The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 8 chapter 5 verses 456-479 Index

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


  INDEX            Book 8  Chapter  5    Verses:  456-479

456. After the death of the unhappy Herod the primi
tive Church of Jerusalem enjoyed some measure of quiet
and tranquillity for a considerable time. The great Lady
of the world merited this favor through her maternal
solicitude and care. During this time saint Barnaby and
saint Paul preached with wonderful success in the cities
of Asia Minor, Antioch, Lystra, Perge and others, as
is related by saint Luke in the thirteenth and fourteenth
chapter of the Acts of the Apostles and in connection with
the miracles and prodigies performed by saint Paul in
those cities and provinces. The apostle saint Peter, after
his liberation from prison, fled from Jerusalem and re
tired to another part of Asia not under the jurisdiction
of Herod. From that place he governed the faithful
accruing to the Church in Asia and those that were
in Palestine. All of them acknowledged and obeyed
him as the Vicar of Jesus Christ and head of the Church,
believing that all he ordained and enacted upon earth
was confirmed in heaven. With this firm faith they
came to him with all their doubts and difficulties as to
their supreme pontiff. Among other matters they asked
him to decide the questions raised by some of the Jews
concerning the doings and teachings of saint Paul and
Barnaby as well in Jerusalem as in Antioch, in opposition
to the circumcision and the law of Moses, as I will relate
later on and as is recorded by saint Luke in the fifteenth
chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.
457. On this occasion the Apostles and disciples of
Jerusalem begged saint Peter to return to the holy city
in order to settle these controversies and establish order,
so that the preaching of the faith might not be hindered;
for since the death of Herod the Jews had no one to assist
them in their persecutions, and therefore the Church en
joyed greater peace and tranquillity in Jerusalem. On the
same grounds they also asked him to request the holy
Mother of Jesus to come to that city; for all the faithful
longed for Her with loving hearts, expected to be con
soled in the Lord and hoped for the prosperity of all the
affairs of the Church through her presence. On account
of these appeals saint Peter resolved to return at once to
Jerusalem, and before setting out, he wrote the follow
ing letter to the most holy Queen.
458. Letter of Saint Peter to most holy Mary.
"To Mary, the Virgin, Mother of God :
Peter, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, thy servant and
the servant of the servants of God."
"Lady, among the faithful some doubts and differences
have arisen concerning the doctrine of thy Son and our
Redeemer, whether the ancient law of Moses is to be
observed in conjunction with his teachings. They wish
to know from us what is proper, and that we state to them
what we heard from the mouth of the divine Teacher. In
order to consult with my brethren, the Apostles, I am now
setting" out for Jerusalem and, for the consolation of
all and by thy love for the Church, we beseech Thee like
wise to come to that city, where, since the death of
Herod, the Jews are more peaceful and the faithful
more at ease. The multitude of the followers of Christ
desire to see Thee and console themselves in thy presence.
When we shall have arrived at Jerusalem, we shall notify
the other cities, and with thy assistance will be established
what shall be conducive to the interests of the holy faith
and to the excellence of the law of grace."
459. This was the tenor and contents of the letter.
The Apostles usually observed the same method, address
ing first the person or persons to whom they were writing,
then mentioning the writer, or inversely, as is apparent in
the letters of saint Paul, and of saint Peter and of the
other Apostles. To call the Queen Mother of God was
agreed among the Apostles after they had composed the
creed ; and in speaking of Her they used indiscriminately
the term of Virgin or Mother, because it was very im
portant that all the faithful of the Church should accept
the doctrine of the virginity and maternity of the
great Lady. Some of the other faithful called Her Mary
of Jesus, or Mary of Jesus, the Nazarene. Others less
significantly called Her Mary, the daughter of Joachim
and Anne. Such were the titles given to our Queen by
the faithful in their conversation. The holy Church,
preferring the names given Her by the Apostles, calls
Her Virgin and Mother of God, and to these it has added
other titles, still more illustrious and mysterious. A
messenger brought the letter of saint Peter to the heav
enly Lady, and in giving it to Her, he mentioned that it
was from the Apostle. She received it on her knees, in
reverence for the Vicar of Christ, and kissed it ; but She
would not open it, because saint John was absent preach
ing in the city. As soon as the Evangelist returned, She
as usual asked his benediction on her knees, and handed
him the letter, telling him that it was from saint Peter,
the supreme high-priest. Saint John asked her what it
contained; but the Mistress of all virtues answered:
"Do thou, my master, first read it and then tell me what
it contains." This the Evangelist proceeded to do.
