The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 8 verses 516-532 Index

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

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 8 verses 516-532OF THE VIRTUE OF CHARITY IN THE MOST HOLY MARY, OUR LADY.

  INDEX            Book 2  Chapter  8    Verses:  516-532

516. The most excellent virtue of charity is the Mis
tress, the queen, the mother, the life and beauty of all the
other virtues ; charity governs, moves and directs them to
their ultimate and true end, charity leads them on to their
ultimate perfection, preserves them and makes them
grow, enlightens them and beautifies them, gives them
life and efficacy. If the other virtues confer each their
measure of perfection on creatures, charity gives them
perfection itself and brings them to their full complement.
Without charity all is of small value, obscure, languid,
lifeless and unprofitable, not being endowed either with
the essence or the appurtenances of true vitality. Char
ity is kind, patient, meek, without emulation, without
envy, without offensiveness, desires not to acquire, but
readily distributes all, is the cause of all good and con
sents not to evil; as far as it is concerned (I Cor. 13, 4)
it is the fullest participation in the true and ultimate
Good. O Virtue of virtues and greatest treasure of
heaven! Thou alone hast the key of paradise! Thou
art the dawn of eternal light, the sun of eternity s day,
the fire which purifies, the wine which inebriates with
new delights, the nectar which rejoices, the sweetness
which satiates without surceasing, the chamber of rest
for the soul, a bond so intimate that it makes us one with
God (Joan 17, 21), with the same bond that unites the
eternal Father to the Son, and Both to the holy Spirit.
517. On account of the nobility of this most excellent
of all virtues, our God and Lord, according to the Gos
pel of St. John, wished to honor Himself or wished to
honor it, by calling Himself Charity (I John 4, 16).
There are many reasons why the Catholic Church attrib
utes the divine perfections of omnipotence to the Fa
ther, of wisdom to the Son, and of love to the Holy
Ghost. For the Father is the beginning, the Son is en
gendered of the Father through the divine intelligence,
and the Holy Ghost proceeds from Both through the
will. But the name of Charity and the perfection which
it implies is attributed to the Lord himself without dis
tinction of Persons, since the Evangelist says indiscrim
inately: "God is charity." This virtue in the Lord has
the distinction of being the terminus or end of all his
operations ad intra and ad extra. For on the one hand
all the divine processions (which are the operations of the
Godhead with Himself or ad infra), terminate in the re
ciprocal union and love of the three divine Persons, and
thus they constitute an indissoluble bond of unity over
and above the indivisibility of the divine Essence, proper
to it as being one and the same God. On the other hand
the works ad extra, namely the creatures, are an off
spring of divine charity and are ordained towards it, so
that, issuing from that immense sea of divine bounty,
they also return by charity and love to the source from
whence they sprang. It is peculiar to the virtue of char
ity in opposition to all the other virtues and gifts, that it
is a perfect participation of a divine virtue ; it is born of
one source, is directed back to the same, and is more
adapted to that eternal source than all other virtues. If
we call God our hope, our patience, or our wisdom, it is
because we receive them from his hand, and not because
these perfections are in God as they exist in ourselves.
But we call God our charity, not only because we re
ceive it from the Lord, and because He communicates it
to us, but because He himself is essential charity, and the
overflow of this divine perfection, which we represent to
ourselves as a form and attribute of his Divinity, re
dounds in our souls, transforming it more perfectly and
abundantly than any other virtue.
518. Other admirable qualities of charity are mani
fested in the relation between God and ourselves ; for as
this virtue is the source of our being, and afterwards our
highest end, God himself, it is also the spur and the ideal
of our affection and love of the Lord. For, if the knowl
edge that God is in Himself the infinite and highest good
is not sufficient to move and incite us to love Him, at least
the knowledge that He is our own greatest good, should
draw and oblige us toward his love. If we could not
know how to love Him before He gave his Onlybegotten
for us (I John 4, 10), we certainly cannot have an ex
cuse for not loving Him after that sacrifice. For al
though we might be exonerated for not being able to
merit such a benefit, yet now, after we have received this
sacrifice without our merit, we can certainly not be ex
cused for not acknowledging the favor.
