The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 1 chapter 12 verses 164-177 Index

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


  INDEX            Book 1  Chapter  12    Verses:  164-177

164. The posterity and race of Adam spread out in
great numbers, for the just and the unjust were multi
plied; likewise did increase the clamors of the just for
the Redeemer, and the transgressions of the wicked in
demerit of that benefit. The people of the Most High
and the plans for the triumph of the Lord in assuming
human nature, were already in the last stages of prep
aration for the advent of the Messias. The kingdom
of sin in the generation of the wicked had now spread
its dominion to the utmost limits and the opportune time
for the remedy had arrived. The merits and the crowns
of the just had been multiplied, the Prophets and the
holy Fathers in the joy of heavenly enlightenment per
ceived the approach of the salvation and the presence
of the Redeemer, and they increased their clamors, be
seeching God to fulfill the prophecies and the promises
made to his people. Before the high throne of the di
vine mercy they asked God to remember the prolix and
sombre night of sin which had lasted since the creation
of the first man, and the blindness of idolatry, which
had taken hold of all the rest of the human race.
165. When the ancient serpent had infected the whole
earth with its poisonous breath and apparently enjoyed
peaceful control over mortals who had become blind
to the light of reason (Rom. 1, 20) and to the precepts
contained in the ancient written law, when, instead of
seeking the true Divinity, men set up for themselves
many false laws and each one created a god for himself
according to his liking, without considering, that the con
fusion of so many gods was repugnant to all goodness,
order, and peace, when by these errors malice, ig
norance and forgetfulness of the true God had become
naturalized; when, ignorant of its mortal disease and
lethargy, the world had grown mute in its prayer for
deliverance; when pride reigned supreme and fools had
become innumerable (Eccles. 7, 15); when Lucifer in
his arrogance was about to swallow the pure waters of
the Jordan (Job 40, 18) : when through these injuries
God was more and more deeply offended and less and
less beholden to man; when his justice had such an ex
cellent cause for annihilating all creation and reducing it
to its original nothingness :
166. At this Juncture (according to our way of un
derstanding), the Most High directed his attention to
the attribute of his mercy, counterbalanced the weight of
his incomprehensible justice with the law of clemency,
and chose to yield more to his own goodness, to the
clamors and faithful services of the just and the prophets
of his people, than to his indignation at the wickedness
and sins of all the rest of mankind. In this dark night
of the ancient law, He resolved to give most certain
pledges of the day of grace, sending into the world
two most bright luminaries to announce the approach
ing dawn of the sun of Justice, Christ our Salvation.
These were saint Joachim and Anne, prepared and cre
ated by especial decree according to his own heart.
Saint Joachim had his home, his family and relations in
Nazareth, a town of Galilee. He, always a just and
holy man and illumined by especial grace and light from
on high, had a knowledge of many mysteries of the holy
Scriptures and of the olden Prophets. In continual and
fervent prayer he asked of God the fulfillment of his
promises, and his faith and charity penetrated the heav
ens. He was a man most humble and pure, leading a
most holy and sincere life, yet he was most grave and
earnest, and incomparably modest and honest.
167. The most fortunate Anne had a house in Bethle
hem and was a most chaste, humble and beautiful
maiden. From her childhood she led a most virtuous,
holy and retired life, enjoying great and continual en
lightenment in exalted contemplation. Withal she was
most diligent and industrious, thus attaining perfection
in both the active and the contemplative life. She had
an infused knowledge of the divine Scriptures and a
profound understanding of its hidden mysteries and
sacraments. In the infused virtues of faith, hope and love
she was unexcelled. Equipped with all these gifts, she
continued to pray for the coming of the Messias. Her
prayers were so acceptable to the Lord, that to her He
could but answer with the words of the Spouse : "Thou
hast wounded my heart with one of the hairs of thy neck"
(Cant. 4, 9). Therefore, without doubt, saint Anne
holds a high position among the saints of the old Testa
ment, who by their merits hastened the coming of the
168. This woman also prayed most fervently, that
the Almighty deign to procure for her in matrimony a
husband, who should help her to observe the ancient law
and testament, and to be perfect in the fulfillment of all
its precepts. At the moment in which saint Anne thus
prayed to the Lord, his Providence ordained, that saint
Joachim made the same petition : both prayers were pre
sented at the same time before the tribunal of the holy
Trinity, where they were heard and fulfilled, it being
then and there divinely disposed, that Joachim and Anne
unite in marriage and become the parents of Her, who
was to be the Mother of the incarnate God. In further
ance of this divine decree the archangel Gabriel was
sent to announce it to them both. To saint Anne he ap
peared in visible form, while she was engaged in fervent
prayer for the coming of the Savior and the Redeemer
of men. When she saw the holy prince, most beautiful
and refulgent, she was disturbed and frightened and
yet at the same time interiorly rejoiced and enlightened.
The holy maiden prostrated herself in profound humility
to reverence the messenger of heaven; but he prevented
and encouraged her, as being destined to be the ark of
the true manna, Mary most holy, Mother of the Word.
