Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 2  Chapter  16    Verses:  660-676

660. We left our sovereign Princess, most holy Mary,
passing the years of her childhood in the temple, while we
made a diversion to speak of the virtues, gifts and divine
revelations, which She, a child in years but an adult in
supreme wisdom, received from the hand of the Most
High and which She put to practical use in her life. The
most holy Child grew in age and grace before God and
men : but always in such a proportion, that zeal exceeded
the powers of nature, and that grace was measured not by
her age, but by the beneficent designs and high purposes of
the Divinity, whose impetuous currents sought their gath
ering-place and resting-place in this City of God. The
Most High continued his gifts and favors, renewing
every hour the marvels of his powerful arm, as if all its
activity were reserved solely for most holy Mary. And
so well did her Majesty correspond in her tender age to
this divine influx, that She filled the heart of the Lord
with a perfect and adequate complacency, and all the
angels of heaven with admiration. The celestial spirits
were witnesses of something like a wonderful strife and
competition between the Most High and the child Prin
cess : the divine power, in order to enrich Her, daily draw
ing from his treasures new and old blessings reserved
solely for the purest Mary, and She, as blessed earth, not
only causing the seed of the divine word to sprout and
God s gifts and favors to yield fruit a hundredfold, as
was the case with the saints ; but exciting the admiration
of all the heavens that She, a tender child, should exceed
in love, thanksgiving, in praise and all virtues, the highest
and most ardent seraphim, without losing time, place,
occasion, or any service, in which She did not practice
the highest possible perfection.
661. Even in the years of her tender infancy it was
noticeable that She understood the Scriptures and She
spent much time in reading them. As She was full of
wisdom She conferred in her heart what She knew from
the divine revelations made to her own self, with what is
revealed to all men in the holy Scriptures; and therefore
in her reading and private meditation She sent up contin
ual and fervent prayers and petitions for the Redemption
of the human race and for the incarnation of the Word.
She read more ordinarily from the prophets Isaias and
Jeremias and from the Psalms, because the mysteries of the
Messias and the law of grace are more plainly expressed
and repeated in these writings. In addition to what She
herself understood and comprehended, She extended her
knowledge by asking deep and wonderful questions, and
proposing difficulties to the angels, and many times She
spoke of the mystery of the humanity of the Word with
incomparable tenderness, lovingly wondering, that He
was to become an infant, that He was to be born of a
Virgin Mother, come to manhood, as other men, suffer,
and die for all the children of Adam.
662. In these conferences and questionings the holy
angels and seraphim gave their answers, illuminating
Her, confirming and inflaming Her virginal heart with
new ardors of divine love. But they always concealed
from Her her own most high dignity, although She
many times offered Herself in profoundest humility as
a slave to the Lord and to the happy Mother, whom He
was to select for his birth into the world. At other times,
interrogating the holy angels, She spoke full of admira
tion : "My princes and lords, is it possible that the Creator
himself is to be born of a creature and shall call her
Mother? That the Omnipotent and the Infinite, He that
has made the heavens and is not encompassed by them,
should be enclosed in the womb of a woman, and should
clothe Himself with the limited human nature? He that
vested in beauty the elements, the heavens and the angels,
is to become subject to suffering? Is it possible, that
there should be a Woman endowed with our human
nature, who shall be so fortunate as to be able to call Him
Son, who has made Her out of nothing, and that She
should be called Mother by Him, who is uncreated and
who created the whole universe? O unheard of wonder!
If the Author himself would not have declared it, how
could earthly frailty conceive a thing so magnificent ? O
miracle of all his miracles! O happy eyes that shall
see it and happy times that shall merit it!" To these
sentiments and exclamations the angels would on their
part respond, explaining these divine sacraments, in as
far as they did not involve and affect her own Self.
