The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 7 chapter 12 verses 202-221 Index

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

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 7 chapter 12 verses 202-221THE PERSECUTION OF THE CHURCH AFTER THE DEATH OF SAINT STEPHEN ; THE LABORS OF MARY, OUR QUEEN, WHILE IT LASTED; AND HER SOLICITUDE IN URGING THE APOSTLES TO COMPOSE THE SYMBOL OF THE CREED.

  INDEX            Book 7  Chapter  12    Verses:  202-221


202. Saint Luke says, that on the same day on which
saint Stephen was stoned to death, a great persecution
arose against the Church in Jerusalem. He mentions
especially that Saul devastated it, searching through the
whole city for the followers of Christ in order to seize
and denounce them before the magistrates. This he did
to many of the believers, who were arrested, illtreated,
and killed in this persecution. Although it was very
severe on account of the hatred, which the princes and
priests had conceived against the Christians, and on ac
count of the zealous efforts of Saul in his jealous de
fense of the law of Moses (of which he himself speaks in
the letter to the Galatians 1, 13) ; yet there was another
cause for this severity, the effects of which they felt,
though they knew not its origin.
203. This secret cause was the dismay of Lucifer and
his demons, who were much disturbed by the death of
saint Stephen and began to stir up and excite themselves
to diabolical wrath against the faithful, especially against
the Queen and Mistress of the Church, the most holy
Mary. For their greater confusion the Lord had per
mitted them to see, how the angels had carried Her to
saint Stephen. From this instance of her extraordinary
solicitude and from the constancy and wisdom of saint
Stephen, Lucifer concluded, that the powerful Queen
would do the same with other martyrs, who were to die
for Christ ; or at least, that She would aid and encourage
them to despise torments or death and meet such per
secutions with invincible courage. In his diabolical as
tuteness he had calculated on torments and sorrows as
a means of disheartening the faithful and drawing them
from the following of Christ; for it seemed to him, that
men love their life so much and are so afraid especially
of violent death and pain, that they would be deterred
and fall away from the faith rather than encounter such
a fate. On this expectation the devil continued to set his
hopes, though through the ages his own malice deceived
him, just as it had deceived him in the first attempt at
the death of Christ, the Leader of all the saints.
204. But in this first beginning of the Church the
dragon found himself quite disturbed and confused in
his eagerness to irritate the Jews against saint Stephen.
When he saw the martyr die so gloriously, he called to
gether his demons and said to them : "I am much dis
turbed by the death of this disciple and by the favors he
has received at the hands of this Woman, our Enemy;
for if She thus succors the other disciples and followers
of her Son, we shall not be able to overcome or mislead
any of them by the threat of torments or death. They
will on the contrary all be animated by mutual example
to suffer and die like their Master and, instead of suc
ceeding in destroying them, we ourselves shall be over
come and humbled; for our greatest torment and the
signal triumph, which they can bring over us, will be
their dying for the faith, which we wish to wipe out. We
shall ruin ourselves by following this course; yet I do
not find any other, nor can I discover the proper mode of
fighting against this incarnate God, his Mother and his
followers. Is it possible, that men, who cling so much
to life, should be so prodigal of it, and, being so sensitive
in regard to suffering, should deliver themselves up to
torments to imitate their Master? But nevertheless my
just wrath will not be placated on this account. I will
persuade others to give up their lives in support of my
fallacies, just as they do it for God. Nor will all men
merit the protection of that invincible Woman, or be so
courageous as to undergo such inhuman torments as I
shall devise. Let us go and excite the Jews our friends, so
that they may destroy this people and blot out from the
face of the earth the name of their Master."
