Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 6  Chapter  4    Verses:  355-367

355. The Redeemer of the world, departing- from
Jerusalem and traveling about in Judea for some time,
pursued the work of preaching- and performing1 miracles.
While He was baptizing and at the same time commis
sioning his disciples to baptize, as is recorded in the
third and fourth chapter of Saint John s Gospel, his
Precursor also continued to baptize in Ainon on the
banks of the Jordan near the city of Salem. But the
Baptisms of the Lord and those of saint John were not
of the same kind : for saint John continued to give only
the baptism of water and of penance, while our Lord
administered his own Baptism, that of real pardon of
sins and justification, such as it is now in the Church,
accompanied by the infusion of grace and of the virtues.
To the mysterious power and effects of the Baptism of
Christ was moreover added the efficacy of his words and
instructions confirmed by the wonder of his miracles.
On this1 account more disciples and followers soon
gathered around Christ than around saint John, in ful
fillment of the words of the Baptist, that Christ must
grow, while he must be diminished (John 3, 22). At
the Baptisms of the Lord his most holy Mother ordi-
narily was present and She beheld all the great results
of this regeneration in the favored souls. With the same
gratitude as if She herself were receiving the benefits
of the Sacrament, She gave thanks for them, breaking
forth in canticles of praise and exercising heroic virtues
as a thank-offering to the Author of them. Thus in all
these wonderful activities She gained for Herself incom
parable and unheard of merits.
356. When by divine permission Lucifer and his fol
lowers arose from the ruinous defeat which they had
experienced at the triumph of Christ in the desert, and
when they returned and saw the works of the most
sacred humanity, divine Providence ordained, that,
though always remaining ignorant of the principal mys
tery connected with Christ they should nevertheless see
enough to lead to their entire discomfiture. Lucifer
therefore perceived the great results of the preaching,
the miracles, the Baptism of Christ our Lord, and how
by these means innumerable souls were withdrawn from
his jurisdiction and from the shackles of sin in the
reformation of their life. The same effects he recognized
also in the preaching of saint John and in his baptism.
He remained ignorant of the essential difference be
tween these two preachers and their baptisms and at the
same time had no doubts about the final overthrow of
his dominion, if their activity should continue. Hence,
Lucifer could not but be full of fear and unrest He
knew well that he was too weak to resist the power of
heaven, which he felt was exerted against him in these
new Preachers and their doctrines. These considera
tions filled his proud mind with great apprehension, and
therefore he called another meeting of the princes of
darkness and said to them: "Strange things happen in
the world during these years, and every day do they
multiply, so that my fears lest the divine Word has
come into the world according to the promise are grow
ing more and more harrowing. I have searched the face
of the whole earth and cannot find Him. But these
two Men, who are preaching and deprive me every day
of many souls, excite within me great misgivings; the
one I could never overcome in the desert, and the other
vanquished all of us, so that even now we are disheart
ened and crushed. If They continue as They have begun,
all our triumphs will turn to confusion. They cannot
Both be the Messias, and I cannot as yet be sure that
either one of them is He; but to draw so many souls
from a life of sin, is a work not equalled by any to this
day. It supposes a new power, which we must investi
gate and trace to its source; and we must destroy these
two Men. Follow me and assist me with all your
strength, astuteness and sagacity; because otherwise
they will frustrate our intentions."
357. These ministers of evil therefore came to the
determination of persecuting anew our Savior Christ
and his Precursor saint John; but as they had no
knowledge of the mysteries of the divine Wisdom, all
their great projects and resolves were vain and without
firmness. They were sadly misled and confused on the
one hand, by so many miracles, and on the other hand by
outward appearances entirely different from those which
they had attributed to the incarnate Word at his coming
into the world. In order that his malice might find some
enlightenment, and in order that his companions, who
were to spy out and discover what secret power had so
discomfited them, might be more successful in assisting
him, Lucifer ordered meetings of the demons to be held,
in which they were to communicate to each other what
they had seen and understood concerning recent events;
and he offered them great rewards and preferments in
his hellish dominions for good service. For the purpose
of throwing them into a still greater doubt and con
fusion, the Lord permitted the hellish fiends to imagine
greater holiness in the life of saint John the Baptist.
He did not perform the same wonders as Christ ; but the
outward signs of his holiness were very remarkable and
his exterior virtues were wonderful. God also con
cealed some of the more extraordinary wonders per
formed by Jesus from the dragon, and there was a great
similarity between Christ and saint John in regard to
certain particulars which came to the knowledge of the
devil, so that he remained in doubt and could not come
to a certain decision as to which of Them really de
served to hold the office and dignity of Messias. "Both,"
(he said to himself) "are great Saints and Prophets;
the life of the One is that of the common people, but yet
extraordinary and strange in some respects; the other
performs many miracles and his doctrine is nearly the
same. Both cannot be the Messias : but let Them be
whoever They may, I recognize Them as my great Ene
mies and as Saints, and must persecute Them until I
have undone Them."
