Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 5  Chapter  13    Verses:  144-152

144. After Jesus had reached his twelfth year our
great Queen and Lady occupied Herself particularly in
the exercises and the mysteries, which I have pointed out
but could not fully describe in the foregoing chapters.
In the course of time our Savior passed the period of his
adolescence at eighteen and his blessed Mother (accord
ing to the dates given in Vol. II P. 138 and 475),
reached her perfect growth in her thirty-third year. I
call it that, because according to the division of man s
life commonly accepted, the age of thirty-three years is
that of full bodily growth and perfection, being the end
of youthful vigor, or, as others would have it, the begin
ning of it. Whatever opinion is accepted, that is the end
of natural perfection of the body and it lasts only a
short time; for immediately corrupted nature, never
remaining in the same state, begins to decline. Like the
moon, which begins to lessen as soon as it has reached
fullness, it never remains in the same state. From that
time on the body does not grow in length, nor can the
increase in bulk be called a perfection, being rather a
defect of nature. On this account our Lord Christ died
at the completion of his thirty-third year; for his most
ardent love induced Him to wait only until his body
should have attained its perfect growth and vigor and
was in all respects most capable of bringing the perfect
gifts of nature and grace to this sacrifice. Not because
divine grace was in need of any growth in Him, but in
order that his human nature might correspond with the
perfection of grace and that nothing might be wanting
even exteriorly to the completeness of his sacrifice for
mankind. In accordance with this it is said, that the
Almighty created Adam and Eve in the condition of a
man and woman at the age of thirty-three years. It is
true, of course, that in the first and second age of the
world the life of man was much longer and, by dividing
the periods of human life at that time, many more years
would have to be counted for each period before the time
of David than after that time, when old age begins at
seventy years.
145. When therefore the Queen of heaven arrived
at her thirty-third year, her virginal body had attained
full natural growth, so well proportioned and beautiful,
that She was the admiration not only of human beings,
but of the angelic spirits themselves. She had grown in
size and stature to the most perfect proportion in all the
parts of her body and most strikingly resembled her
divine Son in features and complexion, when later on
He arrived at that age; always, of course, taking into
account, that Christ was the most perfect Man, while his
Mother was the most perfect Woman. Other mortals,
on account of the decline of the natural humors and
temperature, ordinarily begin to deteriorate and gradu
ally approach decay as far as their body is concerned ; the
exquisite balance of bodily humors is disturbed and the
earthly ones begin to predominate more and more; the
hair begins to whiten, the countenance to wrinkle, the
blood to cool, some of the strength to weaken; and the
whole human frame, in spite of the greatest care, com
mences to decline toward old age and corruption. But
in the most holy Mary it was not so; for the wonderful
beauty and strength, which She had attained at the age
of thirty-three years, remained unchanged; and when
She had reached her seventieth year, as I shall relate
later on, She still retained the same beauty and entirety
of her virginal body as at the age of thirty-three.
146. The blessed Lady was well aware of this special
privilege conceded to Her by the Most High and She
rendered Him most humble thanks. She understood
also that it was granted to Her in order that the like
ness of her most holy Son might always be preserved
in Her, though with the differences consequent upon
her different nature and longer life; for the Lord
attained full bodily growth at thirty-three years, while
She retained it during her much longer life. Saint
Joseph, although he was not so very old at the
time when our blessed Lady reached her thirty-third
year, was much broken and worn out as far as his body
was concerned; for his continual cares, his journeys and
his incessant labors for the sustenance of his Spouse
and of the Lord had weakened him much more than
his years. This was so ordained by the Lord, who, wish
ing to lead him on to the practice of patience and of
other virtues, permitted him to suffer sickness and pain
(as I will relate in the following chapter). His most
prudent Spouse, knowing that he was much weakened
and always haying loved and served him better than any
wife ever did her husband, spoke to him and said : "My
spouse and my master, I am deeply obliged to you for
the faithful labors, watchfulness and care thou hast
bestowed on my welfare. For in the sweat of thy
brow thou hast until now supported me, thy servant, and
my most holy Son, the true God, and in this thy solici
tude, thou hast spent thy strength and the best part of
thy health and of thy life in protecting me and attend
ing upon my welfare. From the hands of the Almighty
thou shalt receive the reward of thy works and the bless
ings of sweetness which thou deservest (Ps. 20, 4).
But now I beseech thee, my master, rest henceforth from
thy labors since thy impaired strength is not any more
equal to them. I wish from now on to show my grati
tude by laboring in thy service and provide for such
sustenance as the Lord wishes us to have."
