The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 8 chapter 1 verses 365-391 Index

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

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 8 chapter 1 verses 365-391THE MOST BLESSED MARY DEPARTS WITH SAINT JOHN FROM JERUSALEM FOR EPHESUS; SAINT PAUL GOES FROM DAMASCUS TO JERUSALEM; SAINT JAMES AR RIVES THERE; HE VISITS THE GREAT QUEEN IN EPHESUS ; REFLECTIONS ON THE MYSTERIOUS HAPPEN INGS DURING ALL THESE JOURNEYS.

  INDEX            Book 8  Chapter  1    Verses:  365-391


365. The most blessed Mary, having- enriched and
blessed Saragossa and the kingdom of Spain by her pres
ence, and her promises of protection, and having estab
lished through saint James and her angels the temple as a
monument to her sacred name, was borne by the hands
of the seraphim back to Jerusalem. As soon as the great
Lady of heaven and Queen of the angels had left the
cloud-throne, on which She had been borne, and set her
foot upon the floor of the Cenacle, She prostrated Herself
upon it, humbling Herself to the dust in order to praise
the Most High for the favors conferred upon Her, upon
saint James and upon the kingdom of Spain in this
miraculous journey. At the thought of a temple built in
her honor and for her invocation, She, in her ineffable
humility, so annihilated Herself in her own estimation, as
seemingly to have entirely forgotten that She was the
Mother of God, a sinless Creature and without measure
superior to all the highest seraphim. She humbled Herself
and gave thanks for these benefits, as if She were a mere
worm of the earth, of less value and guilty of more sins
than all the creatures. This new debt seemed to Her so
great, that She felt obliged to aspire to new and more
exalted degrees of holiness in recompense. This She re
solved to do and really accomplished, arriving at a degree
of wisdom and humility beyond all our capacity to
conceive.
366. In these exercises, and in praying with great fer
vor for the defense and increase of the Church, She spent
the greater part of the four days after her return to Jeru
salem. In the meanwhile the evangelist saint John made
preparations for the journey and embarkation for
Ephesus, and on the fourth day, which was the fifth of
January of the year forty, saint John notified Her that it
was time to leave ; for there would be a ship and all things
had been arranged for the journey. The great Mistress
of obedience, without answer or delay, knelt down and
asked permission of the Lord to leave the Cenacle and
Jerusalem ; and then She proceeded to take leave of the
owner of the house and its inhabitants. It can easily be
imagined, how sorrowful they were at this leave-taking;
for on account of her most sweet conversation, and be
cause of the favors and blessings received at her liberal
hands, all were held captives and prisoners in love and
veneration of Her, whereas now all at once they were to
be deprived of her consoling presence and of this rich
Treasure, the well spring of so many blessings. All of
them offered to follow and accompany Her; but as this
was not opportune, they asked Her to hasten her return
and not to forsake forever this house, which was entirely
at her disposal. The heavenly Mother thanked them for
these pious and loving wishes by expressing her own
humble love, and She somewhat allayed their grief by
giving them hope of her return.
367. Then She asked permission of saint John to visit
the holy places of our Redemption and there to worship
and adore the Lord, who had consecrated them by his
presence and his precious blood. With the Apostle She
made these sacred stations, exhibiting incredible devotion
and tears of reverent love, and saint John, deeply con
soled at being permitted to accompany Her, exercised
himself in heroic acts of virtue. The most blessed Mother
saw at each of the holy places the angels, who had been
deputed to guard and defend them ; and anew She charged
them to resist Lucifer and his demons, lest they destroy or
profane by irreverence those sacred spots, as they desired
and intended to do through the unbelieving Jews. She
told the angels to drive away by holy inspirations the bad
thoughts and diabolical suggestions, by which the infernal
dragon sought to excite the Jews and other mortals to blot
out the memory of Christ our Savior in those holy places,
and She charged them with this duty for all the future
times, since the wrath of the evil spirits against the places
and the works of the Redemption endures through all
the ages. The holy angels obeyed their Queen and Mis
tress in all that She ordained.
