Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 1  Chapter  16    Verses:  225-244

225. The impetuous floods of the Divinity met in this holy City of the sanctified soul of Mary. It took its origin from the foundation of his Wisdom and Goodness, by which and whence He had resolved to deposit within this heavenly Lady the greatest graces and virtues ever to be given to any other creature for all eternity. And when the hour had arrived for giving them into her possession, namely the very moment of her coming into natural life, the Almighty fulfilled according to his pleasure and full satisfaction the desire, which He had held suspended from all eternity until the time for gratifying this wish should arrive. The most faith ful Lord executed his design, showering down all his graces and gifts in the most holy soul of Mary at the time of her Conception in such an overpowering measure as no other saint, nor all of them combined, can ever reach, nor ever human tongue can manifest.
226. Although She was adorned as the Bride, de scending from heaven, endowed with all perfections and with the whole range of infused virtues, it was not necessary that She should exercise all of them at once, it being sufficient that She exercise those, which were befitting her state in the womb of her mother. Among the first thus exercised were the three theological virtues, faith, hope and charity, which relate immediately to God. These She at once practiced in the most exalted manner recognizing by a most sublime faith the Divinity with all its perfections and its infinite attributes, and the Trinity with its distinction of Persons. This knowledge by faith was not impeded by the higher knowledge which God gave her, as I will soon demonstrate. She exercised also the virtue of hope, seeing in God the object of her happiness and her ultimate end. Toward this her sanctified Soul at once hastened and aspired with the most intense desires of uniting Herself with God and without having for one moment turned to any other object or tarried one moment in her up ward flight. At the same instant also She put into action the virtue of charity, seeing in God the infinite and highest Good, and conceiving such an intense appreciation of the Divinity, that not all the seraphim could ever reach such an eminent degree of fervor and virtue.
227. The other virtues which adorn and perfect the rational part of the creature, She possessed in a pro portion corresponding to the theological virtues. The moral and natural virtues were hers in a miraculous and supernatural measure, and in a still more exalted manner was She possessed of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Ghost in the order of grace. She had an infused knowledge and habit of all these virtues and of all the natural arts, so that She knew and was conversant with the whole natural and supernatural order of things, in accordance with the grandeur of God. Hence from her first instant in the womb of her mother, She was wiser, more prudent, more enlightened, and more capable of comprehending God and all his works, than all the creatures have been or ever will be in eternity, excepting of course her most holy Son. And all this perfection consisted not only in the habits, which were infused in Her in such a high degree; but in the acts which She exercised in correspondence with the excellence of her state and in proportion to the activity of the divine power. Therefore her perfection was not circumscribed by any other bounds, nor was subject to any other limits than God s divine and most just pleasure.
228. Since much will be said in the course of this history, of all these virtues and graces and of their exercise, I mention here only a little of that which She achieved at the instant of her Conception by the help of the infused habits and the actual light bestowed upon Her. In the exercise of the theological virtues, as I have said, and of the virtue of religion, and of the cardinal virtues consequent upon it, She perceived God as He is and as the Creator and Glorifier; in heroic acts She reverenced Him, praised Him, gave Him thanks for having created Her, loved Him, feared Him and adored Him, offering sacrifices of worship, praise and glory because of his immutable Being. She recognized the gifts, which She had received, although some of them were yet hidden to Her, and She gave thanks with profound humility and prostrated Herself immediately in the womb of her mother, though yet in a body so small; and by these acts She merited more than all the saints in the highest state of perfection and sanctity.
229. In addition to the facts of faith She possessed other knowledge of the mystery of the Divinity and of the most holy Trinity. Although in this instant of her Conception She did not see Him intuitively as the saints, yet She saw Him in abstraction by a light and vision which though inferior to the beatific vision, were nevertheless superior to all the other ways, in which God can manifest Himself or does manifest Himself to the created intelligence; for there were shown to Her images of the Divinity so clear and manifest that She under stood the immutable being of God, and in Him, all creation, with a greater light and clearness than any crea ture ever is understood by another. And these images were like a shining mirror from which was resplendent the whole Divinity and in It all creatures ; so that in God She saw and recognized, by means of this light and by means of these images of the divine nature, all things with a greater distinctness and clearness than was possible by the images of the infused science already vouchsafed Her.
