Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 7  Chapter  14    Verses:  248-276

248. Our mother the Church, governed by the divine
Spirit, celebrates the conversion of saint Paul as one of
the greatest miracles of grace for the consolation of sin
ners ; for, from a virulent and blasphemous persecutor of
the name of Christ, as saint Paul calls himself (1 Tim. 1,
13), he was changed to an Apostle obtaining mercy
through divine grace. As in obtaining it our great Queen
bore such a prominent part, this rare miracle of the Om
nipotent must not be passed over in this history. But its
greatness can be better understood if the state of saint
Paul as a persecutor of the Church at the time of his
calling is explained, and when the causes, which induced
him to signalize himself as such a strong champion of the
law of Moses and bitter persecutor of Christ, are known.
249. Saint Paul was distinguished in Judaism for two
reasons. The one was his own character, and the other
was the diligence of the demon in availing himself of his
naturally good qualities. Saint Paul was of a disposition
generous, magnanimous, most noble, kind, active, cour
ageous and constant. He had acquired many of the
moral virtues. He glorified in being a staunch professor
of the law of Moses, and in being studious and learned
in it ; although in truth he was ignorant of its essence, as
he himself confesses to Timothy, because all his learning
was human and terrestrial ; like many Jews, he knew
the law merely from the outside, without its spirit and
without the divine insight, which was necessary to under
stand it rightly and to penetrate its mysteries. But as his
ignorance seemed to him real knowledge and as he was
gifted with a retentive memory and keen understanding,
he was a great zealot for the traditions of the rabbis
(Gal. 1, 14). He judged it an outrage and absurdity,
that (as he thought), a new law, invented by a Man
crucified as a criminal, should be published in opposition
to them and to that law, which was given by God himself
and received by Moses on the mount (Exod. 24). Hence
he conceived a great hatred and contempt for Christ, his
law and his disciples. Steeped in this error he called into
activity all his moral virtues, (if that can be called virtue
which was devoid of true chanty), and prided himself
much in combating the errors of others. For that is a
common fault with the children of Adam, that they please
themselves in some good work without making the much
more important effort to reform some of their vices. In
this self-deception lived and acted Saul, deeply con
vinced that he was zealously promoting the honor of God
in upholding the ancient law of Moses and its divine ordainments.
It appeared to him that in acting thus he
was defending God s honor ; for he had not really under
stood this law, which in its ceremonies and figures was
but temporal and not eternal and which was necessarily
to be abrogated by a more wise and powerful Legislator,
as Moses himself foretold (Deut. 18, 15).
250. This indiscreet zeal and vehemence was fanned
by the malice of Lucifer and his ministers, who irritated
and roused him to even greater hatred against the law
of our Savior Jesus Christ. Many times have I in the
course of this history mentioned the malicious attempts
and infernal schemes of this dragon against the holy
Church. Among them was his anxious search for men,
who should serve as apt and efficient instruments and
executors of his malice. Lucifer by himself or his
demons, although they are able to tempt men singly, are
yet unable to raise up their rebellious banners in public
or become leaders in any sect or sedition against God,
unless it be through the assistance of some human being
in leading on the blind and unenlightened. This cruel
enemy was infuriated by the happy beginnings of the
holy Church; he feared its progress, and burned with
envy to see beings of a lower nature than himself raised
to the participation of the Divinity and glory, which he
himself had lost. He recognized the inclinations of
Saul, his habits and the state of his interior, and all
seemed to harmonize well with his own designs of de
stroying the Church of Christ through the willing hands
of unbelievers.
251. Lucifer consulted the other demons concerning
this wicked plan in a meeting held especially for this
purpose. With common accord the dragon and others
of the demons resolved ceaselessly to urge on Saul by
stirring up his anger against the Apostles and the whole
flock of Christ, using suggestions and reasonings adapted
to his state of mind; and, in order that he might be the
sooner influenced by them, they were to represent his in
dignation as a virtue to be gloried in. The demons exe
cuted this resolve to the letter and without losing any
occasion. Although Paul was dissatisfied and opposed to
the teaching of our Lord even before his death on the
Cross; yet he had not yet declared himself so zealous
a defender of the law of Moses and adversary of the
Lord. It was only at the death of saint Stephen, that
he showed the wrath, which the infernal dragon had
roused against the followers of Christ. As that enemy had
found the heart of Saul on that occasion so ready to exe
cute all his malicious suggestions, he became so arrogant
in his malice, that it seemed to him he need not desire
more, and that this man would offer no resistance to any
malice he ever could propose.