519. The example which divine Charity furnishes for
our own, manifests still more the excellence of this vir
tue, although it is difficult for me to explain my percep
tion of this excellence. When Christ Our Lord founded
his most perfect law of love and grace, He exhorted us
to be perfect imitators of our heavenly Father, who al
lows his sun to rise over the just and the unjust without
distinction (Matth. 5, 45). Such doctrine and such an
example only He himself, the Son of the eternal Father,
could give to men. Among all the visible creatures there
is none like the sun to compare with divine charity and
to show us how to imitate it; for this most noble star,
from its very nature, without hesitation and entirely ac
cording1 to its own innate tendency, distributes its light
in all directions, and without distinction to all who are
capable of receiving it, and on its part never denies or
suspends its benevolent activity. And this it does with
out desiring acknowledgment, without imposing any
obligation on any one, without asking for benefits or re
quiring any return, without finding in the objects of its
enlightening bounty any previous goodness to move and
draw it towards them. Nor does it expect any profit in
the communication of its own blessed light, in which all
participate and share.
520. At the consideration of the noble attributes of
this created charity, who will not recognize the signa
ture of the uncreated Charity which it follows ? And who
is not ashamed of failing to imitate it? Who can claim
to have true charity in himself without copying its pro
totype? It is true our charity and love cannot create
goodness in the object of its affection, as is done by the
uncreated Charity of the Lord; nevertheless, even if by
charity we cannot make good those whom we love, we
can offer the goods of love to all without looking for the
advancement of ourselves and without proceeding to de
liberate and study whom we are to love and benefit in the
hope of being repaid. I do not wish to be understood as
saying that love is not free, nor that God was in any
way forced to create through natural necessity. All the
works ad extra, which are those of Creation, are free acts
of God. The example contained for us in divine Charity
points in another direction, namely, that the free will
must not twist or do violence to the inclination and the
impulse of charity; but in imitation of the highest Good,
which in no way hinders the divine will in its inclination
to do good, the human will must allow itself to be moved
and impelled by the inclination of charity to communicate
its goodness. For in this manner the divine Will is im
pelled to distribute the rays of its inaccessible light to all
creatures according to the capacity of each one, without
any preceding goodness, service or benefit on their side,
and without hope of such return afterwards, as the divine
Goodness stands in need of nothing.
521. This is in part the nature of Charity in its divine
original, God. Outside of God himself, however, we will
find it in the fullest perfection possible to a mere creature
in none other than most holy Mary, and in Her we find
the model after which we are more immediately to copy
our own charity. It is evident that the light proceeding
from the uncreated Sun of charity, where it is contained
without limit or circumscription, communicates itself to
all creatures even the most remote according to an order
and measurement adjusted in proportion to the proximity
or distance of each from the divine source. And this
order manifests the fullness and perfection of the divine
Providence; for without it, this Providence would show
a certain defect, confusedness and discord in the creatures
as far as the participation of his goodness and love is
concerned. The first place after God himself, in the dis
tribution of divine Charity, was due to that Soul and that
Person, who was at the same time uncreated God and
created man ; for the highest grace and participation of
love naturally was to be found where existed the closest
and most intimate union with God, as it existed and as it
will exist forever in Christ our Lord.
522. The second place is due to his most holy Mother
Mary, in whom charity and divine love found its resting
place in an especial manner. For, according to our way
of apprehending, the uncreated Charity could not be
quieted until It should find a creature to which It could
communicate Itself in such great plenitude, that the love
and affection of the whole human race should in its en
tirety be reproduced in that Creature alone. It was in
tended that this chosen Creature should in Herself be
endowed with the gifts of charity, without the shortcom
ings and defects common to the rest of mortals infected
with sin, so that She by Herself would be able to supply
the balance of creation and make for it the greatest pos
sible return of love. Mary alone was chosen among all
creatures to imitate the Sun of justice in charity (Cant.