230. In all these different ways was laid open to Her from the very instant of her Conception the vision of all men and angels in their hierarchies, dignities and operations, and of all the irrational creatures with their natures and conditions. She saw the fall of the angels and their ruin; the justification and glory of the good ones, and the rejection and punishment of the bad ones ; the first state of Adam and Eve in their innocence ; their deception, their guilt, and the misery in which the first parents were thrown on account of it ; and in what misfortune the whole human race was cast through them; the divine resolve to repair it; the pre-ordaining and the disposing of the world, the nature of the heavens, the stars and planets; the condition and the arrangement of the elements; She saw purgatory, limbo and hell; She saw how all these things and whatever is contained in them were created by the divine power and were maintained and preserved by the infinite goodness, without having need of any of them (II Mach. 14, 35). Above all She was informed of the most high sacraments connected with the Incarnation, by which God was to be come man in order to redeem the whole human race, while the fallen angels were left without a remedy.
231. In correspondence with this wonderful knowledge of her most holy soul at the instant of its union with the body, Mary exerted Herself by eliciting heroic acts of virtue, of incomparable admiration, praise, glorification, adoration, humility, love of God and sorrow for the sins committed against Him, whom She recognized as the Author and end of these admirable works. She hastened to offer Herself as an acceptable sacrifice to the Most High, beginning from that instant with fervent desire to bless Him, love Him and honor Him, be cause She perceived that the bad angels and men failed to know and love Him. She requested the holy angels whose Queen She already was, to help Her to glorify the Creator and Lord of all, and to pray also for Her.
232. The Lord in this instant showed Her also her guardian angels, whom she recognized and accepted with joyful submission, inviting them to sing canticles of praise to the Most High alternatively with Her. She announced to them beforehand that this was to be the service which they were to render Her during the whole time of her mortal life, in which they were to act as her assistants and guards. She was informed moreover of her whole genealogy, and the genealogy of all of the rest of the holy people chosen by God, the Patriarchs and Prophets, and how admirable his Majesty was in the gifts, graces and favors wrought in them. It is worthy of admiration, that, although the exterior faculties of her body at the creation of her most holy Soul were hardly large enough to be distinguished, nevertheless, in order that none of the miraculous excellence with which God could endow his Mother might be wanting, He ordained by the power of his right hand that in perceiving the fall of man She shed tears of sorrow in the womb of her mother at the gravity of the offense against the highest Good.
233. In this wonderful sorrow at the instant of her coming into existence, She began to seek a remedy for mankind and commenced the work of mediation, inter cession and reparation. She offered to God the clamors of her ancestors and of the just of the earth, that his mercy might not delay the salvation of mortals, whom she even then looked upon as her brethren. Before She ever conversed with them She loved them with the most ardent charity and with the very beginning of her existence She assumed the office of Benefactress of men and exercised the divine and fraternal love enkindled in her heart. These petitions the Most High accepted with greater pleasure than the prayers of all the saints and angels and this pleasure of God was also made known to Her, who was created to be the Mother of God. She perceived the love of God and his desire to descend from heaven in order to redeem men, though She knew not how it should be consummated. It was befitting that God should feel Himself impelled to hasten his coming on account of the prayers and petitions of this Creature ; since it was principally for the love of Her that He came, and since in Her body He was to assume human flesh, accomplish the most admirable of all his works, and fulfill the end of all other creatures.
