The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 3 verses 444-462 Index

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

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 3 verses 444-462INSTRUCTION WHICH THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN GAVE; ME CONCERNING THE VOWS OF MY PROFESSION.

  INDEX            Book 2  Chapter  3    Verses:  444-462


444. My dear daughter, I will not deny thee the in
struction thou askest of me with the desire of putting it
into practice ; but do thou receive it with an appreciative
and devout mind, ready to follow it in deed. The wise
man says : "My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, thou
hast engaged fast thy hand to a stranger, thou art en
snared with the words of thy mouth, and caught with thy
own words" (Prov. 6, 1). Accordingly he who has
made vows to Cod has bound his own will ; so that he has
no freedom of acting except according to the will and
direction of Him to whom he has bound himself; for he
is chained down by the words of his own mouth uttered
in the profession of his vows. Before taking his vows,
the choice of his ways was in his own hands; but having
once bound and obliged himself, let him know that he
has entirely lost his liberty and had delivered himself up
to God in his superiors. The whole ruin or salvation of
souls depends upon the use of their free will; but since
most men use it ill and damn themselves, the Most High
has established religious life under the sacred vows. Thus
the creature, by once using its liberty to make a perfect
and prudent choice, can deliver up to his Majesty that
very liberty, which so many pervert, if it remains free
and unhampered in its choice.
445. By these vows the liberty to do evil is happily
lost, and the liberty for doing good is assured. It is like
a bridle, which leads away from danger and directs into
the smooth and sure road. The soul is freed from the
slavery and subjection of the passions, and acquires a
new power over them, resuming her place as mistress and
queen in the government of her kingdom and remaining
subject only to the law of grace and the inspirations of
the Holy Ghost. If she thus applies her whole will solely
to the fulfillment of all that she has promised to God, the
holy Spirit will govern and direct all her operations. The
creature thereby passes from the condition and state of a
slave to that of a child of the Most High, from an earthly
to an angelic life, while the corruption and evil effects of
sin cannot exert their full power. It is impossible that
thou ever be able in this earthly life to calculate or com
prehend, what and how many are the blessings and treas
ures those souls gather for themselves, who with all their
powers and affection strive to fulfill perfectly the vows of
their profession. For I assure thee, my dearest, that
those who are perfect and punctual in their religious
obligations can equal and even surpass the martyrs in
merit.
446. My daughter, thou didst happily begin to gather
these blessings on the day when thou didst choose the bet
ter part; but remember well that thou hast bound thy
self to the eternal and mighty God, to whom the inmost
secrets of thy heart are manifest. If it is so base and de
testable to deceive and disappoint men in just promises,
how vile is it to be unfaithful to God in the most just and
holy promises? As thy Creator, Preserver and Benefac
tor, He claims thy gratitude; as Father, thy reverence;
as Spouse, thy fidelity ; as a Friend, amicable intercourse ;
as the most Faithful, He should excite thy faith and
hope ; as the highest and eternal Good, He should possess
thy love; as the Almighty, thy entire subjection; as the
most just Judge, He should rouse thy humble and holy
fear. Against all these allegiances and many others thou
committest perfidious treason, in failing or hesitating to
fulfill what thou hast promised according to thy profes
sion. And if in all the nuns who have obliged themselves
to a spiritual life and conversation, it is such a monstrous
and terrible abomination to call themselves spouses of
Christ, while living as members and slaves of the devil,
how much more abominable will it be in thee, who hast
received more than they all, and therefore shouldst exceed
them in loving and exerting thyself to make a return
for such incomparable blessings and benefits.
447. Consider, O soul, how detestable this fault would
make thee in the sight of the Lord, of myself, and of the
angels and saints. For we all are witnesses of the love and
fidelity, which He has shown toward thee as a generous,
loving and faithful Spouse. Strive then with all thy
heart to avoid offending Him either in great or in small
things; do not force Him to relinquish thee and to de
liver thee over to the beastly disorders of sin; for thou
knowest that this would be a greater misfortune and
punishment than if He consign thee to the fury of the
elements, or to the wrath of all the wild animals, or even
to the rage of the demons. If all these were to execute
their anger upon thee, and if the world were to heap upon
thee all its punishments and insults, all would do thee less
damage than one venial sin against the God whom thou art
obliged to serve and love in all things and through all
things. Any punishment of this life is less dreadful than
sin ; for it ends with mortal life, but the guilt of sin, and
with it punishment, may be eternal.
