The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 1 chapter 20 verses 312-325 Index

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


  INDEX            Book 1  Chapter  20    Verses:  312-325

312. The most holy Mary, being conceived without
sin as described above, was entirely absorbed in spirit
and entranced by her first vision of the Divinity. At
the first instant, and in the narrow dwelling of the ma
ternal womb, began the love of God in her most blessed
soul, never to be interrupted, but to continue through all
the eternities of that high glory, which She now enjoys
at the right hand of her divine Son. In order that She
might grow in the contemplation and love of God not
only by the infused knowledge of created things, but also
by the direct vision of the Trinity itself, and in order
that She might exercise Herself in many acts of virtue
befitting her present state, the Lord repeated the won
derful vision and manifestation of his Divinity on two
other occasions; so that, the blessed Trinity manifested
Itself to Her in abstract vision three times before her
birth : first at the instant of her Conception, then in the
fourth or fifth month, and the third time, on the day be
fore her birth This vision was not continual, but it
must not be inferred, that She did not enjoy another
kind of vision, very exalted and superior to the one by
which She perceived the essence of God in the light of
faith. For in most holy Mary these kinds of visions
were incessant and continual, and superior to all visions
of the saints during their earthly pilgrimage.
313. This abstract vision of the Divinity, though not
incompatible with her present condition on earth, was
nevertheless so high and immediate, that it could not
well be continuous in her mortal state, where She was
to merit the glory of intuitive vision by other acts. It
was a special favor to assist Her in attaining thereto;
for it left in her soul the impress of the Lord s image,
and raised and consumed her whole being with a burning
love of God. These affections were renewed continually
during these visions in the most holy soul of Mary while
She remained in the womb of holy Anne. Thus it hap
pened, that, being in full possession of her intellectual
faculties and occupying Herself without intermission in
prayer for the human race, in heroic acts of adoration,
in reverence and love of God in company with the
angels, She did not feel the narrowness and confinement
of her natural prison, nor the restriction of her senses,
nor the other restraints, inseparable from such a state.
To all this She gave no heed, living more in her Be
loved than in the womb of her mother or in Herself.
314. The last of the three visions was accompanied by
new and more wonderful favors of the Lord; it was to
prepare Her for the entrance into the world and for
intercourse with mortals. In accordance with the di
vine will the Princess of heaven said to the Lord:
"Most high God, Lord of my being, Soul of my life and
Life of my soul, infinite in thy attributes and perfections,
incomprehensible, mighty and rich in mercies, my King
and Sovereign : out of nothing hast Thou given me ex
istence; without any merits of mine Thou hast enriched
me with the treasures of thy divine light and grace, in
order that by them I may instantly perceive thy im
mutable Being and divine perfections, and that thus Thou
mightst be the first Object of my vision and love, not
permitting me to seek any other than Thee, the highest
Good and all my joy. Thou commandest me, my Lord,
to issue forth and enter into the material light and con
verse with creatures. In thy own Being, whence all
things are reflected as in a most perfect mirror, I have
discerned the dangerous state and the miseries of mortal
life. If, on account of my natural weakness and debility,
there is danger lest even in the least point I fail in thy
love and service, and if it is possible that I die here, let
me die now, before I pass into a state where I may lose
Thee. But if thy holy Will, my Lord and Master, is
to be fulfilled, and I am to embark on the tempestuous
sea of this world, I beseech Thee, most high and mighty
God of my soul, to govern my life, direct my steps and
all my actions toward pleasing Thee. Order in me holy
love (Cant. 2, 4) that in the new use, which I am to
make of creatures, and by thy aid, it may continue to
grow. I have perceived in Thee the ingratitude of many
souls, and as I am of their nature, I fear with good
reason, that perhaps I may become guilty of the same
fault. In this narrow cavity of my mother s womb I
have enjoyed the infinite vastness of thy Divinity: here
I possessed all Good, Thee thyself, my Beloved; and
since here Thou alone art my portion and possession
(Ps. 72), I know not, whether outside of this enclosure
I may not lose it at the sight of the created light and in the
use of my senses. If it were possible and appropriate
to renounce the intercourse of approaching life, I would
gladly renounce and lose the experience of it; but let
not my will, but Thine be done. Therefore since Thou
wishest it, confer upon me thy blessing and good will at
my entrance into the world, and do not deprive me of
thy divine protection during the earthly course in which
Thou placest me." Having thus poured forth her prayer,
the most sweet child Mary received the benediction of
the Most High and the command to issue forth into the
light of the visible sun, at the same time being enlight
ened for the fulfillment of all his desires.
