The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 7 chapter Introduction part 3 verses 1-28 Index

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

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 7 chapter Introduction part 3 verses 1-28

  INDEX            Book 7  Chapter  Introduction part 3    Verses:  1-28


1. In navigating a deep and dangerous sea, the naviga
tor is so much the more dangerously beset with its terrors
and the attacks of pirates, the farther he has penetrated
into its wide expanses. His cares are vastly increased on
account of his weakness and want of certainty; for he
does not know when or whence danger may come, and he
is powerless to avert its coming and unable to resist it
when at hand. This is just what is now happening to
me since I am engulfed in the immense ocean of the ex
cellence and magnificence of the works of the most holy
Mary. And yet it is a sea full of repose and tranquillity,
as I know and confess. Nor can the fact, that I have
advanced so far upon this sea of grace, and that I have
finished the first and second part of her life, give me
assurance; for in this work I have, as in a most clear
mirror, only so much the more clearly perceived my own
incapability and vileness, and the deepest conviction
forces itself upon me, that her history is most impene
trable and incomprehensible to all created understand
ing. Nor are the enemies, the princes of darkness, ever
at rest; for, like the most persistent pirates, they con
tinue to afflict and discourage me by false illusions and
temptations with a malice and astuteness beyond all cal
culation. The navigator has no other recourse than to fix
his sight upon the north-star, according to which, as his
star of the sea, he must guide and direct his course amid
the waves. I am trying to do the same in the midst of
these multitudinous and tormenting temptations and
fears. Guided by my Star, the most holy Mary, in whom,
through obedience, I can ascertain and fix my will upon
the will of the Eternal, and being many times afflicted,
full of unquietness and fear, I cry out from the bottom
of my heart and say: "My Lord and most high God,
what shall I do in my doubts ? Shall I proceed, or shall
I desist, in writing this history? Do thou, O Mother
of grace and my Instructress, make known to me thy will
and that of thy divine Son."
2. I must confess truly, and as due to the divine con
descension, that God has always answered my clamors
and has never denied me his paternal kindness in making
known his will in many ways. Although this is suf
ficiently evident in the assistance rendered to me in
the writing of the first and second parts, yet besides
this proof, there are innumerable other assurances given
me by the Lord himself, by his most holy Mother, and
his angels, so that evidences have been heaped upon
evidences, and testimonies upon testimonies, to counter
act my cowardice and fear. What is more, the angels
themselves in visible shapes, being the prelates and min
isters of the Lord in his holy Church, have pointed out
and reiterated the divine commandment, bidding me to
believe and execute this commission, and to continue to
the end. Nor was there wanting to me the light of
infused science, which sweetly and forcefully called, en
lightened and moved my heart to the knowledge of the
highest perfection, the most immaculate holiness, the
most perfect virtue and the most desirable of what can
be sought by the will. It has at the same time referred
me to all this as enclosed and reserved, like a hidden
manna, in that ark of the covenant, most holy Mary,
open for all that wish to approach and taste thereof.
3. Nevertheless, on entering upon the writing of this
third part, I was beset by new and harassing contradic
tions, not less formidable than those experienced in the
first two portions of this history. I can say without
fear, that I have not composed a sentence or a word, nor
have I brought myself to write the least part of it, without
experiencing more temptations than the letters of the
alphabet of which it is composed. Although the hindrances
caused by my own fear would have been sufficient ( since I
know who I am, and cannot help being cowardly, nor
ever can put less confidence in myself than what my own
weakness will warrant) ; yet neither this, nor the mag
nitude of the undertaking were the real impediments,
though these were at first unsuspected. I presented to
the Lord the second part, which I had written, in the
same way as I had presented the first. Under strict
obedience I was compelled to begin this third part, and,
by the strength which this virtue gives to all that prac
tice it, I allayed the fear and faintness of my heart in
executing what had been assigned to me. But fluctu
ating between my desire and fear of commencing, I was
cast about like a vessel, combated by violent and con
trary winds.
