The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 11 verses 571-582 Index

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

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 11 verses 571-582THE VIRTUE OF FORTITUDE, AS PRACTICED BY THE MOST HOLY MARY.

  INDEX            Book 2  Chapter  11    Verses:  571-582


571. The virtue of fortitude, which is the third of the
four cardinal virtues, serves to moderate the personal ac
tivity of each one s choleric affections. Although it is true
that concupiscence precedes irascibility, and therefore
temperance which regulates concupiscence, might seem to
precede fortitude, because the resistance pertaining to for
titude is exerted against that which opposes concupis
cence; nevertheless we must first treat of the activity of
the choleric affections and their moderation through forti
tude. For in the pursuit of that which is desired, success
ordinarily depends upon the intervention of the irascible
faculties for overcoming the obstacles that present them
selves. Therefore fortitude is a more noble and excellent
virtue than temperance, of which we shall treat in the
following chapter.
572. The moderation of the irascible passions by the
virtue of fortitude is made up of two elements or kinds
of activity : to give way to anger in conformity with
reason, propriety and honor, and to repress unreasonable
anger and passion, whenever it is more useful to restrain
than to allow them to act. For as well the one as the other
can be praiseworthy or blamable according to the end in
view and the circumstances of the affair in hand. The
first of these two kinds of operations of this virtue is
properly called fortitude, being called by some teachers
pugnacity (bellicositas). The second is called patience,
which is the more noble and excellent kind of fortitude,
and is possessed and exercised principally by the saints:
the worldly-minded, throwing aside good judgment and
usurping a false term, are apt to call patience pusillan
imity, and miscall inconsiderate and rash presumption,
fortitude. Thus it comes, that they never attain the true
practice of the virtue of fortitude.
573. In most holy Mary there were no inordinate
movements, which could call to activity the irascible affec
tions for the exercise of fortitude ; for in the most in
nocent Queen all the passions were well ordered and sub
ject to reason, and her reason was subject to God, who
governed Her in all her actions and movements. But She
was in need of this virtue in order to overcome the ob
stacles placed by the devil in diverse ways, seeking to pre
vent Her from attaining what She most prudently and
most properly desired for Herself and her most holy Son.
And in this most valiant resistance and conflict none of
the creatures ever showed more fortitude. For no one
ever encountered such conflicts and opposition as She
from the demon. But whenever it became necessary to
make use of this kind of fortitude or pugnacity with hu
man creatures, She was equally sweet and forcible, or
rather, She was just as irresistible as She was most sweet
in her activity. For this heavenly Lady alone among all
creatures was able to copy so faithfully in her operations
that attribute of the Most High, which unites irresistible
power with heavenly sweetness (Wisdom 8, 1). Thus
our Queen proceeded in her actions with fortitude, know
ing no disorderly fear in her generous heart, as She was
superior to all creation. Neither was She rash, or auda
cious, or immoderate, being alike removed from all these
vicious extremes ; for in her great wisdom She knew what
terrors were to be vanquished, and what rashness was to
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be avoided. Thus She was the chosen Woman, clothed
in the strength of fortitude and beauty (Prov. 31, 25).
574. That part of fortitude which consists in patient
endurance, most holy Mary practiced in a still more ad
mirable manner, for She alone participated in the ex
cellent patience of her most holy Son, who bore punish
ment and suffered innocently without guilt, and in a
greater measure than all those who had contracted the
guilt. The whole life of the sovereign Queen was a con
tinual suffering and tribulation, especially during the life
and passion of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Her patience
during this time exceeds the comprehension of all crea
tures ; and only the Lord who imposed this suffering upon
Her, could worthily understand its greatness. Never was
this most pure Dove excited to the least impatience against
any creature, nor did any of the immense tribulations and
sorrows of her life seem great to Her, nor was She ever
dejected on account of them, nor did She fail to accept
them all with joy and gratitude. If, according to the
Apostle, the first requisite of charity, and as it were its
firstborn, is patience (I Cor. 13, 4) ; and if our Queen was
the Mother of love (Prov. 24, 24), then She was also the
Mother of patience, and her love is the measure of her
patience. For in the degree in which we love and esteem
the eternal good, (and we should esteem it above all
visible things), in that degree will we be ready, in order to
obtain it and avoid the loss of it, to suffer all hardships
in patience. Hence most holy Mary in her love was
patient beyond all that is created and She was the
Mother of patience for us. Flying to her protection we
shall find the tower of David with its thousand shields of
patience pending from it (Cant. 4, 4), with which the
brave ones of the Church and of the militia of Christ our
Lord arm themselves for battle.