147. The saint listened to the words of his sweetest
Spouse with abundant tears of humblest acknowledg
ment and consolation. Although he at first earnestly
entreated Her to be allowed to continue forever in his
labors, yet at last he yielded to her request and obeyed
his Spouse, the Mistress of the world. From that time
on he rested from the hard labor of his hands, by which
he had earned a livelihood for all three. They gave
away the carpenter tools as an alms, not wishing to have
anything superfluous or useless in their house and
family. Being thus at leisure, saint Joseph occupied
himself entirely in the contemplation of the mysteries of
which he was the guardian and in the exercise of vir
tues. As He had the happiness and good fortune of con
tinually enjoying the sight and the intercourse of the
divine Wisdom incarnate, and of Her, who was the
Mother of It, this man of God reached such a height of
sanctity, that, his heavenly Spouse excepted, no one ever
surpassed Him and he far outstripped all other creatures.
The blessed Lady, and also her most holy Son, attended
upon him and nursed him in his sickness, consoling and
sustaining him with the greatest assiduity; and hence
there are no words sufficiently expressive of the humility,
reverence and love which all this caused in the simple
and grateful heart of this man of God. He thus became
the admiration and joy of the angels and the pleasure
and delight of the Most High.
148. Thenceforth the Mistress of the world took upon
Herself the task of supporting by her work her most
holy Son and her husband, for such was the will of the
eternal Wisdom in order to raise Mary to the very pin
nacle of all virtues and perfections and in order to fur
nish an example for the confusion of the daughters and
the sons of Adam and Eve. The Lord set up for us
as a model this strong Woman, clothed with beauty and
fortitude. For at this age of thirty-three years She was
to show Herself girded with strength and ready to
extend her hands to the poor, purchasing the field and
cultivating the vineyard by her own labor to bring forth
its fruits. The heart of her husband confided in Her,
and not only that of her husband, Saint Joseph, but also
that of her Son, the true Godman, the Teacher of the
poor and the Poor of the poor: and they were not
deceived (Prov. 31, 10). The great Queen began to
busy Herself much more in spinning and weaving linen
and wool, thus mysteriously fulfilling all that Solomon
says about Her in the Proverbs. But as I have explained
this chapter of Scripture at the end of the first part, I
shall not repeat it here, although much of what I said
then pertains to this period of her life when both inte
riorly and exteriorly She executed it in action.
149. The Lord was not wanting in ability to provide
for his bodily living, that of his blessed Mother and of
saint Joseph; for not in bread alone does man live and
is sustained (Matth. 4, 4) ; He could have created it by
his mere word, as He himself assures us. He could
have each day created the necessary food; but then the
world would have been deprived of this spectacle of his
holy Mother, Lady of the whole world, laboring for their
sustenance; and the Virgin herself would have been
deprived of the reward due to these meritorious works.
All was arranged by the Teacher of our salvation with
admirable providence for the glory of our Queen and
for our instruction. Her diligence and care in these
employments cannot be expressed in words. She
labored much: and because She always lived in retire
ment, She was assisted by that most fortunate woman,
of whom I have spoken before (Vol. II 227, 423). This
woman assumed some of the labor of the great Queen
and performed the necessary errands. But Mary never
used any command when in want of her assistance, but
spoke to her in humble request and with the utmost con
sideration, always seeking to find out her wishes by
asking her whether she would not like to do this or that.
Her blessed Son, like his heavenly Mother, ate no meat;
their nourishment was only fish, fruit and herbs, and
these only in the greatest moderation. For saint Joseph
She procured fleshmeat, and, although their poverty and
want was apparent also in this, yet it was seasoned by
the good will and loving kindness with which She served
it to her spouse. The blessed Lady slept but little, and
often She spent the greater part of the night in work;
for the Lord now permitted her to spend more time in
such employment than in Egypt. Sometimes it happened
that with all her diligence and labor She could not earn
what was necessary; for saint Joseph now had need of
more expensive nourishment and clothes than formerly.
At such times Christ our Lord made use of his almighty
power in multiplying what was in their possession, or
in commanding the angels to bring the necessaries from
elsewhere. But more frequently He miraculously
enabled his most holy Mother to accomplish much in a
short time by the labor of her hands and thus multiply
its results.
