Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 2  Chapter  18    Verses:  689-712

689. The Most High continued to hide and conceal
Himself from the Princess of heaven; and to this afflic
tion, which was the most severe, his Majesty added others
in order to increase her merit, her grace and her reward,
thus inflaming more and more the most pure love of the
heavenly Lady. The great dragon and ancient serpent
was not unwatchful of the heroic works of the most holy
Mary: although he could not attain to the knowledge
of her interior acts, since they were hidden from his view,
yet he scrutinized the exterior ones which were so high
and so perfect as to arouse the pride and indignation of
that envious fiend ; for the purity and the sanctity of the
Child Mary tormented him beyond all calculation.
690. In his restless fury he called a conventicle of the
infernal leaders in order to consult about the matter with
the higher powers of hell. He addressed them as follows :
"The great triumph which we have until now obtained in
the world by the possession of so many souls who are
altogether subject to our wills, is, I am afraid and anxious,
about to be undone and counteracted by a Woman;
we cannot make light of such a danger, for we have been
warned since our creation, and afterward heard the
sentence confirmed against us, that the Woman shall
crush our head (Gen. 3, 15). Therefore we must be
watchful and discard all carelessness. You have already
been notified of a Child, which was born of Anne, and
is growing in age and is at the same time distinguishing
Herself in virtue : I have paid careful attention to all her
actions and movements, and I have not been able to
discover in Her the effects of the seeds of malice, which
usually begin to show themselves at the dawn of reason
and at the beginning of the activity of the passions in the
rest of the children of Adam. I have always seen Her
composed and most perfect, without being able to incline
or induce Her to fall into the slightest human imperfec
tions, which are so natural in the other children. On this
account I fear, lest She be the one chosen as Mother of
Him who is to become Man."
691. "Yet I cannot convince myself of this; for She
was born as the rest of women, and subject to the com
mon laws of nature, her parents offered prayers and
sacrifices in atonement for Her and their own sins, and
brought Her to the temple just like other women. Even
if She is not the one chosen as our enemy, her childhood
points to great things and her exquisite virtue and holiness
gives promise of still greater things later on ; nor can I
bear the prudence and discretion with which She acts in
all her affairs. Her wisdom enrages me, her modesty
irritates me, her humility annihilates me and oppresses
me, and her whole behavior provokes me to unbearable
wrath. I abhor Her more than all the children of Adam.
There is in Her a special power, which often makes it im
possible for me to approach Her; if I assail Her with
suggestions, She does not admit them, and all my efforts
in her regard until this hour have been entirely fruitless.
Hence it is important for us all that we find a remedy ;
and we must make the greatest exertions, lest our power
be ruined. I desire the destruction of this soul more than
that of all the world. Tell me then, what means and
what contrivances must we use in order to overcome Her.
I will certainly offer high and liberal rewards to any one
who shall accomplish her downfall."
692. The matter was ventilated in that confused
synagogue, convoked solely for our ruin, and one of the
chiefs of the horrible council said : "Our chief and Lord,
do not allow thyself to be tormented by such a small
matter, for a weak little Maiden cannot be so invincible
and powerful as all of us that follow thee. Thou hast
deceived Eve, (Gen. 3, 4), dragging her down from the
high position which she held, and through her thou didst
also conquer her head Adam ; then why shouldst thou not
be able to overcome this Woman, her descendant, who
was born after the first fall? Promise thyself even at
this moment such a victory; and in order to obtain it
we will persist in tempting Her though She resist many
times, and, if necessary, we will not stop at yielding some
of our greatness and haughtiness, in the hope of finally
deceiving Her. If that does not suffice, we will try to
destroy her honor or her life."
693. Other demons added their advice and said to
Lucifer: "By experience we know, O powerful chief,
that to bring about the downfall of many souls, the most
effective way is to make use of other creatures, and by
their means we often succeed where we otherwise fail.
Let us then plan and contrive the ruin of this Woman
in this way, first finding out the best time and the most
favorable opportunity. Above all it is necessary, that
we apply all our sagacity and astuteness to make Her
lose grace by some sin. As soon as this mainstay and
bulwark of the just is lost to Her, we can persecute and
ensnare Her in her forsakeness, and there will be no one
to snatch Her from our grasp, and we must exert our
selves to reduce Her to despair of all remedy."
694. Lucifer expressed his thanks for these encourag
ing counsels of his followers and co-operators in crime.
He commanded and exhorted the most astute in malice
among them to accompany him as leader in this arduous
enterprise ; for he did not wish to trust it to other hands.
Although the demons assisted him, Lucifer himself in
person was always at the fore in tempting Mary and her
most holy Son in the desert, as well as during the whole
course of their lives, as we shall see later on.
