The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 13 verses 599-614 Index

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

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 13 verses 599-614

  INDEX            Book 2  Chapter  13    Verses:  599-614

599. The seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to
the light given to me on this subject, seem to me to add
something to the virtues to which they refer ; and because
they superadd to them, they must also differ from them, al
though they pursue the same object. Every benefit con
ferred by the Lord can be called a gift flowing from his
hand, although it may only be a natural benefit ; but here
we do not speak of the gifts of God included in this wide
sense of the word, not even of the infused virtues and
gifts; for not all persons, who possess one or more vir
tues, have the gifts pertaining to those virtues, or at least
they do not reach that degree of virtue that they can be
called perfect gifts, such as those mentioned by Isaias and
referred to by the doctors of the Church. Isaias says the
Holy Ghost rested upon Christ our Lord (Is. 11, 2),
enumerating seven graces, which commonly are called
gifts of the Holy Ghost, namely: the spirit of wisdom
and intellect, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit
of science and piety, and the fear of God. These gifts
were in the most holy soul of Christ, overflowing from
the Divinity to which it was hypostatically united, just
as the water is in the fountain, flowing from it and com
municating itself to other places. For we all partake of
the waters of the Savior (Is. 12, 3), grace for grace, gift
for gift (John 1, 16) ; and in Him are hidden the treas
ures of divine wisdom and science (Coloss. 2, 1).
600. The gifts of the Holy Ghost correspond to the
virtues to which they are related. And although not all
teachers agree in their doctrines about their correspon
dence, there can be no difference of opinion in regard to
the end or purpose of these gifts, which is none else than
to give a special kind of perfection to the faculties for the
performance of exalted and heroic acts of virtue. The
excellence of these gifts must principally include and con
sist of some specially strong inspiration or influence of
the Holy Ghost, which overcomes with greater efficacy
the impediments and moves the free will with greater
force, so that man be not remiss in his actions, but may
proceed with great fortitude and with all perfection in
those things to which that particular gift pertains. All
this the free will cannot attain without being illumined
and sustained by a specially efficacious and powerful in
fluence of the Holy Ghost, which impels him, sweetly and
pleasingly (Sap. Wisdom 8, 1) to follow the enlighten
ment, and freely to execute and accomplish what the will
under the efficacious influence of the Holy Ghost, under
takes (Rom. 8). Therefore this impulse is called in
stinct of the Holy Ghost; for although the will acts
freely and without compulsion, yet in these operations it
is much like a voluntary instrument and seems to be one,
because it acts less under the guidance of common pru
dence, as in other virtues, although it does not act with
less intelligence or liberty.
601. I will try to make myself understood to a certain
degree by referring to two different faculties of the will
that are called into action in drawing the will to pursue
virtue. The one is its own inclination or attraction to
ward the good, moving or stirring it in the same way as
gravity causes the stone to fall or lightness makes the
fire ascend toward its centre. This inclination of the will
is increased more or less by the custom or habits of vir
tue (and the same is to be said in their degree about the
habits of vice), for being drawn by love, the will moves
freely and of its own accord. The other faculty is that
of the intellect, which is an enlightenment in regard to
virtue by which the will directs itself in determining its
course of action, and this enlightenment is proportionate
with the habits and the operations of the will. For the
ordinary acts, prudence and whatever deliberation it in
spires, are sufficient ; but for the more exalted operations
it requires a higher and a superior enlightenment and in
citement, that of the Holy Ghost, such as is given by the
seven gifts. Since charity and grace is a supernatural
habit, which depends on the divine Will in the same way
as the ray depends upon the sun, therefore charity is ac
companied by a particular influence of the Divinity, by
which it is moved to pursue the rest of the virtues and
good habits of the will, and much more so, when this
charity is re-enforced by the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
602. Therefore it seems to me that I perceive in the
gifts of the Holy Ghost a certain special enlightenment
in which the intellect remains to a large extent merely
passive as far as moving the will is concerned. In the
will at the same time there is a certain perfection of its
habits, which inclines it to most heroic acts in a manner
far above the ordinary forces of virtuousness. As the
movements of a stone, if another impulse beside gravity is
added, are much accelerated, so the impulse of the will
toward virtue is stronger and more excellent, if it is acted
upon by the gifts. The gift of wisdom communicates to
the soul a certain kind of taste by which it can distinguish
the divine from the human without error, throwing all
its influence and weight in all things against those in
clinations which arise from human ignorance and folly;
this gift is related to charity. The gift of intellect serves
to penetrate into the understanding of divine things and
gives a knowledge of them overwhelmingly superior to
the ignorance and slowness of the natural intellect ; while
that of science searches the most obscure mysteries and
creates perfect teachers to oppose human ignorance ; these
two gifts are related to faith. The gift of counsel guides,
directs and restrains man within the rules of prudence in
his inconsiderate activity. It is closely related to this its
own virtue. That of fortitude expels disorderly fear and
gives strength to human weakness ; it is superadded to the
cardinal virtue of that name. Piety makes the heart kind,
takes away its hardness and softens it against its own
impiety and stubborness; it is related to religion. The
fear of God lovingly humiliates the soul in opposition to
pride, and is allied to humility.