315. The most happy mother, holy Anne, passed the
days of her pregnancy altogether spiritualized by the
divine operations and by the sweet workings of the Holy
Ghost in all her faculties. Divine Providence, however,
in order to direct her course to greater merit and reward,
ordained, that the ballast of trouble be not wanting, for
without it the cargo of grace and love is scarcely ever
secure. In order to understand better, what happened to
this holy woman, it must be remembered, that satan,
after he was hurled with the other bad angels from
heaven into the infernal torments, never ceased, during
the reign of the old Law, to search through the earth
hovering with lurking vigilance above the women of dis
tinguished holiness, in order to find Her, whose sign he
had seen (Gen. 3, 15) and whose heel was to bruise and
crush his head. Lucifer s wrath against men was so
fierce, that he would not trust this investigation to his
inferiors alone; but leaving them to operate against the
virtuous women in general, he himself attended to this
matter and assiduously hovered around those, who sig
nalized themselves more particularly in the exercise of
virtue and in the grace of the Most High.
316. Filled with malice and astuteness, he observed
closely the exceeding great holiness of the excellent ma
tron Anne and all the events of her life: and although
he could not estimate the richness of the Treasure, which
was enclosed in her blessed womb (since the Lord con
cealed this as well as many other mysteries from him),
yet he felt a powerful influence proceeding from saint
Anne. The fact that he could not penetrate into the
source of this activity, threw him at times into great
fury and rage. At other times he quieted himself with
the thought, that this pregnancy arose from the same
causes as others in the course of nature and that there
was no special cause for alarm; for the Lord left him to
his own hallucinations and to the vagaries of his own
fury. Nevertheless the whole event was a source of
great misgiving to this perverse spirit, when he saw how
quietly her pregnancy took its course and especially,
when he saw, that many angels stood in attendance.
Above all he was enraged at his weakness in resisting
the force, which proceeded from the blessed Anne and
he suspected that it was not she alone, who was the
cause of it.
317. Filled with this mistrust, the dragon determined,
if possible, to take the life of the most felicitous Anne;
or, if that was impossible, to see that she should obtain
little satisfaction from her pregnancy. For the pride of
Lucifer was so boundless as to persuade him of his abil
ity to overcome or take away the life of Her, who was
to be the Mother of the incarnate Word, or even the life
of the Messias and Redeemer of the world, if only he
could obtain knowledge of their whereabouts. His ar
rogance was founded upon the superiority of his angelic
nature to the condition and power of mere human na
ture: as if both were not subject to grace and entirely
dependent upon the will of their Creator. Audaciously
therefore he set himself to tempt holy Anne, with many
suggestions, misgivings, doubts and diffidences about the
truth of her pregnancy, alleging her protracted years.
All this the demon attempted in order to test the virtue
of the saint, and to see, whether these temptations would
not afford some opening for the perversion of her will.
318. But the invincible matron resisted these on
slaughts with humble fortitude, patience, continued
prayer and vivid faith in the Lord. She brought to
naught the perplexing lies of the dragon and on account
of them gained only additional grace and protection
from on high. For besides the protection abundantly
merited by her past life She was defended and freed
from the demons by the great princes, who were guard
ing her most holy Daughter. Nevertheless in his in
satiable malice the enemy did not desist on that account;
and since his arrogance and pride far exceeds his pow
ers, he sought human aid ; for with such help he always
promises himself greater ease of victory. Having at
first tried to overthrow the dwelling of saint Joachim
and Anne, in order that she might be frightened and
excited by the shock of its fall, but not being able to
succeed on account of the resistance of the holy angels,
he incited against saint Anne one of the foolish women
of her acquaintance to quarrel with her. This the woman
did with great fury, insolently attacking saint Anne with
reproach and scorn; she did not hesitate to make mock
ery of her pregnancy, saying, that she was the sport of
the demon in being thus found pregnant at the end of
so many years and at so great an age.
