Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 2  Chapter  15    Verses:  646-659

646. Such is the force and efficacy of God s grace, and of his love excited in the creature, that it can blot out in it the very images of sin and the earthly nature of man, (I Cor. 15, 49) and form in it a new being and celestial image, whose conversation is in heaven (Philip 3, 20), understanding, loving and operating not any more as a creature of earth, but as a being celestial and divine ; for, the force of love ravishes the heart and soul by which the creature lives, sacrificing and transforming them to that, which it loves. This Christian truth, believed by all, understood by the learned, and experienced by the saints, must be conceived as fulfilled in our great Queen and Lady in so privileged a manner, that neither by the example of what was experienced by the saints, nor by the intellect of the angels, can it ever be comprehended or explained. Most holy Mary as being the Mother of the Word, was Mistress of all creation; but being a faithful representation of her only-begotten Son, She in imitation of Him made so little use of creatures, of which She was Mistress, that none ever used them less than She, for She excluded all that was not absolutely necessary for the service of the Most High and for the natural life of her most holy Son and of Herself.
647. To this forgetfulness and withdrawal from all earthly things corresponded her intercourse with heaven ; this again was proportionate to her dignity of Mother of God and Queen of heaven, all earthly intercourse being thus transformed into the heavenly. It followed as a natural consequence, that the Queen and Mistress of the angels enjoyed singular privileges in regard to the attention paid to Her by the heavenly courtiers, her vassals, and She treated and conferred with them in a more exalted manner, than all the other human creatures, how holy so ever they may be. In the twenty-third chapter of the first book I have said something of the diverse ordinary visions in which the holy angels and seraphim, who were destined and selected for her guard, manifested themselves to our Queen and Mistress. And in the fore going chapter I explained in general the manner and form of the divine visions conceded to Her, having been careful to keep in mind that in all their wide range and sphere they were supremely exalted and divine in their nature, their manner, and their effects upon her most holy soul.
648. In this chapter I will treat of another kind of vision, more singular and privileged still, which the Most High granted to most holy Mary and by which She communicated with and visibly treated with the holy angels of her guard and with the rest, who, in behalf of the Lord, visited Her on diverse occasions. This mode of vision and intercourse was of the same kind as that by which each one of the supernal spirits knows the others as they are in themselves, without any other image to move the intellect than the very substance and nature of the angel thus known. The superior angels illumine the inferior, making known to them the hidden mysteries which the Most High reveals and manifests immediately to the higher angels for transmission to the lowest ; for this manner of communicating with them is befitting to the greatness and infinite majesty of the highest King and Governor of all creation. From this it can easily be seen, that this most orderly illumination and revelation is a favor which is superadded to the essential glory of the holy angels. For the essential glory they obtain immediately from the Divinity, each one receiving the vision and fruition of God according to the measure of his merits. One angel cannot create essential happiness in another by illuminating him or revealing to him a mystery ; for the one who is illuminated would not thereby see God face to face, without which he cannot be in beatitude or attain to his last end.
649. But since the Object is infinite and is like a voluntary mirror, there are infinite secrets and mysteries, (be sides those which pertain to beatific knowledge), which God can reveal to the saints and which He reveals to them especially in the government of his Church in the world ; in these revelations He follows the course, which I am explaining. As these revelations are outside of the essential glory, the want of these revelations cannot be called ignorance in the angels or a privation of knowledge ; but it is called nescience or negation ; while revelation is called illumination, or a purgation or purification of that nescience. According to our mode of understanding it might be compared to the process which takes place, when the rays of the sun pass through many crystals in succession, making all partake of the same light from the first to the last, and reaching first those that are more immediately neighboring to the light. Only one difference must be noted in this comparison; that the prisms or crystals are entirely passive in this process in respect to the rays, without having any more activity than that given by the sun, which illumines all by one operation ; but the holy angels are passive in receiving the enlightenment and active in communicating it to their inferiors; and more over they communicate their light with praise, admiration and love, all derived from the supreme Sun of justice, the eternal and immutable God.
650. Into this admirable and divine order of revelation the Most High introduced most holy Mary, so that She might enjoy these privileges, which the courtiers of heaven possessed as becoming their nature. For this purpose He appointed the seraphim, whom I have mentioned in the fourteenth chapter of the first book, because they were supreme and nearest to the Divinity ; also other angels of Mary s guard performed the same office, whenever, ac cording to the divine will, it seemed befitting and necessary. The Queen of angels and men knew all these angels and others as they are in themselves, without dependence upon the senses or the phantasy, and without any hindrance from the mortal or earthly body. Through this vision and knowledge the seraphim and other angels of the Lord illuminated and purified Her, revealing to their Queen many mysteries, which for that very purpose they had learned from the Most High. And although this kind of illumination and intellectual vision was not continual in most holy Mary ; it was very frequent, especially when, in order to give Her opportunity for more merits and divine movements of love, the Lord hid or absented Him self from Her, as shall be described afterwards (Infr. 725, Part II 719, 720). On such occasions He made use of the mediation of the angels, allowing their enlightenment to proceed in its order until it was communicated to their Queen.
