The Work of God Apostolate

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 3 chapter 27 verses 335-358 Index

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


  INDEX            Book 3  Chapter  27    Verses:  335-358

335. The eternal Word, already made man in the
womb of Mary the Virgin, and possessing Her as his
Mother, was aware of the designs of Lucifer, not only
through the uncreated knowledge of his Godhead, but
also by the created knowledge of his humanity. He pre
pared the defense of his tabernacle, which was more
estimable in his sight than all the rest of the creatures.
In order to clothe the invincible Lady with new strength
against the foolhardy daring of the treacherous dragon
and his hosts, the most holy humanity of Christ, rose up
as it were in an attitude of defense in the virginal
chamber of Mary in order to meet and offer battle to
the princes of darkness. In this position He prayed to
the Father and asked Him to renew his favors and graces
in Mary, in order that She might with added strength
crush the head of the ancient serpent, that this Woman
might humiliate and overcome him, frustrate his designs
and all his powers, and that She come forth triumphant
and victorious over hell to the glory and praise of God and
of his virginal Mother.
336. The prayer of Christ our Lord was punctually
fulfilled in the most blessed Trinity. Then, in an inde
scribable manner, her most holy Son was shown to Mary
in her virginal womb. In this vision the plenitude of
graces and unspeakable gifts were vouchsafed to Her.
Illumined anew with additional light of wisdom She
recognized the highest and most hidden mysteries im
possible to describe. She understood especially that
Lucifer had prepared vast designs of pride against the
glory of the Lord; and that his arrogance rose up to
drink the pure waters of Jordan (Job 40, 18). The
Most High, informing Her of these things, said to Her :
"My Spouse and my Dove, the infernal dragon thirsts
with such wrath against my holy name and all those that
adore it, that he wishes to drag toward him all without
exception and with daring presumption he tries to blot
out my name from the land of the living. - I wish thee,
my Beloved, to come to the defense of my cause and of
my holy name, by giving battle to the cruel enemy; and
I will be with thee in battle, since I am in thy virginal
womb. I wish that thou confound and destroy the
enemies before I appear in the world ; for they are con
vinced that the Redemption of the world is nigh and
therefore they desire to gain over and ruin all souls
without exception, before the world is redeemed. I trust
this victory to thy fidelity and love. Do thou battle in
my name, just as I in thee, against this dragon and
ancient serpent" (Apoc. 12, 9).
337. These words of the Lord and the knowledge of
these secrets so moved the heart of the heavenly Mother,
that I cannot find expression for that which then hap
pened. When She understood, that her most holy Son
wished Her to defend the honor of the Most High, She
was so inflamed with divine love and filled with such in
vincible fortitude, that, if each one of the demons would
have been an entire hell and filled with the fury of all its
inmates, they altogether would have been only like a
few weak ants, compared to the incomparable strength
of this our valiant Leader. All of them She would have
vanquished and destroyed by the smallest part of her
virtues and of her zeal for the honor and glory of the
Lord. And her divine Protector and Helper ordained
this glorious triumph of his most holy Mother over hell,
in order that the arrogance of his enemies might no
longer lord it over us nor rest assured of being able to
destroy the world. But He wished to hasten its Redemp
tion and put us mortals under obligation not only to the
inestimable love of his most holy Son, but also to Mary,
our heavenly Defender and Reparatrix. She was to
issue forth to battle, stop his progress, vanquish and
suppress him, placing mankind on a proper footing for
the reception of their Redeemer.
338. O sons of men, dull and slow of heart ! How is
it that you do not heed such admirable blessings ? Who
is man, that Thou shouldst honor and favor Him thus
(Ps. 8, 5), O most high King! Thy own Mother and
our Mistress Thou sendest out to labor and combat in
our defense! Who ever heard of similar happenings?
Who has ever shown such force and ingenuity of love?
Where is our intellect ? Who has deprived us of the use
of reason? What hardness of heart is this? What has
drawn us into such vile ingratitude? What shameful
conduct of men, who, while they claim to love and honor
Her so much, are guilty of such low and infamous in
gratitude as to forget such an obligation? The true
nobility and honor of the sons of Adam would rather
seem to consist in thanking Her incessantly and sacrific
ing their lives in gratitude !
