The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 7 chapter 13 verses 222-247 Index

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


  INDEX            Book 7  Chapter  13    Verses:  222-247

222. In the diligence, watchfulness and solicitude,
which the most prudent Mother devoted to the govern
ment of her family, the Church, She was like a mother
and like to the strong woman, of whom Solomon says,
that she considered the paths and the ways of her house
hold in order not to eat her bread in idleness (Prov. 31,
27). The great Lady knew and considered them with
the plenitude and knowledge; and as She was clothed in
the purple of her charity and in the spotless white of her
peerless purity, therefore, in the fulness of her insight,
She forgot nothing that was needed by her children and
domestics, the faithful. As soon as the symbol of the
faith was established, She, both with her own hands and
with the assistance of the holy angels serving as her sec
retaries, provided innumerable copies of the Creed, which
were sent without delay to all the disciples preaching in
different parts of Palestine. She sent several copies to
each one for distribution together with a special letter,
in which She informed them of the measures taken by
the Apostles and of their orders, that it should be accept
ed and professed by all the faithful.
223. As the disciples were scattered through different
cities, some near and others far, She sent the symbol and
letter to those in the neighborhood by some of the faithful,
and to those farther off, by her angels. To some of the
disciples, in fact to the greater number of them, the
angels appeared visibly; while to others they did not
appear, but they placed these documents into their hands
in an invisible manner, at the same time admirably mov
ing their hearts. As well through these inspirations, as
from the letter of the Queen, the disciples knew whence
these messages had come. Moreover She exhorted
the Apostles to distribute the written Creed in Jerusalem
and in other places and to instruct the faithful, how the
Lord had sent the Holy Ghost to inspire and approve it
in such a signal manner and thereby imposed its venera
tion upon all. She told them to omit no means of mak
ing it well understood, that this was the only, invariable
and secure doctrine, which was to be believed, confessed
and preached throughout the Church as the sole means
of obtaining grace and life everlasting.
224. The written copies of the Creed of the Apostles
were distributed in a very few days among the faithful
to their incredible benefit and consolation; for in their
fervor they received them with highest reverence and
devotion. The Holy Ghost, who had ordained this Creed
for the security of the Church, immediately began to
confirm it by new miracles and prodigies, operating not
only through the hands of the Apostles and disciples, but
also through many of the believers. Many who received
it with special veneration and love, were suddenly en
veloped in divine splendor, filled with heavenly science
and celestial manifestations of the Holy Ghost. By these
miracles others were in their turn moved to a desire of
possessing and reverencing these documents. Others re
stored the sick to health, raised the dead or expelled the
demons from the possessed by merely placing the Credo
upon them. Among other marvels it happened one day
that a Jew, who was roused to anger at hearing a
Christian devoutly reading the Creed and was about to
tear it from his hands, fell dead before he could execute
his design. From that time on, those that were baptized,
being adults, were required to profess the faith accord
ing to the apostolic Creed ; and while they pronounced it,
the Holy Ghost visibly appeared above them.
225. The gift of tongues likewise continued; for the
Holy Spirit gave it not only on the day of Pentecost, but
to many of the faithful afterwards, who assisted in
preaching or in giving instruction to the new believers;
and whenever they spoke or preached to many together
of different nationalities, they were understood by each
nationality, though they spoke only in the Hebrew
language. In like manner they were able to speak in
other languages, when they happened upon a gathering
of people all speaking the same foreign language. Thus
was renewed all that had happened at the first coming
down of the Holy Ghost. Besides these miracles the
Apostles wrought many others, and whenever they laid
their hands upon the believers, or confirmed them, the
divine Spirit descended. So many miracles and prodi
gies were dispensed by the hands of the Almighty, that
if they were all recorded, they would fill many volumes.
Saint Luke in the Acts describes those in particular,
which in justice should not be altogether left unnoticed
in the Church of God. He adds in a general way, that
they were very numerous, and therefore could not be in
cluded in his short history.