651. This mode of illumination did not derogate from the dignity of the Mother of God and of the Mistress of the angels ; for in the conferring of these benefits, the mode of their participation was not to be determined by the dignity and sanctity of our sovereign Queen, since in that She was superior to all the angelic orders ; but it was determined by the present state and condition of her nature in which She was inferior; for She was yet a wayfarer and of a human, bodily and mortal nature. By these illuminations She was to be raised to the angelic operation and estate though yet living in mortal flesh and subject to the natural use of the senses, and it was a great privilege, yet entirely proper to her sanctity and dignity. I believe that the hand of the Most High has extended this favor to other souls in mortal life, although not so frequently as to his most holy Mother, nor with such a plenitude and under such exalted conditions as in Her. If many doctors (not without rood reason) conceded that saint Paul, Moses, and other saints have enjoyed beatific vision, it is credible, that other earthly wayfarers have shared this kind of knowledge of the angelic nature ; for this favor is no more than to see intuitively the angelic substance. In regard to clearness, this vision corresponds to the one which I have first mentioned in the foregoing chapter, and in regard to the intellectual qualities it corresponds to the third mentioned in the same place, al though it does not proceed by means of imprinted images.
652. The truth is, this privilege is not ordinary or common but very rare and extraordinary; and therefore it demands in the soul a great preparation and purity of conscience. It is incompatible with earthly affections, voluntary imperfections, or any leaning toward sin : for in order that the soul may enter into the angelic order it must lead a life more angelic than human ; since if this supernal assimilation and sympathy is wanting, the union of such extremes would imply a monstrous disproportion. With the divine grace, however, the creature (al though yet in earthly and corruptible body) can deny it self all that is demanded by its passions and inclinations, die to all visible things, eject from its memory all images of them, and live more in the spirit than in the flesh. And when it arrives at the enjoyment of true peace, tranquillity and quiet of spirit, which cause in it a sweet and loving serenity in the possession of the highest Good, then it is less incapable of being raised to the vision of the angelic spirits by intuitive clearness, of receiving the divine revelations, which they communicate to each other, and of experiencing the admirable effects of this kind of vision.
653. If those which our sovereign Queen received, correspond to her purity and love, their value cannot be estimated by men. The light communicated to Her in these visions of the seraphim is beyond human comparison ; for to a certain extent the image of the Divinity is flashed from them, as from most pure spiritual mirrors, in which most holy Mary perceived it in all its infinite at tributes and perfections. Also the glory, which the seraphim themselves enjoyed, was manifested to Her in an admirable manner by some of its effects; for as She saw intuitively the essence of the angels, She knew much of its secrets. By the insight into these things She was entirely inflamed and enkindled with divine love and many times wrapt in wonderful ecstasy. Hence in union with the seraphim and the angels She broke forth in canticles of praise, celebrating the incomparable glory of the Divinity, so that She excited the admiration of the heavenly spirits themselves. For though She was enlightened by them as regards the intellect, yet by her own acts of the will She left them far behind, and with a much greater force of love did She quickly ascend and arrive at union with the ultimate and the highest Good, whence She immediately received new impulses of the torrent of the Divinity (Psalm 35, 9) by which She was inundated. And if the Seraphim had not been enjoying the presence of the infinite Object, which was the beginning and the end of their beatific love, they might well have been the pupils of their most holy Queen in divine love, just as She was theirs in regard to the illumination of the mind derived from them.
654. Next to the immediate vision of the spiritual and angelic substance, the more inferior intellectual vision of the same by infused species is more common, as we said also of the abstractive vision of the Divinity. This kind of vision the Queen of heaven enjoyed sometimes, but it was not so common with Her as the one mentioned ; for though in other just souls the privilege of seeing the angels and saints by means of intellectual images is very rare and precious, yet in the Queen of angels it was not necessary, because She had a more exalted intercourse and knowledge of them. She, therefore, enjoyed this inferior kind of visions only when the Lord ordained that the angels should hide themselves and when the more exalted communion with them was to be interrupted for her greater merit and practice in virtue. In such time, She saw them by intellectual or imaginary species, as mentioned in the foregoing chapter. Divine effects are produced in other souls by these visions of angels through intellectual images; for these celestial beings become known to the mind in their quality as executors and ambassadors of the supreme King, and with them the soul holds sweet colloquy concerning the Lord, and concerning all celestial and heavenly things. The whole soul is illumined, taught, directed and governed, led on and urged onward in its ascent to the perfect union of divine love, and in its efforts to practice that which is the most consummate, refined and holy in spiritual life.

