Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 5  Chapter  26    Verses:  284-297

284. In the twentieth chapter I have related how
Lucifer came forth from the infernal caverns in order
to find and tempt the divine Master. I mentioned also
that the Lord concealed Himself in the desert, where,
after a fast of about forty days, He permitted the
tempter to approach Him, as told by the Evangelists
(Matth. 4, 2). Coming to the desert and finding the
object of his search alone, Lucifer was highly rejoiced;
for he found Jesus separated from his Mother, whom he
and his satellites esteemed their Enemy on account of
the defeats they had suffered at her hands. As he never
had entered into any contest with the Lord, and as Mary
was absent, the dragon in his pride accounted his victory
secure. But when Lucifer and the other demons ob
served their Opponent more closely, they began to feel
great fear and discouragement. Not because they recog
nized his Divinity, for of this they had no suspicions as
long as they saw Him so despised ; nor because of any pre
vious experience with Him, for as yet they had measured
their forces only with the heavenly Queen; but because
they saw manifested in his exterior so much reserve and
so much majesty, and because his actions were so per
fect and heroic, that they inspired great fear and dread.
His behavior and his condition were totally different
from those of other men, whom they had tempted and
easily overcome. Lucifer conferred about these matters
with his demons, saying : "What manner of man is this,
who is so adverse to the vices by which we assail other
men? If He is so forgetful of the world and has his
flesh in such entire subjection and control, how shall we
find any opening for our temptations? How shall we
hope for victory, if He has deprived us of the weapons,
by which we make warfare among men? I have many
misgivings about this contest." So great is the value and
power of contempt of the world and subjection of the
flesh, that they fill with terror the devil and all hell;
and the demons would not rise up against us in such
pride, if they would not find men subject to these tyrants
before he comes to tempt them.
285. Christ the Savior permitted Lucifer to remain
under the false impression, that He was a mere human
creature though very holy and just; He wished to raise
his courage and malice for the contest, for such is the
effect of any advantages espied by the devil in his attacks
upon the victims of his temptations. Rousing his cour
age by his own arrogance, he began this battle in the
wilderness with greater prowess and fierceness than the
demons ever exhibited in their battles with men. Lucifer
and his satellites strained all their power and malice,
lashing themselves into fury against the superior
strength which they soon found in Christ our Lord.
Yet our Savior tempered all his actions with divine
wisdom and goodness, and in justice and equity con
cealed the secret source of his infinite power, exhibiting
just so much as would suffice to prove Him to be a
man so far advanced in holiness as to be able to gain
these victories against the infernal foes. In order to
begin the battle as man, He directed a prayer to the
eternal Father from his inmost soul, to which the intel
ligence of the demon could not penetrate, saying: "My
Father and eternal God, I now enter into battle with the
enemy in order to crush his power and humble his pride
and his malice against my beloved souls. For thy glory
and for the benefit of souls I submit to the daring pre
sumption of Lucifer. I wish thereby to crush his head
in order that when mortals are attacked by his tempta
tions without their fault, they may find his arrogance
already broken. I beseech Thee, my Father, to remember
my battle and victory in favor of mortals assailed by
the common enemy. Strengthen their weakness through
my triumph, let them obtain victory; let them be en
couraged by my example, and let them learn from Me
how to resist and overcome their enemies."