460. I cannot restrain my wonder and confusion at the
humility and obedience of the most holy Mary in a
matter of so small moment; for only her heavenly pru
dence could inspire Her, the Mother of God, with the
thought, that it would be more humble and submissive
not to read this letter of the Vicar of Christ except in
the presence and under the obedience of the one to whose
guidance She had submitted Herself as her superior. Her
example reproves and stigmatizes the presumption of
inferiors, who try to find excuses and pretenses for evad
ing the humility and obedience due to their superiors.
But the most holy Mary was a model and a teacher of
holiness in all things, great or small. Having read the
letter to Her, he asked Her, what She thought best to
write to the Vicar of Christ. But also in this She did
not wish to give any appearance of her being his equal
or superior, preferring to obey; and therefore She an
swered : "My son and master, do thou arrange what
ever shall be proper; for I, as thy servant, will obey."
The Evangelist replied, that it seemed to him best to
obey saint Peter and return immediately to Jerusalem.
"It is right and proper to obey the head of the Church,"
answered the purest lady; "let us prepare even now for
our departure."
461. Thus resolved, saint John went out to seek pas
sage for Palestine and to prepare whatever was necessary
for a speedy departure. In the meanwhile, at the re
quest of the Evangelist, most blessed Mary called to
gether the women who were her acquaintances and dis
ciples in Ephesus, in order to take leave of them and
instruct them in what they must do to persevere in their
holy faith. There were seventy-three of them, many
of them virgins, among whom were also the nine saved
from the ruins of the temple of Diana. These and many
others Mary herself had converted and .catechized in the
faith ; and She had formed of them a community in the
house of their hostesses. Through this congregation of
women the heavenly Lady had begun to atone for the
sins and abominations, perpetrated in the temple of
Diana for so many ages, and She established the observ
ance of chastity in community life in that very city of
Ephesus where the devil had profaned it. Of all this,
these women had been informed, though they did not
know that She had destroyed the temple of Ephesus; for
this remained a secret, in order that neither the Jews
should find a pretext, nor the heathens be stirred to
anger against the gentle Mother by their insane love of
Diana. The Lord provided that the ruin of the temple
should be looked upon as an accident and be soon for
gotten, so that profane authors wrote nothing about it,
though they had written much concerning the burning
of the first temple.
462. The most blessed Mary, in her desire to console
them for her absence spoke to these disciples in
sweetest words. She left them a paper, in which She had
written with her own hand : "My daughters, the will
of the Almighty calls me back to Jerusalem. In my ab
sence keep in mind the doctrine, which you have received
from me and which I heard from the mouth of the Re
deemer of the world. Look upon Him always as your
Lord and Master and as the Spouse of your souls, serv
ing Him and loving Him with all your heart. Remember
the commandments of his holy law, in which you shall
be instructed by his ministers and priests, reverence and
obey them in humility, without ever accepting other
teachers, who are not disciples of Christ my divine
Son, or followers of his doctrine. I shall always see that
his ministers assist and protect you, and I shall never
forget you or cease to commend you to the Lord. In
my place will remain Mary, the elder: obey her in all
things with great respect, and she will care for you with
the same love and solicitude as I have done. You will
observe inviolate retirement and recollection in this
house, and no man shall ever enter it; and if it is neces
sary to speak to anyone, it shall be in the portal, in the
presence of three of your number. Your prayers shall be
uninterrupted and in private, reciting and singing those
I have left you written in my chamber. Observe silence
and meekness and treat your neighbors as you would be
treated yourselves. Speak always the truth and be ever
mindful of Christ crucified in all your thoughts, words
and actions. Adore Him and confess Him as the Crea
tor and Redeemer of the world; and in his name I give
you his blessing, and I ask Him to live in your hearts."
