Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  25    Verses:  653-663

653. The traditions, which in many parts of Egypt
kept alive the remembrance of wonders wrought by the
incarnate Word, gave rise to differences of opinion among
the sacred and other writers in regard to the city, in
which our Exiles lived during their stay in Egypt. Some
of them assert that they dwelt in this city, some in an
other. But all of them may be right and in accordance
with facts, since each one may be speaking of a different
period of the sojourn of our Pilgrims in Memphis, or
Babylon of Egypt, or in Matarieh; for they visited not
only these cities, but many others. I for my part have
been informed that they passed through these and then
reached Heliopolis, where they took up their abode.
Their holy guardian angels instructed the heavenly Queen
and saint Joseph, that They were to settle in this city.
For, besides the ruin of the temples and idols, which,
just as in other places, took place at their arrival here,
the Lord had resolved to perform still other miracles for
his glory and for the rescue of souls ; and the inhabitants
of this city, (according to the good fortune already prog
nosticated in its name as "City of the Sun"), were to
see the Sun of justice and grace arise over them and shine
upon them. Following these orders, saint Joseph sought
to purchase for a suitable price some dwelling in the
neighborhood ; and the Lord ordained that he should find
a poor and humble, yet serviceable house, at small dis
tance from the city, just such as the Queen of heaven
654. Having therefore found this dwelling near Heliopolis,
they took their abode therein. At the first en
trance of the heavenly Lady with her divine Son and
saint Joseph, She prostrated Herself to the ground, kiss
ing it in profound humility and lovingly thanking the
Most High for having secured them this place of rest
after their prolonged and laborious journeyings. She
thanked also the earth and the elements for bearing with
Her, since in her matchless humility She persisted in
esteeming Herself unworthy of all favors. She adored
the immutable being of God in this prostration, dedicat
ing all that She was to do in this place to his honor and
worship. Interiorly She made a sacrifice of all her
powers and faculties, offering to assume readily and with
joy all the labors by which the Almighty could be served
during her exile ; for in her prudence She foresaw and
affectionately embraced them all. By means of her
divine knowledge She set a great value on sufferings ;
understanding how highly they are esteemed at the divine
tribunal, and how her most holy Son looked upon them
as a rich treasure and inheritance. Having performed
these exalted acts of devotion, She set about humbly to
clean and arrange the poor little house, borrowing the
instruments for this purpose. Although our heavenly
strangers were thus sufficiently provided with the shelter
of bare walls, they were in want of all else pertaining to
the sustenance and comfort of daily life. As they now
lived in an inhabited country, the miraculous assistance,
which they had enjoyed in the desert through the min
istry of the angels, failed them; and the Lord left them
to the last resource of the poor, namely, the begging of
alms. Having come to these straits of suffering hunger,
saint Joseph went forth to seek this kind of assistance
for the love of God; giving thereby an example to the
poor not to complain of their affliction and, all other
means failing, not to be ashamed to have recourse to this
expedient For so early the Lord of all creation allowed
Himself to fall into this extreme of being obliged to beg
for his sustenance, in order that He might have an
occasion to return the alms a hundredfold.
655. During the first three days of their arrival in
Heliopolis, just as in other places of Egypt, the Queen
had for Herself and for her Onlybegotten no other suste
nance than what was begged by his foster father saint
Joseph. When he began to earn some wages by his
work, he made an humble couch for the Mother and a
cradle for her Son; while he himself had as a restingplace
only the bare ground ; for the house was without
any furniture until by his own labor he succeeded in
making some of the most indispensable pieces for the
convenience of all three. In this connection I must not
pass over in silence the fact that in their extreme poverty
and need most holy Mary and Joseph regretted not their
house in Nazareth, nor thought of the aid of their rela
tions and friends, nor of the gifts of the kings, which
they had given away and which, if they had saved them,
would now be useful. All of these regrets were far from
their minds, nor did they complain of the great privation
and destitution, thinking of the past or worrying about
their future. But they bore all with incomparable
equanimity, joy and tranquillity, resigning themselves to
the divine Providence in their extreme need and poverty.
O smallness of our unfaithful hearts! In what excruci
ating anxieties we are apt to be cast at finding ourselves
threatened with poverty or privation! Immediately we
begin to rail at occasions lost, at having missed or neg
lected this or that advantage, or at not having done this
or that, by which we would have evaded our misfortunes.
All these complaints are vain and most foolish, since they
can bring no relief. Although it would have been good
if we had not committed the sins by which we are thus
punished, yet very often we are sorry for them only on
account of the temporal disadvantages, and not for the
guilt connected with sin. Slow and stupid of heart are
we to perceive the spiritual things conducive to our justi
fication and growth in grace (Luke 24, 25) ; while on the
other hand we are full of fleshly and earthly rashness in
entering upon temporal affairs and anxieties. The ex
ample of our Exiles is indeed a severe reprimand for our
low-minded earthliness.