368. Having satisfied her piety, She asked saint John
on her knees to bless Her for the journey, just as She had
been wont to do with her divine Son; for She continued
to exercise the same great virtues of obedience and hu
mility toward the beloved disciple, his substitute. Many
of the faithful of Jerusalem offered Her money, jewels,
vehicles and all things necessary for her journey to the
sea and to Ephesus. The most prudent Lady humbly
showed her appreciation to all, but accepted nothing. For
her journey to the sea She made use of an unpretentious
beast of burden, on which She was carried along as the
Queen of the virtues and of the poor. She recollected the
journeys and pilgrimages She had made with her divine
Son and with her spouse Joseph, and these recollections,
together with the heavenly love, which had induced Her
once more to travel, awakened in her dove-like heart
tender and devout affections. In order to be in all things
most perfect, She excited new acts of resignation to the
divine will in being deprived, for the glory and exaltation
of his name, of the company of her Son and of her spouse,
whose consoling presence She had enjoyed on her former
journeys. She also resigned Herself to the divine will
in regard to leaving the quiet of the Cenacle, the neighbor
hood of the sacred places, and the intercourse with so
many of the faithful and devout children of the Church,
and praised the Most High, because He had given Her
the beloved disciple as a companion in her banishment.
369. For her greater alleviation and comfort during
this journey all her holy angels on her leaving the Cenacle,
appeared to Her in visible and corporeal forms surround
ing Her and protecting Her in their midst. With this
escort of the celestial host and the human company of
saint John She journeyed to the port, where the vessel
was ready to sail for Ephesus. She spent her time in oftrepeated
and sweet colloquies and canticles with the celes
tial spirits, sounding the praises of the Most High. At
other times She conversed with saint John, who with
admirable reverence was tenderly solicitous to serve Her
in all that occurred and seemed opportune. This solici
tude of saint John was met by the heavenly Mother with
incredible humility and gratitude; for these two virtues,
gratitude and humility, made all the favors She received
appear to Her very great, and although all service was
due Her in justice, She nevertheless acknowledged it as
the most voluntary favor.
370. They came to the harbor and immediately em
barked in the ship with other passengers. The great
Queen of the world was now for the first time upon the
sea. She saw and comprehended with clearness the vast
Mediterranean and its communication with the great
ocean. She beheld its height and depth, its length and
breadth, its caverns and secret recesses, its sands and
minerals, its ebb and tide, its animals, its whales and fishes
of all sizes, and whatever other, portentous animals it
enclosed. She knew how many men had drowned and
perished in voyaging it and She remembered the saying
of Ecclesiasticus : That those who navigate the sea, nar
rate its dangers (Ecclus 43, 26), and that of David:
Wonderful are the surges and pride of the swollen waves
(Ps. 92, 4). The heavenly Mother could easily know all
this, as well because of an especial dispensation of her
divine Son, as on account of her supreme angelic privilege
and grace, and of her singular participation in the divine
attributes, which resembled those of the most sacred hu
manity of Christ our Savior. In virtue of these gifts and
privileges, her knowledge extended to all these things not
only as they are in themselves and without deceit, but far
beyond the sphere of angelic knowledge.
371. When this great panorama of creatures, in which
were reflected, as from a most clear mirror, the greatness
and omnipotence of the Creator, was presented to her
faculties filled with heavenly wisdom, her spirit winged
its ardent flight to the very being of God, so wonderfully
reflected in those creatures, and for all of them, and in all
of them, She gave praise and glory and magnificence to
the Most High. With the compassion of a most loving
Mother for those who trusted their lives to the indomitable
fury of the sea in navigating over its waves, She most
fervently besought the Almighty to .protect from its
dangers all who should call upon her name and ask for her
intercession. The Lord immediately granted this petition
and promised to favor whoever upon the sea should carry
some image of Her and should sincerely look upon this
Star of the sea, most blessed Mary, for help in its perils.
Accordingly it will be understood, that, if the Catholics
and the faithful encounter ill success and perish in navi
gation, it is because they ignore the favors to be obtained
from the Queen of the angels, or because on account of
their sins they fail to remember Her in the raging storms,
or fail to seek her favors with sincere faith and devotion ;
for neither can the word of the Lord ever fail, nor will
the great Mother ever deny assistance to those endangered
by the perils of the sea.
372. Another wonder also happened ; for when the
most blessed Mary saw the sea with the fishes and other
maritime animals, She gave them all her blessing and
commanded them to acknowledge and praise their Creator
in the manner they were capable of. Then it was wonder
ful to see all the fishes of the sea obeying her command
and with incredible swiftness placing themselves in front
of the ship. None of the species of sea-animals was miss
ing*, each being represented by an innumerable multitude.