663. Each of these high and ardent affections of
humility in the child Mary was as one of those locks of
the Spouse, or darts of love, with which She so wounded
the heart of God, that, if it had not been befitting to wait
until She had arrived at the competent and opportune age
for conceiving and bringing forth the incarnate Word, his
delight could not (according to our way of thinking)
contain itself and would have assumed humanity at once
in her womb. But although She was fit for this mystery
from her childhood, as far as merits and grace were con
cerned, He waited in order to conceal and. disguise more
effectively the sacraments of the Incarnation, and in order
to protect and safeguard the honor of his most holy
Mother by postponing her virginal parturition to the age
approaching that of married women. During this delay
the Lord (according to our concept) entertained Him
self with the affectionate discourses and love-canticles of
his Daughter and Spouse, who was soon to be the worthy
Mother of the divine Word. These canticles and hymns
of our Queen and Lady, as has been shown to me by
special enlightenment, were so many and so exalted, that,
if they were written, the holy Church would possess many
more than all the Prophets and Saints have left behind ;
for She expressed and comprehended all that they have
written, and over and above understood and expressed
much more than they ever could attain. But the Most
High has provided, that the Church militant should pos
sess abundantly sufficient matter of that kind in the writ
ings of the Apostles and Prophets ; while his revelations to
his most holy Mother, are preserved and written in his
divine mind, afterwards to be made known to the
triumphant Church in as far as shall serve for the acci
dental glory of the blessed.
664. Moreover the divine condescension yielded to the
holy wish of Mary our Mistress, that, for the increase of
her prudent humility and for an example of her great
virtues to mortals, the sacrament of the King should re
main concealed (Tob. 12, 7), and, whenever it became
necessary partly to reveal it for the service of his Majesty
and the welfare of the Church, the most holy Mary pro
ceeded with such heavenly prudence, that though She
was the Teacher, She never ceased to be the most humble
Disciple. In her infancy She consulted the angels and
followed their counsels; after the incarnate Word was
born, She looked upon the Onlybegotten as her Teacher
and example in all her actions and at the close of his
mysterious life and after his Ascension into heaven, the
great Queen of the universe obeyed the Apostles, as we
shall relate. This is one of the reasons why, in the
Apocalypse, saint John the evangelist disguised the mys
teries of the Lady, beneath such enigmatic words, that
they can be interpreted and applied just as well to the
Church militant as to the triumphant.
665. The Most High resolved, that the plenitude of the
graces and virtues of the princess Mary should, as it were,
anticipate the time set for reaching the apex of her merits,
and that they should extend to the most difficult and
magnanimous undertakings, as much as possible, even in
her most tender years. In one of the visions in which the
Majesty of God manifested Itself to Her, He said: "My
Spouse and my Dove, I love thee with an infinite love and
I desire of thee what is most pleasing in my eyes and
the fulfillment of all my desires. Thou art not unaware,
my Daughter, of the hidden treasure, which is contained
in hardships and tribulations, so much dreaded by the
blind ignorance of mortals, nor is it unknown to thee
that my Onlybegotten, when He shall clothe Himself in
human nature, shall teach the way of the cross as well in
words as in deeds ; that He shall leave it as a heritage to
my chosen ones ; and that He shall choose it for Himself
and establish upon it the law of grace, making humility
and patience in suffering the foundation of the firmness
and excellence of that law. For this is best suited to the
present condition of human nature, and much more so,
after it has been depraved and evilly inclined by so many
sins. It is also conformable to my equity and providence,
that the mortals should attain and merit for themselves
the crown of glory through hardships and the cross, since
my onlybegotten Son is to merit it by the same means
in human flesh. Therefore, my Spouse, thou wilt under
stand, that, having chosen thee by my right hand for my
delight, and having enriched thee with my gifts, it would
not be just, that my grace should be idle in thy heart, nor
that thy love should want its fruit, nor that thou shouldst
be excluded from the inheritance of my elect. Hence I
wish that thou dispose thyself for tribulations and sor
rows for love of Me."
