The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 14 verses 615-685 Index

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


  INDEX            Book 2  Chapter  14    Verses:  615-685

615. The grace of divine visions, revelations and rap
tures, (I do not speak here of the beatific visions), al
though they are operations of the Holy Ghost, must be
distinguished from justifying grace and from virtues,
which sanctify and perfect the soul in their operations.
As not all the just, nor all the saints, necessarily have
visions or divine revelations, it is evident that sanctity and
virtuousness can exist without these gifts. It is also
evident, that revelations and visions are not dependent
upon the sanctity and perfection of those, that are thus
favored, but upon the divine will. God concedes them
according to weight and measure for the ends which He
wishes to attain in his Church (Wisdom 11, 21). God
can without doubt grant great and the most exalted
visions to those, who are less holy, and only inferior
revelations to those, who are of exalted sanctity. The
gift of prophecy and the other gifts freely given (gratis
data) He can give to those even, who are not saints;
some of the raptures moreover can arise from causes,
which have nothing to do with moral virtues. Therefore
if any comparison is made between the Prophets, their
sanctity does not enter into calculation, for that can be
estimated only by God ; but the divine light of prophecy
and the mode of receiving it, must be made the basis of
the comparison as to its being more or less exalted in its
different aspects. Thus it happens, that charity and
virtue, which make their possessors holy and perfect, de
pend upon the will, while visions and revelations, and
likewise some of the raptures, affect the understanding of
the intellectual part of man, the perfection of which does
not in itself sanctify the soul.
616. Nevertheless, though the gift of divine vision is
distinct from holiness and separate from it, the divine
will and providence very often joins them according to
the end and object in the gratuitous gifts of special revela
tion; for sometimes God ordains them for the public
benefit (I Cor. 12, 7) and for the common good of the
Church, as the Apostle tells us. Thus the Prophets, in
spired by the Holy Ghost and not filled with their own
imaginations (II Pet. 1, 21), spoke and prophesied to
us the mysteries of the Redemption and of the evangelical
Law (I Pet. 1, 10). When the revelations and visions
are of this kind, they are not necessarily joined with
sanctity; for Balaam was a prophet and no saint. But
generally it suited divine Providence, that the prophets
should at the same time be saints, preferring not to de
posit, at least not easily and frequently, the spirit of
prophecy and of divine revelations in impure vessels. In
some instances He, as the Allpowerful, did choose to act
in this manner, yet (not to mention many other reasons)
He did not ordinarily wish to derogate from the power of
his divine truths and teachings by the bad life of the
617. At other times the divine revelations and visions
do not pertain to things of so general an import and they
do not concern so much the common good, but only the
particular advantage of the one who receives them; just
as the former are the effects of God s love toward his
Church, so the latter, the special revelations, are the re
suits of the special love of God toward the particular soul.
He communicates them in order to instruct his chosen
ones and in order to raise them to the highest grade of
love and perfection. In this kind of revelations the spirit
of wisdom transcends through successive generations of
holy souls, making them successively prophets and
friends of God. Just as the efficient cause of the revela
tions is the love of God shown to some particular souls,
so also their final cause or object is the holiness, the
purity and the charity of these very souls; God chooses
this means of divine revelation and vision in order to gain
this end.
618. I do not therefore say here, that revelations and
visions are the indispensable and necessary means for the
making of the saints and the perfect; many are such by
other means, irrespective of these benefits. But, even
supposing this truth, that the concession or denial of these
particular gifts depends solely upon the divine will, it is
nevertheless also a fact that on our part and on the part
of God there may be certain reasons of propriety which
induce God to communicate them more frequently to his
servants. The first among several is, that the most proper
and convenient means of rising to eternal things, entering
into them, becoming spiritualized, and arriving at the per
fect union of the soul with the highest Good, is the super
natural light concerning the mysteries and secrets of the
Most High, which comes from revelation and vision
granted to it in solitude and in its excesses of mind. For
this purpose the Lord himself invites the soul with many
promises and caresses, as is ofttimes shown in holy Scrip
ture and especially in the Canticles of Solomon.
619. The second of these reasons of propriety concerns
the Lord : for love is impatient to communicate its favors
and its mysteries to the beloved and to the friend. "I
will not now call you servants, nor treat you as servants,"
our Lord, the Master of truth said to the Apostles, "for
I have manifested to you the secrets of my Father,"
(John 15, 15). And Moses says of himself, that God
spoke to him as a friend with a friend (Exodus 23, 11).