603. In the most holy Mary were all the gifts of the
Holy Ghost as in one who was undoubtedly capable
of and entitled to them ; for She was the Mother
of the divine Word, from whom the Holy Ghost,
the Giver of them, proceeds. Moreover, since these
gifts were to correspond to her dignity of Mother
of God, it follows, that they were in Her in a measure
proportionate to that dignity, and as different from that
of all the rest of the creatures as her position of Mother
of God excels that of ordinary creatures. This was nec
essary also because She enjoyed at the same time im
peccability, while the other creatures stand in such a dis
tant relation to the Holy Spirit, not only on account of
their common sin, but on account of their place in creation,
having no such proximity to the Holy Ghost. If these
gifts existed in Christ, our Redeemer and Lord, as in their
fountainhead, they were in Mary as in a lake or ocean,
from whence they are distributed over all creation : for
from her superabundance they overflow into the whole
Church. This is referred to by Solomon in the book of
Proverbs, when Wisdom is made to say : that She builds
for Herself a house on seven pillars, etc., and in it She
prepares the table, mixes the wine, and invites the little
ones and the uninstructed ones drawing and raising them
up from their childhood to teach them prudence (Prov.
9, 1, 2). I will not stop to expatiate on this, but every
Catholic knows, that most holy Mary was this magnificent
mansion of the Most High, built up in strength and
beauty on these seven pillars of the gifts, so that in this
mystic palace might be held the banquet of the whole
Church. In Mary was prepared the table, at which all
we uninstructed little ones, children of Adam, may become
satiated with the activities and gifts of the Holy Ghost.
604. When speaking of these gifts as acquired by the
discipline in the exercise of virtue and the conquest of the
contrary vices, the first place must be assigned to fear of
God. In regard to Christ, Isaias begins by mentioning
the gift of wisdom, the highest one, because Christ re
ceived them as the Master and as the Head, and not as
a disciple. In the same order we are to consider them
in the most holy Mary, for in gifts She was made more
similar to her most holy Son, than other creatures. The
gift of wisdom confers a certain enlightenment, like a
second taste, by which the intellect as it were tastes the
hidden truth and searches into the highest and ultimate
causes of things, while the will, with this same taste of
truth in the highest good, distinguishes the real good from
the apparent good without fail. For he is truly wise, who
perceives without mistake the true good in order to taste
of it, and who tastes it in perceiving it. This taste of
wisdom consists in rejoicing in the highest good by an
intimate union of love, upon which follows the savouring
and relishing of the particular good gained and realized
by the exercise of the virtues inferior to love. Therefore
he is not called wise, who merely perceives truth in a
speculative manner, although he may find his delight in
that pursuit: nor is he called wise, who practices virtue
merely for the sake of obtaining a knowledge of it, and
still less he who practices it for other reasons. But he,
that perceives the highest and the true good, and in it and
for it also the minor truths, and who, on account of the
relish of this truth, acts with a sincere and unitive love of
that good, is the one who will be truly wise. This percep
tion or knowledge is supplied to wisdom by the gift of in
tellect, which precedes and accompanies it, and which
consists in an intimate penetration into the divine truths,
and in the perception of all that can be reduced and pave
the way toward them; for the Spirit searches the pro
found things of God, as the Apostle says (I Cor. 2, 10).
