The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 3 chapter 16 verses 200-214 Index

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

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 3 chapter 16 verses 200-214THE JOURNEY OF THE MOST HOLY MARY ON HER VISIT TO SAINT ELISABETH AND HER ENTRANCE INTO THE HOUSE OF ZACHARIAS.

  INDEX            Book 3  Chapter  16    Verses:  200-214


200. "And Mary rising up in those days," says the
sacred text, "went into the hill country with haste, into
a city of Judea" (Luke 1, 39). This rising up of our
heavenly Queen signified not only her exterior prepara
tions and setting out from Nazareth on her journey, but
it referred to the movement of her spirit and to the divine
impulse and command which directed Her to arise in
teriorly from the humble retirement, which She had
chosen in her humility. She arose as it were from the
feet of the Most High, whose will and pleasure She
eagerly sought to fulfill, like the lowliest handmaid, who
according to the word of David (Ps. 122, 2) keeps her
eyes fixed upon the hands of her Mistress, awaiting her
commands. Arising at the bidding of the Lord She
lovingly hastened to accomplish his most holy will, in
procuring without delay the sanctification of the Precur
sor of the incarnate Word, who was yet held prisoner
in the womb of Elisabeth by the bonds of original sin.
This was the purpose and object of this journey. There
fore the Princess of heaven arose and proceeded in
diligent haste, as mentioned by the Evangelist saint Luke.
201. Leaving behind then the house of her father and
forgetting her people (Ps. 44, 11), the most chaste
spouses, Mary and Joseph, pursued their way to the
house of Zacharias in mountainous Judea. It was twenty-
six leagues distant from Nazareth, and the greater part
of the way was very rough and broken, unfit for such
a delicate and tender Maiden. All the convenience at
their disposal for the arduous undertaking was an hum
ble beast, on which She began and pursued her journey.
Although it was intended solely for her comfort and
service, yet Mary, the most humble and unpretentious of
all creatures, many times dismounted and asked her
spouse saint Joseph to share with Her this commodity
and to lighten the difficulties of the way by making use
of the beast. Her discreet spouse never accepted this
offer ; and in order to yield somewhat to the solicitations
of the heavenly Lady, he permitted her now and then to
walk with him part of the way, whenever it seemed to
him that her delicate strength could sustain the exertion
without too great fatigue. But soon he would again ask
Her, with great modesty and reverence, to accept of this
slight alleviation and the celestial Queen would then obey
and again proceed on her way seated in the saddle.
202. Thus alleviating their fatigue by humble and
courteous contentions, the most holy Mary and saint
Joseph continued on their journey, making good use of
each single moment. They proceeded alone, without ac
companiment of any human creatures; but all the thou
sand angels, which were set to guard the couch of Solo
mon, the most holy Mary, attended upon them (Cant.
3, 7). Although the angels accompanied them in cor
poreal form, serving their great Queen and her most
holy Son in her womb, they were visible only to Mary.
In the company of the angels and of saint Joseph, the
Mother of grace journeyed along, filling the fields and
the mountains with the sweetest fragrance of her pres
ence and with the divine praises, in which She unceas
ingly occupied Herself. Sometimes She conversed with
the angels and, alternately with them, sang divine canticles
concerning the different mysteries of the Divinity and
the works of Creation and of the Incarnation. Thus
ever anew the pure heart of the immaculate Lady was
inflamed by the ardors of divine love. In all this her
spouse saint Joseph contributed his share by maintaining
a discreet silence, and by allowing his beloved Spouse to
pursue the flights of her spirit; for, lost in highest con
templation, he was favored with some understanding of
what was passing within her soul.
203. At other times the two would converse with
each other and speak about the salvation of souls and
the mercies of the Lord, of the coming of the Redeemer,
of the prophecies given to the ancient Fathers concerning
Him, and of other mysteries and sacraments of the Most
High. Something happened on the way, which caused
great wonder in her holy spouse Joseph : he loved his
Spouse most tenderly with a chaste and holy love, such
as had been ordained in Him by the special grace and
dispensation of the divine love itself (Cant. 2, 4) ; in
addition to this privilege (which was certainly not a small
one) the saint was naturally of a most noble and cour
teous disposition, and his manners were most pleasing
and charming; all this produced in him a most discreet
and loving solicitude, which was yet increased by the
great holiness, which he had seen from the beginning
in his Spouse and which was ordained by heaven as
the immediate object of all his privileges. Therefore
the saint anxiously attended upon most holy Mary arid
asked her many times, whether She was tired or fatigued,
and in what he could serve Her on the journey. But
as the Queen of heaven already carried within the
virginal chamber the divine fire of the incarnate Word,
holy Joseph, without fathoming the real cause, expe
rienced in his soul new reactions, proceeding from the
words and conversations of his beloved Spouse. He felt
himself so inflamed by divine love and imbued with
such exalted knowledge of the mysteries touched upon
in their conversations, that he was entirely renewed and
spiritualized by this burning interior light. The farther
they proceeded and the more they conversed about these
heavenly things, so much the stronger these affections
grew, and he became aware, that it was the words of his
Spouse, which thus filled his heart with love and inflamed
his will with divine ardor.
