Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 1  Chapter  23    Verses:  361-377

361. It has already been said that a thousand angels were appointed as guardians of Mary, just as there is one for each soul. On account of the great dignity of the most holy Mary we must assume, that each of the thou sand guardian angels watched over Mary more solicitously than other guardian angels watch over other souls. Besides these thousand angels, who formed her ordinary and constant guard, many others were at her service on different occasions, especially after She had conceived in her womb the divine Word incarnate. I have mentioned above (No. 204) that the selection of these thousand angels was made after the creation of the angelic hosts, and after the justification of the good and fall of the bad. The Divinity of the Word, to be clothed in its human nature, and also his most pure Mother was proposed and manifested to them, while they were yet in the state of probation; they were then made to understand, that they were to revere Them as their superiors.
362. When the apostate angels were chastised and the faithful ones rewarded, the Lord proceeded according to a most just measure and equity. As I said : in the accidental reward there was a certain diversity among the angels according to the difference in their dispositions regarding the mysteries of the incarnate Word and his most pure Mother, which were made known to them be-fore and during the probation. This accidental reward consisted especially in being selected to assist and serve the most holy Mary and the incarnate Word, and also in the manner and form of their visible appearance to the Queen and of serving Her. This is what I wish to explain in this chapter ; but at the same time I must acknowledge my inability to do so, since it is difficult to reduce to material images and words the perfections and the operations of such exalted spiritual beings. Nevertheless if I should pass over this matter in silence, I would fail to give a proper idea of a great portion of the most exalted operations of the Queen of heaven during her mortal life. For next to her intercourse with the Lord, that with his ministers, the angelic spirits, was the most continual. Therefore without the mention of this intercourse the history of her life would be defective.
363. I presuppose all that I have until now said about the orders, hierarchies and distinctions of the thousand angels of her guard. But I wish here to describe in what corporeal forms they appeared to their Queen and Mistress. The intellectual and imaginary apparitions I reserve for another chapter, where I intend to describe especially the different kinds of visions, with which her Highness was favored. The nine hundred angels, which were chosen from the nine choirs, one hundred from each, were selected from the number of those, who had distinguished themselves by their esteem, love and reverence for the most holy Mary. They were made visible to the blessed Virgin under the form of young men in their early years, but of the most exquisite beauty and courteousness. Their bodily forms showed but little resemblance to earthly matter, for they were transparently pure and like animated crystals bathed in glory, similar to a glorified and transfigured body. With their beauty they combined a grave and amiable composure. Their garments covered them in flowing folds, but were resplendent, like the most clear burnished gold, enamelled or stained with exquisite shades of color, presenting a most wonderful and varied beauty to the sight. At the same time all this ornament and visible presence seemed of such a kind, that it could not be subject to the sense of feeling nor be touched by the hand, although it could be seen and perceived like the rays of the sun entering into the open window and revealing the atoms of dust in the air. But the splendor of the angels was incomparably more beautiful and pleasing than any light of the sun.
364. In addition, all these angels were crowned with wreaths woven of the most tender and exquisite flowers, that sent forth the sweetest fragrance, not of this earth but altogether spiritual and heavenly. In their hands they held palms of wonderful beauty and variety, which were to signify the virtues, which most holy Mary was to exercise, and the victories, which She was to gain by her sanctity and glory. All this they as it were offered Her beforehand, with great joy and jubilation. On their breasts they bore certain devices or emblems, such as we are accustomed to see exhibited in the uniforms or habits of the military orders. They contained letters, which stood for: “Mary, Mother of God,” and which contributed much toward the splendor of their adornment and beauty. Their significance, however, was not made known to Mary until the moment of the incarnation of the Word.
365. This emblem or device was most wonderful to be hold, on account of the great splendor, with which it showed forth her name above all the other beauty of the angelic ornaments. Its aspects and brilliancies were changeable, in order to indicate the variety of the mysteries and excellences enclosed within that City of God. It contained the most exalted name and title, and intimated the highest dignity, which ever can fall to the lot of a mere creature : that of Mother of God. In this title the angels honored in the highest degree their and our Queen. They themselves were honored in that title, since it was the outward sign of their allegiance to Her and of their preferment consequent upon their devotion and veneration for Her who deserved the veneration of all creatures. A thousand times blessed were they, to merit the especial love of Mary and of her most holy Son.
