Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 8  Chapter  10    Verses:  575-594

575. Without ever failing in her attention to the ex
terior government of the Church (as I have until now
made plain), the most blessed Mary in secret practiced
other exercises and good works, by which She merited
innumerable gifts and blessings from the Most High, as
well for the common benefit of all the faithful, as for
myriads of particular souls in furtherance of their sal
vation. As far as I can in these last chapters, I shall,
for our instruction and admiration and for the glory of
the most blessed Mother, write of these hidden and un
known works. First of all I will state, that notwith
standing the many privileges which the great Queen of
heaven enjoyed, She constantly kept present in her mem
ory the doings and the mysteries of the life of her divine
Son; for besides the abstractive vision, by which She in
these last years continually saw the Divinity and knew
all things, the Lord had from her Conception conceded
to Her the privilege of never forgetting what once She
had known or understood ; for in this regard She enjoyed
the privilege of an angel, as I have stated in the first
576. I also stated in the second part, in writing of the
Passion, that the blessed Mother felt in her body and
purest soul all the pains and torments of our Savior
Jesus, so that none of them were hidden to Her or with
out the corresponding suffering in her own self. All the
images or impressions of the Passion remained imprinted
in her interior just as She had received them; for She
had made this request of her Lord. These were not
blotted out, as were the other sensible images, through
the vision of the Divinity; rather they were made more
vivid, in order that She might miraculously rejoice in
her compassion and at the same time suffer those sor
rows, for this was her desire during the time She was
still to live in mortal flesh and to this exercise She di
rected her natural will-power. As exquisite as her
favors and privileges were (according to what I have
always maintained in my discourse), they nevertheless
were all pledges and tokens of the reciprocal love of her
divine Son, who, in our way of speaking, could not con
tain Himself or refrain from dealing with his Mother as
the God of love, as the Omnipotent, infinitely rich in
mercies. But the most blessed Virgin did not ask for
them or seek them; for her sole desire was to be cruci
fied with Christ, to continue within Herself his sorrows,
renew his Passion, and without this it seemed to her use
less and idle to live in passible flesh.
577. Hence She ordered all her occupations in such
a manner, that She might at all times preserve in her
heart the image of her divine Son, afflicted, outraged,
wounded and disfigured by the torments of his Passion,
and within Herself She beheld this image as in a most
clear mirror. She heard the injuries, outrages, affronts
and blasphemies against Him, with all the circumstances
of time and place, and She beheld the whole Passion as
in one living and penetrating vista. Throughout the
day this sorrowful vision excited Her to most heroic
acts of virtue and stirred her sorrow and compassion;
but her most prudent love did not content itself with
these exercises. During stated hours and times She
engaged in other exercises with her holy angels, especially
with those I have mentioned in the first part as bearing
the tokens or the escutcheons of the instruments of the
Passion. These in the first place, and then the other
angels, She engaged as assistants in the following exer
578. For each kind of the wounds and sufferings of
Christ our Savior She recited special prayers and salu
tations, in order to give them special adoration and wor
ship. For each of the contemptuous and insulting words
of the Jews and his other enemies, which had been
spoken either in envy or in fury or vengeance, for each
of the blasphemies uttered, She composed special hymns
of veneration and honor to make up for their attempts
at diminishing it. For the insulting gestures, mock
eries and personal injuries, She practiced most profound
humiliations, genuflections and prostrations, and in this
manner She sought continually to make up for the af
fronts and injuries heaped upon her divine Son in his
life and his passion; and thus She confessed his Divinity,
his humanity, his holiness, his miracles, his works and
his doctrines. For all She gave Him glory and magnifi
cence ; and in all the holy angels joined Her, and corre
sponded with Her full of admiration of such wisdom,
fidelity and love united in a mere creature.