605. This same spirit will be necessary in order to
understand and in order to explain to a certain extent the
gifts of wisdom and intellect possessed by Mary, the
Empress of heaven. The impetus of the river, which was
withheld by the highest Goodness for so many eternal
ages, rejoiced this City of God by its flow, and through
inhabitation of the Onlybegotten of the Father and Her
self, completely filled her most holy soul; so that it
seemed, (according to our way of speaking), as if the
infinite oceans of the Divinity were drained into this sea
of wisdom as soon as She was capable of invoking the
Spirit of wisdom. And in order that She might invoke
Him, He came to Her, that She might learn wisdom with
out guile and communicate it without envy (Wisdom 7,
13). This She also did; for by means of her wisdom,
the light of the world, the eternal incarnate Word mani
fested Itself to the world, This most wise Virgin knew
in her wisdom the arrangement of the whole world and
the powers of the elements (Wisdom 7, 17), the begin
ning, the middle, and the end of time with its mutations,
the course of the stars, the natures of the animals, the
fury of the wild beasts, the powers of the winds, the dis
positions and thoughts of men, the virtues of plants,
herbs, trees, fruits and roots, the hidden and occult things
beyond all thoughts of men, the mysterious ways of the
Most High : all this Mary, our Queen, knew and She de
lighted in it through the wisdom, which She drew from
its original fountain and which was embodied in all her
606. Thence did She receive that vapor of the power
of God and the bright emanation of his pure charity,
which made Her immaculate and preserved Her from the
pollution, which stains the soul ; and on this account She
remained a mirror without blur reflecting the Majesty of
God. Thence did She draw the spirit of intelligence, be
longing to wisdom, a spirit holy, single, manifold, subtle,
eloquent, active, undefiled, sure, sweet, loving the good
without impediment, beneficent, gentle, kind, steadfast,
assured, secure, having all power, overseeing all things
and understanding all things with clearness and with a
subtlety reaching from one end to the other (Wisdom 7,
22). All these qualities, which the wise man mentions as
belonging to the Spirit of Wisdom, were in a singularly
perfect manner the property of Mary most holy, second
ary only to the manner in which they were possessed by
her Onlybegotten. Together with wisdom came to Her
all good (Wisdom 7, 11) and in all her works She was
led on by these high gifts of wisdom and intellect. By
them She was governed in the exercise of all the rest of
her virtues, being as it were saturated with this incompar
able wisdom.
607. Something has already been said of Her other
gifts, when speaking of the gifts in general; but since all
that we can understand and say is so far beneath that
which is really to be found in this mystical city of Mary,
there always remains much to add. The gift of counsel,
in the order given by Isaias, follows that of the intellect ;
it consists in a supernatural illumination, by which the
Holy Ghost touches the interior, enlightening it beyond
all human and ordinary intelligence and thereby inclining
the soul to choose all that is most profitable, most decent
and just, and to reject all that is of the contrary kind. It
leads back the will by the immaculate and eternal laws of
God to the standard of one single love, conforming it to
perfect desire of the highest Good. Thus divinely instruct
ed, the creature lays aside the multitude of the diverse in
clinations, and the foreign and the inferior affections and
movements that may retard or hinder the human heart
from listening to or following the divine impulses and
counsels, or that may prevent man from conforming to
the living example of Christ our Lord, who in highest
council has said to the eternal Father: "Not my will be
done, but thine" (Matth. 26, 39).
608. The gift of fortitude is the participation of in
fluence of a divine virtue, which the Holy Ghost com
municates to the created will, in order that it may be hap
pily encouraged to raise itself above all that is passing
and all that is wont to inspire human weakness with fear
in temptations, sorrows, tribulations and adversities.
