Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 2  Chapter  17    Verses:  677-688

677. The Most High, who in his infinite wisdom dis
penses and regulates the welfare of his beloved ones
according to weight and measure, resolved to exercise our
heavenly Princess with some afflictions adapted to her
age and state of childhood. Though She was always great
in grace, He wished by this means to increase her glory.
For entirely filled with grace and wisdom was our Child
Mary ; nevertheless it was befitting, that She should learn
by experience and thus make advancement and under
stand better the science of suffering, which only expe
rience can bring to its ultimate perfection and thorough
ness. During the brief course of her tender years She had
enjoyed the delights of the Most High and his caresses,
and of the angels and of her parents, and in the temple,
the tender love of her teachers and of the priests, because
in the eyes of all of them She was most gracious and
amiable. It was now time that She should commence to
know all the good She possessed in another light and by
another knowledge ; namely, the one which is acquired by
the absence and privation of the good, and that She make
use of it for the practice of those virtues, which arise from
comparison between the state of favors and caresses with
the state of dereliction, aridity and tribulation.
678. The first affliction, which our Princess suffered,
was that the Lord suspended the continual visions, which
He had so far vouchsafed Her. So much the greater was
the sorrow occasioned Her thereby, in proportion as it
was a new and unaccustomed experience and in propor
tion as the treasure thus withdrawn was high and
precious. Also the holy angels concealed themselves from
Her, and at the withdrawal from her sight of so many, so
excellent and heavenly beings, which took place all at once
(although they did not cease to surround Her invisibly
for her protection) , that most pure Soul seemed to Her
self entirely forsaken and left alone in the dark night
occasioned by the absence of her Beloved.
679. It was a great surprise to our little Queen ; for the
Lord, though He had in general prepared Her for the
coming of tribulations, had not specified their nature. And
as the innocent heart of the most simple Dove harbored
no thoughts, and entertained no practical conclusions ex
cept such as were conformable to her humility and in
comparable love, She explained all according to this same
light. In her humility She began to think, that She had
not merited the further presence and possession of the
lost Good on account of her ingratitude; and in her in
flamed love She sighed and yearned after It with such
great and loving affection and sorrow, that there are no
words to express them. She turned with her whole soul
to the Lord in this new state and said to Him :
680. "Highest God and Lord of all creation, infinite in
bounty and rich in mercies, I confess, my Lord, that such
a vile creature cannot merit thy favors and my soul in
utmost sorrow reproaches itself with its own ingratitude
and with the loss of thy friendship. If my ingratitude
has eclipsed the Sun, which vivified, animated and illu
mined me, and if I have been remiss in giving thanks for
the great benefits, I acknowledge, my Lord and Shepherd,
the sin of my great negligence. If, like an ignorant and
simple little sheep, I did not know how to be thankful and
do what is most acceptable in thy eyes, see me prostrate
on the earth, adhering to the dust, in order to be raised
from my poverty and destitution by Thee, my God, who
dwellest on high. Thy powerful hands have formed me
(Job 10, 8), and Thou canst not be ignorant of our com
position (Psalm 102, 14) and in what kind of a vase Thou
has placed thy treasures. My soul wastes away in bit
terness (Psalm 30, 11) ; and in thy absence, since Thou
art its sweetest life, only Thou canst restore its droop
ing life. To whom shall I go in thy absence? Whither
shall I turn my eyes without having light to direct them ?
Who shall console me, when all is affliction? Who shall
preserve me from death, when there is no life left?"
681. She also turned toward the angels and continued
without ceasing in her loving complaints, saying to them :
"Celestial Princes, ambassadors of the great and highest
King and most faithful friends of my soul : why have you
also left me ? Why do also you deprive me of your sweet
countenances and deny me your intercourse ? But I do not
wonder, my lords, at your displeasure, if through my unthankfulness
I have merited to fall into the disgrace of
your and my Creator. Lights of the heavens, enlighten
me in my ignorance in this matter, and if I have been at
fault, correct me and obtain again for me the pardon of
my Lord. Most noble courtiers of the celestial Jerusalem,
have pity on my sorrow and dereliction : tell me where is
my Beloved ; tell me where He has hidden Himself (Cant.
