The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 1 verses 413-428 Index

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

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 1 verses 413-428OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE MOST HOLY MARY IN THE TEMPLE AT THE AGE OF THREE YEARS.

  INDEX            Book 2  Chapter  1    Verses:  413-428

413. Among the types which foreshadowed the most
holy Mary in the written Law, none was more expressive
than the ark of the covenant, not only on account of the
material of which it was constructed, and its contents,
but also on account of the purposes for which it served
and the effects which the Lord wrought through it and
in connection with it in the ancient synagogue. It was
all a prototype of this Lady and of what She was to do
in the new Church of the Gospel. The incorruptible
cedar, of which it was made, not by chance, but by divine
disposition (Exod. 25, 10), typified clearly our mystical
Ark Mary, free from the corruption of actual sin and
from the secret worminess of original guilt with its in
separable ferment of disorderly passions. The finest and
purest gold (Exod. 25, 11), which covered it on the out
side and inside, certainly indicated the most perfect and
exalted graces and gifts, which shone forth in her heav
enly thoughts, in her works and activities, in her habits
and the operations of her faculties ; so that in no exterior
or interior part of this mystical Ark could be discerned
ought, which at any moment of time was not entirely
covered by the gold of the most exquisite and finest carat
414. The stone tablets of the law, the vase of the
manna and the miraculous staff (Heb. 9, 4), which that
ancient ark contained and preserved, cannot be surpassed
in expressive significance of the eternal and incarnate
Word, enclosed within that living Ark the most holy
Mary, for He was her onlybegotten Son, the living foun
dation-rock of the evangelical Church (I Cor. 3, 11). In
this virginal ark of Mary was placed the key-stone which
was to join the Gentiles and the Jews, and was torn from
the mountain of its eternal generation (Ephes. 2, 20) in
order that on it might be written by the finger of God
the new Law of grace. Thus in the old ark Mary was
foreshadowed as the great Queen, who was to be the de
positary of all that God provided and operated for his
creatures. She also enclosed within Herself the manna
of the Divinity and of grace, and the wonder-working
staff of miracles and prodigies, so that this heavenly and
mystical Ark alone contained the fountain of grace,
namely God himself, overflowing into the rest of man
kind and forming the nucleus of all the miracles and
prodigies of God. In Mary therefore all that the Lord
desired to operate and manifest is contained and de
415. Accordingly the ark of the testament (not in it
self, but on account of the truth which it foreshadowed)
served as the seat and foot-stool of propitiation, where
the Lord was seated in the tribunal of his mercies, to lis
ten to his people, to answer them and distribute his gifts
and favors ; for the ancient ark typified most holy Mary,
the throne of grace and the true mystical propitiatory
which He had expressly made for his indwelling. Thus
it seems that the tribunal of the divine justice remains
set up in God himself, while the propitiatory and the tri
bunal of his mercy was set up in Mary, in order that to
Her, as a throne of grace, we might approach in assured
confidence to present our petitions for those benefits,
graces and mercies, which outside of the Queen Mary,
are unheard of and unattainable by the human race.
416. Such a sacred and mysterious Ark, constructed
by the hands of the Lord himself for his habitation and
as the propitiatory of his people, could not remain with
propriety outside of his temple, where was preserved that
other material ark, which was only a figure of this spir
itual and true Ark of the new covenant. Therefore its
Author ordained that She be placed in his house and
temple as soon as the first three years of her infancy
should be completed. But I am astonished to find a won
derful difference in regard to that which happened with
the primitive and figurative ark and that which came to
pass with the second and true ark of the covenant. For,
though the ancient ark had no other importance than
that of presignifying Mary and the mysteries connected
with Her, when the king David transferred it to different
places, and when afterwards Solomon his son placed it in
the temple, as in its proper place of rest, all was done
with great festivities and rejoicings of that ancient peo
ple, as is shown by the solemn processions arranged by
David from the house of Abinadab to the house of Obededom
(II King 6, 10), and thence to the tabernacle of
Sion, his own city (Ibid. 12) ; likewise, when Solomon
transferred it from Sion to the new temple, which he had
built as the house of God and of prayer by command of
the Lord.