6, 9), and faithfully to copy this virtue from its Original.
She by Herself knew how to love more ardently and per
fectly than all the rest of creatures combined, to love God
entirely for his own sake, purely, intensely and without
defect, and also loving creatures for God s sake and in a
manner similar to Him. She alone adequately followed
the impulse of charity and her generous inclination of
loving the highest Good as highest Good, without any
side intentions ; and of loving the creatures on account of
their participation in God, without the thought of a re
turn or reward of her love. And in perfect imitation of
the uncreated Charity, Mary by her charity was able
and knew how to love in such a way as to make bet
ter that which is loved ; for by her love She made better
heaven and earth and all things that exist outside of God.
523. If the charity of this great Lady were put in the
balance with that of all the men and angels, hers would
outweigh theirs by far; for She by Herself exceeded
them all in her knowledge of the essence and qualities of
the divine Charity and consequently only Mary knew
how to imitate It with adequate perfection and above all
the powers of intellectual creatures. In this excess of
love and charity She repaid and satisfied the debt of in
finite love due to the Lord from creatures, as far as He
could demand a return of them, for their return was not
to be infinite in value, that being- impossible. Just as the
love and the charity of the most holy soul of Jesus Christ
was in its greatness proportionate to the hypostatic union,
so the love of Mary was great in proportion to the ex
cellence conferred upon Her by the eternal Father, when
He appointed Her as the one, who as Mother was to con
ceive and bear his Son for the salvation of the world.
524. Thence we understand that all the gifts and the
blessings of creatures depend in some manner on the love
and charity of the blessed Virgin toward God. In Her
alone it was possible that divine Charity could exist in
this world in its highest and ultimate perfection. She
paid the whole debt of charity at a time when all men
were unable to pay or even to understand the greatness
of their debt. She, by her most perfect charity, obliged
the eternal Father to sacrifice his most holy Son for Her
self and in Redemption of the whole world; for if Mary
had loved less and if her charity had been defective, the
proper preparation for his Incarnation would have been
wanting. But as soon as any creature was found, which
resembled God so closely as She, it was, so to say, but a
natural consequence that He should descend to Her as
He did.
525. All this is the meaning of the words of the Holy
Ghost when He calls Mary the mother of beautiful love
(Eccli. 24, 24), as has already been explained correspond
ingly in regard to hope. These words to Mary signify:
Mary is the Mother of Him, who is our sweetest love,
Jesus, our Lord and Redeemer, who became the most
beautiful among men by a divine, infinite and uncreated
beauty, and by a human nature which was to be without
guilt or blemish and to which no beauty of grace that
could be communicated by the Divinity, was wanting (I
Pet. 2, 22). She is also the Mother of beautiful love,
for She alone engendered in her soul the perfect love
and charity and the most beautiful affection. All the
rest of the creatures combined could not attain the beauty
and faultlessness of her Charity for theirs was not worthy
to be called absolutely beautiful. She is the Mother of
our love; for She drew it toward the earth for us; She
cultivated it for us; She taught us to know and practice
it; there is no other creature in heaven or on earth that
could be such a teacher of this beautiful love for men or
angels. Therefore all the saints are but rays of this sun,
and streamlets flowing from this ocean ; so much the bet
ter will they know how to love, the more they participate
in this love and charity of most holy Mary, and in as far
as they succeed in imitating and copying it more exactly.
526. The sources of this charity and love of our prin
cess Mary were her profound knowledge and wisdom,
derived as well from her infused faith and hope, as also
from the gifts of science, intellect and wisdom given to
Her by the Holy Ghost ; but the greatest of all the sources
of her love were the intuitive and abstractive visions of
the Divinity. Through all these mediums She reached
the highest knowledge of the uncreated Charity and
drank of it at its very fountain, and as She thus learned,
how God was to be loved for his own sake and the crea
ture for the sake of God, also how to practice and exe
cute this love with the most intense and fervent desire.
