Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 1  Chapter  11    Verses:  134-163

134. In the eighth chapter of the Proverbs, Wisdom says of Itself, that It was present in the Creation, ordering all things conjointly with the Almighty (Prov. 8, 30). And I said above (No. 54) that this Wisdom is the incarnate Word, who with his most holy Mother was present, in spirit, when God resolved upon the creation of the whole world; for in that instant the Son was not only coexistent in divine essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but also the human nature, which He was to assume, was foreseen and conceived as the prototype of all works in the divine mind of the Father. Conjointly with Him was also foreseen as present the human nature of his most holy Mother, who was to conceive Him in her most pure womb. In these two Persons were foreseen all his works, so that on account of Them (speaking in a human way) He overlooked all that could offend Him in the conduct of the men and angels that were to fall; for the conduct of the latter was an inducement rather to desist from the creation of the human race and of the things that were to sub serve for their use.
135. The Most High looked upon his Son and upon his most holy Mother as models, produced in the culmination of his wisdom and power, in order that They might serve as prototypes according to which He was to copy the whole human race. Thus the rest of men de pended on these Two as Mediators between themselves and God. He created also the necessary material beings required for human life, but with such wisdom, that some of them also serve as symbols, to represent in a certain way these two Beings, which He primarily in tended and to which all others were to be subservient, namely, Christ and most holy Mary. On this account He made the luminaries of heaven, the sun and the moon (Gen. 1, 16) so that in dividing the day and the night, they might symbolize the Sun of justice, Christ, and his most holy Mother, who is beautiful as the moon (Cant. 6, 9), for these Two divide the day of grace and the night of sin. The sun illuminates the moon; and both, together with the stars of the firmament, illumine all other creatures within the confines of the universe.
136. He created the rest of the beings and added to their perfection, because they were to be subservient to Christ and most holy Mary, and through them to the rest of men. Before the universe proceeded from its nothingness, He set it as a banquet abundant and un failing, and more memorable than the feast of Assuerus (Esther 1, 3) ; for He was to create man for his delight and to draw him to the enjoyment of his knowledge and love. Like a most courteous and bounteous Lord He did not wish that the invited guests should wait, but that both the creation and the invitation to the banquet of his knowledge and love be one and the same act. Man was not to lose any time in that which concerned him so much : namely, to know and to praise his almighty Maker.
137. On the sixth day he formed and created Adam, as it were of the age of thirty-three years. This was the age in which Christ was to suffer death, and Adam in regard to his body was so like unto Christ, that scarcely any difference existed. Also according to the soul Adam was similar to Christ. From Adam God formed Eve so similar to the Blessed Virgin, that she was like unto Her in personal appearance and in figure. God looked upon these two images of the great Originals with the highest pleasure and benevolence, and on ac count of the Originals He heaped many blessings upon them, as if He wanted to entertain Himself with them and their descendants until the time should arrive for forming Christ and Mary.
138. But the happy state in which God had created the parents of the human race lasted only a very short while. The envy of the serpent was immediately aroused against them, for satan was impatiently awaiting their creation, and no sooner were they created, than his hatred became active against them. However, he was not permitted to witness the formation of Adam and Eve, as he had witnessed the creation of all other things :
for the Lord did not choose to manifest to him the creation of man, nor the formation of Eve from a rib; all these things were concealed from him for a space of time until both of them were joined. But when the demon saw the admirable composition of the human nature, perfect beyond that of any other creature, the beauty of the souls and also of the bodies of Adam and Eve ; when he saw the paternal love with which the Lord regarded them, and how He made them the lords of all creation, and that He gave them hope of eternal life : the wrath of the dragon was lashed to fury, and no tongue can de scribe the rage with which that beast was filled, nor how great was his envy and his desire to take the life of these two beings. Like an enraged lion he certainly would have done so, if he had not known, that a superior force would prevent him. Nevertheless he studied and plotted out some means, which would suffice to deprive them of the grace of the Most High and make them God s enemies.