463. These and other exhortations the most blessed
Mother left for the congregation, which She had dedi
cated to her Son and true God. The one She had ap
pointed their superior was one of the pious women, who
had offered Her hospitality and who owned the house.
This woman was well able to govern, for she had had
much intercourse with the Queen and had been well
informed concerning the law of God and its mysteries.
She was called Mary the elder, because the most holy
Mother had given her own name to many others in Bap
tism, communicating, as the Wise man says, without
envy the excellence of her name (Wis. 7, 13) ; as this one
was the first thus baptized in Ephesus, She was called
Mary the elder, to distinguish her from the later ones.
The most blessed Mary left them also in writing, the
Our Father, the Creed and the ten Commandments to
gether with other prayers, which they were to recite
vocally. To encourage them in these and other exercises
She also left them a large cross made quickly at her re
quest by the hands of the angels and set up in her oratory.
Besides all this, as a kind Mother, and in order to bind
them to Her still more, She distributed the things in her
possession, which, though of trifling human value, were
nevertheless rich and inestimable to them as being
pledges and proofs of her maternal love.
464. Moved to great pity because, having engendered
them in Christ, She was now obliged to relinquish them
as orphans, She took leave of them. They all prostrated
themselves at her feet with great wailing and abundant
tears ; for now they were to lose in one moment the con
solation, the refuge and the joy of their heart. But on
account of the continued solicitude of the most blessed
Mother for her devout congregation all the seventythree
afterwards persevered in the fear of God and the
faith of Christ our Lord. Yet the demon raised up
violent persecutions against them and against the in
habitants of Ephesus. Foreseeing this the prudent Queen
fervently prayed for them before leaving and asked her
divine Son to guard and preserve them, and to appoint
some angels for the defense of this small flock. All this the
Lord granted Her according to her wish ; and She after
wards often consoled them by sending exhortations from
Jerusalem and by charging the disciples and Apostles at
Ephesus to watch over these virgins and retired women.
The great Lady continued this loving care during her
whole life.
465. When the day of departure- arrived, the Hum
blest of the humble asked saint John for his blessing and
with it they betook themselves to the ship, having re
mained in Ephesus two years and a half. On leaving
their dwelling all her thousand angels manifested them
selves in visible human forms, but all of them were armed
for battle and formed into squadrons. This unwonted
sight gave Her to understand, that She was to be prepared
to continue her conflict with the great dragon and his al
lies. Before reaching the sea She saw a great multitude of
the infernal legions meeting Her in various dreadful and
terrific shapes; in the midst of them came a dragon with
seven heads, so horrible and huge as to exceed the size of
a large ship, and so fierce and abominable as to cause
torment by its mere presence. Against these formidable
hosts the invincible Queen fortified Herself by the most
firm faith and fervent love, repeating the words of Psalms
and the sayings from the mouth of her most holy Son.
She ordered her holy angels to assist Her, for those
terrific shapes naturally inspired Her with some human
dread and horror. The Evangelist knew nothing of this
conflict until the heavenly Lady afterwards informed him
and gave him an insight into it.
466. Our blessed Lady embarked with the saint, and
the ship s sails were set. But it had proceeded only a
short distance from the port, when those dragons of
hell, making use of the permission given them, stirred
up the sea by a tempest such as had not been seen before
that time nor until now; for the Almighty wished to
exalt the power of his arm and the holiness of Mary and
therefore He permitted such liberty to the malice and
powers of the demons in this battle. The waves rose
with terrific roarings, piling themselves upon the winds
and apparently even upon the very clouds, forming with
them mountains of water and foam, as if they were pre
paring for an onset to break the bounds of the abysses
that imprisoned the ocean (Ps. 13, 9). The ship was
lashed and battered to and fro, and it seemed a miracle
that it was not shattered to splinters at each shock. Some
times it was hurled up into the clouds, at others sent to
plow up the sand of the ocean s abysses; often its sails
and masts were buried in the foaming waves. During
some of the onsets of this unspeakably furious hurri
cane the ship was held in the air by the angels in order
to save it from some of the vaster billows, which would
inevitably have overhelmed and sent it to the bottom.