666. To this proposal of the Most High the invincible
Princess Mary answered with a more courageous heart
than all the saints and martyrs have ever shown in the
world ; and She said : "Lord God and my highest King, all
my faculties and their operations, and my being itself,
which I have received of thy infinite bounty, I hold in
readiness as a sacrifice to thy divine pleasure, wishing
that it be fulfilled entirely according to the desires of thy
infinite wisdom and goodness. And if Thou give me any
freedom of choice in regard to anything, I wish only to
chose suffering unto death in love for Thee; and I be
seech Thee, my only Good, that Thou make of thy slave
a sacrifice and holocaust of suffering acceptable in thy
eyes. I acknowledge, Lord, powerful and most liberal
God, my debt, and that no creature owes to Thee so great
a return, nor are all of them together so much indebted
to Thee as I alone, who am so entirely unequal to the
task of discharging this indebtedness to thy magnificence.
But if Thou wilt admit suffering as a sort of return, let
all the sorrows and tribulations of death come over me. I
will only ask for thy divine protection, and, prostrate be
fore the throne of thy infinite Majesty, I supplicate Thee
not to forsake me. Remember, O my Lord, the faithful
promises, which Thou hast made to our Ancestors and
Prophets, that Thou wilt favor the just, stand by those
who are in tribulation, console the afflicted, be a protection
and a defense to them in their tribulations. True are thy
words, infallible and certain are thy promises ; the heavens
and the earth shall sooner fall to pieces than that thy
words should ever fail. The malice of the creature cannot
extinguish thy charity toward those that hope in thy
mercy ; fulfill in me thy holy and perfect will."
667. The Most High accepted this morning offering
from his tender Spouse and holy child Mary, and with
a most benign countenance He said to Her: "Beautiful
art thou in thy thoughts, Daughter of the Prince, my
Dove, my beloved and chosen One. I accept thy desires
as highly pleasing to me and I wish that as a beginning of
their fulfillment thou take notice, that according to my
divine ordainment, thy father Joachim must pass from
this mortal to the eternal and immortal life. His death
will happen shortly and He will pass in peace and shall
be placed among the saints in limbo, to await the Redemp
tion of the human race." This announcement did not
disturb the royal heart of the Princess of heaven, the
blessed Mary ; but as the love of children for their parents
is a just debt of nature, and as in this most holy Child this
love had attained its highest perfection, the natural sor
row for the loss of her father Joachim could not be want
ing, for She loved him with a holy love. The tender
and sweet Child therefore felt, that this sorrowful com
passion was perfectly compatible with the serenity of her
magnanimous heart, and, working in all things with
grandeur, giving nature and grace each their due, She
offered an ardent prayer for her father saint Joachim.
She besought the Lord to give him grace to depend upon
Him as his powerful and true God in his transit through
a blessed death ; and asked Him to defend Joachim against
the demon especially in that hour, preserve him for and
constitute him among the number of the elect, since dur
ing his life He had confessed and magnified his admirable
and holy name. And in order to oblige his Majesty the
more, the most faithful Daughter offered to suffer all that
the Lord might ordain.
668. The Lord accepted this petition and consoled
the heavenly Child by assuring Her, that He would assist
her father as a most merciful and kind Rewarder of those
that love and serve Him, and that He would place him
among the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. At the
same time He prepared Her anew for the acceptance and
endurance of troubles. Eight days before the death of the
patriarch Joachim the most holy Mary received another
notice from the Lord, advising Her of the day and hour
in which He was to die. His death took place only six
months after Her entrance into the temple. Having re
ceived this notice from the Lord, She requested the twelve
angels, mentioned by saint John in the Apocalypse, to
assist her father Joachim and to comfort and console Him
in his sickness, which they did. For the last hours of his
life She sent all the angels of her guard asking the Lord,
to make them visible to him for his greater consolation.