656. The most prudent Lady and her spouse, forsaken
and destitute of all temporal help, accommodated them
selves joyfully to the poverty of their little dwelling. Of
the three rooms, which it contained, they assigned one
to be the sanctuary or temple of the Infant Jesus under
the tender care of the most pure Mother; there they
placed the cradle and her bare couch, until, after some
days, by the labor of the holy spouse, and through the
kindness of some pious women, they could obtain where
with to cover it. Another room was set aside for the
sleeping place and oratory of saint Joseph. The third
served as a workshop for plying his trade. In view of
their great poverty, and of the great difficulty of sufficient
employment as a carpenter, the great Lady resolved to
assist him by the work of her hands to earn a livelihood.
She immediately executed her resolve by seeking to obtain
needlework through the intervention of the pious women,
who, attracted by her modesty and sweetness, were be-
ginning to have intercourse with Her. As all that She
attended to or busied Herself with was so perfect, the
reputation of her skill soon spread about, so that She
never was in want of employment whereby to eke out
the slender means of livelihood for her Son, the true God
and man.
657. In order to obtain the indispensable victuals and
clothing, furnish the house ever so moderately, and pay
the necessary expenses, it seemed to our Queen that She
must employ all day in work and consume the night in
attending to her spiritual exercises. This She resolved
upon, not for any motives of gain, or because She did
not continue in her contemplations during the day; for
this was her incessant occupation in the presence of the
infant God, as I have so often said and shall repeat here
after. But some of the hours, which She was wont to
spend in special exercises, She wished to transfer to the
night-time in order to be able to extend the hours of
manual labor, not being minded to ask or expect God s
miraculous assistance for anything which She could at
tain by greater diligence and additional labor on her own
part. In all such cases we ask for miraculous help more
for our own convenience than on account of necessity.
The most prudent Queen asked the eternal Father to
provide sustenance for her divine Son; but at the same
time She continued to labor. Like one who does not
trust in herself, or in her own efforts, She united prayer
with her labors, in order to obtain the necessities of life
like other men.
658. The Infant Jesus was much pleased with the pru
dence of his Mother, and with her resignation in the midst
of her dire poverty, and in return for her fidelity He
wished to lessen the labors She had undertaken. One
day He spoke to Her from the cradle and said: "My
Mother, I wish to set up a rule for thy daily life and
labors." Immediately the heavenly Mother knelt before
Him and answered: "My sweetest Love, and Lord of
all my being, I praise and magnify Thee because Thou
hast condescended to meet my secret thoughts and de
sires ; may it please Thee to direct my footsteps according
to thy holy will, to regulate all my labors according to
thy wishes, and to order all my occupations in each hour
of the day according to thy divine pleasure. And since
thy Deity became incarnate and thy Majesty condescended
to take heed of my longings, speak, Light of my eyes, for
thy servant hears." The Lord replied: "My dearest
Mother, from the time of nightfall" (that is, from the
hour called by us nine o clock) "thou shalt take some
sleep and rest. And from midnight until the break of
day thou mayest occupy thyself in contemplation with
Me, and We will praise the eternal Father. Thereupon
prepare the necessary food for thyself and Joseph; and
afterwards give Me nourishment and hold Me in thy
arms until the third hour, when thou shalt place Me in
the arms of thy husband, in order to afford him some
refreshment in his labors. Then retire until it is time
to prepare his meal and return to thy work. Since thou
hast not with thee the sacred Scriptures, which were wont
to console thee, thou canst, by my holy science, enter into
the doctrines of eternal life, in order that thou mayest
follow Me in perfect imitation. And continually pray to
the eternal Father for the sinners."
659. By this rule of life the most holy Mary governed
her doings during her stay in Egypt. Every day three
times She nursed the infant God at her breast; for when
He pointed out to Her the hour in which She was to
nurse Him in the morning, He did not forbid Her to
afford Him nourishment at other times, as She had been
accustomed to do since his Nativity. Whenever the
heavenly Mother was engaged in any work, She always
performed it in his presence and upon her knees; and it
was very usual, during their colloquies and conferences,
that the King from his cradle and the Mother at her
work, broke out in mysterious canticles of praise. If
they were all written, they would outnumber all the
psalms and the hymns used by the Church, and all that
are written ; for there can be no doubt that God conversed
with the source of his humanity, his most blessed Mother,
in a more exalted and wonderful manner than with David,
Moses, Mary, Anne and all the Prophets. By these
hymns the heavenly Mother was continually filled with
new influences of the Divinity, and new longings to be
united to his unchangeable being; for She alone was the
Phenix which could be renewed in this conflagration, and
the royal Eagle which could penetrate into the ineffable
light and soar from height to heights, whither no other
created being could venture to wing its flight. She ful
filled the end for which the divine Word had assumed
flesh in her virginal womb, namely, to draw on and ele
vate the rational creatures to the Divinity. As She was
the only Creature which did not present the hindrance of
sin and its effects, nor from disordered passions and
appetites, but was free of the downward tendency of our
earthly nature, She flew upward to her Beloved and to
his exalted habitation, not resting until She reached her
Center, which was the Divinity. Moreover She had
always in view the way and the light (John 16, 6), the
incarnate Word, and all her desires and affections met
in the immutable being of the Most High ; and therefore
She hastened on in burning fervor, embracing Her goal
rather than flying towards it, and living more in her love
than in her life.