339. The obedient Mother, offering Herself to battle
with Lucifer for the honor of her most holy Son, of the
holy Trinity and our own, answered Him that had com
manded Her, saying : "My Lord and highest Good, from
whom I have received my being and all the grace and
light which I possess: to Thee I belong entirely, and
Thou, Lord, hast condescended to be my Son. Do with
thy servant, what shall be to thy greater glory and pleas
ure. For if Thou art in me, and I in Thee, who shall
be powerful enough to resist thy will? I shall be the
instrument of thy almighty arm : give me thy strength
and come with me, and let us go forth to battle against
the dragon with all his followers." In the meanwhile
Lucifer issued from the meeting, now rilled with such
hateful spite against Her, that he considered the perdition
of all the other souls as of small consequence. If we
could know the fury of satan as it is in reality, we would
understand better what God says to holy Job, that he
counts steel as straw and bronze as rotten wood
(Job 41, 18). Such was the wrath of the dragon against
most holy Mary; and such it is even now against the
souls; for if he esteemed the most holy, the invincible
and most strong Woman to be no more than a dried up
leaf, what will he do to sinners, who like empty and de
caying reeds do not withstand him? (Ephes. 6, 16).
Living faith alone and humility of heart are the double
armor which enable them to procure glorious victory.
340. In order to begin his battle Lucifer brought with
him the seven legions with their seven principal leaders,
whom after the fall from heaven he had appointed to
tempt men to the seven capital sins (Apoc. 12). Each of
these seven squadrons he charged with the duty of ex
erting their utmost strength against the immaculate
Princess. The invincible Lady was occupied in prayer,
when the Lord permitted the first legion of devils to
begin the battle by tempting Her to the sin of pride, to
which special work they had been appointed. They
sought to approach the heavenly Queen by trying to cause
changes in her natural passions and inclinations, for this
is the ordinary way in which the demons find access to
other mortals ; and they thought that She was infected in
the same way as other men with passions disordered by
sin. They could not however come as close to Her as
they wished, for they were repelled by the fragrance of
her virtues and holiness, which tormented them more
than the fire which consumes them. In spite of this
obstacle and although the very sight of most holy Mary
pierced them with raging torments, they nevertheless
ignored their pains and lashed themselves into furious
and ungovernable wrath in their obstinate endeavors to
approach nearer to Her and exert upon Her their cursed
and damnable influence.
341. The most holy Mary, who was alone and left
only to her natural forces, stood prepared for the assault
of those countless demons; yet She by Herself was as
formidable and terrible (Cant. 6, 3) to them as many
armies in battle array. They presented themselves before
Her (Ps. 118, 85) in the most horrid masks and with
wicked lies. But the sovereign Queen, teaching us how
to conquer, did not change her position nor was moved
interiorly or exteriorly, nor did She show any emotion
of fear in her countenance. She took no notice of them,
nor attended to them any more than if they had been
the weakest ants. She despised them with an invincible
and magnanimous heart ; for this kind of battle, as it is a
battle of virtues, is not accompanied by the extremes of
noise and excitement, but is fought in all tranquillity, in
outward and inward peace and modesty. Just as little
could She be moved by the passions and the appetites ; for
these were not in subservience to the devil in our Queen.
In Her they were all swayed by reason, and this again
was subject to God, since none of her faculties had been
cast into disorder by the first sin, as in the rest of the
children of Adam. Therefore the arrows of these
enemies, as David says, were like those of little children
(Ps. 63, 8), and their armories were like those which
were without ammunition. Only to themselves were
they harmful, for their weakness only brought upon
them confusion. Although they were not aware of the
innocence and the original justice of most holy Mary
and therefore did not understand that She was not to
be injured by the common temptations; yet by the
Majesty of her bearing and her constancy they could
conjecture their ill-success and how She despised them.