417. On all these occasions the ancient ark of the Tes
tament was borne along in public veneration and most
solemn celebrations, amid the strains of music, dancing,
sacrifices, the rejoicings of the kings and of the whole
people of Israel, as is related in the sacred history of the
second and third book of the Kings and the first and sec
ond of Paralipomenon. But our true and mystical Ark,
the most holy Mary, although She was the most precious,
the most estimable and worshipful of all the creatures,
was not brought to the temple with such solemn show
and public ostentation; during the transferring of this
mysterious Ark, the sacrifice of animals, the royal pomp,
and the royal majesty were wanting. She was carried
from the house of her father Joachim in the arms of her
humble mother Anne, who, though she was not very
poor, wished to bear her beloved Daughter on her arms
in order to present Her in the temple without ostentation
of riches, alone and unnoticed by the people. The glory
and majesty of this procession, according to the wishes
of the Most High, was to be divine and invisible. All
the sacraments and mysteries of the most holy Mary are
so exalted and hidden that according to the inscrutable
decrees of the Lord many of them are concealed to this
day. He it is that holds in his hands the time and the
hour for the revelation of all things, and of each one in
418. Lost in admiration of this wonder, prostrate in
the presence of the Most High and in the praise of his
high judgments, I was favored by his Majesty with the
following explanation: "Understand, my soul, that if I
provided that the ark of the old Testament be venerated
with so much festivity and outward show, it was because
it was an express figure of Her, who was to be the
Mother of the incarnate Word. The first ark was ma
terial and irrational, and this ostentation and celebrity
could be arranged for it without difficulty; but during
her life on earth in mortal flesh, I would not permit such
celebration in connection with the true and living ark,
Mary ; for thou and the rest of the souls are to look upon
Her as an example during your pilgrimage. I do not de
sire those who are written in my memory for eternal
election to expect honors and the inconsiderate praise
and applause of men as a part of their reward for work
ing in my honor and service during mortal life. Nor
must they be put in danger of dividing the love of their
God, who justifies them and makes them saints, with
those who merely proclaim them as such. The one and
only Creator has made them and sustains them, illu
mines and defends them ; therefore their love and attention
must be single and undivided, and it must not be diverted
even by a thankful regard for those who honor them as
just. The love of God is most sensitive, the human will
is most frail and limited ; if it is divided, it can only be
small and very imperfect in its activity, easily coming
to nought. Therefore I did not wish Her, who was to
be the example of all holiness and who was free from all
danger of a fall through my protection, to be renowned,
or specially honored during her life, nor was She to be
brought to the temple amid the outward show of honor."
419. "Moreover, I have sent my Onlybegotten from
heaven and have created Her, who was to be his Mother,
for the very purpose of drawing the world from its error
and of undeceiving mortals, who have established the un
just and sinful law, that the poor are to be despised and
the rich esteemed, that the humble are to be humiliated
and the proud to be exalted, the virtuous to be maligned
and the sinful applauded, that the timorous and modest
are to be considered as fools and the arrogant to be held
as valiant, that poverty should be considered as shameful
and unfortunate, while riches, pomp, ostentation, splen
dor, honors, perishable pleasures should be sought and
prized by foolish and carnal men. All this the incarnate
Word and his Mother, in coming among them, were to
reprove and condemn as deceitful and false, so that mor
tals might perceive the terrible danger of loving and en
tertaining so blindly the deceitful sensible pleasures, in
which they live. Through this insensate love it happens
that they so persistently fly from humility, meekness and
poverty and evade all that pertains to the true virtue of
penance and abnegation of self. And yet these virtues
are truly acceptable in my eyes and according to my jus
tice; for the holy, the honorable, the just actions, are to
be rewarded with eternal glory, whereas the contrary
ones are to be visited by everlasting punishment."