286. During this battle the holy angels that attended
upon Christ were hidden from the sight of Lucifer, in
order that he might not begin to understand and suspect
the divine power of our Savior. The holy spirits gave
glory and praise to the Father and the Holy Ghost, who
rejoiced in the works of the incarnate Word. The most
blessed Virgin also from her oratory witnessed the
battle in the manner to be described below. The tempta
tion of Christ began on the thirty-fifth day of his fast
in the desert, and lasted to the end of the fast, as related
by the Evangelists. Lucifer assumed the shape of a
man and presented himself before the Lord as a stranger,
who had never seen or known Him before. He clothed
himself in refulgent light, like that of an angel, and,
conjecturing that the Lord after his long fast must be
suffering great hunger, he said to Him: "If Thou be
the Son of God, command that these stones be made
bread" (Matth. 4, 3). By thus cunningly resting his
advice on the supposition of his being the Son of God,
the demon sought some information on what was giving
him the greatest concern. But the Savior of the world
answered only in these few words : "Not in bread alone
doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from
the mouth of God." Christ took the words from the
eighth chapter of Deuteronomy. But the devil did not
penetrate into the meaning given to these words by
Christ for Lucifer understood Him to mean, that God
could sustain the life of man without bread or any other
nourishment. But though this was also the true signifi
cation of these words, yet our divine Master included
a much deeper meaning; desiring by these words to say
to the devil : This Man, with whom thou speakest, lives
in the word of God, which is the divine Word, hypostatically
united to his humanity. Though that was pre
cisely what the Lucifer desired so much to know, he
did not deserve to understand the words of the Godman,
because He did not wish to adore Him as true God.
287. Lucifer found himself repulsed by the force of
this answer and by the hidden power which accompanied
it; but he wished to show no weakness, nor desist from
the contest. The Lord allowed the demon to continue
in his temptation and for this purpose permitted Himself
to be carried by the devil bodily to Jerusalem and to be
placed on the pinnacle of the temple. Here the Lord
could see multitudes of people, though He himself was
not seen by anybody. Lucifer tried to arouse in the
Lord the vain desire of casting Himself down from this
high place, so that the crowds of men, seeing Him un
hurt, might proclaim Him as a great and wonderful man
of God. Again using the words of the holy Scriptures,
he said to Him: "If Thou be the Son of God, cast
Thyself down, for it is written (Ps. 90, 11) : that He
hath given his angels charge over Thee, and in their
hands they shall bear Thee up, lest perhaps Thou dash
thy foot against a stone" (Matth. 4, 6). The heavenly
spirits who accompanied their King, were full of wonder,
that He should permit Lucifer to carry Him bodily in
his hands, solely for the benefit of mortal man. With
the prince of darkness were gathered innumerable de
mons; for on that occasion hell was almost emptied of
its inhabitants in order to furnish assistance for this
enterprise. The Author of wisdom answered: "It is
also written: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy
God" (Deut. 6, 16). While giving these answers the
Redeemer of the world exhibited a matchless meekness,
profoundest humility, and a majesty so superior to all
the attempts of satan, as was of itself alone sufficient to
crush Lucifer s arrogance and to cause him torments and
confusion never felt before.
288. Being thus foiled, he attacked our Lord in still
another way, seeking to rouse his ambition by offering
Him some share in his dominion. For this purpose he
took the Lord upon a high mount, from whence could
be seen many lands, and said to Him with perfidious
daring: "All these will I give to Thee, if falling down,
Thou wilt adore me" (Matth. 4, 9). Exorbitant bold
ness, and more than insane madness and perfidy ! Offer
ing to the Lord what he did not possess, nor ever could
give, since the earth, the stars, the kingdoms, princi
palities, riches and treasures, all belong to the Lord,
and He alone can give or withhold them when it serves
and pleases Him! Never can Lucifer give anything,
even not of the things of the earth, and therefore all
his promises are false. The King and Lord answered
with imperial majesty: "Begone, satan, for it is written:
Tlie Lord thy God thou shalt adore, and Him only shalt
tliuu serve." By this command, "Begone satan," Christ
the Redeemer took away from Lucifer permission further
to tempt Him, and hurled him and all his legions into