Their efforts were not of the least avail ; for, as says the
Apostle in the Apocalypse (Apoc. 12, 18) and as I have
mentioned in the first part (1-129), the earth helped the
Woman, who was clothed with the sun, when the dragon
opened upon Her the flood of his impetuous temptations ;
meaning thereby, that the earthly body of this Lady had
not been vitiated in its faculties and passions, as those of
others, who had been touched by sin.
342. The demons then assumed corporeal shapes of
the most horrible and dreadful kind; and they began to
emit fearful howls, roaring with terrible voices, pre
tending to rush upon Her and threatening destruction;
they shook the earth and the house, striving also by other
furious assaults to frighten and disturb the Princess of
the world; so that at least in this, or in making Her
desist from prayer, they might seem victorious. But the
invincible and magnanimous heart of most holy Mary
was not disturbed, nor moved in the least. It must be
remembered, that in order to enter upon this battle, the
Lord left Her entirely to the resources of her own faith
and virtue. He suspended the effects of the other favors
and privileges, which She was wont to enjoy at other
times. The Most High wished it so, in order that the
triumph of his Mother might be more glorious and
honorable; besides this there were the other reasons,
which God has in allowing the souls to be tempted in
this manner. His judgments are unsearchable and un
knowable (Rom. 11, 33). At times the great Lady
would repeat : "Who is like unto God, that lives in the
highest and looks upon the humble in heaven and on
earth?" (Ps. 112, 5). By these words She routed the
hosts that opposed Her.
343. Then these hungry wolves laid aside their terri
ble shapes : they assumed sheeps clothing, transforming
themselves into angels of light, resplendent and beautiful.
Approaching the heavenly Lady, they said: "Thou hast
conquered, Thou hast conquered, we come to attend on
Thee and reward thy fortitude and invincible courage."
Surrounding Her, they protested their friendship in flat
tering and deceitful terms. But the most prudent Lady
withdrew within Herself, suspended all the activity
of her senses and, raising Herself above Herself
(Thren. 3, 28) by means of the infused virtues, adored
the Lord in spirit and in truth (Jno. 4, 23). De
spising all the snares of these evil tongues and their
deceitful lies, She spoke to her most holy Son : "My Lord
and Master, Light of light and my Strength, in thy help
alone do I place all my confidence and the exaltation of
thy holy name. All those that speak otherwise I abjure,
abhor and detest." But the doers of evil persevered in
their insane attempts against the Mother of knowledge
and continued to extol beyond the skies Her, who had
humiliated Herself beneath the lowest of creatures. They
protested that they wished to exalt Her above all women
and confer upon Her an exquisite favor: they would
select Her in the name of the Lord for the Mother of the
Messias, and they assured Her that her holiness would
be greater than that of the Patriarchs and Prophets.
344. Lucifer himself was the author of this new plot
and his malice is here made known for a warning to
other souls. But it was ridiculous to offer to Mary, the
Queen of heaven, a dignity already her own. They
themselves were ensnared and deceived, not only in offer
ing what they neither knew nor were able to give, but
also in being ignorant of the sacrament of the King so in
timately connected with the most blessed Woman, whom
they persecuted. Nevertheless the iniquity of the dragon
was great, because he knew that he could not fulfill what
he promised. He tried to spy out whether perhaps our
blessed Lady held that dignity, or whether She would
give him some signs, by which he could conjecture it.
Most holy Mary was aware of this double-dealing of
Lucifer, and admirably met it with a quiet firmness. She
answered the deceitful flatteries by quietly continuing
her prayer and adoring the Lord. Prostrated upon the
floor She humiliated Herself, confessing Herself as the
most despicable of creatures, more despicable than the
dust under her feet. By this humble prayer and prostra
tion She cut off the presumptuous pride of Lucifer as
long as this temptation lasted. As for the rest which
happened, the cunning of the demons, their cruelty and
lying deceits on this occasion, it seemed to me, that I
should not relate all, nor that I should expatiate on all
that has been shown to me ; let this much suffice for our
instruction; for not all can be trusted to the ignorance
of weak and earthly creatures.