Moreover, as the power of God found no impediment or
hindrance, no inadvertence, ignorance or imperfection,
nor any tardiness of the will in this Queen, it could oper
ate in Her according to his pleasure. This was not pos
sible in other creatures, since in none of them it found
the same disposition as in most holy Mary.
527. In Her was the fulfillment of that great natural
and divine precept : "Thou shalt love thy God with thy
whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole
strength." Mary alone satisfied this obligation and debt
for all men, which in this life and before seeing God they
neither knew nor could ever fulfill entirely. This Lady
fulfilled it more perfectly during her pilgrimage than
the saints even in the state of beatitude. Moreover She
also satisfied the intentions of God in regard to this pre
cept, namely that it remain not unfruitful and as it were
frustrated on the part of wayfaring men; for most holy
Mary by Herself sanctified and fulfilled it entirely for all
of them, supplying by her charity all that was wanting in
the fulfillment of this precept among men. And probably
if God had not foreknown that Mary our Queen would
be among the number of the mortals, He would not have
given this command in this form. But on Her account
He was pleased to give it; to Her we owe not only this
command of perfect charity, but also the adequate fulfill
ment of it among men.
528. O most sweet and most beautiful Mother of beau
tiful love and charity ! Let all the nations know Thee, let
all generations bless Thee, and let all the creatures mag
nify and praise Thee! Thou alone art the perfect One,
the beloved One, the chosen Mother of uncreated Char
ity. It formed Thee and selected Thee to shine like the
sun in thy most beautiful and most perfect love (Cant. 6,
9) ! Let all us miserable children of Eve approach this
sun in order to be enlightened and inflamed. Let us ap
proach this Mother in order to be born again in love.
Let us approach this Teacher in order to be taught the
love, affection and charity which is without defect. Love
is a disposition which is pleased and satisfied with the
thing loved. Affection is a selection and separation of
the beloved from other of the same kind, and charity
implied in addition to these, a high appreciation and es
teem for the goodness of the beloved. All this we will
learn from the Mother of true love, who is called by that
name precisely because her love possesses all these quali
ties. In Her we learn to love God for his own sake, rest
1 satisfied in Him with all our heart; to give Him a
separate place in all our love from all that is not God, for
loving Him, together with other things, only diminishes
our love of God. We learn to appreciate Him and esteem
Him above gold and above all precious things, for in
comparison with Him all precious things are of no value,
all beauty is ugliness, and all that is great and estimable
in carnal eyes, becomes contemptible and valueless. Of
the effects of this love of the most holy Mary, this whole
history treats and of them heaven and earth are full.
Therefore I will not stay to describe more particularly
what no human tongue, nor words of men or angels can
529. My daughter, if I desire in maternal affection,
that thou follow me and imitate me in all the other vir
tues, then more especially do I make known and declare
to thee my desire to see thee follow me in the virtue of
charity, for this is the end and the crowning glory of all
other virtues. I desire that thou exert thy utmost
powers to copy in thy soul, with the greatest perfection,
all that thou hast learnt of my charity. Light up the
lamp of thy faith and reason in order to find this drachm
of infinite value, and after thou hast (Luke 15, 8) found
it, forget and despise all that is earthly and corruptible.
In thy own mind consider again and again, ponder and
take heed of the infinite reasons and causes that make
God lovable above all other things. In order that thou
mayest be sure that thou lovest Him perfectly and truly,
search within thyself for the following signs and effects
of that love; whether thy thought and meditation dwell
continually on God, whether his commands and counsel
find in thee no repugnance or remissness, whether thou
fearest to offend Him, whether thou seekest immediately
to appease Him after having offended Him, whether thou
grievest to see Him offended and rejoicest to see Him
served by all creatures, whether thou desirest and art de
lighted to speak continually of his love ; see whether thou
delightest in the memory of his presence, whether thou
grievest at thy forgetfulness of Him and at his absence
from thee, whether thou lovest what He loves, and abhorrest
what He abhors, whether thou seekest to draw
all men towards his friendship and grace, whether thou
prayest with confidence; see whether thou receivest with
gratitude his benefits, whether thou dost not waste them
but rather turnst them to good account for his honor and
glory, whether thou strivest to extinguish in thyself all
the movements of the passions, which retard thee or
hinder thee in thy loving aspirations and in thy works of
530. All these and many more are the signs of greater
or less charity in the soul. When charity is ardent and
strong, it will be especially careful not to suffer the forces
of the soul to remain idle, nor to consent to any blem
ish, because it will immediately consume and wipe it out.
