The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 6 chapter 19 verses 603-623 Index

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

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 6 chapter 19 verses 603-623PILATE; SENDS THE JEWS WITH JESUS AND THEIR AC CUSATIONS TO HEROD, WHERE THEY ADVANCE THEIR CHARGES; HEROD TREATS JESUS WITH CONTEMPT AND SENDS HIM BACK TO PILATE; MARY FOLLOWS THE SAVIOR; OTHER HAPPENINGS IN CONNECTION.

  INDEX            Book 6  Chapter  19    Verses:  603-623


603. One of the accusations of the Jews and the priests
before Pilate was, that Jesus our Savior had begun to
stir up the people by his preaching in the province of
Galilee (Luke 23, 6). This caused Pilate to inquire,
whether He was a Galileean; and as they told him, that
Jesus was born and raised in that country, he thought
this circumstance useful for the solution of his difficulties
in regard to Jesus and for escaping the molestations of
the Jews, who so urgently demanded his death. Herod
was at that time in Jerusalem, celebrating the Pasch of
the Jews. He was the son of the first Herod, who had
murdered the Innocents to procure the death of Jesus
soon after his birth (Matth 2, 16). This murderer had
become a proselyte of the Jews at the time of his mar
riage with a Jewish woman. On this account his son
Herod likewise observed the law of Moses, and he had
come to Jerusalem from Galilee, of which he was gover
nor. Pilate was at enmity with Herod, for the two
governed the two principal provinces of Palestine,
namely, Judea and Galilee, and a short time before it had
happened that Pilate, in his zeal for the supremacy of
the Roman empire, had murdered some Galileeans dur
ing a public function in the temple, mixing the blood
of the insurgents with that of the holy sacrifices. Herod
was highly incensed at this sacrilege, and Pilate, in order
to afford him some satisfaction without much trouble
to himself, resolved to send to him Christ the Lord to
be examined and judged as one of the subjects of
Herod s sway. Pilate also expected that Herod would
set Jesus free as being innocent and a Victim of the
malice and envy of the priests and scribes.
604. Christ our Lord therefore went forth from the
house of Pilate to the palace of Herod, being still bound
and chained as before and accompanied by the scribes
and priests as his accusers. There were also a large
number of soldiers and servants, who dragged Him along
by the ropes and cleared the streets, which had been
filled with multitudes of the people to see the spectacle.
The military broke their way through the crowds; and
as the servants and priests were thirsting so eagerly for
the blood of the Savior and wished to shed it on this very
day, they hastened with the Lord through the streets
nearly on a run and with great tumult. Mary also set
forth from the house of Pilate with her company in
order to follow her sweetest Son Jesus and accompany
Him on the ways, which He was still to go until his
death on the Cross. It would not have been possible for
the Lady to follow her Beloved closely enough to be
in his sight, if She had not ordered her holy angels to
open a way for Her. They made it possible for Her to
be constantly near lier Son, so that She could enjoy his
presence, though that also brought with it only a fuller
participation in all torments and sorrows. She obtained
the fulfillment of all her wishes; for walking along
through the streets near the Savior She saw and heard
the insults of the servants, the blows they dealt Him,
the reproaches of the people, expressed either as their
own or repeated from hearsay.
605. When Herod was informed that Pilate would
send Jesus of Nazareth to him, he was highly pleased. He
knew that Jesus was a great friend of John the Baptist,
whom he had ordered to be put to death (Mark 6, 27),
and had heard many reports of his preaching. In vain
and foolish curiosity he harbored the desire of seeing
Jesus do something new and extraordinary for his en
tertainment and wonder (Luke 23, 8). The Author of
life therefore came into the presence of the murderer
Herod, against whom the blood of the Baptist was call
ing more loudly to this same Lord for vengeance, than
in its time the blood of Abel (Gen. 4, 10). But the un
happy adulterer, ignorant of the terrible judgment of the
Almighty, received Him with loud laughter as an en
chanter and conjurer. In this dreadful misconception he
commenced to examine and question Him, persuaded
that he could thereby induce Him, to work some miracle
to satisfy his curiosity. But the Master of wisdom, and
prudence, standing with an humble reserve before his
most unworthy judge, answered him not a word. For
on account of his evil-doing he well merited the pun
ishment of not hearing the words of life, which he would
certainly have heard if he had been disposed to listen to
them with reverence.
