The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 1 chapter 25 verses 389-412 Index

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


  INDEX            Book 1  Chapter  25    Verses:  389-412

389. The time had arrived, in which the most holy
Mary could profitably and with perfect propriety break
her blessed silence, in which the voice of that heavenly
Turtledove was to be heard on our earth in order that
She might be the faithful harbinger of the springtime of
grace (Cant 2, 12). But before She was commissioned
by the Lord to speak with men (which was at the age
of eighteen months), She was favored with a vision of
the Divinity, not intuitive but intellectual, which was
a summary of those already received and augmented
the previous gifts and graces. In that vision a colloquy
took place between the Child and the highest Lord,
which I tremblingly presume to reproduce in words.
390. The Queen spoke to his Majesty: "Most High
Lord and incomprehensible God, how canst Thou pursue
with so great favors thy most useless and poor creature?
How canst Thou unbend thy greatness in such loving
condescension toward thy slave, who is incapable of
making the least return? The Most High looks down
upon the servant. The Most Powerful stoops to enrich
the indigent! The Holy of holiest lowers Himself to
the dust! I, O Lord, am the little one among the crea
tures, and least of all deserve thy favors. What shall
I do in thy divine presence? How shall I requite what
I owe to Thee? What have I, O Lord, that is not
thine, since Thou givest me being, life and activity?
But I rejoice, O my Beloved, that Thou possessest all
the good, and without Thee, the creature possesses noth
ing. I rejoice, that Thou alone canst claim the glory
of raising up the little one, of favoring the most useless,
giving existence to nothingness; for thus thy magnifi
cence shall become more known and exalted."
391. The Lord answered Her and said: "My Dove
and Beloved One, in my eyes thou hast found favor;
thine are the sweetnesses of my delights, my friend and
chosen one. I will manifest what in thee shall please Me
most." These promises of the Lord wounded Her anew
and made the most tender heart of the infant Queen
pine in throes of love, though it had already grown
strong; and the Most High in his pleasure continued
and said : "I am the God of mercies and with immense
love I am drawn toward mortals; among so many, who
have by their faults offended Me, I see some just, who
are my friends and who have served Me and do serve Me
from their heart. I have resolved to save them by send
ing my Onlybegotten, in order that they may not be de
prived of my glory, nor I of their eternal praise."
392. To this proposition the most holy child Mary
responded: "Most high Lord and powerful King,
thine are all creatures and thine the power; Thou alone
are the holy One and the supreme Ruler of all creation :
let thy own bounty move Thee, O Lord, to hasten the
coming of thy Onlybegotten for the Redemption of the
sons of Adam. Let now the desired day of my ancient
Forefathers begin to dawn and let mortals see thy eter
nal salvation. Why, O most beloved Master, since Thou
art a most kind Father of all mercies, dost Thou delay
so much the day, which thy captive and afflicted chil
dren expect with such longing? If my life can be of any
service, I offer it gladly as a sacrifice for them."
393. The Most High urged Her with great benevo
lence, that from now on She should many times each
day pray for the hastening of the Incarnation of the
eternal Word and for the Redemption of all the human
race, and that She should bewail the sins of men, which
impede their salvation and restoration. Likewise He
told Her, that it was now time to exercise all her out
ward faculties, and that for his own greater glory it was
befitting that She should converse with human creatures.
Therefore, in order to comply with his wishes, the Child
said to his Majesty:
394. "Most high Lord and incomprehensible Ma
jesty, how can mere dust venture to treat of such hidden
and exalted mysteries? How can she, who is the least
of all the womanborn, dare to converse of secrets so
precious in thy sight? How can I win for men thy
favor, and what can a creature do, that has served Thee
in nothing? But Thou, O my Beloved, wilt be obliged
by poverty itself : in Thee the ailing will find health, the
thirsty will find the fountains of thy mercy, and the
strength to fulfill thy will. If Thou ordainest, O my
Lord, that I open my lips in order to converse and
speak with others besides Thyself who art all my good
and my desire, I beseech Thee, consider my frailty and
ward off the danger. Very hard it is for rational crea
tures not to fall into excess in conversation. If it is thy
pleasure, I would rather keep silence during all my life
in order to avoid all danger of losing Thee; for if this
should happen, I shall not be able to outlive it one mo
395. This was the answer of the most holy child
Mary, for She was full of apprehension on account of
the new and dangerous duty of conversing with men
which was now enjoined on Her. As far as her inclina
tions were concerned, if God had allowed it, She de
sired to observe inviolate silence and be mute during all
her life. O great confusion and shining example for
the insipidity of mortals, that She, who could not sin in
speech, should tremble at its dangers! And we, who
cannot open our mouths without sinning in our words,
are consumed with mortal longings after the dissipation
of speech! But, O my most sweet Child and Queen of
all creation, how canst Thou desire to remain silent?
