Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 6  Chapter  25    Verses:  743-754

743. The fullness of wisdom in the soul of our great
Queen and Lady amid all her sorrows permitted no de
fect or remissness in noticing and attending to all the
duties of each occasion and at all times. By this heav
enly foresight She met her obligations and practiced
the highest and most eminent of all the virtues. As I
have said, the Queen retired, after the burial of Christ,
to the house of the Cenacle. Remaining in the hall of
the last Supper in the company of saint John, the
Marys, and the other women who had followed Christ
from Galilee, She spoke to them and the Apostle, thank
ing them in profound humility and abundant tears for
persevering with Her up to this time throughout the
Passion of her beloved Son and promising them in his
name the reward of having followed Him with so much
constancy and devotion. At the same time She offered
Herself as a servant and as a friend to those holy wo
men. All of them with Saint John acknowledged this
great favor, kissed her hands and asked for her blessing.
They also begged her to take some rest and some bodily
refreshment. But the Queen answered: "My rest and1
my consolation shall be to see my Son and Lord arisen
from the dead. Do you, my dearest friends, satisfy
your wants according to your necessities, while I retire
alone with my Son."
744. Thereupon She retired with saint John and being
with him alone, She fell upon her knees and said: "Do
thou not forget the words which my Son spoke to us on
the Cross. He condescended to call thee my son, and
me thy mother. Thou art my master, art priest of the
Most High; and on account of this dignity, it is meet
that I obey thee in all that I am to do; and from this
hour I wish that thou order and command me in all
things, remembering that I shall always be thy servant
and that all my joy shall be to serve thee as such until
my death." This the Lady said with many tears. And
among many other things, the Apostle said : "My Mis
tress and Mother of the Redeemer and Lord, I am the
one who should be subject to thy authority, for the name
of a son implies devotion and subjection to his mother.
He that has made me priest, has made Thee his Mother
and was subject to thy authority, though He was the
Creator of the universe (Luke 2, 51). It is reasonable
that I should likewise be so, and that I labor with all my
powers to make myself worthy of the office He has con
ferred upon me, to serve Thee as thy son, for which I
would desire to be rather an angel than a creature of
earth." This answer of the Apostle was most appropri
ate; but it did not avail to overcome the humility of
the Mother of virtues, who answered: "My son John,
my consolation shall be to obey thee as my superior,
since such thou art. In this life I must always have a
superior, to whom I can render my will in obedience :
for this purpose thou art the minister of the Most High,
and as my son thou owest me this as a consolation in
my solitude." "Let then thy will be done, my Mother,"
said saint John, "for m this lies my own security."
Without further answer the heavenly Mother then asked
permission to remain alone in meditating on the mys
teries of her divine Son; and She asked him also to
provide some refreshment for the holy women, who
had accompanied Her, and that he assist them and con
sole them. She reserved only the Marys, because they
wished to persevere in their fast until they should see
the Lord arisen; and She asked saint John to allow
them to fulfill their pious desire.
745. Saint John then parted from Her in order to
console the Marys and to execute the commands of the
great Lady. Having attended to their wants, these pious
women all retired to spend that night in sorrowful and
mournful meditation concerning the mysteries of the
Lord s Passion. In such heavenly wisdom the blessed
Mary labored amid the floods of her anxieties and af
flictions, without ever forgetting the least point of the
most perfect obedience, humility, charity and prudent
foresight for all that was necessary. She did not for
get to attend to the necessities of these pious women,
nor did She on their account forget anything that was
necessary to the exercise of the highest perfection in
Herself. She approved of the fast of the Marys as be
ing strong and fervent in their love; and She took
heed of the weakness of the others. She instructed the
Apostle in his duties toward Herself and, proceeded in
all things as the Instructress of perfection and the Mis
tress of grace. All this She did when the waters of
tribulation had entered to her very soul (Ps. 68, 2).
Then, remaining alone in her retreat, She let loose the
impetuous floods of her afflicted love and permitted Her
self to be possessed interiorly and exteriorly by the bit
terness of her soul. She renewed in her mind the rec
ollection of her divine Son s frightful death; the mys
teries of his life, his preaching and his miracles, the
infinite value of the Redemption; the new Church
which He had founded and adorned with the riches of
the Sacraments and the treasures of grace; the happi
ness of the human race, now so copiously and gloriously
redeemed; the inestimable fortune of the predestined,
who should really obtain that happiness; the dreadful
misfortune of the reprobate, who by their own fault
would make themselves unworthy of the eternal glory,
merited for them by her Son.