606. The princes and priests of the Jews stood around,
continually rehearsing the same accusations and charges
which they had advanced in the presence of Pilate. But
the Lord maintained silence also in regard to these
calumnies, much to the disappointment of Herod. In
his presence the Lord would not open his lips, neither in
order to answer his questions, nor in order to refute the
accusations. Herod was altogether unworthy of hearing
the truth, this being his greatest punishment and the
punishment most to be dreaded by all the princes and
the powerful of this earth. Herod was much put out by
the silence and meekness of our Savior and was much
disappointed in his vain curiosity. But the unjust judge
tried to hide his confusion by mocking and ridiculing the
innocent Master with his whole cohort of soldiers and
ordering him to be sent back to Pilate. Having made
fun of the reserve of the Lord, the servants of Herod
joined in treating Him as a fool and as one deficient in
mind and they clothed Him in a white garment, in
order to mark Him as insane and to be avoided as dan
gerous. But by the hidden providence of the Most High
this dress signified the purity and innocence of the Savior,
and these ministers of wickedness were thus unwittingly
giving testimony of the truth, which they were trying to
obscure in deriding the miraculous power of the Lord.
607. Herod showed himself thankful to Pilate for the
courtesy of sending Jesus of Nazareth to be judged be
fore his tribunal. He informed Pilate, that he found no
cause in Him, but held Him to be an ignorant man of
no consequence whatever. By the secret judgments of
divine Wisdom, Herod and Pilate were reconciled on
that day and thenceforward remained friends. Con
ducted by many soldiers, both of Herod and Pilate,
amid a still greater concourse, tumult, and excitement of
the people, Jesus returned from Herod to Pilate. For
the very ones who had some time before hailed and
venerated Him as the Savior and Messias, blessed of
the Lord (Matth. 21, 9), now perverted by the priests
and magistrates, had changed their minds, and they
despised and condemned the same Lord, whom they had
so shortly before reverenced and glorified. For of such
influence is usually the erroneous example of the chiefs
in misleading the people. In the midst of all this con
fusion and ignominy the Lord passed along, repeating
within Himself in unspeakable love, humility and patience,
those words, which He had long before spoken by the
mouth of David: "I am a worm and no man; the re
proach of men and the outcast of people. All they
that saw me have laughed me to scorn : they have spoken
with their lips and wagged the head" (Ps. 21, 7). The
Lord was a worm and no man, not only because He was
not engendered like the rest of men, and because He was
not merely and solely a man, being true God and man;
but also because He was not treated like a man, but like
a wretched and despised worm. Amid all the scorn
with which He was overwhelmed and trodden under foot,
He made no more outcry than an humble wormlet,
which is despised and crushed as a most vile and despicable
creature. All the innumerable multitudes that saw our
Redeemer spoke of Him with wagging heads, as if re
tracting their previous conception and opinion of this
Prophet of Nazareth.
608. Although his afflicted Mother was made interiorly
aware of all that happened, She was not present in body
when the priests advanced their insulting accusations
before Herod, and when he sputtered forth his questions
to the Author of life. She remained outside of the hall
of judgment, whither they had taken the Lord. But
when He came forth from the hall She met him and
They looked upon each other in reciprocal sorrow of their
souls, such as corresponded to the love between such a
Son and Mother. The sight of the white vestment, by
which they proclaimed Him fit to be treated only as an
insane fool, pierced her heart with new sorrow; though
She alone, of all mankind, recognized the mystery of
his purity and innocence indicated by this vestment. She
adored Him in it with deepest reverence and followed
Him through the streets back to the house of Pilate ; for
in this house was to be executed the divine decree for our
salvation. On this way from Herod to Pilate it hap
pened, that on account of the crush of the people and
on account of the haste, they tripped Him up and threw
Him on the ground several times. By their cruel pulling
at the ropes with which He was bound, they caused the
blood to flow from his sacred veins. His hands being
tied, He could not easily help Himself to rise from his
falls. Therefore the multitudes of the people, who fol
lowed and who were neither able, nor cared to stop in
their onward rush, stepped upon the divine Lord, tread
ing Him under foot and kicking Him. The blows and
wounds He thus received, instead of stirring the com
passion of the soldiers, only excited them to loud laughter ;
for, instigated by the demons, they had become devoid of
all human compassion, no less than so many wild beasts.