All of them surrounded the ship and showed their heads
above the water and with unwonted motions and signs
of pleasure for a long time acknowledged Her as the
Queen and Mistress of creatures and showed themselves
grateful to Her for coming upon the waters and visiting
them in their place of habitation. This strange event
astonished all the passengers as something never before
seen. The multitudes of large and small fishes, so crowded
and packed together, somewhat impeded the progress
of the vessel, and the passengers gazed upon this spectacle
and wonderingly discussed it, for they did not know the
cause of this miracle. Saint John alone understood it,
and for a while he could not restrain his tears of devoted
joy. After some time he asked the heavenly Mother to
give them her blessing and her permission to depart since
they had so promptly obeyed Her when asked to praise the
Most High. The sweetest Mother complied, and im
mediately that army of fishes disappeared and churned
the sea into foam by their quick motion. Thereupon the
ship pursued its way over the tranquil and serene bosom
of the waters, arriving at Ephesus in a few days.
373. When they landed the great Queen continued to
work miracles equal to those wrought upon the sea. She
cured the sick and the possessed, who, as soon as they
came into her presence, were set free. I will not tarry to
relate all these wonders ; for many books would be neces
sary and much time to describe all the doings of the most
blessed Mary and the favors of heaven, which She dis
pensed as the instrument and medium of the omnipotence
of the Most High. I will record only those, which are
necessary for this history and which shall suffice to mani
fest in some measure the unknown and wonderful works
of our great Queen and Lady. In Ephesus lived some
Christians, who had come from Jerusalem. There were
not many, but on learning of the arrival of the Mother of
Christ the Redeemer, they hastened to pay Her a visit and
offer their dwellings and their possessions for her use. But
the great Queen of virtues, who sought neither ostentation
nor temporal commodities, chose for her dwelling the
house of a few retired and poor women, who were living
by themselves free from intercourse with men. By the in
tervention of the angels, they lovingly and generously
placed their home at the disposition of the Lady. In it
they selected a very retired room for the Queen and
another for saint John, which these Two occupied during
their stay in Ephesus.
374. The most blessed Mary thanked the owners, who
were to live with Her. Then She retired to her room and,
prostrate upon the ground as was usual in her prayers,
She adored the immutable essence of God, offering to
sacrifice Herself in his service in this city and saying:
"Lord God omnipotent, by the immensity of thy Divinity
Thou fillest all the heavens and the earth ( Jer. 23, 24) . I,
thy humble handmaid, desire to fulfill entirely thy holy
will, on all occasions, in all places, and at all times, in
which thy Providence shall deign to place me; for Thou
art my only Good, my being and my life, and toward thy
pleasure and satisfaction tend all my thoughts, words and
actions." The most prudent Mother perceived that the
Lord accepted her prayer and her offering, and that He
responded to her desires with divine power, ready to
assist and govern Her always.
375. She continued her prayer for the holy Church
and laid out her plans for the assistance of all the faith
ful. She called her angels and sent some of them to aid
the Apostles and disciples, whom She knew to be much
pressed in the persecutions, raised by the demons through
infidel men. In those days saint Paul fled from Damascus
before the attacks of the Jews, as he himself mentions in
the second epistle to the Corinthians, where he says, that
he was let down from the walls of the city in a basket (II
Cor. 11, 23). To defend him from these perils and those
with which Lucifer threatened him on his way to Jeru
salem, the great Queen of angels sent her angels to be his
guard and protection ; for the wrath and fury of hell was
roused against saint Paul more than against any of the
other Apostles. This is the journey the Apostle himself
refers to in his letter to the Galatians (Gal. 1, 18), where
he says, that after three years he went to Jerusalem to
visit saint Peter. These three years are not to be counted
from the time of his conversion, but from the time he had
returned from Arabia to Damascus. This is to be inferred
from the text itself, for after stating that he returned from
Arabia to Damascus, he immediately adds, that after
three years, he went up to Jerusalem. If those three years
are counted from the time before his sojourn in Arabia,
the text would occasion much confusion.
