The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 6 chapter 24 verses 725-742 Index

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

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 6 chapter 24 verses 725-742THE SIDE OF CHRIST IS OPENED WITH A LANCE, AS HIS BODY HANGS ON THE CROSS; HE IS TAKEN DOWN AND BURIED. THE DOINGS OF THE BLESSED MOTHER ON THIS OCCASION, AND UNTIL SHE RETURNED TO THE CENACLE.

  INDEX            Book 6  Chapter  24    Verses:  725-742


725. The Evangelist saint John tells us that near
the Cross stood Mary, the most holy Mother of Jesus,
with Mary Cleophas and Mary Magdalen. Although
this is said of the time before Jesus expired, it must
be understood, that the unconquerable Queen remained
also afterwards, always standing beneath the Cross and
adoring her dead Jesus and his divinity inseparably
united to his sacred body. Amid the impetuous floods
of sorrow, that penetrated to the inmost recesses of her
chastest heart, the great Lady remained immovably con
stant in the exercise of ineffable virtues, while con
templating within Her the mysteries of man s Redemp
tion and the order in which divine Wisdom disposed of
all these sacraments. The greatest affliction of the
Mother of mercy was the traitorous ingratitude, which
men, to their own great loss, would show toward this
extraordinary blessing, so worthy of eternal thanksgiv
ing. But now She was especially solicitous for the
burial of the sacred body of her divine Son and how to
procure some one to take it down from the Cross.
Full of this sorrowful anxiety, keeping her heavenly
eyes riveted upon it, She turned to her holy angels
around Her and spoke to them : "Ministers of the Most
High, my friends in tribulation, you know that there is
no sorrow like unto my sorrow; tell me then, how shall
I take down from the Cross, whom my soul loves; how
and where shall I give Him honorable burial, since this
duty pertains to me as his Mother? Tell me what to
do, and assist me on this occasion by your diligence."
726. The holy angels arfswered: "Our Queen and
Mistress, let thy afflicted heart be dilated for what is still
to be borne. The omnipotent Lord has concealed his
glory and power from mortals in order to subject Him
self to the cruelty of man s impious malice and has
always permitted the laws established for the course
of human events to be fulfilled. One of them is, that
the condemned shall not leave the cross without the
consent of the judge. We are ready and able to obey
Thee and to defend our true God and Creator, but his
will restrains us, because He wishes to justify his cause
to the end and to shed the rest of the blood still in
Him for the benefit of mankind and in order that He
may bind them still more firmly to make a return for
his copious and redeeming love (Ps. 79, 7). If they
do not avail themselves of this blessing as they ought,
their punishment shall be deplorable and its severity
shall make amends for the long-suffering of God in de
laying his vengeance." This answer of the angels in
creased the sorrow of the afflicted Mother; for it had
not been as yet revealed to Her, that her divine Son
should be wounded by the lance, and the fear of what
should happen to the sacred body renewed her tribula
tion and anxiety.
727. She soon saw an armed band approaching Cal
vary; and in her dread of some new outrage against
the deceased Savior, She spoke to saint John and the
pious women: "Alas, now shall my affliction reach its
utmost and transfix my heart! Is it possible, that the
executioners and the Jews are not yet satisfied with
having put to death my Son and Lord ? Shall they now
heap more injury upon his dead body?" It was the
evening of the great Sabbath of the Jews, and in order
to celebrate it with unburdened minds, they had asked
Pilate for permission to shatter the limbs of the three
men sentenced, so that, their death being hastened, they
might be taken from the crosses and not left on them
for the following day. With this intent the company of
soldiers, which Mary now saw, had come to mount Cal
vary. As they perceived the two thieves still alive, they
broke their limbs and so hastened their end (John 19,
31). But when they examined Jesus they found Him
already dead, and therefore did not break his bones,
thus fulfilling the mysterious prophecy in Exodus (Ex.
12, 46), commanding that no bones be broken in the
figurative lamb to be eaten for the Pasch. But a sol
dier, by the name of Longinus, approaching the Cross
of Christ, thrust his lance through the side of the Sa
vior. Immediately water and blood flowed from the
wound, as saint John, who saw it and who gives testi
mony of the truth, assures us (John 19, 34).
728. This wounding of the lance, which could not
be felt by the sacred and dead body of the Lord, was
felt by the most blessed Mother in his stead and in the
same manner as if her chaste bosom had been pierced.