Dost Thou forget, my Mistress, that thy silence would
be the ruin of the world, the sorrow of heaven, and
also, according to our ignorant way of understand
ing it, a dreary void for the most blessed Trinity ? Dost
Thou not know, that even in a single one of thy words
namely in thy answer to the holy archangel : "Fiat nihi
secundum verbum tuum" "Let it be done to me accord
ing to thy word" (Luc. 1, 38) Thou wilt give the pleni
tude of perfection to all that exists? To the eternal
Father Thou givest a Daughter, to the eternal Son, a
Mother ; to the Holy Ghost, a Spouse ; to the angels, rep
aration; to men, redemption; to the heavens, glory;
peace to the earth; an advocate to the world; health to
the sick, life to the dead. In this answer Thou givest
existence and reality to that, which must be considered
greater than anything else outside of his own essence,
and greater than all the other works that God could de
cree and ordain. Since thus the greatest work of divine
Omnipotence and the welfare of all creation depends en
tirely on thy word how canst Thou desire to be speech
less, O my Lady and Mistress? Speak then, O Child,
who canst speak so well, and let thy voice be heard
through all the vast circles of the heavens!
396. With the most prudent answer of this Spouse
the Most High was much pleased and his heart was
again wounded by the loving fear of our great Child.
Therefore, as if fully requited by their beloved, and as
if conferring among Themselves in regard to her peti
tion, the three divine Persons spoke those words of the
Canticles: "Our sister is little and hath no breasts.
What shall we do to our sister in the day when she is
to be spoken to? If she be a wall, let us build up on it
bulwarks of silver" (Cant 8, 8). Little thou art, be
loved sister, in thy eyes, but great art thou and great
wilt thou be in our eyes. In this humility thou hast
wounded our heart with one of thy hairs (Cant. 4, 9).
Thou art little in thy own judgment and estimation, and
this is what moves Us with love for thee. Thou hast
not as yet the breasts of nourishing words ; but thou also
art not a woman according to the law of sin, for in re
gard to thee, this law does not hold, nor do We wish
that it should extend over thee. Thou humblest thy
self, though thou art great beyond all creatures: thou
fearest, though thou art secure: thou guardest against
a danger, which cannot approach thee. What shall We
do for this our sister on the day, in which she shall open
her lips according to our wish in order to bless Us while
the mortals do it in order to blaspheme against our holy
name? What shall We do in order to celebrate so fes
tive a day as that, in which she begins to speak? How
shall We reward such humble modesty of her, who was
always the delight of our eyes? Sweet was her silence,
and most sweet will be her voice in our ears. If she
is a fortress founded on the abundance of our graces and
made invincible by the power of our right hand, We will
build upon such strong walls turrets of silver, We will
heap new gifts upon the former ones, and let these our
turrets be of silver so as to make them more rich and
precious. Let her words, when she begins to speak, be
most pure, candid, strong and full of meaning to our
ears; let our grace overflow from her lips, and let our
powerful arm of protection rest upon her."
397. While, according to our way of thinking, this
conference took place between the three Persons of the
Divinity, our infant Queen was strengthened and con
soled in her humble solicitude concerning the first ex
ercise of her speech. The Lord promised Her, that He
would govern her words and assist Her to direct them
all toward his service and pleasure. Then She peti
tioned his Majesty anew for his permission and blessing
to open her lips so full of grace, and, being prudent and
considerate in all things, She spoke her first words to her
parents, saint Joachim and Anne, asking of them their
blessing and thus acknowledging that from them after
God She had her life and being. The happy parents
heard Her and at the same time they saw that She was
able to walk by herself. The happy Anne in great joy
of her spirit took Her into her arms and said: "My
Daughter and Beloved of my heart, blessed and glorious
to the Lord be the hour, in which we hear thy words and
in which Thou beginnest to walk in his holy service. Let
thy words and sayings be few, well measured and con
sidered, and let thy footsteps be directed aright toward
the service and honor of our Creator."