204. So great were these new sensations, that the
prudent Joseph could not help but pay the greatest at
tention to them. Although he knew that all this came
to him through the mediation of most holy Mary, and
although it was a wonderful consolation to him, that
She was the cause, he meditated upon it without curiosity,
and, on account of his great modesty, he did not dare to
ask Her any questions. The Lord having ordained it thus,
for it was not yet time, that he should know the sacra
ment of the King, which was already completed in her
virginal womb. The heavenly Princess beheld the in
terior of her spouse, knowing all that passed within
his soul ; and in her prudence She reflected how it would
naturally be unavoidable, that he should come to know
of her pregnancy; for there would be no possibility of
concealing it from her most beloved and chaste spouse.
The great Lady did not know at the time, how God would
arrange this matter; yet, although She had not received
any intimation or command to conceal this mystery, her
heavenly prudence and discretion taught Her that it
would be proper to conceal it as a great sacrament, greater
than all other mysteries. Therefore She kept it secret,
saying not a word about it to her husband, neither after
the message of the angel, nor during this journey, nor
later on, during the anxieties occasioned to saint Joseph
at becoming aware of her pregnancy.
205. O admirable discretion and prudence more than
human! The great Queen resigned Herself entirely to
the divine Providence, hoping that God would arrange
all things; yet She felt anxiety and pain, at the thought
of what her husband might think, and of her inability
to do anything in order to dissipate his anxiety. This
anxiety was increased by the attentive care and service,
lavished by him upon Her with so much love and affec
tion; since his faithful services certainly deserved a cor
responding return on her part as far as was prudently
possible. Therefore, in loving solicitude and in pursuance
of her desires to solve this coming difficulty, She prayed
to the Lord, asking Him to grant his divine assistance
and guidance to saint Joseph, when it should arrive. In
this state of suspense, in which She found Herself, her
Highness performed great and heroic acts of faith, hope
and charity, of prudence, humility, patience and fortitude,
imbuing all her activity with the plenitude of holiness
and reaching in all things the summit of perfection.
206. This journey was the first pilgrimage begun by
the divine Word, four days after He had entered the
world; for his most ardent love would not suffer any
longer delay or procrastination in enkindling the fire,
which He came to scatter in the world (Luke 12, 49),
and in beginning his justification of mortals with his
Precursor. This haste He communicated also to his
holy Mother, in order that She might arise without de
lay and fly on her visit to Elisabeth (Luke 1, 39). The
most heavenly Lady on this occasion served as the coach
of the true Solomon ; but much more richly adorned and
more elegant, as Solomon himself infers in the canticles
(Cant. 3, 9). Therefore this journey was glorious and
occasioned great joy to the Onlybegotten of the Father.
For He traveled at his ease in the virginal chamber of his
Mother, enjoying the sweet tokens of her love. At the
time She alone was the archive of this Treasure, the
secretary of so great a sacrament, and She adored Him,
blessed and admired Him, spoke and listened to Him,
and answered Him; She reverenced Him and thanked
Him for Herself and for all the human race, much more
than all the men and the angels together.
207. In the course of the journey, which lasted four
days, the two holy pilgrims, Mary and Joseph, exercised
not only the virtues which were interior and had God
for their immediate object, but also many other outward
acts of charity toward their neighbors ; for Mary could
not remain idle at the sight of want. They did not find
the same hospitable treatment at all the inns of the road ;
for some of the innkeepers, being more rude, treated them
with slight consideration in accordance with their natural
disposition; others received them with true love inspired
by divine grace. But the Mother of mercy denied to no
one such help as She could administer; and therefore,
whenever She could decently do so, She hastened to visit
and hunt up the poor, infirm and afflicted, helping them
and consoling them, and curing their sicknesses. I will
not stop to relate all that happened on the way, but will
only mention the good fortune of a poor sick girl, whom
our great Queen found in passing through a town on the
first day of her journey. She was moved to tenderest
compassion at the sight of her grievous illness ; and, mak
ing use of her power as Mistress of the creatures, She
commanded the fever to leave the maiden and the
humors to recompose and reduce themselves to their
natural state and condition. At this command and at
the sweet presence of the purest Mother, the sick maiden
was suddenly freed and healed from her pains of body
and benefited in soul ; so that afterwards She lived more
and more perfectly and attained the state of sanctity;
for the image of the Authoress of her happiness re
mained stamped within her memory and her heart was
enkindled with a great love toward the heavenly Lady,
although She never again saw Her, nor was the miracle
ever made public.