579. Even if the most blessed Mother during her
whole life had engaged in no other occupation than these
exercises, She would have accomplished and merited
more than all the saints in all that they have done or suf
fered for God. By the force of love her sorrow in
these exercises was equal to martyrdom many times
over; and many times would She have died in them, if
the divine power had not sustained her life for still
greater merit and glory. And if, as is true, She in her
immense charity offered all these works for the Church,
let us consider how much we are in her debt as faithful
children for thus increasing the treasures of help, which
She left at the disposal of us unfortunate children of
Eve. And in order that our meditation may not be half
hearted and lukewarm, I will say, that the effects of
her contemplations were often astounding; many times
She wept tears of blood, which covered her whole face;
at other times in her agony She was not only bathed in
perspiration, but in a bloody sweat, running from Her
even to the ground. What is more, sometimes her heart
was wrenched from its natural position by the violence
of her grief; and when She was in such extremes, her
divine Son came from heaven, furnishing Her with new
strength and life to soothe her sorrow and heal the
wounds caused by love of Him, and in order that by
such assistance and comfort, She might continue the
exercises of her compassion.
580. The Lord however wished Her to lay aside these
sorrowful sentiments and affections on the days in which
She commemorated the mystery of his Resurrection,
as I will speak of later on, in order that there might
be maintained the proper relation between cause and
effect. For some of these sorrows were incompatible
with the favors overflowing in their effects upon the
body, yet excluding pain. But She never lost sight of
his sufferings and therefore felt other effects of her com
passion by uniting with her joys, the gratitude for what
the Lord endured. Thus in the sweetness of all the
favors of the Lord his Passion entered as a mixture of
bitterness. She obtained also the consent of the evan
gelist saint John to remain retired in her oratory for
celebrating the death and burial of her divine Son on
the Friday of each week. On those days saint John re
mained in the Cenacle to receive those, who called upon
Her and allowed none to disturb Her; and whenever he
could not attend to this duty, it was performed by some
other disciple. The most blessed Mary retired for this
exercise at five o clock on Thursday and did not reappear
until toward noon of Sunday. In order that during
these three days no important matter pertaining to the
government of the Church might be neglected, the great
Lady appointed one of her angels to take her shape and
briefly despatch what would suffer no delay, so provi
dent and attentive was She in all affairs of charity touch
ing her children and domestics.
581. To describe or comprehend what happened with
our heavenly Mother during the exercises of these three
days can never be within our capacity; the Lord alone,
who was the Author of them, shall one day manifest it
to us in the light of the saints. Also what I myself
have come to know of it, I am unable to describe ; I will
only say that beginning with the washing of the feet, the
most blessed Mary commemorated all the mysteries up
to that of the Resurrection ; and in each hour and moment
She renewed in Herself all the movements, actions,
works and sufferings as they had happened in her divine
Son. She repeated the same prayers and petitions as
He himself had made and as we have seen described in
their place. Anew the most pure Mother felt in her
virginal body all the pains endured by Christ our Savior.
She carried the Cross and placed Herself upon it. In
short, I will say, that as long as She lived, the whole
passion of her divine Son was renewed in Her week for
week. Through this exercise the great Queen gained
great favors and blessings for those who devoutly bear
in mind the Lord s passion; and hence the powerful
Queen has promised to all such souls, especial assistance
and participation in the treasures of the Passion; for
She desired from her inmost heart, that the Church
should continue and preserve its commemoration. In
virtue of her wishes and prayers the Lord ordained, that
afterwards many persons in the holy Church should
follow these exercises of the Passion, imitating his most
blessed Mother, who was the first one to teach and prac
tice such an exalted profession.
582. In these exercises the great Queen sought espe
cially to celebrate the institution of the most blessed
Sacrament by new hymns of praise, of thanksgiving
and fervent love. She was solicitous to invite for this
purpose her own angels and many others from the em
pyrean heaven, in order to assist and accompany Her
in these praises of the Lord. It was a wonder worthy
of his Omnipotence, that the Most High should send
from heaven multitudes of angels to view this prodigy
of Christ s remaining sacramentally present in her heart
from one Communion to the other and to incite them to
give glory and praise for the wonderful effects of his
sacramental presence in this Creature, whom they beheld
more pure and more holy than the angels and seraphim
and the like of which they had not seen or would ever
see in all the rest of creation.