345. Dismayed and routed, the first host of enemies
retired and gave way to the second. These were to
tempt Her, who was the most poor of human kind, to
the sin of avarice. They offered to Her great riches,
gold, silver, and most precious gems and in order that
these might not seem empty promises, thy placed before
Her a great quantity of these riches, although they were
only apparent; for they thought that they could exert
greater influence on her will by actually presenting these
objects before Her. They accompanied this offer with
many deceitful words and told Her that God had sent
Her all this for distribution among the poor. When
they saw that all this had no effect upon Her, they
changed their tactics and urged, that since She was so
holy, it was a great wrong that She should remain so
poor. It was more reasonable that She possess these
riches, than that they remain in the hands of wicked
sinners, for this would be an injustice and a disarrange
ment of the divine Providence that the just be visited
with poverty, while God s wicked enemies abound in
riches and affluence.
346. In vain the net is spread before the eyes of the
bird in its flight, says the wise man. This was true of
all the temptations of our sovereign Queen; but the
malice of the serpent was much more preposterous in
regard to this temptation of avarice, for this Phoenix of
poverty was so far removed from the earth, and winged
her flight so far above that of even the seraphim, that
such a vile and contemptible snare was entirely in vain.
The most prudent Lady, although She possessed divine
wisdom, never undertook to argue with these enemies, as
in truth nobody should ; for they battle against the mani
fest truth and will not admit defeat, even when they
must acknowledge its effects. The most holy Mary made
use of some words of the holy Scriptures and repeated
them with serene humility. On this occasion She selected
the words of the 1 18th Psalm : "Haereditate acquisivi testimonia
tua in aeternum." "I have acquired for my heri
tage and for my riches the keeping of thy testimonies and
thy laws, my Lord" (Ps. 118, 112). She made use of
many other passages, gratefully praising and blessing the
Most High, because He had created and preserved Her
without her merits. In this most wise manner She re
jected and overcame the second temptation, to the con
fusion and torment of these agents of iniquity.
347. Then advanced the third legion, led on by the
prince of impurity who assails the weakness of the flesh.
These made so much the greater efforts, because they
foresaw more clearly the improbability of success ; and in
truth they gained less than all the others, if one may
speak of more or less in these different temptations of the
Virgin Mary. They tried to suggest to Her vile images
and to produce before her eyes unspeakable monstrosities.
But all their efforts vanished in midair ; for the most pure
Virgin, as soon as She had recognized the first signs of
this vice, withdrew entirely within Herself and suspended
all the activity of her senses. Thus not even the shadow
of a suggestion or indecent image could enter her
thoughts, since none of her faculties were in action. With
the most ardent longing She renewed many times her
vow of chastity in the presence of the Lord, and She
merited more on this occasion than all the virgins that
ever existed or will exist in this world. The Almighty
furnished Her with such virtue, that in comparison the
sudden expulsion of the cannon ball from the cannon, is
but a poor image of the force with which these enemies
were repelled from the presence of most holy Mary when
they sought to touch her purity by their temptations.
