The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 4 verses 463-480 Index

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

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 4 verses 463-480OF THE PERFECTION IN WHICH MOST HOLY MARY PASSED HER DAYS IN THE TEMPLE, AND OF THE EXERCISES WHICH SHE WAS ORDERED TO UNDERTAKE.

  INDEX            Book 2  Chapter  4    Verses:  463-480


463. Let us now return to our heavenly narrative.
After the most holy Child had begun to consecrate the
temple by her holy presence and daily life, She grew from
day to day in wisdom and grace, before God and before
men. The understanding which was given me of that,
which the powerful hand of God proceeded to work in
the heavenly Princess during these years, place me as it
were at the shore of a vast and unmeasured sea, leaving
me lost in astonishment and doubt as to how I am to em
bark on such an immense ocean for the destined port. For
I am forced to leave much unsaid, and it is difficult to
describe even the smallest part. I will relate that, which
the Most High explained to me on one occasion in his
own words:
464. "The works of Her, who was to be the Mother of
the Godman, were altogether and in every way most per
fect, and even to understand them exceeds the capacity
of all human creatures and of the angels. Her interior
acts of the virtues were so precious and of such great
merit and favor, that they surpass all that the seraphim
can do ; and thou, my soul, wilt much better understand,
than be able to explain them with words of thy tongue.
But it is my will, that during thy pilgrimage in thy mortal
body thou place most holy Mary as the beginning of thy
joy, and that thou follow Her through the desert of re-
nunciation and abnegation of all that is human and visible.
Follow Her by a perfect imitation according to the meas
ure of thy strength and of the light which thou receivest.
Let Her be thy guiding star and thy Directress : She will
manifest to thee my will and will let thee find my holy
law which is written in Her by the power of my right
hand : meditate upon it day and night. She by her inter
cession will strike the rock of Christ s humanity (Num.
20, 11), in order that in this desert may abound the
waters of divine grace and light, so that thy thirst may be
quenched, thy understanding enlightened, and thy will
inflamed. She will be a pillar of light to illuminate thy
path (Exod. 13, 21) and a cloud to afford thee shade and
refreshment against the ardors of thy passions and the
fierceness of thy enemies."
465. "Thou wilt have in Her an angel, who will guard
and guide thee, and (Exod. 23, 21) lead thee away from
the dangers of Babylon and of Sodom, so that my pun
ishment shall not reach thee. Thou wilt have in Her a
Mother to love thee, a Friend to counsel thee, a Mistress
to direct thee, a Protectress to shield thee and a Queen
whom thou canst serve and obey as a handmaid. In the
virtues, which this Mother of the Onlybegotten exer
cised in the temple, thou wilt find a summary of all the
highest perfections according to which thou shouldst ar
range thy life ; an exact and reliable copy of all her sancti
ty ; the beauty of virginity, the loveliness of humility, the
utmost promptness in devotion and obedience, the stead
fastness of faith, the certitude of hope, the fire of love
and the most complete outline map of all the wonders of
my right hand. According to this rule thou must regu
late thy life, by this mirror thou must arrange and adorn
it, adding to the beauty and grace of a bride that wishes
to enter into the chamber of her Spouse and Lord."
466. "If the nobility and condition of the teacher are
a spur to the disciple and tend to make his doctrine more
acceptable, who can attract thee more powerfully than thy
Instructress, who is the Mother of thy Spouse, chosen as
the most pure and holy among women, and without blem
ish of sin, being at the same time a Virgin and the Mother
of the Onlybegotten of the eternal Father, the splendor of
his Divinity in his own essence? Hear then this sover
eign Mistress; follow Her in close imitation, and meditate
without ceasing upon her admirable excellence and vir
tues. Remember, that the life and conversation She led
in the temple is the original, which all the souls, that con
secrate themselves after Her as spouses of Christ, must
copy within themselves." The above is the explanation
and instruction, which the Most High gave me in outline
concerning the life and conduct of the most holy Mary
in the temple.