the deepest abysses of hell. There they found themselves
entirely crushed and buried in its deepest caverns, unable
to move for three days. When they were permitted
again to rise, seeing themselves thus vanquished and
annihilated, they began to doubt whether He, who had
so overwhelmed them, might not be the incarnate Son
of God. In this doubt and uncertainty they remained,
without ever being able to come to certain conviction until
the death of the Savior. Lucifer was overcome by hellish
wrath at his defeat and was almost consumed in his
289. Our divine Conqueror Christ then sang hymns
of praise and thanks to the eternal Father for having
given Him this triumph over the common enemy of
God and man ; and amid the triumphal songs of a multi
tude of angels, He was borne back to the desert. They
carried Him in their hands, although He had not need
of their help, since He could make use of his own divine
power; but this service of the angels was due to Him
in recompense for enduring the audacity of Lucifer in
carrying to the pinnacle of the temple and to the moun
tain top the sacred humanity of Christ, in which dwelt
substantially and truly the Divinity itself. It would
never have entered into the thoughts of man, that the
Lord should give such a permission to satan, if it had
not been made known to us in the Gospels. But I do
not know which deserves the greater astonishment : that
He should consent to be carried about from one place
to another by Lucifer, who did not know Him; or that
He should allow Himself to be sold by Judas, or to be
received in the holy Sacrament by this treacherous dis
ciple and by so many sinful members of the Church, who
do know Him to be their God and yet receive Him
unworthily. What we certainly must wonder at, is that
He permitted as well the one as the other and that He
continues to permit it for our benefit and in order to
draw us to Him by his meekness and by his patient love.
O sweetest master of my soul! How sweet, and kind,
and merciful art Thou not toward the souls! (Joel 2,
13). Out of purest love Thou didst descend from heaven
to earth for them, Thou didst suffer and give away thy
life for their salvation. Mercifully Thou waitest for
them and bearest with them, Thou callest and seekest
after them ; Thou receivest them and dost enter into their
bosom; Thou yieldest Thyself entirely to them and anx
iously desirest them to be thine. What transfixes and
bursts my heart, is that, while Thou seekest to draw us
to Thee out of pure love, we fly from Thee and respond
to all Thy excesses of love only by ingratitude. O
immense love of my God, so badly repaid and so little
acknowledged! Give me, O Lord, fountains of tears to
weep over this wrong, which is so deeply to be deplored,
and let all the just of the earth help me. When the
Lord had been carried back to the desert, the angels,
according to the Gospel, ministered unto Him (Matth.
4, 11); for at the end of his temptation and fast they
served Him with a celestial food, in order that his sacred
body might again be invigorated. Not only were the
angels present to rejoice at this divine banquet, but also
the birds of the desert came in order to contribute to the
recreation of their Creator by their harmonious songs
and graceful movements ; and in their own way the wild
animals of the desert joined them, throwing off their
native wildness and producing their joyful antics and
sounds in acknowledgment of the victory of their Lord.
290. Let us return to Nazareth, where, in her oratory,
the Princess of the angels had witnessed the battles of
her most holy Son. She had seen them all by the divine
light already described and by the uninterrupted mes
sages of her angels, who brought them back and forth
between the Savior and the blessed Queen. She repeated
the same prayers as the Lord and at the same time . She
entered likewise into the conflict with the dragon, al
though invisibly and spiritually. From her retreat She
anathemized and crushed Lucifer and his followers,
co-operating in all the doings of Christ in our favor.
When She perceived that the demon carried the Lord
from place to place, She wept bitterly, because the
malice of sin reduced the King of kings to such misusage.
In honor of all the victories, which He gained
over the devil, She composed hymns of praise to the
Divinity and the most holy humanity of Christ, while
the angels set them to music and were sent with them
to congratulate Him for the blessings won for the
human race. Christ on his part sent back the angels
with words of sweet consolation and rejoicing on ac
count of his triumphs over Lucifer.
291. And since She had been his faithful companion
and sharer in his labors and fasts of the desert, the
Lord sent Her some of the celestial food and com
manded the angels to present and minister it to Her.