448. In this life any punishment or tribulation fills
mortals with fear and dread, merely because it affects the
senses and brings them in close touch with it through
them, but the guilt of sin does not affect them nor fill
them with dread. Men are entirely taken up by that
which is visible, and they therefore do not look upon the
ultimate consequences of sin, which is the eternal punish
ment of hell. Though this is imbibed and inseparably
connected with sin, the human heart becomes so heavy
and remiss that it remains as if it were stupefied in its
wickedness, because it does not feel it present in its
senses. Though it could see and feel it by faith, this it
self remains listless and dead, as if it were wanting en
tirely. O most unhappy blindness of mortals! O torpid
negligence, that holds so many souls, capable of reason
and of glory, oppressed in deceit! There are not words
or sentences sufficient to describe this terrible and tre
mendous danger. My daughter, haste away, and fly with
holy fear such an unhappy state, and deliver thyself up to
all the troubles and torments of life, which pass soon,
rather than incur such a danger ; for nothing will be want
ing to thee, if thou do not lose God. To be convinced
that there are no small faults for thee and for thy state,
is a powerful means of saving thyself; fear greatly the
small things, for in despising small faults the Most High
knows, that the human heart invites other greater ones.
That is not a blameless love, which does not avoid all dis
pleasure of the beloved one.
449. The order which religious souls should maintain
in their desires should be : that they strive to be punctual
in fulfilling the obligations of their vows and all the vir
tues, which are connected with them. Afterwards and
secondarily they may engage in voluntary practices, such
as are called supererogatory. This order some of the
souls, who are misled by the devil to entertain an indis
creet zeal for perfection, are wont to invert; thus, while
they fail seriously in the obligations of their state, they
are eager to add other voluntary exercises and practices,
which are usually of small use or benefit, or arise from a
spirit of presumption and singularity. They secretly de
sire to be looked upon as distinguished in zeal and per
fection, while in truth they are very far even from the
beginning of perfection. I do not wish to see in thee a
fault so reprehensible : but first fulfill all the duties of thy
vows and of community life, and then thou mayest add
what thou canst, according to thy ability and the inspira
tion of divine grace. This together will beautify thy
soul and will make it perfect and agreeable in the eyes of
God.
450. The vow of obedience is the principal one in reli
gion; for it implies a total renunciation and denial of one s
will. By it the religious renounces all jurisdiction or right
to say for himself: I will or I will not, I shall or I shall
not act : all this he throws aside and renounces by obe
dience, delivering himself into the hands of his superior.
In order to fulfill this obligation it is necessary for thee
not to be wise in thy own conceit, not to imagine thyself
still mistress of thy likings, thy desires, or thy opinion;
for true obedience must be of the quality of faith, so that
the commands of the superior are esteemed, reverenced
and put into execution, without any pretense of examina
tion or criticism. Accordingly, in order to obey, thou must
consider thyself without opinion, without life of thy own,
without right of speech ; but thou must allow thyself to be
moved and governed like a corpse, alive only in order to
execute devotedly all that the superior desires. Never
discuss within thyself whether thou shouldst fulfill his
commands or not, but only consider how thou canst best
execute that which is commanded. Sacrifice thy own in
clination and repress all thy appetites and passions; and
when by this efficacious determination thou art dead to
all the movements of self, let obedience be the soul and
the life of thy works. To the will of thy superior thou
must conform all thy own, with all its activity in all thy
words and works ; let it be thy prayer, to be able to quit
thy own being and receive another new one, so that noth
ing be thine and all in thee be of obedience without con
tradiction or resistance.
451. Remember that the most perfect manner of obey
ing is to avoid offending the superior by showing that you
disagree with him. He should find a willing obedience,
convincing him that his commands are obeyed promptly,
without objection or murmur, either in words or by any
other signs. The superiors take the place of God, and he
who obeys his superiors, obeys the Lord himself, who is
in them and governs them and enlightens them, so that
their commands will be for the salvation of souls. The
contempt shown to superiors passes on to God himself,
who through them manifests and makes known his will
(Luke 10, 16). Thou must persuade thyself, that the
Lord moves them to speak, and that it is the word of the
Omnipotent himself. My daughter, strive to be obedient
in order that thou mayest speak of victories (Prov. 21,
28) ; do not fear to obey, for that is the secure path ; so
secure, that God will not bring to account the errors of
the obedient on the day of judgment, but He will rather
blot out other sins in consideration of the sacrifice made
in obedience. My most holy Son offered his precious suf
ferings and death in special love for the obedient, and pro
cured for them special rights in regard to mercy and
grace, and special privileges toward the success and per
fection of all that is due under obedience. Even now, in
order to appease Him, He reminds the eternal Father of
his obedience unto death and unto the cross (Phil. 2, 8),
and so the Father is placated toward men. Because He
was pleased with the obedience of Abraham and his son
Isaac, He held Himself obliged not only to save Isaac
from death, who showed himself so obedient, but to make
him the ancestor of the incarnate Word and to designate
him as the head and beginning of the great blessings.