252. In his impious presumption Lucifer tried to in
duce Saul to attempt single-handed the life of all the
Apostles, and, with still greater presumption, even the
life of the most blessed Mary. To such a point of in
sanity rose the pride of this most bloodthirsty dragon.
But he deceived himself. The disposition of Saul was
most noble and generous, and therefore it appeared to
him beneath his dignity and honor to stoop to such crimes
and act the part of an assassin, when he could, as it
seemed to him, destroy the law of Christ by the power of
reasoning and open justice. He felt a still greater horror
at the thought of killing the most blessed Mother, on ac
count of the regard due to Her as a woman; and because
he had seen Her so composed and constant in the labors
and in the Passion of Christ. On this account She
seemed to him a magnanimous Woman and worthy of
veneration. She had indeed won his respect, together
with some compassion for her sorrows and afflictions,
the magnitude of which had become publicly known.
Hence he gave no admittance to the inhuman suggestions
of the demon against the life of the most blessed Mary.
This compassion for Her hastened not a little the con
version of Saul. Neither did he further entertain the
treacherous designs against the apostles, although Luci
fer sought to make their assassination appear as a deed
worthy of his courageous spirit. Rejecting all these wick
ed thoughts, he resolved to incite all the Jews to perse
cute the Church, until it should be destroyed together
with the name of Christ.
253. As the dragon and his cohorts could not attain
more, they contented themselves with having brought
Saul at least to this resolve. The dreadful wrath of
these demons against God and his creatures can be esti
mated from the fact, that on that very day they held
another meeting in order to consult how they could pre
serve the life of this man, whom they had found so well
adapted to execute their malice. These deadly enemies
well know, that they have no jurisdiction over the lives
of men, and that they can neither give nor take life, un
less permitted by God on some particular occasion ; never
theless they wished to make themselves the guardians and
the physicians of the life and health of Saul as far as
their power extended, namely, by keeping active his fore
thought against whatever was harmful and suggesting
the use of what was naturally beneficial to the welfare
of life and limb. Yet with all their efforts they were
unable to hinder the work of grace, when God so wished
it. Far were they from suspecting, that Saul would
ever accept the faith of Christ, and that the life, which
they were trying to preserve and lengthen, was to re
dound to their own ruin and torment. Such events are
provided by the wisdom of the Most High, in order that
the devil, being deceived by his evil counsels, may fall in
to his own pits and snares, and in order that all his
machinations may serve for the fulfillment of the divine
and irresistible will.
254. Such were the decrees of the highest Wisdom in
order that the conversion of Saul might be more wonder
ful and glorious. With this intention God permitted
Satan, after the death of saint Stephen, to instigate Saul
to go to the chief priests with fierce threats against the
disciples of Christ, who had left Jerusalem, and to solicit
permission for bringing them as prisoners to Jerusalem
from wherever he should find them (Acts 9, 1). For
this enterprise Saul offered his person and possessions,
and even his life ; at his own cost and without salary he
made this journey in order that the new Law, preached
by the disciples of the Crucified, might not prevail
against the Law of his ancestors. This offer was readily
favored by the high-priest and his counselors; they im
mediately gave to Saul the commission he asked, especial
ly to go to Damascus, whither, according to report, some
of the disciples had retired after leaving Jerusalem. He
prepared for the journey, hiring officers of justice and
some soldiers to accompany him. But his by far most
numerous escort were the many legions of demons, who
in order to assist him in this enterprise, came forth from
hell, hoping that with all this show of force and through
Saul, they might be able to make an end of the Church
and entirely devastate it with fire and blood. This was
really the intention of Saul, and the one with which Luci
fer and his demons sought to inspire him and his com
panions. But let us leave him for the present on his
journey to Damascus, anxious to seize all the disciples
of Christ, whom he should find in the synagogues of that
255. Nothing of all this was unknown to the Queen
of heaven ; for in addition to her science and vision pene
trating to the inmost thoughts of men and demons, the
Apostles were solicitous in keeping Her informed of all
that befell the followers of her Son. Long before this
time She had known that Saul was to be an Apostle of
Christ, a preacher to the gentiles, and a man distinguished
and wonderful in the Church ; for of all these things her
Son informed Her, as I said in the second part of this
history. But as She saw the persecution becoming more
violent and the glorious fruits and results of the con
version of Saul delayed, and as She moreover saw how
the disciples of Christ, who knew nothing of the secret
intentions of the Most High, were afflicted and some
what discouraged at the fury and persistence of his per
secution, the kindest Mother was filled with great sorrow.