398. The most holy Child heard these and other ex
hortations of her holy mother Anne, and She engraved
them in her tender heart to preserve them in profound
humility and obedience. During the year and a half,
which remained of the three before her departure into
the temple, She spoke but few words beside those ad
dressed to her mother; for holy Anne, in order to hear
Her speak, was wont to call Her and request Her to
speak of God and his mysteries. The heavenly Child
fulfilled her wish listening to and asking questions of
her mother ; She that excelled in wisdom all the womanborn,
desired to learn and be instructed. Thus the
Daughter and the mother passed their time in sweetest
colloquies concerning the Lord.
399. It would not be easy, nor even possible, to de
scribe the doings of the heavenly child Mary during these
eighteen months of companionship with her mother. The
latter shed copious and sweet tears of love and grati
tude when at times she looked upon her Child, more
venerable than the symbolic ark of the covenant. Yet
never did Anne reveal the secret of her heart that her
Daughter was chosen to be the Mother of the Messias,
although they often spoke of this ineffable mystery. At
such times the Child was inflamed with the most ardent
love and She spoke of it in the most exalted terms, in
nocently extolling her own dignity without being aware
thereof, while her most blessed mother, holy Anne, was
filled more and more with joy, love and solicitude for
her Daughter and her heart s Treasure.
400. The strength of the tender Child was by far in
adequate for the fulfillment of the exercises and prac
tices of humility to which her humble love urged Her
on; for this Mistress of all creatures esteemed Herself
the lowest of them all and was anxious to exhibit these
humble sentiments in her actions, by taking upon Herself
the most abject and servile occupations of the household.
She feared that if She did not serve all that were with
Her, She could not satisfy her obligations and would
fall short of her duty in the sight of the Lord. While
the real cause of her not performing all that She wished
was none other than the insufficiency of her bodily forces,
and while the highest seraphim would have kissed the
place, where her sacred feet had touched; yet She was
often full of holy fear lest She be deprived of doing the
most humble services, such as cleaning and scrubbing the
house. As She was not always permitted to engage in
such things when others were present, She tried to do
it when alone, being on such occasions assisted by the
holy angels and thus in a measure reaping the fruit of
her humility through their help.
401. The family of Joachim was not rich, though at
the same time he could not have been called poor. Comformable
to the honored standing of her family, saint
Anne desired to dress her most holy Daughter as best
she could afford within the bounds of decency and mod
esty. The most humble Child yielded to this maternal
solicitude during the time of her voluntary silence with
out protest; but when She began to speak, She humbly
asked her mother not to clothe Her in costly and showy
garments, but to procure for Her garments of coarse
and poor material, if possible, such as had already been
worn by others and of an ash-grey color, similar to that
which in our day is worn by the nuns of saint Clare.
The holy Mother, who looked upon and respected her
Daughter as her Mistress, answered: "My Daughter, I
will conform to thy desire in regard to the form and col
or of thy dress; but thy strength will not permit the
coarseness which thou desirest, and in this regard I wish
that thou obey me."
402. The Child obedient to the will of her mother and
never objecting in anything, acquiesced and allowed Her
self to be clothed in the garments which were provided.
They were of the color and form desired by Her, and
similar to the dress worn by children dedicated to a de
vout life. Although She desired them to be coarser and
poorer, She supplied this want by obedience, deeming
obedience more precious than sacrifice (I Kings 15, 22).
Thus the most holy child Mary had the merit of obe
dience to her mother and of humility in her aspirations,
deeming Herself unworthy of the use of even that which
is necessary to preserve natural life. In the virtue of
obedience toward her parents She was most distin
guished and exact during the three years of her stay with
them; by her divinely infused science She knew their
interior wishes and thus She was beforehand in fulfill
ing them to the minutest point. She asked the permis
sion and blessing of her mother for whatever She under
took to do Herself, kissing her hand with great humility
and reverence. The mother outwardly permitted this,
while inwardly She venerated the grace and exalted dig
nity of her Daughter.
403. At times She would retire to enjoy, by Herself
and with greater liberty, the company and intercourse of
her holy angels and to give outward tokens of the burn
ing love of her Spouse. In some of her exercises She
prostrated Herself, tearfully afflicting that most perfect
and tender little body of hers for the sins of mortals,
supplicating the mercy and blessings of God for them,
and striving to gain these favors by the exercise of
heroic virtues. The grief of her heart on account of the
sins made known to Her, and the pangs of love with
which it was accompanied, caused in the heavenly Child
intensest sorrow and pain, nevertheless, in order to be
in all things the Mother of mercy and the Mediatrix of
grace, She taxed also her bodily strength during that
tender age in works of penance and mortification, spar
ing no exertion that time and opportunity permitted in
order to gain grace for Herself and for us men.
