Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 5  Chapter  25    Verses:  274-283

274. By the testimony which the eternal Truth had
vouchsafed to give of the Divinity of Christ our Savior,
his Person and his teachings were so fully accredited be
fore men that He could have immediately begun his
public life and his divine activity and miracles, so that
all should have recognized Him as the natural Son of
the eternal Father, as the Messias of the Jews, and the
Savior of men. Nevertheless the divine Teacher of all
holiness did not wish to commence his preaching nor to
be known as our Redeemer without having first
triumphed over our enemies, over the world, the demon
and the flesh, in order that afterwards He might so much
the more easily overcome the hellish deceits continually
spread about by satan. By his heroic exercises of virtue
He wished to give us the first lesson of a Christian and
spiritual life and to teach us by these triumphs of Chris
tian perfection, how we are to strengthen our weakness
and discourage our common enemies by continued battle
and victories, lest we be otherwise delivered over to
them by the fluctuations of our own wills. Although
the Lord, as being God, was infinitely above the demon
and, as man without deceit of sin, supremely holy and
the Master over all creation (I Pet. 2, 22) ; He never
theless wished to overcome in his human nature, by his
personal justice and holiness, all the vices and their
author ; and, therefore, He offered his most holy human
ity to the bufferings of temptation, concealing his supe
riority from his invisible enemies.
275. By his retirement Christ our Lord began to con
quer and taught us to conquer the world; for it is an
established fact that the world is accustomed to forsake
those whom it does not need for its earthly purposes,
that it does not seek those who themselves do not seek it.
Therefore, he who really despises the world must show
his contempt by ceasing to have any connection with it in
his affections and aspirations. The Lord vanquished
also the flesh, teaching us to overcome it by imposing
upon his most innocent body such a severe and prolonged
fast; though his body showed no rebellion toward the
good nor any inclinations to evil. The devil He van
quished by the preaching of the truth, as I shall explain
more fully afterward; for all the temptations of the
father of lies are wont to come cloaked and veiled in
deceitful snares. That the Lord should not enter upon
his public teaching and make Himself known to the
world before He had gained his triumphs over the body
is another warning and admonition against the weakness
of our flesh. He wished to caution us against the honors
of this world, even those that accrue to us from super
natural favors, as long as our passions are not con
quered and as long as we have not vanquished our
common enemies. For if the applause of men finds us
unmortified and still living under the influence of the
enemies within our own selves, the favors and blessings
of the Lord offer us little security and the wind of vain
glory may overturn even the towering mountains of
virtues. It imports much to all men to remember that we
carry the treasures of heaven in most fragile vases (II
Cor. 4, 7) ; and that, if God wishes to glorify his name
by our weakness, He will know by what means He shall
draw his doings to light. Avoidance of the enemy alone
is incumbent upon us and most suitable.
276. Without delay Christ our Lord pursued his jour
ney from the Jordan to the desert after his Baptism.
Only his holy angels attended and accompanied Him,
serving and worshipping Him, singing the divine praises
on account of what He was now about to undertake for
the salvation of mankind. He came to the place chosen
by Him for his fast : a desert spot among bare and bee
tling rocks, where there was also a cavern much con
cealed. Here He halted, choosing it for his habitation
during the days of his fast (Matth. 4, 1). In deepest
humility He prostrated Himself upon the ground which
was always the prelude of his prayer and that of his most
blessed Mother. He praised the eternal Father and gave
Him thanks for the works of his divine right hand and
for having according to his pleasure afforded Him this
retirement. In a suitable manner He thanked even this
desert for accepting his presence and keeping Him hidden
from the world during the time He was to spend there.
He continued his prayers prostrate in the form of a cross,
and this was his most frequent occupation in the desert;
for in this manner He often prayed to the eternal Father
for the salvation of men. During these prayers, for
reasons which I shall explain when I come to the prayer
in the garden, He sometimes sweated blood.
277. Many of the wild beasts of the desert came to
the neighborhood now inhabited by their Creator;
for He sometimes walked about in these regions. With
an admirable instinct they recognized Him and gave
forth their voices, moving about as if in testimony of
his Divinity. But the birds of heaven of which great
multitudes gathered around the Savior, were especially
eager in their demonstrations, manifesting their joy at
the blessed presence of their divine King and Lord by
their sweet and loud singing and in divers other ways.