Wonderful to record, the great multitudes of the birds
that had gathered around the Savior, flew after these
angels with a heavier, yet an exceedingly swift flight,
and entered the dwelling of the Queen of heaven and
earth; and while the blessed Lady partook of the food
sent to her by her Son, they sang and chirped before
our Lady in the same way as they had done in the
presence of the Savior. The most holy Virgin tasted
the heavenly food, now even more precious to Her,
since it came from and was blessed by the hands of
her Son; and by it She was again rejoiced and strength
ened after her long and rigorous fast. She gave thanks
to the Almighty and humiliated Herself to the very
earth; and the acts of her virtue were so heroic and
excellent, that our words and conceptions are not
able to encompass them. We shall see them in their
true light, when we shall rejoice with the Lord; then
we shall give glory and praise for these ineffable bless
ings, as is due Him from all the human race.
292. Queen of all the heavens and Mistress of the uni
verse, thy kind condescension emboldens me to ask Thee,
as my Teacher and Mother, for information concerning
a certain doubt raised in my mind by the mention of
the celestial food, which the angels served to the Savior
in the desert. I understood it to be of the same quality
as that served to Thee and to the Lord on other occa
sions, when the ordinary food was wanting. I have
called it celestial food, because I had no other name
for it; yet I do not know if that name is appropriate.
For I am uncertain whence this food was procured and
what was its nature. In heaven I understand, there
is no need of bodily food, for there the earthly mode
of sustaining life is not continued. Although the
blessed enjoy also sensible delight from created objects,
and also the taste must have its proper function in
heaven just as the other senses, I suspect that its
pleasures are not derived from the eating of food, but
from some overflow of the soul s glory into the body
and its senses. Thus the grossness and imperfection
of the senses in mortal life have no share in their
heavenly activity and in its objects. Of all this, I,
being so ignorant, desire to be informed by thy motherly
kindness and condescension.
293. My daughter, thou hast well doubted: for it
is true, that in heaven no material food or nourishment
is used, as thou hast already understood and declared.
The food which the angels brought to my holy Son
and to me, was truly a heavenly food, and I myself have
suggested this name to thee, because the strength of
this food is heavenly and not earthly, where everything
is gross, very material and limited. It will help thee
to understand something of the quality of this food,
and the manner of its creation, when I tell thee, that
the Lord, to supply our wants, made use of some
created material, most ordinarily water, on account of
its clearness and simple composition; for the Lord does
not require complicated matter for his miracles. At
other times it was bread or some kinds of fruit. These
materials He furnished with such a power and such
qualities of taste, that they exceeded, as heaven does
the earth, all the delicacies here below. There is nothing
in the world which can be compared to them; for all
other food is insipid and strengthless in comparison to
this celestial food. To understand this the better, con
sider the examples mentioned in holy Scripture: for
instance the food given to Elias, by the strength of
which he walked for forty days and nights to mount
Horeb; the manna, which was called the bread of the
angels, because they prepared it by condensing the
vapors of the earth (Exod. 16, 14) and thus condensed
and shaped like grain, they showered it upon the earth.
It possessed a great variety of tastes, as Scripture tells
us, and it was very nourishing to the body. Also the
water converted into wine by the most holy Son at the
nuptials of Cana was of such good taste and strength,
that it excited the admiration of the guests (John 2, 10).
294. In the same way as the Lord gave a supernatural
excellence to the water and turned it into a most sweet
and delicate liquor, so He also gave a spiritual strength
to the bread or the fruit. Such nourishment restored
the waste of bodily strength and delighted the senses
in an admirable manner, renewing their vigor and fitting
them for labors and difficulties without causing the least
loathing or inconvenience. This kind of food was min
istered by the holy angels to my most holy Son after
his fast, and this I and my spouse Joseph received on
different occasions. The Almighty showed the same
favor also to some of his friends and servants, rejoicing
them with heavenly food, although not so frequently
and in so wonderful a manner as He did Us. Thy
doubt is then answered; but now listen to the instruc
tion pertaining to this chapter.