4. On the one hand, the Lord bade me proceed in
what I had begun, as such was his will; nor, in my
continual prayers, did I ever feel impelled to a different
course. It is true, for some time I paid no attention
to these directions of the Most High and did not mani
fest them immediately to my superior and to my con
fessor (not because I wished to conceal them, but in
order to act more securely and in order that they might
not suspect I followed only my own insight). But the
Lord, who is so even and equable in all his works, inspired
them with a new energy in pressing their continual ex
hortations and commands. Yet on the other hand, the
envy and malice of the ancient serpent maligned all that
I did or was moved to undertake. He raised up against
me tormenting and alluring temptations, by which he
sometimes sought to inspire me with his own boundless
pride. At others, and very often, he sought to cast me
down to deepest dejection and involve me in darkest
and most disorderly fears, increasing his efforts as this
history progressed, and especially as it was coming to
a close. This enemy also availed himself of the judgment
of some persons, who justly could claim my respect and
who would not further this work. He caused also dis
turbances among the religious under my charge. It
seemed to me that I had no time to spare and was obliged
to attend to the welfare of the community, as the most
important duty of a superioress. With all these molesta
tions I came to no such interior peace, as is necessary
for and befitting the actual enlightenment and intelli
gence concerning the mysteries to be treated of. For this
light cannot be perceived, nor is it properly communi
cated, amid the spiritual storms of temptation, but will
shine only in the peace and serenity of the soul s fac
ulties.
5. Afflicted and harassed by such a variety of tempta
tions, I ceased not in my clamors. On one day in par
ticular I spoke to the Lord: "Highest Lord and Good
of my soul, to thy wisdom are not concealed my sighs
and my desire to please Thee and to avoid errors in
thy service (Ps. 37, 10). Lovingly I lament in thy
royal presence; for, either Thou commandest me, O
Lord, what I cannot fulfill, or Thou permittest thy and
my enemies to hinder by their malice what Thou com
mandest." The Lord answered my complaint and with
some severity, said : "Remember, soul, that thou canst
not continue what thou hast begun, nor wilt thou finish
the writings of my Mother s life, if thou wilt not become
altogether perfect and pleasing in my eyes. For I wish
that thou gather within thee the copious fruits of this
benefit, and that thou among the first, profit by it in
greatest abundance. In order that thou mayest share its
fruits as I wish, it is necessary, that all which is earthly
in thee and savoring of a daughter of Adam be con
sumed. Thou must be free from the effects of sin
with all its evil inclinations and habits." This answer
of the Lord excited in me new solicitudes and the most
burning desire of performing all that it implied ; namely,
not only a common mortification of all the inclinations
and passions, but an absolute death of the animal and
terrestrial life and its renovation and transformation into
a celestial and angelic state of existence.
6. Desiring to apply my powers to what was proposed
to me, I examined my inclinations and appetites, I
searched the bystreets and corners of my interior and
felt a most ardent wish to die to all that is visible and
earthly. For some days I suffered in these exercises
great affliction and melancholy; for, in proportion to
my anxiety, increased also the dangers and occasions
of being diverted by attention to creatures. The
more I sought to withdraw myself from all my sur
roundings, so much the more did I find myself bound
and oppressed by what I abhorred. Of all this the
enemy availed himself for my discouragement, repre
senting such a life as altogether impossible to me. To
this affliction was suddenly added another new, strange
disorder. I felt in my body a condition so sensitive
that the least exertion, even the most insignificant mor8
tification, became more intolerable to me than until then
the most severe penances. Those that I was accustomed
to undergo most willingly, required now the most violent
exertion, and I found myself become so delicate that they
seemed to inflict upon me mortal wounds. To undergo
discipline was an excruciating pain, causing swoons, and
each stroke cut through my very heart. Without exag
geration I say, that merely to touch one hand with the
other forced out my tears, so that I felt great confusion
and grief at being so miserable. In forcing myself to
labor in spite of this infirmity, I found my blood oozing
from my fingernails.
7. I could not account for this new experience, and
in considering it, I impatiently exclaimed: "Ah me!
What misery is this? What change do I feel within
me? The Lord commands me to mortify myself and
die to all creatures, and I feel myself much more alive
to pain and much less mortified. " For some days I
suffered in great bitterness and impatience of my soul.
In order to moderate my disturbance, the Most High
consoled me, saying : "My Daughter and Spouse, let not
thy heart be afflicted at the vividness of thy sufferings.
I have sought by this means to distinguish in thee the
effects of sin and to restore thee to a new life and pre
pare thee for works more exalted and pleasing to Me.
Until thou shalt have attained this state, thou canst not
begin to write what remains of the life of my Mother
and thy Mistress." This answer of the Lord somewhat
encouraged me; for his words are words of life, vivifying
the heart (John 6, 69). Although my troubles and temp
tations were not abated, I prepared myself for labor and
battle; yet I continued to distrust my weakness and in
ability and despaired of finding a remedy. I sought
it in the Mother of life, and I resolved to ask for help
in sincerity and constancy. For She is the only and
most certain refuge of the needy and afflicted and She
has continually heaped her many favors upon me, the
most useless creature of the world.