234. She also prayed at the moment of her Conception for her natural parents, Joachim and Anne, whom She knew in God before She had seen them in the body. Immediately She exercised the virtues of love, reverence and gratitude of a daughter, acknowledging them as the secondary causes of her natural being. She made many other petitions in general and for particular objects. By aid of the infused science given to Her, She began to compose songs of gratitude in her mind and heart for having, at the portal of life, found the precious drachma, which we all have lost in our first beginning (Luke 15, 9). She found the grace, which issued forth to meet her (Eccli. 15, 2), She found the Divinity, which met Her at the threshold of her existence (Sap. 6, 15). Her faculties of body and soul found, at the instant of her creation, the most noble Object, which attracted and en tranced them; for they were created solely for It, and, as they were to be hers entirely, it was proper also that the first fruits of their activity, which were the knowledge and love of God, should be devoted to that Object. In this Queen there was no existence without knowledge of God, no knowledge without love, and no love with out its merit. Nor was there in Her anything small, or measured merely by the common laws or by the general rules. Great was She altogether and great did She come forth from the hands of the Most High in order to proceed and arrive at such an excellence of being, that God alone would be greater. Oh how beautiful were those steps of thine, Daughter of the King, since with thy first one Thou didst reach the Godhead ! ( Cant. 7,1). Twice beautiful wert Thou, for thy grace and beauty! (Cant. 4, 1). Heavenly are thine eyes (Cant. 7, 5), and thy thoughts are like the kingly carmine, since Thou hast enraptured his heart and hast made Him Prisoner by a thread of thy hair (Cant. 4, 9) and drawn Him captured by the love of thy virginal womb and heart.
235. There in truth the spouse of the King did sleep, while her heart was awake (Cant 5, 2). There those bodily faculties, which scarcely had yet attained their natural form and had not yet seen the material light, were asleep, and that heavenly heart, more marvellous on account of the greatness of its gifts than by the smallness of its size, was watching in the chamber of her mother s womb with the light of the Divinity, which bathed it and enkindled it in the fire of its immense love. It was not befitting that in this heavenly Creature the inferior faculties of the soul should act before the superior ones, nor that they should operate in an inferior, or merely in a manner equal to those of any other creature. For if the operations correspond to the essence of each creature, She, who always was superior to all of them in dignity and excellence, was also to be superior in her operations to all creatures, angelic and human. Not only was She to be nothing short of the angelic spirits in so far as they immediately made use of their faculties at the instant of their creation, but this prerogative was due to Her in superior excellence as She was created as their Queen and Lady. And this by so much more, as the name and office of Mother of God excels that of servants, and that of Queen, the estate of vassals ; for to none of the angels had the Word said : thou shalt be my Mother (Heb. 1, 5) ; nor could any one of them say to Him : Thou art my Son. Mary alone could claim this commerce and relationship, which is there fore the real measure and foundation of the greatness of Mary, in the same way as the Apostle measured the greatness of Christ by his being the Son of the eternal Father.
236. In writing of these sacraments of the King, howsoever honorable it is to reveal his works, I confess my inaptitude and incapacity, being only a woman, and I am afflicted, because I am speaking in such common and vague terms, which fall entirely short of that, which I perceive in the light given to my soul for the under standing of these mysteries. In order to do justice to such sublimity, there were need of other words, more particular and especially adapted terms and expressions, which are beyond my ignorance. And even if they were at my service, they would be weighed down and made insipid by human weakness. Let therefore this human imbecility acknowledge itself unequal and incapable of fixing its eyes on this heavenly sun, with which the rays of the Divinity break upon the world, although yet be clouded in the maternal womb of holy Anne. If we seek permission to approach this wonderful sight, let us come near free and unshackled. Let us not allow our selves to be detained, neither by our natural cowardice nor by a base fear and hesitation, even though it be under the cloak of humility. Let us all approach with the greatest devotion and piety, free from the spirit of contention (Rom. 13, 12) ; then we will be permitted to examine with our own eyes the fire of the Divinity burning in the bush without consuming it (Exodus 2, 2).
