightenment, yet She was uncertain of the troubles and
anxieties caused to saint Elisabeth and her son, and of
the manner in which they had forestalled the cruelty of
Herod. The sweetest Mother did not presume to ask
her divine Son concerning this event, on account of the
prudence and reverence always observed by Her in regard
to such revelations ; for in her humility and patience She
counted Herself as unworthy and as dust in the sight of
the Lord. But the Almighty took notice of her pious
and compassionate desires and informed Her that
Zachary, the father of saint John, had died four months
after her virginal parturition and about three months
after She had left Jerusalem. The widowed saint Elisa
beth now had no other company than that of her son John,
with whom she was passing the days of her widowhood
in a retired and secluded place. For on account of the
warning of the angel, and knowing of the cruel dispo
sition of Herod, she had resolved to flee to the desert
with her child and live there in the company of wild
beasts rather than within the dangerous reach of Herod.
This resolve she had taken with the approbation of the
Most High and, guided by his impulse, She was now
hidden in a cave or cleft of the rock where, with great
hardship and difficulty, she obtained sustenance for her
self and her son.
676. The heavenly Lady also knew that saint Elisa
beth, after three years of this solitary life, died in the
Lord ; that saint John remained in the desert, commencing
to live an angelic life, and that he was not to leave his
solitude until he should be commanded by the Almighty to
preach penance as his Precursor. These sacraments and
mysteries the Infant Jesus manifested to his most holy
Mother with many other hidden and profound blessings
conferred upon saint Elisabeth and her son in that desert.
All this She perceived in the same way as She now per
ceived the death of the innocent children. It filled Her
with joy and compassion; the one because She saw saint
John and his mother in safety, the other, on account of
the hardships to which they were exposed in the desert.
She immediately asked of her most holy Son permission
to take care thenceforward of Elisabeth and her son.
From that time on She frequently sent her holy angels
to visit them with the consent of the Lord ; and through
them also She sent them provisions, which afforded them
better sustenance than they could find in the wild abode.
Through these angelic messengers the holy Lady kept up
a continual intercourse with her relatives during her stay
in Egypt. When the last hour of Elisabeth arrived, Mary
sent her a great number of angels to assist her and her
child, who was then four years old. These angels also
helped saint John to bury his mother in the desert.
Thereupon the Queen sent to him every day his suste
nance, until he was of sufficient age to provide for his
living by his own labors and exertions in gathering herbs,
roots and woodland honey (Mark 1, 6) ; of these thence
forward he lived in admirable abstinence, as I shall relate
farther on.
677. Neither the tongue of creatures can describe, nor
intellect comprehend, the vast merits and increase of
sanctity accumulating in the most holy Mary through
these continued and wonderful works; for in all things
She acted with a prudence more than angelic. What
moved Her to the greatest admiration, love and praise of
the Almighty was to see how, at the intercession of Her
self and her Son for the holy Innocents, his providence
showed itself so liberal toward them. She knew as if
She were present the great number of children that were
killed and that all of them, though some were only eight
days, two or six months old, and none of them over two
years, had the use of their reason; that they all received
a high knowledge of the being of God, perfect love, faith
and hope, in which they performed heroic acts of
faith, worship, and love of God, reverence and compas
sion for their parents. They prayed for their parents
and, in reward for their sufferings, obtained for them
light and grace for advance in spiritual things. They
willingly submitted to martyrdom, in spite of the tender
ness of their age, which made their sufferings so much
the greater and consequently augmented their merits. A
multitude of angels assisted them and bore them to limbo
or to the bosom of Abraham. By their arrival they
rejoiced the holy ancients and confirmed them in the hope
of speedy liberation. All these were effects of the prayers
of the divine Child and his Mother. Aware of all these
wonders, She was inflamed with ardor and exclaimed:
"Praise the Lord, ye children" ; and joined with them in
the praise of the Author of these magnificent works, so
worthy of his Goodness and Omnipotence. Mary alone
knew of them and appreciated them properly. And She,
so closely allied to God himself, perfectly reached the
degree of humility required for such appreciation; for
though She was the Mother of innocence, purity and
sanctity, She humiliated Herself more than all creatures
with all their faults will ever know how to humiliate
themselves. Among all creatures most holy Mary reached
a degree of humility peculiar to Herself, which fully
equalled the high blessings and gifts received by all other
creatures ; for She alone comprehended fully how insuf
ficient is the return the creature can make for all the
blessings flowing from the boundless love of God.