452. The vow of poverty is a generous renunciation
and detachment from the heavy burden of temporal things.
It is an alleviation of the spirit, it is a relief afforded to
human infirmity, the liberty of a noble heart to strive
after eternal and spiritual blessings. It is a satiety and
abundance, in which the thirst after earthly treasures is al
layed, and a sovereignty and ownership, in which a most
noble enjoyment of all riches is established. All this, my
daughter, and many other blessings are contained in vol
untary poverty, and all this the sons of the world are
ignorant and deprived of, precisely because they are lov
ers of earthly riches and enemies of this holy and opulent
poverty. They do not consider, although they feel and
suffer, the heavy weight of riches, which pins them to the
earth and drives them into its very bowels to seek gold
and silver in great anxiety, sleeplessness, labors and sweat,
as if they were not men, but wild beasts that know not
what they are suffering and doing. And if they are thus
weighed down before acquiring riches, how much more
when they have come into their possession ? Let the count
less hosts that have fallen into hell with their burden, pro
claim it ; let their incalculable anxieties of preserving their
riches, and much more, let the intolerable laws, which
riches and those that possess them have foisted upon the
world, testify what is required to retain them!
453. If, on the one hand, possessions throttle the spirit
and tyrannically oppress it in its weakness, if they suppress
the sours most noble privilege of following eternal goods
and God himself : it is certain on the other hand, that vol
untary poverty restores to man the nobility of his condi
tion and, liberating him from vile servitude and reinstat
ing him his noble freedom and mastery of all things. The
soul is never more a mistress than when she despises them,
and only then has she the more firm possession and makes
the more excellent use of riches, when she gives them
away or leaves them of her own free will ; only then her
appetite for them is best satiated, when she does not care
to possess them. Then above all is the heart set free and
made capable of the treasures of the Divinity, for which
it is furnished by the Creator with almost infinite capacity.
454. My daughter, I wish thee to study diligently this
divine philosophy and science, which the world forgets,
and not only the world, but also many religious souls, who
have promised it to God. Great is the divine wrath on
account of this fault, and suddenly will the infringers
of this vow receive heavy and unexpected punishment.
By setting aside their voluntary poverty, they have alien
ated from themselves the spirit of Christ, my most holy
Son, and all that We have come to teach men in abnega
tion and poverty. Although they do not now feel it, be
cause the Judge delays and they enjoy the abundance
which they desire, yet in the judgment they will find them
selves overwhelmed and dismayed by the rigor of their
punishment, greater than they ever expected, considered
or imagined in their forgetfulness of divine justice.
455. The temporal goods are created by the Most High
for the sole purpose of sustaining life; having attained
this end, the need of them ceases. And as this need is
limited, soon and easily satisfied, there is no reason that
the care for the immortal soul should be only fitful and
temporary, while the hunger after riches should be so per
petual and unintermitting, as it has come to be among men.
It is the height of perverseness for man to mix up the end
and the means in an affair so important and urgent, that
he devote all his time, all his care, all the exertion of his
powers and all the alertness of his mind to the life of his
body, of which he knows npt the duration nor the end,
and that on the other hand, in many years of his existence
he spare for his poor soul only one hour, and that very
often the last and the worst one of his whole life.
456. Make use therefore, my dearest daughter, of the
true enlightenment, by which the Most High has un
deceived thee in regard to such a dangerous error. Re
nounce all affection or inclination for earthly things ; even
under the pretext of the necessity and poverty of thy con
vent do not be oversolicitous to procure the things used
for the sustenance of life. In exerting ordinary care, let
it be such as will not disturb thee, when thou failest to
obtain what thou desirest, and let it be without inordinate
affection, even when thou seekest it for the service of God :
for thou must know, that thy love of God shall be so much
the less, as the number of things thou lovest together with
Him is greater. Great possessions thou must renounce as
superfluous ; thou dost not need them and it is a crime to
keep them for no purpose ; the little thou standst in need
of should also be esteemed but little; for it would be a
great error to embarrass the heart with that which is of no
account and can hinder it much. If thou hast all that ac
cording to thy judgment is necessary for human wants,
thou art not in reality poor ; for to be poor properly and
strictly means to have less than what is necessary. Those,
to whom nothing is wanting, call themselves rich. To
possess more than is necessary creates unrest and affliction
of spirit ; to desire and look for what is not used will be a
poverty without quiet or satisfaction.
457. I require of thee such a freedom of spirit, as not
to attach thyself to anything, be it great or small, super
fluous or necessary. Of the things that are necessary for
human life, accept only so much, as is needed to prevent
death or indecency. Let this latter be of the poorest and
of such as is patched up sufficient to cover thee, and in thy
nourishment seek what is most coarse, without satisfying
thy particular whims of taste, but asking for what is in
sipid and tasteless, so that on purpose thou mayst be
served with what is disagreeable and be deprived of what
the appetite craves, thus seeking in all things the greatest
perfection.