208. Having pursued their journey four days, the
most holy Mary and her spouse arrived at the town of
Juda, where Zachary and Elisabeth then lived. This
was the special and proper name of the place, where
the parents of saint John lived for a while, and there
fore the Evangelist saint Luke specifies it, calling it
Juda, although the commentators have commonly be
lieved that this was not the name of the town in which
Elisabeth and Zacharias lived, but simply the name of
the province, which was called Juda or Judea; just as
for the same reason the mountains south of Jerusalem
were called the mountains of Judea. But it was ex
pressly revealed to me that the town was called Juda
and that the Evangelist calls it by its proper name; al
though the learned expositors have understood by this
name of Juda the province, in which that town was sit
uated. This confusion arose from the fact that some
years after the death of Christ the town Juda was de
stroyed, and, as the commentators found no trace of
such a town, they inferred that saint Luke meant the
province and not a town; thus the great differences of
opinion in regard to the place, where most holy Mary
visited Elisabeth, are easily explained.
209. As holy obedience has enjoined upon me the
duty of clearing up these doubts, on account of the
strange inconsistency in the sayings of learned men, I
will also add to what I have already said, that the house
in which the visitation took place was built upon the
very spot on which now the faithful pilgrims, who
travel to or live in the holy Land, venerate the divine
mysteries transacted during the visit. Although the
town of Juda itself, where the house of Zacharias stood
is ruined, the Lord did not permit the memory of the
venerable locality in which those great mysteries tran
spired, and which were hallowed by the footsteps of
most holy Mary, of Christ our Lord, and of the Baptist
as well as of his holy parents, to be blotted out and ef
faced from the memory of men. Therefore it was by
divine influence, that the ancient Christians built up
those churches and restored the holy places, in order to
preserve by the agency of divine light the traditional
truth and to renew the memory of the admirable sacra
ments. Thus we ourselves, the faithful of our times,
can enjoy the blessing of venerating and worshipping
1
the sacred localities, proclaiming and confessing our
Catholic faith in the works of our Redemption.
210. For the better understanding of these things
let it be remembered that after the demon had become
aware on Calvary that Christ our Lord was God and
the Redeemer of men, he sought with incredible fury
to blot out the remembrance of Him from the land of
the living, as Jeremias says (Jer. 11, 19) ; and the same
is to be said of the memory of his most holy Mother.
Thus he managed to have the most holy Cross hidden
and buried under ground and to have it delivered as
spoil of war to the Persians; and in the same way he
procured the ruin and obliteration of many holy places.
On this account the holy angels carried back and forth
so many times the venerable and holy house of Loretto;
for the same dragon who pursued the heavenly Lady
(Apoc. 12, 13), had already excited the minds of the
inhabitants of that land to tear down and raze to the
ground that most sacred oratory, which had been the
workshop of the Most High in the mystery of the In
carnation. The same astute hatred of the enemy urged
him to blot out the town of Juda, aided partly by the
negligence of the inhabitants, who gradually died off,
partly also by untoward events and happenings. Yet the
Lord did not allow all traces of the house of Zachary to
be effaced or obliterated, on account of the sacraments,
which were there enacted.
211. This town was distant from Nazareth, as I have
said, twenty-six leagues, and about two leagues from
Jerusalem, and it was situated in that part of the Judean
mountains, where the stream Sorec takes its rise. After
the birth of saint John and the return of the most holy
Mary and her spouse Joseph to Nazareth, saint Elisa
beth received a divine revelation that a great calamity
and slaughter impended over the infants of Bethlehem
and its vicinity. And though this revelation was inde
terminate and unclear, it nevertheless induced the mother
of saint John to betake herself with Zacharias, her hus
band, to Hebron, which was eight leagues more or less
from Jerusalem; for they were rich and noble, and they
had dwellings not only in Juda and Hebron, but they
had houses and possessions also in other places. When
the most holy Mary and Joseph were on their way flying
from Herod to Egypt (Matth, 2, 14) after the birth of
the Word and some months after the birth of saint John,
saint Elisabeth and Zacharias were in Hebron. Zacharias
died four months after our Lord was born, which was
ten months after the birth of his son John. It seems to
me I have now sufficiently solved this doubt, and it
ought to be evident that the house of the Visitation was
neither in Jerusalem, nor in Bethlehem, nor in Hebron,
but in the town called Juda. I saw that this is the true
explanation, which was made known to me by divine
light together with the other mysteries of this heavenly
history; afterwards, when I was constrained by obe
dience to ask about this matter, a holy angel again made
the same declaration to me.