But even this pain was exceeded by the affliction of her
most holy soul, in witnessing the cruel laceration of
the breast of her dead Son. At the same time, moved
by compassion and love and in forgetfulness of her own
sorrow, She said to Longinus: "The Almighty look
upon thee with eyes of mercy for the pain thou hast
caused to rny soul!" So far and no farther went her
indignation (or more properly, her most merciful meek
ness), for the instruction of all of us who are ever in
jured. For to the mind of this sincerest Dove, this
injury to the dead Christ weighed most heavily; and
the retribution sought by Her for the delinquent was
one of the greatest blessings, namely that God should
look upon him with eyes of mercy and return blessings
and gifts of grace for the offense. Thus it also hap
pened; for the Savior, moved by the prayer of his
blessed Mother, ordained that some of the blood and
water from his sacred side should drop upon the face
of Longinus and restore to him his eyesight, which he
had almost lost. At the same time sight was given
to his soul, so that he recognized in the Crucified his
Savior, whom he had so inhumanly mutilated. Through
this enlightenment Longinus was converted; weeping
over his sins and having washed them in the blood and
water of the side of Christ, he openly acknowledged
and confessed Him as the true God and Savior of the
world. He proclaimed Him as such in the presence
of the Jews, confounding by his testimony their perfidy
and hardness of heart.
729. The most prudent Queen then perceived the
mystery of this lance-thrust, namely, that in this last
pouring forth of the blood and water issued forth the
new Church, cleansed and washed by the Passion and
Death of Jesus, and that from his sacred side, as from
the roots, should now spread out through the whole
world the fruits of life eternal. She conferred within
Herself also upon the mystery of that rock struck by
the rod of divine justice (Exod. 17, 6), in order that
the living waters might issue forth, quenching the thirst
of all the human race and recreating and refreshing
all who betook themselves to drink therefrom. She con
sidered the coincidence of the five fountains from the
wounds of his hands, feet and sides, which opened up
the new paradise of the most holy humanity of our
Savior, and which were more copious and powerful to
fertilize the earth than those of the terrestrial paradise
divided into four streams over the surface of the globe
(Gen. 2, 10). These and other mysteries the great
Lady rehearsed in a canticle of praise, which She com
posed in honor of her divine Son after his being wound
ed by the lance. Together with this canticle She poured
forth a most fervent prayer, that all these mysteries
of the Redemption be verified in the blessings spread
over the whole human race.
730. The evening of that day of the parasceve was
already approaching, and the loving Mother had as yet
no solution of the difficulty of the burial of her dead
Son, which She desired so much ; but the Lord ordained,
that the tribulations of his tenderest Mother should be
relieved by Joseph of Arimathea and Nikodemus, whom
he had inspired with the thought of caring for the
burial of their Master. They were both just men and
disciples of the Lord, although not of the seventy-two;
for they had not as yet openly confessed themselves as
disciples for fear of the Jews, who suspected and hated
as enemies all those that followed Christ and acknowl
edged Him as Teacher. The dispositions of divine
Providence concerning the burial of her Son had not
been made known to the most prudent Virgin and thus
her painful anxiety increased to such an extent, that She
saw no way out of the difficulty. In her affliction She
raised her eyes to heaven and said: "Eternal Father
and my Lord, by the condescension of thy goodness and
infinite wisdom I was raised to the exalted dignity of
being the Mother of thy Son; and by that same bounty
of an immense God Thou hast permitted me to nurse
Him at my breast, nourish Him and accompany Him to
his death. Now it behooves me as his Mother to give
honorable burial to his sacred body, though I can go no
farther than to desire it and deeply grieve, because I
am unable to fulfill my wishes. I beseech thy divine
Majesty to provide some way for accomplishing my
desires."
731. This prayer the loving Mother offered up after
the sacred body of the Lord was perforated by the
lance. Soon after She saw another group of men com
ing toward Calvary with ladders and other apparatus
seemingly for the purpose of taking from the Cross her
priceless Treasure ; but as She did not know their inten
tions, She was tortured by new fears of the cruelty of
the Jews, and turning to saint John, She said : "My Son,
what may be the object of these people in coming with
all these instruments?" The apostle answered: "Do
not fear them that are coming, my Lady; for they
are Joseph and Nikodemus with some of their servants,
all of them friends and servants of thy divine Son and
my Lord." Joseph was just in the eyes of the Most
High (John 19, 38), a noble decurion in the employ
ment of the government, a member of the council, who
as is given us to understand in the Gospel, had not con
sented to the resolves and the proceedings of the mur
derers of Christ and who had recognized Jesus as the
true Messias. Although Joseph had been a secret disci
ple of the Lord, yet at his death, in consequence of the
efficacious influence of the Redemption, he openly con
fessed his adherence. Setting aside all fear of the envy
of the Jews and caring nothing for the power of the
Romans, he went boldly to Pilate and asked for the
body of Jesus (Mark 15, 43), in order to take Him
down from the Cross and give Him honorable burial.