226. In pondering and writing of these things I was
greatly astonished at the liberal bounty of the Almighty
in thus often sending the Holy Ghost upon the believers
in the primitive Church. In response to my wonder I
was informed of two reasons for this liberality: first,
just as the wisdom, goodness and power of God so ar
dently desired men to participate in his Divinity by shar
ing with Him his eternal happiness and glory, that He
induced the eternal Word to appear in this world in
visible and passible flesh, so also the third Person de
scended many times in visible and appropriate form upon
his Church, in order to establish it and confirm it with
like and equally secure demonstrations of his omnipo
tence and love. Secondly, in the beginnings of the
Church the merits of the passion and death of Christ,
together with the prayers and intercession of his most
holy Mother, were in a certain sense more acceptable and
therefore (according to our way of understanding) more
powerful with the eternal Father. For the children of
the Church had not yet interposed the many and grievous
sins, which have been committed since then and which
have placed such great obstacles to the benefits of the
Lord and to his Holy Spirit. Hence He does not now
manifest Himself so familiarly to men as in the primitive
227. Already a full year had passed since the death of
the Savior, and now the Apostles, by divine impulse, be
gan to consider about going forth to preach the faith
throughout the world; for it was time that the name of
God be preached also to the heathens and that they be
taught the way of eternal salvation. In order to consult
the will of God in the assignment of the kingdoms and
provinces in which each one was to preach, they, upon
the advice of their Queen, resolved to fast and pray for
ten successive days. This practice of fasting and praying
for ten days, which they had observed immediately after
the Ascension in disposing themselves for the coming of
the Holy Ghost, they afterwards also retained in pre
paring themselves for the more important undertakings.
Having completed these exercises, the vicar of Christ
celebrated Mass and communicated the most blessed Mary
and the eleven Apostles, as they had, done in preparing
the Creed and as is mentioned in the last chapter. After
Mass they all persevered with their Queen for some time
in most exalted prayer, ardently invoking the assistance
of the Holy Ghost for the manifestation of his will in
this matter.
228. Having done this, s?int Peter spoke to them as
follows : "My dearest brethren, let us prostrate our
selves all together before the throne of God and with all
our heart and with deepest reverence let us confess our
Lord Jesus Christ as the true God, the Lord and Re
deemer of the world, professing his holy faith in the
Creed which He has given us by the Holy Ghost and our
subjection to his divine will." This they did and there
upon uttered aloud with saint Peter the following prayer :
"Most high and eternal God, we, vile and insignificant
men, worms of the earth, whom the Lord Jesus Christ
in his clemency condescended to choose as ministers
of his holy doctrine and law and founders of his Church
through the whole world, with one heart and soul pros
trate ourselves to suffer and die for the confession and
spread of the holy faith in the world according to the
commands of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. We
wish to be spared no labors, difficulties or tribulations in
the performance of this work, even unto death. But
distrusting our weakness, we beseech Thee, Lord God
most High, send upon us thy divine Spirit to govern and
direct our footsteps in the imitation of our Master and
to visit us with his strength. Do Thou manifest and in
struct us to which kingdoms and provinces each of us
shall depart according to thy good pleasure for the
preaching of thy holy name."
229. At the ending of this prayer a wonderful light
descended upon the Cenacle surrounding them all and
a voice was heard saying: "My vicar Peter shall point
out the province, which falls to each one. I shall govern
and direct him by my light and spirit/ The appoint
ments themselves the Holy Ghost left to saint Peter in
order to confirm anew his power as head and universal
pastor of the Church, and in order that the Apostles
might understand, that it was to be founded throughout
the world under the direction of saint Peter and his suc
cessors, to whom they were to be subject as the vicars of
Christ. In this sense the Apostles understood it, and I
was given to understand, that such was the will of the
Most High. Saint Peter hearing this voice, proceeded
to partition out the provinces. He began with himself,
and said: "I, my Lord, offer myself to suffer and die
in imitation of my Lord and Redeemer, preaching the
faith at present in Jerusalem, and afterwards in Pontus,
Galatia, Bythinia and Cappadocia, provinces of Asia ; and
I shall take up my residence at first in Antioch and after
wards in Rome, where I will establish my seat and found
the Cathedra of Christ our Redeemer and Master, and
where the head of his Church shall have his residence."
These words of saint Peter were spoken in obedience to
a positive command of the Lord, pointing out the Roman
Church as the centre and capital of the universal Church.
Without such a command of the Lord, saint Peter would
not have decided this difficult and important matter.
230. Saint Peter then continued : "The servant of
Christ, our dearest brother Andrew, will follow his
Master preaching his faith in the Scythian provinces of
Europe, Epirus and Thrace ; and from the city of Patras
in Achaia he will govern all that province, and the others
of his lot, as far as possible."