467. The mariners and passengers perceived the effects
of this assistance, but remained ignorant of the cause; in
their distress they were beside themselves, bewailing their
ruin, which they deemed inevitable. The demons added
to their terror ; for, assuming human shapes, they loudly
called upon the mariners as if from neighboring ships
sent to their aid and urged them to forsake their ship
and save themselves in the others. For though all the
vessels suffered in this storm, yet the wrath of the demons
and their power of doing harm was confined principally
to the ship on which our Lady sailed and the distress and
peril of the other vessels was not so great. The malicious
designs of the demons were known only to the most
blessed Virgin and not to the sailors, and therefore they
believed these voices as of true passengers and sailors.
Thus deceived they at times gave up caring for their own
ship and left it to the fury of the sea, expecting to save
themselves on one of the other ships. But the angels sup
plied their place directing and steering it when the sailors
gave it up in despair to the destruction of the waves.
468. In the midst of this confusion and distress the
most holy Mary preserved her tranquillity, serenely borne
up by the ocean of her magnanimity and virtue, but at
the same time practicing all the virtues by acts heroic
in proportion to the exigencies of the occasion and the
dictates of her wisdom. As during this tempestuous voy
age She personally experienced the dangers of naviga
tion, which She had understood on her former voyage by
divine inspiration, She was moved to new compassion
for all voyagers at sea and renewed her former prayers
and petitions. The most prudent Virgin also admired
the indomitable forces of the sea and was led to consider
the wrath of divine justice, so well represented by this
insensible creature. And passing from these consider
ations to that of the sins of mortals, who drew it upon
themselves from the Almighty, She entered into the most
ardent prayers for the conversion of the world and the
increase of the Church. For this She offered up the
hardships of this voyage ; since notwithstanding the tran
quillity of her soul, She suffered much bodily inconven
ience and still greater affliction at the thought that all
her fellow-voyagers were made to suffer this persecution
and tribulation of the demons on her account.
469. A large share of this suffering fell to the evangel
ist saint John on account of his deep solicitude for his
true Mother and Mistress of the world. To this was
added his own actual suffering. All was so much the
more dreadful to him, because at that time he did not
know what was passing in the interior of the most blessed
Virgin. He sought a few times to console Her and con
sole himself by assisting and comforting Her. Al
though the voyage from Ephesus to Palestine usually last
ed only about six days, this one lasted fifteen, of which
fourteen were tempestuous. One day saint John was very
much disheartened at the continuance of this measureless
hardship and, no longer able to restrain himself, said "My
Lady, what is this? Are we to perish at sea? Beseech
thy divine Son to look upon us with the eyes of a Father
and to defend us in this tribulation." The blessed
Mother answered him: "Do not be disturbed, my son;
for we must now fight the battles of the Lord and over
come his enemies by fortitude and patience." I shall beg
of Him that no one who is with us shall perish, and that
He sleep not, who watches over Israel (Ps. 70, 4) ; the
strong ones of his court assist us and defend us; let us
suffer for Him who placed Himself upon the Cross for
the salvation of all." At these words saint John re
covered the necessary courage.
470. Lucifer and his demons with increasing fury
threatened the powerful Queen by telling Her that She
would perish in this sea and not escape alive. But these
and other threats were but spent arrows and the most
prudent Mother despised them, not even listening to
them, or looking upon the demons, or speaking to them
a single word. They themselves on the other hand could
not bear even to glance at her face on account of the
virtue of the Most High shining from it. And the more
they strove to overcome this virtue, the weaker they be
came and the more were they tormented by those
offensive weapons, with which the Lord had clothed
his most holy Mother. But in all of this lengthened con
flict He concealed from her his purpose and also his
countenance, never showing Himself to Her in visions
as had been usual.