376. With greater clearness this may be proved by
computing the time of the death of saint Stephen and
the journey of the most blessed Virgin to Ephesus. For
counting from the day of his Nativity, saint Stephen died
at the end of the thirty-fourth year of Christ, but counting
them from the day of the Circumcision, as the Church
does now, saint Stephen died seven days before the com
pletion of the thirty-four years, being the seven days be
fore the first of January. The conversion of saint Paul
happened in the year thirty-six, on the twenty-fifth of
January. If he had come to Jerusalem three years after
wards, he would have found there the most holy Mary
and saint John, while he himself says, that he had not
seen any one of the Apostles there, except saint Peter
and saint James the less, who was called Alpheus. If the
holy Queen and saint John had at that time been in Jeru
salem saint Paul would certainly not have missed seeing
them, and he would have mentioned at least saint John;
yet he says, that he had not seen him. The explanation is,
that saint Paul came to Jerusalem in the year forty, four
years after his conversion, and a little less than a month
after the most blessed Mary had departed for Ephesus.
Saint Paul had entered the fifth year of his conversion
and the other Apostles, except the two he saw, had already
left Jerusalem and were preaching- the Gospel of Christ,
each one in his appointed province.
377. Conformably with this reckoning we must as
sume, that saint Paul spent the first year after his conver
sion, or the greater part of it, in journeying to Arabia
and preaching the Gospel there ; then, the three following
years, in Damascus. Hence the evangelist Luke, in the
ninth chapter of his Acts of the Apostles, although he
says nothing of Paul s journey to Arabia, nevertheless
says that for many days after his conversion the Jews
of Damascus plotted to take his life, these many days re
ferring to the four years thus passed. Then he adds, that
his disciples, aware of the plots of the Jews, on a certain
night lowered him in a basket from the city walls and thus
despatched him on his journey to Jerusalem. There, al
though knowing of his miraculous conversion, the Apostles
and the new disciples, nevertheless retained a certain fear
and suspicion of his not persevering, because he had been
such a professed enemy of Christ, our Savior. Hence
they at first held themselves aloof from saint Paul, until
saint Barnaby spoke to them and introduced him to saint
Peter, saint James and other disciples (Acts 26, 27).
Saint Paul prostrated himself at the feet of the vicar of
Christ, kissed them in acknowledgment of his errors and
sins, and begging to be admitted as one of his subjects and
as a follower of his Master, whose holy name and faith he
desired to preach at the cost of his blood.
378. From the fear and suspicion of saint Peter and
James concerning the perseverance of saint Paul we can
likewise deduct that he arrived in Jerusalem in the absence
of the most blessed Mary and saint John; for he would
have presented himself first of all to Her to allay suspicion
against him; and the two Apostles would likewise have
first asked Her, whether they could trust saint Paul. All
of them would have been set at ease by the most prudent
Lady, as She was so solicitous and attentive in consoling
and instructing the Apostles, especially saint Peter. But
since the great Lady had already left for Ephesus, they
had no one to assure them of the constancy of saint Paul,
until saint Peter reassured himself of it at seeing him thus
prostrate at his feet. Thereupon he was received with
great joy of soul by saint Peter and the other disciples.
All of them gave humble and fervent thanks to the Most
High, and commissioned saint Paul to preach in Jeru
salem. This he gladly did, to the astonishment of all the
Jews who knew him. As his words were like burning
arrows, that penetrated into the hearts of all that heard
him, they were struck with terror; and in two days all
Jerusalem was roused by the news of his arrival, flocking
to see him with their own eyes.
379. Lucifer and his demons were not asleep on this
occasion, for they were visited by the Almighty with an
increase of torment at the arrival of saint Paul. The
divine power, so evident in him, oppressed and paralyzed
the infernal dragons. But as their pride and malice shall
never be extinguished through all the eternity of their ex
istence (Ps. 73, 23), they were roused to fury, as soon
as they recognized this divine virtue as flowing from Paul.
Lucifer, with incredible rage, called together many legions
of the demons and exhorted them anew to rouse them
selves and exert all the forces of their malice for the entire
destruction of saint Paul, and not to leave any stone un
turned in Jerusalem and in all the world for the attain
ment of this object The demons without delay set about
this work, exciting Herod and the Jews against the Apos
tle, and directing their attention to the burning zeal with
which he began to preach in Jerusalem.