"The servant of Christ, our dearest brother James the
greater, will follow his Master preaching the faith in
Judea, in Samaria and in Spain; thence he shall return
in order to preach the doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ
in this city of Jerusalem."
The most dear brother John shall obey the will of our
Savior and Master as made known to him from the
Cross, discharging the duties of a son toward our great
Mother and Mistress. He shall serve Her and assist
Her with filial reverence and fidelity ; he shall administer
to Her the sacred mysteries of the Eucharist and shall
also take care of the faithful in Jerusalem during our
absence. And when our God and Redeemer shall have
taken into heaven his most blessed Mother, he shall follow
his Master in the preaching of the faith in Asia Minor,
governing the churches there established, from the island
of Patmos, whither he shall retire on account of perse
"The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Thomas,
will follow his Master preaching in India, in Persia and
among the Parthians, Medes, Hircanians, Brahmans,
Bactrians. He shall baptize the three Magi Kings and,
as they shall be attracted by the rumor of his preaching
and his miracles, he shall instruct them fully in all things
according to their expectations."
"The servant of Christ, our dearest brother James,
shall follow his Master in his office of pastor and bishop
of Jerusalem, where he shall preach to all the Jews and
shall assist John in the attendance and service of the
great Mother of our Savior."
"The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Philip,
shall follow his Master preaching and teaching in the
provinces Phrygia and Scythia of Asia, and in the city
called Hieropolis in Phrygia."
"The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Bartholo
mew, shall follow his Master preaching in Lycaonia,
part of Cappadocia in Asia; and he shall go to further
India and afterwards to Armenia Minor."
"The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Matthew,
shall first teach the Hebrews, and then shall follow his
Master, preaching in Egypt and Ethiopia."
"The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Simon,
shall follow his Master preaching in Babylon, Persia and
also in the kingdom of Ethiopia."
"The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Judas
Thaddeus, shall follow our Master, preaching in Meso
potamia, and afterwards shall join Simon to preach in
Babylon and in Persia."
"The servant of Christ, our dearest brother Mathias,
shall follow our Master, preaching his holy faith in the
interior of Ethiopia and in Arabia, and afterwards He
shall return to Palestine. And may the Spirit of God
accompany us all, govern and assist us, so that in all
places we fulfill his holy and perfect will, and may He
give us his benediction, in whose name I now give it to
231. These were the words of saint Peter. When he
ceased speaking a loud thunder was heard and the
Cenacle was filled with splendor and refulgence in witness
of the presence of the Holy Ghost. From the midst of
this splendor was heard a sweet and soft voice saying:
"Let each one accept his allotment." They prostrated
themselves upon the ground and with one voice said :
"Most High Lord, thy word and the word of thy vicar
we obey with a prompt and joyous heart, and our souls
rejoice and are filled with thy sweetness in the abun
dance of thy wonderful works." This entire and ready
obedience of the Apostles to the vicar of Christ our
Savior, since it was the effect of their ardent and
loving desire to die for his holy faith, disposed them on
that occasion for the grace of once more receiving the
Holy Ghost, who confirmed and augmented the favors
they had already received. They were filled with a new
light and knowledge concerning the peoples and provinces
assigned to them by saint Peter, and each one recognized
the conditions, nature and customs of the kingdoms
singled out for him, being furnished interiorly with the
most distinct and abundant information concerning each.
The Most High gave them new fortitude to encounter
labors ; agility for overcoming distances, although in this
regard they were afterwards to be frequently assisted
by the holy angels; and the fire of divine love, so that
they became inflamed like seraphim lifted far beyond
the condition and sphere of mere human creatures.
232. The most blessed Queen was present at all these
events, and the workings of the divine power in the
Apostles and in Herself, were very clear to Her; for on
this occasion, She experienced more of the divine in
fluences than all of them together. As She was exalted
supereminently above all creatures, so the increase of her
gifts was in like proportion, transcending immeasurably
those of others. The Most High renewed in the purest
spirit of his Mother the infused knowledge concerning
all creatures, and especially concerning the kingdoms and
nations assigned to the Apostles. She knew all that each
one knew, and more than they all together, because She
received a personal and individual knowledge of each
person to whom the faith of Christ was to be preached ;
and She was made relatively just as familiar with all the
earth and its inhabitants, as She was with Her oratory
and all those that entered therein.