The holy Ancestors, Patriarchs and Prophets, received
from the Holy Ghost not only general revelations, but
many other private and particular ones, and these were
tokens of the love in which God held them, as is seen from
the petition of Moses to allow him to see the face of God.
(Exod. 23, 13). The same is shown by the names, which
the Almighty applies to the chosen soul in calling it
spouse, friend, dove, sister, perfect, beloved, beautiful,
etc. (Cant. 4, 8, 9; 2, 10; 1, 14 et passim). All these
titles, though betokening much of the force of divine love
and its effects, yet fall far short of that which the supreme
King operates in those whom He wishes thus to honor;
for the Lord is mighty to do all that He desires ; and He
alone knows how to desire as a Spouse, as a Friend, as a
Father, as the highest and infinite Good, without limit or
620. The truth loses nothing of its force by its not
being intelligible to carnal wisdom : nor by the deceptions
of carnal prudence, through which some souls have been
led into false visions and revelations forged by the devil
in the garb of light. This deception has been more fre
quent in women on account of their ignorance and their
passions; however, it fell also upon many men, who
sought to appear virtuous and wise. In all of them it
has arisen from an evil root. I do not speak of those
who with diabolical hypocrisy have feigned false and
apparent revelations, visions and raptures; but I speak of
those who have been deceived by lying visions through
the agency of the devil, although such things do not
happen without sin in consenting thereto. Of the former
it can be said, that they deceive, and of the latter, at least
in the beginning, that they are deceived; for the ancient
serpent, knowing them to be little mortified in their pas
sions and little practiced in the interior perception of the
divine things, implants into them with astute subtlety a
proud presumption, that they are much favored by God.
The devil robs them of their humble fear and inspires
them with vain curiosity to know high things by revela
tion, to be favored with visions, and to be distinguished
in such things above other men. Thereby they open the
gates for the entrance of satan, he fills them with deceit
ful and false illusions, far distant from divine truth, yet
having the appearance of truth in order to conceal his
poison and deceive the soul.
621. The way to avoid such dangerous deceit is to
live in humble fear and not to aspire to high things
(Rom. 11, 20) ; not to judge of our advance in the tri
bunal of our inclinations and not to trust to our own
prudence; to leave judgment to God, his ministers, and
well informed confessors, who will search into the inten
tion of our acts. Then it will soon become known,
whether the soul desires these favors as a means of vir
tue and perfection or in order to obtain honor among
men. The most secure path will always be not to desire
them, and always to fear the danger which at all times
is great and more so in the first beginnings. For the
sensible sweetness of devotion, even when it comes from
the Lord and when it is not an imposture of the devil, is
not given because the soul is already capable of the solid
food of his greater favors and secrets ; but it is given as
the food of the little ones, in order to draw them away
with greater earnestness from the faults and induce them
to greater self-denial in sensible things; not at all in
order to make them imagine that they are advanced in
virtue. Even raptures, which spring from admiration,
suppose ignorance rather than special love. As soon as
our love becomes ecstatic, fervent, yearning, quickened,
full of activity and inaccessible, impatient of any other
presence except that of its Beloved, and if besides all this,
it has a full command over all the affections of the heart ;
then the soul begins to be rightly disposed to receive the
light of mysterious revelations and of divine visions ; and
so much the better will it be disposed toward receiving
them, the more it esteems itself unworthy of the recep
tion of even much smaller favors. Wise men will not be
surprised that women have been so much favored in
these gifts ; for besides being more fervent in their love,
God also favors them for being the weakest among crea
tures and so much the more appropriate witnesses of his
power. Women also are more wanting in the acquired
science of theology than learned men, except when the
Most High infuses that science in order to illumine their
weak and uninformed judgment.
622. Having established these principles, we must
acknowledge that in most holy Mary, even if there were
no other special reasons, the revelations and visions of
the Most High were more exalted, more wonderful, more
frequent, and more divine than those of all the rest of
saints. These favors, just like all the gifts, must be
measured by her dignity, her holiness, purity, and also by
the love, which her Son and the blessed Trinity cherished
towards Her, who was the Mother of the Son, the
Daughter of the Father, and the Spouse of the Holy
Ghost. In proportion to the greatness of these preroga
tives were also the influxes of the Divinity : Christ and his
Mother being infinitely more beloved than all the rest of
the angels and men. The divine visions enjoyed by our
sovereign Queen can be divided into five grades or kinds,
and I will describe each one of them, as far as has been
revealed to me.