139. Here Lucifer was deceived; for the Lord had from the beginning mysteriously manifested to him, that the Word was to assume human nature in the womb of the most holy Mary, but not how and when; and thus He had also concealed the creation of Adam and the formation of Eve, in order that Lucifer might from the beginning labor under his ignorance concerning the mys tery and the time of the Incarnation. As his wrath and his watchfulness had thus been so signally forestalled in regard to Christ and Mary, he suspected that Adam had come forth from Eve, and that She was the Mother and Adam the incarnate Word. His suspicions grew, when he felt the divine power, which prevented him from harming the life of these creatures. On the other hand he soon became aware of the precepts of God, for these did not remain concealed from him, since he heard their conversation in regard to them. Being freed more and more from his doubt as he listened to the words of the first parents and sized up their natural gifts, he began to follow them like a roaring lion (I Pet. 5, 8), seeking an entrance through those inclinations, which he found in each of them. Nevertheless, until he was undeceived in the course of the Redemption, he continued to hesitate between his wrath against Christ and Mary and the dread of being overcome by Them. Most of all he dreaded the confusion of being conquered by the Queen of heaven, who was to be a mere creature and not God.
140. Taking courage therefore in the precept, which was given to Adam and Eve, and having prepared the snare, Lucifer entered with all his energy upon the work of entrapping them and of opposing and hindering the execution of the divine Will. He first approached the woman, and not the man, because he knew her to be by nature more frail and weak, and because in tempting her he would be more certain that it was not Christ whom he was encountering. Against her also he was more en raged ever since he had seen the sign in the heaven and since the threat, which God had made in it against him. On all these accounts his wrath was greater against Eve than against Adam. Before he showed himself to her, however, he aroused in her many disturbing thoughts or imaginations, in order to approach her in a state of excitement and pre-occupation. But because I have written about this in another place, I will not enlarge here upon the violence and inhumanity of this temptation ; it is enough for my purpose to mention what Scripture says : that he took the form of a serpent (Gen. 3, 1), and thus speaking to Eve drew her into a conversation, which she should not have permitted. Listening to him and answering, she began to believe him; then she violated the command of God, and finally persuaded her husband likewise to transgress the precept. Thus ruin, overtook them and all the rest: for themselves and for us they lost the happy position, in which God had placed them.
141. When Lucifer saw the two fallen and their interior beauty and grace and original justice changed into the ugliness of sin, he celebrated his triumph with incredible joy and vaunting in the company of his demons. But he soon fell from his proud boasting, when he saw, contrary to his expectations, how kindly the merciful love of God dealt with the delinquents, and how He offered them a chance of doing penance by giving them hope of pardon and return of grace. More over he saw how they were disposing themselves to ward this forgiveness by sorrow and contrition, and how the beauty of grace was restored to them. When the demons perceived the effect of contrition, all hell was again in confusion. His consternation grew, when he heard the sentence, which God pronounced against the guilty ones, in which he himself was implicated. More especially and above all was he tormented by the repetition of that threat: The Woman shall crush thy head (Gen. 3, 15), which he had already heard in heaven.
142. The offspring of Eve multiplied after the fall and so arose the distinction and the multiplication of the good and the bad, the elect and the reprobate, the ones following Christ the Redeemer, and the others following satan. The elect cling to their Leader by faith, humility, charity, patience and all the virtues and in order to obtain victory, they are assisted, helped and beautified by the divine grace and the gifts, which the Redeemer and Lord of all merited for them. But the repro bate, without receiving any such benefits from their false leader, or earning any other reward than the eternal pain and the confusion of hell, follow him in pride, presumption, obscenity and wickedness, being led into these disorders by the father of lies and the originator of sin.
143. Notwithstanding all this the Most High, in his ineffable kindness, gave our first parents his benediction, in order that the human race might grow and multiply (Gen. 4, 3). The most high Providence permitted, that Eve, in the unjust Cain, should bring forth a type of the evil fruits of sin, and in the innocent Abel, both in figure and in imitation, the type of Christ our Lord. For in the first just one the law and doctrine of Christ began to exert its effects. All the rest of the just were to follow it, suffering for justice sake (Matth. 10, 22), hated and persecuted by the sinners and the reprobate and by their own brothers. Accordingly, patience, humility and meekness began to appear in Abel, and in Cain, envy and all wickedness, for the benefit of the just and for his own perdition. The wicked triumph and the good suffer, exhibiting the spectacle, which the world in its progress shows to this day, namely, the Jerusalem of the god-fearing and the Babylon of the godforsaken, each with its own leader and head.