746. In the deep consideration of these high and hid
den sacraments the great Lady passed that whole night,
weeping and sighing, praising and glorifying the works
of her divine Son, his Passion, his hidden judgments, and
the rest of the high mysteries of divine wisdom and un
searchable providence of the Lord. All of them, as
the Mother of true wisdom, She contemplated and un
derstood, conferring sometimes with the holy angels, at
others with the Lord himself concerning what the divine
influences caused Her to feel in her own purest heart.
On the following sabbath morning, after four o clock,
saint John entered to console the sorrowful Mother.
Falling on her knees before him, She asked him for his
blessing, as from her superior and a priest. Her new
son on his part asked it of Her with tears in his eyes,
and thus they gave their blessing one to the other. The
heavenly Queen begged saint John to meet saint Peter,
who was looking for him on the way to the city. She
ordered saint John to receive and console him kindly,
and bring him to her presence. The same he was to do
with the other Apostles, giving them hope of pardon and
offering them her friendship. Saint John issued from
the Cenacle and shortly met saint Peter, who, full of
shame and in tears, was timidly seeking the presence of
the great Queen. He had just come from the cave,
where he had bewept his denials; but he was now con
soled by saint John and encouraged by the message
from the heavenly Mother. Then these two went in
search of the other Apostles. Having found some they
together betook themselves to the Cenacle, hoping for
pardon. Saint Peter entered first and alone to the pres
ence of the Mother of grace, and falling at her feet, he
said with great sorrow: "I have sinned, Lady, I have
sinned before my God, and have offended my Master
and Thee!" He could not speak another word, further
speech being stifled with tearful sobs and sighs which
came from the depths of his oppressed heart.
747. The most prudent Virgin, seeing Peter prostrate
on the ground and considering him on the one hand as
doing penance for sins so recently committed, and on
the other hand as the head of the church, chosen by her
divine Son as his vicar, did not deem it proper to pros
trate Herself before the pastor, who had just denied
his Master; but neither would her humility suffer Her
to withhold the reverence due to his office. In order to
conform her action to both these circumstances, She re
solved to show him proper reverence without disclosing
her motive. For this purpose, She fell on her knees to
do him reverence, at the same time concealing her inten
tion by saying: "Let us ask pardon for thy guilt from
my Son and thy Master." She prayed for him, revived
his hope by reminding him of the merciful behavior of
the Lord in regard to well-known sinners, and pointing
out his own obligation as head of the apostolic college
to give the example of constancy in the confession of
the faith. By these and other arguments of great force
and sweetness She confirmed Peter in the hope of par
don. Then also the other Apostles presented themselves,
prostrating themselves before the most blessed Mary
and asking pardon for their cowardice in forsaking her
divine Son during his sufferings. They wept bitterly
over their sin, being moved to greater sorrow by the
presence of this Mother so full of sorrowful pity. Her
wonderfully sweet countenance caused in them divine
movements of contrition for their sins and of love of
their Master. The great Lady raised them up and en
couraged them, promising them the pardon they sought
and her intercession to obtain it. Then all of them in
their turn related what had happened to each in his
flight. Though the blessed Lady knew all even to the
last particulars concerning these events, She heard them
all kindly, taking occasion from what they said to touch
their hearts and confirm them in their faith in their
Redeemer and Master and of arousing in them divine
love. In this the heavenly Lady completely succeeded;
for they all went away from this conference burning
with new fervor and justified by new increase of graces.
748. These were the occupations of the heavenly
Queen during a part of the sabbath. At the approach
of evening She again retired, leaving the Apostles now
renewed in spirit and full of consolation and joy in the
Lord, yet also full of grief for the Passion of their
Master. In her retirement during this evening the great
Lady contemplated the doings of the most holy soul of
her Son after it left the sacred body. For from the
first the blessed Mother knew that the soul of Christ,
united to the Divinity, descended to limbo in order to
release the holy Fathers from the subterranean prison,
where they had been detained since the death of the
first just man that had died in expectance of the advent
of the Redeemer of the whole human race. In order
to speak about this mystery, which is one of the articles
of faith pertaining to the most sacred humanity of
Christ our Lord, it seemed best to mention that which
has been given me to understand about this limbo and
its situation. I say then, that the diameter of the
earth s sphere, passing through the centre from one sur
face to the other, measures two thousand, five hundred
and two leagues; and from the surface to the centre,
one thousand, two hundred and fifty-one leagues; and
according to the diameter is to be calculated the cir
cumference of this globe. In the centre is the hell of
the damned, as in the heart of the earth. This hell is
a chaotic cavern, which contains many darksome dwell
ings for diverse punishments, all of them dreadful and
terrible. All of these together form a vast globe like
a huge round jar, with an opening or mouth of vast
expansion. In this horrible dungeon filled with con
fusion and torments were the demons and all the
damned, and shall be there for all eternity, as long as
God is God; for in hell there is no redemption (Matth.