366. The effects of this intercourse with the holy princes, and of their outward beauty in Mary, our Mistress, no one besides Herself could ever properly de scribe. They manifested to Her in a mysterious manner the greatness of the attributes of God, the blessings, which He showered upon Her in creating Her and choosing Her, in enriching Her and endowing Her with such great gifts of grace and treasures of the divine right hand, moving Her and inciting Her to such ecstasies of love and praise. All these gifts increased with her age and with the events of her life and, as the great work of the Incarnation drew near, they expanded more and more ; for then was gradually revealed to Her the meaning of the emblem, which these angels bore across their breasts, which until then had been concealed from Her. It would be impossible to describe, what ardors of love, what profound humility, what tender affections filled the pure heart of Mary, when this was revealed to Her and when it dawned upon Her, what dignity and what obligation toward God this most peerless title involved. For She held Herself entirely incapable and unworthy of such an ineffable and mysterious dignity as that of Mother of God.
367. The seventy seraphim, who assisted the Queen were of the number of those nearest to the throne of God, who had most signally distinguished themselves in their devotion and admiration toward the hypostatic union of the divine and human nature in the person of the divine Word. For as they were most closely bound to God by their greater knowledge and love, they also desired more earnestly, that this mystery should be con summated in the womb of a woman. Their reward of essential and accidental glory corresponded to their particular and signal love. This latter, the accidental glory, which I have mentioned, consisted in their being privileged specially to attend upon most holy Mary and take a part in the mysteries consummated in Her.
368. Whenever these seventy seraphim showed them selves to Her in a visible manner, the Queen saw them in the same form in which Isaias saw them in imagination, that is with six wings. With two they covered the head, wishing to signify by this humble gesture the in sufficiency of their intellect for the comprehension of the sacramental mystery at which they were assisting, and also their belief and acknowledgment of these mysteries, which they confessed, prostrate before the majesty and grandeur of the Creator. Thereby they also wished to extol with eternal praise the incomprehensible and sacred judgments of the Most High. With the other wings they covered the feet, which are the inferior extremities in closest contact with the earth, referring thereby to the Queen and Mistress of heaven and earth as being human and earthly in nature and acknowledging Her as the Creature excelling all others in dignity and grandeur above all understanding and calculation of the created mind ; moreover they thereby wished to show, that though exalted as seraphim, they could not keep pace with the dignity and excellence of Mary.
369. With the wings of their breast they beat the air or seemed to fly, thereby intimating two things: on the one hand, by their incessant motion and flight, the love, the praise and reverence, which they gave to God; on the other, in disclosing their breasts, they wished to serve as it were to the most holy Mary as a most pure mirror of the Divinity, reflecting its essence and operations to Her during the time of her earthly pilgrimage ; for it was not possible nor proper, that the Divinity should be manifest to her in open vision during all that time. The blessed Trinity wished, that their Daughter and Spouse should, in these seraphim, the creatures closest to the Divinity and encircling the throne, see most faithfully presented in living images, what She could not continually see in its own essence and in the original.
370. By this means the heavenly Spouse enjoyed the portrait of her Beloved even in the banishment of her pilgrimage, being thus inflamed body and soul with his love by his vision and intercourse through these exalted and love-consumed princes. The manner of this inter course, over and above that which was sensible in it, was the same as that which they maintained among themselves, namely, that those of a higher order enlighten those of a lower, as I have said elsewhere (No. 202). For although the Queen of heaven was higher and greater in dignity and merit, yet, as David intimated (Ps. 8, 6), on account of her human nature, She was lower than the angels. The ordinary manner of divine influence and enlightenment adapts itself to the conditions of nature and not of grace.
371. The other twelve angels are the guardian angels of the twelve gates, of which St. John speaks in the twenty-first chapter of the Apocalypse (Apoc. 21, 12) as explained above. They distinguished themselves by the loving praise, with which they celebrated the goodness of God in becoming man to teach and converse with men, and next to their joy at the Redemption of men and their readmission into the gates of heaven by his merits, was their loving wonder at the important part, which most holy Mary performed in this mystery of the Redemption. They were especially attentive to these great and wonderful works, by which God was to open up heaven, in order that men might enter into eternal life, and this latter is signified by these twelve gates of the tribes of Israel. The reward of their signal devotion was, that God appointed them as witnesses and, as it were, secretaries of the mysteries of the Redemption and that they were privileged to cooperate with the Queen of heaven as Mother of mercy and Mediatrix of those, who turn to Her for their salvation. Therefore I said above (No. 273) that her Majesty, the Queen, makes use especially of these twelve angels to assist, enlighten and defend her clients in their necessities and particularly in order to draw them from sin, whenever they invoke them and the most holy Mary.