After the Savior had begun his fast He persevered
therein without eating anything for forty days, offer
ing up his fast to the eternal Father as a satisfaction for
the disorder and sins to which men are drawn by the
so vile and debasing, yet so common and even so
much esteemed vice of gluttony. Just as our Lord over
came this vice so He also vanquished all the rest, and He
made recompense to the eternal Judge and supreme
Legislator for the injuries perpetrated through these
vices by men. According to the enlightenment vouch
safed to me, our Savior, in order to assume the office
of Preacher and Teacher and to become our Mediator
and Redeemer before the Father, thus vanquished all
the vices of mortals and He satisfied the offenses com
mitted through them by the exercises of the virtues con
trary to them, just as He did in regard to gluttony.
Although He continued this exercise during all his life
with the most ardent charity, yet during his fast He
directed in a special manner all his efforts toward this
278. A loving Father, whose sons have committed
great crimes for which they are to endure the most hor
rible punishment, sacrifices all his possessions in order
to ward off their impending fate: so our most loving
Father and Brother, Jesus Christ, wished to pay our
debts. In satisfaction for our pride He offered his
profound humility; for our avarice, his voluntary pov
erty and total privation of all that was his ; for our base
and lustful inclinations, his penance and austerity; for our
hastiness and vengeful anger, his meekness and charity
toward his enemies; for our negligence and laziness, his
ceaseless labors; for our deceit fulness and our envy, his
candid and upright sincerity and truthfulness and the
sweetness of his loving intercourse. In this manner He
continued to appease the just Judge and solicited pardon
for us disobedient and bastard children; and He not
only obtained this pardon for them, but He merited for
them new graces and favors, so that they might make
themselves worthy of his company and of the vision of
his Father and his own inheritance for all eternity.
Though He could have obtained all this for us by the
most insignificant of his works; yet He acted not like we.
He demonstrated his love so abundantly, that our in
gratitude and hardness of heart will have no excuse.
279. In order to keep informed of the doings of our
Savior the most blessed Mary needed no other assistance
than her continual visions and revelations; but in addi
tion to all these, She made use of the service of her holy
angels, whom She sent to her divine Son. The Lord
himself thus ordered it, in order that, by means of these
faithful messengers, both He and She might rejoice in
the sentiments and thoughts of their inmost hearts faith
fully rehearsed by these celestial messengers; and thus
They each heard the very same words as uttered by Each,
although both Son and Mother already knew them in
another way. As soon as the great Lady understood
that our Redeemer was on the way to the desert to ful
fill his intention, She locked the doors of her dwelling,
without letting any one know of her presence; and her
retirement during the time of our Lord s fast was so
complete, that her neighbors thought that She had left
with her divine Son. She entered into her oratory and re
mained there for forty days and nights without ever
leaving it and without eating anything, just as She knew
was done by her most holy Son. Both of them observed
the same course of rigorous fasting. In all his prayers
and exercises, his prostrations and genuflections She fol
lowed our Savior, not omitting any of them; moreover
She performed them just at the same time ; for, leaving
aside all other occupations, She thus profited by the in
formation obtained from the angels and by that other
knowledge, which I have already described. Whether
He was present or not, She knew the interior opera
tions of the soul of Christ. All his bodily movements,
which She had been wont to perceive with her own
senses, She now knew by intellectual vision or through
her holy angels.
280. While the Savior was in the desert He made
every day three hundred genuflections, which also was
done by our Queen Mary in her oratory; the other por
tions of her time She spent in composing hymns with
the angels, as I have said in the last chapter. Thus imi
tating Christ the Lord, the Holy Queen co-operated with
Him in all his prayers and petitions, gaining the same
victories over the vices, and on her part proportionately
satisfying for them by her virtues and her exertions.
Thus it happened, that, while Christ as our Redeemer
gained for us so many blessings and abundantly paid all
our debts, most holy Mary, as his Helper and our
Mother, lent us her merciful intercession and became our
Mediatrix to the fullest extent possible to a mere crea
281. My daughter, corporal penances are so appro
priate and fitted to mortal creatures, that the ignorance
of this truth and the neglect and contempt of bodily
mortification cause the loss of many souls and bring
many more into the danger of eternal loss. The first
reason why men should afflict their body and mortify
their flesh is their having been conceived in sin (Ps. 50,
7). By this original sin human nature is depraved,
filled with passions, rebellious to reason, inclined to evil
and adverse to the spirit (Rom. 7, 23). If the soul
allows itself to be carried away by them, it will be precip
itated by the first vice into many others. But if this
beastly flesh is curbed by mortification and penance, it
loses its strength and acknowledges the authority of the
spirit and the light of truth. The second reason is that
none of the mortals have altogether avoided sinning
against God; and the punishment and retribution must
inevitably correspond to the guilt, either in this life or
the next; therefore, as the soul commits sin in union with
the body, it follows that both of them must be punished.