It will not rest until it can taste the highest Good of its
love. For without it, this love droops, is wounded and
dies. It thirsts after that wine which inebriates the heart,
causing a forgetfulness of all that is corruptible and pass
ing (Cant. 5, 1). And as charity is the mother and the
root of all virtue, its fecundity will immediately show it
self as soon as it has found a place in the soul ; it will fill
it and adorn it with the habits of the other virtues, and
engender them one after another by establishing the prac
tice of them, as the Apostle says (I Cor. 13, 4). The
soul that is in charity not only feels the effects of charity
in itself, but through charity it is secure of being loved
by God; through this divine love, it enjoys the reciprocal
effect of God s indwelling, so that the Father, the Son and
the Holy Ghost will come and live in it as their temple,
and this is a blessing which no words and no example can
properly express in this mortal life.
531. The right order of this virtue is to love God above
all the creatures, then to love oneself, and him who is
nearest to oneself, namely, our neighbor. God must be
loved with the whole understanding, without deceit, with
the whole will, without reserve or division, with the
whole mind, without forgetfulness, without diminution,
without negligence or remissness. The motive of char
ity in loving God is none else than God Himself ; for He
must be loved for his own sake, being the highest Good
and most perfect goodness and holiness. Loving God
for such motives causes the creature to love itself and the
neighbor and itself ; for both belong to one and the same
God, from whom they derive their origin, their life and
activity. He that loves God truly for Himself will also
love all that is of God and all that in some way partici
pates in his goodness. Therefore charity looks upon the
neighbor as a work and a participation of God and makes
no distinction between friend or enemy. Charity looks
only upon that which is of God and which pertains to
Him in others, no matter whether the neighbor is friend
ly or hostile, a benefactor or a persecutor. It attends
only to the difference in the participation of the divine
and infinite goodness and according to this standard it
loves all in God and for God.
532. All other kinds of love, such as loving creatures
for less exalted motives, hoping for some kind of re
ward, advantage or return, or loving them under cover
of disorderly concupiscence, or with a mere human and
natural love, even if it should spring from naturally vir
tuous and well ordered motives, are not infused charity.
As it is usual in men to be moved by these partial excel
lences and for selfish and earthly ends, there are few who
embrace and appreciate the nobility of this generous vir
tue and who exercise it with proper perfection. For they
seek even God and pursue Him, for the sake of temporal
blessings, or for spiritual benefits and pleasures. I de
sire that thou, my daughter, drive out of thy heart all
these disorderly loves, and that thou live only in well
ordered charity, to which the Most High has inclined thy
desires. If thou so many times reaffirmest that this
virtue is so beautiful, so pleasing and so worthy of being
sought and esteemed by all creatures, apply thyself to
know it in its full excellence ; and having come to under
stand its value, set thyself to purchase this incomparable
gem by forgetting and extinguishing in thy heart all
love that is not the perfect love. Love no creatures ex
cept for God, and for what thou seest in them as coming
from God and belonging to Him, in the same manner
as a bride loves all the servants and connections of the
house of her bridegroom because they are his. Forget
to love anything not referable to God or not lovable on
his account, nor love in any other way except as I have
asked thee or the Most High has commanded thee to love.
Thou wilt also know whether thou lovest with pure char
ity, by thy behavior towards friends and enemies, the
naturally agreeable and disagreeable, the polite and the
impolite, those that possess or do not possess natural ad
vantages. All this sort of distinction does not come from
pure charity, but from the natural inclinations and pas
sions of the appetites, which thou must govern, extin
guish and eradicate by means of this sublime virtue.
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