233. As I have said above and shall often repeat far
ther on, the knowledge of Mary was the knowledge of a
supreme Mistress, Mother, Governess and Sovereign of
the Church, which the Almighty had placed in her hands.
She was to take care of all, from the highest to the
lowest of the saints, and also of the sinners as the chil
dren of Eve. As no one was to receive any blessing or
favor from the hands of her Son except through that of
his Mother, it was necessary that this most faithful Dispensatrix
of grace should know all of her family, whom
She was to guard as a Mother, and such a Mother ! The
great Lady therefore had not only infused images and
knowledge of all this, but She actually experienced it
according as the disciples and Apostles proceeded in
their work of preaching. Before Her lay open all their
labors and dangers, and the attacks of the demons against
them; the petitions and prayers of these and of all the
faithful, so that She might be able to support them with
her own, or aid them through her angels or by Herself
in person; for in all these different ways did She render
her assistance, as we shall see in many events yet to be
234. I wish merely to state here, that besides the
knowledge derived by our Queen from infused images
She had also in God himself another knowledge of things
through her abstractive vision, by which She continually
saw the Divinity. But there was a difference between
these two different kinds of knowledge : since, when she
saw in God the labors of the Apostles and of all the faith
ful of the Church, enjoying at the same time through
this vision a certain participation of the eternal beatitude,
the most loving Mother was not affected with the sensible
sorrow and compassion, which filled Her when perceiving
these tribulations themselves through images. In this
latter kind of vision She felt and bewailed them with
maternal compassion. In order that this merit might not
be wanting in Her, the Lord conferred this second kind
of knowledge upon Her for all the time of her pilgrimage
here below. Joined with this plenitude, of infused species
and knowledge, She held also absolute command of her
faculties, as I said above, so that She admitted no images
or ideas except those that were absolutely necessary for
sustaining life, or for some work of charity or perfec
tion. With this adornment and beauty, which was patent
to the angels and saints, the heavenly Lady was an ob
ject of admiration, inducing them to praise and glorify
the Most High for the worthy exercise of all his attri
butes in Mary, his most holy instrument.
235. On this occasion She offered a most profound
prayer for the perseverance and courage of the Apostles
in their preaching throughout the world. And the Lord
promised Her, that He would guard and assist them to
manifest the glory of his name, and that He would at
the end worthily reward them for their labors and merits.
By this promise most holy Mary was filled with grateful
jubilee and She exhorted the Apostles to give themselves
up to this work with all their heart, to set out joyfully
and confidently for the conversion of the world. Speak
ing to them many other words of sweetness and life, She
congratulated them on her knees in the name of her di
vine Son for the obedience they had shown, and in her
own name, She thanked them for the zeal they had mani
fested for the honor of the Lord and for the blessings
they had brought to souls by their sacrifice. She kissed
the hands of each of the Apostles, offering her prayers
and her services and asking them for their blessing, which
they, as priests of God, gave Her.
236. A few days after the partition of the earth among
the Apostles, they began to leave Jerusalem, especially
those that were allotted the provinces of Palestine, and
first among them was saint James the greater. Others
stayed longer in Jerusalem, because the Lord wished the
faith to be preached there more abundantly and the Jews
to be called before all others, if they chose to come and
accept the invitation to the marriage-feast of the Gospel ;
for in the blessing of the Redemption this people, al
though more ungrateful than the heathens, was especial
ly favored. Afterwards all the Apostles gradually de
parted for the regions assigned to them, according as
time and season demanded and as obedience to the divine
Spirit, the counsel of the most holy Mary, and the order
of saint Peter dictated. But before leaving Jerusalem
each one visited the holy places, such as the garden, Cal
vary, the holy Sepulchre, the place of the Ascension,
Bethany and the other memorable spots as far as possi
ble. All of them showed their veneration, moved even
to tears and regarding with loving wonder the very earth,
which the Savior had touched. Then they visited the
Cenacle, reverencing the spot where so many mysteries
had taken place. There, again commending themselves
to her protection, they took leave of the great Queen of
heaven. The blessed Mother dismissed them with words
full of sweetness and divine virtue.