Considering, in her heavenly prudence, how im
portant was this affair, She roused Herself to new cour
age and confidence in her prayers for the welfare of the
Church and the conversion of Saul. Prostrate in the
presence of her Son, She poured forth the following
prayer :
256. "Most high Lord, Son of the eternal Father, true
God of the true God, engendered of his own and indivisi
ble substance and, by the ineffable condescension of thy
infinite goodness, become my Son and the life of my
soul, how shall I, thy slave, continue to live, if the per
secution of the beloved Church Thou hast commended to
my care shall prevail and be not put down by thy al
mighty power? How shall my heart behold the fruit
of thy precious blood despised and trodden under foot?
If Thou, my Lord, givest to me the children begotten by
Thee in the Church and if I am to love them and look
upon them as a Mother, how shall I be consoled, when
I see them thus oppressed and destroyed for confessing
thy holy name and loving Thee with a sincere heart?
Thine is the power and the wisdom ; and it is not proper
that he should glory against Thee, who is the dragon of
hell, the enemy of thy name, and the slanderer of my
children and thy brethren. My Son, confound the pride
of this ancient serpent, which in its pride rises up anew
to vent its fury against the simple sheep of thy flock.
Behold how Lucifer has drawn into his deceits Saul,
whom Thou hast chosen and set apart as thy Apostle. It
is time, O my God, that Thou show thy Omnipotence and
save this soul, through whom and in whom thy name is
to be so highly exalted, and so much good to be secured
for all the world."
257. The most blessed Lady persevered in this prayer
for a long time, offering to suffer and die, if necessary,
for the welfare of the holy Church and the conversion of
Saul. As in his infinite wisdom her divine Son had fore
seen this mediation of his beloved Mother, He descended
from Heaven and appeared to Her in person, while She
was praying in the retirement of her oratory. He said
to Her: "My beloved Mother, in whom I find the ful
fillment of all my will and pleasure, what are thy re
quests? Tell Me what thou wishest?" As usual She
prostrated Herself in the presence of her divine Son and
adoring Him as the true God, said : "My highest Lord,
far in advance dost Thou know the hearts and the
thoughts of thy creatures, and my desires are open to
thy eyes. My petitions are those of one knowing thy in
finite charity for men, of the mother of thy Church, the
advocate of sinners and thy slave. If I have received all
from Thee without my merit, I cannot fear to be un
heard in my desires for thy glory. I ask, O my Son, that
Thou look upon the affliction of thy Church and that,
like a loving Father, Thou hasten the relief of thy chil
dren engendered by thy most precious blood."
258. The Lord delighted in the voice and clamors of
his most loving Mother and Spouse; and therefore He
asked more particularly, as if ignorant of what She de
sired Him to grant and what beforehand could not be
denied to her great merits and love. In these ruses of
love Christ our Lord continued for some time con
versing with his sweetest Mother, while She pleaded
for the end of persecution and the conversion of Saul.
Among other things He said: "My Mother, if in my
mercy I show clemency to Saul, how shall my justice be
satisfied, since Saul persists in the deepest unbelief and
malice and with all his heart serves my enemies for the
destruction of my Church and the blotting out of my
name from the face of the earth, thus meriting my wrath
and chastisement ?" To this argument, which was so con
clusive on the side of justice, the Mother of mercy and
wisdom was not at a loss for response, and She answered :
"My Lord and eternal God, my Son, the turgid floods of
guilt in Saul were not sufficient to extinguish the fire of
thy divine love, when, as Thou hast thyself manifested
to me, Thou didst choose Paul as thy Apostle and as a
vase of election, acceptable to thy divine mind and worthy
to be written in thy memory. More powerful and effica
cious were thy infinite mercies, by which Thou hast
founded thy beloved Church, and therefore I do not ask
anything, which Thou thyself hast not resolved upon
beforehand; but I grieve, my Son, that this soul should
proceed to greater length for the ruin and perdition of
itself and of others (if it can be like that of others), and
that a hindrance should be placed to the glory of thy
name, to the joy of the angels and saints, to the consola
tion of the just, to the confidence afforded to sinners,
and to the confusion of thy enemies. Do not then, my
Son and Lord, despise the prayers of thy Mother; let
thy divine decrees be executed and let me see thy name
magnified; for the time and the occasion are opportune
and my heart cannot suffer such a blessing to be
259. During this appeal the charity in the bosom of the
most chaste Virgin Queen broke out into such a flame,
that without a doubt it would have consumed her nat
ural life, if the Lord had not preserved Her by the miracu
lous interference of his almighty power. Although in
order to enjoy the delight of the excessive love of this
Creature, He permitted his blessed Mother to suffer some
sensible pain and, as it were, to fall into a kind of swoon,
yet her Son, who according to our way of understanding,
could not longer resist the love which wounded his heart,
consoled and restored Her by yielding to her prayers.