Overcoming and vanquishing them all, the will acquires
and maintains in itself all that is most arduous and ex
cellent in virtue; it transcends and surpasses all the vir
tues, graces, spiritual and interior exaltations, revelations,
sensible ecstasies of love ; no matter of what degree and
excellence, it leaves all behind and soars upward in divine
flight, until it reaches the highest and the most intimate
union with the supreme Good after which it longed with
the most ardent desire. Then in truth flows the sweet
ness from strength (Judges 14, 14), having conquered all
things in Him that strengthened it (Philip. 4, 13). The
gift of science is an intelligent and unerring knowledge of
what must be believed and done in regard to the virtues,
and it differs from counsel, in so far as science selects,
while counsel decides; science forms a correct judgment
and counsel makes the wise choice. Science differs also
from intelligence, because intelligence penetrates into the
divine truths of faith and virtues by means of a simple in
tuition, while science knows authoritatively all that can be
deduced from the principles of faith, conforming the
outward operations of the faculties to the perfection of
the virtues and being as it were the mother and the root
of discretion.
609. The gift of piety is a divine virtue or influence by
which the Holy Ghost softens, or as it were smoothens or
melts the human will, moving it to embrace all that per
tains to the service of the Most High and to the welfare of
the neighbor. By means of this softening and sweet mild
ness of the mind, our will is ever ready, and our memory
always attentive, so that in all times and places and circum
stances we are ready to praise, bless, thank and honor the
highest Good; and likewise we are moved to act with a
tender and loving compassion toward creatures, without
failing them in their troubles and necessities. This gift
is not hindered, when it meets envy and it overlooks hate,
avarice, and spurns weakness, or littleness of mind; for
it causes in man a strong and delightful inclination by
which it proceeds sweetly and lovingly to fulfill all the
works of the love of God and the neighbor, making him
benevolent, ready to do a service, kind and diligent. On
that account the Apostle says, that the exercise of piety
is useful for all things (I Tim. 4, 8) and that it has the
promise of eternal life, being a most noble instrument of
610. In the last place comes the gift of fear, so highly
praised, exalted and recommended in many places of the
holy Scriptures and by the holy teachers, as the founda
tion of Christian perfection and as the beginning of true
wisdom; for the fear of God before all other things re
sists, banishes and destroys the arrogant foolishness of
men. This important gift consists in a loving heedfulness
and a most noble modesty and restraint, by which the soul
withdraws within itself making it conscious of its own
lowly condition, comparing its lowliness with the supreme
majesty and greatness of God, not attending merely to
its own sentiments, preventing it to be wise in its own con
ceit, and thus rilling it with awe, as the Apostle teaches
(Rom. 11, 21). This gift of fear has its different de
grees ; in the beginning it is called initial, and afterwards
it becomes filial fear ; for first the soul commences to flee
from guilt, as contrary to the highest Good ; and then it
proceeds still farther in its selfabasement and selfcontempt,
comparing its own littleness with God s majesty,
its ignorance with his wisdom, its poverty with his infinite
riches. Thus, finding itself in all things dependent on
God s divine will, it humiliates and subjects itself beneath
all creatures for the sake of God, acting toward Him and
towards them with a sincere love. It finally reaches the
perfection of the sons of God and arrives at the intimate
union of its powers with the Father, the Son and the Holy
611. If I should dilate still more in the explanation of
the gifts of the Holy Ghost, I would far exceed the limits
which I have set, and I would have to extend dispropor
tionately this discourse: that which I have said of these
gifts seems to me sufficient for the understanding of their
nature and their qualities. This understanding will en
able us properly to consider, how these gifts of the Holy
Ghost were possessed by the sovereign Queen of heaven
not only in an ordinarily sufficient degree, such as is com
monly possessed by other saints ; but that they were in
this Lady in such an excellent and privileged a degree,
as would not fall to the lot of the saints, nor be proper to
anyone inferior to Her in sanctity. Having then under
stood, in what holy fear, piety, fortitude, science and coun
sel consist and in how far they are gifts of the Holy Ghost,
let the human estimation and angelic understanding dilate,
let them soar in thought to the noblest, the most excellent,
the most perfect and the most divine: greater than all
this, and above whatever else creatures in their entirety
can conceive, will be the gifts of Mary, and the lowest of
the perfections of Mary will scarcely be within reach of
the highest that can enter the thoughts of man ; just as in
the same manner the highest perfections of our Lady
and Queen attain only in a certain sense the lowest of
Christ and the Divinity.