The interior sorrow is not sufficient for atonement, if the
flesh seeks to evade the punishment corresponding to the
guilt. Moreover, the debt is so great and the satisfac
tion that can be given by the creature so limited and
scanty that there remains continual uncertainty whether
the Judge is satisfied even after the exertions of a whole
lifetime: hence, the soul should find no rest to the end
of life.
282. Even though divine clemency is so liberal with
men, that, if they try to satisfy for their sins by penance
as far as their limited capacity goes, God remits their
offenses and in addition thereto has promised the guilty
ones new gifts and graces and eternal rewards: yet his
faithful and prudent servants, who really love their
Lord, are constrained voluntarily to add other penances ;
for the debtor who merely wishes to do what he is
obliged to and adds nothing of his own freewill, cer
tainly pays his debts, but will remain poor and destitute.
if after payment of his debts nothing remains. What
then are those to expect, who neither pay nor make any
efforts towards paying? The third reason for bodily
mortification, and the most urgent one, is the duty of
Christians to imitate their divine Teacher and Master.
Moreover, my divine Son and I, without being guilty of
any faults, or bad inclinations, devoted ourselves to
labors and made our lives a continual practice of pen
ance and mortification of the flesh. It was thus that the
Lord saw fit to attain the glory of his body and of his
holy name, and He wished me to follow Him in all
things. If We then pursued such a course of life because
it was reasonable, what must be thought of mortals that
seek nought but sweetness and delight, and abhor all
penances, affronts, ignominies, fasting and mortifica
tion? Shall then only Christ, our Lord, and I suffer all
these hardships while the guilt-laden debtors and deservers
of all these punishments throw themselves head
over heels into the filth of their carnal inclinations?
Shall they employ their faculties, given to them for the
service of Christ, my Lord, and for his following, merely
in dancing attendance on their lusts and the devil, who
has introduced evil into the world? This absurd posi
tion, maintained by the children of Adam, is the cause of
great indignation in the just Judge.
283. It is true, my daughter, that by the bodily afflic
tions and mortifications of my most blessed Son, the de
fects and deficiencies of human merits have been atoned
for; and that He wished me, as a mere creature and as
one taking the place of other creatures, to co-operate
with Him most perfectly and exactly all in his penances
and exercises. But this was not in order to exempt men
from the practice of penance, but in order to encourage
them to it; for in order merely to save them, it was not
necessary to suffer so much. Our blessed Savior, as a
true Father and Brother, wished also to enhance the
labors and penances of those who were to follow in his
footsteps; for the efforts of creatures are of little value
in the eyes of God unless they are made precious by the
merits of Christ. If this is true of works which are
entirely virtuous and perfect, how much more is it true
of those which are infected with so many faults and
deficiencies, even in the greatest acts of virtue, as ordi
narily performed by the children of Adam ? For in the
works of even the most spiritual and virtuous persons
many deficiencies occur. These deficiencies are made
good by the merits of Christ, our Lord, so that the
works of men may become acceptable to the eternal
Father. But those who neglect good works and remain
altogether idle can by no means expect to apply to
themselves the good works of Christ; for they have in
themselves nothing that can be perfected by the works of
Christ, but only such things as deserve condemnation. I
do not speak now, my daughter, of the damnable error of
some of the faithful, who have introduced into the
works of penance the sensuality and vanity of the world,
so that they merit greater punishment for their penance
than for their sins, since they foster in their penances
vain and imperfect purposes and forget the supernatural
ends of penance, which alone give value to penance and
life to the soul. On some other occasion, if necessary,
I will speak of this error; do thou now deplore this
blindness and labor with great zeal; for if thy labors
were even as great as that of the Apostles, Martyrs,
Confessors, they would be no greater than they should
be. Chastise thy body with ever greater severity, and
remember that thou art deficient in many things, while
thou hast but a short life and art so weak and incapable
of repaying thy debts.
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