237. I have said that the most holy soul of Mary, at the moment of her purest Conception, saw the divine Essence abstractively, for it was not revealed to me, that She saw the essential Glory; rather I understood that this latter privilege was peculiar to the most holy soul of Christ, such being due and consequent upon the substantial union of the Divinity in the Person of the Word. For it was befitting that for not one moment should the soul of Christ be deprived in all its faculties of the highest grace and glory. Just as the man, Christ, our highest Good, commenced to be conjointly God and man, so He began at the same instant also to know and love God as one already possessing Him, that is as a comprehensor. But the soul of his most holy Mother was not united substantially with the Divinity and therefore She did not begin her activity as a possessor of God, but entered into life as a wayfarer. However, She entered this state of wayfarer as one in closest proximity to the hypostatic union, and therefore She was endowed with a vision of God proportionate and most immediate to the beatific vision. Her vision was inferior to the beatific, but superior to all the visions and revelations which have been vouchsafed to other creatures, always excepting 1 the clear vision and fruition of the Blessed. Nevertheless in some respects and in regard to some qualities, the perception of God by the Mother of Christ in her first instant, excelled even the intuitive vision of other creatures, in so far as She penetrated abstractive ly into greater mysteries than they. Moreover, though, She did not see God face to face at that moment of her Conception, She was favored with that kind of vision many times afterwards during the course of her life, as I will say later on.

Instruction which the Queen of Heaven gave me regarding Chapter.

238. In the preceding chapters of this history I said a few times that the Queen and Mother of mercy had promised that when I should begin to describe the first operations of her faculties and virtues She would instruct me how to model my life after her own ; for this would be the principal purpose of showing it to me as in a mirror. And this great Lady, most faithful to her promises, besides continuing to assist me by her heavenly presence and the explanation of these mysteries, began to acquit Herself of this promise in this chapter and told me to expect the same as long as I should continue to write this history. Accordingly at the end of each chapter I will write down what her Majesty shall teach me, as She has done even now, speaking to me in the following manner:
239. My daughter, I wish that thou reap for thyself the fruits which thou desirest from the description of the mysteries and sacraments of my holy life; and let the reward of thy labors be the greater purity and perfection of thy life, disposing thyself by the grace of the Most High to practice what thou hearest. It is the will of my divine Son, that thou exert all thy powers toward that which I shall teach thee, and that thou apply thy self with all thy heart to my virtues and works. Hear me with attentive faith, for I will speak to thee words of eternal life and teach thee the most holy things of a perfect Christian life and what is most acceptable to God. Begin even now to dispose thyself for the reception of the light, in which thou shalt see the hidden mysteries of my most holy life and the doctrine, which thou desirest. Continue in this exercise and write down that which I will teach thee in this regard. And now listen.
240. It is an act of justice due to the eternal God that the creature coming to the use of reason, direct its very first movement toward God. By knowing, it should begin to love Him, reverence Him and adore Him as its Creator and only true Lord. The parents are naturally bound to instruct their children from their infancy in this knowledge of God and to direct them with solicitous care, so that they may at once see their ultimate end and seek it in their first acts of the intellect and will. They should with great watchfulness with draw them from the childishness and puerile trickishness to which depraved nature will incline them if left without direction. If the fathers and mothers would be solicitous to prevent these vanities and perverted habits of their children and would instruct them from their in fancy in the knowledge of their God and Creator, then they would afterwards easily accustom them to know and adore Him. My holy mother, who knew not of my wisdom and real condition, was most solicitously before hand in this matter, for when She bore me in her womb, she adored in my name the Creator and offered worship and thanks for his having created me, beseeching Him to defend me and bring me forth to the light of day from the condition in which I then was. So also parents should pray with fervor to God, that the souls of their children, through his Providence, may obtain Baptism and be freed from the servitude of original sin.