237. But admirable was the solicitude and care of the
most prudent Lady in showing Herself as the true Moth
er of the Apostles at their departure. For each of the
twelve She made a woven tunic similar to that of Christ
our Savior, of a color between brown and ash-gray ; and
in order to weave these garments She called to aid her
holy angels. She furnished each of the Apostles garments
of the same kind and like to that formerly worn by their
Master Jesus : for She wished that they should imitate
Him even in their garments and thereby be known ex
teriorly as his disciples. The great Lady procured also
twelve crosses of the height and size of each of the
Apostles and gave one to each, so that, as a witness of
their doctrine and for their consolation, they might carry
it along in their wanderings and their preaching. Each
of the Apostles preserved and carried this cross with him
to his death; and as they were so loud in praise of the
Cross, some of the tyrants made use of this very instru
ment to torment them happily to death.
238. Moreover the devout Mother furnished each
one of them with a small metal case, in which She placed
three of the thorns from the crown of her divine Son,
some pieces of the cloths in which She had wrapped the
infant Savior, and of the linen with which She had
wiped and caught the most precious blood of the Circum
cision and Passion of the Lord. All these sacred pledges
She had preserved with the greatest care and veneration,
as the Mother and the Treasure-keeper of heaven. In
order to consign them to the Apostles She called them
together and, with the majesty of a Queen and the ten
derness of a Mother, She told them that these remem
brances, with which She would enrich them on their
departure, were the greatest treasures in her possession;
for in them they would carry with them vivid remem
brances of her divine Son and the certain assurance,
that the Lord loved them as his children and as ministers
of the Most High. Then She handed them those relics,
which they received with tears of consolation and joy.
They thanked the great Queen for these favors and pros
trated themselves in adoration of the sacred relics. Em
bracing they bade farewell to each other, saint James
being the first to depart and commence his mission.
239. I was given to understand, that the Apostles
preached not only in the countries assigned to them by
saint Peter, but in many other neighboring and more re
mote regions. This is not difficult to understand; be
cause many times they were carried from one country to
another by the angels, not only in order to preach, but
in order to consult with each other, especially with the
vicar of Christ saint Peter, and still much more frequent
ly were they brought in the presence of their Queen,
whose sympathy and counsel they needed in the arduous
enterprise of planting the faith in so many different
and barbarous nations. If, in order to bring nourish
ment to Daniel, the angel took Habbacuc to Babylon
(Dan. 14, 35), it is nothing strange, that such miracles
should be performed for the Apostles in order that they
might preach Christ, make known the Divinity, and plant
the universal Church for the salvation of the human
race. Above I have made mention of the angel, who
carried Philip, one of the seventy-two disciples, from the
road of Gaza to Azotus, as related by saint Luke (Acts
8, 40). All these miracles, and innumerable others un
known to us, were necessary to these men, who were to
be sent to so many kingdoms, provinces, and peoples yet
in possession of the devil, full of idolatries, errors and
abominations, which was the condition of the world at
the time the incarnate Word came to save the human
240. My daughter, by the lessons contained in this
chapter I wish to draw thee to deplore, with inmost
groaning and sighing and, if possible, with tears of blood,
the difference between the state of the holy Church in
our times and that of those primitive times; how its
purest gold of holiness has been obscured (Thren. 4, 1),
and the ancient beauty in which the Apostles have found
ed it, is lost; how it has sought foreign and deceitful
powders and paints to cover the horrid and distorted
ugliness of vice. In order that thou mayest penetrate
into this truth, thou must renew in thyself the considera
tion of the force and eagerness, with which the Divinity
seeks to communicate his goodness and perfection to
creatures. So great is the impetus of the river of God s
goodness overflowing on mankind, that only the free will
of man, which He has given to him in order to receive
its benefits, can raise a dam against it; and whenever,
through this free will, man resists the influence and force
of the divine Goodness, he (according to thy mode of
understanding), violates and grieves this immense love
in its very essence. But if creatures would place no ob
stacle and permit its operations, the whole soul would
be inundated and satiated with participation in its divine
essence and attributes. It would raise the fallen from
the dust, enrich the indigent children of Adam, place
them above all their miseries and seat them with the
princes of his glory (I Kings 2, 8).
