The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 1 chapter 22 verses 345-360 Index

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


  INDEX            Book 1  Chapter  22    Verses:  345-360

345. It was a precept of the law, given in the twelfth
chapter of Leviticus, that a woman who had given birth
to a daughter should be deemed impure for two weeks
and should remain in the state of purification for sixtysix
days after the birth, just double the time required for
purification in case of a man-child Having completed
the days of her purification she was to present herself in
order to offer a lamb one year old as a holocaust for
the daughter or the son, and also a young pigeon or tur
tle-dove as atonement for the sin. This she was to do
at the door of the tabernacle, beseeching the priest to
offer them to the Lord and to pray for her; thereupon
she was accounted pure. The parturition of the most
happy Anne was pure and undefined, as befitting her
heavenly Daughter, in whose purity the mother was a
sharer. Although on this account there was no need
of a special purification, she nevertheless complied with
the obligation of the law to the very last point. Though
not subject to its penalties, she considered herself bound
in the eyes of men.
346. Sixty days of the purification having passed, saint
Anne departed for the temple, her mind inflamed with
divine ardor and bearing in her arms her blessed Daugh
ter and Child. With the offerings prescribed by law and
accompanied by innumerable angels, she betook herself
to the gate of the temple and spoke with the high priest,
who was none other than Simeon. He was accustomed
to spend much time in the temple and enjoyed the privi
lege and favor of seeing the child Mary, not only when
She was offered and presented to the Lord in the temple,
but on other occasions. Although this holy priest was
not on each of these occasions fully aware of the dig
nity of our heavenly Mistress, as I will say farther on
(No. 423, 710, 742), yet he always experienced great
promptings and impulses of the spirit regarding the
greatness of this Child in the sight of God.
347. Saint Anne offered to him the lamb and the tur
tle-dove with the rest of the gifts, and with tears of
humility she asked him to pray for herself and the Child,
her Daughter, that the Lord forgive them any fault of
which perhaps they might be guilty. His Majesty cer
tainly had nothing to forgive in a Daughter and mother,
who were so full of grace ; but He found Himself bound
to reward the humility, with which notwithstanding their
holiness they presented themselves as sinners. The holy
priest received the oblation and in his spirit he was in
flamed and moved to extraordinary joy. Careful not to
manifest anything exteriorly and communing with him
self, he said; "What strange feeling is this within me?
Are these women perhaps the parents of the Messias,
who is to come?" Moved by this joyful suspense he
showed them great benevolence. The blessed mother
Anne entered the temple, bearing her most holy Daugh
ter on her arms, and She offered Her to the Lord with
most devout and tender tears. For she alone in all the
world knew what Treasure was given into her charge.
348. Saint Anne renewed the vow, which she had al
ready made, to offer her Firstborn to the temple on
arriving at the proper age. In renewing this offer she
was enlightened by new graces and promptings of the
Most High, and in her heart she heard a secret voice
urging her to fulfill this vow and offer her Child to the
temple within three years. It was as it were the echo
of the voice of the most holy Queen, who in her prayer
touched the heart of God, in order that it might resound
in the bosom of the mother. For when both entered the
temple, the sweet Child seeing with her bodily eyes its
grandeur and magnificence, dedicated to the worship and
adoration of the Divinity, experienced wonderful effects
of the Spirit and wished to prostrate Herself in the tem
ple, to kiss its floor, and adore the Lord. But as She
could not execute these desires in external actions, She
supplied the defect with interior fervor, and She adored
and blessed the Lord with a love more ardent, and a
humility more profound than ever before or ever after
was possible to be rendered by any creature. Addressing
the Lord in her heart, She offered the following prayer :
349. "Most high and incomprehensible God, my King
and my Lord, worthy of all glory and reverence, I, ab
ject dust, but also a creature of thine, adore Thee in this
thy holy place and temple. I magnify and exalt Thee on
account of thy infinite Being and perfections, and I give
thanks in as far as my insignificance is worthy of thy
regard. For Thou hast vouchsafed to permit my eyes to
see this holy temple and house of prayer, where thy holy
Prophets and my forefathers have worshipped and
blessed Thee, and where thy generous mercy has wrought
so many wonders and mysteries in their behalf. Accept
me, O Lord, in order that I may serve Tboe in this holy
house according to thy blessed will."