358. These suspicions of the demons began from the
time when he saw saint John in the desert leading such
a wonderful and unheard of life even from his childhood,
and at the time he thought that his virtues were greater
than that of a mere man could be. On the other
hand, he also learned of some of the doings and of the
heroic virtues of the life of Christ our Lord, which were
not less wonderful, and the dragon compared them with
those of John. Yet as the Savior lived a life more of
the common order among men, Lucifer was more
anxious to find out who this John could be. With this
desire he incited the Jews and the pharisees of Jerusalem
to send the priests and levites to saint John in order
to ascertain who he was (John 1, 19) whether he was
Christ, as through Lucifer they were led to suspect. And
the devil s suggestions must have been very persistent,
since they knew that the Baptist was of the tribe of Levi,
and hence, as was well known, could not be the Messias;
for according to the Scriptures and according to
their knowledge of the law and of revealed truth, the
Messias was to be of the tribe of Juda (Ps. 81, 11).
But the devil troubled their minds so much, that yielding
to his astute malice, they asked this question. The devil
pursued a double object; for if John was the Messias,
he wanted him to reveal it ; if not, he wanted to diminish
his influence with the people, who believed him to be
the Messias; or he wished saint John to fall into a vain
complaisance or at least usurp, either wholly or in part,
the honor thus held out to him. Hence the demon eagerly
listened to every word of the answer given by saint John.
359. But the holy Precursor answered with heavenly
wisdom, confessing the truth in such a way that the
astuteness of the enemy was foiled and his uncertainty
was greater than before. He answered, that he was
not Christ. Then they asked again, whether he was
Elias. Since it was written of Elias, that he was to come
before Christ and as the Jews were so dull as not to know
how to distinguish between the first and second coming,
they asked him, whether he was Elias. He answered:
"I am not," adding: "I am the voice of one crying in
the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord," as
said the prophet Isaias (John 1, 20, 21). All these
questions were put by the messengers through instigation
of the devil ; for he expected that if saint John was a
holy man, he would tell the truth, and therefore reveal
clearly who he was. When he heard saint John call
himself a "voice," he was much taken aback, suspecting
in his ignorance that he meant to call himself the eternal
Word. His restlessness was augmented the more, when
he reflected on the apparent unwillingness of saint John
to reveal himself to the Jews. Hence he suspected, that
his having called himself a "voice" was only a covered
way of speaking. The devil argued, that if saint John
had called himself openly the Word of God he would
have thereby revealed his Divinity ; hence, in order not to
discover himself, he had assumed the name "voice" in
stead of "word." Into such confusion of mind did Luci
fer fall concerning the mystery of the Incarnation ; and,
while he believed the Jews had been deluded and misled,
he himself was cast into a much greater error by his
false theology.
360. Thus deceived, his fury against the Baptist out
grew all bounds. But remembering his defeats in the
battles against the Savior, and conscious of having had
just as little success in leading saint John into any
grave fault, he resolved to make war upon him by
another channel. And he found such a channel already
prepared. The Baptist had reprehended Herod for his
disgraceful and adulterous connection with Herodias,
who had openly left her husband, Philip, his brother,
as is related by the Evangelists (Marc. 6, 17). Herod
was aware of the holiness of saint John and of his say
ings; he held him in fear and veneration and listened
to him with pleasure. But whatever force the truth and
the light of reason exerted in Herod, it was readily per
verted to evil by the malicious and boundless hatred of
the wicked Herodias and her daughter, who was like her
mother in morals. The adulterous woman was deeply
degraded by her passions and sensuality, and therefore
lent herself readily as an instrument of demoniac malice.
This woman, having1 been previously instigated by the
devil to procure the death of saint John in different
ways, now incited the king to condemn him to death.
He that had called himself the voice of God and who
was the greatest of woman-born, was therefore taken
prisoner. The anniversary of the unfortunate birthday
of Herod was to be celebrated by a banquet and ball,
given by him to the magistrates and nobles of Galilee,
of which he was king. The degraded Herodias brought
her daughter to the feast, in order to dance before the
guests. The blinded and adulterous king was so taken
in by the dancing girl, that he promised her any gift or
favor she desired, even if it were the half of his king
dom. She, directed by her mother (and both of them by
the devil), asked for more than a kingdom, yea, more
than many kingdoms, namely, the head of John the Bap
tist, and that it be given to her immediately on a plate.