8. I prostrated myself at the feet of the great Lady
of heaven and earth, and pouring out my spirit in her
presence, I besought Her mercifully to remedy my im
perfections and defects. I represented to Her my desire
of pleasing Her and her divine Son and again offered
myself for her service, even if I should have to pass
through fire and torments and shed my blood. The
kind Mother answered my supplications by saying: "My
daughter, understand well, that these desires, which the
Most High again excites in thy heart, are pledges and
effects of his love, by which He calls thee to his inti
mate intercourse and familiarity. It is his most holy
will and mine, that thou on thy part correspond to them
in order that thou mayest not hinder thy vocation or
retard any longer the pleasure of his Majesty in what
He requires of thee. During all the writing of my life
I exhorted and reminded thee of thy obligations con
nected with this blessing, namely that thou imprint in
thyself the living image of its teachings and of my
example according to the graces thou receivest. Thou
hast now arrived at the third and last part of this his
tory; and it is time thou raise thyself to a perfect imita
tion of Me, clothing thyself with new strength and
extending thy hand to strong doings (Prov. 31, 17). By
such a life and behavior thou wilt be able to begin what
still remains to be written; for it must be written in
such a way, that thou put in practice the lessons it
inculcates. Without such a disposition thou wilt not be
able to write it; since it is the will of the Lord, that my
history shall be written more in thy heart than on paper,
and that thou feel what thou writest, in order that thou
mayest write what thou feelest."
9. "Therefore I desire that thy interior be cleared
from all earthly images and inclinations (Ps. 44, 11);
so that, having put away and forgotten all visible things,
thou mayest center all thy conversation and intercourse
upon thy Lord (Phil. 3, 20), upon me, and upon his
angels; and let all other things be strange and foreign
to thee. In the strength of this virtue and purity, which
I require of thee, thou shalt crush the head of the
ancient serpent and conquer his opposition to thy writing
and laboring. Because thou art so tardy in responding
to the wishes of the Lord, in entering upon the path
He wishes thee to pursue, and in placing full confidence
in his blessed intentions, I tell thee truly : while attending
to these empty fears, thou art so tardy in responding to
the Lord, in entering upon the path He wishes thee to
pursue and in placing full confidence in his blessed in
tentions, that, precisely on this account, divine Provi
dence has permitted the dragon to be the minister of his
justice in punishing thy unbelief and thy want of
submission to his will. That same enemy has concocted
schemes to draw thee into some faults by setting before
thee his deceits in the garb of a good intention and of
virtuous ends, and by seeking falsely to persuade thee,
that thou art not destined for such high favors and
exalted blessings; and, in order that thou mayest not
merit them, he has made thee dull and tardy in rendering
thanks for them. Thou hast been taken in by the deceit
of deeming these works of the Most High due to thee
in justice, and not as works of grace; and so thou hast
neglected to co-operate to the fullest extent with the
divine graces and hast not corresponded to those thou
receivest without any merit of thy own. It is time,
my dearest, that thou be assured, and that thou believe
the Lord and me ; for I teach thee the highest perfection,
namely the imitation of me. Thus shall be conquered
the pride and cruelty of the demon and his head crushed
by divine power. There is no reason why thou shouldst
impede its effects; but, forgetting all things, consign
thyself lovingly into the hands of my divine Son and
mine; for We desire of thee what is most holy, most
praiseworthy and pleasing in our eyes and estimation."
10. By this instruction of my heavenly Lady, Mother
and Teacher, my soul was replenished with new light
and with the desire of obeying Her in all things. I
renewed my good resolutions, I resolved to raise myself
by the help of divine grace, and I strove to prepare
myself for the fulfillment of the will of the Most High
without resistance. I availed myself of my bodily con
dition, by which, as mentioned above, my sensibility to
mortification had been so much enlivened and increased.
But the demon abated not in his strife and opposition.
He knew that the enterprise I was to assume was very
arduous and that the state to which the Lord raised
me was a refuge, but one far above human weakness
and earthly dullness. Gladly will I confess this truth
and the slowness caused by my frailty and sluggishness.
I acknowledge, that the Lord has labored with me during
my whole life in order to raise me from the dust and
from the dunghill of my vileness, multiplying his bless
ings and favors beyond all my comprehension. More
over He has seconded all these blessings by the aid of
his right hand in order to gain his end. I cannot at
present mention all that He did for me ; but at the same
time it seems unjust to pass it over in silence entirely,
since it will show to what misery sin has brought us
and what distance there is between the capacity of
the reasoning creature and the summit of virtue and
perfection it can attain. It will also show what it costs
to restore man to that capacity.