583. It was not less wonderful to them (just as it
ought to be to us) to see, that though the great Queen
was worthy of preserving within Herself the sacred
species as in a tabernacle, She was so solicitous in pre
paring Herself anew by the most fervid exercises and
devotions every time She was again to receive holy
Communion ; and this She did nearly every day except on
those in which She remained in her oratory. She first
offered up for this purpose her weekly exercises of the
Passion ; and besides this, whenever She retired at night
fall before the day of Communion, She began other exer
cises, such as prostrations in the form of a cross, genu
flections, prayers, and adorations of the immutable es
sence of God. She asked permission of the Lord to
speak to Him and to permit Her, in spite of her earthly
lowliness, to partake of his Son in the holy Sacrament;
She appealed to his infinite bounty and to his love
toward the Church in thus remaining sacramentally pres
ent, as a reason that She should be favored with this
blessing. She offered to Him his own Passion and
Death, the worthiness with which He had communicated
Himself, the union of his human nature with the divine,
all his works from the moment of his conception in the
virginal womb, all the virtue of the angelic nature and
its works, of all the just in past, present and future times.
584. Then she made most intense acts of humility,
professing Herself but dust and ashes in comparison
with the infinite being of God, to which the highest crea
tures are so inferior and unequal. In the contemplation
of what She was to receive sacramentally, She was so
affected and so deeply moved, that it is impossible to
describe it in words; for She raised Herself and
transcended above the choirs of seraphim and cherubim ;
and as, in her own estimation, She considered Herself
the lowest of all creatures, She called upon her guardian
angels and upon all the other angels, asking them, with
incomparable humility, to supplicate the Lord to dispose
and prepare Her for receiving Him worthily, since She
was but an inferior and earthly creature. The holy an
gels, obeying Her in joyful admiration, assisted and
accompanied Her in these petitions, in which She per
severed for the greater part of the night preceding her
585. As the wisdom of the great Queen, although in
itself finite, is for us incomprehensible, we can never
worthily understand to what height rose her virtues and
works of love on these occasions. But they were often
of such a kind as to oblige the Lord to respond by a
personal visit, in which He gave Her to understand with
what pleasure He came to dwell sacramentally in her
heart and to renew in Her the pledges of his infinite love.
When the hour of her Communion arrived, She first
heard the Mass usually celebrated by the Evangelist. In
these Masses, although the Epistles and Gospels, being
not yet written, were not read, the consecration was
always the same as now, and to it were added other rites
and ceremonies with many psalms and orations. At the
end of Mass the heavenly Mother approached, making
three most profound genuflections; all inflamed with
love She received her Son in the Sacrament, welcoming
in her purest bosom and heart that same God, to whom
She had given the most sacred humanity in her virginal
womb. Having communicated, She retired, and, unless
some very urgent need of her fellowmen demanded
otherwise, remained alone for three hours. During these
hours the Evangelist was often privileged to see rays of
light darting forth from Her as from the sun.
586. The prudent Mother also provided that for the
celebration of the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass the
Apostles and priests be clothed in ornate and mysterious
vestments, different from those they wore in ordinary
life. Accordingly, with her own hands, She provided
ornaments and sacerdotal vestments for its celebration,
thus originating the ceremonious observances in the
Church. Although these vestments were not quite of
the same form as nowadays ; yet they were not materially
different in appearance from those which in the course
of time came into use in the Roman Church. The ma
terial was more alike; for She made them of linen and
rich silks, purchased with the alms and presents made to
Her. Whenever She worked at these vestments, sewing
or fitting them, She remained on her knees or on her
feet, and She would not entrust them to other sacristans
than the angels, who assisted and helped Her in all these
things; likewise She kept these ornaments and all that
pertained to the service of the altar in incredible order
and cleanliness; and from such hands as hers, all came
forth with a celestial fragrance, which enkindled the
spirit of the ministers.