He openly maintained that he was innocent and the true
Son of God, as witnessed by the miracles of his life
and death.
732. Pilate dared not refuse the request of Joseph, but
gave him full permission to dispose of the dead body of
Jesus as he thought fit. With this permission Joseph
left the house of the judge and called upon Nikodemus.
He too was a just man, learned in divine and human
letters and in the holy Scriptures, as is evident in what
saint John related of him when he visited Christ at Night
in order to hear the doctrine of Jesus Christ (John
3, 2). Joseph provided the winding sheets and burial
cloths for the body of Jesus, while Nikodemus bought
about one hundred pounds of the spices, which the
Jews were accustomed to use in the burial of distin
guished men (Matth. 27, 59). Provided with these and
with other necessaries they took their way to Calvary.
They were accompanied by their servants and some other
pious and devout persons, in whom likewise the blood
shed for all by the crucified God had produced its salu
tary effects.
733. They approached most Holy Mary, who, in the
company of saint John and the holy women, stood in
inconceivable sorrow at the foot of the Cross. Instead
of a salute, their sorrow at the sight of so painful a
spectacle as that of the divine Crucified, was roused to
such vehemence and bitterness, that Joseph and Niko
demus remained for a time prostrate at the feet of the
Queen and all of them at the foot of the Cross without
speaking a word. All of them wept and sighed most bit
terly until the invincible Queen raised them from the
ground and animated and consoled them; whereupon
they saluted Her in humble compassion. The most ob
servant Mother thanked them kindly, especially for the
service they were about to render to their God and
Savior, and promised them the reward in the name of
Him whose body they were to lay in the tomb. Joseph
of Arimathea answered: "Even now, our Lady, do we
feel in the secret of our hearts the sweet delight of
the divine Spirit, who has moved us to such love, that
we never could merit it or succeed in explaining it."
Then they divested themselves of their mantles and with
their own hands Joseph and Nikodemus placed the lad
ders to the holy Cross. On these they ascended in or
der to detach the sacred body, while the glorious Mother
stood closely by leaning on the arms of saint John and
Mary Magdalen. It seemed to Joseph, that the sorrow
of the heavenly Lady would be renewed, when the sacred
body should be lowered and She should touch it, and
therefore He advised the Apostle to take Her aside in
order to draw away her attention. But saint John,
who knew better the invincible heart of the Queen, an
swered that from the beginning She had stood by to wit
ness the torments of the Lord and that She would not
leave him whom She venerated as her God and loved
as the Son of her Womb.
734. Nevertheless they continued to urge the expe
diency of her retiring for a short time, until they should
lower their Master from the Cross. But the great Lady
responded: "My dearest masters, since I was present,
when my sweetest Son was nailed to the Cross, fear not
to allow me to be present at his taking down; for this
act of piety, though it shall affect my heart with new
sorrow, will, in its very performance, afford a great re
lief." Thereupon they began to arrange for the taking
down of the body. First they detached the crown from
the head, laying bare the lacerations and deep wounds
it had caused. They handed it down with great rever
ence and amid abundant tears, placing it in the hands
of the sweetest Mother. She received it prostrate on
her knees, in deepest adoration bathed it with her tears,
permitting the sharp thorns to wound her virginal
countenance in pressing it to her face. She asked
the eternal Father to inspire due veneration toward
the sacred thorns in those Christians, who should obtain
possession of them in future times.
735. In imitation of the Mother, saint John with the
pious women and the other faithful there present, also
adored it ; and this they also did with the nails, handing
them first to most holy Mary for veneration and after
ward showing their own reverence. Then the great
Lady placed Herself on her knees and held the unfolded
cloth in her outstretched arms ready to receive the dead
body of her Son. In order to assist Joseph and Nikodemus,
saint John supported the head, and Mary Mag
dalen the feet, of Christ and thus they tearfully and
reverently placed Him into the arms of his sweetest
Mother. This was to Her an event of mixed sorrow
and consolation; for in seeing Him thus wounded and
all his beauty disfigured beyond all children of men
(Ps. 44, 3), the sorrows of her most chaste heart were
again renewed; and in holding Him in her arms and
at her breast, her incomparable sorrow was rejoiced and
her love satiated by the possession of her Treasure.