11. Some years before writing this I was repeatedly
favored with an extraordinary blessing at the hands of
God. It was a sort of death to all the animal and
terrestrial operations, like that of civil death; and this
state was followed by another, which was one of new
enlightenment and of more exalted operations. But since
the soul always remains clothed in mortal and earthly
corruption, I continue to feel the heavy weight of the
flesh overwhelming and degrading the soul (Wis. 9, 15),
unless the Lord renews his wonders and favors me with
the assistance of divine grace. On that occasion this
renewal was wrought in me through the Mother of
piety, who, speaking to me in a vision, said : "Take heed,
my daughter, that now thou must begin to live not thy
own life, but the life of thy Spouse Christ in thee (Gal. 2,
20) ; He is to be the life of thy soul, and the soul of thy
life. For this purpose I wish to cause in thee the death
of thy old life, which has so far operated in thee, and
establish in thee the new life, which We ask of thee.
Let it then today be known to heaven and earth, that
sister Mary of Jesus, my daughter and servant, dies to
the world, and that the Most High works this change,
in order that this soul may live only to what faith teaches.
Just as in natural death all things are left behind; so
shall this, my daughter, thus freed, by her last will and
testament consign her soul to her Creator and Redeemer
and her body to the earth of self-knowledge and patient
suffering. Of this soul my divine Son and I shall take
charge, in order to fulfill entirely his holy will, if she
will obey Us promptly. We will celebrate her exequies
with our courtiers, in order to bury her in the bosom of
the divine humanity of the Word, which is the sepulchre
of those that die to the world while still in mortal life.
From now on she must not live in her own self, nor
for herself, after the fashion of Adam ; but in all things
she is now to manifest in her the life of Christ, who
*s her life. I shall beseech Him to look kindly upon this
deceased one and to receive her soul as his own; to
acknowledge her as a stranger and pilgrim, living not
on earth, but in the higher and divine regions. I shall
instruct the angels to accept her as a companion and to
treat and converse with her as if she were freed from
mortal flesh."
12. "I command the demons to let alone this dead
one, just as they must let alone the other dead, who are
not under their jurisdiction and in whom they have no
part; for from this day on she shall be more dead to
visible things than those who have passed from this
world. I conjure men to lose her out of sight and forget
her, as they forget the dead, in order that they may
thus allow her to remain in peace and tranquillity. And
thee I command and exhort, that thou consider thyself
as one who has finished life in this world and has entered
eternal life in the presence of the Most High. I desire
thee to imitate the life of the blessed in faith; since the
certainty and assurance of truth is the same for thee
as for them. Thy conversation is to be on high (Phil.
3, 20) ; thy intercourse, with the Lord of all creation and
thy Spouse ; thy conference shall be with the angels and
saints, and thou must rivet thy whole attention upon
me, thy Mother and Teacher. For all the rest that is
earthly and visible thou must have neither movement
of life, nor any activity; no more than a dead body,
which shows no feeling of life in response to anything
that may happen to it or may be done with it, Neither
must difficulties inquiet thee, nor flattery or pleasures
affect thee; thou must not respond to injuries, nor be
elated by honors ; let neither presumption inflate thee,
nor mistrust cast thee down; thou must not give
consent to any feeling of concupiscence or anger;
because thy model in all these passions must be a dead
body, already freed from all of them. Nor must thou
have any more dealings with the world than the dead;
for the world immediately forgets those whom it has
praised in life, and to such an extent, that, though they
be father or brother, and the most intimate relatives,
it hastens to put them out of sight. All this the deceased
permit, without a murmur or a feeling of offense; nor
do the dead make any account of the living, much less
do they attend to them or to anything they may have left
among their survivors."
13. "Having thus died to thyself, it remains for thee
to consider thyself as the food of worms, fit only for
vilest corruption. Thus shalt thou bury thyself in the
earth of thy self-knowledge, in order that thy senses
and passions may not presume to give forth their bad
odor in the sight of the Lord, nor, like an ill-covered
and half-buried corpse, may not presume to give forth
its bad odor in the presence of the Lord and of those
that have entered the blessed life. Let thy horror of
showing any signs of life, or of not being entirely mor
tified in the sight of thy God and of the saints, be much
greater than that caused by unburied bodies among
men. The use of thy senses such as sight, hearing, touch
and others for the purpose of entertainment or delight,
should be a greater surprise and offense to thee, than
to see a corpse moving about. By this death thou shalt
be prepared and fit to be the only spouse of my divine
Son, and my true and most beloved disciple and daughter.
Such is the state which I require of thee, and so high
is the wisdom, which I am to teach thee in following
my footsteps and in imitating my life, reproducing in
thyself, as far as is granted thee, all my virtues. This
should be the fruit of recording the wonders and sac
raments of my sanctity manifested to thee by the Lord.