609. At the sight of such unmeasured cruelty, the most
sorrowful and loving Mother was moved to deepest com
passion, and turning to her holy angels She commanded
them to gather up the divine blood in order that it might
not be trodden upon and dishonored by the feet of sin
ners. This the heavenly servants willingly fulfilled. She
commanded also, that if her divine Son should again
fall to the earth, they hasten to his assistance and prevent
these evil-doers from injuring and stepping on his most
sacred body. But She was the most prudent of all mor
tals, She did not wish them to execute her command,
unless it met the approval of the Lord; and therefore
She urged them to make this proposal themselves and
ask his permission, representing to Him at the same time
her anguish as his Mother in seeing Him thus irreverently
subjected to the feet of sinners. In order to so much
the sooner move the Lord to grant this petition, She
begged Him through the holy angels, that He commute
this humiliation of being trodden upon and crushed by
the rabble into an act of obedience in complying with
the petition of his afflicted Mother, who at the same time
acknowledged Herself as his slave and formed of the
dust. All these petitions of his blessed Mother the angels
presented to the Lord Christ in her name; not that He
was ignorant of them, since He knew all things and was
Himself the instigator of them through his divine grace,
but the Lord desires in all these matters a regard for the
due process of reason. The great Lady was aware of
this desire and in her most exalted wisdom practiced
virtues in diverse ways and by diverse activities, unim
peded by the foreknowledge of the Lord concerning all
things.
610. Our Savior Jesus yielded to the desire and peti
tions of his most blessed Mother and gave the angels
permission to execute her requests as her ministers. Dur
ing the rest of the passage to the house of Pilate they
would not permit the Lord to be tripped or cast to the
ground, or to be stepped upon by the crowd as had hap
pened before. But in regard to other injuries, He al
lowed the stupid wrath and blind malice of the servants
of the law and of the populace to vent themselves freely
and fully upon his divine Person. His most holy Mother
heard and saw all with an unconquered but lacerated
heart. In a proportionate manner this was also witnessed
by the other Marys and saint John, who with ceaseless
tears followed the Lord in company with his purest
Mother. I do not stop to describe the sorrows of these
and other pious women, who attended upon the Queen,
because I would go too wide of my subject, especially
f I were to describe the doings of Magdalen, most disinguished
in her ardent love of Christ and most pleasng
to the Savior. For to her we must apply, what Christ
3-39
himself said when He justified Her: that those love most
to whom the greater sins are forgiven (Luke 7, 43).
611. Pilate was again confronted with Jesus in his
palace and was bestormed anew by the Jews to condemn
Him to death of the cross. Convinced of the innocence
of Christ and of the mortal envy of the Jews, he was
much put out at Herod s again referring the disagreeable
decision to his own tribunal. Feeling himself obliged
in his quality of judge to give this decision, he sought to
placate the Jews in different ways. One of these was a
private interview with some of the servants and friends
of the highpriests and priests. He urged them to pre
vail upon their masters and friends, not any more to
ask for the release of the malefactor Barabbas, but in
stead demand the release of our Redeemer; and to be
satisfied with some punishment he was willing to ad
minister before setting Him free. This measure Pilate
had taken before they arrived a second time to press
their demand for a sentence upon Jesus. The proposal
to choose between freeing either Barabbas or Jesus was
made to the Jews, not only once, but two or three times.
The first time before sending Him to Herod and the
second time after his return ; this is related by the Evan
gelists with some variation, though not essentially con
tradicting truth (Matth. 27, 17). Pilate spoke to the
Jews and said : "You have brought this Man before me,
accusing Him of perverting the people by his doctrines;
and having examined Him in your presence, I was not
convinced of the truth of your accusations. And Herod,
to whom I have sent Him. and before whom you repeated
your accusations, refused to condemn Him to death. It
will be sufficient to correct and chastise Him for the
present, in order that He may amend. As I am to re
lease some malefactor for the feast of the Pasch, I will
release Christ, if you will have Him freed, and punish
Barabbas." But the multitude of the Jews, thus informed
how much Pilate desired to set Jesus free, shouted with
one voice: "Enough, enough, not Christ, but Barabbas
deliver unto us."