God conceded this favor and confirmed all the wishes of
his chosen and only One; and the great patriarch, most
happy Joachim, saw the thousand angels which guarded
Mary. In response to her prayer and wishes the Al
mighty allowed his graces to overflow, commanding the
angels to address Joachim as follows:
669. "Man of God, may the Most High and powerful
Lord be thy eternal salvation and may he send thee from
his holy place the necessary and opportune help for thy
soul. Mary thy Daughter has sent us in order to assist
thee in this hour, in which thou must pay the debt of
mortality to thy Creator. She is a most faithful and
powerful Intercessor before the Almighty, in whose name
and peace thou wilt now pass consoled and joyous from
this world, because He has made thee the father of such
a blessed Daughter. Although his incomprehensible Ma
jesty, on account of his hidden decrees, has not as yet
revealed the sacraments and dignity, in which He shall
invest thy Daughter, He wishes thee to know it now in
order that thou mayest magnify and praise Him, and in
order that the pain and sorrow of natural death may be
relieved by the joy of thy spirit at this news. Mary, thy
Daughter, is chosen and ordained by the Almighty as
the One, in whom the divine Word shall vest Himself
with human flesh and form. She is to be the happy Mother
of the Messias and the Blessed among women, the most
exalted among all creatures, and only inferior to God
himself. Thy most fortunate Daughter is to restore what
the human race lost by the first sin, and She is the high
mountain on which is to be established and constructed
the new law of grace. Since thou leavest to the world
a Daughter, through whom God will restore it and pre
pare a full remedy, do thou part from it in the joy of thy
soul, and may the Lord bless thee from Sion (Psalm 127,
5) and constitute thee in the inheritance of the saints and
bring thee to the vision and enjoyment of the blessed
670. During these words of the holy angels to
Joachim, his spouse, holy Anne, stood at the head of his
bed and by divine disposition She heard and understood
what they said. In the same moment the holy patri
arch lost the use of speech and, treading into the path
common to all flesh, he commenced his agony in a marvel
ous struggle between his joy at this message and the pain
of death. In this conflict of the interior powers of his
soul he made many fervent acts of divine love, of faith, of
admiration, of praise, of thanksgiving, of humility and
heroic acts of many other virtues. Thus absorbed in
the knowledge of so divine a mystery, he arrived at
the term of his natural life and died the precious death of
the saints (Psalm 115, 15). His holy soul was carried by
the angels to the limbo of the Patriarchs and just souls;
and, for a new consolation and light in the protracted
night in which they lived, the Most High sent the soul of
Joachim as the last messenger and legate of the Lord to
announce to the whole congregation of the just : that the
dawn of the eternal day was at hand; that the morning
light was breaking upon the world in most holy Mary,
the Daughter of Joachim and Anne ; that from Her was
to be brought forth the Sun of the Divinity, Christ, the
Redeemer of all the human race. This great news the
holy fathers and the just in limbo heard and received
with jubilee and in their exultation they sang many hymns
of thanksgiving to the Most High.
671. This happy death of the patriarch saint Joachim
happened as I said about a half year after his most holy
Daughter Mary had entered the temple. Hence She was
three and a half years old, when She was left without an
earthly father. The age of the patriarch was sixty-nine
years, divided as follows : at the age of forty-six years he
accepted saint Anne as his spouse, in the twentieth year
of his marriage, they were blessed with most holy Mary ;
and the three and a half years of the age of her age at his
death complete the sixty-nine and a half years, a few days
more or less.
672. After the death of the holy Patriarch and father
of our Queen the angels of her guard at once returned to
the presence of Mary and related to Her what had hap
pened in the passing away of her father : and immediately
the most prudent Child turned in solicitous prayers to the
Lord, asking Him to console, govern and assist her Mother
Anne with fatherly kindness in her solitude after the
death of her husband. Saint Anne also sent notice of the
death of Joachim to the instructress of the heavenly Prin
cess, asking Her to console the Child in breaking this news
to Her. The teacher acted accordingly and the most wise
Child listened to her thankfully, concealing her own
knowledge. However it was with the patience and mod
esty of a Queen, and of one who was not oblivious of the
possibility of the event, which her instructress related to
Her as new. Acting in all things according to the high
est perfection, She betook Herself at once into the temple,
reiterating her sacrifice of praise, humility, patience and
of other virtues, and progressing always with more ac
celerated and beautiful steps in the eyes of the Most High
(Cant. 7, 1). As a climax of these exercises, She, as
usual, requested the holy angels to concur and assist in
blessing God.