For this holy angel had been informed of this sacra
mental mystery on being sent with this message. The
other angels did not yet know of it, as this revelation or
illumination had been given directly from God only to
Gabriel. Nevertheless the angel did not then manifest
this great sacrament to St. Anne; but he asked her to
attend and said to her: "The Most High give thee his
blessing, servant of God, and be thy salvation. His
Majesty has heard thy petitions and He wishes thee to
persevere therein and that thou continue to clamor for
the coming of the Redeemer. It is his will, that thou
accept Joachim as thy spouse, for he is a man of upright
heart and acceptable to the Lord: in his company thou
wilt be able to persevere in the observance of his law and
in his service. Continue thy prayers and thy supplica
tions and be not solicitous for anything else, for the
Lord will see them fulfilled. Walk in the straight paths
of justice and let thy soul s converse be in heaven.
Continuing to pray for the Messias, be thou joyful in the
Lord, who is thy salvation." With these words the
angel disappeared, leaving her enlightened in many mys
teries of holy Scriptures, and comforted and renewed in
169. To saint Joachim the archangel did not appear in
a corporeal manner, but he spoke to the man of God in
sleep as follows :
"Joacrrim> be thou blessed by the right
hand of the Most High! Persevere in thy desires and
live according to rectitude and perfection. It is the will
of the Almighty, that thou receive saint Anne as thy
spouse, for her the Lord has visited with his blessing.
Take care of her and esteem her as a pledge of the most
High and give thanks to his Majesty, because he has
given her into thy charge." In consequence of this di
vine message saint Joachim immediately asked for the
hand of the most chaste Anne and, in joint obedience to
the divine ordainment, they espoused each other. But
neither of them manifested to each other the secret of
what had happened until several years afterwards, as I
will relate in its place (Part I, 184). The two holy
spouses lived in Nazareth, continuing to walk in the
justification of the Lord. In rectitude and sincerity
they practiced all virtue in their works, making them
selves very acceptable and pleasing to the Most High
and avoiding all blemish in all their doings. The rents
and incomes of their estate they divided each year into
three parts. The first one they offered to the temple of
Jerusalem for the worship of the Lord; the second they
distributed to the poor, and the third they retained for
the decent sustenance of themselves and family. God
augmented their temporal goods on account of their
generosity and charity.
170. They themselves lived with each other in undis
turbed peace and union of heart, without quarrel or
shadow of a grudge. The most humble Anne subjected
herself and conformed herself in all things to the will of
Joachim : and that man of God, with equal emulation of
humility, sought to know the desires of holy Anne, con
fiding in her with his whole heart (Prov. 31, 11), and
he was not deceived. Thus they lived together in such
perfect charity, that during their whole life they never
experienced a time, during which one ceased to seek the
same thing as the other (Matth. 18, 20). But rather as
being united in the Lord, they enjoyed his presence in
holy fear. Saint Joachim, solicitous to obey the com
mand of the angel, honored his spouse and lavished his
attention upon her.
171. The Lord forestalled the holy Matron Anne with
the blessings of his sweetness (Psalm 20, 4), communi
cating to her the most exalted graces and infused science,
which prepared her for the happy destiny of becoming
the mother of Her, who was to be the Mother of God
himself. As the works of God are perfect and consum
mate, it was natural to expect, that He should make her
a worthy mother of that most pure Creature, who should
be superior in sanctity to all creatures and inferior only
to God.
172. This fortunate couple passed twenty years of
their married life without issue. In those times and
among the people of the Jews this was held to be the
greatest misfortune and disgrace. On this account they
had to bear much reproach and insult from their neigh
bors and acquaintances, for all those that were child
less, were considered as excluded from the benefits of
the Messias. But the Most High wished to afflict them
and dispose them for the grace which awaited them, in
order that in patience and submission they might tear
fully sow the glorious Fruit, which they were afterwards
to bring forth. They continued in most fervent prayers
from the bottom of their hearts, mindful of the com
mand from on high. They made an express vow to the
Lord, that if He should give them issue, they would
consecrate It to his service in the temple of Jerusalem.
173. This offer was made by an especial impulse of
the Holy Ghost, who had ordained, that She who was to
be the habitation of the Son of God, should, before com
ing into existence, be offered and, as it were, pledged by
her parents to the same Lord. For if they had not
obliged themselves by a special promise to offer Her to
the temple before they possessed Her, they would not
have been able to make the sacrifice on account of the
vehement love, which her sweetness and grace engen
dered. According to our mode of understanding such
things, the Lord in a measure allayed his fears, lest his
most holy Mother should remain in possession of any
one else, and his love so to say, diverted itself by a cer
tain delay in creating Her.