319. The blessed Anne did not permit herself to be
disturbed by this attack, but in all meekness and hu
mility bore the injuries and treated her assailants with
kindness. From that time on she looked with greater
love upon these women and lavished upon them so much
the greater benefits. But their wrath was not imme
diately pacified, for the demon had taken possession of
them, filling them with hate against the saint ; and, as
any concession to this cruel tyrant always increases his
power over his victims, he incited these miserable dupes
to plot even against the person and life of saint Anne.
But they could not put their plots into execution, be
cause divine power interfered to foil their natural
womanly weakness. They were not only powerless
against the saint, but they were overcome by her ad
monitions and brought to the knowledge and amendment
of their evil course by her prayers.
320. The dragon was repulsed, but not vanquished;
for he immediately availed himself of a servant, who
lived in the house with Joachim and Anne, and exasper
ated her against the holy matron. Through her he cre
ated even a greater annoyance than through the other
women, for she was a domestic enemy and more stub
born and dangerous than the others. I will not stay to
describe, what the enemy attempted through this ser
vant, since it was similar to that of the other woman,
only more annoying and malicious. But with the help
of God saint Anne won a more glorious victory than
before; for the watcher of Israel slumbered not, but
guarded his holy City (Ps. 120, 4) and furnished it so
well with sentinels, chosen from the strongest of his
hosts, that they put to ignominious flight Lucifer and
his followers. No more were they allowed to molest the
fortunate mother, who was already expecting the birth
of the most blessed Princess of heaven, and who, en
riched by heroic acts of virtue and many merits in these
conflicts, had now arrived at the fulfillment of all her
highest wishes. I too desire to come to an end with this
chapter in order to hear the salutary instructions of my
Mistress and Preceptress, who, besides assisting me in
all that I write, also favors me with her maternal ad
monitions, which I receive with highest joy and exulta
tion of my spirit
321. Speak then, O Lady, and thy servant will listen
(Gen. 18, 17). If Thou wilt permit, although I am dust
and ashes, I will state a doubt, which has occurred to
me, in this chapter. Yet in all things I will remit myself
to thy sweet benevolence as of my Mother, Teacher and
Mistress. The doubt in which I find myself is this:
How was it possible, that Thou, the Queen of all cre
ation, conceived without sin and endowed with a soul
exalted so high in the knowledge of all things by the
visions of the Divinity, shouldst be filled in spite of all
these graces, with so great a fear and anxiety of losing
the friendship of God and of offending Him? If in the
first instant of thy existence Thou wast prevented by
grace, how couldst Thou at that very instant fear to lose
it? If the Most High exempted Thee from original
sin, how couldst Thou fall into others, or fear to offend
Him, who had preserved Thee from the first offense ?
322. My daughter, hear the solution of thy difficulty.
In the vision of the Divinity I instantaneously recog
nized my innocence and the stainlessness of my Concep
tion. These favors and benefits of the Almighty are
of such a nature, that the more they are understood and
made secure, so much the more will they excite care and
solicitude for their preservation and for the avoidance
of any offense of their Author. They are given to his
creatures out of pure goodness and are accompanied with
such clear intuition regarding their dependence on the
merits of my most holy Son, that the soul immediately
centers its attention only on its own unworthiness and
insufficiency, convinced that it cannot merit them and
that it cannot appropriate them to itself as being foreign
to its nature. As they are seen to belong to such a high
Master, to whom they can revert to be distributed accord
ing to his pleasure, a most deep-felt solicitude fills the
soul lest it lose again, what is thus freely given. The
soul therefore begins to work with great diligence in or
der to preserve them and to multiply the talent (Matth.