He said: "My Mother, chosen among all creatures, let
thy will be done without delay. I will do with Saul as
Thou askest, and will so change him, that from this mo
ment he will be a defender of the Church which he per
secutes, and a preacher of my name and glory. I shall
now proceed to receive him immediately into my friend
ship and grace."
260. Thereupon Jesus Christ our Lord disappeared
from the presence of his most blessed Mother leaving
Her still engaged in prayer and furnished with a clear
insight into what was to happen. Shortly afterward the
Lord appeared to Saul on the road near Damascus,
whither, in his ever increasing fury against Jesus, his
accelerated journey had already brought him. The Lord
showed himself to Saul in a resplendent cloud amid im
mense glory, and at the same time Saul was flooded with
divine light without and within, and his heart and senses
were overwhelmed beyond power of resistance (Acts 9,
4). He fell suddenly from his horse to the ground and
at the same time he heard a voice from on high saying:
"Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute Me?" Full of fear
and consternation he answered : "Who art Thou, Lord?"
The voice replied : "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest ;
it is hard for thee to kick against the goad of my omnip
otence." Again Saul answered with greater fear and
trembling: "Lord, what dost Thou command and de
sire to do with me?" The companions of Saul heard
these questions and answers, though they did not see the
Savior. They saw the splendor surrounding him and all
of them were filled with dread and astonishment at this
sudden and unthought of event, and they were for some
time dumbfounded.
261. This new wonder, surpassing all that had been
seen in the world before, was greater and more far-reach
ing than what could be taken in by the senses. For Saul
was not only prostrated in body, blinded and bereft of
his strength so that, if the divine power had not sustained
him, he would have immediately expired; but also as to
his interior he suffered more of a change than when
he passed from nothingness into existence at his con
ception, farther removed from what he was before than
light from darkness, or the highest heaven from the
lowest earth; for he was changed from an image of the
demon to that of one of the highest and most ardent
seraphim. This triumph over Lucifer and his demons
had been especially reserved by God for his divine Wis
dom and Omnipotence ; so that, in virtue of the Passion
and Death of Christ this dragon and his malice might be
vanquished by the human nature of one man, in whom
the effects of grace and Redemption were set in oppo
sition to the sin of Lucifer and all its effects. Thus it
happened that in the same short time, in which Lucifer
through pride was changed from an angel to a devil, the
power of Christ changed Saul from a demon into an
angel in grace. In the angelic nature the highest beauty
turned into the deepest ugliness ; and in the human nature
the greatest perversity into the highest moral perfection.
Lucifer descended as the enemy of God from heaven to
the deepest abyss of the earth, and a man ascended as a
friend of God from the earth to the highest heaven.
262. And since this triumph would not have been suf
ficiently glorious, if the Lord had not given more than
Lucifer had lost, the Omnipotent wished to add in saint
Paul an additional triumph to his victory over the demon.
For Lucifer, although he fell from that exceedingly high
grace which he had received, had never possessed beatific
vision, nor had he made himself worthy of it, and hence
could not lose what he did not possess. But Paul, im
mediately on disposing himself for justification and on
gaining grace, began to partake of glory and clearly saw
the Divinity, though this vision was gradual. O invin
cible virtue of the divine power! O infinite efficacy of
the merits of the life and death of Christ! It was cer
tainly reasonable and just, that if the malice of sin in one
instant changed the angel into a demon, that the grace
of the Redeemer should be more powerful and abound
more than sin (Rom. 5, 20), raising up from it a man,
not only to place him into original grace, but into glory.
Greater is this wonder than the creation of heaven and
earth with all the creatures; greater than to give sight
to the blind, health to the sick, life to the dead. Let us
congratulate the sinners on the hope inspired by this won
derful justification, since we have for our Restorer, for
our Father, and for our Brother the same Lord, who
justified Paul; and He is not less powerful nor less holy
for us, than for saint Paul.