348. The fourth legion undertook to test her meek
ness and patience, seeking to move this mildest Dove to
anger. This temptation was most annoying, for the
demons overturned the whole house: they broke and
shattered everything contained therein, and in such a
manner as to cause the greatest amount of annoyance
to the most meek Lady ; but her holy angels soon repaired
all the damage. Foiled in this attempt, the demons as
sumed the shapes of some women known to the serenest
Princess. They flew at Her with greater wrath and fury
than if they had been real women ; they added outrageous
insults, dared to threaten Her, and took possession of
things most necessary. But all these were only despicable
tricks in the eyes of Her that knew them; for none of
their pranks and assaults escaped the penetration of the
most holy Mary. She disregarded them altogether and
despised them entirely, without giving any signs of being
moved or influenced by them. The demons then chose
a real woman of a disposition adapted to their purposes,
whom they influenced by diabolical art against the Prin
cess of heaven. For this purpose one of the demons as
sumed the shape of an acquaintance of this Woman and
began to tell her that this Mary, the wife of Joseph, had
slandered her in her presence and had accused her of
many gross faults, which this demon invented for the
349. The deceived woman, who was naturally very
much inclined to anger, hastened furiously to our meekest
Lamb and hurled at Her the vilest accusations and in
sults. She, however, allowing the angry woman to pour
out her wrath gradually began to speak to her in words
so humble and sweet, that She changed her entirely, ap
peased and softened her heart. When She had thus
brought her about, She consoled and admonished her
against the wiles of the devil. As this woman was poor,
Mary added some alms and dismissed her in peace. Thus
also this attempt was foiled, just as were many others,
by which Lucifer tried to irritate our meekest Dove and
bring her into discredit. The Most High always defended
the honor of his most holy Mother, making use of her
own perfection in virtue and of her prudence and humil
ity, so that the devil could never succeed in harming her
good name in the least. She always acted so prudently
and with so much meekness and wisdom, that the multi
tude of the hellish attempts were totally ineffectual. The
tranquillity and meekness of the sovereign Lady during
these temptations of the dragon caused the admiration
of the angels. Even the demons were full of astonish
ment, (though of a different kind), at seeing such be
havior in a mere creature and that a woman; for never
had they seen the like.
350. The fifth legion followed with temptations to
gluttony. Although the ancient serpent did not bid our
Queen to turn stones into bread (Matth. 4, 3) as he after
wards presumed to do with her most holy Son (for he
had not seen Her do such great wonders, since they had
been withheld from his knowledge), yet he tempted Her
like the first woman with the pleasures of the taste
(Gen. 1). They placed before Her a great feast, in order
to incite and mislead her appetite by outward allurance;
they tried to influence the humors of her body, so as to
cause in Her a counterfeit hunger and they used other
means to attract her attention to what they were offering.
But all their labor was in vain and without effect; for
from all these material and earthly things the noble heart
of our Princess was as far removed as heaven is from
earth. Just as little did She use her senses in order to
enjoy the pleasures of taste, yea She never even took
notice of them ; for in all things She had set Herself to
counteract what our first mother Eve had done. Eve
incautiously and heedlessly had looked upon the beauty
of the tree of knowledge and upon its sweet fruit,
and then had reached out her hand to eat, thus beginning
our woe. Not so most holy Mary, who withdrew and
locked up her senses, although She was in no such danger
as Eve. Our first mother was overcome for our perdi
tion, while our Queen conquered for our rescue and sal
351. Much dismayed by the discomfitures of the pre
ceding hosts, the spirits of envy approached. Though
they could not estimate the full perfection of the deeds
of the Mother of sanctity, they nevertheless felt her in
vincible strength. They had seen Her so unmovable that
they almost despaired of enticing Her to any of their
wicked purposes. Nevertheless the insatiate hatred of
the dragon and his inmeasurable pride would not yield;
they laid new plots in order to provoke the Lady most
beloved of the Lord and of men to envy in others what
She Herself possessed and even what She abhorred as
useless and dangerous. They drew up a long list of
natural blessings possessed by others and denied to Her.
And as they thought that supernatural gifts would move
Her more, they mentioned great spiritual favors and
blessings, which the Almighty had conferred upon others
and not upon Her. But how could these lying repre
sentations move Her, who was the Mother of all the
graces and gifts of heaven? For the blessings of all the
creatures taken together were less than her single privi
lege of being the Mother of the Author of grace. Pre
cisely because his Majesty had so favored Her and be
cause the fire of his charity burned within Her, She
ardently desired, that the hand of the Most High enrich
and favor her fellowmen so much the more. How then
could envy find room, where charity abounded?
(I Cor. 13, 4). But the fierce enemies would not desist.
They pictured to the Queen the apparent happiness of
those, who in their riches and good fortune, considered
themselves happy and exalted in this world. They in
duced several persons to approach most holy Mary and
describe to Her the consolation of being rich and well-todo.
As if this deceitful happiness of mortals had not
been condemned so often in holy Scriptures (Ps. 48),
and as if contempt of riches had not been the very science
and doctrine, which the Queen of heaven and her most
holy Son had come to exemplify in their lives for the
benefit of the whole world!