575. Our most patient Queen was never affected by the
caprices of feminine inconstancy, nor indulged in outward
signs of anger; all this She restrained by the aid of divine
light and wisdom, although these latter did not do away
with pain, but rather augmented it; for no one could
recognize the infinite misfortune of sins and offenses
against God as this Lady. But even so her invincible
heart could not be disturbed : neither the malice of Judas,
nor the injuries and insults of the pharisees could ever
cause signs of anger in her exterior. Although at the
death of her most holy Son all the insensible elements and
creatures seemed to have lost patience toward mortals,
not being able to suffer the injuries and offenses done to
their Creator, Mary alone remained unmoved and ready to
receive Judas, all the pharisees and high-priests who cruci
fied Christ, if they had chosen to return to this Mother of
piety and mercy.
576. It is true that, without thereby passing the bounds
of reason or virtue, the most meek Queen could justly
have been indignant and angry at those who delivered
over her most holy Son to such a frightful death ; for the
Lord himself punished this sin in his justice. While fol
lowing up this thought, I was informed, that the Most
High provided against these movements and kept Her
free from all motions and affections of anger, though they
would not have been unjust; for He wished to prevent
Her from being the accuser of these sinners, because He
had chosen Her as the Mediatrix and Advocate, the
Mother of mercy. Through Her were to flow all the
mercies which He wished to grant to all the children of
Adam. He wished Her to be the one Creature, that could
worthily intercede for sin and temper the wrath of the
just Judge. Solely against the demon the anger of this
Lady was given free scope. Also in so far as this passion
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was necessary to exercise patience and forbearance and
to overcome the impediments with which this enemy
and ancient serpent obstructed her beneficent course.
577. To this virtue of fortitude belong also mag
nanimity and magnificence because they in a manner par
take of the nature of this virtue by giving firmness to
the will in matters relating to fortitude. Magnanimity
consists in pursuing great things and thus striving after
the great honors of virtue. Its subject matter is therefore
great honorableness, from which arise many qualities pe
culiar to the magnanimous ; as for instance to abhor
flattery and the pretenses of hypocrisy, (for to love these
is the part of small and mean souls), not to be covetous,
selfishly looking only for usefulness, but rather to seek
honorable and great things; to speak little of one s self,
not to brag, and not to be easily taken up by small things,
and not to avoid the greater undertakings, to be more in
clined to give than to receive; for all these things are
worthy of honor. But this virtue is not on this account
opposed to humility, for one virtue cannot be opposed to
another. Magnanimity causes us to use our gifts and
virtues in such a way as to merit the greater honor, with
out at the same time seeking honor anxiously and un
reasonably. Humility on the other hand teaches us our
relation to God and the smallness of our desert caused by
our defects and our own lowly nature. On account of the
special difficulties connected with great and noble under
takings, fortitude, especially the fortitude called mag
nanimity, is necessary. This proportions our forces to
the execution of great works, neither allowing us to desist
from them in pusillanimity, nor to attempt them with pre
sumption, disorderly ambition, or vainglory ; for all these
vices magnanimity abhors.
578. Magnificence similarly points to the execution of
great deeds, and in this signification it may enter into
the perfection of every virtue, for in all virtues great
things may be undertaken. But as there is a special dif
ficulty in great outlays or sacrifices, magnificence more
particularly is that virtue, which inclines us to make great
sacrifices in the prudent manner, so that there be neither
niggardliness, where much is required, nor profuseness
where there is no need, wasting and destroying without
necessity. Although this seems to be the same virtue as
liberality, yet the philosophers distinguish one from the
other. Magnificence regards only the greatness of the cost,
without attending to other circumstances, whereas liberal
ity regulates the temperate love and use of money. One
can therefore be liberal without being magnificent, as lib
erality may stop short of its course, when there is ques
tion of great and important favors.
579. These virtues of magnanimity and magnificence
were possessed by the Queen of heaven in a manner, un
attainable by others capable of these virtues. Mary alone
found no difficulty or hindrance in accomplishing great
things; and She alone did everything on a grand scale,
even though the matter was small in itself. She alone
understood the full bearing of these virtues, as She did
of all the rest. She could give them their full perfection,
without gaging them by any contrary inclinations, nor
was She ignorant of the perfect manner of exercising, nor
of making them dependent upon the assistance of other
virtues. For this is wont to happen with most holy and
prudent men, who, when they cannot attain entire per
fection in all virtue, choose that which seems to be the
best of them. In all her practice of virtues this Lady was
so magnanimous, that She always performed that which
was most excellent and worthy of honor and commenda
tion. Yet though She deserved honor and praise from all
creatures, She was nevertheless most magnanimous in
despising it and referring it to God alone, and She pre
served her humility while practicing the highest perfec
tion of virtue. The acts of her heroic humility stood as
it were in heavenly rivalry with the magnanimous excel
lence of all her other virtues and were like richest jewels
set in contrast with the beauteous variety of excellences
that adorned the Daughter of the King, whose glory, as
David, her father, had said (Psalm 44, 14), is all from
within.