404. When She reached the age of two years She be
gan to exercise her special pity and charity toward the
poor. She solicited alms for them of saint Anne, and
the kind-hearted mother readily granted her petitions,
both for the sake of the poor and to satisfy the tender
charity of her most holy Daughter, at the same time en
couraging Her who was the Mistress of mercy and
charity, to love and esteem the poor. Besides giving
what She obtained expressly for distribution among the
poor, She reserved part of her meals for the same pur
pose, in order that from her infancy it might be said of
Her more truly than of Job: from my infancy compas
sion grew with me (Job 31, 18). She gave to the poor
not as if conferring a benefit upon them, but as paying a
debt due in justice, saying in her heart: this my brother
and master deserves what he needs and what I possess
without desert. In giving alms She kissed the hands of
the poor, and whenever She was alone, She kissed their
feet, or, if this was impossible, She would kiss the
ground over which they had passed. Never did She give
an alms to the poor without conferring still greater
favors on their souls by interceding for them and thus
dismissing them relieved in body and soul.
405. Not less admirable were the humility and obe
dience of the most holy Child in permitting Herself to be
taught to read and to do other things as other children
in that time of life. She was instructed in reading
and other arts by her parents and She submitted, though
She had infused knowledge of all things created. The
angels were filled with admiration at the unparalleled
wisdom of this Child, who willingly listened to the teach
ing of all. Her holy mother Anne, as far as her intui
tion and love permitted, observed with rapture the heav
enly Princess and blessed the Most High in Her. But
with her love, as the time for presenting Her in the
temple approached, grew also the dread of the approach
ing end of the three years set by the Almighty and the
consciousness, that the terms of her vow must punctually
be fulfilled. Therefore the child Mary began to prepare
and dispose her mother, manifesting to her, six months
before, her ardent desire of living in the temple. She
recounted the benefits, which they had received at the
hands of the Lord, how much they were obliged to seek
his greater pleasure, and how, when She should be dedi
cated to God in the temple, She would be more her
Daughter than in their own house.
406. The holy Anne heard the discreet arguments of
her child Mary; but, though She was resigned to the
divine will and wished to fulfill her promise of offering
up her beloved Daughter, yet the natural force of her
love toward such an unequalled and beloved Treasure,
joined with the full understanding of its inestimable
value, caused a mortal strife in her most faithful heart
at the mere thought of her departure, which was closely
at hand. There is no doubt, that she would have lost
her life in this fierce and vivid sorrow, if the hand of
the Almighty had not comforted her: for the grace and
dignity of her heavenly Daughter was fully known to
her and had entirely ravished her heart, making the
presence of Mary more dear to her than life. Full of
this grief she said to the Child : "My beloved Daughter,
for many years I have longed for Thee and only for a
few years do I merit to have thy company; but thus let
the will of God be fulfilled ; I do not wish to be unfaith
ful to my promise of sending Thee to the temple, but
there is yet time left for fulfilling it : have patience until
the day arrives for the accomplishment of thy wishes."
407. A few days before most holy Mary reached the
age of three years, She was favored with an abstract vis
ion of the Divinity, in which it was made known to Her
that the time of her departure for the temple ordained by
God, had arrived, and that there She was to live dedi
cated and consecrated to his service. Her most pure
soul was filled with new joy and gratitude at this pros
pect and speaking with the Lord, She gave Him thanks
saying: "Most high God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,
my eternal and highest Good, since I cannot praise Thee
worthily, let it be done in the name of this humble slave
by the angelic spirits; since Thou, immense Lord, who
hast need of none, dost look upon this lowly wormlet of
the earth in thy unbounded mercy. Whence this great
benefit to me, that Thou shouldst receive me into thy
house and service, since I do not even merit the most ab
ject spot of the earth for my place of habitation? But as
Thou art urged thereto by thy own greatness, I beseech
Thee to inspire the hearts of my parents to fulfill thy
holy will."
408. At the same time saint Anne had a vision, in
which the Lord enjoined her to fulfill her promise by
presenting her Daughter in the temple on the very day,
on which the third year of her age should be complete.