25, 15), since it understands that to be the only means
of keeping the deposit and of fulfilling the object for
which they were given, namely, to make them bear fruit
and to contribute to the glory of the Creator. This
care is precisely the condition necessary for the preser
vation of the benefits and graces received.
323. Besides this the soul is made to understand the
human frailty and the freedom of the will for good or
evil. Of this knowledge the Almighty did not deprive
me, nor does He deprive any one of it, as long as he
wanders through this life ; but He gives it to all accord
ing to measure, in order that by its guidance they may
be filled with holy fear of falling into any fault, even the
smallest. In me this light was greater and I clearly saw
that a small fault prepares the way for another, and
that the second is only a punishment of the first. It is
true that on account of the blessings and graces of the
Lord sin was impossible in me. But his Providence so
disposed of this knowledge, that my absolute security
from sin was hidden to me ; I saw that as far as depended
on me alone I could fall, and that it was the divine will
that preserved me. Thus He reserved to Himself his
knowledge of my security, and left me in solicitude and
holy fear of sinning during my pilgrimage. From the
instant of my Conception until my death I never lost
this fear, but on the contrary grew in it as life flowed on.
324. The Most High also gave me humility and dis
cretion, not to ask or to examine too closely this mys
tery, but solely to direct my attention toward increasing
my confidence in his goodness with a view to obtain his
assistance against sin. Thence resulted those two neces
sary dispositions of a Christian life ; the one a quiet pres
ervation of tranquillity in the soul, the other the con
stant presence of a holy fear and watchfulness, lest the
treasure be lost. As this latter was a filial fear, it did
not diminish love, but inflamed and increased it more and
more. These two dispositions of love and fear produced
in my soul a perfect harmony with the divine will, gov
erning all my actions, so as to draw me away from evil
and unite me with the highest Good.
325. This, my dear friend, is the great test of spiritual
things : that they come with true enlightenment and sound
doctrine ; that they teach greater perfection of virtues and
excite a strong impulse toward seeking it. This is the ex
cellence of the benefits which descend from the Father of
lights, that they give assurance and confidence while mak
ing the soul humble, and that they encourage while excit
ing solicitude and watchfulness, though still preserving
tranquillity and peace in this solicitude; for all these ef
fects are not incompatible in fulfilling the will of God.
Do thou, O soul, offer humble and fervent thanks to the
Lord, because with so little deserving of thine He has
been so liberal with thee and has so greatly enlightened
thee with divine light, breaking for thee the seal of his
secret archives and yet filling thee with holy fear of his
displeasure. Nevertheless make use of this fear with
measure and strive instead to excel in love. Thus with
these two wings raising thyself above the earth and
above thyself, try to rid thyself of the inordinate dis
turbance of excessive fear, and leave thy cause with the
Lord and make his cause thy own. Let fear be with thee
until thou art purified and cleansed of thy sins and of thy
ignorance, but also love the Lord in order that thou
mayest be transformed in Him, and set Him as the Mas
ter and the Arbiter of thy actions without desiring to be
above any person. Do not trust thy own judgment, and
be not wise in thy own conceit (Prov. 3, 7), for the judg
ments of men are only too easily blinded by their pas
sions, throwing them out of their course and drawing
after them the will as their captive. Thus it comes, that
men fear what is not to be feared, and rejoice in that
which is not profitable. Take heed lest thou be dissipated
by every slight interior consolation, but hesitate and re
strain thyself until thou findest with tranquil solicitude
the proper measure in all things. This happy medium
thou wilt always find, if thou remain subject to thy su
periors and willingly accept that, which the Most High
works in thee and teaches thee. Although thy undertak
ings may be good as regards the intentions, they must
nevertheless also conform to the requirements of obe
dience and of prudence, for without this guidance they
are usually deformed and without any profitable result.
Be thou therefore in all things solicitous about that,
which is most holy and perfect.
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