612. The custom of giving freedom to an imprisoned
criminal at this great solemnity of the Pasch was intro
duced by the Jews in grateful remembrance of the re
lease of their forefathers from servitude by their passage
through the Red Sea, when the Almighty freed them
from the power of Pharao by killing the first-born chil
dren of the Egyptians and afterwards annihilating him
and his armies in the waters of the Red sea (Exodus
12, 29). In gratitude for this favor the Jews always
sought out the greatest malefactor and pardoned him
his crimes ; while they refused such clemency to those who
were less guilty. In their treaties with the Romans they
expressly reserved this privilege ; and the governors com
plied with it. But in the present instance they failed to
follow out in their demands what they were so loudly
proclaiming in regard to Jesus. According to law they
were to demand the release of the greatest criminal and
this they proclaimed Jesus to be; yet they persisted in
demanding the punishment of Christ and the release of
Barabbas, whom they judged less guilty. In such blind
ness and perversity had the wrath and envy of the demon
cast them, that they lost the light of reason even in their
own affairs and against their own selves.
613. While Pilate was thus disputing with the Jews
in the pretorium, his wife, Procula, happened to hear of
his doings and she sent him a message telling him : "What
hast thou to do with this Man? Let him go free; for I
warn thee that I have had this very day some visions in
regard to Him!" This warning of Procula originated
through the activity of Lucifer and his demons. For
they, observing all that was happening in regard to the
person of Christ and the unchangeable patience with which
He bore all injuries, were more and more confused and
staggered in their rabid fury. Although the swollen
pride of Lucifer could not explain how his Divinity could
ever subject Itself to such great insults, nor how He
could permit his body to suffer such ill-treatment, and
although he could not come to any certain conviction,
whether this Jesus was a Godman or not ; yet the dragon
was persuaded, that some great mystery was here tran
spiring among men which would be the cause of great
damage and defeat to him and his malice if he did not
succeed in arresting its progress in the world. Having
come to this conclusion with his demons, he many times
suggested to the pharisees the propriety of ceasing their
persecutions of Christ. These suggestions, however, since
they originated from malice and were void of any power
for good, failed to move the obstinate and perverted
hearts of the Jews. Despairing of success the demons
betook themselves to the wife of Pilate and spoke to
her in dreams, representing to her that this Man was
just and without guilt, that if her husband should sen
tence Him he would be deprived of his rank and she her
self would meet with great adversity. They urged her
to advise Pilate to release Jesus and punish Barabbas, if
she did not wish to draw misfortune upon their house
and their persons.
614. Procula was filled with great fear and terror at
these visions, and as soon as she heard what was passing
between the Jews and her husband, she sent him the
message mentioned by saint Matthew, not to meddle
with this Man nor condemn One to death, whom she held
to be just. The demon also injected similar misgivings
into the mind of Pilate and these warnings of his wife
only increased them. Yet, as all his considerations rested
upon worldly policy, and as he had not co-operated with
the true helps given him by the Savior, all these fears
retarded his unjust proceedings only so long as no other
more powerful consideration arose, as will be seen in
effect. But just now he began for the third time to
argue (as saint Luke tells us), insisting upon the inno
cence of Christ our Lord and that he found no crime in
Him nor any guilt worthy of death, and therefore he
would punish and then dismiss Him (Luke 23, 22). As
we shall see in the next chapter, he did really punish
Christ in order to see whether the Jews would be satisfied.
But the Jews, on the contrary, demanded that Christ be
crucified. Thereupon Pilate asked for water and released
Barabbas. Then he washed his hands in the presence of
all the people, saying: "I have no share in the death of
this just Man, whom you condemn. Look to yourselves
in what you are doing, for I wash my hands in order
that you may understand they are not sullied in the blood
of the Innocent." Pilate thought that by this ceremony
he could excuse himself entirely and that he thereby could
put its blame upon the princes of the Jews and upon the
people who demanded it. The wrath of the Jews was so
blind and foolish that for the satisfaction of seeing Jesus
crucified, they entered upon this agreement with Pilate
and took upon themselves and upon their children the
responsibility for this crime. Loudly proclaiming this
terrible sentence and curse, they exclaimed : "His blood
come upon us and upon our children" (Matth. 27, 25).
615. O most foolish and cruel blindness! O incon
ceivable rashness! The unjust condemnation of the Just
and the blood of the Innocent, whom the judge himself
is forced to proclaim guiltless, you wish to take upon
yourselves and upon your children, in order that his blood
may call out against you to the end of the world! O
perfidious and sacrilegious Jews ! So lightly then weighs
the blood of the Lamb, who bears the sins of the world,
and the life of a Man, who is at the same time God!