205. Then Lucifer proceeded to put into execution his
accursed designs and with the innumerable multitudes of
the demons he approached the princes and magistrates
of the Jews and all the rabid unbelievers among the
people, filling them with ungoverned fury and envy
against the followers of Christ and, by his deceitful sug
gestions, inflaming them with a false zeal for the law of
Moses and the ancient traditions. It was not difficult
to sow this cockle in hearts so perfidious and ravaged
by sins; they therefore readily embraced the infernal
suggestions. Immediately, in many gatherings and con
ferences, they consulted about putting a sudden end to all
the disciples and followers of Christ. Some were for
banishing them from Jerusalem ; others, from Palestine ;
and still others, killing them all, so that this sect might
be stamped out at once; some of them again were of the
opinion, that they should be subjected to rigorous tor
ments, so as to deter others from joining, and that they
should be immediately dispossessed of their goods before
they should have given all to the Apostles. This perse
cution was so severe, as saint Luke tells us, that the
seventy-two disciples fled from Jerusalem, scattering
through Judea and Samaria, but at the same time they be
gan to preach through all the land with unfaltering cour
age. The Apostles, with Mary and many of the faithful,
remained in Jerusalem although they kept under cover
and in fear, hiding themselves from the diligent search,
which Saul instituted for their arrest.
206. The most blessed Mary, amid all this trouble, re
mained watchful, and first of all, after the death of saint
Stephen, ordered his body to be secured and buried. She
asked those that attended to this duty, to bring Her a
cross, which saint Stephen had habitually carried with
him. He had made it in imitation of the one which the
Lady herself had borne about with Her since the coming
of the Holy Ghost. In this She was imitated also by the
other faithful. She received the cross of saint Stephen
with especial veneration, not only on its own account, but
on account of its having been in possession of the martyr.
She called him a saint, and requested, that as far as could
be, all his blood should be gathered and preserved rever
ently as of a martyr already glorified. She extolled his
holiness and constancy in the presence of the Apostles
and many of the faithful, in order to console and en
courage them in their tribulation.
207. In order to understand, at least in part, the mag
nanimity of heart manifested by the Queen in this and
the other persecutions during her earthly life, it is neces
sary to have in mind a summary of her gifts, which were
such that the heart of her Man could rely entirely upon
Her (Prov. 31, 11) and entrust Her with all the works
ad extra of his Omnipotence. For in her manner of op
erating the most blessed Mary transcended all the powers
of mere creatures and approached to that of God, whose
especial image She was. No act or thought of men was
hidden from Her; and She penetrated all the schemes
and machinations of the demons. She was ignorant of
nothing that was to be done through the holy Church.
Yet, though all this was in her mind; She was not con
fused in the disposition of so many different matters; nor
did She ever mix up one with the other; nor was She
ever flurried in their management; nor tired of the diffi
culties; nor oppressed by their multitude; nor was She
forgetful of the more remote on account of the more
proximate affairs; nor was her prudence ever deficient,
because it appeared to be immense and without limit.
Hence She attended to all as if She had only one affair,
and to each matter as if She had nothing else to attend
to. Just as the sun, without trouble, without rest and
without intermittence, illumines, vivifies and warms all
without diminution of itself ; so our great Queen, chosen
as the Sun of the Church, governed, vivified and encour
aged all its children, without excluding any one of them.
208. When She therefore saw the Church disturbed,
persecuted and afflicted by the persecution of the demons
and of the men instigated by them, She turned upon the
originators of this evil and imperiously commanded Luci
fer and his ministers to descend into hell, and they fell
howling into the abyss without power of resistance ; thus
they remained bound and imprisoned for eight entire
days, until they were again permitted to rise. Thereupon
She called the Apostles and with consoling words en
couraged them to remain firm and hope for the divine
assistance in this tribulation. Strengthened by this ex
hortation none of them left Jerusalem. The disciples,
who on account of their great number could not conceal
themselves properly, took leave of their Mother and Mis
tress and departed from Jerusalem with her benediction.