25, 41).
749. To one side of hell is purgatory, where the
souls of the just are purged and where they cleanse
themselves, if they have not satisfied for their faults in
this life, or have not departed from this earthly life
entirely free from the defects incapacitating them for
the beatific vision. This cavern is also large, but not
so large as hell; and though there are severe punish
ments in purgatory, they have no connection with those
of hell. To the other side is limbo with two different
divisions : The one for the children, who die unbaptized
and tainted only with original sin, without either good
or bad works of their own election. The other served
as a retreat for the just, who had already satisfied for
their sins; for they could not enter heaven, nor enjoy
the vision of God until the Redemption of man was
accomplished and until Christ our Savior should open
the gates of heaven closed by the sin of Adam (Ps.
23, 9). This cavern is likewise smaller than hell, and
has no connection with it, nor are there in it the pains
of the senses like in purgatory. For it was destined
for the souls already cleansed in purgatory and implied
only the absence of beatific vision or pain of privation;
there also stayed all those who died in the state of
grace until the death of the Redeemer. This is the
place to which Christ s soul descended with the Divinity
and which we refer to in saying that He descended into
hell. For the word "hell" may be used to signify any
of the infernal regions in the depths of the earth, though
commonly we apply it only to the hell of the demons
and the damned. This is the most notable meaning
of this word, just as "heaven" ordinarily signifies the
empyrean, the habitation of the saints, where they are
to dwell forever, while the damned remain forever in
hell. The other parts of hell have also the more par
ticular names of purgatory and limbo. After the final
judgment heaven and hell only are to be inhabited,
since purgatory shall become unnecessary and since even
the infants shall be transported to another dwellingplace.
750. To this cavern of limbo then the most holy soul
of Christ our Lord betook itself in the company of
innumerable angels, who gave glory, fortitude and
Divinity to their victorious and triumphant King. In
accordance with his greatness and majesty they com
manded the portals of this ancient prison to be opened,
in order that the King of glory, powerful in battles
and Lord of virtues, might find them unlocked and
open at his entrance. At their command some of the
rocks of the passage were rent and shattered; although
this was not really necessary, since the King and his
army were immaterial spirits. By the presence of the
most holy Soul this obscure cavern was converted into
a heaven and was filled with a wonderful splendor; and
to the souls therein contained was imparted the clear
vision of the Divinity. In one instant they passed from
the state of long-deferred hope to the possession of
glory, and from darkness to the inaccessible light, which
they now began to enjoy. All of them recognized their
true God and Redeemer, and gave him thanks and glory,
breaking forth in canticles of praise saying: "The Lamb
that was slain is worthy to receive power and Divinity,
and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory and
benediction. Thou hast redeemed us, Lord, in thy
blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and
nation; and hast made us to our God a kingdom and
priests, and we shall reign on the earth (Apoc. 59, 12).
Thine is, O Lord, the power, thine the reign, and thine
is the glory of thy works." Then the Lord commanded
the angels to bring all the souls in purgatory, and this
was immediately done. As if in earnest of the human
Redemption they were absolved then and there by the
Redeemer from the punishments still due to them, and
they were glorified with the other souls of the just by
the beatific vision. Thus on that day of the presence
of the King were depopulated the prisonhouses of both
limbo and purgatory.
751. But for the damned in hell this was a terrible
day; because by the disposition of the Most High all
of them were made to see and feel the descent of the
Redeemer into limbo, and also the holy Fathers and the
just were made witnesses of the terror caused by this
mystery to the demons and the damned. The demons
were yet terrorized and oppressed by the ruin which
they had undergone on Mount Calvary, as related above ;
and when they heard (according to their manner of
hearing and speaking) the voices of the angels advanc
ing before their King to limbo, they were confounded
and terrified anew. Like serpents pursued, they hid
themselves and clung to the most remote caverns of
hell. The damned were seized with confusion upon
confusion, becoming still more deeply conscious of their
aberration and of the loss of salvation, now secured to
the just. As Judas and the impenitent thief had so
recently and signally shared this misfortune, so their
torments were greater; and the demons were the more
highly incensed against them. Then and there the in
fernal spirits resolved to persecute and torment more
grievously the Catholics, and chastise more severely those
who should deny or repudiate the Catholic faith. For
they concluded that these merited greater punishment
than the infidels, to whom it is not preached.