How is it possible you wish to load with it yourselves
and your children? If He had been only your brother,
your benefactor and master, your audacity would have
been tremendous and your malice execrable. Justly in
deed do you merit the punishment which you meet; and
that the burden, which you have put upon yourselves
and your children, allows you no rest or relief in all
the world: it is just that this burden should rest upon
you heavier than heaven and earth. But, alas ! Though
this divine Blood was intended to wash and cleanse all
the children of Adam, and though it was in effect poured
out upon all the children of the holy Church, yet there
are many belonging to it who make themselves guilty of
this blood by their works in the same manner as the
Jews charged themselves with it, both by word and deed.
They did not know or believe that it was the blood of
the Savior, while Catholics both know and confess that
it is their Redeemer s.
616. The sins and depraved lives of the Christians
proclaim louder than tongues their abuse of the blood
of Christ and their consent to the guilt in his death
which they load upon themselves. Let Christ be
affronted, spit upon, buffeted, stretched upon a cross,
despised, let Him yield to Barabbas and die ; let Him be
tormented, scourged and crowned with thorns for our
sins: let his blood interest us no more than that it flow
copiously and be imputed to us for all eternity: let the
incarnate God suffer and die; if only we are left free
to enjoy the apparent goods of this world, to seize the
pleasing hour, to use creatures for our comfort, to be
crowned with roses, live in joy; let our power be unrefrained,
let no one seek preference before us ; be we per
mitted to despise humility, abhor poverty, hoard up riches,
engage in all deceits, forgive no injuries, entertain the
delights of carnal pleasures, let our eyes see nothing that
they shall not covet. Such be our rule in life without re
gard for aught else. And if by all this we crucify Christ,
let his blood come upon us and upon our children.
617. Ask the damned in hell, whether these were not
the sentiments expressed in their works as described by
Solomon, and whether it was not because they spoke thus
foolishly in their hearts, that they were called impious,
and were so in reality. What else except damnation can
they expect, who abuse the blood of Christ and waste it
upon themselves, not as such who are seeking a remedy ?
Where do we find, among the children of the Church,
any one that would willingly permit a thief and male
factor to be preferred to him? So little is this doctrine
of humility practiced, that one excites surprise if he al
lows another just as good and honorable as himself, or
even more honorable, to take precedence. Though it is
certain that no one can be found as good as Christ or as
bad as Barabbas, yet there are innumerable men who,
in spite of this example, are offended and judge them
selves disgraced, if they are not preferred and exalted
by honors, riches and dignities, and in whatever pertains
to the ostentation and applause of the world. These are
sought after, contended for and solicited ; in such things
are consumed the thoughts and all the exertions and
powers of men, almost from the time in which they can
use their faculties until they lose them. The most la
mentable misfortune is, that even those who, by their
profession and their state, have renounced and turned
their backs upon such things, do not free themselves.
While the Savior has commanded them to forget their
people and the house of their parents (Ps. 44, 11), they
devote to them the best part of their human existence, by
giving them their attention and solicitude in the direction
of their affairs, their best wishes and care in the augmen
tation of their worldly goods. It seems but a small
matter to them to engage themselves in these vanities.
Instead of forgetting the house of their father they forget
the house of their God in which they live, and where they
are divinely assisted to gain a salvation, an honor and
esteem never possible in the world, and where they re
ceive their sustenance without any anxiety or worry.
They show themselves ungrateful for all these benefits
by drifting away from the humility due to their state.
Thus the humility of Christ our Savior, his patience, his
injuries, the dishonor of the cross, the imitation of
Christ s works, the following of his doctrines ; all is left
to the poor, to the lonely ones, to the weak and humble
of this world; while the ways of Sion are deserted and
full of wailing, because there are so few who will come
to the solemn feast of the imitation of Christ our Lord
(Thren. 1, 4).