150. My daughter, in what thou hast written of my
labors, thou shouldst have received a most exalted doc
trine for thy imitation and direction; but in order that
thou mayest not forget I will now give thee a summary
of it. I wish that thou imitate me in three virtues which
thou wilt find in what thou hast written: they are the
virtues of prudence, charity and justice, so little taken
notice of by mortals. Prudence should teach thee to
provide for the wants of thy neighbor as far as possible
in thy state. Charity should make thee diligent and zeal
ous in coming to their assistance. Justice should oblige
thee to fulfill the obligations of charity, as necessity and
love itself point them out to thee. Thou shouldst be an
eye to the blind, an ear to the deaf, and thy hands
should labor for those that are maimed (Job 29, 15).
Although, on account of thy state of life, thou must
practice this doctrine principally and continually in a
spiritual way, yet I desire that thou take it to the heart
also as far as the temporal and bodily wants of thy
neighbor demand, always striving to be most faithful
in imitating me. For I also provided for the necessities
of my spouse, and held Myself ready to serve and sup
port him, deeming myself obliged thereto; and I ful
filled this obligation with ardent charity until he died.
Although the Lord had given him to me for my sup
port, I faithfully provided for him by my labors as long
as he was unable to perform this task himself. I
judged it to be my duty thus to use the strength given to
me by the Lord and would have considered it a great
fault not to do so with great assiduity.
151. The children of the Church pay no attention to
this example and therefore they have fallen into a perverseness
which greatly exasperates the just Judge. For,
though all mortals, not only since the first sin by which
all incurred work as a punishment, but also from the very
first beginning, were created in order to work (Gen. 2,
15), nevertheless, work is not evenly distributed among
men. The powerful and the rich and those whom the
world calls lords and nobles all try to exempt themselves
from this common law and try to throw this burden
upon the humble and the poor of human society. The
rich keep up their pride and ostentation by the labor and
sweat of the poor, and the powerful draw their strength
from the weakness and helplessness of the lowly. In
many of the proud, by their haughtiness, this perversity
reaches such extremes that they begin to think all this is
due to them and they despise, oppress and trod under foot
the poor (James 2, 6). They falsely suppose that others
are created only in order that they themselves might
enjoy leisure and delight and all the world s goods ; and
in addition to this, they do not even pay the small
wages for these services. In this matter of not paying
proper wages to the poor and to the servants and in
matters of like sort thou wilt find great crimes against
the order and will of the Almighty. But let it be known
that just as the rich pervert justice and reason and refuse
to take their share in human labor, so also will mercy be
inverted for them, and be showered upon the despised
and lowly (Wis. 6, 7). Those who in their pride gave
themselves up to contemptible idleness, shall be chastised
by the demons whom they have imitated.
152. Thou, dearest, take heed against such deception;
let the advantages of earnest labor be always before thy
eyes according to my example; separate thyself from
the children of Belial, who so idly seek vain applause,
and thus labor for naught. Do not deem thyself above
others, because thou art a superior, but deem thyself
more lowly and humble, a slave of all the rest; diligently
serving them all without distinction. If necessary, be
ready to labor for their sustenance and be convinced that
this is incumbent upon thee not only as their superior,
but also because the religious are thy sisters, daughters
of the heavenly Father and creatures of the Lord thy
Spouse. Since thou hast received more than all the
rest at his liberal hand, thou art also obliged to labor
more than they. The weak and ailing relieve of bodily
labor and do their work thyself. I wish that thou not
only avoid charging others with work which thou
canst perform thyself and which belongs to thee, but
that thou assume, as much as possible, that of all the
rest, deeming thyself their inferior and their servant as
I wish thee always to consider thyself. Since thou canst
not do all thyself, and since it is necessary that thou dis
tribute bodily labor among thy subjects, I exhort thee to
observe good order and equity, not putting more labor
upon those who are too humble or weak to object; but
I wish that thou humiliate those who are of a haughty
and proud spirit and are unwilling to occupy themselves
in hard work. However, this must be done without
exasperating them and with a gentle firmness, helping
them to suppress their lukewarmness and want of sub
jection by placing upon them the yoke of holy obedience
in accordance with their profession. In doing this thou
conferrest upon them the greatest blessing and thou only
fulfillest thy own obligation; therefore, thou shouldst
see to it that they understand thee in that way. All this
thou wilt attain if thou make no personal distinctions
and assign to each one the work which she can do, and
what is appropriate to her ; obliging and compelling eachone
with equity and justice to abhor idleness and laxity,
and let them see thee engaged in the hardest and most
difficult work. Thereby thou wilt gain an humble liberty
of commanding them; but what thou canst do thyself,
command no one, in order that thou mayest enjoy the
fruit and the reward of labor in imitation of me and in
obeying all that I advise and remind thee of.
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