695. In the meanwhile our heavenly Princess con
tinued to sigh and grieve over the absence of her Beloved,
and thus the infernal squadron found Her, when they
rushed forward to begin their temptations. But the
divine power, which overshadowed Her, hindered the
assaults of Lucifer, so that he could not approach very
closely to Her, nor could he execute all that he had in
tended. By permission of God the hellish host excited in
her faculties many suggestions and various thoughts of
highest iniquity and malice; for the Lord did not judge it
to be alien to the Mother of Grace, that She should be
tempted in all things, although She was to be without sin
in temptation, as was afterwards her most holy Son.
696. It cannot easily be conceived how much in this
new conflict the most pure and innocent heart of Mary
suffered, seeing Herself assailed by suggestions so foreign
and so distant from the ineffable purity and nobility of
her heavenly mind. When the ancient serpent perceived
the affliction and tears of the great Lady, he imagined
that he had on this account more power over Her, being
blinded by his own pride and not knowing the secrets of
heaven. Therefore, animating his infernal helpers, he
said to them : "Let us persecute Her now, let us persecute
Her; already it seems we are gaining our end, for She
feels sorrowful, which is an opening for discouragement."
In this mistaken conviction, they suggested new thoughts
of dejection and despair, and they assailed Her with
terrible imaginations, but in vain; for as this flawless
stone was struck by occasions of more exalted virtues, so
also it gave forth more generously the sparks and flames
of divine love. Our invincible Queen was so superior to
this infernal battery, that her interior showed no signs
of change nor even of an understanding of such terrible
suggestions, except in so far as to concentrate Herself
the more in the exercise of her incomparable virtues and
allow the flames of divine love, which burned in her
breast, to ascend so much the higher.
697. The dragon, though seeing her courage and
constancy, and though feeling the force of the divine
assistance, knew nothing of the hidden wisdom and pru
dence of our sovereign Queen. Nevertheless he persisted
in his pride and besieged the City of God in diverse ways
and several kinds of warfare. The astute enemy during
this warfare often changed his engines of war, but his
machinery was like the sting of a weak hornet against a
diamond, or adamantine wall. Our Princess was that
strong woman (Prov. 31, 11) on whom the heart of her
husband confidently relied, without the least anxiety lest
his desires should be frustrated in Her. Her adornments
were fortitude (Prov. 31, 25) which filled Her with
beauty, and her vestments were purity and charity, which
served Her as a helmet. The unclean and proud serpent
could not look upon this Creature without being blinded
anew in the fury of his confusion ; therefore he resolved
to take away her life, and the horde of malignant spirits
began to exert their utmost powers toward this end. In
this attempt they spent some time, but with just as little
698. The knowledge of this hidden mystery caused in
me great wonder, especially when I considered the ex
tremes, to which the fury of Lucifer was allowed to pro
ceed against the most holy Mary in her tender years and
when I beheld the hidden and vigilant defense and protec
tion of the Most High. I saw how attentive the Lord was
toward his chosen and only One among creatures; and
I saw at the same time all hell lashed into fury against
Her and exerting against Her in fullest indignation such
a wrath as had never till then been exerted against any
other creature ; and I saw the facility with which God
neutralizes the infernal power and astuteness. O more
than unhappy Lucifer! How much greater is thy pride
and arrogance than thy strength! (Isaias 16, 6.) Very
weak and helpless art thou in spite of thy high-flown
pretentious; begin to confide less in thyself and expect
no such great triumphs; for a tender Child crushes thy
head and sends thee back conquered in all things and
altogether vanquished. Acknowledge now that thou canst
do and knowest but little, since thou wast even ignorant of
the sacrament of the King. Acknowledge that his power
has humiliated thee by the instrument thou hadst de
spised, by a feeble Woman, by a Child in its natural weak
ness. O how evident would thy ignorance also become
in regard to men, if they would avail themselves of the
protection of the Most High, and of the example, the
imitation and the intercession of that victorious and
triumphant Mistress of angels and men!
699. During these varying temptations and combats
the fervent prayers of most holy Mary never ceased, and
She spoke to the Lord: "Now, O my most high God,
while I am in tribulation, be with me (Psalm 90, 15) ;
now that I call to Thee with my whole heart and seek thy
justifications, (Psalm 118, 14) let my prayers come to
thy ears; now that I suffer such violence, wilt Thou
answer for me (Isaias 38, 14). Thou, my Lord and
Father, be my strength and my refuge (Psalm 30, 4), and
because of thy holy name Thou wilt deliver me from
danger; thou wilt lead me the sure way and nourish me
as thy Daughter." She repeated also many mysteries of
the holy Scriptures, especially passages from the Psalms,
to invoke his aid against the invisible enemies. With
these invincible arms, losing not an atom of interior
peace, equanimity and resignation, but rather confirming
Herself more therein, She raised her spirit on high,
battled with, resisted, and conquered satan to the in
expressible delight of the Lord and for her greater merit.