There is no doubt that this command caused more grief
in saint Anne, than that given to Abraham to sacrifice
his son Isaac. But the Lord consoled and comforted
Her, promising his grace and assistance in her loneliness
during the absence of her beloved Daughter. The holy
matron showed Herself prepared and ready to execute
the command of the Almighty, and she answered full of
submission by the following prayer : "Lord God, Master
of all my being, I have pledged to thy service and to the
temple my Daughter, whom Thou, in thy ineffable
mercy, hast given me : She is thine, and I return Her to
Thee with thanks for the time in which I have enjoyed
Her, for having been chosen to conceive Her and assist
in her formation. But remember, God and Lord, that in
the keeping of thy inestimable Treasure I was rich; I
enjoyed her company in this desert valley of tears, She
was the joy of my sorrow, the alleviation of my labors,
the mirror for the regulation of my life, the example of a
supernal perfection, which stimulated my remissness and
enkindled my affections. Through that Creature alone
have I hoped for mercy and grace* and I fear, that in
being deprived of Her, I will fall away from all thy
grace. Heal, O Lord, the wound of my heart, and deal
with me not as I have deserved, but look upon me as a
kind Father of mercies, while I bring my Daughter to
the temple according to thy command."
409. Saint Joachim also had a visitation or vision of
the Lord at this time, receiving the same command as
Anne. Having conferred with each other and taking
account of the will of the Lord, they resolved to fulfill it
with humble submission and appointed the day on which
the Child was to be brought to the temple. Great was
also the grief of this holy old man, though not quite so
great as that of saint Anne, for the high mystery of her
being the future Mother of God was yet concealed from
410. My dearest daughter, keep in mind, that all the
living are born destined for death, but ignorant of the
time allowed them ; this they know for certain however,
that the term of life is short, that eternity is without
end, and that in this life only they can harvest what will
yield life or death eternal. In this dangerous pilgrimage
of life God has ordained, that no one shall know for cer
tain, whether he is worthy (Eccles. 9, 1) of his love or
hate; for if he uses his reason rightly, this uncertainty
will urge him to seek with all his powers the friendship
of that same Lord. God justifies his cause as soon as
the soul acquires the use of reason; for from that time
onward He enlightens and urges and guides man toward
virtue and draws him away from sin, teaching him to
distinguish between water and fire, to approve of the
good and reject evil, to choose virtue and repel vice.
Moreover, God calls and rouses the soul by his holy
inspirations and continual promptings, provides the help
of the Sacraments, doctrines and commandments, urges
man onward through his angels, preachers, confessors,
ministers and teachers, by special tribulations and favors,
by the example of strangers, by trials, deaths and other
happenings and dispositions of his Providence; He dis
poses the things of life so as to draw toward Him all
men, for He wishes all to be saved. Thus He places at
the disposal of the creature a vast field of benevolent
help and assistance, which it can and should use for its
own advancement. Opposing all this are the tendencies
of the inferior and sensitive nature, infected with the
fomes peccati, the foment of sin, tending toward sensible
objects and by the lower appetites and repugnances, dis
turbing the reason and enthralling the will in the false
liberty of ungoverned desires. The demon also, by his
fascinations and his deceitful and iniquitous suggestions
obscures the interior light, and hides the deathly poison
beneath the pleasant exterior. But the Most High does
not immediately forsake his creatures; He renews his
mercy and his assistance, recalling them again and again,
and if they respond to his first call, He adds others ac
cording to his equity, increasing and multiplying them
in proportion as the soul corresponds. As a reward of
the victory, which the soul wins over itself, the force
of his passions and concupiscences is diminished, the
spirit is made free to soar higher and rise above its own
inclinations and above the demons.
412. But if man neglects to rise above his low desires
and his forgetfulness, he yields to the enemy of God
and man. The more he alienates himself from the good
ness of God, so much the more unworthy does he be
come of the secret callings of the Most High, and so
much the less does he appreciate his assistance, though
it be great. For the demon and the passions have ob
tained a greater dominion and power over his intellect
and have made him more unfit and more incapable of the
grace of the Almighty. Thereon, my dear daughter,
rests the whole salvation or condemnation of souls, that
is, in commencing to admit or resist the advances of the
Lord. I desire thee not to forget this doctrine, so that thou
mayest respond to the many calls which thou receivest of
the Most High. See thou be strong in resisting his ene
mies and punctually solicitous in fulfilling the pleasure
of thy Lord, for thereby thou wilt gratify Him and at
tend to the commands made known to thee by divine
light. I loved my parents dearly, and the tender words
of my mother wounded my heart ; but as I knew it to be
the will of the Lord to leave them, I forgot her house
and my people in order to follow my Spouse. The
proper education and instruction of children will do
much toward making them more free and habituated to
the practice of virtue, since thus they will be accustomed
to follow the sure and safe guiding star of reason from
its first dawn.
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