263. During the time in which Paul lay prostrate up
on the earth, he was entirely renewed by sanctifying
grace and other infused gifts, restored and illumined pro
portionately in all his interior faculties, and thus he was
prepared to be elevated to the empyrean heaven, which is
called the third heaven. He himself confesses, that he
did not know whether he was thus elevated in body or only
in spirit (I Cor. 12, 4). But there, by more than ordi
nary vision, though in a transient manner, he saw the
Divinity clearly and intuitively. Besides the being of
God and his attributes of infinite perfection, he recog
nized the mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption,
and all the secrets of the law of grace and of the state
of the Church. He saw the peerless blessing of his justi
fication and of the prayer of saint Stephen for him ; and
still more clearly was he made aware of the prayers of
the most holy Mary and how his conversion had been
hastened through Her; and that, after Christ, her merits
had made him acceptable in the sight of God. From
that hour on he was filled with gratitude and with deep
est veneration and devotion to the great Queen of heaven,
whose dignity was now manifest to him and whom he
thenceforth acknowledged as his Restorer. At the same
time he recognized the office of Apostle to which he was
called, and that in it he was to labor and suffer unto
death. In conjunction with these mysteries were re
vealed to him many others, of which he himself says
that they are not to be disclosed (II Cor. 7, 4). He
offered himself in sacrifice to the will of God in all
things, as he showed afterwards in the course of his life.
The most blessed Trinity accepted this sacrifice and offer
ing of his lips and in the presence of the whole court of
heaven named and designated him as the preacher and
teacher of the gentiles, and as a vase of election for
carrying through the world the name of the Most High.
264. For the blessed in heaven this day was one of
great accidental joy and jubilee, and all of them com
posed new songs of praise and exaltation of the divine
power for such a rare and extraordinary miracle. If at
the conversion of any sinner they are filled with joy
(Luke 15, 7), with what joy were they not filled at see
ing the greatness of the Lord s mercy thus manifested and
such an immense blessing conferred upon all the mortals
for the glory of his holy Church? Saul came out of his
rapture changed into Paul; and rising from the ground
he seemed to be blind and could not see the light of the
sun. His companions brought him to Damascus to the
house of one of his acquaintances and there to the ad
miration of all, he remained three days without eating
or drinking engaged in earnest prayer. He prostrated
himself on the ground and, as he was now in a state to
deplore his sins, with deepest sorrow and detestation
of his past life, he prayed : "Woe is me, in what dark
ness and blindness have I lived, and how far have I
hastened on the way of eternal perdition. O infinite
love ! O charity without measure ! O infinite sweetness
of the eternal bounty ! Who, O my Lord and God, has
induced Thee to act thus toward me the vile worm of the
earth, thy enemy and blasphemer? But who could in
duce Thee except thyself and the prayers of thy Mother
and Spouse? When I in blindness and darkness perse
cuted Thee, Thou, most kind Lord, earnest to meet me.
While I was busy shedding the innocent blood which shall
always cry out against me, Thou, the God of mercies,
didst wash and purify me with thy own and make me
a partaker of thy ineffable Divinity. How shall I praise
eternally such unheard of mercies? How shall I suffi
ciently bewail a life so hateful in thy eyes ? The heavens
and the earth proclaim thy glory. I shall preach thy
holy name and shall defend it in the midst of thy ene
mies." Such and other aspirations saint Paul repeated
with matchless sorrow and with acts of the most ardent
charity and with the deepest and most humble gratitude.
265. On tHe third day after the disablement and con
version of Saul the Lord spoke in a vision to one of the
disciples, Ananias, living in Damascus (Acts 9, 10).
Calling him by name as his servant and friend, the Lord
told him to go to the house of a man named Judas in a
certain district of the city and there to find Saul of
Tarsus, whom he would find engaged in prayer. At the
same time Saul had also a vision, in which he saw and
recognized the disciple Ananias coming to him and re
storing sight to him by the imposition of hands. But of
this vision of Saul, Ananias at that time had no knowl
edge. Therefore he answered: "Lord, I have informa
tion of this man having persecuted thy saints in Jerusa
lem and caused a great slaughter of them in Jerusalem;
and not satisfied with this, he has now come with war
rants from the high-priests in order to seize whomever
he can find invoking thy holy name. Dost thou then
send a simple sheep like myself to go in search of the
wolf, that desires to devour it?" The Lord replied : "Go,
for the one thou judgest to be my enemy, is for Me a
vase of election, in order that he may carry my name
through all the nations and kingdoms, and to the children
of Israel. And I can, as I shall, assign to him what he
is to suffer for my name." And the disciple was at once
informed of all that had happened.