623. The highest and most excellent of all her visions
were those of the beatific vision of the divine Essence, for
in her state of pilgrimage She many times enjoyed the
unveiled vision of the Divinity. I shall mention all these
visions in the course of this history according to the time
and occasion in which She enjoyed this supreme privilege
of a creature. Some doctors are in doubt, whether the
other saints have reached this state of seeing the God
head clearly and intuitively while yet in mortal flesh ; but
whatever may be their uncertainty about such visions in
regard to other saints, no such doubt can be entertained in
regard to the Queen of heaven, and it would be an injury
to Her, if we were to measure her favors with the com
mon measure of the saints. Many more favors and graces
than were even possible in them actually were consummat
ed in the Mother of grace, and it is at least possible that
beatific vision can take place in men yet in their pilgrim
age, whatever may be the mode in which this happens.
The first requisite of a soul, which is to see God face to
face, is a degree of sanctifying grace most exalted and
far above the ordinary. Now the degree of sanctifying
grace, which Mary reached from the first moment of her
existence, was superabundant and of such perfection, that
it exceeded that of the highest seraphim. In addition to
sanctifying grace, there must be great purity of all the
faculties, without a shadow of guilt or the least inclina
tion to sin. Just as a vessel, which has contained any im
pure liquid and which is to be filled with another pure
substance, must be cleansed, washed and purified until not
a taste or odor of the former remains so as not to infect
the new substance : so all traces of sin (and much more of
actual sin) contaminate and infect the soul. And because
all these effects make the soul unfit for divine bounty, it
must be prepared before it can be united with God by the
intuitive vision and beautifying love. It must be cleansed
and purified, so that not a vestige of the odor, or the taste
of sin remains, nor any traces of vicious habits or in
clinations consequent thereon. This applies not only to
the effects and stains of mortal, but also of venial sin, all
of which cause in the soul a special turpitude, like to that,
which, according to our way of understanding such
things, ensues, when a foul breath covers and obscures the
clearness of crystal : all its brightness and purity must first
be restored to the soul before it can see God face to face.
624. Moreover, besides this purity which is as it were
the negative cleansing of the nature of him who is to en
joy the vision of God, it is necessary to cauterize the in
fection of original sin, so that it is entirely extinct and
neutralized, as if it had never existed in the creature.
Thus all trace or inward cause inclining it to any sin or
imperfection must first be done away with, and the entire
free will must, as it were, be made incapable of every
thing, which in any way is opposed to highest sanctity and
goodness. Hence, on account of what I shall mention af
terward, it will be easily understood, how difficult it is for
the soul to attain the necessary condition for the clear
vision of God in mortal flesh ; and that it can be conceded
to the creatures only with great circumspection, for most
important reasons, and after great preparation. Accord
ing to my understanding there are two kind of incon
gruities and divergencies of the sinful creature in regard
to the divine nature. The first consists in this, that God
is invisible, infinite, a pure and simple act, while man is
a corporeal, earthly, corruptible and coarse substance. The
other incongruity is caused by sin, which is immensely
distant from the divine goodness, and this entails a
greater divergence and alienation than the first. But
both of them must be done away with before such ex
tremes can be united, and before the creatures can rest in
this supreme manner in the Deity and before it can as
similate itself with God so as to see and enjoy Him as He
is (I John 3, 2).
625. All the requisites of immaculate purity and
transparency, excluding all sin and imperfection, were
possessed by the Queen of heaven in a much higher de
gree than even by the angels ; for She was touched neither
by original nor by actual sin, nor by any of their conse
quences. In this regard divine grace acted more power
fully in Her, than was merited by the impeccable nature
of the angels, and in Mary there was no disproportion
nor any obstacle of sin, which could retard the vision of
God. On the other hand, besides being immaculate, the
grace given to Her in the first instance exceeded that of
the angels and saints, and Her merits were in proportion
to that grace. By her first act She merited more than
all the others, even by their most perfect and consummate
acts, which they have performed in order to reach beatific
vision. Therefore, if it is just, that in the other saints
the reward of glory merited by them be deferred until
the end of their mortal life: it does not seem against
justice, that this law was not followed so strictly in re
gard to most holy Mary and that the most high Ruler
should and really did proceed differently with Her dur
ing Her mortal existence. The most blessed Trinity
would not suffer such a long delay in regard to Her, and
manifested Itself to Her many times : since She merited it
above all the angels, seraphim and saints, who, having
less grace and merits, are enjoying the supreme beati
tude. Moreover, there was another reason why the
Divinity should manifest Itself clearly to Her: namely,
since She was elected to be the Mother of God, it was ap
propriate, that She should know by fruition and experi
ence the treasure of the infinite Deity and see Him face to
face as her God, whom having enjoyed, She was to clothe
in mortal flesh and bear about in her virginal womb, and
whom She was afterwards to treat as her Son and as her
626. Even with all the aforesaid purity and sinlessness
and with the addition of sanctifying grace, the soul is not
yet worthy or capable of the beatific vision, since still
other dispositions and divine operations are required.