467. But let us proceed now to a more particular de
scription of her actions. After the vision of the Divinity,
described in the second chapter, after She had offered
Herself entirely to the Lord and delivered up to her in
structress all that She possessed, being thus deprived of
all, entirely bound over to obedience, and hiding, beneath
the veil of these virtues, treasures of grace and wisdom
greater than that of the seraphim, She requested the priest
and her teacher to prescribe for Her an order of life and
to direct Her in the occupations, which She was to as
sume. The priest and her instructress, having together
considered her petition with the aid of a special enlighten
ment from on high and desiring to regulate from now on
the exercises of this heavenly Child of only three years,
called Her to their presence. The Princess of heaven re
mained kneeling before them during this interview and,
although they bade Her rise, She begged most humbly to
be allowed to remain in this reverent position in the pres
ence of the minister and priest of the Most High and of
her teacher, on account of their office and dignity.
468. The priest spoke to Her and said: "My Daugh
ter, as a very young Child the Lord has drawn Thee to his
house and holy temple; be thankful for this favor and
seek to profit by it by striving hard to serve Him in truth
and with an upright heart. Acquire all the virtues, in
order that thou mayest return from this holy place pre
pared and fortified against the troubles and the dangers of
this world. Obey thy Mistress Anne and commence early
to bear the sweet yoke of virtue, in order that thou mayest
find it more easy to bear during the rest of thy life"
(Thren. 3, 27). The sovereign Child answered: "Do
thou, my master, who art the minister and priest of God
and boldest his place, and thou my Mistress together with
him, command and instruct me in whatever I am to do so
that I may not commit any fault : this I beg of you, wish
ing to obey you in all things."
469. The priest and her teacher Anne felt within them
selves a great enlightenment and a divine impulse to at
tend especially to this heavenly Child and to care for Her
more than the other maidens. Conferring with themselves
about this great esteem, with which they had been in
spired, though ignorant of the mystery by which it came
to them, they resolved to devote particular attention to
her guidance and assistance. But as their care could ex
tend only to the exterior and visible actions, they wrere
far from suspecting the interior acts and inspirations of
her heart, for over these the Most High watched with
singular protection and favor. Thus the pure heart of the
Princess of heaven remained free to advance and grow in
interior vision, without losing one instant, in which She
did not reach what is highest and most excellent in virtue.
470. The priest also gave Her a rule for her occupa
tions and said : "My Daughter thou wilt assist at the ex
ercises of divine praise and song in honor of the Lord
with all reverence and devotion, and always pray to the
Most High for the necessities of his holy temple and of
his people, and for the coming of the Messias. At eight
o clock thou wilt retire for sleep and at the beginning of
dawn thou wilt arise in order to praise the Lord until the
third hour (this hour corresponds to our nine o clock in
the morning). From the third hour until evening thou
wilt occupy thyself in some manual works, in order that
thou mayest be instructed in all things. At meals, of
which thou wilt partake after thy exercise, observe be
fitting moderation. Then thou wilt go to hear the instruc
tions of thy teacher; the rest of the day thou wilt en
gage thyself in the reading of holy Scriptures, and in all
things be humble, affable, and obedient to the commands
of thy instructress."
471. The most holy Child remained on her knees, while
She listened to the words of the priest and then asked his
blessing; having kissed his hand and the hand of her mis
tress, She proposed in her heart to observe the order of
life assigned Her during her stay in the temple and as
long as they should not command her otherwise. And
She, who was the Mistress of sanctity, fulfilled their or
ders as if She were the least of all the scholars. Her de
sires and her most ardent love impelled Her to many other
external exercises, which they had not included in their
orders; but with regard to these She subjected Herself
to the minister of the Lord, preferring the sacrifice of a
perfect and holy obedience to the high dictates of her own
fervor. She knew, as Mistress of all perfection, that the
divine will is more surely fulfilled by the humble acquies
cence of obedience, than in following the highest aspira
tions to other virtues. By this rare example let souls, and
especially those in the religious state, learn not to follow
their own effervescences and whims contrary to obedience
and the will of their superiors ; for in the latter God makes
known to us his desire and pleasure, whereas in the form
er we seek only our own fancies; in the superiors God
himself operates, in ourselves (if we work contrary to
their orders), temptations, blind passion and deceit is
active.