350. Thus She who was the Queen of heaven and of
the universe, offered Herself as if She were the lowest
slave of the Lord. As a testimony of its acceptation by
the Most High, a most resplendent light shone down
from heaven, enveloping the mother and Child, and rill
ing them with new splendors of grace. Again saint
Anne was made aware that she would be expected to de
vote her Daughter to the temple within three years; she
was given to understand that the delight with which God
looked forward to such an offer, and the love with which
the heavenly Child desired its consummation would not
permit a longer delay. The holy angels of her guard
and innumerable others who were present on this occa
sion sang sweetest songs of praise to the Author of these
wonders ; but they did not therefore have a more perfect
knowledge of these happenings than saint Anne or her
most holy Daughter, who perceived interiorly what was
spiritual, and felt exteriorly what was subject to the
senses in these things. Saint Simeon saw dimly the sen
sible light. Thereupon saint Anne, rich in her Treasure
and endowed with new gifts of the most high God, re
turned to her home.
351. The ancient serpent eagerly observed all these
events. Yet the Lord concealed from him what he was
not to know, and permitted him to obtain knowledge only
of what was necessary for his own undoing in his desire
of destroying others and only so much as might serve to
make him an instrument in the execution of the secret
judgments of the Most High. This enemy was full of
conjectures in regard to the unheard of things, which had
come to pass in connection with this Mother and Child.
But when he saw that they brought offerings to the
temple and that they, like sinners, observed the prescrip
tions of the law, even begging of the priest to intercede
for their forgiveness; he was deceived and assuaged in
his fury, believing that this mother and her Daughter
were of ordinary condition although they might be more
perfect and holy than other women.
352. The sovereign Child was treated like other chil
dren of her age. Her nourishment was of the usual kind,
though less in quantity; and so was her sleep, although
her parents were solicitous that She take more sleep. She
was not troublesome, nor did She ever cry for mere an
noyance, as is done by other children, but She was most
amiable and caused no trouble to anybody. That She
did not act in this regard as other children caused no
wonder; for She often wept and sighed (as far as her
age and her dignity of Queen and Mistress would per
mit) for the sins of the world and for its Redemption
through the coming of the Savior. Ordinarily She main
tained, even in her infancy, a pleasant countenance, yet
mixed with gravity and a peculiar Majesty, never show
ing any childishness. She sometimes permitted Herself
to be caressed, though, by a secret influence and a cer
tain outward austerity, She knew how to repress the im
perfections connected with such endearments. Her pru
dent mother Anne treated her Child with incomparable
solicitude and caressing tenderness; also her father
Joachim loved Her as a father and as a saint, although
he was ignorant of the mystery at that time. The Child
on its part showed a special love toward him, as one
whom She knew for her father and one much beloved of
God. Although She permitted more tender caresses from
her father than from others, yet God inspired the father
as well as all others, with such an extraordinary rever
ence and modesty towards Her whom He had chosen for
his Mother, that even his pure and fatherly affection was
outwardly manifested only with the greatest moderation
and reserve.
353. In all things the infant Queen was most gracious,
perfect and admirable. Though She passed her infancy
subject to the common laws of nature, yet this did not
hinder the influx of grace. During her sleep her interior
acts of love, and all other exercises of her faculties which
were not dependent on the exterior senses, were never in
terrupted. This special privilege is possible also in other
creatures, if the divine power confers it on them; but it
is certain that in regard to Her whom He had chosen as
his Mother and the Queen of all creation, He extended
this special favor beyond all previous or subsequent meas
ure in other creatures and beyond the conception of any
created mind. God spoke to Samuel and to other saints
and Prophets in their sleep, (I Reg. 3, 4) and to many
He sent mysterious dreams or visions (Genes. 37; 5, 9)
for to his Omnipotence it is easy to enlighten the mind
during the inactivity of the senses in natural sleep or
during their ravishment in ecstasy; they cease to act in
the one as well as in the other, and without their activity
the soul hears, accepts and transacts the things of the
Spirit. This was the rule which the Queen followed
from the moment of her Conception till now and for all
eternity ; for the activity of grace in Her during Her pil
grimage through life was not intermittent, like in other
creatures. When She was alone, or when She was laid to
sleep, which was in Her most moderate, She was en
gaged in the contemplation of the mysteries and the ex
cellencies of the Most High, and in the enjoyment of the
divine visions and the conversation of his Majesty. Her
intercourse with the angels was likewise very frequent
and in the following chapter something will be said of the
manner of their manifestation and of some of their emi
nent perfections.
354. My Queen and heavenly Lady, if without being
offended, Thou wilt, as a kind Mother, listen to my ig
norant talk, I will ask of thy kindness the solution of
some doubts which have occurred to me in this chapter.