With these the Queen of heaven was furnished whenever
She enjoyed this vision and hence they are much more
necessary to any other soul, that is to be thus favored in
mortal flesh. After the soul has reached the state of
purity and sanctification above described, the Lord adds
a finishing touch as of a most spiritual fire, which refines
and chases it as fire does the gold, or as Isaias was puri
fied by the seraphim (Isaias 6,7). It has two effects in
the soul: first it spiritualizes and separates in it (accord
ing to our mode of understanding) the dross and earthliness
connected with its present existence and its union
with the bodily matter. Secondly it fills the soul with
a new light, which scatters, I do not know what obscurity
and darkness, just as the light of the morning scatters the
darkness of night. This light takes possession, leaves
the soul clarified and replenished with new splendors of
a divine fire, producing still other effects in the soul. For
if it is guilty or has been guilty of any sins, the soul de
plores these sins with incomparable sorrow and contrition,
with a sorrow, that cannot be equaled by any other human
sorrow, for all are very little in comparison with it. At
the same time it feels another effect of this light : it purges
the understanding of all the images impressed upon it by
the sensible and visible things of earth. For all impres
sions and images, acquired by the senses distort the in
tellectual vision and serve only as a hindrance to the clear
vision of the supreme spiritual essence of God. There
fore it is necessary to clear and evacuate from the facul
ties all these earthly idols and images. Not only is this
necessary, in order that the soul may see God clearly and
intuitively, but equally so, in order to see Him
627. In the soui of our most pure Queen, there was no
fault to deplore, no after-effects of the sensible operations,
no dependence upon the body, and therefore these illumi
nations and purifications immediately wrought the other
effects, beginning to elevate her nature to a condition not
so far removed from the ultimate supreme End. In ad
dition to this they caused in this most pure soul new senti
ments and movements of humility and knowledge of the
nothingness of the creature in comparison with the Crea
tor and his blessings. Thus her inflamed heart was in
cited to many other heroic acts of virtue. Like effects
are produced in a corresponding degree in other souls,
who are to be prepared for the visions of the Deity.
628. Our curtailed insight might well hold that the
foregoing preparations are sufficient for being admitted
to the beatific vision ; but they are not : still another qual
ity is wanting, a divine emanation or light, the light of
glory. This new cleansing, though it is similar in nature
to those already spoken of, is altogether different from
them in its effects. For it raises the soul to a very high and
serene state, where, in greatest tranquillity, it enjoys the
sweetest peace, which is not felt in connection with the
first mentioned purifications, For in those the pain and
bitterness of sin is still felt, if the soul was guilty of any,
and if not, then there remains still the earthly weight of
our lower nature. These effects are not compatible with
the close approach and assimilation to the supreme bless
edness. It seems to me that the first purifications serve to
mortify, and that, which I am now referring to, serves to
revivify and heal nature. God proceeds in these things
like the painter, who first delineates the image, then ap
plies the ground colors, and at last puts on the finishing
touches, so that the picture comes to light well defined.
629. Over and above all these purifications, prepara
tions and their admirable effects, God adds still a last
one, which is the light of glory by which the soul raises
itself to attain and enjoy the beatific vision of God. In
this light the Godhead manifests Itself, for without this
light God cannot be seen by any creature. Since the
natural powers of the creature cannot attain to this light
and these preparations, therefore it is impossible to see
God by the natural faculties alone, for all this far exceeds
the forces of nature.