472. In the performance of works not commanded Her
our Queen and Lady distinguished Herself from other
maidens by asking her teacher to be allowed to serve them
all and be engaged in the humble occupation of scrubbing
and cleaning the rooms and of washing the dishes. Al
though this seemed extraordinary, especially in one of the
firstborn children, who were treated with greater consid
eration and respect, yet the incomparable humility of the
heavenly Princess could not be restrained or confined by
any consideration of what was due to her position, but
reached out for the most humble occupations. With such
an eager humility She knew how to gain time and oppor
tunity for doing such work, that She was beforehand in
assuming the tasks of others. By means of her infused
science She understood all the mysteries and ceremonies
of the temple; but She was anxious to learn them also by
study and practice, as if She were ignorant of them, nor
did She ever fail in any ceremony or duty, no matter how
small. She was most eager for humiliation and most sub
missive in her selfcontempt; every morning and evening
She asked the blessing of her teacher and kissed her hand,
and the same She did whenever She was ordered or was
permitted to perform works of humility. Sometimes,
when it was allowed Her, She kissed her feet with pro
found humility.
473. The sovereign Princess was so docile, so sweet
and friendly in her actions, so ready to serve and so eager
and diligent in humbling Herself, so anxious to show
kindness and esteem toward all the maidens in the temple,
obeying them as if each had been Her Mistress, that She
ravished all the hearts. By Her ineffable and heavenly
prudence She proceeded in all her actions in such a man
ner, that She never lost an occasion for engaging in lowly
work, in humble service of her companions, and in the
fulfillment of the divine pleasure.
474. But what shall I, most vile creature, and what
shall all faithful children of the Catholic Church think,
when describing and considering such a vivid example of
humility ? It seems to us great virtue, when the inferior
obeys the superior, the lowly yields to the exalted ; and we
esteem it a great humility, that the equal submit to his
equal. But when the inferior commands and the superior
obeys, when the Queen humbles Herself before her slave,
when the most holy and the most perfect of all creatures
submits to a mere wormlet, the Queen of heaven and
earth to the least of women, and when this is done with
all her heart and in all sincerity: who is not astonished
and confounded in his vapid pride? W-ho will not see, as
in a clear mirror, his unhappy presumption? Who can
convince himself, that he knows what true humility is,
much less exercise it, when he sees it exhibited, in its real
ity and in its own element, the most holy Mary? Let us
souls, who live under the vow of obedience, approach
this light in order to perceive and correct the disorders,
which show themselves, whenever obedience to our godgiven
superiors requires renouncement of our whims
and therefore becomes hard and troublesome. Here let
our hardness be crushed, let the proudest humiliate her
self and be confounded in her shameful pride ; let her ban
ish all presumption and let her not account herself obe
dient and humble, because on certain occasions she has
yielded to the superiors, for she is yet far from thinking
herself inferior and beneath her companion, as Mary did,
who is superior to all.
475. The beauty, grace, elegance and courteousness of
our Queen were incomparable ; for all the natural graces
and gifts, which were hers in a most perfect degree, were
re-enforced by the splendor of supernatural or divine
grace, and effected a marvelous union of grace and beauty
in all her being and activity, enthralling all in love and
admiration of Her. Divine Providence moderated the out
ward demonstrations of this affection, which those who
conversed with Her, would have shown, if they had been
left to the natural force of their spontaneous love of the
Queen. In eating and in sleep, as in all other virtues, She
was most perfect : She observed the measure dictated by
temperance ; never did She exceed, nor could She, rather
She deducted from the necessary. Although her curtailed
sleep did not interrupt her high contemplation, as I have
said before (No. 352), yet She would have gladly omitted
it altogether ; in virtue of obedience however, She retired
to rest at the time appointed, and on her humble and poor
couch, strewn with the flowers of virtue (Cant. 1, 15)
and surrounded by the seraphim and the angelic host who
guarded and assisted Her, She enjoyed more exalted con
templation (outside of beatific vision), and more ardent
ecstasies of love, than all of them together.
476. She divided her time and applied it with rare pru
dence so as to give to each of her actions and occupations
its proper share. She read much in the sacred writings
of the ancients and, by means of her infused science, She
was so well versed in them and in all their profound mys
teries, that none of them was unfamiliar to Her; for the
Most High made known to Her all their mysteries and
sacraments ; She treated and conversed about them in her
conferences with the holy angels of her guard, familiariz
ing Herself with them and asking about them with in
comparable intelligence and great acuteness. If this sov
ereign Mistress had written what She understood, we
would have many other additions to the sacred Scriptures ;
and we would be able to draw out of them a perfect under
standing of those writings and the deep meanings and
mysteries of all those preserved in the Church. All the
plenitude of this science She utilized for the worship,
praise and love of God : to this She applied all knowledge
without allowing one ray of her divine enlightenment to
remain sterile or idle. She was most subtile in discourse,
most profound in her intelligence, most exalted and lov
ing in her thoughts, most prudent in her choice and ar
rangement, most efficacious and sweet in her operations,
and in all things She was a most perfect example and an
object of admiration for men and angels, and even, in a
way, for the Lord himself, who had formed Her altogeth
er according to his heart and pleasure.