If my ignorance and boldness should transgress the lim
its, instead of answering me, my Mistress, correct me
with maternal mercy. My doubt is : Whether in this thy
infancy Thou didst feel the necessities and hunger which
according to the natural order, children do feel? And
if Thou didst feel them, how didst Thou suffer these an
noying inconveniences? And how didst Thou ask for
the nourishment and the other help necessary, since Thou
wast so wonderfully patient that Thou wouldst not make
use of tears, which serve other infants as speech and
words? I am also ignorant, whether the hardships of
that age were not most irksome to thy Majesty, such as
to have thy virginal body clothed and unclothed as in
fants are, to be fed with the food of other children, and
to undergo the other experiences of that age? For other
children undergo them bereft of reason, while nothing
was concealed from Thee, O Lady. When I look upon
Thee as a child in age and yet as grown up in thy ca
pacity of judging of things, it seems to me almost im
possible that there should have been no inconveniences
in this matter, in the time or the measure, or in other cir
cumstances regarding the treatment allotted to Thee dur
ing thy infant life. Thy celestial prudence taught Thee
to preserve dignity and composure, yet Thou didst not
intimate the wants and needs of thy age and condition
either by crying, as an infant, or by word of mouth, as
one grown up. Thus they could not know thy needs and
could not treat Thee as one endowed with reason; for
even thy mother could not know all these things, nor
could she provide for all that was necessary, since she
knew not the time nor the manner of serving thy Ma
jesty in all things. All these considerations excite my
admiration and arouse in me the desire of knowing the
mysteries thus concealed.
355. My daughter, since thou art full of wonder, I will
inform thee in all kindness. It is true that I was in pos
session of grace and of the use of reason from the first
instant of my Conception, as I have so often shown thee ;
I underwent the hardships of infancy as other children
and I was reared and treated as others of the same con
dition. I felt hunger, thirst, sleepiness and other infirm
ities of the body, and as a daughter of Adam I was sub
ject to these accidental necessities; for it was just that I
should imitate my most holy Son, who subjected Him
self to these hardships and defects, in order that He
might merit so much the more and in order that He
might be an example to the rest of mortals for their imi
tation. As I was governed by divine grace, I made use
of eating and sleep in moderation, allowing myself less
than others, and only so much as was proper for the aug
mentation and the preservation of my life and health.
Disorder in these things is not only against virtue, but
against the well-being of nature itself, which is invaded
and ravaged by it. On account of my exquisite compo
sition I was affected by hunger and thirst more painfully
than other children; and the want of nourishment was
more dangerous to me; but if it was given to me at un
seasonable times, or in excess, I bore it with patience,
until by some befitting sign I could manifest my needs.
I felt less the want of sleep on account of the oppor
tunity which it furnished me for the presence and the
heavenly conversation of the angels.
356. That I was bound and wrapped in clothes was
not painful to me, but it was a cause of much joy, for I
understood by divine light, that the incarnate Lord was
to suffer a most cruel death and was to be bound most
shamefully. Whenever J was alone during my childhood
I placed myself in the form of a cross, praying in imita
tion of Him; for I knew that my Beloved was to die in
that position, although I did not know then that the Cru
cified was to be my Son. In all the difficulties, which I
underwent after I was born into the world, I was re
signed and contented, for I never lost sight of one con
sideration, which I desire thee always to keep in mind.
It is this : that thou ponder in thy heart and in thy soul
the truths, which I saw, so that thou mayest form a cor
rect judgment of all things, giving to each that esteem
and value which is its due. In regard to this the children
of Adam are ordinarily full of error and blindness, but I
desire that thou, my daughter, share it not with them.
357. As soon as I was born into the world and made
aware of the light, which shone upon me, I felt the effects
of the elements, the influence of the planets and of the
stars, of the earth which sustained me, of the nourish
ments which preserved me, and of all the other things of
this life. I gave thanks to the Author of all things, ac
knowledging his works as benefits freely bestowed upon
me, and not as dues, which He owed to me. Therefore,
when anything was wanting of the necessaries of life I re
mained in peace and contentedness and deemed it all per
fectly reasonable and proper in my regard, since I had
merited none of the gifts and could justly be deprived of
all of them. Hence, if I acknowledged this, thereby
merely asserting a truth which the human reason cannot
ignore nor deny, where have mortals their intellect, or
what use do they make of their understanding when, at
the refusal of things which they desire and of which per
haps they do not even profit, they begin to get sad and
lash themselves into fury one against the other, and even
against their God, as if they were suffering some injury
at his hands? Let them inquire what treasures and
riches they did possess before they came into life? What
services had they rendered unto God in order to merit
them? And if out of nothing there cannot arise any
thing", and if they could not merit the being which they
have received, what obligation is there on the part of
God to preserve out of justice, what was given to them
entirely gratuitously ? That God created man was of no
benefit to Himself; but to man it was a benefit, and one
as great as the being given to him, and as high as the
object for which it was given. And if in his creation
man becomes indebted so much that he never can pay his
debt, tell me what right can he invoke at present for his
preservation? Has he not received his being without
merit and many times forfeited it? How can he claim
the guarantee and pledge of unfailing plenty?
