Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 5  Chapter  16    Verses:  175-183

175. The most fortunate of men, saint Joseph,
reached an age of sixty years and a few days. For at
the age of thirty-three he espoused the blessed Virgin
and he lived with Her a little longer than twenty-seven
years as her husband. When saint Joseph died, She
had completed the half of her forty-second year ; for She
was espoused to saint Joseph at the age of fourteen (as
stated in the first part, book second, chapter twenty-sec
ond). The twenty-seven years of her married life com
pleted her forty-first year, to which must be added the
time from the eighth of September until the death of her
blessed spouse. The Queen of heaven still remained in
the same disposition of natural perfection as in her
thirty-third year; for, as already stated in the thirteenth
chapter of this book, She showed no signs of decline,
or of more advanced age, or of weakness, but always
remained in that same most perfect state of womanhood.
She felt the natural sorrow due to the death of saint
Joseph; for She loved him as her spouse, as a man pre
eminent in perfection and holiness, as her protector and
benefactor. This sorrow in the most prudent Lady was
well-ordered and most perfect, but it was far from being
therefore less deep; for her love was great, yea so much
the greater as She was well informed of the high rank
he held among the saints, who are written in the book
of eternal life and in the eternal mind of the Most High.
We do not lose without sorrow what we love in an
ordinary manner ; so much the greater will be our sorrow
for losing what we love much.
176. It is not the purpose of this history to describe
at length the perfections and excellences of saint Joseph,
nor have I any commission to do so, except in so far as
will suffice to point out his dignity and that of our
Queen, to whose merits (next to those of her divine
Son) must be ascribed the gifts and graces conferred by
the Almighty upon this glorious Patriarch. The
heavenly Lady was either the instrumental or meritori
ous cause of the holiness of her spouse, or at least the
final object or purpose of this holiness. For all the vast
perfection of his virtues and graces were conferred upon
saint Joseph for the purpose of making of him a worthy
protector and spouse of Her, whom God selected as his
Mother. According to this standard and according to
the love of God for his most holy Mother is to be meas
ured the holiness of saint Joseph; and from my under
standing of this matter, if there had been in the world
another man more perfect and more worthy, the Lord
would have chosen this other one for the spouse of his
Mother. Since he was chosen by God, saint Joseph was
no doubt the most perfect man upon earth. Having
created and destined him for such a high end, it is cer
tain that God, in his almighty power, prepared and per
fected him in proportion to the exaltedness of his end.
That is (according to our way of thinking), his holiness,
virtues, gifts, graces and infused and natural habits were
made to correspond by divine influence with the end for
which he was selected.
177. I perceive a certain difference in the graces given
to this great Patriarch and those vouchsafed to other
saints; for many saints were endowed with graces and
gifts that are intended not for the increase of their own
sanctity, but for the advance of the service of the Most
High in other souls; they were, so to say, gifts and
graces freely given and not dependent upon the holiness
of the receiver. But in our blessed Patriarch all the
divine favors were productive of personal virtue and
perfection; for the mysterious purpose, toward which
they tended and helped along, was closely connected with
the holiness of his own life. The more angelic and
holy he grew to be, so much the more worthy was he
to be the spouse of most holy Mary, the depository and
treasure-house of heavenly sacraments. He was to be
a miracle of holiness, as he really was. This marvelous
holiness commenced with the formation of his body in
the womb of his Mother. In this the providence of God
himself interfered, regulating the composition of the
four radical humors of his body with extreme nicety
of proportion and securing for him that evenly tempered
disposition which made his body a blessed earth fit for
the abode of an exquisite soul and well-balanced mind
(Wisdom 8, 19). He was sanctified in the womb of his
mother seven months after his conception, and the leaven
of sin was destroyed in him for the whole course of his
life, never having felt any impure or disorderly move
ment. Although he did not receive the use of his reason
together with this first sanctification, which consisted
principally in justification from original sin, yet his
mother at the time felt a wonderful joy of the Holy
Ghost. Without understanding entirely the mystery she
elicited great acts of virtue and believed that her Son,
or whomever she bore in her womb, would be wonder
ful in the sight of God and men.
178. The holy child Joseph was born most beautiful
and perfect of body and caused in his parents and in his
relations an extraordinary delight, something like that
caused by the birth of saint John the Baptist, though
the cause of it was more hidden. The Lord hastened
in him the use of his reason, perfecting it in his third
year, endowing it with infused science and augmenting
his soul with new graces and virtues. From that time
the child began to know God by faith, and also by natural
reasoning and science, as the cause and Author of all
things. He eagerly listened and understood profoundly
all that was taught him in regard to God and his works.
At this premature age he already practiced the highest
kinds of prayer and contemplation and eagerly engaged
in the exercise of the virtues proper to his youth; so
that, at the time when others come to the use of reason,
at the age of seven years or more, saint Joseph was
already a perfect man in the use of it and in holiness.