She looked upon Him with supreme worship and rev
erence, shedding tears of blood. In union with Her, as
He rested in her arms, all the multitude of her attend
ant angels worshipped Him, although unseen by all
others except Mary. Then saint John first, and after
him all those present in their turn, adored the sacred
Body. The most prudent Mother, seated on the ground,
in the meanwhile held Him in her arms in order that
they might satisfy their devotion.
736. In all these proceedings our great Queen acted
with such heavenly wisdom and prudence, that She ex
cited the admiration of the angels and men; for all her
words were full of the deepest significance, the most
winning affection and compassion for her deceased Son,
full of tenderness in her lamenting, and full of mys
tery in sentiment and meaning. Her sorrow exceeded
all that could ever be felt by mortals. She moved the
hearts to compassion and tears. She enlightened all in
the understanding of the sacrament now transpiring
under their hands. Above all, without failing in the
least of her duties, She preserved her humble dignity
and serenity of countenance in the midst of her heart
rending affliction. With uniform adaptation to the cir
cumstances She spoke to her beloved Son, to the eternal
Father, to the angels, to the bystanders, and to the whole
human race, for whose Redemption the Lord had under
gone his Passion and Death. I will not detain myself
in particularizing the most prudent and sorrowful words
of the Lady on this occasion; for Christian piety will
be able to conceive many of them, and I cannot stay to
enumerate all these mysteries.
737. Some time passed during which the sorrowful
Mother held at her breast the dead Jesus, and as evening
was far advancing, saint John and Joseph besought Her
to allow the burial of her Son and God to proceed. The
most prudent Mother yielded; and they now embalmed
the sacred body, using all the hundred pounds of the
spices and the aromatic ointments brought by Nikodemus.
Thus anointed the deified body was placed on
a bier, in order to be carried to the sepulchre. The hea
venly Queen, most attentive in her zealous love, called
from heaven many choirs of angels, who, together with
those of her guard, should accompany the burial of
their Creator. Immediately they descended from on
high in shapes visible to their Queen and Lady, though
not to the rest. A procession of heavenly spirits was
formed and another of men, and the sacred body was
borne along by saint John, Joseph, Nikodemus and the
centurion, who had confessed the Lord and now as
sisted at his burial. They were followed by the blessed
Mother, by Mary Magdalen and the rest of the women
disciples. Besides these a large number of the faithful
assisted, for many had been moved by the divine light
and had come to Calvary after the lance-thrust. All
of them, in silence and in tears, joined the procession.
They proceeded toward a nearby garden, where Joseph
had hewn into the rock a new grave, in which nobody
had as yet been buried or deposited (John 19, 41). In
this most blessed sepulchre they placed the sacred body
of Jesus. Before they closed it up with the heavy stone,
the devout and prudent Mother adored Christ anew,
causing the admiration of men and angels. They imi
tated Her, all of them adoring the crucified Savior now
resting in his grave; thereupon they closed the sepul
chre with the stone, which, according to the Evangelist,
was very heavy (Matth. 27, 60).
738. At the same time the graves, which had opened
at the Death of Christ, were again closed; for among
other mysteries of their opening up, was this, that these
graves as it were unsealed themselves in order to receive
Him, whom the Jews had repudiated, when He was
alive and their Benefactor. At the command of the
Queen many angels remained to guard the sepulchre,
where She had left her heart. In the same order and
silence, in which they had come, they now returned to
Calvary. The heavenly Mistress of all virtues ap
proached the holy Cross and worshipped it in deepest
reverence. In this Joseph and all the rest of the mourn
ers followed Her. It was already late and the sun had
sunk, when the great Lady betook Herself from Calvary
to the house of the Cenacle in the company of the faith
ful. Having brought Her to the Cenacle, saint John,
the Marys and the others took leave of Her with many
tears and sighs and asked for her benediction. The
most humble and prudent Lady thanked them for their
service to her divine Son and the consolation afforded
Her; She permitted them to depart with many hidden
and interior favors and with the blessing of her most
amiable and kindest heart.