458. The vow of chastity includes purity of body and
soul; this is easily lost, and it is difficult, sometimes, ac
cording to the manner of losing it, even impossible to re
pair. This great treasure is deposited in a castle, which
has many portals and openings, and if these are not all
well guarded and defended, the treasure is without secur
ity. My daughter, in order to preserve perfectly this vow,
it is necessary to make an inviolable pact with thy senses,
not to use them, except for what is according to the dic
tates of reason and for the glory of the Creator. After
once the senses are mortified, it will be easy to overcome
thy enemies, for only through them can they conquer
thee ; for no thoughts can recur, or be awakened to activ
ity, unless fomented and excited by the images and im
pressions admitted through the exterior senses. Thou
shouldst not touch, nor look upon, nor speak to any per
son of whatever condition, whether man or woman, so as
to let their images or resemblances find entrance into thy
imagination. This carefulness, which I enjoin, will be
the guard of the purity, which I require of thee. If on
account of charity or obedience thou must converse with
them ( for only these virtues are sufficient causes for con
versing with creatures), do it with all gravity, modesty
and reserve.
459. In regard to thy own person live as if thou wert
a pilgrim and stranger in this world; be poor, mortified,
laborious, loving the hardship connected with temporal
things, without expecting alleviation or enjoyment, as one
who is absent from her home and her country, enlisted to
work and battle against powerful foes. Since the flesh
is the center of weakness and danger, it is proper that
thou carefully resist thy natural likings, and through them
the temptations of the demons. Raise thyself above thy
self, and seek a habitation far above all that is earthly in
order that thou mayest live under the shadow of Him,
whom thou desirest (Cant. 2, 3) and in his protection thou
shalt enjoy tranquillity and true refreshment. Deliver
thyself over with thy whole heart to his chaste and holy
love, without attending to any creatures, except in so far
as they may help and oblige thee to love and serve thy
Creator ; in all other respects abhor them.
460. Although no virtue should be wanting in her, who
professes herself, and is entitled to call herself, a spouse
of Christ ; yet it is the virtue of chastity which makes her
most worthy and like to her Spouse. For it is chastity,
which makes her spiritual and withdraws her from earth
ly corruption, elevating her to angelic life and to a certain
resemblance of God himself. This virtue beautifies and
adorns all the rest, raises the body to a higher existence,
enlightens the mind and preserves in the soul a nobility
above all that is corruptible. Because this virtue was in
an especial fruit of the Redemption, merited by my Son on
the Cross, where He paid for the sins of the world, there
fore holy Scripture expressly mentions that virgins ac
company and follow the Lamb (Apoc. 14, 4).
461. The vow of enclosure is the wall of chastity and of
all virtues, the preserve where they are nourished and ex
panded : it is a privilege granted by heaven to the spouses
of Christ in religion, dispensing them from the burden
some and dangerous tribute, which the freedom of the
world pays to the ruler of its vanities. By this vow the
religious live as in a secure port, while other souls navi
gate and are tossed about in the storms of a dangerous
sea. With so many advantages enclosure cannot be con
sidered as a confinement in a narrow space, for in it are
offered to the religious the spacious fields of virtue, of the
knowledge of God, of his infinite perfections, of his mys
teries, and of his benefits conferred on man. On such
spacious grounds can a nun, recreate and enjoy herself;
and only when she fails in this enjoyment, does she be
gin to feel narrow confinement in this, the greatest free
dom. For thee, my daughter, let there be no other play
ground, nor do I wish to see thee confine thyself to so
narrow limits as even the whole visible world. Rise up to
the height of the knowledge and love of God, where there
are no limits or confines to hold thee, and where thou canst
live in unbounded liberty. From that eminence thou wilt
see how small, vile and despicable is all that is created,
and how much too narrow it is to hold thy soul.
462. To the necessary enclosure of the body add also
the restrictions of the senses, in order that, imbued with
fortitude, they may preserve for thee interior purity, and
through it keep ablaze the fire of the sanctuary (Lev. 6,
12) which thou must continue to nourish and watch lest it
be extinguished. In order to better guard the senses and
profit from the vow of enclosure, do not approach the por
tals, nor the speaking-grate, nor the windows, and do not
even remember that the convent is furnished therewith,
unless it is required by some particular office or by obe
dience. Desire nothing, and therefore strive after nothing,
and do not exert thyself for that, which is not allowed
thee to desire. In retirement, solitude and circumspec
tion wilt thou find thy peace. Thereby wilt thou give me
pleasure, and merit for thyself copious fruit and the re
ward of love and grace, which thou desirest.
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