420. "This truth earthly and carnal eyes do not see,
nor do they care to attend to the light which teaches
them. But thou, soul, observe it and write it in thy heart,
taking an example from the incarnate Word and from
his Mother, and imitating Them closely therein. She
was holy and, in my estimation, most acceptable to
Christ; to Her was due all the veneration and worship
of men, and even more than they could give ; yet I pro
vided and ordained in her regard that She receive no
honor or recognition at that time, so that She, as the
Mistress of truth, might be the most shining example of
all that is holy, perfect, estimable and safest for the in
struction and guidance of my elect. She was to be the
shining example of humility, of retirement, of contempt
and horror for the dreadful vanity of the world, of love
for sufferings, tribulations, insults, afflictions and dishon
ors inflicted by creatures. All holiness is adverse and
contrary to the applause, honors and estimation of the
world, and I decreed that the most pure Mary should not
be burdened by them, nor do I desire that my friends
should enjoy or be pleased with them. If for my glory
it sometimes happens that they become known to the
world, it is not because they have desired it or looked for
it; but because they, always remaining in the humility
and in the sentiment proper to their state, resign them
selves to my Providence. For themselves and as far as
they are concerned, they seek and love that which the
world despises and which the incarnate Word and his
most holy Mother strove after and have taught." This
was the answer which the Lord gave to my wondering
inquiry and thus did He instruct me in regard to what I
should seek and strive after.
421. The three years time decreed by the Lord hav
ing been completed, Joachim and Anne set out from
Nazareth, accompanied by a few of their kindred and
bringing with them the true living Ark of the covenant,
the most holy Mary, borne on the arms of her mother in
order to be deposited in the holy temple of Jerusalem.
The beautiful Child, by her fervent and loving aspira
tions, hastened after the ointments of her Beloved, seek
ing in the temple Him, whom She bore in her heart. This
humble procession was scarcely noticed by earthly crea
tures, but it was invisibly accompanied by the angelic
spirits, who, in order to celebrate this event, had hastened
from heaven in greater numbers than ordinary as her
bodyguard, and were singing in heavenly strains the
glory and praise of the Most High. The Princess of
heaven heard and saw them as She hastened her beauti
ful steps along in the sight of the highest and the true
Solomon. Thus they pursued their journey from Naz
areth to the holy city of Jerusalem, and also the parents
of the holy child Mary felt in their hearts great joy and
consolation of spirit.
422. They arrived at the holy temple, and the blessed
Anne on entering took her Daughter and Mistress by the
hand, accompanied and assisted by saint Joachim. All
three offered a devout and fervent prayer to the Lord;
the parents offering to God their Daughter, and the most
holy Child, in profound humility, adoration and worship,
offering up Herself. She alone perceived that the Most
High received and accepted Her, and, amid divine splen
dor which filled the temple, She heard a voice saying to
Her : "Come, my Beloved, my Spouse, come to my temple,
where I wish to hear thy voice of praise and worship."
Having offered their prayers, they rose and betook them
selves to the priest. The parents consigned their Child
into his hands and he gave them his blessing. Together
they conducted Her to the portion of the temple build
ings, where many young girls lived to be brought up in
retirement and in virtuous habits, until old enough to as
sume the state of matrimony. It was a place of retire
ment especially selected for the first-born daughters of
the royal tribe of Juda and the sacerdotal tribe of Levi.
423. Fifteen stairs led up to the entrance of these
apartments. Other priests came down these stairs in
order to welcome the blessed child Mary. The one that
had received them, being according to the law one of a
minor order, placed Her on the first step. Mary, with
his permission, turned and kneeling down before Joachim
and Anne, asked their blessing and kissed their hands,
recommending herself to their prayers before God. The
holy parents in tenderest tears gave Her their blessing;
whereupon She ascended the fifteen stairs without any
assistance. She hastened upward with incomparable fer
vor and joy, neither turning back, nor shedding tears,
nor showing any childish regret at parting from her
parents. To see Her, in so tender an age, so full of
strange majesty and firmness of mind, excited the admir
ation of all those present. The priests received Her
among the rest of the maidens, and saint Simeon con
signed Her to the teachers, one of whom was the
prophetess Anne. This holy matron had been prepared by
the Lord by especial grace and enlightenment, so that
She joyfully took charge of this Child of Joachim and
Anne. She considered the charge a special favor of di
vine Providence and merited by her holiness and virtue
to have Her as a disciple, who was to be the Mother of
God and Mistress of all the creatures.