3, 3). Tell me where I can find Him without wandering
about, (Cant. 1,6) and without going through the gather
ings of all the creatures. But woe to me, for you do not
answer, though you are so courteous and well know the
hiding-place of my Spouse, since He never withdraws his
face and his beauty from your sight!"
682. Thereupon She turned toward all the rest of crea
tion and in continual anxieties of her love She spoke to
them and said : "Without doubt you also, being thankful,
and being armed against all the ungrateful, are ex
asperated against her, who was ungrateful. But even if
by the goodness of the Lord you permit me to remain in
your midst, although I am so vile, you cannot thereby
satisfy my longings. Very beautiful and extensive are ye,
O heavens ; beautiful and refulgent are the planets and all
the stars ; great and mighty are the elements, the earth is
adorned and clothed in the perfumed plants and herbs,
innumerable are the fishes of the waters, admirable are the
elevations of the sea, (Psalm 92, 4), swift are the birds
in their feathery weight, hidden are the minerals, coura
geous are the animals in their strength, and all of these
together serve as a gradual ascent and in a sweet harmony
teach the way to my Beloved ; yet they are but circuitous
paths for one that loves Him, and if I course swiftly over
them I find myself at the end absent from my blessedness.
For with the measured approach of these creatures to his
unmeasurable bounty, my flight is not content, my sorrow
is not allayed, my pains are unrelieved, my anguish in
creases, my desires are augmented, my heart is more in
flamed and faints away in the unsatiating love of mere
earthly things. O sweet death in the absence of my life !
O sorrowful life in the absence of my very soul and of my
Beloved! What shall I do? Whither shall I turn? How
can I live, yet how can I die? Since my life is wanting,
what force sustains me? O all you creatures, that with
your ever renewed existence and perfections give me
such tokens of my Lord, attend and see whether there
is a sorrow like unto my sorrow!" (Thren. 1, 12.)
683. Our heavenly Lady indulged her sorrow in many
other discourses, expressing them in spoken words, such
as cannot be conceived by other created understanding;
for She alone possessed the wisdom and love properly to
estimate the meaning of the absence of God in a soul,
since She alone had known and enjoyed his presence in
its highest beatitude. But if even the angels, in a holy
and loving emulation, were filled with admiration to see
a mere creature and so tender a Child exercising such a
variety of acts of the most prudent humility, of faith, of
love, of affection, and such flights of a loving heart, who
can ever explain the pleasure and delight, which the Lord
himself took in the soul of the chosen One and in its as
pirations, of which each one wounded the heart of his
Majesty and which proceeded from a greater and more
loving graciousness than He had given to the seraphim?
And if they altogether, being in the continual presence
of the Divinity could not exercise or imitate the example
given by the most holy Mary, nor fulfill the laws of love
so perfectly as She in the absence and concealment of
her God, what was the complacency of the most holy
Trinity in this Creature? This is a mystery hidden to
our littleness ; but it is meet, that we worship it in wonder
and admire it in all reverence.
684. Our most innocent Dove found no peace for her
heart nor any footrest for her affections (Gen. 8, 9) while
thus with incessant sighing She took her flight through all
the range of creation and beyond. Many times She sought
to approach the Lord in tears and loving complaints,
She turned to the angels of her guard and addressed all
the creatures as if they were capable of reason ; then She
would ascend to that highest habitation by her penetrating
intellect and her most ardent affections, where the high
est Good had met Her and where She reciprocally with It
had enjoyed ineffable delights. But the most high Lord,
her beloved Spouse, who allowed Her to possess and yet
not enjoy Him as before, inflamed by this possession of
Him only more and more her most pure heart, increasing
her merits and showering upon Her continually new,
though hidden gifts, in order that, in possessing Him the
more, She might love the better, and being more loved
and possessed, She seek Him with ever greater anxiousness
and contrivances of her fiery love. "I seek Him,"
said the heavenly Princess, "and I do not find Him (Cant.