Knowing that without this humility no act of a creature
can be worthy of a God, She reached the height of all
perfection by making all her acts serve as a grateful
return for benefits received.
678. At the end of this chapter I wish to draw atten
tion to the fact that in many things which I am describing,
a great diversity of opinion exists among the holy fathers
and writers ; as, for instance, in regard to the time of the
slaughter of the innocent children, or whether also the
new-born children or those that were only a few days
old were included in the slaughter, or concerning other
doubtful points, about which I will not speak, since they
are not necessary to my purpose. I write only what is
being shown or dictated to me, or about which obedience
forces me to ask, in order that this history may be more
clear. It will not do to start a dispute concerning what
I write; for from the beginning I said, that the Lord
wishes this whole work to be free from mere opinion and
to contain nothing but what is taught me by the divine
light. To decide whether that which I write is in har
mony with the truth of holy Scriptures, or befits the
majesty and grandeur of my subject, or whether the
events narrated bear the necessary sequence or connec
tion : all this I leave to the learning of my teachers and
superiors and to the judgment of the wise and pious.
Variety of opinion is as it were inevitable among the
writers on these subjects, since they are guided by dif
ferent authors, and are each following those of the
ancient authors that satisfy them best ; yet- more than a
few of the old authors (if we except the events related
in the canonical writings) relied only on conjecture or
on doubtful sources. I, as an ignorant woman, cannot
enter upon such discussions.
679. My daughter, in what thou hast written I wish
that thou learn a lesson from the very sorrow and appre
hension with which thou hast performed this task. Wellfounded
is thy sorrow to see how such a noble creature
as man, made according to the likeness and image of the
Lord, endowed with such divine qualities, and gifted with
the power of knowing, loving, seeing, and enjoying God
eternally, should allow himself to be degraded and defiled
by such brutal and abominable passions as to shed the
innocent blood of those who can do no harm to any one.
This should induce thee to weep over the ruin of so
many souls; especially in the times in which thou livest,
when that same ambition which incited Herod, has
kindled such great hatred and enmity among the children
of the Church, occasioning the ruin of countless souls and
causing the waste and loss of the blood of my most holy
Son, poured out for the salvation of men. Do thou
bitterly deplore this loss.
680. But likewise be warned by what thou hast seen
in others ; ponder the effects of passions admitted into the
heart ; for if once they have mastered the heart, they will
either smother it in lust when it finds success, or consume
it with wrath at meeting any opposition. Fear thou, my
daughter, this danger, not only on account of the results
thou seest of ambition in Herod, but also on account of
what thou seest going on every hour in other persons.
Be very careful not to allow thyself to be mastered by
anything, be it ever so small ; for in order to start a great
conflagration the smallest spark is sufficient. I have
often repeated to thee this same warning, and I shall
continue to do so more often in the future; for the
greatest difficulty in practicing virtue consists in dying
to all that is pleasurable to the senses. Thou canst not
be a fit instrument in the hands of the Lord, such as He
desires thee to be, if thou dost not cleanse thy faculties
even of the images of all creatures, so that they do not
find entrance into thy desires. I wish it to be to thee
an inexorable law that all things, except God, his angels
and saints, be to thee as if they did not exist. These
should be thy sole possession ; on this account the Lord
has opened to thee his secrets, honors thee with his
familiarity and intimacy, and for this purpose also do I
honor thee with mine, that thou neither live nor wish to
live without the Lord.
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