INSTRUCTION OF THE SOVEREIGN MISTRESS.
477. My daughter, human nature is imperfect and re
miss in practicing virtue, and easily weakens in its exer
cise ; for it continually seeks rest and evades labor with all
its might. When the soul listens to and extemporizes with
the animal and carnal part of its nature this latter will en
gross and overcome the forces of reason and of the spirit,
and will reduce them to a dangerous and shameful slavery.
This disorder is abominable and much to be feared by all ;
but God abhors it without comparison more in his minis
ters and in religious : they, as a matter of course, are sup
posed to be perfect, and therefore are injured so much
the more seriously, if they do not come out victorious in
the conflict of the passions. By remissness in battle and by
their frequent defeats they live themselves into a paralyz
ing and self-satisfied conviction of false security, content
with the performance of certain easy outward practices
of virtue, at the same time imagining (without the least
real advancement) that they are moving mountains. The
demon then introduces other distractions and temptations,
and on account of their small appreciation of the rules and
practices of religion, they begin to weaken in all of them,
esteem them as light and unimportant matter, and, living
on in their false security, come to lose the very perception
of true virtue.
478. I desire that thou, my daughter, guard against
this error. Remember, that a voluntary remissness in re
gard to one imperfection prepares and opens the way for
others : these facilitate the commission of venial sins, these
again of mortal sins. Thus the descent is from one abyss
to another, until the bottom is found in the disregard of
all evil. In order to prevent such a misfortune it is neces
sary to intercept from afar the current of sin, for the prac
tice or ceremony, which seems but small, is an outwork
which keeps the enemy at a distance, while the precepts
and laws concerning more important matters are the for
tress walls of conscience. If the demon can break through
and gain the outer defenses, he is in better position to gain
the inner ones. If then an opening is made in the bul
warks by the commission of sin, although it may not be a
very grievous one, he already has a better opportunity to
make an assault on the interior reign of a soul. As the
soul finds herself weakened by vicious acts and habits and
without strength of grace, she does not resist the attack
with fortitude, and the devil, acquiring more and more
power over her, begins to subject and oppress her with
out opposition.
479. Consider therefore now, my dearest, how great
must be thy watchfulness, and how great is the necessity of
not falling asleep in the midst of so many dangers. Re
member that thou art a religious, a spouse of Christ, a
superior, taught and enlightened, favored with so many
singular blessings. By these privileges and many others,
which thou wilt find connected with them, thou shouldst
gage thy solicitude, for thou owest a return and corres
pondence in all of them to the Lord. Exert thyself to be
punctual in the fulfillment of all the rules and practices of
religion ; let there be no rule, no command, and no exer
cise of perfection, which ever will seem small to thee;
despise or forget none of them ; observe them all with rig
or, for in the eyes of God all is precious and of great im
port when practiced according to his pleasure. It is cer
tain, that He finds pleasure in seeing his commands ful
filled, and is offended in seeing them set aside. Therefore
in all things consider, that thou hast a Spouse, whom thou
must please, a God, whom thou must serve, a Father,
whom thou must obey, a Judge, whom thou must fear, and
a Mistress, whom thou shouldst imitate and follow.
480. In order that thou mayest fulfill all this, thou
must renew in thy soul the strong resolution not to listen
to thy inclinations, not to yield to the negligence and
weakness of thy nature ; do not omit any practice or ex
ercise on account of its difficulty, as for instance kissing
the ground, as thou has been accustomed to do according
to the custom of the religious. Both small and great per
form with a loving constancy and thus thou wilt be pleas
ing in the eyes of my Son and myself. In the works of
supererogation, after praying for a holy alacrity, ask ad
vice of thy confessor and superior, and perform them with
a spirit entirely free of any predilection or selflove. That
which they direct, accept and write in thy heart, never
resting in its punctual fulfillment. If it is possible to avail
thyself of obedience and counsel, never decide for thyself
on anything, how good soever it may appear to thee ; for
the true will of God is always manifest in holy obedience.
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