144. The Most High also wished that the first Adam should be the type of the second in the manner of their creation; for, just as before the creation of the first, He created and ordered for him the republic of all the beings, of which he was to be the lord and head; so be fore the appearance of his Only begotten, He allowed many ages to pass by, in order that his Son might, in the multiplied numbers of the human race, find prepared for Himself a people, of which He was to be the Head, the Teacher, and the King. He was not to be even for a moment without a people and without followers : such is the wonderful harmony and order, in which the divine wisdom disposed all things, making that later in the execution, which was first in the intention.
145. As the world progressed in its course, in order that the Word might descend from the bosom of the Father and clothe Itself in our mortality, God selected and prepared a chosen and most noble people, the most admirable of past and future times. Within it also He constituted a most illustrious and holy race, from which He was to descend according to the flesh. I will not linger in detailing the genealogy of Christ our Lord, for the account of the holy Evangelists has made that unnecessary. I will only say, in praise of the Most High, that He has shown to me many times the incomparable love, which He bore toward his people, the favors shown to it, and the mysteries and holy Sacraments, which He entrusted to it, as was afterwards made manifest through his holy Church. For at no time has slept nor slumbered He, who has constituted Himself the watcher of Israel (Ps. 120, 4).
146. He reared most holy Prophets and Patriarchs, who in figures and prophecies announced to us from far off, that, which we have now in possession. He wishes us to venerate them, knowing how they esteemed the law of grace and how earnestly they yearned and prayed for it. To this people God manifested his immutable Essence by many revelations, and they again transmitted these revelations to us by the holy Scriptures, containing immense mysteries, which we grasp and learn to know by faith. All of them, however, are brought to perfection and are made certain by the incarnate Word, who transmitted to us the secure rule of faith and the nourishment of the sacred Scriptures in his Church. Al though the Prophets and the just ones of that people were not so far favored as to see Christ in his body, they nevertheless experienced the liberality of the Lord, who manifested Himself to them by prophecies and who moved their hearts to pray for his coming and for the Redemption of the whole human race. The consonance and harmony of all these prophecies, mysteries and aspirations of the ancient fathers, were a sweet music to the Most High, which resounded in the secret recesses of the Divinity and which regaled and shortened the time (to speak in a human manner) until He should de scend to converse with man.
147. In order not to be detained too much in that, which the Lord has revealed to me regarding this and in order to arrive at the preparations, which the Lord made for sending to the world the incarnate Word and His most holy Mother, I will rehearse these mysteries succinctly according to the order given in the holy Scriptures. Genesis contains that which concerns the beginning and the creation of the world for the human race ; the division of the earth, the chastisement and the restoration, the confusion of tongues, and the origin of the chosen race, humbled in Egypt; and the many other great sacraments revealed to Moses by God, in order that we may be led to know his love and the justice to wards men from the beginning drawing them to his knowledge and service, and to foreshadow that, which He has resolved to do in the future.
148. The book of Exodus contains what happened in Egypt with the chosen people, the plagues and punishments, which God sent in order to rescue them; their departure and march through the sea; the written law given with such great preparations and wonders; and many other great sacraments, which the Lord provided for his people, visiting now their enemies, now them selves with afflictions, chastising their enemies with the severity of a Judge, correcting the Israelites with the benignity of a Father and teaching them to appreciate his benefits by sending severe hardships. He worked great wonders with the staff of Moses, which prefigured the cross on which the incarnate Word was to be sacrificed as the Lamb, a salvation to many, a ruin to others (Luc. 2, 34). It was like the staff of Moses, and like the Red Sea, the waves of which shielded the people and annihilated the Egyptians. Thus he filled the lives of the saints with joys and sorrows, with hardships and with comforts; with infinite wisdom and providence He symbolized in them the life and the death of Christ our Lord.
149. In the book of the Levites He describes and ordains many sacrifices and ceremonies of the law for placating the Divinity; for they were to point out the Lamb, which was to be immolated for all men ; and they pointed out also ourselves, immolated to the Majesty of God in reality, as was prefigured in these sacrifices. It also describes the vestments of Aaron, the high priest and type of Christ, although Christ was not to be of that inferior order but of the order of Melchisedech (Ps. 120, 4).
150. The book of Numbers describes the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert, prefiguring what was to happen with the holy Church, with the Only begotten as man, and with his most holy Mother; and also with the rest of the just, who, in different aspects, were prefigured in the column of fire, in the manna, in the rock giving forth water. It contains also other great mysteries, which are comprehended in the events there recorded, likewise the mysteries pertaining to numbers, in all of which deep secrets are hidden.