266. Relying on this word of the Lord, Ananias
obeyed and betook himself at once to the house, in which
saint Paul then was. He found him in prayer and said
to him : "Brother Saul, our Lord Jesus, who appeared
to thee on thy journey, sends me in order that thou mayest
receive thy sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost." He
received holy Communion at the hands of Ananias
and was strengthened and made whole, giving thanks to
the Author of all these blessings. Then he partook of
some corporal nourishment, of which he had not tasted
for three days. He remained for some time in Damas
cus, conferring and conversing with the disciples in that
city. He prostrated himself at their feet asking their
pardon and begging them to receive him as their servant
and brother, even as the least and most unworthy of
them all. At their approval and counsel he went forth
publicly to preach Christ as the Messias and Redeemer
of the world and with such fervor, wisdom and zeal, that
he brought confusion to the unbelieving Jews in the
numerous synagogues of Damascus. All wondered at
this unexpected change and, in great astonishment, said :
Is not this the man, who in Jerusalem has persecuted with
fire and sword all who invoke that name? And has he
not come to bring them prisoners to the chief priests of
that city? What change then is this, which we see in
267. Saint Paul grew stronger each day and with in
creasing force continued his preaching to the gathering
of the Jews and gentiles. Accordingly they schemed to
take away his life and then happened, what we shall
touch upon later. The miraculous conversion of saint
Paul took place one year and one month after the
martyrdom of saint Stephen, on the twenty-fifth of
January, the same day on which the Church celebrates
that feast; and it was in the year thirty-six of the birth
of our Lord; because saint Stephen, as is said in chapter
the twelfth, died completing his thirty-fourth year and
one day of his thirty-fifth; whereas the conversion of
saint Paul took place after he had completed one month
of the thirty-sixth; and then saint James departed on his
missionary journey, as I will say in its place.
268. Let us return to our great Queen and Lady of
the angels, who by means of her vision knew all that was
happening to Saul; his first and most unhappy state of
mind, his fury against the name of Christ, his sudden
casting down and its cause, his conversion, and above all
his extraordinary and miraculous elevation to the
empyrean heaven and vision of God, besides all the rest,
that happened to him in Damascus. This knowledge was
not only proper and due to Her, because She was the
Mother of the Lord and of his holy Church and the in
strument of this great wonder; but also because She
alone could properly estimate this miracle, even more so
than saint Paul and more than the whole mystical body
of the Church; for it was not just, that such an unheard
of blessing and such a prodigious work of the Omnipo
tent should . remain without recognition and gratitude
among mortals. This the most blessed Mary rendered in
all plenitude and She was the first One, who celebrated
this solemn event with the acknowledgment due to it
from the whole human race. The holy Mother invited
all her holy angels and many others from heaven, who,
forming into alternate choirs, sang with Her canticles
of praise in exaltation of the power, wisdom and liberal
mercy of the Almighty toward Paul; and others on the
merits of her most holy Son, in virtue of which this con
version, so full of prodigies and miracles, had been
wrought. By this thanksgiving and fidelity of most
holy Mary the Most High (according to our way of
understanding such things), as it were, compensated
Himself for having so highly favored the Church in this
conversion of saint Paul.
269. But let us not pass over in silence the reflections
of the new Apostle concerning what the kindest Mother
might think of him now, and must have thought of him
as such an enemy and persecutor of her most holy Son
and his disciples, intent on the destruction of the Church.
The loving conjectures of saint Paul in this matter arose
not so much from ignorance, as from his humility and
veneration toward the Mother of Jesus. But he did not
know that the great Lady was cognizant of all that had
happened in connection with him. Although from this
newly acquired knowledge of heavenly things in God he
had recognized Her as his most kind Helper in his con
version and salvation; yet the wickedness* of his past life
abashed, humiliated and somewhat frightened him, as
one unworthy of the favor of such a Mother, whose Son
he had persecuted so furiously and blindly. It seemed
to him that for the pardoning of such grave sins an in
finite mercy was necessary, and Mary was a mere
creature. On the other hand, he was encouraged by the
thought, that She, in imitation of her Son, had pardoned
his executioners. The disciples also told him, how kind
and sweet She was with sinners and the needy ; and then
he was inflamed with the ardent desire of seeing Her
and he resolved in his mind to throw himself at her feet
and to kiss the ground whereon She walked. But im
mediately he was again overcome by shame at the thought
of appearing before Her, who was the true Mother of
Jesus, still in mortal flesh and so deeply wronged by his
conduct. He discussed within himself, whether he
should not ask Her to punish him, because that would
be some sort of satisfaction; yet again this vengeance
seemed foreign to her gentleness, since She had ob
tained for him through her prayers such immense mercy.