587. From many kingdoms and provinces, where the
Apostles were preaching, numbers of converts came to
Jerusalem in order to visit and converse with the Mother
of the Redeemer of the world, at the same time offering
rich gifts. Among others, four sovereign princes, who
were royal governors of provinces, visited Her and
brought many valuable presents, which they placed at
her disposal for her own use and for the Apostles and
disciples. The great Lady answered that She was poor
like her Son, and that the Apostles likewise were poor
in imitation of their Master; that hence these riches
were not appropriate to the life they professed. They
begged Her to console them by accepting their gifts for
the poor or for the divine worship. On account of their
persistent requests She received part of what they offered,
and from the rich silks She made some ornaments for
the altar; the rest She distributed among the indigent
and the infirmaries. For She was accustomed to visit
such places and often served and washed the poor with
her own hands, performing such services, as well as
distributing the alms, on her knees. Wherever it was
possible She consoled the needy and assisted the sick
in their last agony. Nor did She ever rest from works
of charity, either actually engaging in them, or pleading
and praying for others in her retirement.
588. She gave salutary advice to those princes or
kings at their visit, admonishing them and instructing
them in regard to the good government of their prov
inces. She charged them to watch over the equitable
administration of justice without acceptation of per
sons; to consider themselves mortal men as all the rest,
to fear the supreme Judge, by whom all are to be judged
according to their own works; and above all, to further
the exaltation of the name of Christ, the propagation and
security of the holy faith, in which alone the governments
and reigns can be firmly established. For without faith,
government is but a lamentable and disastrous slavery
of the demons, which is permitted by the hidden judg
ments of God for the punishment of both those that gov
ern and that are governed. The fortunate princes prom
ised faithfully to execute all her instructions and they
afterwards remained in communication with the heavenly
Queen through letters and other intercourse. The same
benefit in its degree resulted to all that visited Her;
for all of them left her presence more ardent in virtue,
full of light, joy and consolation unspeakable. Many
who were as yet unbelievers, on seeing Her, loudly pro
fessed their belief in the true God ; for they were unable
to restrain the interior forces awakened by the presence
of their most blessed Mother.
589. And such effects must not be held as surprising,
since the great Lady was entirely transformed into a
most efficacious instrument of the power of God and of
his grace among men. Not only her words, so full of
wisdom, roused the admiration and convinced the minds
by communicating new light; but on her lips was dif
fused heavenly grace for communicating it and in her
countenance shone the sweetness and beauty of heaven,
while her own quiet majesty and modesty, grave yet pleas
ing, together with the hidden virtue (like that ascribed to
her divine Son in the Gospel), attracted and refreshed the
hearts (Luke 6, 19). Some remained speechless in ad
miration, some broke forth in tears, others in exclama
tions of wonder and praise, confessing that great is
the God of the Christians, who had formed such a
Creature. Truly could they testify to what some saints
said to Her : that Mary was a divine prodigy of virtue.
Let Her be eternally known and praised through all the
generations as the true Mother of God, who made Her
so attractive to human eyes, such a sweet Mother to the
sinners, so amiable to angels and men.
590. During these last years the Queen ate or slept
very little ; and this little only, because saint John asked
Her to rest for at least a small portion of the night.
But this sleep was only a slight suspension of the senses,
lasting no longer than a half hour, during which, in the
manner above described, She lost not the vision of the
Divinity. Her food was a few mouthfuls of ordinary
bread and sometimes a little fish, taken at the instance
of the Evangelist and in order to keep him company; for
in this, as in other privileges, saint John was thus for
tunate, not only eating with Her from the same table,
but having the food prepared for him by the great Queen
and administered to him as from a mother to her son,
and moreover being obeyed by Her as a priest and a sub
stitute of Christ. Very well could the great Queen get
along without even this sleep or nourishment, which
seemed more a ceremony than the sustenance of life; but
She partook of them not from necessity, but in order
to practice obedience and humility and thus pay some
tribute to human nature ; for in all things She was most
591. My daughter, through the whole course of my
life is evident how gratefully I kept in mind the works
of the Redemption, the passion and death of my divine
Son, especially after I had actually seen Him sacrificed
on the Cross for the salvation of men. But in this
chapter particularly have I wished to draw thy attention
to the care and the continual exercises, by which I re
newed in me not only the remembrance, but the sufferings
of the Passion. I desire that the knowledge of this
cause men to feel reproach and confusion at their mon
strous forgetfulness of the incomprehensible benefit of
the Redemption. O what a shameful, what a horrible
and dangerous ingratitude of men is this ! Forgetfulness
is a clear proof of contempt, for one does not forget so
easily, what one holds dear. What reason or excuse
then can there be, that men forget the eternal blessings
they have received? That they should despise the love,
with which the eternal Father has delivered over to
death his only begotten Son ? The charity and patience
with which his and my Son accepted it for them (John
3, 16.) The insensible earth responds to the efforts of
those that cultivate it; wild beasts become tame and
domesticated in return for benefits. Men among them
selves are beholden to their benefactors; and when such
thankful feelings are not forthcoming, they resent it,
condemn it, and call it a great offense.