630. With all this beauty and adornment the Spouse
of the Holy Ghost, the Daughter of the Father, and the
Mother of the Son, was furnished for Her entrance into
the chamber of the Divinity in order to enjoy from time
to time the beatific vision and intuitive fruition. And as
these favors were given to Her according to the measure
of her dignity and grace, therefore it is impossible to en
compass the godlike proportions of her enlightenment by
the reasoning powers, or the thoughts of a creature, and
much less of an ignorant woman. Still less can the joys
of her soul be estimated or calculated, when it was thus
exalted above all that is most supreme in the highest
seraphim and saints. If in regard to all the just, even
the lowest of those who enjoy God, it is infallibly true,
that neither eye has seen, nor ears heard, nor mind con
ceived, what God has prepared for his elect (I Cor. 2,9),
what must be the enjoyment of the greater saints? And
if the same Apostle who says this confesses that he cannot
repeat, what he had heard (II Cor. 12, 4), what shall we,
in our narrow limitation of powers, be able to say of the
Saint of the saints, the Mother of Him, who is the glory
of the saints? Next to the Soul of her most holy Son,
who was man and true God, She was the one, who knew
and saw the greatest mysteries and sacraments in those in
finite and hidden immensities of the Divinity. To Her
more than to all the blessed in their entirety were thrown
open the infinite treasures, the expanding vastnesses of
that inaccessible Being, unlimited by any beginning or
end. She, as the City of God, was inundated by the
ecstatic torrents of the supreme Being, overwhelming
Her with the impetuous waves of wisdom and grace,
spiritualizing and impregnating Her with the spirit of the
631. The second kind of divine visions enjoyed by the
Queen of heaven was the abstractive, which is very dif
ferent and much inferior to the intuitive; it was more
frequent in Her, though not daily or continual. This
kind of knowledge or vision is communicated by the Most
High without unveiling Himself directly to the created
mind, but through a certain veil or species, by means of
which He becomes manifest. Because of this intervening
medium between the faculty and its object, this kind of
vision is very much inferior to the clear and intuitive
vision. It does not involve the real presence, though it
presupposes it intellectually in an inferior way. Although
the creature knows that it is nigh to the Divinity and
discovers the attributes, perfections and mysteries, which
as in a mirror of the will, God wishes to show and mani
fest, yet it does not feel and is not aware of his presence
so as to enjoy Him with complete satiety.
632. Nevertheless this is a great, rare and, next to the
clear vision, a more excellent favor than any other. Al
though it does not require the light of glory, but only the
light appropriate to the species themselves, and not even
the ultimate disposition and purification proper to the
light of glory; yet all the other preparations antecedent
to the intuitive vision, must go before it ; for by them the
soul enters into the antechambers of the house of the
eternal God and Lord (Psalm 45, 5). The effects of this
kind of vision are admirable, for besides the exalted state
which it presupposes in the soul and which raises it above
itself (Thren. 3, 28), it inebriates the soul (Psalm 35, 9)
with an ineffable and an inexplicable delight and sweet
ness, inflaming it with divine love, transforming it and
causing a forget fulness of and an aversion toward all
earthliness and toward itself, so that already the soul does
not any more live in itself, but in Christ and Christ in it
(Gal. 2, 20). Besides all this there remains after this
vision in the soul a light, which, if not lost by negligence
and carelessness, or by some sin, will always accompany it
to the highest pinnacle of perfection, teaching it the most
secure paths to eternity and resembling the perpetual fire
of the sanctuary (Lev. 6, 12) or the beaconlight of the
citadel of God (Apoc. 22, 5).
633. These and other effects were caused in our sover
eign Queen by abstractive vision and to such an eminent
degree, that I cannot give an explanation of my concept
in words. But some idea will be obtained, if we consider
the condition of that most pure soul, in which there was
not the least hindrance, either of lukewarmness, nor of
the least defect, no indolence or forgetfulness, no negli
gence or ignorance, nor the least inattention ; but in which
on the contrary was the fullness of grace and of ardent
love, unfailing diligence, perpetual and unceasing praise
of the Creator, the utmost solicitude and readiness to give
Him glory, and a preparation which allowed the powerful
hand of God to operate without opposition or hindrance
whatever. She was favored with this kind of blessed
vision in the first moment of her Conception, as I have
already related before (Supra, No. 228, 236, 311, 382,
388; infra, 731, 739; Part II 6-101; Part II 537), and
will relate afterwards many times in the course of her
most holy life.
634. The third kind of divine visions and revelations
enjoyed by the most holy Mary were the intellectual ones.
Although abstractive visions or the visions of the Divinity
may be called intellectual visions, yet for two reasons I
have mentioned them especially and placed them in a high
er order. First, because the object of the abstractive visions
is altogether supreme among intellectual things, whereas
the range of these more ordinary intellectual visions ex
tends to many various objects, since they include the ma
terial and the spiritual things, and the entire field of in
tellectual truths and mysteries. The second reason is, be
cause the abstractive visions of the divine Essence are
brought about by the most exalted and supernaturally in
fused species or images of the being of God ; whereas the
common revelations and the intellectual visions take place
in diverse ways ; sometimes the intellectual images of the
objects revealed are all infused; at other times not neces
sarily all the subject-matter of the revelations is infused;
because then the same species or images, which the imag
ination or phantasy already possesses are sufficient for the
revelation. For the understanding, endowed with a new
light and a supernatural power, can apprehend the mys
teries of God from imaginary images, as happened with
Joseph in Egypt (Gen. 40, 41), and with Daniel in Baby
lon (Dan. 1, 24). This kind of revelation was given to
David; and next to the knowledge of the Essence of the
Deity, it is the most noble and secure. For neither the
demons nor the angels can infuse this supernatural light
into the understanding, since they can only cause images
and phantasies in the imagination.