241. From this, my daughter, thou wilt understand
two things unknown to human wisdom. First, how
pleasing to the highest Goodness is the service of those
who, with an ardent zeal for God s glory, devote their
labor and solicitude toward removing the obstacles, which
men place to their own justification and the communica
tion of his favors. The satisfaction of the Most High,
arising from this work in others, cannot be estimated in
this mortal life. On this account the ministry of the
Apostles, the prelates, the priests and preachers of the
divine word are so highly exalted; for they succeed in
office those, who founded the Church and who labored
in its preservation and extension; all of them are to be
co-operators and executors of the immense love of God
for the souls created to be sharers in his Divinity. Sec
ondly, thou must ponder the greatness and abundance of
the gifts and favors, which the infinite power communi
cates to those souls, who do not hinder his most liberal
bounty. The Lord manifested this truth immediately in
the beginnings of the evangelical Church, when, to all
those who were to enter into it, He showed his bounty by
such great prodigies and wonders, frequently sending the
Holy Ghost in a visible manner, working miracles in
those who accepted the Creed, and showering forth other
hidden favors on the faithful.
242. But most of all shone forth his almighty power
and munificence in the Apostles and disciples, because in
them there was no hindrance to his eternal and holy will
and they were true instruments and executors of the
divine love, imitators and successors of Christ and fol
lowers of truth. Hence they were elevated to an in
effable participation in the attributes of God, especially
as regards his science, holiness and power, working for
themselves and for the souls such great miracles, as
mortal man cannot ever sufficiently extol. After the
Apostles, other children were born to the Church, in
which, from generation to generation, this divine wisdom
and its effects were transplanted (Ps. 44, 17). Leaving
aside at present the innumerable martyrs who shed their
blood for Christ and gave their lives for the holy faith,
consider the founders of religions, the great saints, who
flourished in them, the doctors, the bishops, the prelates
and apostolical men, through whom the bounty and om
nipotence of God was so abundantly manifested. They
are so great, that others, who are ministers of God for
the welfare of souls, and all the faithful, can have no
excuse, even if God does not work similar ones in those
He finds fit for his operations.
243. And to the greater confusion of the negligent
ministers of the Church in our days, I desire thee to un
derstand, that in his eternal decrees the Most High dis
penses his infinite treasures of the souls through the
ministry of the prelates, priests, preachers, and teachers
of his divine word. As far as his will is concerned, they
might all be angelic rather than human in their holiness
and perfection; they might enjoy many privileges and
exemptions of nature and grace, and thus become fit
ministers of the Most High, if only they would not per
vert the order of his infinite wisdom and if they lived up
to the dignity to which they are called and chosen before
all others. This infinite kindness of God is just as great
now, as in the first ages of the Church; the inclination of
the highest Goodness to enrich souls is not changed, nor
can it be ; his condescending liberality has not diminished ;
the love of his Church is always at its height; his mercy
is just as much concerned at the miseries of men, which
in our times are become innumerable; the clamor of the
sheep of Christ is louder than ever; the prelates, priests
and ministers are more numerous than heretofore. If
this is so, to what is to be attributed the loss of so many
souls and the ruin of the Christian people? Why is it,
that the infidels not only do not enter the Church, but
subject it to so much affliction and sorrow? that the prel
ates and ministers do not shine before the world, ex
hibiting the splendors of Christ, as in the ages gone
by and in the primitive Church ?
244. O my daughter, I invite thee to let thy tears flow
over this loss and ruin. Consider how the stones of the
sanctuary are scattered about in streets of the city
(Thren. 4, 1). See how the priests of the Lord have
assimilated themselves to the people (Is. 24, 2), when,
on the contrary, they should raise the people to the holi
ness, which is due to priesthood. The sacerdotal dignity
and the precious vestments of virtue are soiled by con
tagion with the worldly ; the anointed of the Lord, conse
crated solely to his worship and intercourse, have lapsed
from their noble and godlike station ; they have lost their
beauty in debasing themselves to vile actions, unworthy
of their exalted position among men. They affect vanity;
they indulge greed and avarice ; they serve their own in
terest; they love money, they place their hopes in treas
ures of silver and gold; they submit to the flatteries and
to the slavery of the worldly and powerful ; and, to their
still lower degradation, they subject themselves to the pet
ty whims of women, and sometimes make themselves par
ticipants in their counsels of malice and wickedness.