All of them She exhorted and encouraged, admonishing
them not to be disheartened on account of persecutions,
nor to give up preaching Christ crucified ; and they faith
fully continued their preaching in Judea, Samaria and
other provinces. In their labors She comforted and as
sisted them through her holy angels, inspiring them with
courage and bearing them to different localities, when
ever necessary. The latter according to saint Luke, hap
pened to Philip on the way to Gaza, when he baptized
the Aethiopian, the servant of Queen Candace. In order
to assist the faithful in the hour of death, She likewise
was wont to send her angels, and after death She took
care to assist the souls, who went to purgatory.
209. The cares and labors of the Apostles in this per
secution were much greater than those of the other faith
ful; for as the founders and masters of the Church it
behooved them to extend their solicitude to all as well in
as outside of Jerusalem. Although they were full of
knowledge and of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, yet the
work was so arduous and the opposition so powerful,
that without the counsel and direction of their Mistress
they would often have felt dejected and oppressed. On
this account they frequently consulted Her, and She
called them to the meetings and conferences which she
arranged for transacting the necessary business. For
She alone fully understood the present affairs and fore
saw clearly those of the future. By her orders they went
forth to attend upon matters wherever necessary outside
of Jerusalem, as when saint Peter and saint John went
to Samaria on hearing that it had accepted the word of
God (Acts 8, 14). Amid all these occupations of her own
and the tribulations of the faithful, whom She loved as
her children, the great Lady retained all the serenity and
tranquil peace of her spirit, without falling away in the
least point from utmost perfection.
210. She so disposed of things, that She could fre
quently retire ; for, although the exterior actions did not
hinder her continued prayer, She reserved many secret
and special works for times of solitude. She prostrated
Herself, humbled Herself to the dust, sighed and wept
for the salvation of mortals and bewailed the fall of so
many, whom She recognized as reprobates. As She held
written in her heart the evangelical law and stamped
therein the image of the Church, She deeply pondered
within Herself all that concerned it : the trials and tribu
lations of its members. In Her conferences with the
Lord and with Herself, She sought to dispose and order
all its affairs with heavenly knowledge and insight ac
cording to the holy will of the Most High. At such times
She would renew her participation with the essence and
the perfections of God to capacitate Her for such a
divine work as the governing of his Church. This there
fore She did, without failing in anything and with such
a fullness of wisdom and holiness, as made Her seem
more than a mere creature, though in truth She was one.
In all her thoughts, She was most exalted ; in wisdom She
was beyond comparison; in counsel, most prudent;
in her decisions most equitable and clear-sighted;
in her works, most holy; in her words, true and
sincere; in all goodness, lovable. Toward the weak, She
was most kind ; toward the humble, sweet and loving ;
toward the proud, reserved and majestic. Neither did her
own excellence inflate Her, nor adversity disturb Her,
nor labors cast Her down : in all her activities She was a
faithful copy of her divine Son.
211. The most prudent Mother bore in mind, that the
disciples, having dispersed to preach the name and faith
of Christ the Savior, had as yet no formula or express
creed to guide themselves uniformly and without differ
ences, so that all the faithful might believe one and the
same express truths. Moreover She knew that the
Apostles would soon have to go forth over the whole
world in order to spread and establish the Church through
their preaching, and that it was proper that all should be
united in their doctrine, upon which was to be founded
all the perfection of a Christian life. Therefore the most
prudent Mother of wisdom wished to see all the divine
mysteries, which the Apostles were to preach and the
faithful to believe, reduced to a short formula. For if
those truths were moulded into a few articles, they could
more conveniently be brought to the mind of all, the
whole Church would be united in one belief without any
essential difference, and the whole spiritual edifice of the
Gospel would thus rest and be built up on the same firm
columns of one foundation.