I wish that they escape not the secrecy of thy bosom
and be made known without having moved thee to
the perfect fulfillment of the will of my divine Son
and of mine, which tends to nothing else than toward
thy own highest perfection. Drink then the waters
of wisdom from their fountainhead, the Savior: there
is no reason why thou shouldst remain void and unsatiated
of that, which thou art to administer to others,
nor that thou shouldst finish writing this history with
out deriving the fruits of this blessing. Prepare thy
heart then for this death, which I urge upon thee,
and thou shalt attain thy wishes and mine."
14. Such were the words of the great Lady of heaven
to me on this occasion, and on many others She has
repeated this teaching of the salutary and eternal life.
Of these teachings I have written much in the chap
ters of the first and second part, and shall continue to
do so in the third part. From all this my sluggish
ness and ingratitude toward such great benefits is very
apparent. For, though this great Queen and her divine
Son have so often promised to raise me to a most
exalted state and habitation, once I die to the earth
and to myself, and though in their divine kindness They
now promise it freely and anew; yet I find myself con
tinually backward in virtue and much entangled in
the pursuits of a daughter of Adam. This state is a
solitude and desert, created for the soul in the midst
of the surrounding creatures. In it my soul has no
intercourse with the rest of visible creatures, but enjoys
the presence and the communications of the Lord, of
his holy Mother and the angels, at the same time per
mitting all its activity and all its dealings to be gov
erned by the promptings of the divine will for God s
greater glory and honor.
15. During the whole course of my life, from earliest
childhood, the Most High has exercised me in continual
infirmities, sorrows and other molestations of creatures.
But with the advance of years He increased also the
sufferings of another kind of trial, which made me
forget much of those already suffered in the past;
it was like a two-edged sword which divided my soul
and spirit, as the Apostle says (Heb. 4, 12). This
trial was that constant fear, of which I have so often
spoken, and for which I have been reprehended in this
history. Much of it I felt even from childhood, but it
developed and rose to the highest pitch since my en
trance into religion, where I applied myself entirely
to the spiritual life, and experienced the manifestations
of the Lord to my soul. Since that time God has placed
me upon this cross, or into this wine-press of the heart,
namely : permitting me to remain in the continual dread
of not being on the right path, of being deceived, or of
having lost the grace and the friendship of God. My
difficulties were much augmented by the publicity, which
some persons incautiously and to my great grief, gave
to my affairs, and by the terrors with which others
filled me at my danger. So deeply rooted in my heart
was this terror, that it has never ceased, and could
never be allayed by the satisfaction and complete as
surances of my confessor and superiors, nor by their
kind encouragement, nor by their corrections, nor by
the many other means they used for this purpose. What
is more, although the angels and the Queen of heaven,
and the Lord himself continually reassured and soothed
me, and although I feel myself free in their presence;
yet, as soon as I issue from this sphere of divine light
I am again assailed with incredible violence. This
might easily be recognized as the cruel machination of
the infernal dragon, if my troubles, afflictions and fears
had not the appearance of arising from other sources
than the devil. This fiend especially assails me, when
ever I am about to open my heart to my confessors,
particularly to the superior, who directs me ; for nothing
does this prince of darkness fear more than the light
and the power possessed by the ministers of the Lord.
16. In the bitterness of this sorrow and the most
ardent desire of grace and of not losing God, I have
lived many years, and the various and numerous hap
penings amid this constant strife I cannot record. The
root of this fear, I believe, was holy, but many of its
branches have been fruitless, although the divine wis
dom knew how to use them all for his different ends.
On this account He permitted the enemy to avail him
self of the blessings of the Lord for my affliction. For
the inordinate fear, which hinders the good, though it
appear to imitate ever so much the good, is evil and of
the demon. My afflictions have at times reached such
a pass, that I considered it a great gain not to lose
the life of my body, and especially that of my soul.
But the Lord, whom the winds and the waves obey
(Matth. 8, 27) and whom all things serve (Ps. 118,
91), who gives nourishment to every creature in op
portune time (Ps. 144, 15), has now in his condescen
sion wished to give peace to my spirit in order that I
might enjoy more tranquillity in writing the rest of this
history. It is some years ago, that the Lord consoled
me and promised me peace and interior quiet before I
should die; informing me at the same time, that the
dragon is so furious against me, because he suspects
there is little time left him for persecution.