635. This form of revelation was common among the
holy Prophets of the old and the new Testaments; for
the light of perfect prophecy which they possessed, ter
minated in the understanding of some hidden mystery;
and without this intelligence, or intellectual light, they
would not have been perfect prophets, nor would they
have spoken prophetically. Therefore, they that do or
say something prophetical, as for instance Caiphas and the
soldiers refusing to divide the garment of Christ our Lord
(John 11, 49; 19, 24), although they are urged to these
things by divine impulse, are not prophets in the perfect
sense; for they do not speak prophetically, that is with
divine intelligence and light. It is even true that the holy
Prophets, who are prophets in the real sense, and who call
themselves seers on account of the interior light by which
they see secret things, can perform some prophetic actions
without knowing all the mysteries included therein, or
even without knowing any of the mysteries ; but in such
cases they are not to be called prophets in the same sense,
as when they prophesy with a supernatural understanding
of things. This kind of revelation is of many different
grades, which cannot here be explained ; and although the
Lord can communicate it irrespective of charity, of grace
and virtue; yet ordinarily it is accompanied by them, as
in the Prophets, Apostles and the just, and this happens
both when He manifests his secrets to them as friends,
and also when the intellectual visions or revelations are
given for the advantage and greater advancement of those
who receive them, as I have said above (No. 616) . There
fore these revelations demand a very excellent predispo
sition in those souls who are to be raised to them, and
ordinarily God does not communicate them, except when
the soul is in the state of quiet and peace, withdrawn from
the earthly things and well ordered in its faculties for the
workings of the divine light.
636. In the Queen of heaven these intelligences or rev
elations were vastly different from those which are proper
to the Saints and Prophets; for her Highness enjoyed
them continually, both in habit and in act, whenever She
was not enjoying other more exalted visions of the Divin
ity. Moreover the clearness and the extent of this intel
lectual light and all its effects were incomparably greater
in most holy Mary. For of the truths, mysteries and
sacraments of the Most High, She knew more than all the
holy Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, and more even than
all the angels combined; and She understood more pro
foundly and clearly, more unerringly and securely all that
She did know. By means of this intelligence She pene
trated to the very being of God and to his attributes as
manifested in the very smallest of his works and crea
tures. Not one of them existed in which She did not per
ceive the participation of the greatness of the Creator and
his divine foresight and providence. Most holy Mary
alone could in the fullest sense say of Herself that the
Lord had manifested to Her the uncertain and occult
things of his wisdom (Psalm 50, 8) as recorded by the
Prophet. It is impossible to describe the effects of this
intelligence in the sovereign Lady; this whole history
must serve in a manner to declare them. In other souls
they are of wonderful advantage and efficacy, for they
illumine in the highest manner the understanding, inflame
the will with incredible ardor, they undeceive, disentangle,
elevate and spiritualize the creature, and at the same time
they seem to lighten and subtilize even the gross and emburdened
earthly body in holy emulation with the soul.
The Queen of heaven enjoyed in these visions also an
other privilege, of which, however, I will speak in the
following chapter.
637. In the fourth place must be mentioned the imag
inary visions, which are produced by sensible visions,
raised or set in motion in the imagination or phantasy.
They represent the object in a material or sensitive man
ner, in the same way as are represented those things we
see, hear, touch or taste. By means of this kind of vision
the Most High manifested to the Prophets of the old Tes
tament great mysteries and sacraments. Such happened
especially with Ezechiel, Daniel and Jeremias, and under
the influence of similar visions the evangelist saint John
wrote the Apocalypse. Since these visions partake so
much of the sensible and corporal element, they are much
inferior to the ones spoken of under the preceding head
ing. On this same account the demon can reproduce
them in appearance by exciting phantasms of the imagi
nation; he does not, however, reproduce them in reality,
being the father of lies. Therefore it is necessary to be
ware of these kind of visions and to examine them in
the light of the teachings of the saints; for if the demon
perceives any cupidity toward them in the soul during
prayer or devotions, and if God permits, he can easily
work deception. Even some saints, though dreading the
dangers of such visions, were nevertheless entangled in
them by satan in his assumed light, as is related in their
lives for our instruction and warning.