212. In order to prepare for this work, the impor
tance of which She recognized, She presented her wishes
to the Lord, who had inspired them, and for more than
forty days She persevered in this prayer with fasting,
prostrations and other exercises. Thus, in the same way
as it was proper for the giving of the written law that
Moses, as mediator between God and the people, should
fast and pray for forty days on mount Sinai; so also,
for the new law of grace (Christ our Savior being its
Author and the Mediator between the eternal Father
and men), it was proper that the most blessed Mary
should mediate between men and her divine Son. The
Church was to have this new law written into the hearts,
reduced to articles of faith, which should never change
and never show any deficiency, because they are divine
and indefectible truths. One day, while persevering in
these petitions, She spoke to the Lord thus : "Most High
Lord and eternal God, Creator and Ruler of all the uni
verse, in thy ineffable kindness Thou hast begun the
magnificent work of thy holy Church. It is not accord
ing to thy wisdom to leave imperfect any works of thy
divine right hand; raise then to its high perfection this
work, which Thou hast so gloriously commenced. Let not
the sins of mortals, O my God, hinder Thee, since the
blood and death of thy and my Onlybegotten out-clamor
their malice; for they do not call out for vengeance,
as the blood of Abel (Gen. 4, 11), but ask pardon for all
that are guilty. Look upon the new children which the
blood of Christ has engendered for Thee, and upon those
who are to be engendered in the Church during the fu
ture ages. Give then thy holy Spirit to Peter thy vicar,
and to the rest of the Apostles, in order that they may
arrange into a convenient form the truths, upon which
thy Church is to be founded, and in order that its chil
dren may know what to believe without differences of
opinion."
213. In order to answer in person to these prayers of
his Mother, Her divine Son descended from heaven with
immense glory and spoke to Her : "My beloved Mother,
be relieved of thy affectionate anxiety and let thy ardent
thirst for my glory and for the increase of the Church
be satiated in my presence and converse. It is in my
power to fulfill thy desires and thou art the one to oblige
Me to do it, since I will deny nothing to thy desires and
prayers." During these words the blessed Mary was
prostrate on the ground in adoration of the Divinity and
humanity of her Son and true God. But the Lord raised
Her up and filled Her with ineffable joy and jubilee, by
giving Her his benediction and enriching Her with new
favors and gifts of his right hand. She remained in this
ecstasy of delight enjoying the most exalted and
mysterious converse of her Son and Lord, and her
anxiety for the welfare of the Church was appeased;
for He promised Her great gifts and favors for the
Church.
214. In answer to her prayer for the Apostles, besides
promising to assist them in preparing the symbol of the
faith, the Lord informed his Mother of the very word
ing of the propositions or articles, of which the Creed
was to be composed. Of all this the most prudent Lady
was well capable, as was explained more fully in the
second part of this history; but now, when the time had
arrived for executing what had been intended so long
before, He wished to renew it all in the purest heart of
his virgin Mother, in order that the fundamental truths
of the Church might flow from the lips of Christ him
self. It was also proper to counteract again the humility
of the great Lady, so that She might consent to be called
by those with whom She yet lived in mortal flesh and
who were to preach and believe in this symbol, the
Mother of God and a Virgin before and after his birth.
For it was not to be expected, that She, who had been
chosen by God for her humility in order to work the
greatest of his wonders, would be willing of Herself to
publish this prerogative; although it was greater to be
the Mother and Virgin in the sight of God, than to be
so called in the Church of God (Luke 1, 48).