He was of a kind disposition, loving, affable, sincere,
showing inclinations not only holy but angelic, growing
in virtue and perfection and advancing toward his
espousal with most holy Mary by an altogether Jrreproachable
179. For the confirmation and increase of his good
qualities was then added the intercession of the blessed
Lady; for as soon as She was informed that the Lord
wished Her to enter the married state with him, She
earnestly besought the Lord to sanctify saint Joseph and
inspire him with most chaste thoughts and desires in
conformity with her own. The Lord listened to her
prayer and permitted Her to see what great effects his
right hand wrought in the mind and spirit of the
patriarch saint Joseph. They were so copious, that they
cannot be described in human words. He infused into
his soul the most perfect habits of all the virtues and
gifts. He balanced anew all his faculties and filled him
with grace, confirming it in an admirable manner. In
the virtue and perfection of chastity the holy spouse was
elevated higher than the seraphim ; for the purity, which
they possessed without body, saint Joseph possessed in
his earthly body and in mortal flesh ; never did an image
of the impurities of the animal and sensible nature
engage, even for one moment, any of his faculties. This
freedom from all such imaginations and his angelic sim
plicity fitted him for the companionship and presence of
the most Pure among all creatures, and without this
excellence he would not have been worthy of so great a
dignity and rare excellence.
180. Also in the other virtues he was wonderfully
distinguished, especially in charity; for he dwelt at the
fountainhead of that living water, which flows on to
eternal life (John 4, 14) ; he was in close proximity to
that sphere of fire and was consumed without resistance.
The best that can be said of the charity of our saint is
what I have already said in the preceding chapter;
namely, that his love of God was really the cause of his
mortal sickness and of his death. The manner of his
death was a privilege of his singular love, for his sweet
sighs of love surpassed and finally put an end to those of
his sickness, being far more powerful. As the objects
of his love, Christ and his Mother, were present with
him always and as both of Them were more closely
bound to him than to any of the woman-born, his most
pure and faithful heart was unavoidably consumed by the
loving effects of such a close union. Blessed be the
Author of such great wonders and blessed be the most
fortunate of mortals, saint Joseph, who so worthily
corresponded to their love. He deserves to be known
and extolled by all the generations of men and all
nations, since the Lord has wrought such things with no
other man and to none has He shown such love.
181. The divine visions and revelations vouch
safed to saint Joseph, I have particularly men
tioned in the course of this history (Vol. II 422, 423,
471); but there were many more than can be de
scribed, and the greatest of them all was his hav
ing known the mysteries of the relation between
Christ and his Mother and his having lived in their
company for so many years as the putative father of the
Lord and as the true spouse of the Queen of heaven.
But I have been informed concerning certain other
privileges conferred upon saint Joseph by the Most High
on account of his great holiness, which are especially
important to those who ask his intercession in a proper
manner. In virtue of these special privileges the inter
cession of saint Joseph is most powerful: first, for
attaining the virtue of purity and overcoming the sen
sual inclinations of the flesh; secondly, for procuring
powerful help to escape sin and return to the friendship
of God ; thirdly, for increasing the love and devotion to
most holy Mary; fourthly, for securing the grace of a
happy death and protection against the demons in that
hour; fifthly, for inspiring the demons with terror at
the mere mention of his name by his clients; sixthly,
for gaining health of body and assistance in all kinds of
difficulties; seventhly, for securing issue of children in
families. These and many other favors God confers
upon those who properly and with good disposition
seek the intercession of the spouse of our Queen, saint
Joseph. I beseech all the faithful children of the Church
to be very devout to him and they will experience these
favors in reality, if they dispose themselves as they
should in order to receive and merit them.
182. My daughter, although thou hast described my
spouse, saint Joseph, as the most noble among the
princes and saints of the heavenly Jerusalem ; yet neither
canst thou properly manifest his eminent sanctity, nor
can any of the mortals know it fully before they arrive
at the vision of the Divinity. Then all of them will be
filled with wonder and praise as the Lord will make
them capable of understanding this sacrament. On the
last day, when all men shall be judged, the damned will
bitterly bewail their sins, which prevented them from
appreciating this powerful means of their salvation,
and availing themselves, as they easily could have, of
this intercessor to gain the friendship of the just Judge.
The whole human race has much undervalued the privi
leges and prerogatives conceded to my blessed spouse and
they know not what his intercession with God is able to
do. I assure thee, my dearest, that he is one of the greatly
favored personages in the divine presence and has
immense power to stay the arms of divine vengeance.
183. I desire that thou be very thankful to the divine
condescension for vouchsafing thee so much light and
knowledge regarding this mystery, and also for the
favor which I am doing thee therein. From now on,
during the rest of thy mortal life, see that thou advance
in devotion and in hearty love toward my spouse, and
that thou bless the Lord for thus having favored him
with such high privileges and for having rejoiced me so
much in the knowledge of all his excellences. In all thy
necessities thou must avail thyself of his intercession.
Thou shouldst induce many to venerate him and see that
thy own religious distinguish themselves in their devo
tion to him. That which my spouse asks of the Lord in
heaven is granted upon the earth and on his intercession
depend many and extraordinary favors for men, if they
do not make themselves unworthy of receiving them.
All these privileges were to be a reward for the amiable
perfection of this wonderful saint and for his great
virtues; for divine clemency is favorably drawn forth
by them and looks upon saint Joseph with generous
liberality, ready to shower down its marvelous mercies
upon all those who avail themselves of his intercession.
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