660. Sometimes, also, the infant God slept under the
watchful care of his happy and fortunate Mother; in
order that also this saying might become true : "I sleep,
but my heart is awake" (Cant. 5, 2). And as this most
holy body of her Son was for Her a most clear mirror,
in which She saw and penetrated the secrets of his deified
Soul and its operations (Wis. 7, 16), She beheld Herself
therein again and again. Especially consoling to the
heavenly Lady was it to see the most holy Soul of her
Son revealed to Her in all its heroic operations as a Pil
grim and yet a Comprehensor, while at the same time his
bodily faculties were lost in the tranquil and beauteous
sleep of childhood, his whole humanity being hypostatically
united to the Divinity. Our language is incapable
of describing the sweet affections and flights of love, and
the heroic acts of the Queen of heaven on these occasions,
and falls far short of the reality; but where words fail,
let faith and love supply the deficiency.
661. Whenever She wished to afford saint Joseph the
consolation of holding the Infant Jesus, the Mother of
God said : "My Son and Lord, look upon thy faithful
servant Joseph with the love of a son and father, and
delight Thyself in the purity of his affectionate soul, so
acceptable in thy eyes." And to saint Joseph She said :
"My Spouse, receive in thy arms the Lord, who holds
in his hands all the orbs of heaven and earth, and who
has given them existence out of his mere bounty. Re
fresh thyself from thy labors in Him who is the glory
of all creation." For these favors saint Joseph returned
most humble thanks; and he was wont to ask his Spouse
whether he could dare to caress the Child. Encouraged
by Her, he would do so; and this privilege made him
forget all the hardships of his labor, and made them easy
and sweet in his eyes. Whenever Mary and Joseph were
at their meals they had with them the Infant; in serving
the meals, the heavenly Queen held Him in her arms,
partaking of the food with great modesty and, in holding
Him, She at the same time afforded her most pure soul
a sweeter and more nourishing food than to the body,
adoring and loving Him as the eternal God, and caressing
Him with the tenderness of a Mother. It is impossible
to conceive the attention which She paid to this double
duty; on the one hand, to fulfill all obligation that was
due to Him as from a creature to its Creator, looking
upon Him in his Divinity, as Son of the eternal Father,
as King of kings, and Lord of lords, as the Maker and
Preserver of all the universe ; and on the other hand, to
give to Him all the. attention that He deserved as an
Infant, serving Him and nursing Him. Betwixt these
two extremes She was entirely inflamed with love, and
her whole being consumed in heroic acts of admiration,
praise and affection. Of all the rest which the two
Spouses did it can only be said that they were the wonder
of the angels, and that they attained the summit of
holiness and of divine pleasure.
662. My daughter, I came into Egypt, where I knew
no relations or friends, in a land of foreign religion,
where I could offer no home or protection or assistance
to my Son, whom I loved so much. It can easily be
understood, then, what tribulations and hardships we suf
fered, since the Lord permitted them to come over Us.
Thou canst not understand with what patience and for
bearance We accepted them ; and even the angels cannot
estimate the reward I merited from the Most High by
the love and resignation with which I bore them, and
which were greater than if I had been in the greatest
prosperity. It is true, I grieved much to see my hus
band in such necessity and want ; but at the same time I
blessed the Lord to be able to suffer them. In this most
noble patience and joy of spirit I wish that thou imitate
me whenever the Lord offers thee an occasion; and that
thou learn to act with prudence interiorly and exteriorly,
ordering well thy actions and thy thoughts, without
hindrance to either of them.
663. When the necessaries of life are wanting to those
under thy charge, exert thyself properly to obtain them.
If sometimes thou must sacrifice thy own tranquillity in
fulfilling this obligation, thou needst not on that account
lose thy peace of mind; especially if thou art mindful
of what I have so often told thee : not to lose sight of
the presence of the Lord; for by his divine light and
grace, if thou art careful and preservest thy peace, thou
canst do all things. Whatever can duly be procured by
human exertion, is not to be expected by a miracle, nor
must one try to exempt himself from labor in the hope
of a supernatural interference on the part of God; for
the Lord sweetly concurs with the ordinary and natural
course of created things. The labor of the body is serv
iceable to the soul as a sacrifice and as an increase of
the merits due to that kind of activity. While at work
the rational creature can praise God and adore Him in
spirit and in truth (John 4, 23). In order to fulfill this
duty, direct thy activity according to his pleasure, con
sult his will in regard to them, weighing them with the
scales of the sanctuary and riveting thy attention upon
the divine light which the Almighty infuses in thy soul.
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