372. These twelve angels appeared in the same corporeal shape as those which I have first mentioned except that they bore palms and crowns, reserved for the devout servants of the Mistress. Their service consisted especially in bringing to her mind the ineffable kindness of the Lord toward the human race, and in inciting Her to praise Him and petition Him for the fulfillment of his mercy. She sent them as messengers of her prayers to the throne of the eternal Father. They were sent also to those of her clients, who invoked Her or whom She wished to help and benefit, in order to enlighten them and assist them, as happened many times to the holy Apostles ; for often did She aid them by the ministry of angels in their labors for the primitive Church. Even now in our days these twelve angels are engaged in the same ministry, helping the devout servants of their and our Queen.
373. The eighteen angels, which completed the num ber of a thousand were those who signalized themselves in their compassion for the sufferings of the incarnate Word. Their reward for this compassion was great. They appeared to most holy Mary in wonderful beauty, bearing many emblems of the Passion and of other mysteries of the Redemption, especially two crosses of the most refulgent splendor and beauty, one on their breast and one on their arms. The sight of this wonderful display excited great admiration in the Queen, a most tender and compassionate love toward the sufferings of the Redeemer of the world, and most fervent thanks and acknowledgment of the benefits, which men were to receive in their Redemption and rescue from captivity. The great Princess very often sent these angels to her divine Son with diverse messages and petitions on behalf of souls.
374. In describing the forms and the ornaments of these angels I have at the same time mentioned some of their perfections and operations, although necessarily in a limited way, if compared to the reality. For they are invisible rays of the Divinity, most alert in their movements and operations, most powerful in strength, most penetrating in their understanding, incapable of mistake, unchangeable in their condition and in their purpose, never forgetting or losing sight of that which once they have undertaken. They are full of grace and glory with out any fear of ever losing them. As they are without a body and invisible, therefore whenever God wishes to grant to man the favor of being able to see them, they assume an aerial and apparent body, one that is adapted to the senses and to the object intended. All these angels of the Queen Mary were selected from the most distinguished of their respective orders and choirs, their superiority consisting principally in that of grace and glory. They guarded their Lady without neglecting the least point of their service during her holy life, and even now in heaven they derive an especial accidental enjoyment from her presence and company. Although ordinarily only some of them are sent to execute the special mandates of her will, yet all of them together are at times engaged in her service, fulfilling the decrees of the Divinity in her regard.
Instructions given to me by the Queen of Heaven.
375. My daughter, on three different points, I wish to instruct thee in this chapter. The first is that thou, by incessant praise and acknowledgment, show thyself thankful for the favor which God vouchsafed thee in appointing angels to assist thee, teach thee, and guide thee through the tribulations and sorrows. Mortals, in their abominable ingratitude and grossness, ordinarily forget this blessing. They do not consider, what great mercy and condescension of the Most High it is to have ordained these holy princes as helpers, guardians and de fenders of men, their earthly fellow creatures so full of miseries and sins. In forgetting how exalted in glory, dignity and beauty these spirits are, many men deprive themselves of numerous blessings, which they would otherwise obtain at the hands of these angels. Greatly do they rouse the indignation of the Lord on this account. Thou, however, my dearest, acknowledge these blessings and give Him thanks with all thy heart.
376. The second point is, that thou, in every place and at all times, preserve love and reverence toward these holy spirits, as if thou didst see them with thy corporal eyes, and that thou dare not do before them what thou wouldst not do in public. Cease not to exert thyself in the service of God, even as they do and as they require of thee. Remember that they continually see the face of God (Matth. 18, 10) being of the blessed. Since they at the same time see thee, let there be nothing indecent in thee. Show thyself grateful to them for their vigilance, defense and protection.
377. Let the third point be, that thou live attentive to the calls, urgings and aspirations, by which these angels seek to rouse thee, move and excite thee to the recollection of the Most High and to the exercise of all the virtues. Be mindful how often they have responded to thy calls, how often they have placed themselves in the way of thy seeking, how often they have solicited for thee signs of the love of the Spouse, kindly reprehending thee for thy carelessness and remissness. When thou didst lose in thy troubles and weariness the guiding star of his light, they renewed hope in thy breast, and patiently corrected thee, directing thy footsteps again into the narrow path of the justifications and testimonies of the Lord. Do not forget, my soul, the greatness of the benefits bestowed upon thee in these angels, for they are above those of many nations and generations: strive to be grateful to thy Lord and to the angels, his ministers.
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