580. Also in magnificence our Queen greatly excelled.
For although She was poor and without any affection
toward earthly things, nevertheless She dispensed most
freely those things, with which the Lord furnished Her,
as happened with the precious gifts, which the Magi
offered to the Child Jesus, and many times afterwards in
the course of her life after the Lord had ascended to
heaven. As Mistress of all creation She also showed her
great magnificence by willingly yielding the whole of it
for the common benefit and for the honor and the worship
of God. Many She instructed in this doctrine and vir
tue, which, on account of their vile customs and inclina
tions mortals practice with so much difficulty, and in
which they never reach the proper perfection of prudence.
Commonly mortals follow their inclinations and desires,
seeking only the honor and emoluments of virtue, and to
be esteemed as great and extraordinary. The honor and
glory of virtue is thus diverted from the Lord by their
wrongful hankering; and consequently, when any oc
casion presents itself for the performance of a magnan
imous and generous deed, they shrink back and fail to
execute it, on account of the littleness and meanness of
their sentiments. As their desire of seeming great, ex
cellent and worthy of admiration nevertheless remains,
they have recourse to other measures, proportionately
deceitful and really vicious, such as getting angry, show
ing arrogance, impatience, haughtiness, dislike and
boastfulness. However, these vices are not a part of
magnanimity, but of smallness and meanness of heart.
Hence, as such conduct and sentiments repel rather than
attract honor, they do not gain the honor and esteem of
the wise, but contempt and abhorrence.
INSTRUCTION VOUCHSAFED BY THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN.
581. My daughter, if thou seekest attentively to ob
tain a full understanding of the excellence and the pro
priety of the virtue of fortitude, as is my wish, thou shalt
come into the possession of a most efficient check for the
guiding of thy irascible affections; for these are the
passions, which are most easily moved to action and are
most apt to overstep the bounds of reason. Thou shalt
also have the means of attaining to the utmost greatness
and perfection of virtue, which thou desirest, and of re
sisting and overcoming all the machinations of thy ene
mies, who seek to intimidate thee in the pursuit of what is
hard in perfection. But understand, my dearest, that the
irascible in thy nature assists the concupiscible by oppos
ing what is hostile to the object sought after by the con
cupiscible powers. On this account the irascible will de
teriorate much faster than the concupiscible as soon
as the concupiscible affections become disordered and
begin to love what is only apparently good or what
is vicious. In place of a virtuous fortitude many
execrable and deformed vices will then result. This will
also teach thee that disorderly love of one s own ex
cellence and distinction, and vainglory, which are the
sources of pride and vanity, will breed many vices pe
culiar to the irascible passions, such as discords, conten
tions, quarrels, boasting, strife, impatience, obstinacy;
moreover also vices peculiar to the concupiscible passions,
such as hypocrisy, lying, vain strivings, curiosity and the
desire to appear more than is befitting to a creature, and
to conceal the meanness which truly belongs to one who
has committed sins. From all these contemptible vices
thou shalt keep thyself free, if thou wilt earnestly mortify
and restrain the inordinate movements of concupiscence
by virtue of temperance, which I will now teach thee. For
when thou strivest after that which is just and useful, al
though thou must make use of fortitude and of the wellordered
irascible passions, it must always be done in
such a way as not to pass the proper bounds ; and there is
continual danger of allowing oneself to be carried away
by inordinate zeal for virtue, when one is subject to selflove
or any disorderly love. Sometimes this vice disguises
itself and hides under the cloak of a pious zeal, and its
victims, anxious to appear zealous for God and the good
of their neighbor, are in reality deceived and ensnared
into anger by selfish motives. On this account the patience,
which is founded in charity and which is accompanied
by generosity and magnanimity, is very honorable,
estimable and necessary ; for he that really loves the high
est and truest Good, easily bears the loss of apparent
honor and glory, despising it with magnanimity as vile
and contemptible. Even when it is freely given by his
fellow creatures, the magnanimous will set no value on it ;
he will show himself invincible and constant in all his
undertakings. Thus he will advance, according to his
opportunities, in the virtues of perseverance and patience.
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