295. In order to understand better what thou hast
written, thou must keep in mind three motives of our
Lord in entering upon this battle with Lucifer, and this
understanding will furnish thee great light and strength
against Satan and his followers. His first motive was
to destroy sin and the seeds of sin, sown in the human
nature by satan in the first transgression of Adam.
These seeds are the seven capital vices: pride, avarice,
lust and the others, being the seven heads of the dragon.
Lucifer appointed an infernal chieftain over each one
of these vices in the battle of hell against the human
race, and the evil spirits were distributed into squad
rons under these leaders in order to maintain the sort
of orderly confusion, which I have described in the
first part of this heavenly history (Part I, No. 103).
Accordingly my divine Son entered into conflict with
each one of these princes of darkness, vanquishing them
and destroying their power. In the Gospels only three
temptations are mentioned, being those which are more
manifest to the senses; but the conflict and the triumph
was far more extensive, for Christ our Lord overcame
all these princes and their vices. Pride He overcame
by his humility ; anger, by his meekness ; avarice, by his
contempt for riches; and all the other vices, by their
corresponding virtues. The greatest defeat and con
sternation, however, overtook these enemies at the foot
of the Cross, when they became certain that it was
the incarnate Word who had conquered and crushed
them. Since that time they are timid in entering into
conflict with those men, who rely on the power and
triumph of my Son.
296. The second motive for engaging in this conflict
was obedience to the command of the eternal Father,
who not only wished Him to die for men, and redeem
them by his Passion and Death, but also to enter into
battle with the demons and vanquish them by the force
of his incomparable virtues. The third motive, and the
one that was consequent upon the second, was to fur
nish mankind an example and a model for triumphing
over their enemies and to take away from all men any
cause of wonder or surprise at being tempted and per
secuted by the devils. He wished that all should have
this consolation in their temptations and conflicts, that
their Redeemer and Teacher first suffered them in his
own Person (Heb. 4, 15) ; for, though in some respects
his temptations were different from ours, yet in sub
stance, they were entirely the same, only of greater
satanic force and malice. My Lord permitted Lucifer
to strain all his powers in his battle with Him, in order
that by his divine power He might crush and enfeeble
hell in its battles against mankind, making it more
easy for us to overcome them, if we wish to avail our
selves of the advantages gained by this very conflict
of our Redeemer.
297. All mortals have need of this instruction, if
they are to vanquish the demon ; but thou, my daughter,
needest it more than many generations on account of
the wrath of this dragon against thee and on account
of thy natural weakness in battle, when not assisted by
my teaching and this example. Before all see that thou
keep in subjection thy flesh and the influences of the
world. Mortifying thy flesh and flying the world by
retiring from creatures to the interior of thy soul, thus
conquering both these enemies and preserving the
blessed light of grace, which thou there receivest, and
loving nothing except in as far as well ordered charity
permits. For this purpose renew in thyself the memory
of the narrow path pointed out to thee; for the Lord
has given thee a natural faculty of ardent love, and
We wish that thou consecrate this faculty entirely to
the love of God. Consent not to any movement of thy
appetites, no matter in how small a matter; and allow
thy senses no liberty, except for the exaltation of the
Most High, or for suffering or doing something for
the benefit and love of thy neighbor. If thou obey me
in all things, I will see that thou art protected and
strengthened against this cruel dragon for the battles
of the Lord (I King 25, 28). A thousand shields will
surround thee both for defense and offense against the
demon. Accustom thyself always to use against him
the words of holy Writ, not deigning to exchange many
words with such an astute enemy. Weak creatures
should not indulge in conferences or arguments with
their mortal enemy and the master of lies; since even
my divine Son, who was all-powerful and infinitely wise,
did not do so. In this He gave the souls an example
how circumspectly they are to act with the devil. Arm
thyself with living faith, unwavering hope and love of
humility, for these are the virtues by which the dragon
is crushed and vanquished and against which he dares
not make a stand. He flies from them because they are
powerful weapons against his pride and arrogance.
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