471. But at the end of fourteen days of this stormy
voyage her divine Son deigned to descend and visit Her
in person. He appeared upon the sea and saying: "My
dearest Mother, I am with thee in tribulation." This
vision and the words of the Lord, ineffably consoling on
all occasions, were especially consoling to the most blessed
Mother in this extremity; because help is more welcome
in necessity. She adored her Son and God and answered :
"My God and only Good of my soul, whom the winds
and the sea obey (Matth. 8, 27), behold, my Son, our
affliction : let not the works of thy hands perish." The
Lord said to Her: "My Mother and my Dove, from
thee have I received human form ; therefore I desire that
all my creatures obey thy orders ; command them as the
Mistress of all, for they are subject to thy will." The
most prudent Mother had desired the Lord to command
the waves, as He had done in the storm on the sea of
Galilee; but the occasion was different, since at that
time there was no one else but He to command the winds
and the sea. The heavenly Mary therefore obeyed and,
in the name of her divine Son, She first commanded
Lucifer and his hosts instantly to leave the Mediterranean
and cease to harass it. Immediately they fled in the
direction of Palestine; for She had not commanded them
to hell, not wishing to put an end to the battle. The
enemies having retired, She commanded the waters and
the winds to subside. They immediately obeyed, becom
ing tranquil and serene in the shortest space of time to
the great astonishment of the passengers, who knew not
the cause of this sudden change. Christ the Lord took
leave of his Mother, having filled her with benedictions
and joy and told Her to disembark on the next day. Thus
it also happened; for on the fifteenth day after their em
barkation, they arrived happily at port and left the ship.
Our Queen and Mistress gave thanks to the Almighty for
these benefits and offered Him songs of thanksgiving
and praise for having saved Her from the dreadful
dangers. In this also the Evangelist joined, and the
blessed Mother thanked him for having accompanied Her
in her hardships. She asked his blessing and then they
both set out for Jerusalem.
472. The holy angels accompanied their Queen and
Lady in battle array as I have said ; for also the demons
were awaiting her arrival resolved to continue the conflict
as soon as She had reached the shore. With incredible
fury they led on the assault by suggesting various tempta
tions against all the virtues; but all their darts fell back
upon themselves ; they could make no breach in this tower
of David, of which the Spouse says, that it is furnished
with the thousand shields and all the arms of the strong,
(Cant. 4, 4), and that it is fortified by towers of silver.
Before entering her house in Jerusalem the great Lady,
in her piety and devotion, yearned to visit the sacred spots
consecrated by our Redemption, which was also the last
thing She had done on leaving the city; but as saint
Peter, at whose call She had come, was waiting, and as
She knew the proper order to be maintained in all the vir
tues, She preferred obedience to her private devo
tions. Accordingly She betook Herself directly to the
house of the Cenacle, where saint Peter then stayed, and
falling on her knees before him, She asked for his bless
ing and begged his pardon for not having complied sooner
with his command. She sought his hand in order to
kiss it as that of the high-priest ; but She did not lay the
blame for her delay on the storm, nor did She mention
any other circumstance in excuse. Only from the ac
counts furnished to him afterwards by saint John, did
saint Peter learn of the hardships encountered on the
voyage. The Vicar of our Savior and all the disciples
and faithful of Jerusalem received their Teacher and
Mistress with indescribable joy, reverence and love, and
they prostrated themselves at her feet, thanking Her for
having come to fill them with gladness and consolation
and live where they could see and serve Her.
473. My Daughter, I desire that thou continually re
new the remembrance of what I have told thee of these
sacred mysteries of my life; for it is not my will that
thou be only an insensible instrument for manifesting
them to the Church, but rather that thou be the one, who
before and above all others shall draw fruit from this
new blessing by practicing my teachings and following
my example. For this purpose has the Lord called thee,
and for it have I chosen thee as my daughter and dis
ciple. Since thou hast duly noticed my act of humility
in not opening the letter of saint Peter without consent
of my son John, I wish to dilate further upon the lesson
contained in this instance. I desire thee to notice that
in those two virtues, humility and obedience, which are
the foundation of Christain perfection, there is nothing
small, and all that pertains to them is most pleasing to
the Most High and draws down the most abundant re
ward of his generous mercy and justice.