380. The great Mistress of heaven perceived all this
from her retirement in Ephesus; for in addition to the
knowledge of all things through her heavenly science, She
received information of all that happened to saint Paul
from the angels She had sent for his defense. As the
most blessed Mother expected the disturbance about to be
raised by the malice of Herod and the Jews, especially
against saint Paul, and as, on the other hand, She knew
the importance of preserving his life for the exaltation of
God s name and the spread of the Gospel, the great Queen
was filled with new solicitude and regret at being absent
from Palestine, where She could have rendered more im
mediate assistance to the Apostles. Therefore She sought
to furnish it so much the more abundantly from Ephesus
by multiplying her prayers and petitions, her ceaseless
tears and sighs, and by other measures through the hands
of her holy angels. In order to allay her anxieties, the
Lord, one day in her prayer, assured Her, that He would
fulfill her petitions and protect the life of saint Paul in
this danger and in these assaults of the devil. And so He
did : for one day saint Paul, while praying in the temple,
was raised to an ecstatic rapture and filled with most ex
alted enlightenment and understanding, wherein the Lord
commanded him immediately to leave Jerusalem and save
his life from the hatred of the unbelieving Jews.
381. Hence saint Paul sojourned in Jerusalem at that
time not more than fifteen days, as he himself says in his
epistle to Galatians (Gal. 1, 18). After some years he
returned thither from Miletus and Ephesus and was taken
prisoner, and he refers to this ecstasy in the temple and to
the command of the Lord to leave Jerusalem in the twentysecond
chapter of the Acts. Of this vision and command
he informed saint Peter, as the head of the apostolic
college; and after consultation concerning his mortal
danger, he was secretly sent to Caesarea and Tarsus with
orders to preach indiscriminately to the gentiles, which he
did. The most blessed Mary was the instrument and
Mediatrix of all these miraculous favors. It was through
Her that her Divine Son operated them, and from Her,
God received the proper thanks for the graces distributed
to the whole Church.
382. Having thus been reassured in regard to the life
of saint Paul, the most blessed Mother entertained the
hope that through the assistance of divine Providence
She might save the life of her cousin James, who was
very dear to Her and who was still in Saragossa, pro
tected by the hundred angels She had appointed for his
guardians and companions at Granada. These holy angels
frequently went back and forth, bringing the petitions of
the Apostles to the most blessed Mary and her counsels
back to him. In this way saint James learned of the so
journ of the great Queen in Ephesus. When he had
brought the chapel or small temple of the Pillar in Sara
gossa to a sufficient state of completion, he consigned it
to the care of the bishop and the disciples appointed by him
here as in other cities in Spain. Some months after the
apparition of the Queen, he departed from Saragossa,
continuing to preach through different provinces. Having
come to Catalonia, he embarked for Italy, where without
much delay, he pursued his journey overland always
preaching until he again embarked for Asia, and ardently
desiring to see there the most blessed Mary, his Mistress
and Protectress.
383. Saint James happily attained his object and
reached Ephesus. There he prostrated himself at the feet
of the Mother of his Creator, shedding copious tears of
joy and veneration. From his inmost heart he thanked
Her for the peerless favors obtained at her hands from
the Most High during his travels and his preaching in
Spain, and especially for her having visited him and con
ferred such blessings upon him during her visits. The
heavenly Mother, as Mistress of humility, immediately
raised him from the ground and said to him: "My
Master, remember thou art the anointed of the Lord and
his minister, and that I am an humble wormlet." With
these words the great Lady fell on her knees and asked the
blessing of saint James as a priest of the Most High. He
remained for some days in Ephesus in the company of
the most blessed Mary and of his brother John, to whom
he gave an account of all that had happened to him in
Spain. With the most prudent Mother during those days
he held most exalted colloquies and conferences, of which
it will suffice to record the following.
384. In order to prepare saint James for his leavetaking
the blessed Mary one day said to him : "James,
my son, these will be the last few days of thy life. Thou
knowest how deeply I love thee in the Lord, and how I
desire to raise thee to his intimate love and eternal friend
ship, for which He has created thee, redeemed and called
thee. In the few days that still remain of thy life, I desire
to demonstrate to thee my love and I offer thee all that
by the divine grace I can do for thee as a true Mother."
To this exceedingly great favor saint James responded
with deepest veneration : "My Mistress and Mother of my
God and Redeemer, from the bottom of my soul I thank
Thee for this new benefit, possible only to thy unbounded
charity. My Lady, I beseech Thee, give me thy blessing
that I may suffer martyrdom for thy Son, my true God
and Savior. If it is his will and for his glory, I beseech
Thee from my soul, not to forsake me in the sacrifice of
my life, but that I may see Thee with my own eyes in my
passage and that Thou offer me as an acceptable victim
in his divine presence."