270. Amid these and other disquieting* thoughts the
Lord permitted saint Paul to suffer a harrowing, yet
sweet sorrow; and at last he said to himself: "Take
heart, vile and sinful man, for without a doubt She will
receive and pardon thee, since She has interceded for
thee as the true Mother of Him who died for thy salva
tion, and She will act as the Mother of such a Son, since
both of Them are all mercy and kindness and will not
despise the contrite and humble heart" (Ps. 50, 19). The
fears and doubts of saint Paul were not hidden from the
heavenly Mother; for She knew all through her exalted
science. She knew also that the Apostle would not find
an occasion to see Her for a long time. Moved by her
maternal love and compassion, She would not permit this
consolation to be postponed to such a distant period.
Therefore, in order to bring- it to him from Jerusalem,
She called one of her angels and said to him : "Heavenly
spirit and minister of my Son and Lord, I am moved
to compassion at the sorrow and trouble in the humble
heart of Paul. I beg thee, my angel, go immediately to
Damascus and console and comfort him in his fears.
Congratulate him on his good fortune and remind him
of the thanks he owes eternally to my Son and Lord for
the clemency with which He has drawn him to his friend
ship and chosen him as his Apostle. Tell him, that never
has such mercy been shown to any man as to him. And
in my own name tell him, that I shall aid him as a Mother
in all his labors and serve him as the Handmaid of all
the Apostles and ministers of the name and doctrine of
my Son. Give him my blessing in the name of Him, who
condescended to assume flesh in my womb and to be
nursed at my breast."
271. The holy angel immediately fulfilled the com
mission of his Queen and quickly appeared to saint Paul,
who had remained in continued prayer ; for this happened
on the day after his Baptism and on the fourth after his
conversion. The angel manifested himself in human
form, wonderfully beautiful and resplendent, and ful
filled all the orders of Mary. Saint Paul listened to his
message with incomparable humility, reverence, and joy
of spirit, and thus replied to the angel : "Minister of the
omnipotent and eternal God, I, the most vile of men, be
seech thee, sweetest heavenly spirit, do thou, according
as thou seest me indebted to the condescending mercy of
the infinite God, give Him thanks and due praise, for
having so undeservedly marked me with the character and
divine light of his children. The more I flew from his
immense bounty, the more He followed me and advanced
to meet me; when I delivered myself over to death, He
gave me life; when I persecuted Him as an enemy, He
raised me to his grace and friendship, recompensing the
greatest injuries with the most extraordinary blessings.
No one ever rendered himself so hateful and abominable
as I; yet no one was so freely pardoned and favored
(I Tim. 1, 13). He snatched me from the mouth of the
lion in order that I might be one of the sheep of his
flock. Thou art a witness of it all, my lord; help me
to be eternally grateful. And I beseech thee, tell the
Mother of mercy and my Lady, that this her unworthy
slave lies prostrate at her feet, adoring the ground on
which they tread and with a contrite heart asking Her
to pardon him for having so daringly sought to destroy
the honor and name of her Son and true God. Beseech
Her to forget my offense and deal with this blasphemous
sinner as the Mother who as a Virgin conceived, brought
forth and nursed the Lord, who had given Her life and
had chosen Her for this purpose from amongst all
creatures. I am deserving of chastisement and retribu
tion for so many sins and I am prepared to suffer all;
but I am aware of the clemency of her heart and I shall
not declare myself undesirous of her favor and protec
tion. Let Her receive me as a child of the Church which
She loves so much. All the days of my life I shall de
vote myself entirely to its increase and defense and to
the service of Her, whom I recognize as my salvation
and as the Mother of grace."
272. The holy angel returned with this answer to the
most blessed Mary ; and although in her wisdom She well
knew it, he repeated it to Her, She heard it with an
especial joy and again gave thanks and praise to the Most
High for the works of his divine right hand in the new
Apostle saint Paul, and for the benefits which would re
sult therefrom to his holy Church and the faithful. Of
the confusion and rout of the demons at the conversion
of saint Paul, and of many other secrets made known to
me concerning the malice of the devils I shall speak, as
far as possible, in the next chapter.