474. Consider then, my dearest, that, just as in the
present condition of man nothing is more contrary to his
nature than the subjection of one s will to that of an
other, so nothing is more necessary than this subjection
for the bending of that stiff-necked pride, which the
demon seeks to stir up in all the children of Adam. Hence
the enemies labor sleeplessly to induce men to follow their
own judgment and will. Thereby the devils gain many
triumphs and lead many souls into diverse roads of de
struction; for in all states and conditions of life the
demon seeks to instill this poison into mortals, secretly
soliciting them to follow their own judgment and refuse
to obey the laws and the will of their superiors, but rather
to despise and rebel against it, perverting the order of
divine Providence for the well-ordering of all things.
And because men overthrow this government of the
Lord, the world is filled with confusion and darkness,
created things are thrown out of order and subjected to
opposite force without regard or attention to God and
his laws.
475. But though all this damage is odious in the eyes
of the supreme Governor and Lord, yet it is especially
displeasing to Him in religious, who, being bound by the
vows of religion, seek to widen these restrictions or al
together free themselves from their obligations. I am
not now speaking of those who transgress their rules in
open daring or break their vows in small or in great
things ; this is nothing else than a dreadful temerity en
tailing eternal damnation. But, in order that they may
not incur such a danger. I wish to exhort those who seek
their salvation in religion, to guard themselves against en
tertaining opinions or explanations for relaxing the
obedience due to their superiors in the name of God, or
against trying to determine what liberties they might
take without committing sin by infringing on obedience
and their other vows or against studying whether they
may not act according to their own judgment in certain
matters great or small. Such disquisitions are never made
for the better observance of vows, but always in order to
stifle the remorse of conscience in breaking them. I
remind them, that the demons seek to induce them to
swallow these poisonous gnats, in order that, little by
little, after being accustomed to those that seem insig
nificant, they may arrive at swallowing the camels of the
more serious sins. Those that continually hover about
the entrances to mortal sins, will, to say the least, make
themselves liable to a strict inquiry by the Judge and thus
receive the smallest reward. For they have studied all
their lives to give to the Lord the least in their power to
oblige Him.
476. These attempts to explain away the binding
force of the love of God, tending to remodel it according
to the inclinations of the flesh, are very abominable to
my divine Son and to myself ; for it is a sign of great
disaffection to obey the divine law out of necessity, mak
ing it apparent, that only the fear of punishment urges
one on, and not love toward Him who commands, and
that nothing would be done, if no punishment were in
store. Many times, in the effort to avoid humiliation
at the hands of the immediate superior, the subject ap
peals to the higher authority and thus asks for exemp
tions from those who have only a general information
and cannot know or understand his particular needs or
danger. It cannot be denied, that this is still a kind of
obedience; but it is also certain, that it is a shift for
greater liberty, diminishes the reward and incurs danger ;
since without doubt it is more meritorious to obey and
subject oneself to the inferior authority, to those in
a lower condition, and to those less favorably disposed
to one s own views and inclinations. I learned no such
doctrines in the school of my divine Son, nor did I show
them in practice; for all things I sought the permission
of those I held as superiors, never being without them
as thou hast seen. Even for opening and reading the
letter of saint Peter, the head of the Church, I waited to
find out the will of his inferior, who was my more imme
diate superior.