215. Christ our Lord took leave of his blessed Mother
and returned to the right hand of the Father. Immedi
ately He inspired saint Peter his vicar and the rest with
the desire of setting up a symbol of the universal faith
of the Church. Accordingly they sought conference with
the heavenly Mistress concerning its opportuneness and
the measures to be taken for this purpose. They resolved
to fast and persevere in prayer for ten continuous days,
in order to receive the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in
this arduous affair. Having completed these ten days,
which were also the last ten of the forty, in which the
Queen had treated with the Lord about this matter, the
twelve Apostles met in the presence of Mary, and saint
Peter spoke to them as follows :
216. "My dear brethren, the divine mercy, in its in
finite goodness and through the merits of our Savior and
Master Jesus, has favored his holy Church by gloriously
multiplying its children, as we have seen and experienced
in this short time. For this purpose the Almighty has
multiplied miracles and prodigies and daily renews them
through our ministry, having chosen us (though un
worthy) as the instruments of his divine will in this
work and for the glory and honor of his holy name. To
gether with these favors He has sent us tribulations and
persecutions of the devil and of the world, in order that
we may imitate our Savior and Captain, and in order
that the Church, evenly ballasted, might reach more se
curely the port of rest and eternal felicity. The disciples
have evaded the wrath of the chief priest and spread
through the neighboring cities, preaching the faith of
Christ our Redeemer and Lord. We must also soon de
part and preach throughout the globe, according to the
command of the Lord before ascending into heaven
(Matth. 28, 19). Just as there is but one Baptism in
which men are to receive this faith, so there must be
but one doctrine, which the faithful are to believe. Hence
it is meet that we, who are as yet gathered harmoniously
in the Lord, define the truths and mysteries which we are
to propound expressly to all the nations of the world,
and thus, without difference of opinions, believe the same
doctrines. It is the infallible promise of the Lord, that
where two or three shall be gathered in his name, He
shall be in their midst (Matth. 18, 20). Confiding in
his word we firmly hope, that He will now assist us with
his divine Spirit to understand and define, in his name
and by an unchangeable decree, the articles to be estab
lished in his holy Church as long as it shall last, to
the end of the world."
217. All the Apostles consented to this proposal of
saint Peter. Then he celebrated a Mass, in which he
gave Communion to the most holy Mary and the Apos
tles, whereupon they all, including the blessed Mother,
prostrated themselves in prayer calling upon the Holy
Ghost. After continuing their prayers for some time,
they heard the rumbling of thunder, as on the first
coming down of the Holy Ghost upon the gathering of
the faithful ; at the same time the Cenacle was filled with
light and splendor and all were enlightened by the Holy
Spirit. Then the most blessed Mary asked each of the
Apostles to define a mystery, according as the divine
Spirit should inspire them. Thereupon saint Peter be
gan, and was followed by the rest in the following order :
1. Saint Peter: I believe in God, the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
2. Saint Andrew : And in Jesus Christ, his only Son,
our Lord.
3 and 4. Saint James the Greater : Who was conceived
through operation of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin
Mary.
5. Saint John : Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was
crucified, died and was buried.
6 and 7. Saint Thomas: Descended into hell, arose
from the dead on the third day.
8. Saint James the Less: Ascended into heaven, is
seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
9. Saint Philip: From thence He shall come to judge
the living and the dead.
10. Saint Bartholomew: I believe in the Holy Ghost.
11. Saint Matthew: In the holy Catholic Church, the
Communion of saints.
12. Saint Simon: Forgiveness of sins.
13. Saint Thaddeus: The resurrection of the flesh.
14. Saint Mathias: Life everlasting. Amen.
218. This symbol, which we ordinarily call the Creed,
the Apostles established after the martyrdom of saint
Stephen and before the end of the first year after the
death of the Savior. Afterwards, in order to refute the
Arian and other heresies, the Church, in the councils
held on their account, explained more fully the mysteries
contained in the Apostles Creed and composed the one
now chanted in the Mass. But in substance both are one
and the same and contain the fourteen articles, which are
the basis for the catechetical teaching of the Christian
faith and which we are all bound to believe in order to
be saved. As soon as the Apostles had finished pro
nouncing this Creed, the Holy Ghost approved of it by
permitting a voice to be heard in their midst saying:
"You have decided well." Then the great Queen and
Lady of heaven with all the Apostles gave thanks to the
Most High; and She thanked also them for having
merited the assistance of the divine Spirit, so as to be
his apt instruments in promoting the glory of the Lord
and the good of the Church. In confirmation of her faith
and as an example to the faithful, the most prudent
Mistress fell at the feet of saint Peter, loudly proclaimed
her belief in the Catholic doctrine as contained in the
symbol they had just now composed and formulated.