212. It was at this city of Juda and at the house of
Zacharias that most holy Mary and Joseph arrived. In
order to announce their visit, saint Joseph hastened
ahead of Mary and calling out saluted the inmates of
the house, saying: "The Lord be with you and fill your
souls with divine grace." Elisabeth was already fore
warned, for the Lord himself had informed her in a
vision that Mary of Nazareth had departed to visit her.
She had also in this vision been made aware that the
heavenly Lady was most pleasing in the eyes of the Most
High; while the mystery of her being the Mother of
God was not revealed to her until the moment, when
they both saluted each other in private. But saint Elisa
beth immediately issued forth with a few of her family,
in order to welcome most holy Mary, who, as the more
humble and younger in years, hastened to salute her
cousin, saying: "The Lord be with you, my dearest
cousin," and Elisabeth answered : "The same Lord re
ward you for having come in order to afford me this
pleasure." With these words they entered the house of
Zacharias and what happened I will relate in the follow
ing chapter.
INSTRUCTION WHICH OUR QUEEN AND LADY GAVE ME.
213. My daughter, whenever the creature holds in
proper esteem the good works and the services, which
the Lord commands for his glory, it will feel within
itself great facility of operation, great sweetness in un
dertaking them, and a readiness and alacrity in continu
ing and pursuing them. These different feelings then
give testimony of their being truly useful and com
manded by God. But the soul cannot experience these
affections, if it is not altogether devoted to the Lord,
keeping its gaze fixed upon his divine pleasure, hearing
of it with joy, executing it with alacrity and forgetting
its own inclination and conveniences. The soul must
be like the faithful servant, who seeks to do only the
will of his master and not his own. This is the manner
of obeying, which is fruitful and which is due from all
the creatures to their God and much more from all the
religious, who explicitly promise this kind of obedience.
In order that thou, my dearest, mayest attain to it per
fectly, remember with what esteem David in many places
speaks of the precepts (Ps. 118), of the sayings and of
the justifications of the Lord ; and remember the effects,
which they caused in that Prophet and even now in the
souls. He says that they make the infants wise (Ps.
18, 8), rejoice the heart of men (Ps. 18, 9), that they
enlighten the eyes of the soul, so that they become a
most brilliant light for its footsteps (Ps. 118, 105), that
they are more sweet than honey (Ps. 18, 11), more de
sirable and more estimable than the most precious stones.
This promptitude and subjection to the divine will and
to his laws made David so conformable to the heart of
God. These are the kind of souls his Majesty seeks for
his servants and friends (I Kings 13, 14, Acts 13, 22).
214. Attend therefore, my daughter, with all solici
tude to the works of virtue and perfection, which thou
knowest to be desirable in the eyes of the Lord. De
spise none of them nor withdraw from any of them and
cease not to exercise them, no matter how violently thy
inclinations and thy weakness should oppose their exer
cise. Trust in the Lord and proceed to put them into
execution, and soon his power will overcome all diffi
culties. Soon thou wilt also know by happy experience
how light is the burden and how sweet is the yoke of the
Lord (Matth. 11, 13). He did not deceive us when He
spoke those words, as might be argued by the tepid
and the negligent, who in their torpidity and distrust,
tacitly repudiate the truth of this statement. I wish also
that thou, in order to imitate me in this perfection, take
notice of the favor, which the divine condescension
vouchsafed me in furnishing me with a most sweet love
and affection for the creatures as participators in the
divine goodness and existence. In this love I sought
to console, alleviate and enliven all the souls; and by a
natural compassion I procured all spiritual and cor
poreal goods for them ; to none of them, no matter how
great sinners they might have been, did I wish any
evil; on the contrary I was urged by the great compas
sion of my tender heart to procure for them eternal sal
vation. From this also arose my anxiety concerning
the grief, which was to grow out of my pregnancy to
my spouse saint Joseph; for to him I owed more than
to all other creatures. Tender compassion filled my
heart, especially for the suffering and the infirm, and I
tried to obtain some relief for all. In these virtues then
I wish that thou, making use of the knowledge of them
given to thee, most prudently imitate me.
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