The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 6 verses 488-504 Index

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

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 6 verses 488-504OF THE: VIRTUE OF FAITH,, AND HOW MOST HOLY MARY PRACTICED IT.

  INDEX            Book 2  Chapter  6    Verses:  488-504


488. In few words the holy Elizabeth described the
greatness of the faith of most holy Mary, when, as re
ported to us by the evangelist Luke, She exclaimed:
"Blessed art thou for having believed, because the words
and promises of the Lord shall be fulfilled in Thee"
(Luke 1, 45). The faith of this great Lady must be esti
mated from the greatness of her good fortune and beati
tude, and from her ineffable dignity; for her faith in
spired Her with so great and so excellent a belief in God,
that it merited a place inferior only to God himself. She
believed that Sacrament of all sacraments and mysteries,
which was to be fulfilled in her own Self. So great was
the prudence and the divine light in Mary our Mistress,
in believing this new and unheard of mystery of the In
carnation, that it surpassed all human and angelic under
standing, and that it could be properly estimated and
understood only in the divine Mind, the workshop of the
Most High, where in the power of his right hand all the
virtues of this Queen had their origin and completion. I
always find myself taken aback and stupefied, whenever
I speak of these virtues, and more particularly of the in
terior ones ; for though great is the light and intelligence,
which were given to me concerning them, yet too limited
are human terms to describe the concept and acts of faith,
which were engendered in the mind and spirit of Her,
who was the most faithful of all creatures, or rather, of
Her, who was greater in faith than all of them taken to
gether. I will say what I can, acknowledging my inability
to say what I desire, and much more, what is due to the
reality.
489. The faith of the most holy Mary was an image of
.the whole creation and an open prodigy of the divine
power, for in Her the virtue of faith existed in the high
est and the most perfect degree possible; in a certain
manner and to a great extent, it made up for the want of
faith in men. The Most High has given this excellent
virtue to mortals so that, in spite of the carnal and mortal
nature, they might have the knowledge of the Divinity
and of his mysteries and admirable works: a knowledge
so certain and infallibly secure, that it is like seeing Him
face to face, and like the vision of the blessed angels in
heaven. The same object and the same truth, which they
see openly, we perceive obscured under the veil of faith.
490. One glance at the world will make us understand,
how many nations, reigns and provinces, since the begin
ning of the world, have lost their claims to this great
blessing of the faith, so little understood by the thankless
mortals: how many have unhappily flung it aside, after
the Lord had conferred it on them in his generous mercy,
and how many of the faithful, having without their merit
received the gift of faith, neglect and despise it, letting it
lie idle and unproductive for the last end to which it is
to direct and guide them. It was befitting therefore, that
the divine equity should have some recompense for such
lamentable loss, and that such an incomparable benefit
should find an adequate and proportionate return, as far
as is possible from creatures ; it was befitting that there
should be found at least one Creature, in whom the virtue
of faith should come to its fullest perfection, as an ex
ample and rule for the rest.
491. All this was found in the great faith of the most
holy Mary and on account of Her and for Her alone, if
there had been no other creature in the world, it would
have been most proper, that God should contrive and
create the excellent virtue of faith ; for according to our
way of understanding, Mary by Herself was a sufficient
pledge to the divine Providence, that He would find a
proper return on the part of man, and that the object of
this faith would not be frustrated by the want of corres
pondence among mortals. The faith of this sovereign
Queen was to make recompense for their default and She
was to copy the divine prototype of this virtue in its high
est perfection. All the other faithful can measure and
gage themselves by the faith of this Mistress; for they
will be more or less faithful, the more or less they ap
proach the perfection of her incomparable faith. There
fore She was set as Teacher and example of all the be
lieving, including the Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles and
Martyrs and all that have believed or will believe in the
Christian doctrines to the end of the world.
492. Some one might ask the question : how can it be
possible, that the Queen of heaven exercised faith, since
She had clear visions of the Divinity many times, and
many more times was favored with abstract visions, which
likewise make evident that which is perceived by the un
derstanding, as was said above (No. 229, 237) and will
be said over and over again later on. On account of its
uncertainty, the Apostle says, that faith is the substance
of the things that appear not ; by which is meant, that we
have no other presence or evidence of the real existence
of the things we hope for as the ultimate realization of
our happiness, than that which is obscurely and as in a
mirror presented to us by faith. It is the force of this
infused habit, drawing us to believe what we do not see,
and the infallible certitude of what is believed, which pre
sent those strong motives for prompting the will to strive
after what it desires and hopes. According to this doc
trine, it seems, that, if the most holy Virgin had ever en
joyed the vision and possession of God (for these two are
one) She was deprived of the obscurity necessary for the
existence of faith in the things, which She had seen face
to face; especially if her understanding retained the
images of what She had seen in the intuitive or open vis
ion of the Divinity.