There is hardly a sheep in the fold of Christ, which rec
ognizes in them the voice of its Pastor, or finds from
them the nourishment of that redeeming virtue and holi
ness, which they should show forth. The little ones ask
for bread, and there is none to distribute (Thren. 4, 4).
And if it is dealt out in self-interest or as a compliment,
how can it afford wholesome nourishment to the neces
sitous and infirm from such leprous hands? How shall
the heavenly Physician confide to such administrators the
medicine of life? Or how can the guilty ones intercede
and mediate mercy for those who are less, or even equal
ly, guilty?
245. These are the reasons why the prelates and priests
of our times do not perform the miracles of the Apostles
and disciples, and of those who in the primitive Church
imitated their lives by an ardent zeal for the honor of the
Lord and the conversion of souls. On this account the
treasures of the blood and death of Christ in the Church
do not bear the same fruits, either in his priests and
ministers, nor in the other mortals; for if they neglect
and forget to make them fruitful in themselves, how
can they expect them to flow over on the rest of the hu
man family? On this account the infidels are not con
verted on learning of the true faith, although they live
within sight of the princes of the Church, the ministers
and preachers of the Gospel. The Church in our times
is richer in temporal goods, rents and possessions; it
abounds with learned men, great prelacies, and multiplied
dignities. As all these advantages are due to the blood
of Christ, they ought all to be used in his honor and ser
vice, promoting the conversion of souls, supporting his
poor and enhancing the worship and veneration of his
holy name.
246. Is this the use made of the temporal riches of
the Church? Let the captives answer, whether they are
ransomed by the rents of the Church; let the infi
dels testify, whether they are converted, whether here
sies are extirpated at the expense of the ecclesiastical
treasures. But the public voice will loudly proclaim, that
from these same treasures palaces were built, primogeni
tures established, the airy nothingness of noble titles
bought; and, what is most deplorable, it is known to
what profane and vile uses those that succeed in the ec
clesiastical office put the treasures of the Church, how
they dishonor the High-priest Christ and in their lives
depart just as far from the imitation of Christ and the
Apostles, as the most profane men of the world. If the
preaching of the divine word by these ministers is so dead
and without power of vivifying the hearers, it is not the
fault of truth or of the holy Scriptures ; but it is because
of the abuse and of the distorted intentions of those that
preach it. They seek to compromise the glory of Christ
with their own selfish honor and vain esteem, the spirit
ual goods, with base acquisition of stipends; and if those
two selfish ends are reached, they care not for other re
sults of their preaching. Therefore they wander away
from the pure and sincere doctrine, and sometimes even
from the truth, which the sacred authors have recorded
in the Scriptures and according to which the holy teach
ers have explained them; they slime it over with their
own ingenious subtleties, seeking to cause rather the
pleasure and admiration of their hearers than their ad
vancement. As the divine truths reach the ears of the
sinners so adulterated, they impress upon the mind rath
er the ingenious sophistry of the preacher, than the
charity of Christ; they bring with it no force or efficacy
for penetrating the hearts, although full of ingenious arti
fice to delight the ears.
247. Let not the chastisement of these vanities and
abuses, and of others unknown to the world, astonish
thee, my dearest, and be not surprised, that divine justice
has so much forsaken the prelates, ministers and preach
ers of his word, or that the Catholic Church, having
such an exalted position in its beginnings, should now be
brought to such low estate. And if there are some priests
and ministers, who are not infected with these lamentable
vices, the Church owes so much the more to my divine
Son in these times, when He is so deeply offended and
outraged. With those that are zealous, He is most liber
al; but they are few in number, as is evident from the
ruin of the Christian people and from the contempt into
which the priests and preachers of the Gospel have fallen.
For if the number of the perfect and the zealous workers
were great, without a doubt sinners would reform and
amend their lives ; many infidels would be converted ; all
would look upon and hear with reverence and fear such
preachers, priests and prelates, they would respect them
for their dignity and holiness, and not for their usurped
authority and outward show, which induces a reverence
too much like worldly applause and altogether without
fruit. Do not be afraid or abashed for having written all
this for they themselves know that it is the truth and thou
dost not write of thy own choice, but at my command.
Hence bewail such a sad state, and invite heaven and
earth to help thee in thy weeping ; for there are few who
sorrow on account of it, and this is the greatest of all the
injuries committed against the Lord by the children of
the Church.
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