Instruction vouchsafed by the Queen of Heaven.
655. Admirable, my daughter, is the love, the fidelity and the solicitude with which the angelic spirits assist mortals in their necessities ; and most horrible is the forgetfulness, ingratitude and grossness on the part of men in failing to acknowledge this debt. In the bosom of the Most High, whose face they see (Matth. 8, 10) in beatific clearness, these heavenly spirits perceive the infinite paternal love of the Father in heaven for earthly men, and therefore they appreciate and estimate worthily the blood of the Lamb, by which men were bought and rescued, and they know the value of the souls thus purchased with the treasures of the Divinity. Thence arises their watchfulness and attention in securing the interests of the souls, which, on account of the value set upon them by the Most High, have been given into their charge. I wish thee to understand well, how by the ministry of these angels, mortals would receive great enlightenment, and incomparable favors from the Lord, if only they did not hinder them by their sins and abominations, and by their oblivion of this inestimable blessing. But as they block up the way, which God in his ineffable Providence has opened up for conducting them to eternal felicity, the greater part of them damn themselves, whereas, with the protection of the angels and with a proper estimate of his blessing, they could save themselves.
656. O my dearest daughter, since many men are so indifferent in attending to the paternal works of my Son and Lord, I seek in thee a special gratitude for this blessing. Since He has dealt with thee liberally in his appointment of angels for thy guard, be attentive to their inter course and listen to their injunctions with reverence; give thyself over to their guidance, honor them as the ambassadors of the Most High, seek their favor, in order that, having been cleansed of thy sins and freed from imperfection, inflamed with divine love, thou mayest be come so spiritualized, as to be fit to treat with them as their companion in the participation of the divine illuminations. These He will not withhold from thee, if thou on thy part dispose thyself in the manner I desire.
657. Since thou hast desired to know in the spirit of obedience, what was the reason that the holy angels communicated with me in so many kinds of visions, I will respond to thy desires, explaining more clearly, what thou hast understood and written with the aid of divine light The cause of this privilege was, on the part of the Most High, his most liberal love, with which He pursued me, and on my part, it was the state of pilgrimage, in which I then found myself. For it was neither possible nor be fitting, that this life should be altogether uniform in regard to the acts of virtue, by which the divine Wisdom wished to raise me above all creation. As this pilgrimage was to be performed by me as a human wayfarer, subject to the use of the senses with all its various coincidences of life in the practice of virtue, I sometimes acted altogether in a spiritual manner and without the hindrance of the senses, when the angels communicated with me as they do among themselves ; at other times it was necessary for me to suffer and to be afflicted in the lower part of my soul or in my sensitive faculties ; at other times again I suffered want, loneliness and interior dereliction. According to the vicissitudes of these different effects and conditions I received the favors and the visits of the holy angels. Many times then did I speak to them by intelligence, at others in imaginary species, at others in corporeal and sensible vision, according as my state and necessities demanded and the Most High ordained.
658. By all these means my faculties and senses were illumined and sanctified through the divine influences and blessings, in* order that I might experience in reality all these operations and through all of them receive the in flux of supernatural grace. But in regard to these favors, my dearest daughter, I wish thee to remember, that al though God acted with such magnificent mercy toward me, He nevertheless followed his intention of conferring them upon me so lavishly not only because of my dignity as his Mother, but because He took into account my co operation and disposition by which I concurred with his graces on my part. I withdrew all my faculties and senses from intercourse with created things, and rejecting all that was merely sensible and created, turned to the highest Good and centered all the powers of my will on his holy love. In this disposition of my soul I sanctified all my faculties by co-operation with these favors, visions and illuminations, having evacuated them of all human and terrestrial pleasures. So great was the reward of my works in mortal flesh, that thou canst not understand it, nor describe it with mortal tongue. The liberality of the Highest at once makes an advance payment of the blessings in this life as a pledge of those He has reserved for the eternal.
659. And although the powerful arm of God by these means wished to prepare me worthily from my Conception for the incarnation of the Word in my womb, and to sanctify and form my faculties and senses for the inter course and communication with my Son : nevertheless, if other souls would dispose themselves in imitation of me, living not according to the flesh but according to the spirit, free and untouched by the earthly contagion, the Most High would show his fidelity to these souls as well and would not deny them his blessings and favors according to the equity of his divine Providence.
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