Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  21    Verses:  606-618

606. When the most holy Mary and glorious saint
Joseph returned from the presentation of the Infant
Jesus in the temple, they concluded to stay in Jerusalem
for nine days in order to be able each day to visit the
temple and repeat the offering of the sacred Victim, their
divine Son, thus rendering fitting thanks for the im
mense blessing for which they had been singled out from
among all men. The heavenly Lady had a special venera
tion for this number in memory of the nine days, during
which She had been prepared and adorned by God for the
incarnation of the Word, as I have related in the first
ten chapters of this second part; also in memory of the
nine months, during which She had borne Jesus in her
virginal womb. In honor of these events She wished
to make this novena with her divine Child, presenting
Him that many times to the eternal Father as an ac
ceptable offering for her lofty purposes. They began
the devotions of the novena every day before the third
hour, praying in the temple until nightfall. They chose
the most obscure and retired place, meriting thereby the
invitation of the master of the banquet in the Gospel :
"Friend, go up higher" (Luke 14, 10). This invitation
was given to Her, on one of those days, when She was
pouring out her spirit in the presence of the eternal
Father in the following words:
607. "Highest King, Lord and Creator of all that has
being, here in thy presence lies the useless dust and ashes,
which thy ineffable condescension has favored with grace
such as it neither knew, nor ever could know, how to
merit. I find myself, O Lord, forced onward by the
impetuous flood of thy blessings to give Thee thanks.
But what return can she offer, who, being nothing, has
received her existence and her life from Thee, and who
over and above was overwhelmed by such incomparable
mercies and blessings of thy Divinity ? What thanks can
she render in acknowledgment of thy immense bounty?
What reverence worthy of thy Majesty? What gift to
thy infinite Deity, since She is only a creature ? My soul,
my being, and my faculties, all have I received and con
tinue to receive from thy hands. A thousand times do
I offer it in sacrifice to thy glory. I acknowledge my
indebtedness, not only for having given me all this, but
for the love with which Thou hast given it, and because
among all creatures, thy infinite bounty has preserved me
from the contagion of sin and has chosen me to give hu
man form to thy Onlybegotten Son, to bear Him in my
womb and at my breast, though I am only a daughter
of Adam and made of lowly and earthly matter. I per
ceive thy ineffable condescension toward me, O Lord, and
in gratitude for it my heart fails and my life is spent in
affections of divine love, having nothing else to repay all
the favors of thy right hand conferred upon thy hand
maid. But now my heart is revived and rejoices in pos
sessing a gift worthy of thy greatness, since I can offer
Thee Him, who is one in substance with Thee, equal in
majesty, and perfection of attributes, the Onlybegotten
of thy intellect, the image of thy being, the fullness of
thy own pleasure, thy only and most beloved Son. This,
eternal Father and Most High God, is the gift, which
I offer, the Victim which I bring Thee, and this I am sure
Thou wilt receive. Having received Him as God, I re
turn Him to Thee God and man. Neither I nor any
other creature, O Lord, can ever offer Thee a greater
gift, nor can thy Majesty ever demand one more precious.
It is so valuable, that it will suffice to repay Thee for
what I have received. In his name and in mine I offer
and present Him to Thee. I am the Mother of thy Onlybegotten,
having given Him human flesh, I have made
Him the Brother of mortals, and as He wishes to be their
Redeemer and Teacher, it behooves me to be their ad
vocate, to assume their cause and claim assistance for
them. Therefore, Father of my Onlybegotten, God of
mercies, I offer Him to Thee from all my heart; with
Him and because of Him I beg Thee to pardon sinners,
to pour out upon the human race thy mercies of old and
to open new fountains for the renewal of thy wonders
(Eccli. 38, 6). This is the Lion of Juda become a Lamb,
which takes away the sins of the world (Apoc. 5, 5). He
is the treasure of thy Divinity."
608. Such prayers and petitions the Mother of piety
offered up in the first days of her novena in the temple.
To all of them the eternal Father responded, accepting
the offering of his Onlybegotten as a pleasing sacrifice,
being more and more enamored with the purity of his
only and chosen Daughter and looking upon her sanctity
with benign pleasure. As an answer to her petitions He
conceded to Her new and great privileges, among which
was also this one, that, as long as the world should last,
She should obtain all that She would ever ask for her
clients; that the greatest sinners, if they availed them
selves of her intercession, should find salvation; that in
the new Church and law of the Gospel She should be the
Cooperatrix and Teacher of salvation with Christ her
most holy Son. This was to be her privilege especially
after his Ascension into heaven, when She should re
main, as Queen of the universe, as the representative and
instrument of the divine power on earth. This I will
show more particularly in the third part of this history.