The king commanded it to be done on account of the
oath he had taken and because he had subjected himself
to the influence of a vile and degraded woman. Men
are accustomed to consider it an unbearable offense to be
called a woman, because they think it denies them the
superiority deemed peculiar to manhood; but it is a
greater disgrace to be governed and led about by women s
whims; for he that obeys, is inferior to the one that
commands. And yet many are thus degraded without
adverting thereto, and so much the greater is their degra
dation, the more immodest the woman they follow;
for, having lost the virtue of modesty, nothing remains
in a woman, which is not most despicable and abominable
in the sight of God and man.
361. During the imprisonment of saint John brought
about by Herodias, he was much favored by our Savior
and by his Mother. The Lady comforted him many
times by sending her holy angels, sometimes also order
ing them to prepare and bring him nourishment. The
Lord also conferred on him many interior graces
and favors. But the demon who wished to destroy him,
gave no rest to Herodias until he should see him dead.
He eagerly seized the occasion of the banquet, inciting
Herod to utter that foolish promise and oath for the
sake of Herodias daughter and confusing his mind so
that he impiously looked upon a failure to fulfill his
sworn promise as a sin and as a dishonor, and thus in
his blindness he delivered the head of the Baptist to the
dancing girl, as is related in the Gospel. At the same
time the Queen of the world was, in the usual manner,
made aware of the interior will of her most holy Son,
that the hour of martyrdom had arrived for the Baptist
and that he should give his life in testimony of the
truths he had preached. The most pure Mother prostrated
Herself at the feet of Christ our Lord and tearfully im
plored Him to assist his servant and Precursor in that
hour, to comfort and console him, and that his death
might be so much the more precious in his eyes in view
of his suffering for the honor and defense of the truth.
362. The Savior responded to her petition with much
pleasure, saying that He would fulfill it entirely and
bidding Her immediately to accompany Him on a visit
to saint John. Then Christ and his holy Mother were
miraculously and invisibly borne to the dungeon cell
where saint John lay fettered in chains and wounded in
many parts of his body ; for the wicked adulteress, wish
ing to do away with him, had ordered some of her
servants, (six on three different occasions), to scourge
and maltreat him, which they actually did in order to
please their mistress. By these means this tigress had
attempted to murder the Baptist before the banquet at
which Herod commanded him to be beheaded. The
devil incited these cruel henchmen to assail saint John
with vilest insults and bodily illtreatment for they were
most wicked men, fit servants of such an accursed and
infamous adultress. The presence of Christ and his
blessed Mother filled that foul prison of the Baptist with
celestial light. While the other parts of the palace of
Herod were infested by innumerable demons and syco
phants more criminal than the state prisoners in their
dungeons below, the cell of saint John was entirely sanc
tified by the presence of the Sovereigns of heaven, who
were accompanied by a great host of angels.
363. As soon as the Precursor beheld before him the
Redeemer and his Mother in the midst of the angelic
hosts, his chains fell from him and his wounds were
healed. With ineffable joy he prostrated himself on the
ground and in deepest humility and admiration asked the
blessing of the incarnate Word and his blessed Mother.
Having fulfilled his request, They remained for some time
holding divine converse with their friend and servant,
which I cannot all repeat here, though I will mention some
of what impressed itself more vividly on my dull mind. In
kindest tone and manner the Savior said: "John, my
servant, how eagerly thou pressest on to be persecuted,
imprisoned and scourged, and to offer thy life for the
glory of my Father even before I myself enter upon my
sufferings! Thy desires are quickly approaching their
fulfillment, since thou art soon to enjoy thy reward in
suffering tribulations such as I myself have in view for
my humanity; but it is thus the eternal Father rewards
the zeal with which thou hast fulfilled the office of being
my Precursor. Let thy loving anxieties now cease and
offer thy neck to the axe ; for such is my wish, and thus
shalt thou enjoy the happiness of suffering
1 and dying- for
my name. I offer to the eternal Father thy life, in order
that mine be yet prolonged."
364. The sweetness and power of these words pene
trated the heart of the Baptist and filled it with such
delights of divine love, that for a time he could not give
any answer. But being
1 re-enforced by divine grace and
dissolved in tears, he thanked his Lord and Master for
the ineffable favor of this visit, which was now added
to so many other great ones he had received at his hands ;
and with sighs of love from his inmost soul he said:
"My eternal God and Lord, I cannot ever merit pains
or sufferings worthy of such a great consolation and
privilege as that of enjoying thy divine presence and
that of thy exalted Mother, my Mistress; altogether un
worthy am I of this new blessing. In order that thy
boundless mercy may be exalted, permit me, Lord, to die
before Thee, so that thy holy name may be made more
widely known ; and look with favor on my desire of en
during the most painful and lingering death. Let Herod
and sin, and hell itself, triumph over me in my death,
for I offer my life for Thee, my Beloved, in the joy of
my heart. Receive it, my God, as a pleasing sacrifice.