638. The one in whom these imaginary visions and
revelations were without any danger and entirely secure
and divine, was most holy Mary, whose interior light
could not be obscured or invaded by the astuteness of the
serpent. Our Queen was favored with many such visions,
for of this kind were those which manifested to Her many
of the actions of her most holy Son while absent, as we
shall see in the sequence of her life (Part II, Chap. 23, 24,
25, Book V). She also perceived in imaginary visions
many creatures and mysteries, whenever the Most High
so dispensed it according to his will and providence. And
since this and many benefits received by the sovereign
Princess of heaven were ordained for most high ends,
not only for the advancement of her own sanctity, purity
and merits, but also for the advantage of the Church, of
which this great Mother of grace was to be a Teacher and
a Cooperatrix in Redemption, the effects of these visions
and her understanding of them were admirable and they
were invariably accompanied by incomparable proofs of
the glory of God, and of new and increasing gifts and
graces in the soul of most holy Mary. Of the effects of
these visions in other creatures I will speak immediately
below ; for of these and the next kind of visions, the same
can be said as far as their effects in other souls are con
639. The fifth and lowest order of visions and revela
tions are those which are perceived by the corporeal and
exterior senses, and that is the reason why they are called
corporeal, although they can be brought about in two dif
ferent ways. The one kind are truly and properly called
corporeal visions, when in a visible and quantitative body
some supernatural being appears to the sight or touch, be
it God, a saint, or the demon, or a soul and the like ; such
body being formed for that very purpose by the ministry
and power of good or of bad angels from the ether or
from the phantasms, which, though it is no true or natural
body of the thing represented by it, yet is truly a quanti
tative body constructed from the ether in external dimen
sions. The other kind of corporeal visions are such in an
improper sense, rather an illusion of the sense of sight ; for
they are only an image of the object, its coloring, etc.,
which an angel can make visible by an alteration of the
intervening air. The one that sees it thinks that he looks
upon a real body actually present, though there is no such
body, but only an empty image, by which the senses are
imperceptibly fascinated. This kind of illusory visions
of the senses is not proper to the good angels nor to
divine revelation, although they are possible to God and
the angels ; such might have been the voice which Samuel
heard. But they are a favorite ruse of the demon, on
account of their deceptiveness, especially in regard to
the sight. Therefore, and because the Queen never had
this kind of visions, I will speak only of the truly cor
poreal visions, such as She really enjoyed.
640. In the holy Scriptures are many instances of cor
poreal visions granted to the saints and Patriarchs. Adam
saw God represented in the form of an angel (Gen. 3, 8) ;
Abraham saw three angels (Gen. 17, 1) ; Moses saw a
bush, (Exod. 3, 2) and many times the Lord himself.
Likewise others, who were sinners, have had corporeal or
imaginary visions: as for instance Cain (Gen. 4, 9),
Baltassar (Dan. 5, 5), who saw the hand on the
wall: then imaginary images, as for instance Pharao
(Gen. 41, 2) in the vision of the cows; Nabuchodonozor,
that of the tree and the statue (Dan. 4,
12, 2, 1) and other recorded in the holy Scriptures.
These instances prove that in order to see corporeal and
imaginary visions sanctity is not required in the subject.
But it is true nevertheless, that they who obtain such an
imaginary or corporeal vision, without receiving there
from any light or intelligence, cannot be called Prophets ;
nor can they be said to receive a true revelation, but
only those who receive the necessary understanding of the
vision, as Daniel says (Dan. 10, 1). Thus Joseph and
Daniel were Prophets, not however Pharao, Baltassar,
Nabuchodonosor. Moreover those are the more important
revelation and visions, which are accompanied by a higher
intelligence, although, to judge from outward appear
ances, others may be called higher, namely, those which
represent God or the Mother of God, and the saints ac
cording to their station.
641. It is certain that in order to receive corporeal
visions it is necessary that the senses should be prepared.
The imaginary ones are often sent by God in sleep, as for
instance in the vision of Joseph, the husband of most holy
Mary (Matth. 1, 20), of the Magi Kings (2, 12) of
Pharao (Gen. 41, 2), etc. Others can be perceived while
the senses are in their full natural activity, this not being
repugnant. But the ordinary and co-natural manner of
receiving the corporeal as well as the intellectual visions,
is during some rapture or ecstasy of the external senses ;
for in such a state the interior faculties are more collected
and prepared for the perception of high and divine things.