Many other favors and mysteries the Most High con
firmed upon the heavenly Mother in answer to her pray
ers. They, however, are beyond the reach of spoken
language, and cannot be described by my short and
limited terms.
609. In the course of these manifestations, on the fifth
day of the novena after the presentation and purifica
tion, while the heavenly Lady was in the temple with the
Infant on her arms, the Deity revealed Itself to Her,
although not intuitively, and She was wholly raised and
filled by the Spirit. It is true, that this had been done to
Her before ; but as God s power and treasures are infinite,
He never gives so much as not to be able to give still
more to the creatures. In this abstractive vision the
Most High visited anew his only Spouse, wishing to
prepare Her for the labors, that were awaiting Her.
Speaking to Her, He comforted Her saying : "My Spouse
and my Dove, thy wishes and intentions are pleasing
in my eyes and I delight in them always. But Thou
canst not finish the nine days devotion, which Thou hast
begun, for I have in store for Thee other exercises of
Thy love. In order to save the life of thy Son and raise
Him up, Thou must leave thy home and thy country,
fly with Him and thy spouse Joseph into Egypt, where
Thou art to remain until I shall ordain otherwise: for
Herod is seeking the life of the Child. The journey is
long, most laborious and most fatiguing; do thou suffer
it all for my sake; for I am, and always will be, with
610. Any other faith and virtue might have been dis
turbed (as the incredulous really have been) to see the
powerful God flying from a miserable earthly being, and
that He should do so in order to save his life, as if He,
being both God and man, could be affected by the fear
of death. But the most prudent and obedient Mother
advanced no objection or doubt : She was not in the
least disturbed or moved by this unlocked for order.
Answering, She said: "My Lord and Master, behold
thy servant with a heart prepared to die for thy love if
necessary. Dispose of me according to thy will. This
only do I ask of thy immense goodness, that, overlooking
my want of merit and gratitude, Thou permit not my
Son and Lord to suffer, and that Thou turn all pains and
labor upon me, who am obliged to suffer them." The
Lord referred Her to saint Joseph, bidding Her to fol
low his directions in all things concerning the journey.
Therewith She issued from her vision, which She had
enjoyed without losing the use of her exterior senses and
while holding in her arms the Infant Jesus. She had
been raised up in this vision only as to the superior part
of her soul; but from it flowed other gifts, which spirit
ualized her senses and testified to Her that her soul was
living more in its love than in the earthly habitation of
her body.
611. On account of the incomparable love, which the
Queen bore toward her most holy Son, her maternal
and compassionate heart was somewhat harrowed at the
thought of the labors which She foresaw in the vision
impending upon the infant God. Shedding many tears,
She left the temple to go to her lodging-place, without
manifesting to her spouse the cause of her sorrow. Saint
Joseph therefore thought that She grieved on account of
the prophecy of Simeon. As the most faithful Joseph
loved Her so much, and as he was of a kind and solicitous
disposition, he was troubled to see his Spouse so tearful
and afflicted, and that She should not manifest to him
the cause of this new affliction. This disturbance of his
soul was one of the reasons why the holy angels spoke
to him in sleep, as I have related above, when speaking
of the pregnancy of the Queen. For in the same night,
while saint Joseph was asleep, the angel of the Lord
appeared to him, and spoke to him as recorded by saint
Matthew: "Arise, take the Child and its Mother and
fly into Egypt; there shalt thou remain until I shall
return to give thee other advice; for Herod is seeking
after the Child in order to take away its life." Imme
diately the holy spouse arose full of solicitude and sor
row, foreseeing also that of his most loving Spouse.
Entering upon her retirement, he said : "My Lady, God
wills that we should be afflicted; for his holy angel has
announced to me the pleasure and the decree of the
Almighty, that we arise and fly with the Child into Egypt,
because Herod is seeking to take away its life. Encour
age thyself, my Lady, to bear the labors of this journey
and tell me what I can do for thy comfort, since I hold
my life and being at the service of thy Child and of
612. "My husband and my master," answered the
Queen, "if we have received from the hands of the Most
High such great blessings of grace, it is meet that
we joyfully accept temporal afflictions (Job 2, 13). We
bear with us the Creator of heaven and earth ; if He has
placed us so near to Him, what arms shall be able to
harm us, even if it be the arm of Herod? Wherever we
carry with us all our Good, the highest treasure of heaven,
our Lord, our guide and true light, there can be no desert ;
but He is our rest, our portion, and our country. All
these goods we possess in having his company; let us
proceed to fulfill his will." Then most holy Mary and
Joseph approached the crib where the Infant Jesus lay;
and where He, not by chance, slept at that time. The
heavenly Mother uncovered Him without awakening
Him; for He awaited those tender and sorrowful words
of his Beloved :
"Fly away, O my Beloved, and be like the
roe and the young hart upon the mountains of aromatical
spices. Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field,
let us ride in the villages" (Cant. 8, 14; 7, 11). And the
tender Mother added : "Sweetest Love, meekest Lamb,
thy power is not limited by that of earthly kings; but
Thou wishest, in thy exalted wisdom, to hide it for love
of men. Who among mortals can think of taking away
thy life, O my God? Is it not in thy power to anni
hilate all life? Since Thou givest life to all, why should
men take away thine? (John 10, 10). Since Thou
visited them in order to give them eternal life, why should
they wish to give Thee death? But who shall compre
hend the secrets of thy Providence? (Rom. 11, 34).