592. What is the reason then, that only toward their
God and Redeemer they should be ungrateful and forget
what He suffered in order to rescue them from eternal
damnation? And in view of this very evil return, they
complain of not receiving his assistance as they desire.
In order that they may understand what fearful guilt
they load upon themselves by their ingratitude, I will
remind thee, my daughter, that Lucifer and his demons,
seeing so many souls oblivious of the sufferings of Christ,
draw the following conclusions and say of such souls:
"This soul does not remember or hold in esteem the
benefit of God s Redemption and we are certain of gain
ing it over to our side; for the soul that is so foolish
as not to remember such a blessing, will certainly not
detect our wiles. Let us proceed to tempt and destroy
it, since it is deprived of its strongest defense." Having
in their large experience found their reasoning on this
point to be almost infallible, they zealously seek to blot
out the memory of the passion and death of Christ and
to excite a contempt for the preaching or discoursing
about it among men ; and they have succeeded to a great
extent, causing dreadful damage to souls. On the other
hand they are wary and fearful of tempting those who
have accustomed themselves to the meditation and the
remembrance of the sufferings of Christ; for from this
source they feel issuing against them a force and influ
ence, which often prevents them from approaching those
who thus piously cherish the memory of the Passion.
593. I desire thee then, my dearest, not to detach from
thy bosom and heart this bouquet of myrrh (Cant. 1,12)
and to imitate me closely in the contemplation and the
exercises of the Passion. For thus must thou keep
alive the memory of the sufferings of my divine Son and
satisfy for the injuries and blasphemies inflicted upon
his divine Person by his enemies who crucified Him.
Seek thou, as long as thou shalt be upon earth, to com
pensate for the ingratitude and forgetfulness of mortals.
And in order to do it as I desire, never let thy remem
brance of Christ crucified, afflicted and blasphemed be
extinguished. Persevere in thy exercises, never omiting
them except in obedience or in a just cause ; for if thou
imitate me in this I shall make thee a participant in the
effects I myself felt.
594. In order to dispose thyself day by day for holy
Communion thou shouldst apply whatever thou performest
in these exercises; imitate also the other works and
practices, which thou hast come to know of me. If I,
the Mother of Him whom I was to receive, deemed my
self unworthy of Communion and by so many means
sought the purity necessary for such a Sacrament, con
sider what thou must do, so poor and subject to so many
miseries and imperfections! Purify the temple of thy
interior, scrutinizing it by the divine light and adorning it
with great virtues, since it is the eternal God, whom thou
art to receive; One, of whom nobody but Himself is
worthy. Invoke the intercession of the angels and saints
to obtain grace from the Lord. Above all I exhort thee
to call upon me and ask me to help thee ; for thou must
know, that I am the special Advocate and Protectress of
those, who desire to arrive at great purity for receiving
holy Communion. Whenever they invoke me for this
purpose, I present myself before the throne of the Most
High, and, as one well knowing the disposition required
for harboring God himself, I ask his favor and grace
for those who are about to receive Him in the holy Sacra
ment. I have not lost in heaven the solicitude and zeal,
which I exhibited upon earth. Having asked me, proceed
to ask also the intercession of the angels, for they also
are very anxious to see souls approach the holy Eucharist
with great devotion and purity.
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