This She did for Herself and in the name of all the faith
ful, saying to saint Peter : "My lord, whom I recognize
as the vicar of my most holy Son, in thy hands, I, a vile
wormlet, in my name and in the name of all the faithful
of the Church, confess and proclaim all that them hast
.set down as the divine and infallible truth of the Catho
lic Church; and in it I bless and exalt the Most High,
from whom it proceeds." She kissed the hands of the
vicar of Christ and of the rest of the Apostles. Thus
She was the first one thus openly to profess the Catholic
faith after it had been formulated into articles.
INSTRUCTION WHICH THE GREAT QUEEN OF THE ANGELS,
MOST HOLY MARY, GAVE ME.
219. My daughter, besides the mysteries thou hast re
corded in this chapter, I wish for thy greater informa
tion and consolation, to manifest to thee other secrets of
my activity. After the Apostles had formulated the
Creed, thou must know that I repeated it many times
during the day on my knees and with the profoundest
reverence. And whenever the words "born of the Vir
gin Mary" occurred, I prostrated myself upon the earth
with such humility, gratitude and praise of the Most
High, as no creature can comprehend. In these acts of
devotion I had present in my mind all the mortals in
order to make up for the irreverence with which they
pronounce these sacred words. Through my interces
sion the Lord was induced to inspire the Church to re
peat so many times the Credo, the Ave Maria, and Pater
Noster in the divine office; to accustom the religious to
humiliate themselves in reciting them, and to genuflect
in the Credo of the Mass at the words: "Et incarnatus
est." Thus the Church, at least partially, seeks to pay the
debt it owes to the Lord for having vouchsafed such
knowledge, and for the mysteries, so worthy of rever
ence and gratitude, contained in the Creed.
220. Many times the holy angels sang to me the
Credo with wonderful harmony and sweetness, rejoicing
my spirit. Sometimes they would sing the Ave Maria,
including those words : "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb
Jesus." Whenever they pronounced this most holy name,
or the name Mary, they made a most profound bow,
causing in me new effects of loving humility, abasing me
to the very earth at the thought of how far exalted is
the being of God above my own terrestrial existence. O
my daughter, bear in mind the reverence with which thou
shouldst recite the Credo, Pater and Ave, and do not
make thyself guilty of the thoughtless rudeness of many
of the faithful in this matter. The frequency with
which these prayers and divine words are repeated in the
Church should not infringe upon the proper reverence
due to them. This presumption arises from pronouncing
them merely by the lips without meditating upon their
meaning. I desire that they be to thee a subject of con
tinuous meditation; and for this purpose the Most High
has given thee a taste for studying the catechism; and
thou wilt please the Lord and me, if thou carry it with
thee and read it many times, as thou hast been accustomed
to and as I again charge thee to do from now on. Recom
mend it also to thy religious, for this kind of knowledge
is the jewel which should adorn the spouses of Christ
and which all Christians should bear about with them.
221. It should also impress thee, that I was so anxious
to see the Creed written as soon as it was necessary for
the welfare of the Church. To know what will advance
the glory and service of God and benefit one s own con
science, and not to execute it, or at least to make no effort
toward it, is a very reprehensible lukewarmness. And it
is especially shameful in those men, who, whenever they
are in want of any temporal good, brook no delay and
clamorously ask God to satisfy their wishes; as for in
stance, when they fail in health or fear bad crops, or
when they dread being deprived of much less necessary,
or even superfluous and dangerous things. At the same
time, although they recognize their deep obligations to
God, they pretend not to understand them, or delay their
fulfillment out of negligence and want of love. Do thou
guard thyself against and never permit this disorder.
Just as I was most anxious in that which pertained to
the service of the children of the Church, so do thou be
punctual in all that thou perceivest to be the will of God,
whether it is for the benefit of thy soul or for the
benefit of thy neighbor; and thus thou wilt imitate my
example.
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