358. If the first transaction and operation was a mort
gage and a debt by which man binds himself, how can he
with such impatience demand favors? And if in spite
of all this, the supreme goodness of the Creator furnishes
him graciously with what is necessary, why should he be
agitated by the want of superfluities? O my daughter,
what an execrable disorder and what a despicable blind
ness of mortals is this? For that, which the Lord gives
them gratuitously, they do not thank Him, or even give
Him acknowledgment, and for that which He denies
them justly and sometimes most mercifully, they are rest
less and proudly desirous, and they try to procure it by
unjust and forbidden means, throwing themselves into
the very destruction which flies from them. The first sin
alone, committed by man, was sufficient to cancel man s
right to the friendly service of all the other creatures;
and if the Lord himself would not restrain them, they
would turn in vengeance upon man and refuse to render
any service or help for sustaining his life. The heavens
would deny them their light and benign influences, the
fire would refuse its heat, the air would cease to serve for
respiration, and all the other things would in their par
ticular way refuse their services, since they would in jus
tice be bound to refuse them. Then when the earth
would deny its fruits, and the elements their moderation
and their assistance, and all the other creatures would
arm themselves to avenge the wrongs of their Creator
(Sap. 5, 18), perhaps disgraced man would humiliate
himself in his vileness and would not heap up the wrath
of the Lord for the unerring day of accountance, when
all his dreadful guilt will be exposed.
359. But thou, my dear friend, fly from such base in
gratitude, and humbly acknowledge that thou hast re
ceived thy being and life gratuitously, and that, gratui
tously, its Author preserves it for thee. Freely dost thou
receive all the other benefits, without any merit of thine ;
and thus, receiving much and repaying little, thou makest
thyself daily less worthy of favors, while the liberality
of the Most High grows continually with thy indebted
ness. Let this thought be uppermost in thee always, in
order that it awaken and move thee to many acts of vir
tue. If any of the irrational creatures fail thee, I desire
thee to rejoice in the Lord and give thanks to his Ma
jesty, and bless them for their obedience to the Creator.
If the rational creatures persecute thee, love them with all
thy heart and regard them as the instruments of divine
justice, which afford thee some opportunity of rendering
satisfaction for thy deficiency. Rather strengthen and con
sole thyself in labors, adversities and tribulations, not
only considering them as fully deserved by the faults
committed, but deeming them ornaments of the soul and
most rich jewels given thee by thy Spouse.
360. Let this be the answer to thy doubt: over and
above this I wish to give thee an instruction, which may
be found in all the chapters. Consider, my soul the
punctuality of my mother Anne in fulfilling the precept
of the law of the Lord, to whose Majesty this solicitude
was very pleasing. In this thou shouldst imitate her by
observing inviolate each and every one of the precepts of
thy rules and constitutions ; for God will reward most lib
erally this fidelity and severely punish any negligence in
this matter. Without sin I was conceived and it was not
necessary to present me to the priest in order that the
Lord might purify me; nor was this necessary for my
mother, since she was very holy. Nevertheless we hum
bly obeyed the law and thereby we merited great in
crease of virtue and grace. Despising just and wise laws
and frequently dispensing with them, destroys the wor
ship and fear of God, and fatally confuses government
among men. Beware of easily dispensing in the obliga
tions of the religious state, either for thyself or for
others. If infirmity or some other just cause make it
advisable, let it be done with moderation and with the
approbation of the confessor, thus justifying dispensation
before God and before men by the approbation of holy
obedience. If thou findest thyself weary or weakened,
do not at once become remiss in the strict observance, for
God will give thee strength according to thy faith in
Him. Do not give any dispensation on pretext of being
overworked. Make that which is less serve and advance
that which is the greater, let the creatures serve the Cre
ator. On account of thy position as superioress thou hast
less excuse; for in the observation of the laws thou must
give a good example, leading on the others. Therefore,
for thyself, no merely human motive can serve as an ex
cuse, though thou mayest sometimes excuse thy sisters
and subjects on such account. Note moreover, my dear
est, that I desire thee to lead in perfection ; therefore this
rigor is necessary, not even taking into consideration,
that the observance of the precepts is a duty to God and
men. Let no one think that it is enough to fulfill all
obligations toward the Lord, and at the same time tread
under foot the duty towards his neighbor, to whom is
due good example and avoidance of all real scandal. O
Queen and Mistress of all creation, would that I could
attain the purity and the virtue of the supernal spirits,
in order that this inferior part of my being, which weighs
down the soul (Sap. 9, 15), may prompt me to fulfill
thy celestial teachings. I have become burdensome unto
myself (Job 7, 20) ; but with thy intercession and the
gracious favor of the Most High I will be able to obey
thy will and his with a loving promptitude of heart. Let
not thy intercession and support, and the guidance of thy
holy and wise counsels ever fail me!
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