493. But this experience was not only no hindrance to
the faith of the most holy Mary, but augmented and
raised it to its highest excellence. For the Lord wished,
that his Mother should be so wonderfully distinguished
in this virtue of faith (and likewise in the virtue of hope),
that She should therein surpass all that is given to ordi
nary wayfarers. He wished, that her understanding, in
order to befit her position as the Mistress and Artist of
these great virtues be embellished at one time by the most
perfect acts of faith and hope, at another enraptured with
the vision and the possession (even if only temporary), of
the very End and Object of faith and hope. Thus She
was prepared by her personal experience and fruition to
teach the faithful to believe what She had herself seen and
enjoyed. To join these two things in the most holy soul
of Mary was easy to the power of the Almighty ; it was
due to her dignity as his most pure Mother, and so it must
be done : no privilege, however great, was unbecoming to
Her ; and in Her none must be wanting.
494. It is true that the clear vision of a mystery is in
compatible with the obscurity of the faith by which we
believe it, and the possession of a thing excludes the hope
of it. So most holy Mary, whenever these high mysteries
were shown to Her by evident intuition or intellectual ab
stractions did not exercise the obscure acts or habits of
faith; for on those occasions She could make use only
of her infused science. But the theological virtues of
faith and hope did not therefore remain idle all the time
of her life; for the Lord, in order to afford Her the
possibility of exercising them, suspended the influx and
activity of the clear and evident vision, thereby caus
ing a cessation of the effects of infused knowledge, and
making room for the obscurity of faith and the Lord hid
himself from Her by taking away all clear evidence of
Himself from her mind. This happened in the most high
mystery of the Incarnation, as I shall relate in its place
(Part II, 119, 133).
495. It was not proper, that the Mother of God should
be deprived of the reward of the infused virtues of faith
and hope ; yet in order to gain this reward, it was neces
sary to merit it; and in order to merit it, She must have
practiced these virtues in proportion to the reward. Just
as her merits were great beyond comparison, so the faith
in each and every one of the acts of this exalted Lady
were correspondingly great; for She perceived and ac
cepted explicitly all the truths of the Catholic religion
with the deepest and most perfect faith as a wayfarer.
Manifestly the understanding, as soon as it sees the prop
er evidence for that which it perceives, does not wait for
the consent of the will in order to believe, for before it
can receive the command of the will, it has already been
compelled to accept the truth by its evidences. Therefore
the act of believing what cannot be denied, is not meri
torious. When most holy Mary assented to the message
of the archangel, She merited an ineffable reward on ac
count of the act of faith necessary to believe such a deep
mystery; and the same was true of other acts of faith,
whenever the Most High gave Her an opportunity for its
exercise by withdrawing the infused knowledge. But
even when She applied infused knowledge, She gained
great merit, on account of the love with which She util
ized it, as I have said in another place (Supra 232, 381,
384).
496. Just as little did She use the gift of infused science,
when She lost the divine Child, at least not in order to
find the place where He tarried, though this was possible to
Her in many other things. She did not then make use of
the clear images of the Divinity ; also not at the foot of the
Cross, because the Lord restricted those visions and oper
ations of her most holy soul which would have prevented
sorrow. It was becoming, that She should feel it and be
left to the strength of her faith and hope alone. The joy
occasioned by any of her visions or intelligences of the
Divinity (even if only abstractive), would naturally pre
vent pain, unless God wrought a new miracle to unite
pain with joy. It was not proper that God should work
this miracle, since on the sorrows of the Lady depended
her merits, and the imitation of her divine Son was to be
commensurate with the graces and excellences of the
Mother. Therefore She sought the Child sorrowfully, as
She herself says, in faith and lively hope; and the same
virtues were also active in witnessing the Passion and
Resurrection of her beloved Son. During those times She
depended upon Catholic faith, which then became as it
were restricted and confined to Her, as its Mistress and
Foundress.