And thou, Mother of my Savior and my Mistress, turn
thy most loving eyes in clemency upon thy servant and
continue to show him thy favor as a Mother and as the
cause of all blessing. During all my life I have despised
vanities and loved the Cross, which is to be sanctified
by my Redeemer; I have desired to sow in tears; but
never could I have merited the delight of such a visit,
which has sweetened all my sufferings, gladdened my
bondage and makes death itself more pleasing and ac
ceptable than life."
365. While They were yet engaged in this conversa
tion, three servants of Herod entered his prison with a
hangman ready to execute upon him the implacable fury
of the cruel adultress. Saint John presented his neck
and the executioner fulfilled the impious order of Herod
by cutting
1 off his head. The High Priest Christ at the
same moment received in his arms the body of the Saint,
while his blessed Mother held his head in her hands,
both of Them offering this victim to the eternal Father
on the altar of their sacred hands. This was possible
not only because the two Sovereigns of the world were
invisible, but also because the servants of Herod had be
gun to quarrel as to which of them should flatter the in
famous dancer and her mother by bringing them the head
of saint John. In their dispute one of them, without
paying attention to any other circumstance, snatched the
head from the hands of the Queen of heaven and the
rest of them followed in order to offer it on a plate to
the daughter of Herodias. The sacred soul of the Bap
tist, in the company of a multitude of angels, was sent
to limbo, and its arrival renewed the joy of the holy
souls there imprisoned. The Sovereigns of heaven re
turned to the place, whence they had come. Of the holi
ness and excellence of the great Precursor many things
are written in the Church, and although I have been in
formed of several other mysteries concerning- him, which
I could relate, I cannot depart from my original purpose
or extend this history in writing of them. I wish only
to say, that the fortunate and blessed Precursor of Christ
received great favors at the hands of Christ the Redeemer
and his holy Mother during* the whole course of his life:
in his happy birth, his stay in the desert, his preaching
and in his holy death. Such wonders were wrought for
no other man by the right hand of God.
366. My daughter, thou hast been very short in de
scribing the mysteries of this chapter ; yet a great lesson
is contained therein for thee and all the children of light.
Write it in thy heart and notice well the great difference
between the innocence and holiness of the Baptist, who
was poor, afflicted, persecuted and imprisoned, and the
abominable wickedness of Herod, the powerful king,
who was flattered and served in the midst of his riches
and base pleasures. Both were of the same human
nature, but entirely different in the sight of God, accord
ing as they used ill or well their free will and the created
things around them. The penance, poverty, humility,
contempt, tribulations of saint John, and his zeal for the
glory of my divine Son, merited for him the singular
favor of dying in our arms. Herod, on the contrary, by
his hollow pomp, his pride, vanity, tyranny and wicked
ness was struck down by the minister of God in order to
be punished in the eternal flames. Remember that the
same happens now and always in the world; although
men do not pay attention to it or fear it. They fear the
vain strength of the world, not reflecting that it is but
fleeting shadow and withering grass.
367. Just as little do men think of the ultimate end,
and of the abyss, into which vices draw them even in this
world. Although the demon cannot take away man s
liberty, nor ever completely sway his free will, yet, by
leading them into so many and grievous sins, he obtains
such an influence over it, that he is enabled to use it
as an instrument of the evil he proposes. In spite of wit
nessing so many and such terrible examples, men remain
callous to the fearful danger to which they expose them
selves by their sins in imitation of Herod and his adulter
ous concubine. In order to cast souls into this abyss of
wickedness Lucifer meets them with the vain pride and
honor of this world and with its base pleasures, repre
senting them as alone important and desirable. Thus the
ignorant children of perdition loosen the bonds of reason
in order to follow the degrading pleasures of their flesh
and be enslaved by their mortal enemy. My daughter,
the Savior and I have taught the way of humility, of
contempt, and tribulation. This is the royal road, on
which we first walked, and of which We have set Our
selves up as Teachers. We are the Protectors of all the
afflicted and ill-used, ready to assist by miraculous and
especial favors all those who call upon Us in their neces
sities. Of this assistance and protection the followers of
this world and its vain pleasures deprive themselves,
since they hate the way of the Cross. To the Cross thou
wast called and invited, and on account of it thou art
favored with the sweetness of my loving guidance. Fol
low me and labor to imitate me, since thou hast found the
secret treasure (Matth. 12, 44) and the precious pearl,
for the possession of which thou must despise all that is
earthly and give up all human freedom in so far as it is
contrary to the pleasure of my most exalted Lord.
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