17. In order to set about writing this third part the
Lord on a certain day, with singular condescension and
complacency, spoke to me as follows : "My dearest
Spouse, I wish to alleviate thy pains and moderate thy
afflictions ; quiet thyself, my dove, and rest securely in the
sweetness of my love and of my powerful and kingly
word; for I assure thee upon this word, that it is I,
who speak to thee and who have selected thy paths ac
cording to my pleasure. It is I, that lead thee along
these ways; it is I, the same One, that is at the right
hand of the eternal Father and present in the sacra
ment of the holy Eucharist in the species of bread. I
give thee this assurance, in order that thou quiet and
convince thyself. For I do not wish thee, my dearest,
to be my slave, but my daughter and spouse, and I de
sire thee to enjoy my gifts and delights. Enough of
fears and of bitterness hast thou suffered ; let peace and
tranquillity enter into thy afflicted heart." Such favors
and assurances of the Lord, often repeated, one would
think, should not be humiliating, but should afford only
the greatest joy; but they are of such a kind, that they
abase the heart to the lowest dust and fill me with solici
tude and anxiety. Those that think different, have
little experience and are only slightly capable of the
secret operations of the Most High. It is certain, that
I have been instructed in many new things interiorly
and was much alleviated in the troubles and temptations
caused by these disorderly fears. But the Lord is so
wise and powerful, that on the one hand He assures,
and on the other He stirs up the soul, injecting new fear
of falling and thereby preserving it in the knowledge
and humiliation of self.
18. I must acknowledge that by these and other con
tinual favors, the Lord has not so much freed me from
fears, as confirmed me in them; for I live in continual
dread, lest I show myself ungrateful and fail to cor
respond by displeasing Him or losing Him; lest I be
wanting in the perfect love of Him, who is so good in
Himself; and lest I should not deserve to retain the
fullest possible love toward Him, or even that which
is not possible. Filled with these anxieties, and on ac
count of my great misery, solicitude and many faults,
I said on one occasion to the Most High : "My sweetest
Love, Lord and Master of my soul, although Thou
givest me so many assurances to quiet my troubled
heart, how can I do away with my fears amid the dan
gers of this laborious and dreadful life, full of tempta
tions and persecutions, during which I hold my treasure
in a vase more fragile and weak than that of any other
creature?" With paternal condescension He responded:
"My cherished spouse, I do not wish thee to lose the just
fear of offending Me; but it is my will, that thou be
not disturbed and grieved in a disorderly manner, nor
so as to hinder thee from rising to my exalted and perfect
love. Thou hast my Mother for a Teacher and a model,
for thy instruction and imitation. I shall assist thee
by my grace and support thee with my direction. Tell
Me then, what thou askest, or what thou desirest for
thy peace and security."
19. With the greatest resignation that I could muster
I replied : "Highest Lord and Father, much is that which
thou askest, although thy goodness and immense love
deserve that I fulfill it all. But I know my weakness
and inconstancy, and I shall be satisfied in no other
way than by not offending Thee, neither by the slightest
thought, nor by the least movement of my faculties;
and I shall rest only when all my actions shall be ac
cording to thy pleasure and good will." The Lord an
swered : "My continual help and favors shall not fail
thee, if thou correspond to them. In order that thou
mayest do it so much the better, I wish to perform a
work, which is in keeping with the love I have for thee.
I will connect my immutable Being with thy insignifi
cance by an especial Providence, chaining and binding
thee in such a way, that, whenever thou shalt, in the
weakness of thy will, do anything less pleasing to Me,
thou shalt feel my influence detaining and recalling thee
to Me. The effect of this blessing Thou shalt know and
feel immediately within thyself, just like a slave, who
is bound by chains in order that she may not fly."
20. To the great joy and advantage of my soul the
Almighty fulfilled his promise and among many other
favors and blessings (which may not be mentioned and
which do not concern my purpose), none has been so
precious to me as this one. I perceive it not only in
great dangers, but in the smallest; and in such a way,
that if I neglect or carelessly omit any work or ceremony,
although it be no more than to humiliate myself or to
kiss the floor on entering the choir to adore the Lord,
as is customary in the convent, I at once feel a sweet
force, which draws me and calls my attention to the
defect, and which, on its part, permits not the least im
perfection. If sometimes in my weakness I fall into any,
this divine force is at once present, causing in me heart
rending pain. This pain serves as a check to the least
disorderly inclination and at the same time as a goad
toward seeking immediate remedy for the fault or im
perfection committed. As the gifts of the Lord are
without regret (Rom. 11, 29), He has not only bound
me with this mysterious chain, but, in his divine con
descension, on a certain day, that of his holy Name and
Circumcision, I perceived that He tripled it, in order to
restrain me and bind me still more forcibly, since a
triple cord, as the wise man says, is difficult to break
(Eccles. 4, 12). All this was necessary on account of
my weakness, in order that I might not be overcome
by the importunate and astute temptations of the ancient
serpent.