612. My daughter, these most noble and excellent gifts
of the Holy Ghost, which thou hast come to understand,
are the emanations of the Divinity communicating them
selves to and transforming the holy souls: on their own
part they do not admit of any limitation but only on the
part of the subject upon which they act. If the creatures
would empty their hearts of earthly love and affections,
although their heart is limited, they would participate
without measure in the torrent of the infinite Godhead
through the inestimable gifts of the Holy Ghost. The
virtues purify the creature from the ugliness and guilt of
its vices, and thereby they begin to restore the disconcert
ed order of its faculties, which was first lost by original
sin and afterwards increased by actual sins; they add
beauty to the soul, strength and joy in doing good. But
the gifts of the Holy Ghost raise these same virtues to a
sublime perfection, adornment and beauty, by which they
dispose, beautify and fill the soul with graces and intro
duce it to the chamber of its Spouse, where it remains
united with the Divinity in a spiritual bond of eternal
peace. From this most blessed condition it proceeds
faithfully and truthfully to the practice of heroic virtues ;
and laden with them it returns to the same source from
which it issued forth, namely God himself. In his
shadow it rests and is satiated, freed from the impetuous
fury of the passions and their disorderly appetites. Such
a happiness however is the lot of few, and only by ex
perience can it actually be known, who does attain it.
613. Take heed therefore, my dearest, and study pro
foundly how thou canst ascend to the height of these
gifts ; for it is the will of the Lord and mine, that thou
ascend higher up as a guest in the feast (Luc. 14, 10)
which is prepared for thee in all the sweetness of his
blessed gifts (Ps. 20, 4) and to which thou hast been in
vited for this very purpose by this excess of liberality.
Remember that there are only two ways to eternity : the
one, which leads to eternal death by contempt of virtue
and ignorance of the Divinity; the other, which leads to
eternal life by the profitable knowledge of the Most High ;
for this is eternal life (Jno. 17, 3), that men know the
way to Him and to his Onlybegotten, whom He sent into
the world. The way of death is trodden by innumerable
wicked ones (Eccles. 1, 14), who are unaware of their
own ignorance, presumption and insipid pride. To those,
whom his mercy calls to his admirable light (1 Pet. 2,9),
and whom He engenders anew as sons of light, God gives
by this regeneration a new being in faith, hope and charity,
making them his own and heirs of an eternal and godlike
fruition. Having been made sons they are endowed with
the virtues accompanying the first justification, in order
that as sons of light, they may perform corresponding
works of light ; and over and above they receive the gifts
of the Holy Ghost. And just as the material sun denies
its light and warmth to nothing that is capable and fit for
its influence, so also the divine Wisdom, emitting its voice
on the high mountains, on the royal highway and in the
most hidden paths, invites and calls out to all, and hides
itself or denies itself to no one (Prov. 8,1). But the fool
ishness of men makes them stupid and deaf, their impious
malice makes them scoffers, and their unbelieving per
versity turns them away from God, whose Wisdom finds
no place in the malevolent heart (Wisdom 1, 4), nor in a
body subject to sin.
614. Thou however, my daughter, remember thy
promises, thy vocation and thy aspirations; for the
tongue which lies to God, is an abominable murderer of
the soul (Wisdom 1, 11, 12) : see that thou do not pursue
death in the error of this life, nor draw upon thyself ruin
by the work of thy hands (Cant. 2, 4), as by divine light,
thou hast seen the sons of darkness do. Fear the powerful
God and Lord with an humble and a well-ordered fear,
and in all thy works be governed by that Master. Make
thy heart gentle, yielding and docile to discipline and
works of piety. Judge of things according to the true
value of virtue and vice. Animate thyself with an in
vincible fortitude to strive after the most arduous and ex
alted, and to endure the most adverse and exacting labors.
By discretion choose the means for attaining to these re
sults. Give way to the force of the divine light, by which
thou canst transcend all sensible things, rise to the highest
knowledge of the hidden secrets of divine wisdom and dis
tinguish between the things of the new and of the old man.
Then wilt thou be made capable of partaking of this
wisdom; for then thou wilt enter into the wine-cellar of
thy Spouse and be inebriated with his love, and his eternal
charity will be well ordered in thee.
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