241. And if the rational creature has not known and adored the Creator from the first dawn of reason, it should do this as soon as it obtains knowledge of the essential God by the light of faith. From that very moment the soul must exert itself never to lose Him from her sight, always fearing Him, loving Him, and reverencing Him. Thou, my daughter, owest this adoration to God from the beginning of thy life ; but now I desire thee to practice it in a more perfect manner, as I shall show thee. Direct the eyes of thy soul toward the essence of God, which is without beginning and without limit, contemplate his infinite attributes and perfections. Consider that He alone is the true holiness, the highest good, the most noble object of creatures, that He alone gave being to all things and without having need of them, sustains and governs them. He is consummate beauty without defect, He is eternal in his love, true in his words and most faithful in his promises. He it was who gave his own life and subjected Himself to sufferings for the good of his creatures without waiting for any merits on their part. Over this wide field of goodness and of benefits extend thy vision and occupy thy faculties without forgetting or wandering away there from. For, having obtained such a great knowledge of the highest Good, thine would be a loathsome meanness and disloyalty to forget Him, and horrible would be thy ingratitude, if, after having received an enlightenment so much above the common and ordinary, and divinely in fused by faith, thou wouldst allow thy understanding and will to swerve from the course of divine love. If at any time in thy weakness it should nevertheless happen, then quickly seek it again with all dispatch and diligence and return more humbly to the Most High to give Him honor, glory and eternal praise. Remember that thou must consider it thy special duty to do this incessantly for thyself and for all the other creatures and in this I desire thee to exert all thy diligence.
242. In order to excite thyself to greater efforts, confer in thy heart what thou knowest of my own conduct ; how at the first sight of the highest Good, my heart was wounded with love, giving myself entirely to Him in order never to separate myself thereafter. My whole life was consumed in this and I ceased not to press for ward in order to arrive at the centre of my desires and affections; for since the Object is infinite, so love can have no rest or cessation until It is attained. With the knowledge of God and the love of Him should also go the knowledge of thyself, remembering and considering thy insignificance and vileness. Advert that when these truths are well understood, repeated, and meditated upon, they will cause divine effects in the soul. Having heard these teachings and others of the Queen, I said to her Majesty:
243. “My Mistress, whose slave I am and to whom I dedicate and consecrate myself anew; not without cause has my heart desired and asked for this day, on which, according to thy maternal condescension, I might come to know thy heavenly doings and hear thy sweet and salutary words. I confess, O Queen, from all my heart, that I can claim no goodness on my part, which deserves such a benefit as a reward and, if I were not obeying thy will and that of thy divine Son, I would look upon the attempt to write thy life as an unpardonable presumption. Accept, O my Lady, this sacrifice of praise from me and speak, that my servant may hear (I Reg. 3, 10). Let thy most delightful voice, O sweetest Lady, resound in my ears (Cant. 2, 14), for Thou hast the words of life (John 6, 69). Continue to teach me and enlighten me, O Lady, that my heart may dilate in the sea of thy perfections, furnishing me with worthy material for the praise of the Almighty. In my bosom burns the fire, enkindled by thy kindness and longing for that, which is most holy and most acceptable to thy eyes. In my inferior members, however, I feel the law of repugnance to the law of the spirit, retarding me and embarrassing me. I justly fear that it will hinder me from attaining the good which Thou, most loving Mother, dost offer to me. Look upon me, therefore, my Lady, as a daughter, teach me as thy disciple, correct me as thy servant, and compel me as thy slave, whenever I am tardy or disinclined ; for, though unwillingly, I fall short through weakness. I will raise my aspirations to know the being of God, and, may his divine grace govern my affections, so that they may become enamored with his infinite perfections and if I attain Him, I will not dismiss Him (Eccli. 24, 24). But Thou, O Lady, Mother of knowledge and of beautiful love, beseech thy Son and my Lord, that He forsake me not in consideration of His liberality toward Thee, Thou Queen and Mistress of all creation.”
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