424. Sorrowfully her parents Joachim and Anne re
traced their journey to Nazareth, now poor as deprived
of the rich Treasure of their house. But the Most High
consoled and comforted them in their affliction. The
holy priest Simeon, although he did not at this time know
of the mystery enshrined in the child Mary, obtained
great light as to her sanctity and her special selection by
the Lord; also the other priests looked upon Her with
great reverence and esteem. In ascending the fifteen
stairs the Child brough to fulfillment, that, which Jacob
saw happening in sleep ; for here too were angels ascend
ing and descending: the ones accompanying, the others
meeting their Queen as She hastened up ; whereas at the
top God was waiting in order to welcome Her as his
Daughter and Spouse. She also felt by the effects of the
overflowing love, that this truly was the house of God
and the portal of heaven.
425. The child Mary, when brought to her teacher,
knelt in profound humility before her and asked her
blessing. She begged to be admitted among those under
her direction, obedience and counsel, and asked her kind
forbearance in the labor and trouble, which She would
occasion. The prophetess Anne, her teacher, received
Her with pleasure, and said to Her: "My Daughter,
Thou shalt find in me a helpful mother and I will take
care of Thee and of thy education with all possible solic
itude." Then the holy Child proceeded to address Her
self with the same humility to all the maidens which
were then present; each one She greeted and embraced,
offering Herself as their servant and requesting them,
as older and more advanced than She in the duties of
their position, to instruct and command Her. She also
gave them thanks, that without her merit they admitted
Her to their company.
426. My daughter, the greatest happiness, which can
befall any soul in this mortal life, is that the Almighty
call her to his house consecrated to his service. For by
this benefit He rescues the soul from a dangerous slavery
and relieves her of the vile servitude of the world,
where, deprived of true liberty, she eats her bread in the
sweat of her brow. Who is so dull and insipid as not
to know the dangers of the worldly life, which is ham
pered by all the abominable and most wicked laws and
customs introduced by the astuteness of the devil and
the perversity of men? The better part is religious life
and retirement; in it is found security, outside is a tor
ment and a stormy sea, full of sorrow and unhappiness.
Through the hardness of their heart and the total forgetfulness
of themselves men do not know this truth and
are not attracted by its blessings. But thou, O soul, be
not deaf to the voice of the Most High, attend and cor
respond to it in thy actions: I wish to remind thee, that
one of the greatest snares of the demon is to counteract
the call of the Lord, whenever he seeks to attract and
incline the soul to a life of perfection in his service.
427. Even by itself, the public and sacred act of re
ceiving the habit and entering religion, although it is
not always performed with proper fervor and purity of
intention, is enough to rouse the wrath and fury of the
infernal dragon and his demons ; for they know that this
act tends not only to the glory of the Lord and the joy
of the holy angels, but that religious life will bring the
soul to holiness and perfection. It very often happens,
that they who have received the habit with earthly and
human motives, are afterwards visited by divine grace,
which perfects them and sets all things aright. If this
is possible even when the beginning was without a good
intention, how much more powerful and efficacious will
be the light and influence of grace and the discipline of
religious life, when the soul enters under the influence of
divine love and with a sincere and earnest desire of find
ing God, and of serving and loving Him?
428. Before the Most High reforms or advances
those, who for any reason enter the religious state, it is no
more than right, that in turning away from the world
they avert also their eyes from it and blot out from their
memory all its images, forgetting all that they have in so
praiseworthy a manner left behind. Those that neglect
this requirement and are ungrateful and disloyal to
ward God, will doubtlessly fall under the punishment of
the wife of Lot (Gen. 19, 26), and if on account of the
goodness of God they do not suffer this punishment in
an equally open and visible manner, they nevertheless
undergo it interiorly, remaining congealed and full of
dryness, without fervor or advance in virtue. Forsaken
by grace they thus do not attain the end of their voca
tion, make no progress in religion, nor find any spiritual
consolation in it, and do not merit to be visited by the
Lord as children, but to be left to their own resources
like unfaithful and fugitive slaves. Remember, Mary,
that for thee all the world must be crucified and dead;
that thou must have for it no memory, retain none of
its images, pay it no attention, nor have any inclination
toward any of its creatures. If sometimes it is necessary
to exercise charity with thy neighbors, see that thou or
dain it well and that thou safeguard beforehand the good
of thy soul, its security and quiet, its interior tranquillity
and peace. In these points, as far as is possible without
sin, I admonish and command thee to go to the greatest
extremes, if thou wishest to remain in my school.
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