Allow me, then, O Lord and light of my soul, to awaken
Thee ; for when thou sleepest thy heart is awake."
613. Some such sentiments were also expressed by
saint Joseph. Then the heavenly Mother, falling upon
her knees, awakened the sweetest Infant, and took Him
in her arms. Jesus, in order to move Her to greater
tenderness and in order to show Himself as true man,
wept a little (O wonders of the Most High in things
according to our judgments so small) ! Yet He was
soon again quieted ; and when the most holy Mother and
saint Joseph asked his blessing He gave it them in visible
manner. Gathering their poor clothing into the casket
and loading it on the beast of burden which they had
brought from Nazareth, they departed shortly after mid
night, and hastened without delay on their journey to
Egypt, as I will relate in the following chapter.
614. I will here add what I have been made to under
stand as to the concordance of the two Gospels of saint
Matthew and saint Luke in regard to this event. For,
since all of them wrote under guidance and light of the
Holy Ghost, each of them knew what the other three
had written, and what they had omitted to say in their
Gospels. Hence it happened that according to divine pre
disposition some of the happenings of the life of Christ
and of the Gospel were described by all four of the
Evangelists, while again some other things mentioned by
one were omitted by the others. Saint Matthew de
scribes the adoration of the Kings and the flight into
Egypt, while these events were not mentioned by saint
Luke. He again describes the Circumcision, Presenta
tion and Purification, which are omitted by saint Mat
thew. Thus saint Matthew, after referring to the de
parture of the Magi, immediately, without speaking of
the Presentation, relates that the angel appeared to saint
Joseph commanding him to fly into Egypt; but it does
not follow therefrom that the Child had not been pre
sented before that time in the temple, for it is certain
that this was done after the departure of the Kings and
before the flight into Egypt, as is narrated by saint Luke.
Thus, likewise, although saint Luke, after describing the
Presentation and Purification, immediately mentions that
the holy Family lived in Nazareth, we must not conclude
that they had not before that time lived in Egypt: he
writes nothing of this flight into Egypt either before or
after, because it had already been recorded by saint Mat
thew. And this flight took place immediately after the
Presentation before most holy Mary and Joseph returned
to Nazareth. As saint Luke had received no commis
sion to write about this journey it was natural that, in
continuing his history, he should mention the return to
Nazareth immediately after the Presentation. To say
that, having fulfilled what the law commanded, they re
turned to Galilee, was not to deny the flight into Egypt,
but it was merely continuing the narrative without men
tioning the flight from Herod. Even the very text of
saint Luke intimates that the return to Nazareth hap
pened after their sojourn in Egypt; for he says that the
Child grew and increased in wisdom, and that grace was
manifested in Him ; which could not have been before He
had passed the years of infancy. Hence it must have
been after his return from Egypt, and at an age when
the use of reason usually begins to show itself in children.
615. I was also given to understand how foolish it is
in the infidels or incredulous to stumble against this cor
nerstone of Christ even in his infancy and to take offense
at seeing Him fly to Egypt in order to defend Himself
against Herod ; as if this were on account of his weakness
and not a mystery, and as if it had happened for no
higher purpose than to defend his life against the cruelty
of a wicked man. For the well-disposed souls the words
of the Evangelist are amply sufficient: since he says it
happened in order that the prophecy of Osea might
be fulfilled, who prophesies in the name of the
eternal Father: "And I called my Son out of Egypt"
(Osee 11, 1). The ends which He had in view in send
ing Him there and in calling Him thence are most ex
alted and mysterious : of these I will say something anon.