673. My daughter, renovate many times in the secret
of thy heart thy esteem for the blessing of tribulations,
which the hidden providence of God dispenses for the
justification of mortals. These are the judgments justified
in themselves (Psalm 18, 10, 11) and more valuable than
precious stones and gold, more sweet than the honeycomb,
to those who know how to hold them in proper esteem.
I wish thee to remember, my beloved, that to suffer and
to be afflicted with or without one s fault is a benefit of
which one cannot be worthy without special and great
mercy of the Almighty ; moreover to be allowed to suffer
for one s sins, is not only a mercy, but is demanded by
justice. Behold, however, the great insanity of the chil
dren of Adam nowadays in desiring and seeking after
emoluments, benefits, and favors agreeable to their senses,
and in sleeplessly striving to avert from themselves, that
which is painful or includes any hardship or trouble. It
would be to their greatest benefit to seek tribulations dili
gently even when unmerited, yet they strive by all means
to avoid them even when merited, and even though they
cannot be happy and blessed without having undergone
such sufferings.
674. When gold is untouched by the furnace-heat, the
iron by the file, the grain by the grinding stone or flail,
the grapes by the winepress, they are all useless and will
not attain the end for which they are created. Why then
will mortals continue to deceive themselves, by expecting,
in spite of their sins, to become pure and worthy of en
joying God, without the furnace or the file of sorrows?
If they were incapable and unworthy of attaining to the
crown and reward of the infinite and eternal Good when
innocent, how can they attain it, when they are in darkness
and in disgrace before the Almighty? In addition to
this the sons of perdition are exerting all their powers to
remain unworthy and hostile to God and in evading
crosses and afflictions which are the paths left open for
returning to God, in rejecting the light of the intellect
which is the means of recognizing the deceptiveness of
visible things, in refusing the nourishment of the just
which is the only means of grace, the price of glory, and
above all in repudiating the legitimate inheritance, selected
by my Son and Lord for Himself and for all his elect,
since He was born and lived continually in afflictions and
died upon the cross.
675. By such standards, my daughter, must thou
measure the value of suffering, which the worldly will
not understand. Since they are unworthy of heavenly
knowledge, they despise it in proportion to their igno
rance. Rejoice and congratulate thyself in thy sufferings,
and whenever the Almighty deigns to send thee any,
hasten to meet it and welcome it as one of his blessings
and pledges of his glorious love. Furnish thy heart with
magnanimity and constancy, so that when occasion of suf-
fering is given thee thou mayest bear it with the same
equanimity as the prosperous and agreeable things. Be
not filled with sadness in executing that which thou hast
promised in gladness, for the Lord loves those that are
equally ready to give as to receive. Sacrifice thy heart
and all thy faculties as a holocaust of patience and chant
in new hymns of praise and joy the justification of the
Most High, whenever in the place of thy peregrination
He signalizes and distinguishes thee as his own with the
signs of his friendship which are no other than the tribula
tions and trials of suffering.
676. Take notice, my dearest, that my most holy Son
and myself are trying to find among those who have ar
rived at the way of the cross, some soul, whom We can
instruct systematically in this divine science and whom
We can withdraw from the worldly and diabolical wis
dom, in which the sons of Adam, with blind stubborn
ness, are rejecting the salutary discipline of sufferings.
If thou wishest to be our disciple enter into this school,
in which alone is taught the doctrine of the cross and the
manner of reaching true peace and veritable delights.
With this wisdom the earthly love of sensible pleasures
and riches is not compatible ; nor the vain ostentation and
pomp, which fascinates the blear-eyed worldlings, who are
so covetous of passing honors, and so full of ignorant
admiration for costly grandeur. Thou, my daughter,
choose for thyself the better part of being among the
lowly and the forgotten ones of this world. I was Mother
of the Godman himself, and, on that account, Mistress of
all creation conjointly with my Son: yet I was little
known and my Son very much despised by men. If this
doctrine were not most valuable and secure, We would
not have taught it by word and example. This is the light,
which shines in the darkness (John 1, 7), loved by the
elect and abhorred by the reprobate.
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