21. In the meanwhile these temptations increased so
much, that in spite of the blessings and commandments
of the Lord mentioned above, in spite of the demands
of obedience and of others not to be mentioned here,
I nevertheless hesitated to begin the last part of this
history; for I felt again the fury of the powers of dark
ness, which tried to overwhelm me. I understood this
and I will explain it by what saint John says in the
twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse: That the great red
dragon shot forth from its maw a river of water against
that heavenly Woman (Apoc. 12, 15), whom he had
pursued from heaven, and that, since he could not touch
or destroy Her, he turned in great rage against the rem
nants and the seed of that great Lady, against those
who are sealed with the testimony of Jesus Christ (Apoc.
12, 17) in his Church. During the time of which I
am speaking this ancient serpent strained all his wrath
to disquiet me and, as far as he could, force me to
commit some faults, which retarded the purity and per
fection of life required of me and necessary for writing
what I was commanded. While this interior battle con
tinued, the feast of the holy Guardian Angel on the first
of March intervened. Reciting matins in the choir I
suddenly felt a noise or great disturbance, so that I
shrank and humiliated myself to the very dust. Then
I saw a great multitude of angels, which filled the whole
choir, and from their midst proceeded a still greater re
fulgence or splendor as of a judge, seated upon a tribunal
or judgment-seat. I understood at once, that it was the
archangel saint Michael. Without delay, they intimated to
me, that they were sent by the Most High with especial
power and authority to arraign me for my negligence
and for my faults.
22. I desired to prostrate myself on the earth to
acknowledge my transgressions and humbly to weep be
fore those celestial judges, but as I was surrounded by
the nuns, I dared not make the presence of the angels
known by prostrating myself in body. I did what was
possible interiorly, bitterly weeping over my sins. In
the meantime I saw the holy angels speaking and con
ferring with each other, saying: "This creature is use
less, slow, and not at all fervent in fulfilling the com
mands of the Most High and of our Queen. She will
not come to a full trust in the blessings and the en
lightenments, which she continually receives at our hands.
Let us deprive her of all those blessings, since she does
not put them to use, nor earnestly strive to be so pure
and perfect as the Lord teaches her to be; neither does
she proceed to write the life of his most blessed Mother,
as He has commanded her so many times. If she does
not mend, it is not just that she should receive so many
and such great favors and instructions in holiness."
Hearing these words I was sadly afflicted at heart and I
wept the more. Full of confusion and grief I spoke
to the holy angels in the bitterness of my soul and I
promised amendment of my faults and obedience unto
death to the Lord and to his most holy Mother.
23. At my humiliation and my promises the angelic
spirits relaxed somewhat in their severity and with
greater kindness they told me: that, if I would dili
gently fulfill what I had promised, they would assure
me of their continual favor and assistance, admit me as
their companion and friend, and hold intercourse with
me in the same way as they conversed with each other.
I thanked them for their kindness and besought them
to present my thanks also before the Most High. They
disappeared, warning me, that for the favors they would
show me, I must imitate them in purity, committing no
fault or imperfection wilfully; and this they intimated
as the condition upon which this promise depended.
24. After these and many other happenings, which
need not be mentioned, I was left in a state of greater
humiliation, as was natural with one who had been so
severely reprehended for ingratitude, unworthiness and
insensibility toward so many blessings, exhortations and
commandments. Full of confusion and sorrow I con
sidered within myself, what little excuse or pretext I
had for resisting the divine will, in view of all that I
had come to know and in view of its importance to my
welfare. I resolved firmly to execute the command or
die in the attempt, and I sought for some powerful and
tangible means which should rouse and urge me on to
combat my want of attention, and which should keep
me alert, if possible, against any imperfection in all my
operations and movements, so that I might always do
what is most holy and pleasing in the eyes of the Lord.
I betook myself to my confessor and superior and be
sought him, in all the sincerity and submission of my
heart, to reprehend me severely and force me to be per
fect and solicitous in the most exact fulfillment of the
divine will and in the execution of what the divine
Majesty required of me. Although he was most zealous
and vigilant as one who took the place of God and one
who knew his will and my prescribed path ; yet he could
not always come to my assistance or be present on ac
count of the absentations required by his duties as a
religious and as a superior. I resolved therefore also
to engage one of the nuns to assist me, asking her to
reprehend and advise me often, or warn me and stir
me up by threats. All these means and others I sought
in the most ardent desire of pleasing the Lord, his most
holy Mother and my Teacher, the holy angels, all of
whom were of the same mind in regard to my advance
in perfection.