385. The most holy Mary promised to present his pe
tition to the Lord and that She would fulfill it, if the divine
will and condescension should so permit. Thus inspiring
him with the hope of her assistance and with other con
solations of eternal life, She comforted the Apostle and
strengthened him for his expected martyrdom. Among
other words She spoke to him also as follows : "My son
James, what torments or suffering shall ever seem great
at the prospect of entering the eternal joys of the Lord?
The most bitter shall seem sweet and the most terrible,
welcome and desirable to him who knows the infinite and
highest Good, which he shall possess in return for a mo
mentary sorrow (II Cor. 4, 17). I congratulate thee, my
master, for thy most happy lot and that thou art so soon
to leave the tribulations of this mortal life in order to en
joy the infinite Good as a comprehensor in the gladness of
his divine countenance. In this my heart is lightened
that thou art so shortly to obtain what my soul desires
for thee; and that thou givest thy temporal life for the
unending possession of eternal rest. I give thee the bless
ing of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, in
order that all the three Persons, in the oneness of their
essence, assist thee in tribulation and lead thee to the de
sired end ; and my own blessing shall be with thee in thy
glorious martyrdom."
386. The great Queen added other words of admirable
wisdom and highest consolation in parting from saint
James. She asked him, in her name and in the name of
all the creatures to praise God, and to intercede for the
holy Church, as soon as He should come to the vision of
the blessed Trinity. Saint James offered to do all She
desired and again asked her favor and protection in the
hour of his martyrdom. This She once more promised,
and taking leave of Her, saint James said : "My Mistress,
blessed among women, thy life and intercession is the prop
on which the holy Church, now and during the ages in
which it is to exist, shall rest securely in the midst of the
persecutions and temptations of the enemies of the Lord.
Thy charity shall be to Thee the instrument of thy martyr
dom. Keep in mind always, as our sweetest Mother, the
kingdom of Spain, where the holy Church and the faith
of thy divine Son and Redeemer has now been planted.
Receive it under thy special protection and preserve in it
thy sacred temple and the faith, which I unworthily have
preached; and give me thy holy blessing." The most
holy Mary promised to fulfill his petition and desires, and
She parted from him, bestowing upon him her reiterated
blessing.
387. Saint James took leave also of his brother saint
John, who shed abundant tears, not so much of sorrow as
of joy, on account of the happy lot of the elder brother,
since he was to be the first of the Apostles to attain eternal
happiness and the palm of martyrdom. Thereupon saint
James journeyed without much delay to Jerusalem, where
he preached for some days before he died, as I shall show
in the next chapter. The great Lady of the world remained
in Ephesus, attentive to all that happened to saint James
and all the other Apostles, without losing them from her
interior vision or intermitting her prayers for them and
for all the faithful of the Church. At the thought of the
martyrdom of saint James for the name of Christ, such
conflagrations of love and desires of giving her life for
the Lord welled up in the purest heart of Mary, that She
merited, many times over, the crowns gained by the Apos
tle and by all others together; for with each one of the
martyrs She suffered many martyrdoms of love, more
excruciating to her chaste and burning heart than the
torments of sword and fire to the bodies of the martyrs.
INSTRUCTION WHICH THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN, MOST HOI.Y
MARY GAVE ME.
388. My daughter, in the events of this chapter thou
wilt find much guidance for a perfect life. Consider then,
that just as God is the beginning and origin of all the be
ing and faculties of creatures, so also, according to right
reason, He is to be their sole last end ; for if man has re
ceived all without meriting it, then he likewise owes all to
Him who has given it gratis; and if men have received
all in order to produce results, then all the results belong
to the Creator and not to the creatures. This truth, which
I understood fully and pondered in my heart, urged me
to prostrate myself and lower myself to the very dust in
adoring the immutable being of God. I reflected how I
was created out of nothing, formed of earth, and in the
presence of God I annihilated myself, acknowledging Him
as the Creator, to whom I owed my life, being and motion
(Acts 17, 28), and protesting that without Him I was
nothing, and that all was due to Him as the one beginning
and end of all creation. In the light of this truth, all that
I did and suffered seemed little; and although I ceased
not to do good, I continually longed and sighed to do and
suffer still more. Never was my heart satisfied, because
I still found myself a debtor, getting poorer and ever
more indebted. This state of mind is very well founded
in right reason and still more on faith, and this debt is
manifest and common to all men, if they would only direct
their attention toward it. But amid the universal forgetfulness
of men I wish, my daughter, that thou solicitously
imitate me in the practices and exercises described to thee,
and especially that thou humble thyself to the dust and
abase thyself in proportion as the Most High raises thee
up by the favors and blessings of his right hand. The ex
ample of my humility thou wilt see clearly evident in the
special favors, as for instance, when He commanded a
temple to be built, in which I was to be honored and in
voked even during my mortal life. This, and other favors
humbled me beyond all human imagination. Therefore, if
I thus humbled myself after performing such great things,
consider how much more thou must do it in response to
such great liberality of the Lord toward thee and after
such niggardly correspondence on thy part.