739. The Jews, confused and disturbed by the events,
went to Pilate on the morning of the sabbath and asked
him for soldiers to guard the sepulchre; for Christ, this
seducer, they said, had openly announced, that after
three days He would arise; hence his disciples might
steal the body and then say that He had arisen. Pilate
yielded to this malicious measure and gave them the
guard they desired, which they stationed at the sepul
chre (Matth. 28, 12). But the perfidious priests merely
wished to palliate > the event, which they feared would
really happen, as was manifest afterwards, when they
bribed the soldiers of the guard to testify, that Jesus
had not arisen, but had been stolen by the disciples. As
no counsel will prevail against God (Prov. 21, 30), the
Resurrection of Christ became only so much the more
public and was the more fully confirmed.
INSTRUCTION WHICH THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN GAVE ME.
740. My daughter, the lance-thrust which my blessed
Son received in his side, was cruel and very painful only
to me; but its effects and mysteries are most sweet to
those souls who know how to taste its sweetness. It
was a great affliction to me; but whoever meets with
this mysterious favor will find it a great relief and con
solation in his sorrows. In order that thou mayest un
derstand this and participate in it, thou must know, that
my Son and Lord, on account of his most ardent love
for men, in addition to the wounds of the feet and hands,
wished to open the wound of his heart, the seat of love,
in order that through this port the souls might enter
and there receive refuge and relief. This is the only
retreat which I wish thee to seek during the time of thy
banishment, and which thou must consider as thy habita
tion upon earth. There thou wilt find the conditions
and laws of love for imitating me and learn how for
injuries thou must return blessings to all who commit
them against thee and thine, just as thou hast seen me
do, when I was grieved by the wounding of the side
of my dead Son. I assure thee, my dearest, that thou
canst not do anything more adapted to the obtaining of
the efficacious graces from the Almighty. The prayer,
which thou offerest in a forgiving spirit, is powerful
not only for thy own good, but for the good of the
one that offends thee; for the kind heart of my Son is
easily moved, when He sees that creatures imitate Him
in pardoning offenders and in praying for them; for
they thereby participate in his most ardent charity
manifested on the Cross. Write this doctrine in thy
heart and in imitation of me practice this virtue, of
which I thought so highly. Through this wound look
upon the heart of Christ thy Spouse and upon me,
sweetly and ardently loving in it thy enemies and all
creatures.
741. Consider also the anxious and ever ready provi
dence of the Most High in coming to the aid of the
creatures, that call to Him in true confidence. This
thou hast seen in my behalf, when I found myself af
flicted and at a loss concerning the proper burial of
my divine Son. In order to come to my assistance in
this plight, the Lord showed his sweet love by moving
the hearts of Joseph and Nikodemus and of the other
faithful to assist me in burying Him. By their oppor
tune help I was so much consoled in this tribulation,
that on account of their behavior and my prayer the
Most High filled them with wonderful influences of the
Divinity, by which they were regaled during the time
of taking Jesus from the Cross and his burial; and
from that time on these faithful were enlightened and
filled with the mysteries of the Redemption. This is
the admirable disposition of the sweet and powerful
providence of God, that in order to bind Himself to do
good to some of his creatures, He sends affliction upon
others, thus giving an occasion for the practice of benevo
lence, so that at the same time those in necessity may be
benefited. Thus the benefactor, on account of the good
work he does and on account of the prayer of the poor, is
rewarded by receiving graces of which he otherwise would
not be worthy. The Father of mercies, who inspires
and assists the good work done, afterwards pays for it
as if it were due in justice. For we can correspond to
his inspirations merely according to our insignificant
abilities, while all that is really good, comes entirely
from his hands (James 1, 17).
742. Consider also the equity maintained by this
Providence in compensating the injuries received in pa
tient suffering. For after my divine Son had suffered
death amid the contempt, dishonor and blasphemies of
men, the Most High at once provided for an honorable
burial and moved many to confess Him as the true God
and Redeemer, to proclaim Him as holy, innocent and
just, and, at the very time when they had finished their
frightful crucifixion, to adore Him as the Son of God.
Even his enemies were made to feel within themselves
the horror and confusion of their sin in persecuting Him.
Although these benefits availed not all men, yet all of
them were effects of the innocent Death of the Lord.
I also concurred in my prayers, in order that the Lord
might be acknowledged and honored by those known
to me.
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