273. My daughter, none of the faithful should be ig
norant of the fact, that the Most High could have drawn
and converted saint Paul without resorting to such
miracles of his infinite power. But He made use of
them in order to show men, how much his bounty is in
clined to pardon them and raise them to his friendship
and grace, and in order to teach them, by the example of
this great Apostle, how they, on their part, should co
operate and respond to his calls. Many souls the Lord
wakes up and urges on by his inspiration and help. Many
do respond and justify themselves through the Sacra
ments of the Church; but not all persevere in their justi
fication and still a fewer number follow it up or strive
after perfection : beginning in spirit, they relax, and finish
in the flesh. The cause of their want of perseverance in
grace and relapse into their sins is their not imitating
the spirit of saint Paul at his conversion, when he ex
claimed : "Lord, what is it Thou wishest with me, and
what shall I do for Thee?" If some of them proclaim
this sentiment with their lips, it is not from their whole
heart, and they always retain some love of themselves, of
honor, of possessions, of sensual pleasure or of some
occasion of sin, and thus they soon again stumble and
274. But the Apostle was a true and living example of
one converted by the light of grace, not only because he
passed from an extreme of sin into that of wonder
ful grace and friendship of God ; but also because he co
operated to his utmost with the call of God, departing at
once and entirely from all his evil dispositions and selfseeking
and placing himself entirely at the disposal of the
divine will and pleasure. This total denegation of self
and surrender to the will of God is contained in those
words: "Lord, what dost Thou wish to do with me?"
and in it consisted, as far as depended upon him, all his
salvation. As he pronounced them with all the sincerity
of a contrite and humbled heart, he renounced his own
will and delivered himself over to that of the Lord, re
solved from that moment forward to permit none of his
faculties of mind or sense to serve the animal or sensual
life into which he had strayed. He delivered himself over
to the service of the Almighty in whatever manner or
direction should become known to him as being the divine
will, ready to execute it without delay or questioning.
And this he immediately set about by entering the city
and obeying the command of the Lord given through
the disciple Ananias. As the Most High searches the
secrets of the human heart, He saw the sincerity, with
which saint Paul corresponded to his vocation and yield
ed to his divine will and disposition. He not only
received him with great pleasure, but multiplied exceed
ingly his graces, gifts and wonderful favors, which even
Paul would not have received or ever have merited with
out this entire submission to the wishes of the Lord.
275. Conformably to these truths, my daughter, I de
sire thee to execute fully my oft-repeated commands and
exhortations, that thou forget the visible, the apparent
and deceitful. Repeat very often, and more with the
heart than with the lips those words of saint Paul : "Lord,
what dost Thou wish to do with me?" For as soon as
thou beginnest to do anything of thy own choice, it
will not be true, that thou seekest solely the will of the
Lord. The instrument has no motion or action except
that imparted to it by the artisan; and if it had its own
will, it would be able to resist and act contrary to the
will of the one using it. The same holds true between
God and the soul : for, if it entertains any desire of its
own independently of God, it will militate against the
pleasure of the Lord. As He keeps inviolate the liberty
of action conceded to man, He will permit it to lead man
astray, as soon as he decides for himself without refer
ence to the direction of his Maker.
276. And since it is not proper that the doings of
creatures in this mortal life should be miraculously gov
erned by the divine power, God, in order that men might
not advance false excuses, has implanted a law into their
hearts and also constituted his holy Church, in order
that they might know the divine will and regulate their
conduct in the fulfilling of it. Moreover, for additional
security, He has appointed superiors and ministers in his
Church, in order that hearing and obeying them, men
might obey the Lord in them. All this security thou, my
dearest, possessest in fullness, so that thou shouldst
neither admit of any movement, thought, desire of thy
own, nor fulfill thy own will in anything independently
of the will and direction of him who has charge of thy
soul; for him the Lord sends to thee, just as He sent
Ananias to saint Paul. Moreover thou art in a particu
lar manner obliged to this obedience, because the Most
High looks upon thee with an especial love and grace and
desires to use thee as an instrument in his hands, as
sists thee, governs thee, and moves thee directly as wel/
as indirectly through me and his holy angels ; and all this
He continues to do faithfully, as is well known to thee.
Consider then, how much reason thou hast to die to thy
own desires and live only for the will of God, and that
it alone should give life to all thy actions and operations.
Cut short therefore all thy reflections and self-reliance
and remember, that, even if thou shouldst have the wis
dom of the most learned, the counsel of the most pru
dent, and the natural intelligence of the angels, thou
couldst, with all this, know how to execute his will far
less perfectly than by resigning and leaving all to his
divine pleasure. He alone knows what is suitable to thee
and seeks it with an eternal love ; He chose thy ways and
governs thee in them. Permit thyself to be guided by his
divine light, without losing time in doing thy duty; for
in this delay lurks the danger of erring, and in my doc
trine lie all security and success. Write it in thy heart
and fulfill it with all thy strength, in order that thou
mayest merit my intercession and, through it, to be
brought near to the Most High.
the Work of God Apostolate - mcog #183                                                

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