389. I wish also, my daughter, that thou imitate me
in being very careful to practice poverty of spirit con
cerning the use of necessities and comforts, offered thee by
thy sister-nuns or by thy well-wishers. Choose and accept
only the most poor and most ordinary, the most undesir
able and humble things for thy use; for otherwise thou
canst not imitate me in the spirit, in which without ostenta
tion I refused all comforts and good things of this life
offered to me by the faithful of Jerusalem, and of which
I accepted only what was absolutely necessary during my
sojourn in Ephesus. In the exercise of this virtue is con
tained much that will make human beings happy, while
the deceived and blind worldlings please themselves in
pursuing what is entirely opposed to this virtue and truth.
390. Seek also to guard thyself from another very
common mistake : namely that by which men, instead of
acknowledging that all the goods of body and soul be
long to the Lord, nevertheless appropriate all of them to
themselves and consider them so much their own, that
they not only refuse to offer them freely to their Creator,
but even, if at any time they must part with them, lament
and are aggrieved over their loss, as if they had been in
jured or as if God had treated them unjustly. With such
a disorderly affection parents are wont to love their chil
dren, and children their parents, married men their wives,
and wives their husbands, and all of them, their posses
sions, honor, health and other temporal goods, while many
souls thus love even the spiritual goods; and they go so
far in this disorderly love, that they have no measure in
their sorrow, when they lose them. Though it be im
possible to recover them, they live in unrest and dejection,
passing from the disorder of their sensible affection to the
disorder of their reason and to unjust complaint. Hence
they dare not only condemn the rulings of divine Provi
dence and lose the merit of sacrificing what is the Lord s,
but they wish to have it understood, that they esteem the
possession of these transitory goods as their highest aim,
and that, if they were permitted, they would live many
ages content with these apparent and perishing things.
391. None of the children of Adam can have a love
greater, or one equal to that, with which I loved my divine
Son and my spouse saint Joseph; yet this love was so
well ordered while I lived in their company, that I will
ingly sacrificed their conversation and intercourse during
all the time in which I was deprived of their presence.
This conformity and resignation I desire thee to imitate,
whenever something is wanting to thee, which thou
shouldst love in God; for outside of God thou art per
mitted to love nothing. The anxious desire of seeing the
supreme Good and of lovmg God eternally and forever
in heaven must alone be perpetual in thee. For this hap
piness thou must sigh in tears from thy inmost heart ; for
it thou must gladly suffer all the hardships and afflictions
of this mortal life. Thou must live in these aspirations
in such a way, that from now on in trying to make thyself
worthy of God thou be anxious to suffer all that thou
hearest or understandest as having been suffered by the
saints. But remember these desires of suffering and these
aspirations and attempts to see God are to be of such a
kind, that thy suffering becomes real through thy sorrow
at not being able actually to encounter actual torments and
at not being found worthy of bearing all the martyrdom
thou thus desirest. In thy flights of desire to arrive at the
beatific vision thou must permit no other lower motive
to intermingle, such as the relief afforded by the joy of
God s vision against the hardships of this life; for to
desire the vision of the highest Good, is not love of God,
but love of self and of one s own comfort, and cannot
merit reward in the eyes of the all-penetrating and allweighing
omnipotent God. But if thou do all these
things sincerely and in all perfection, as a faithful servant
and spouse of my divine Son, desiring to see Him in order
to love Him, praise Him, and never to offend Him
eternally, and if thou covet all labors and sufferings only
for these ends, believe me and assure thyself, that thou
wilt draw Us to thee and that thou wilt arrive at the kind
of love thou continually desirest ; since precisely for this
purpose, We are so liberal with thee.
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