477. My daughter, I do not wish thee to follow the
teachings of those who seek liberty and license in fol
owing their own inclinations; but I choose thee and
conjure thee to imitate me and walk the secure path of
perfection. Hankering after dispensations and exemp
tions perverts the Christian and the religious life. At
all times thou must live in humble and obedient sub
jection, and thou must not hold thyself excused there
from on account of being a superior, for thou hast thy
confessors and superiors. If sometimes in their absence
thou canst not act in obedience, ask counsel and obey
one of thy subjects. For thee, all of them should be
as superiors; and let not this seem strange to thee;
since thou art the least of the human born and shouldst
consider thyself so, humiliating thyself beneath them
all in order to be my true follower, my disciple and
daughter. Besides this thou must punctually tell me
thy faults twice a day and ask my permission for all
that thou art to do during each day, confessing also
every day the sins thou committest. I shall exhort thee,
and command thee what is proper, both through myself
and through my ministers of the Lord; and thou must
not shrink to tell many others of thy ordinary faults,
in order that in all things and before all men thou hu
miliate thyself in the eyes of the Lord and in mine. This
science, hidden to the world and the flesh, I desire thee
to learn and impart to thy nuns. In teaching thee this
lesson I wish to reward thee for thy labor in writing my
life ; for by these instructions in so important a doctrine
I wish to impress thee, that, if thou wishest to imitate
me as thou shouldst, thou must communicate or speak
with no one, nor undertake anything, nor write letters,
nor move about, nor allow any thoughts (if possible),
except in obedience to me and to those who govern thee.
The worldly and carnal men call these virtues impertinent
and vain observances ; but their ignorant pride will have
its punishment when, in the presence of the Judge,
truths will be revealed; then will be seen who were
the ignorant and the wise, and those will be rewarded,
who as true servants have been faithful as well in small
as in greater things (Matth. 25, 21) ; when there is no
remedy left, the foolish ones will know the damage done
by their carnal prudence.
478. As thou wert moved to a certain envy on learn
ing that I myself governed that congregation of women
at Ephesus, I now advise thee to have no such feeling.
Remember that thou and thy nuns have chosen me for
your Superior and special Patroness in order that I
might govern you as your Queen and Lady ; and I desire
them to know, that I have accepted this office and have
constituted myself in it forever on condition, that they
be perfect in their vocation and very faithful to their
Lord, my divine Son, to whom I have assigned them as
his spouses. Remind them often of this, so that they
watch over themselves and retire from the world, de
spising it with all their hearts; that as my daughters
they do not degenerate, living in recollection and peace;
that they follow and execute the doctrines which I have
given thee in this history for thee and for them and
that they hold it in high veneration, gratefully writing
it in their hearts. For in having presented to them my
life for the rule and government of their souls, as it is
now written by thy hands, I am fulfilling my office as
Mother and Superior, in order that as subjects and as
daughters they may tread in my footsteps, imitate my
virtues and correspond with me in faithful love.
479. Another important lesson canst thou draw from
this chapter, namely: those that do not obey willingly,
when any adverse circumstance turns up in what is com
manded, will immediately be cast down, afflicted and
disturbed, and, in order to justify their impatience, they
will blame the one that commands, and complain about
him either to his superiors or to others, as if he that
commands were responsible for the untoward accidents
happening to the inferior, or as if he had it in his power
to direct the government of the whole world accord
ing to the wishes of his subject. Indeed, many times
God, in reward for complete submission, raises hindrances
in order that the one who obeys may increase his merit
and crown, at other times he punishes those who show
any repugnance in obeying by withholding full success;
and all these accidents can in nowise be blamed upon
the superior, who commands. The Lord simply said :
He who hears you, and who obeys you, hears and obeys
Me (Luke 10, 16). The labor connected with obedience
always redounds to the benefit of those who obey; if
they do not profit by their obedience, it is no fault of
the one that commands. I made no complaints against
saint Peter for asking me to come from Ephesus to
Jerusalem, although I suffered so much on the voyage;
but I asked him pardon for not having fulfilled his com
mand more expeditiously. Never show any grievance
or sign of being displeased toward thy superiors, for
this is a very ugly spirit and such liberty will destroy
all the merit of thy obedience. Look upon them with
reverence, as taking the place of Christ, and thy merit
will be abundant ; follow my footsteps, my example and
my doctrine, and thou wilt be perfect in all things.
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