174. Having, at the command of the Lord, perse
vered a whole year in fervent petitions, it happened by
divine inspiration and ordainment, that Joachim was in
the temple of Jerusalem offering prayers and sacrifices
for the coming of the Messias, and for the fruit, which
he desired. Arriving with others of his town to offer
the common gifts and contributions in the presence of
the high priest, Isachar, an inferior priest, harshly repre
hended the old and venerable Joachim, for presuming to
come with the other people to make his offerings in spite
of his being childless. Among other things he said to
him: "Why dost thou, Joachim, come with thy offer
ings and sacrifices, which are not pleasing in the eyes of
God, since thou art a useless man? Leave this company
and depart; do not annoy God with thy offerings and
sacrifices, which are not acceptable to Him." The holy
man, full of shame and confusion, in humble love thus
addressed the Lord: "Most high Lord and God, at thy
command and desire I came to the temple ; he that takes
thy place, despises me; my sins merit this disgrace; but
since I accept it according to thy will, do not cast away
the creature of thy hands" (Ps. 137, 8). Joachim
hastened away from the temple full of sorrow, though
peaceful and contented, to a farm or storehouse, which
he possessed, and there in solitude he called upon the
Lord for some days, praying as follows :
175. "Most high and eternal God, on whom depends
the whole existence and the reparation of the human
race, prostrate in thy living presence, I supplicate thy
infinite goodness to look upon the affliction of my soul
and to hear my prayers and those of thy servant Anne.
To thine eyes are manifest all our desires (Ps. 37, 10)
and if I am not worthy to be heard, do not despise my
humble spouse. Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
our first forefathers, do not hide thy kindness from us,
nor permit, since Thou art a Father, that I be numbered
among the reprobate and the outcasts in my offerings,
because Thou givest me no issue. Remember, O Lord,
the sacrifices (Deut. 9, 27) and oblations of thy ser
vants and prophets, my ancestors, and look upon their
works, which were pleasing to thy divine eyes. Since
Thou commandest me, my Lord, to pray to Thee in con
fidence, grant me, according to the greatness of thy
mercy and power, that which at thy wish I pray for. In
beseeching Thee I fulfill thy will and render the obe
dience, in which Thou hast promised to grant my pe
tition. If my sins hinder the exercise of thy mercies,
take away what displeases and hinders Thee. Thou art
mighty, Lord God of Israel, and all that Thou wishest,
Thou canst accomplish without hindrance. Let my
prayer reach thy ears, and if I am poor and insignificant,
Thou art infinite and always ready to exercise mercy
with the downcast. Whither shall I flee from Thee,
who art the King of kings and the Lord of lords ? Thou
hast filled thy sons and servants with benedictions in
their generations and Thou hast instructed me to expect
and desire from thy bounty what Thou hast wrought in
my brethren. If it is Thy pleasure to yield to my pe
tition, and grant me issue I will offer it and consecrate
it to thy holy temple in perpetual service. I have riveted
my eyes and my will on thy holy Will and have always
desired to keep them free from the vanishing things
of this world. Fulfill in regard to me, what is according
to thy pleasure, and rejoice our spirit with the accom
plishment of our hopes. Look down from thy throne
upon this vile dust, and raise it up, in order that it may
magnify Thee and adore Thee, and let in all things be
fulfilled thy will, and not mine."
176. While Joachim was making these petitions in his
retirement, the holy angel manifested to holy Anne, that
her prayer for an issue, accompanied by such holy de
sires and intentions, was pleasing to the Almighty. Hav
ing thus recognized the will of God and of her husband
Joachim, she prayed with humble subjection and confi
dence, that it be fulfilled. "Most high God, my Lord,
Creator and Preserver of the universe, whom my soul
reveres as the true God, infinite, holy and eternal ! Pros
trate in thy real presence I will speak, though I am but
dust and ashes (Esther 13, 9) proclaiming my need and
my affliction. Lord God uncreated, make us worthy of
thy benediction, and give us holy fruit of the womb, in
order that we may offer it to thy service in the temple
(Gen. 18, 27). Remember, O Lord, that Anne, thy ser
vant, the mother of Samuel, was sterile and that by thy
generous mercy she received the fulfillment of her de
sires. I feel within me a courage which incites and ani
mates me to ask Thee to show me the same mercy.
Hear then, O sweetest Lord and Master, my humble
petition : remember the sacrifices, offerings and services
of my ancestors and the favors, which thy almighty arm
wrought in them. I wish to offer to Thee, O Lord, an
oblation pleasing and acceptable in thy eyes: but the
greatest in my power, is my soul, my faculties and in
clinations given to Thee, and my whole being. If Thou
look upon me from thy throne giving me issue, I will
from this moment sanctify and offer it for thy service
in the temple. Lord God of Israel, if it should be thy
pleasure and good will to look upon this lowly and im
poverished creature, and to console thy servant Joachim,
grant me my prayer and may in all things be fulfilled thy
holy and eternal will."
177. These were the prayers, which saint Joachim
and Anne offered. On account of my great shortcom
ing and insufficiency I cannot fully describe what I was
made to understand concerning the holiness of these
prayers and of these saintly parents. It is impossible to
tell all; nor is it necessary, since what I have said is
sufficient for my purpose. In order to obtain a befitting
idea of these saints, it is necessary to estimate and judge
them in connection with the most high end and ministry,
for which they were chosen by God; for they were the
immediate grandparents of Christ our Lord, and par
ents of his most holy Mother.
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