618. Pilate was not conscious of the absurdity of his
pretense, that to have washed his hands and to have
charged the Jews with the blood of Christ, was sufficient
to clear him before his conscience and before men; for
by this ceremony, so full of hypocrisy and deceit, he tried
to satisfy both. It is true that the Jews were the prin
cipal actors and more guilty in the condemnation of the
innocent Godman, and that they themselves expressly
charged themselves with its guilt. But Pilate was not on
that account free from it; since, knowing the innocence
of Christ our Lord, he should not have allowed a thief
and robber to be preferred before Christ ; neither should
he have chastised, nor pretended to correct Him, who
showed nothing that could be corrected or amended
(Luke 23, 25). Much less should he have condemned
and delivered Him over to his mortal enemies, whose
envy and cruelty was so evident. He is not a just judge
who is aware of the truth and justice and places it in
the balance with his own human respect and his own
personal interest ; for such a course drags down the right
reason of men who are so cowardly of heart. Since
they do not possess the strength and perfection of mind
necessary to a judge, they cannot resist their greed, or
their human respect. In their blind passions they forsake
justice in order not to endanger their temporal advan
tages, as happened to Pilate.
619. In the house of Pilate, through the ministry of
the holy angels, our Queen was placed in such a posi
tion that She could hear the disputes of the iniquitous
judge with the scribes and priests concerning the inno
cence of Christ our Savior, and concerning the release
of Barabbas in preference to Him. All the clamors
of these human tigers She heard in silence and admirable
meekness, as the living counterpart of her most holy Son.
Although She preserved the unchanging propriety and
modesty of her exterior, all the malicious words of the
Jews pierced her sorrowful heart like a two-edged sword.
But the voices of her unspoken sorrows resounded in the
ears of the eternal Father more pleasantly and sweetly
than the lamentation of the beautiful Rachel who, as
Jeremias says, was beweeping her children because they
cannot be restored (Jer. 31, 15). Our most beautiful
Rachel the purest Mary, sought not revenge, but pardon
for her enemies, who were depriving Her of the Onlybegotten
of the Father and her only Son. She imitated
all the actions of the most holy Soul of Christ and ac
companied Him in the works of most exalted holiness
and perfection; for neither could her torments hinder
her charity, nor her affliction diminish her fervor, nor
could the tumult distract her attention, nor the outrageous
injuries of the multitudes prevent her interior recollec
tion: under all circumstances She practiced the most
exalted virtues in the most eminent degree.
INSTRUCTION WHICH THE GREAT MISTRESS OF HEAVEN,
MOST BLESSED MARY, GAVE ME.
620. My daughter, in what thou hast written and un
derstood, I see thee astonished to find, that Pilate and
Herod exhibited less unkindness and cruelty in the death
of my divine Son than the priests, highpriests and
pharisees; and thou dwellest much upon the fact that
those were secular and gentile judges, while these were
teachers of the law and priests of the people of Israel,
professing the true faith. In answer to thy thoughts I
will remind thee of a doctrine not new, which thou hast
understood on former occasions ; but I wish that thou re
fresh it in thy mind and remember it for the rest of thy
life. Know then, my dearest, that a fall from the highest
position is extremely dangerous and the damage done is
either irreparable, or very difficult of redress. Lucifer
held an eminent position in heaven, as regards both
natural gifts and gifts of grace ; for in beauty he excelled
all the creatures, and by his sin he fell to the deepest
abyss of loathsomeness and misery and into a more hard
ened obstinacy than all his followers. The first parents
of the human race, Adam and Eve, were exalted to the
highest dignity and raised to exquisite favor, as coming
forth from the hand of the Almighty: their fall caused
perdition to themselves and to all their posterity, and
faith teaches what was the cost of their salvation. To
restore them and their posterity was the work of an
infinite mercy.
621. Many other souls have reached the heights of
perfection and have thence fallen most unfortunately,
arriving at a state in which they almost despaired or
found themselves incapable of rising. This sad state in
the creature originates from many causes. The first is
the dismay and boundless confusion of one who feels
that he has fallen from an exalted state of virtue; for
he knows that he has not only lost great blessings, but
he does not expect to obtain greater ones than those of
the past and those he has lost; nor does he promise
himself more firmness in keeping those he can obtain
through renewed efforts, than he has shown in those ac
quired and now lost through his ingratitude. From this
dangerous distrust originates lukewarmness, want of fer
vor and diligence, absence of zeal and devotion; since
diffidence extinguishes all these in the soul, just as the
sprightliness of ardent hope overcomes many difficulties,
strengthens and vivifies weak human creatures to under
take great works. Another obstacle there is, not less
formidable, namely: the souls accustomed to the bless
ings of God, either through their office, as the priests
and religious, or by the exercise of virtues and the abun
dance of divine favors, as spiritual-minded persons,
usually aggravate their sins by a certain contempt of
:hese very blessings and a certain abuse of the divine
:hings. For by the abundance of the divine favors they
fall into a dangerous dullness of mind. They begin to
hink little of the divine favors and become irreverent.