497. Three qualities or excellences must in particular
be mentioned in speaking of the faith of the most holy
Mary: its continuity, its intensity and the intelligence
with which it was exercised. The faith of Mary as men
tioned above, was suspended only during those times,
in which She enjoyed the clearness of the intuitive, and the
evidence of the abstractive visions of the Divinity. Al
though only the Lord himself, who dispensed them, could
know when She put into operation the one or the other
kind of acts, yet the most holy Queen, in making use of
the different kinds of spiritual activity, never allowed
Her understanding to remain idle for one instant of her
life, and from the first moment of her Conception She
never lost sight of God. For when She suspended faith,
it was because She was enjoying the clear vision of God
through the highest kind of infused knowledge, and as
soon as the Lord interrupted this clear vision, She re
newed the memory of his presence by her faith. The in
terchange and succession of these acts produced in the
mind of the most holy Mary an exquisite harmony, to
which the Most High called the attention of the angels,
when He said in the eighth chapter of the Canticles:
"Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the friends hearken :
make me hear thy voice."
498. In regard to the intensity or efficacy of the faith
of this sovereign Princess, it is certain, that it exceeded
that of the Apostles, Prophets and Saints taken together
and reached the highest degree possible in a creature. It
not only exceeded the faith of all true believers, but She
supplied the faith that was wanting in all those that have
not believed and She could by Her faith enrich them all.
Thus Her faith remained firm, immovable and constant,
when the Apostles in the hour of the Passion fell away;
and if all the temptations, deceits, errors, and falsehoods
of the world were joined together, they could not prevail
or disturb the invincible faith of the Queen of believers.
She, its Foundress and Instructress, would overcome them
all and issue forth victorious and triumphant.
499. The intelligent love, with which She explicitly
believed all the divine truths, cannot be expressed in
words, without misrepresenting its intensity. The most
holy Mary knew all that She believed and believed all
that She knew ; for the infused theological knowledge of
the credibility of faith s mysteries, and the understanding
of this credibility, existed in the wisest Virgin Mother in
the highest degree possible in a mere creature. Her
knowledge was kept in a constant actuality, and by means
of her memory, like that of an angel, She never forgot,
that which once She had learnt. This gift and faculty of
the understanding She kept in constant operation in order
to exercise her deep faith ; only at times, as already said,
God suspended faith by other acts of the mind (No. 492,
465). Except that She was not yet a comprehensor,
nothing was wanting in regard to her intelligence of the
matters of faith and in regard to the clear knowledge of
the Divinity. In this regard She held a position far above
that of all the wayfarers and She by Herself constituted
a class of such high degrees, as cannot be attained by any
other wayfarer to heaven.
500. And if the most holy Mary, while She exercised
the acts of faith and hope, was in what might be called
her most ordinary and therefore the lowest degree of
activity, and if in that state She excelled all the angels and
saints in merits by her faith and love, what must we say
of the excellence of her acts, her merits and her affections,
during the time in which She was exalted by the divine
power to the blessed state of highest intuitive vision and
clear knowledge of the Divinity? If this is beyond the
comprehension of the angelic mind, how can an earthly
creature ever hope to find words to describe it ? I there
fore can only express the mere wish, that all mortals
might come to a knowledge of the precious value of faith,
by learning it from this heavenly Original, in whom
faith attained its ultimate perfection and where it com
pletely fulfilled the end for which it was created. Let the
infidels, the heretics, the pagans and idolaters approach
this Mistress of faith, most holy Mary, in order to be en
lightened in their falsehoods and darksome errors and in
order to find the sure way toward the last end of their
being
1
. Let also Catholics approach and learn to under
stand the copious rewards of this virtue ; let them ask the
Lord with the Apostles to increase their faith (Luke 7,
5). Not that they ever can reach the faith of most holy
Mary, but let them ask for the desire to imitate Her and
follow Her, for by her faith She teaches us, and by her
merits She helps us to obtain this virtue.
501. Saint Paul calls the patriarch Abraham the father
of all the faithful ( Rom. 6, 11), because he first received
the promise, hoping against hope (Rom. 4, 18) . He
wishes to extol the excellence of the Patriarch s faith, be
cause he believed the promise of the Lord, that Sarah, his
wife, would bear him a son though she was sterile, and,
according to the laws of nature, incapable of concep
tion ; moreover, in offering his son as a sacrifice at God s
command, he relinquished at the same time the prospect
of the countless offspring, which the Lord had promised
to Him. This all, and many other sayings and promises
of the Lord were made impossible of fulfillment according
to the laws of nature, yet Abraham believed, that the di
vine power could execute them in a supernatural manner.