151. Deuteronomy is like a second law, a repetition of the first, but given in a different way and prefiguring more closely the law of the Gospels. For as according to the hidden judgments of God and according to the propriety known to his wisdom, the Incarnation of the Son was to be deferred, He renewed and rearranged these laws in order that they might be more like to those, which He was to establish for his Only begotten.
152. Josue or Jesus Nave conducts the people of God into the promised land ; he divides the Jordan to allow the passage of the multitudes, achieves great things, typifying plainly the Redeemer as well in name as in deed. His history represents the destruction of the kingdom of the devil, the separation and the division of the good and bad, which will happen in the last day.
153. After Josue, when the people had already come into the possession of the promised and wished-for land, which primarily and appropriately signifies the Church acquired by Jesus Christ through the price of his blood, comes the book of the Judges. These were ordained by God for the government of his people, especially during the wars, which on account of their sins and idolatries were waged against them by the Philistines and other neighboring enemies. From these God freed and delivered them, whenever they returned to God by penance and amendment of life. In it are also related the deeds of Deborah while judging the people and liberating them from great oppression; also those of Jahel, who helped them to victory, mighty and courageous women both. All these deeds of history prefigure and illustrate what was to happen in the Church.
154. After the generation of the Judges came the Kings, for whom the Israelites petitioned in their desire of imitating the government of the surrounding nations. These books contain great mysteries concerning the coming of the Messias. Heli, the priest, and Saul, the king, prefigure in their death the reprobation of the old law. Sadoc and David, typify the new reign and priesthood of Christ and also the Church with the small number, which were to belong to it in comparison to the rest of men in the world. The other kings of Israel and Juda and their captivities presignify other great mysteries of the holy Church.
155. During the aforesaid times lived the most patient Job, whose words are so mysterious, that there is not one without its profound sacramental meaning concern ing the life of Christ our Lord, the resurrection of the dead, the last judgment in the same flesh, in which each one lives, and concerning the violence and astuteness of the demons and their warfare against men. Above all has God placed him as an example of patience for us mortals, for in him we all may learn how we are to bear our adversities; especially as we have before our eyes the death of Christ, whereas this saint saw Him only at such a distance and yet imitated Him so closely.
156. In the writings of the many and great Prophets moreover, which God sent in the time of the kings to provide for special necessities, not one of the great mysteries and sacraments pertaining to the coming of the Messiah and his law, remained undeclared or unrevealed. The same thing, although more at a distance, God accomplished in the ancient Fathers and Patriarchs. In all this He only multiplied the likenesses, and, as it were, the patterns of the incarnate Word, and prearranged and prepared for Him a people, and the law, which He was to teach.
157. In the three great patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He deposited great and precious pledges calling Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He wished to honor Himself in the name at the same time that He honored them, manifesting his dignity and his excellent virtues and sacraments, and confiding them to their care, in order that they might furnish so honorable a name to God. The patriarch Abraham, in order to prefigure vividly, that which the eternal Father was to do with his Only begotten, was tempted and tried by the command to sacrifice his only son Isaac (Gen. 22, 1). When, however, this obedient father was about to complete the sacrifice, the same Lord, who had given the commandment, impeded its execution; for such a heroic sacrifice was to be reserved to the eternal Father, who alone was to sacrifice in effect his Only begotten: only in a symbolic manner can Abraham be said to have done the same: for thus it will appear, that the zeal of divine love is (Cant. 8, 6) strong as death. It was not how ever beseeming, that such an expressive figure should remain altogether unaccomplished and therefore the sacrifice of Abraham was fulfilled by the killing of a ram, being likewise a figure of the Lamb, which was to pay for the sins of the world (Joan 1, 29).
158. To Jacob was shown that mysterious ladder, full of sacraments and hidden import (Gen. 28, 12), principally to represent the incarnate Word as the way and the means of ascending to the Father, and of his descend ing to us. On it also ascend and descend the angels, who illuminate and guide us, bearing us up in their hands, so that we may not stumble over the rocks of the errors, heresies, and vices, with which the path of mortal life is strewn (Ps. 90, 12). In the midst of them we pass securely up this stairs in the faith and hope of his holy Church, which is the house of the Lord, the portal of heaven and holiness.