352. Those persons, who came to our heavenly Mother,
were exhorted by Her to use the temporal goods and
riches well and to give thanks for them to the Author of
all good. She Herself fulfilled this duty, making up for
the habitual ingratitude of men. Although the most
humble Lady judged Herself unworthy of the least of
blessings of the Most High; yet Her own sanctity and
exalted dignity in point of fact gave witness to the words
of holy Scriptures saying in her name : "With me are
glorious riches and justice. For my fruit is better than
gold and precious stone" (Prov. 8, 18). "In me is all
grace of the way and the truth, in me is all hope of life
and of virtue" (Eccli. 24, 25). In this exalted excel
lence of virtue She conquered all her enemies, astonishing
and confusing them by this new experience. For they
were made to feel that where they had exerted their
greatest force and their deepest cunning, they gained least
and experienced the greatest repulse.
353. Nevertheless the demons stubbornly persisted and
proceeded with the seventh temptation, which was that of
idleness. They sought to cause in Her a corporeal indis
position, or a feeling of weakness and fatigue, accom
panied by dejection of spirit. This is a trick of satan
little known and under its cover the sin of laziness causes
much ruin among souls and prevents much progress in
virtue. They suggested moreover that She postpone
some exercises on account of weariness in order to be
able to perform them so much the better after having
rested. This too is one among many other tricks of satan,
and we do not often discover it or know what to do
against it. They also sought maliciously to hinder the
most holy Lady in some exercises by means of human
creatures, whom they sent to visit Her at unseasonable
times, trying to impede the performance of some of her
holy exercises and occupations at the time and hour set
for them. But all these delusions were detected by the
most prudent and alert Princess. She evaded them by
her wise precautions, without permitting the enemy to
succeed in any of them and acting in all things up to the
standard of the most exquisite perfection. Her enemies
were obliged to desist, hopelessly foiled and repulsed.
Lucifer was full of rage against his companions and
against himself. But in their fury and insane pride, they
resolved to make one more general assault upon Mary,
as I will relate in the following chapter.
354. My daughter, although thou hast only very
briefly summed up my lengthy battle against temptations,
I wish that from what thou hast written and from what
thou knowest otherwise concerning these things, thou
learn the manner of resisting and overcoming the powers
of hell. The surest way of fighting the demon is to de
spise him, looking upon him as the enemy of the Most
High, who has lost all fear of God and all hope of good ;
who in his stubbornness has deprived himself of all means
of recovery and is without sorrow for his wickedness.
Relying on this indubitable truth thou shouldst show thy
self far superior to him, exalted and unflinching in thy
thoughts, and treat him as a contemner of the honor and
worship of his God. Knowing that thou art defending
so just a cause, do not let thy courage sink; but resist
and counteract him with great strength and valor in all
his attempts, as if thou wert fighting at the side of the
Lord himself; for there is no doubt that his Majesty
assists all those that enter loyally into his battles. Thou
art truly in good hope and in the way of eternal life
glory, as long as thou laborest faithfully for thy Lord
and God.
355. Remember then, that the demons detest and
abominate that which thou desirest and lovest, namely
the honor of God and thy eternal felicity; and that they
are striving to deprive thee of that which they cannot
restore to themselves. God has reprobated the demon,
while He offers to thee his grace, his virtues and his
strength in order to overcome his and thy enemy and to
procure for thee the happy end of eternal peace; only
thou must work faithfully and keep the commandments
of the Lord. The arrogance of the dragon is great
(Is. 16, 6), yet his weakness is greater; and he does not
represent more than a weak atom in the face of the
divine power. Yet as his cunning and malice far ex
ceed that of mortals (Job 41, 21), it is not advisable to
allow the soul to bandy words with him, whether he is
present invisibly or visibly; for from his darksome mind,
as from a smoking furnace, issue the shadows of con
fusion, obscuring the judgments of mortals; if they
listen to him, he will fill their minds with deceits and
darkness, so that they will neither recognize the truth and
the beauty of virtue, nor the vileness of his poisonous
falsehoods. Thus the souls will be made unable to dis
tinguish the precious from the worthless, life from death,
truth from error (Jer. 15, 19), and they easily fall into
the clutches of this fierce and wicked dragon.