Therefore he merited to be called the Father of all the
believers and to receive the seal of his faith which justi
fied him, namely circumcision.
502. But our supereminent Lady, Alary, possesses
much greater rights and titles to be called the Mother of
faith and of all the faithful. In her hand is hoisted the
standard and ensign of faith for all the believers in the
law of grace. First indeed, according to the order of
time, was the Patriarch and consequently he was ordained
to be the father and head of the Hebrew people: great
was his belief in the promises concerning Christ our Lord,
and in the works of the Most High. Nevertheless in
comparably more admirable was the faith of Mary in all
these regards and She excels him in dignity. Greater
difficulty and incongruity was there that a virgin should
conceive and bring forth, than that an aged and sterile
woman should bear fruit ; and the patriarch Abraham was
not so certain of the sacrifice of Isaac, as Mary was of the
inevitable sacrifice of her most holy Son. She is the One,
who perfectly believed and hoped in all the mysteries, and
She shows to the whole Church, how it must believe in
the Most High and in the works of his Redemption.
Having thus understood the faith of Mary our Queen, we
must admit Her to be the Mother of the faithful and the
prototype of the Catholic faith and of holy hope. And in
order to conclude this chapter, I will add, that Christ, our
Redeemer and Teacher, as He was a comprehensor and
as his most holy soul enjoyed the highest glory and the
beatific vision, had no necessity or occasion for faith, nor
could He in his own actions give us an example of this vir
tue. But what the Lord could not do in his own Person,
He did in the person of his most holy Mother, constitut
ing Her as the Foundress, the Mother and the example
of faith in his evangelical Church. And thus on the day
of universal accounting this sovereign Mistress and
Queen shall in an especial manner assist her most holy
Son in the judgment of those, who, in spite of such an ex
ample, have not believed during their stay on earth.
INSTRUCTION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD, OUR LADY.
503. My daughter, the inestimable treasure of the vir
tue of divine faith is hidden to those mortals who have
only carnal and earthly eyes ; for they do not know how
to appreciate and esteem a gift and blessing of such in
comparable value. Consider, my dearest, what the world
was without faith and what it would be today if my Son
and Lord would not preserve faith. How many men whom
the world has celebrated as great, powerful and wise have
precipitated themselves, on account of the want of light of
faith, from the darkness of their unbelief into most
abominable sins, and thence into the eternal darkness of
hell ! How many kingdoms and provinces, being blind
themselves, follow these still more blind leaders until
they together fall into the abyss of eternal pains! And
they are followed by the bad Christians, who having re
ceived the grace and blessing of faith, live as if they had
it not in their hearts.
504. Do not forget, my dear friend, to be thankful for
this precious jewel which the Lord has given thee as a
dower and a wedding gift of thy espousal with Him> in
order to draw thee to the bridal chamber of his holy
Church and afterwards to have intercourse with Him in
the eternal beatitude. Continually exercise this virtue of
faith, for it places thee near to thy last end, after which
thou strivest, and brings thee near to the object of thy de
sires and thy love. Faith teaches the sure way of eternal
salvation, faith is the light that shines in the darkness of
this mortal life and pilgrimage; it leads men securely to
the possession of the fatherland to which they are way
faring, if they do not allow it to die out by infidelity and
sinfulness. Faith enlivens the other virtues and serves as a
nourishment of the just man and a support in his labors.
Faith confounds and fills with fear the infidels and the lax
Christians in their negligence; for it convinces them in
this world of their sin and threatens punishment in the
life to come. Faith is powerful to do all things, for noth
ing is impossible to the believer; faith makes all things
attainable and possible. Faith illumines and ennobles the
understanding of man, since it directs him in the darkness
of his natural ignorance, not to stray from the way, and
it elevates him above himself so that he sees and under
stands with infallible certainty what is far above his pow
ers and assures him of it no less than if he saw it clearly
before him. He is thus freed from the gross and vile nar
row-mindedness of those who will believe only what they
can experience by their own limited natural powers, not
considering that the soul, as long as it lives in the prison
of this corruptible body, is very much circumscribed and
limited in its sphere of action by the knowledge drawn
from the coarse activity of the senses. Appreciate, there
fore, my daughter, this priceless treasure of the Catholic
faith given thee by God, watch over it and practice it in
great esteem and reverence.
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