Thus failing to co-operate with God s grace, they hinder
ts effect. They lose the grace of holy fear of the Lord,
vhich arouses and stimulates the will to obey the divine
commandments and to be alert in the avoidance of sin and
pursuit of eternal life in the friendship of God. This is
an evident danger for lukewarm priests, who frequent
the holy Eucharist and other Sacraments, without fear
and reverence; also for the learned and wise, and the
powerful of this world, who so reluctantly correct and
amend their lives. They have lost the appreciation and
veneration of the remedial helps of the Church, namely,
the Sacraments, preaching and instruction. Thus these
medicines, which for other sinners are so salutary and
counteract ignorance, weaken those who are the phy
sicians of the spiritual life.
622. There are other reasons for this kind of danger,
which must be referred to the Lord himself. For the
sins of those souls who, by their state or by their ad
vanced virtues, are more closely bound to their God, are I
weighed in the balance of God s justice in quite a difj
ferent way from the sins of those who have been less \
favored by his mercy. Although the sins of all are
|
more or less essentially the same, yet the circumstances
of sin are very different. For the priests and teachers,
the powerful and the dignitaries, and those who, on ac
count of their station or by reputation, are supposed t<
be advanced in a holy life, cause great scandal by thei
fall or by any sins they commit. There is much mor
of bold disrespect in their presumption and temeri
against God, whom they know better and to whom the
owe much more, but whom they offend with more deli
eration and knowledge than the ignorant. Hence, as
evident from the tenor of all the holy Scriptures, the si
of Catholics, and especially of those that are instruct
and enlightened, are so displeasing to God. As th
term of each man s life is preordained for each one a
the time in which he is to gain the eternal rewa
so the measure or number of sins to be borne by the
patience or forbearance of the Lord is likewise pre
ordained. This measure of divine justice is determined
not only by the number and quantity of the sins, but
also by their quality and weight. Thus it may happen,
that in the souls favored by greater enlightenment and
graces of heaven, the grievousness supplies what is want
ing in the number of the sins, and that with fewer sins
they are forsaken sooner and chastised more severely than
others with many more sins. Nor can all expect for
themselves the same issue as David (II Reg. 12, 13) and
saint Peter; because not all of them have to their credit
as many good actions to be remembered by the Lord.
Besides the special privileges of some cannot be set up
as a rule for all others; because, according to the secret
judgments of the Lord, not all are destined for a special
office.
623. By this explanation, my dearest, thou wilt be
able to satisfy thy doubts and thou wilt understand what
a bitter evil so many souls incur, whom the Almighty
has redeemed by his blood, placed in the way of light
and drawn toward Himself; and how some persons can
fall from a more exalted state into more perverse ob
stinacy than others below them in station. This truth is
well illustrated in the mystery of my Son s Passion, in
which the priests, scribes and the whole people were
nuch more indebted to their God than the heathens, who
cnew not of the true religion. I desire that this truth, as
exhibited by their example, convince thee of this terrible
langer and excite in thee holy fear. And with this fear
oin humble thanks and an exalted esteem of the favors
>f the Lord. In the days of abundance, be not unmindul
of the hour of want (Eccli. 13, 25). Ponder as well
he one as the other within thyself, and remember that
thou earnest thy treasure in a fragile vessel, which thou
canst easily lose (II Cor. 4, 7). Know well, that the
reception of such blessings argues not merit, and the
possession of them is not due to thee in justice, but comes
to thee by liberality and kindness. That the Most High
has favored thee with so much familiar intercourse is no
assurance that thou canst not fall, and no license to
live carelessly and without reverence and fear. All things
happen to thee according to the number and greatness
of thy blessings; for the wrath of the serpent has in
creased toward thee in proportion, and is more alert
against thee than against other souls. He has become
aware that the Most High has not been so liberally loving
to men of many generations as toward thee, and if thou
meet so many blessings and mercies with ingratitude,
thou shalt be most wretched and worthy of a rigorous
punishment, against which thou canst make no objection
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