If not all of the doings of the incarnate Word are equally
admirable and sacramental, yet no one with sane judg
ment can dispute or ignore the sweet providence of God
in directing the secondary causes, while allowing- full
liberty to the human will (Eccli. 15, 14). For this rea
son, and not for want of power, He permits so many
idolatries, heresies and other sins, which are not any
smaller than that of Herod ; for this reason He permitted
the crime of Judas and all those which followed in the
sufferings and crucifixion of Christ. Certainly He could
have prevented all these sins and yet would not ; not only
because He wished to work our Redemption, but also in
order that He might secure to man freedom of his will
in all his actions. He was ready to give to men the
helps and graces according to his divine Providence,
whereby they could accomplish the good, if they would
only use their free will to attain it in the same degree as
they were using it to follow evil.
616. In this sweetness of his Providence He gives sin
ners time, hoping for their conversions, as in the case of
Herod. If He would use his absolute power and per
form great miracles for preventing the course of sec
ondary causes, the order of nature would be confounded,
and to a certain extent He would contradict Himself in
his double role as Author of grace and as Author of
nature. Therefore, miracles must happen but rarely, and
on special occasions for particular reasons, or when some
end is to be served. Therefore, God reserves them for
the manifestations of his power at certain times. He
makes Himself known as the Author of his works by
bringing them into existence and preserving them inde
pendently of creatures. Neither must we wonder that
He should consent to the death of the innocent children
which Herod murdered ; for it would not have been to
their benefit to save them through a miracle, since by
their death they were to gain eternal life together with
an abundant reward, which vastly recompensed them for
the loss of their temporal life. If they had been allowed
to escape the sword and die a natural death, all would
eventually not have been saved. The works of the Lord
are just and holy in all particulars, although we do not
always see the reasons why they are so ; but we shall come
to know them in the Lord when we shall see him face
to face.
617. My daughter, what thou must especially learn
from this chapter is, that thou accustom thyself to humble
thanksgiving for the benefits which thou receivest, since
thou, among many generations, art so specially signalized
by the riches of grace with which my Son and I visit
thee without any merit of thine. I was wont to repeat
many times this verse of David : "What shall I render
to the Lord for all the things that he hath rendered to
me?" (Ps. 115, 12). In such sentiments I humiliated
myself to the dust, esteeming myself altogether useless
among creatures. Therefore, if thou knowest what I did
as Mother of God, consider what then is thy obligation,
since thou must with so much truth confess thyself un
worthy and undeserving of all thou receivest, and so
poorly furnished for giving thanks and for making pay
ment. Thou must supply thy insufficiency and thy
misery by offering up to the eternal Father the living
host of his onlybegotten Son, especially when thou re
ceivest Him in the holy Sacrament and possessest Him
within thee : for in this thou shouldst also imitate David,
who, after asking the Lord what return he should make
for all his benefits, answers : "I will take the chalice of
salvation; and I will call upon the name of the Lord"
(Ps. 115, 13). Thou must accept the salvation offered
to thee and bring forth its fruits by the perfection of thy
works, calling upon the name of the Lord, offering up his
Onlybegotten. For He it is who gave the virtue of
salvation, who merited it, who alone can be an adequate
return for the blessings conferred upon the human race
and upon thee especially. I have given Him human
form in order that He might converse with men and
become the property of each one. He conceals Himself
under the appearances of bread and wine in order to ac
commodate Himself to the needs of each one, and that
each one might consider Him as his personal property
fit to offer to the eternal Father. In this way He fur
nishes to each one an oblation which no one could other
wise offer, and the Most High rests satisfied with it,
since there is not anything more acceptable nor anything
more precious in the possession of creatures.
618. In addition to this offering is the resignation with
which souls embrace and bear with equanimity and
patience the labors and difficulties of mortal life. My
most holy Son and I were eminent Masters in the prac
tice of this doctrine. My Son began to teach it from
the moment in which He was conceived in my womb.
For already then He began to suffer, and as soon as He
was born into the world He and I were banished by
Herod into a desert, and his sufferings continued until
He died on the Cross. I also labored to the end of my
life, as thou wilt be informed more and more in the
writing of this history. Since, therefore, We suffered
so much for creatures and for their salvation, I desire
thee to imitate Us in this conformity to the divine will
as being his spouse and my daughter. Suffer with a
magnanimous heart, and labor to increase the possessions
of thy Lord and Master, namely, souls, which are so
precious in his sight and which He has purchased with
his life-blood. Never shouldst thou fly from labors, diffi
culties, bitterness and sorrows, if by any of them thou
canst gain a soul for the Lord, or if thou canst thereby
induce it to leave the path of sin and enter the path of
life. Let not the thought that thou art so useless and
poor, or that thy desires and labor avail but little, dis
courage thee; since thou canst not know how the Lord
will accept of them and in how far He shall consider
Himself served thereby. At least thou shouldst wish to
labor assiduously and eat no unearned bread in his house
(Prov. 31, 27).
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