Yet the exterior senses are apt to be a hindrance less to
the intellectual visions than to the imaginary ones, the
latter having1 more affinity for exterior things than the
acts of the intellect. Therefore it often happens, when
ever the intellectual revelations are not infused species,
or when the affections do not suspend the action of the
senses, that most high intelligences of great and super
natural mysteries are conferred without the cessation of
the activity of the senses.
642. In the Queen of heaven this happened many
times and even frequently. For, though She was enrapt
ured during many of the beatific visions, (which in ordi
nary mortals is always required), and also during her in
tellectual and imaginary visions ; yet, even while She was
in the full use of her senses, She received higher revela
tions and intelligences than all the saints and Prophets in
their greatest ecstasies. Nor in any wise did her exterior
senses disturb her imaginary visions. For the great heart
of Mary, so full of wisdom, was not embarrassed
by the sentiments of admiration and love, which are wont
to take away the sensible activities of the other saints and
Prophets. This was true of her corporeal visions, as is
evident from the Annunciation of the message by the
archangel Gabriel (Luc. 1, 18), and although the Evan
gelists give no other instance in the course of her most
holy life, prudent and Catholic judgment cannot doubt
that they did happen at other times, for the Queen of the
heavens and of the angels was to be served by her vassals,
as we shall relate later on (No. 758) when we describe
the continuous service of her angelic guard, and of other
angels appearing in corporeal and visible form. It hap
pened also in another way, as we shall see in the following
643. Other souls must be very circumspect and care
ful in regard to these corporeal visions, since they are
subject to dangerous deceptions and illusions coming from
the ancient serpent Those who never seek them avoid a
great part of this danger. If the soul is free from such de
sire and from other disorderly affections, and if then any
corporeal or imaginary visions should happen, it must
be very cautious before performing and executing that,
which is enjoined by those visions : for it is a very bad
sign and savoring of the devil s influence, if, without any
deliberation or counsel, it immediately believes and obeys ;
since the good angels, who are our teachers in matters of
obedience, truth, prudence and holiness, do not urge such
a course of action. There are also other indications and
signs, generally accompanying the causes and the effects
of such visions, which will securely guide souls as to their
truthfulness or their falsity. But I will not enter into
these matters, in order not to be led away from my pur
pose; and besides, I submit myself in these things to the
doctors and teachers of the spiritual life.
644. My daughter, in the enlightenment, which thou
hast received in this chapter, thou hast a certain rule of
action in regard to the visions and revelations of the Lord,
and it inculcates two precautions. The one consists in
thy subjecting these relations to the examination and the
judgment of thy confessors and superiors, asking the
Most High with a lively faith, that He give them light to
understand his divine will and truth to instruct thee fully
therein. The other consists in questioning thy own heart
and observing the effects of these revelations and visions,
prudently trying to assure thyself against any error. For
the divine influence, which accompanies them, will urge
and draw thee on, inflaming thy heart to chaste love and
reverence of God to acknowledgment of thy littleness, to
abhorrence of the earthly vanities, to desire of being de
spised by creatures, to joyful suffering, to love of the cross
and an earnest and generous acceptation of it; it will
move thee to seek the last place, to love those that perse
cute thee, to fear and abhor sin, even the slightest, to as
pire to the purest, the most perfect and refined in virtue,
to deny thyself thy own inclinations, and to unite thyself
to the highest and truest good. When He thus teaches
thee the most holy and perfect things of the Christian law
and excites thee to imitate Him and me, then thou wilt
have infallible signs of divine truth revealed to thee by the
Most High in these visions.
645. And in order that thou, dearest, mayest execute
this doctrine, which thou hast received through the kind
ness of the Most High, do not ever forget it, and do not
lose sight of the blessing of having been instructed by
Him in these things with so much loving caresses; re
nounce all human esteem and consolation, all the delight
and pleasure of the world. All that thy earthly inclina
tions demand, refuse to thyself, although it may be small
and licit in itself ; turn thy back on all sensible things, seek
ing only to love and to suffer. This is the science and
divine philosophy taught thee by the visits of the Most
High and in it thou wilt feel the force of the divine fire,
which should never through thy fault and thy negligence,
be allowed to become extinguished in thy bosom. Be alert,
dilate thy heart, gird thyself with fortitude in order to be
commissioned with great undertakings and be able to ac
complish them. Be constant in thy faith regarding these
admonitions, believing in them, esteeming them and writ
ing them in thy soul with an humble and loving affec
tion of thy heart, as being sent in faithful solicitude by
thy Spouse and transmitted to thee by me, thy Teacher
and Mistress.
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