25. In the midst of these solicitudes it happened to
me one night, that my holy guardian angel showed him
self to me as being particularly pleased and said: "The
Most High wishes to condescend to thy desires and has
appointed me to serve thee as a guide to spur thee on.
I shall be thy faithful friend and companion in order
to advise thee and rouse thy attention; and thou shalt
find me present, just as now, whenever thou shalt turn
thy eyes toward me in the desire of pleasing and faith
fully serving thy Lord and Spouse. I will teach thee
how to praise Him continually and how to alternate with
me in canticles. I will manifest to thee new mysteries
and treasures of his greatness; I will give thee deeper
understandings of his immutable being and divine per
fections. And whenever thou art engaged in outward
works of obedience or charity, or when, through some
negligence, thou turnest to earthly and exterior things,
I shall call thee to fly to the Lord ; and for this purpose
I shall use some words of admonition, which often shall
be these : Who is like unto the God, that dwells on high
and in the hearts of the humble ? At other times I shall
call to thy mind the blessings thou hast received from
God and thy duty to his love. At still others, I shall
remind thee to look upon Him and raise up to Him thy
heart. But to all these warnings thou must be punctual,
attentive and obedient."
26. "The Most High also desires me not to conceal
to thee any longer a favor, which until now thou hast
overlooked among the many conferred upon thee by his
most liberal bounty; and for this thou must now begin
to thank Him. It is this, that I am one of the thousand
angels, who served as a guard to our great Queen in this
world, and one of those, who bear the device of his
admirable and holy name. Look upon me and thou wilt
see it upon my breast." I looked and there recognized
the holy name in refulgent splendor, filling my soul with
new consolation and jubilee. The holy angel proceeded
and said : "He has also commanded me to call thy atten
tion to the fact, that of us thousand angels very rarely
any are appointed as guardian angels of souls and what
ever souls so far have been committed to our care, have
all been of the number of the saints and none of them
of the reprobate. Take heed then, O soul, of thy obliga
tion not to interrupt this series; for if in spite of this
blessing thou art lost, thy punishment and chastisement
shall be of the severest ever inflicted upon the damned
and thou shalt be known as the most unhappy and un
grateful of all the daughters of Adam. That thou
shouldst be favored by having me as thy guardian, who
was one of the guardians of our great Queen, most holy
Mary and the Mother of the Creator, was ordained by
the most high Providence and in view of thy being chosen
to write and imitate the life of his most blessed Mother.
I was appointed to instruct thee and assist thee, because
I was an eye-witness of her divine works and excellences."
27. "This office of a guide will be fulfilled principally
by the great Lady herself; but I am to furnish thee
with the necessary images in order to elucidate what
the heavenly Mistress shall teach thee, and I am to give
thee other understandings ordained by the Most High,
for the clearer recording of the mysteries manifested to
thee. Thou shalt experience all of them although them
shalt not always know the connection and the sacraments
hidden under this providential guidance. Thou shalt also
perceive that the Lord himself, making use of this special
providence in thy regard, has commissioned me to com
pel thee, with sweetest urgency, to imitate the purest
Mary our Queen, and to follow Her and obey Her in her
doctrine. From now on I shall execute this mandate
of the Lord with greater insistence and force. Resolve
then to be most faithful and thankful in regard to these
blessings and seek to scale the highest summits of the
perfection taught thee and asked of thee. Remember,
that even if thou reach the perfection of the highest sera
phim, thou shalt still be in great debt to God s copious
and liberal mercy. The new mode of life, which the
Lord asks of thee, is contained and is made clear in the
instructions given to thee by our great Queen and Lady,
and in what thou shalt understand and write in this third
part of her life. Listen to Her with a submissive heart,
thank Her humbly, execute Her doctrine anxiously and
carefully; fcr if thou do this, thou shalt be fortunate
and eternally blessed."
28. Other things, which the angels told me, need not
be mentioned for my present purpose. But what is con
tained in this introduction, will manifest partly the provi
dence of the Most High toward me and it will also make
known the high purposes of divine Wisdom in the writing
of this history. These are, that not only I, but all who
desire, may reap the fruits of this blessing, and that
each one for himself may use it as an efficacious means
of salvation. It will also become evident, that Christian
perfection cannot be attained without great battles with
the demon or without incessant labor in overcoming and
subjecting the passions and evil inclinations of our de
praved human nature. Finally, the heavenly Mother and
Instructress, that I might begin to write this third part
of her history, in sweetest kindness, said to me : "My
eternal blessing, and that of my most holy Son, come
over thee, in order that thou mayest write the rest of
my life and in order that thou mayest labor and strive
after the perfection We desire of thee. Amen."
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