752. Of all these mysteries and of other secrets,
which I cannot mention, the great Lady of the world
had a clear knowledge and vision from her retreat.
Although this knowledge, in the higher parts of her
being or in her soul where this knowledge originated,
caused Her exquisite joy; yet She did not permit it
to overflow in her virginal body, in her senses or in
ferior faculties, to which it should naturally have been
communicated. On the contrary, when She felt that
some of this joy overflowed to the inferior parts of
her being, She besought the eternal Father to retard
this overflow; for She did not wish to permit such en
joyment to her body, as long as that of her divine Son
rested in the grave and was not yet glorified. Such a
careful and faithful love was that of the blessed Mother
toward her Son and Lord, that She strove to be a
living, true and perfect image of the deified humanity
in all respects. Attending thus minutely to the smallest
particulars, She was rejoiced exceedingly in her soul,
while She still felt the sorrows and depression of her
body in imitation of the state of Christ our Savior.
During this vision She composed songs of praise mag
nifying the mysteries of this triumph and the most lov
ing and wise providence of the Redeemer, who as an
affectionate Father and omnipotent King wished, in his
own Person, to take possession of the new reign, given
to Him by the Father, and who now rescued his sub
jects by his own presence in order that they might com
mence immediately to enjoy the reward merited for
them. For these reasons, and others recognized by Her
in this sacrament, She rejoiced and glorified the Lord
as his Helper and as the Mother of the Conqueror.
753. My daughter, attend to the teaching of this
chapter as being the most appropriate and necessary for
the state assigned to thee by the Most High and for
the correspondence in love which thou owest Him. This
requires of thee, that in the midst of thy labors and
intercourse with the creatures, whether in commanding
or governing as superior, or obeying as a subject,
thou do not permit thyself by any of these duties or
other exterior occupations to neglect the attention due
to the presence of thy Savior in the secret and higher
parts of thy soul; nor withdraw thyself from the light
of the holy Spirit and his constant communications.
For my divine Son seeks, in the secrets of thy heart,
such ways as are hidden to the demon and to which
thy passions have no access; for they lead to the sanc
tuary, whither the Highpriest alone can enter (Heb.
9, 7) and where the soul enjoys the hidden embraces
of its King and Spouse, as soon as it prepares for Him
his chamber of rest with a single and eager mind. There
shalt thou find thy Lord propitious, the Most High,
liberal, thy Creator, merciful, thy sweet Spouse and
Redeemer, loving; then wilt thou not fear the powers
of darkness, nor the effects of sin, which are unknown
in that region of light and truth. But the soul dis
ordered by anxiety for the visible things, or careless
in the observance of the divine law will close up these
ways; it will be embarrassed by the disorderly attach
ments of the passions; it will be hindered by useless
cares, and much more by restlessness of mind and by
the want of serenity and interior peace; for the heart
must be untrammeled, pure and detached from all that
is not truth and light.
754. Thou hast well understood and experienced this
doctrine, and moreover I have shown it to thee in prac
tice as in the clearest mirror, namely in my behavior
amid the sorrows, sighs and afflictions of the Passion
of my divine Son, and amid the solicitous cares, occu
pations and watchings during his burial and during the
assistance rendered to the Apostles and the holy women.
During my whole life thou hast seen me act in the same
manner, uniting the works of the spirit with exterior
occupations without friction or hindrance. In order
then to imitate me in all this as I require, it is necessary,
that neither by the unavoidable intercourse with crea
tures, nor by the labors of thy state of life, nor by the
hardships of this life of exile, nor by the temptations
or malice of the demon, thou permit thy heart to desire
anything that will hinder thee, or pay attention to any
thing which destroys thy recollection. And I warn
thee, my dearest, that if thou art not very vigilant and
careful in this matter, thou wilt lose much time, abuse
immense and extraordinary blessings, frustrate the high
and holy purposes of the Lord, and wilt grieve me and
the angels; since all of Us desire that thy conversation
be with Us. Thou wilt lose the quiet of thy spirit and
the interior consolations, many degrees of grace, the
desired increase of divine love, and finally the most
copious reward in heaven. So much does it concern
thee to listen to me and obey me in all that I teach thee
with a Mother s kindness. Consider it, my daughter,
ponder it, and bend upon it thy mind, so that through
my intercession and by divine grace thou mayest put
it into practice. Take heed also to imitate me in the
faithful love, by which I abstained from the sweets of
inferior delights in imitation of my Master. Do thou
praise Him for this and for the blessings He brought
to the saints in limbo, when his most holy soul de
scended to free them and fill them with joy at his sight,
all of which were operations of his infinite love.
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