2, 2) ; again I was awakened and, running through the
streets and squares of the city of God, I renewed my
anxieties. But alas for me! that my hands distilled the
myrrh (Cant. 5, 5) ; my diligence is of no avail, my exer
tions serve only to increase my sorrow (Cant, 6, 7). My
Beloved absents Himself: I call Him and He does not
answer me, I turn my eyes to seek Him, but the guards
and the sentinels of the city, and all creatures were an
annoyance to me and offended my sight. Daughters of
Jerusalem, holy and just souls, you I beseech, you I sup
plicate, if you meet my Beloved, tell Him that I am faint
and that I am dying with love."
685. In these sweet and loving lamentations our Queen
continued for several days, like the humble spikenard
giving forth most fragrant odors of sweetness. But the
Lord remained unmoved by her anxieties and secreted
Himself in the hidden recesses of her most faithful heart.
The divine Providence, for its greater glory and for the
superabundant merit of his Spouse, protracted this con
flict in such a manner, that it continued for some time,
though not very long; in the meanwhile our heavenly
Lady suffered more spiritual torments and anxieties than
all the saints together. For She gradually began to be
alarmed by the fear of having lost God and fallen into
disgrace on account of her own faults; and no one can
estimate or know, except the Lord himself, what and how
great was the grief of that burning heart, which had
known how to love so much. To weigh this grief be
longs to God alone, and in order that She might feel it
in its fullest extent, She was left by God to the over
whelming anxiety and fear of having lost Him.
686. My daughter, all goods are estimated according
to the appreciation in which creatures hold them: in so
far they value them, as they know them to be good. But
since there is only one true Good, and all the others merely
fictitious and apparent, it follows, that only the highest
Good is to be appreciated and recognized. Then only
shalt thou give Him true appreciation and love, when
thou shalt enjoy and esteem Him above all created things.
By this appreciation and love will also be measured the
sorrow of losing Him and from this thou canst under
stand somewhat my sentiments, at the time when the
eternal God absented Himself from me, leaving me in my
fears lest perhaps I had lost Him through my own fault.
There is no doubt, that many times the sorrows of this
anxiety and the force of love would have deprived me
of life, if the Lord himself had not preserved it.
687. Imagine then, what ought to be the grief of losing
God really by sin, if, without the bad effects of sin, the
absence of our true Good could cause such terrible suffer
ing to the soul, knowing at the same time, that it has not
lost Him, but still possesses Him, though hidden and dis
guised to its present consciousness. But this wisdom
seems far from the mind of carnal men: with a most
perverse blindness they continue to make much of the
visible and fictitious good, and they torment themselves
and are disconsolate, whenever it fails them. Because
they never taste or recognize the highest and truest Good,
they take no thought or reckoning of It. And although
my most holy Son has brought a remedy for this dread
ful ignorance contracted by the first sin, by meriting for
men faith and charity, thereby affording them the pos
sibility of knowing and experiencing to a certain extent
the Good, which they never have experienced; yet, O
sorrow, how easily charity is wasted and set aside for
any kind of pleasure, and how often faith remains with
out any fruit and is involved in death ! The sons of dark
ness live as if they had only a counterfeit or doubtful
connection with eternity,
688. Fear, my soul, this so slightly accounted danger;
rouse thyself and live always in watchfulness and prepara
tion for the attacks of the enemies, who never sleep. Let
thy meditation day and night be, how thou canst provide
against losing the highest Good, which thou lovest. It is
not befitting that thou sleep or slumber in the midst of
invisible enemies. If sometimes thy Beloved hides Him
self from thee, hope in patience and seek Him solicitously
without ceasing, since thou knowest not his secret judg
ments. For the time of his absence and temptation pro
vide thyself with the oil of charity and good intention,
so that it fail thee not in time of necessity and that thou
mayest not be rejected with the foolish and negligent
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