159. In order to make him the god of Pharao and the leader of his people He showed to Moses the mystical thornbush, which burned without being consumed and which foreshadowed the Divinity covered with our humanity, leaving the Divinity intact by the humanity and the humanity unconsumed by the Divinity. At the same time it also signified the perpetual virginity of the Mother of the Word, not only of her body, but of her soul, so that, although She was a daughter of Adam and came vested in the sin-tainted nature derived from Adam, She nevertheless was without stain or offense.
160. He raised also for Himself David according to his own heart (I Reg. 13, 14), who worthily sang the praise of the Most High, comprehending in his Psalms all the sacraments and mysteries not only of the law of grace, but of the written and natural law. And the testimonies, judgments and works of the Lord, which were pronounced by his lips, David also treasured up in his heart, meditating on them day and night. In pardoning his enemies, he was an express image and figure of God forgiving us. Thus all his promises concerning the coming of the Redeemer were made more certain to the world.
161. Solomon, the king of peace, was an image of the King of kings ; for by his great wisdom he manifested in different kinds of writings the sacraments and mys teries of Christ, especially in the similitudes of the Canticles. For there he exposed the mysteries of the incarnate Word, of his most holy Mother, of his Church and of the faithful. He taught also right behavior in different ways, opening up a fountain of truth and life-giving knowledge for many other writers.
162. But who can worthily exalt the benefits He provided for his people in the praiseworthy host of holy Prophets, through whom the Lord has spread the light of prophecy, lighting up as from afar the holy Church, and commencing in advance to shed the rays of the Sun of justice and of the efficacious law of grace? The two great Prophets, Isaias and Jeremias, were chosen to preach to us, in a sweet and exalted manner, the mysteries of the Incarnation of the Word, his Birth, Life and Death. Isaias promised us, that a Virgin should conceive and give birth to a Son, who would call him self Emmanuel ; that a little son shall be born- to us, who shall bear his kingdom on his shoulder (Is. 7, 14; 9, 6). All the rest of the life of the Christ he proclaims with such clearness, that his prophecies are like a gospel. Jeremias announces the unheard of wonder, that God will cause a Woman to bear in her womb a man, who is at the same time to be a God and perfect man, who alone can be Christ (Jer. 31, 22). He announced his coming, his passion, ignominy and death (Thren. 3, 28). Wonder and suspense fill me in the consideration of these prophets. Isaias asks the Lord to send the Lamb, which is to rule the world from the rocks of the desert to the mountain of the daughter of Sion ; for this Lamb, the incarnate Word, calls the heavens a desert, where as God He dwelt without the society of men (Is. 16, 1). He calls Him rock, on account of the stability of his throne and of the unaltered rest of eternity which He enjoys. The mountain, from which He is asked to come, is in the mystical sense, the holy Church and first of all, the most holy Mary, the Daughter of the vision of peace, that is Sion. The prophet interposes Her as the Mediatrix, to induce the eternal Father to send his Only begotten, the Lamb. For in all the rest of the human race there was nothing to influence Him so much as to have Her as his Mother, who was to clothe Him with the spotless fleece of the most holy humanity. All this is contained in that most sweet prayer and prophecy of Isaias.
163. Ezekiel also saw this Virgin Mother in the figure and likeness of the closed gate (Ezekiel 44, 2), which was open only for the God of Israel and through which no other man could enter. Habacuc contemplates Christ our Lord on the cross and in most profound words prophesies the mysteries of the Redemption and the wonderful effects of the passion and death of our Redeemer (Hab. 3). Joel describes the land of the twelve tribes, prefiguring the apostles, who were to be the heads of all the sons of the Church. He also announces the descent of the Holy Ghost upon his servants and handmaids, foretelling the time of the coming, and of the life of Christ. And all the other prophets announced in part the same thing, for God wished all his great works to be announced, prophesied and prefigured far in advance and so completely, that they might testify the love and care, which He had for men and with which He enriched his Church. He wished also to reprehend us and convict us of our lukewarmness, since these ancient Fathers and Prophets, seeing only the shadows and figures, were inflamed with divine love and broke forth in canticles of praise and exaltation of the Lord, whereas we, who enjoy the truth and the bright day of grace, remain buried in fortgetfulness of so great benefits, and, forsaking the light, continue to seek the darkness.
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