356. In temptation let it be thy invariable course not
to attend to anything which he proposes, not to listen,
not to argue with him concerning aught. If thou canst
withdraw and place thyself at a distance, so as not to
perceive or recognize his wicked attempts, so much the
more secure thou wilt be for thus looking upon him only
at a distance. The demon always seeks to prepare the
way for his deceits, especially in souls which he fears
will resist his entrance unless he can thus facilitate his
approach. He is accustomed to begin by causing sorrow
or dejection of heart, or he makes use of other trickery
or snares, by which he diverts or withdraws the soul from
the love of the Lord ; then he comes with his poison, con
cealed in the golden cup in order to diminish the horror
of the soul. As soon as thou noticest in thyself any of
these signs, ( for thou hast thy experience, obedience and
instructions for a guide), I wish that with the wings of
the dove thou direct thy flight to the high refuge of the
Almighty (Ps. 54, 7), calling upon Him for aid and
proffering the merits of my most holy Son. To me also
shouldst thou fly for protection as I am thy Mother and
Teacher, and to thy devoted angels, and to all the rest of
thy advocates in the Lord. Quickly close up thy senses
and consider thyself as dead to them, or as a soul already
belonging to the other life, whither the jurisdiction and
the exacting tyranny of the serpent does not reach.
Occupy thyself so much the more earnestly in the exer
cise of the virtue contrary to the vice to which he tempts
thee, and especially in acts of faith, hope and love, which
dispel cowardice and doubt, and weaken the influence of
discouragement and fear in the human heart.
357. The arguments for overcoming Lucifer thou must
seek in God alone; and do not disclose them to your
enemy, lest he meet thee with fallacies and confusing pre
tense. Besides knowing it to be dangerous, esteem it as
unworthy of thee to argue with him openly, or to pay
particular attention to him, who is not only the enemy of
thy Beloved but also of thee. Show thyself superior
to him and highmindedly apply thyself to the practice of
all virtues. Be content with this treasure and withdraw
thyself; for the most skillful battle of the sons of God
consists in flying farthest from evil. The devil is proud
and is deeply hurt by contempt; in the presumption of
his arrogance and vanity he desires above all the attention
of men. On this account he is so persistent in pursuing
us step by step; for in his deceitfulness he cannot rely
upon the force of truth, but on his persistent counter
feiting of the good and the true. As long as this slave of
wickedness is not despised, he never believes himself dis
covered and he continues, like an importunate fly, to buzz
about the spot tainted by the greatest corruption.
358. Not less warily must thou conduct thyself, when
thy enemy makes use of other creatures for thy destruc
tion. This he does in two ways : either leading them on
to immoderate love, or to undue dislike or hatred. As
soon as thou noticest a disorderly affection in those with
whom thou conversest, observe the same precaution as in
flying from the demon; yet with this difference, that
while thou hatest him as thy enemy, thou consider the
others as God s creatures to whom thou must not deny
the consideration due to them on account of his Majesty.
But in as far as withdrawing from them is concerned,
act as if they were thy enemies; for in regard to the ser-
vice, which the Lord requires of thee and in regard to
thy present condition, it is the devil who operates in these
persons toward separating thee from thy God and from
thy duty. If on the other hand they hate and persecute
thee, answer them with meekness and love, praying for
them with intimate affection of thy heart (Matth. 5, 44).
If it should be necessary, soothe the wrath of thy per
secutors with sweet words, and undeceive those who are
led astray by false reports. Do this not in order to ex
cuse thyself, but in order to pacify thy brothers and for
their inward and outward peace; thus thou wilt at one
and the same time conquer thyself and those who hate
thee. In order to be well practiced in this way of acting
it is necessary to cut off the very roots of the capital sins,
to tear them out, and to die to the movements of the
appetites. For in these appetites the seven capital vices
to which the devil leads men, are rooted, and in these dis
orderly and undisciplined passions he sows the germs of
the seven sins.
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