700. After the most holy Virgin had successfully
fought these secret temptations and battles, the serpent
instituted a new conflict by means of creatures. For this
purpose he secretly kindled the sparks of envy and emula
tion against the most holy Mary in the hearts of her
maiden companions of the temple. This contagion was
much the harder to counteract, as it arose from the
punctuality with which our heavenly Princess distin
guished Herself in the practice of all virtues, growing in
wisdom and grace before God and man. For where the
prodding of ambition is, the very light of virtue darkens
and blinds the judgment, and at last enkindles the flames
of envy. The dragon through his secret suggestions per
suaded these simple maidens, that the light of this sun,
most holy Mary, would obscure them and cause them to
be little noticed; that on her account their own negli
gences were more clearly apparent to the priests and their
teacher; and that Mary alone was preferred in the esti
mation and judgment of all.
701. The companions of our Queen allowed the devil
to sow this bad seed in their bosoms ; for they were heed
less and little experienced in spiritual ways. They allowed
it to increase until it grew into a sort of interior abhor
rence af the most pure Mary, and this into anger. Filled
with this anger, they began to look upon and treat Her
with hatred, not being able to endure the modesty of that
most innocent Dove. For the dragon had incited them
and had already imbued the incautious girls with some
of his own wrath. The temptation continuing, its effects
became manifest and the temple maidens began to plot
among themselves, ignorant of the spirit that moved
them. They agreed among themselves to molest and
persecute the unknown Princess of the world, until She
should be forced to leave the temple. Accordingly they
called Her aside and spoke to Her very sharp words,
treating Her at the same time very haughtily. They
called Her a hypocrite and reproached Her with schem
ing to obtain the favor of the priests and of their teacher,
while seeking to discredit all the other girls by her com
plaints and her exaggerations of their faults, whereas
She was the most useless of them all and therefore de
served their hatred as an enemy.
702. These contumelies and many other accusations
the most prudent Virgin bore without disturbance and
with equable humility. She answered: "My friends
and my mistresses, you are right no doubt in saying, that
I am the least and the most imperfect among you; but
then you, my sisters, being better informed, must pardon
me my faults and must teach me in my ignorance. Direct
me therefore, that I may succeed in doing better and
act according to your pleasure. I beseech you, my
friends, not to deny me your good will, which, though
I am so imperfect, I sincerely wish to merit; for I love
you and reverence you as a servant, and I will obey you
in all things, in which you desire to make a trial of my
good will. Command me then, and tell me what you
wish of me."
703. These humble and sweet reasonings of the most
humble Mary did not soften the hardened hearts of her
associates and companions, for they were infected by the
poisonous fury of the dragon against Her. Precisely
on account of her sweet humility he became so much the
more infuriated, and thus turned this sweet antidote
against the poisonous bite into a means of inflaming
them with open wrath against Her who was the great
sign in heaven (Apoc. 12, 15). For many days this
persecution continued, during which the heavenly Lady
sought in vain to appease the hate of her companions
by her humility, patience, modesty and tolerance. On the
contrary the demon was emboldened to inspire them
with many thoughts full of temerity, urging them to lay
violent hands on the most humble lamb and maltreat
Her, even so far as to take away her life. But the Lord
did not permit the execution of such sacrilegious sugges
tions; and the farthest which they were allowed to pro
ceed, was to insult Her by words or to inflict some blows.
This quarreling remained concealed from the teacher of
the maidens and from the priests, and during this time
most holy Mary gained incomparable merits in the sight
of the Almighty, because She took occasion to exercise
all the virtues, as well in regard to God as also in regard
to the creatures, which were persecuting and hating Her.
She performed heroic acts of charity and humility, yield
ing good for evil, blessings for curses, prayers for
blasphemies (I Cor. 4, 13), fulfilling in all things the
most perfect and the highest requirements of the divine
law. Before the Lord She exercised the most exalted
virtues, by praying for his creatures who were persecut
ing Her; and She excited the admiration of the angels,
by humiliating Herself as if She were the vilest of mor
tals deservedly treated in that way. In all these things
She surpassed the conceptions of men and the highest
merits of the seraphim.
704. It happened one day, that, impelled by the dia
bolical suggestions, these girls brought Mary to a retired
room, where they could act with more safety. Here they
began to heap unmeasured injuries and insults upon Her,
in order to excite Her to weakness or anger and to entrap
Her imperturbable modesty into some hasty action. But
as the Queen of virtues could not even for a moment be
subject to vice, She showed Herself immovable, and She
answered them with great kindness and sweetness. Being
enraged beyond bounds on account of not succeeding in
their purpose, her companions raised their voices in dis
cordant strife, so that they were heard in the temple and
by such unwonted noise caused great astonishment and
confusion. The priests and the teacher hastened to the
place whence the noise proceeded, and the Lord permitted
a new humiliation of his Spouse, for they asked with
severity, what was the cause of this strife. While the
most meek Dove remained silent, the other maidens
angrily answered and said : "Mary of Nazareth brings us
all into strife and quarreling by her horrid conduct: for
in your absence, She irritates and provokes us in such
a manner, that if She does not leave the temple, it will
be impossible to keep any peace with Her. When we
allow Her her own way, She becomes overbearing; if
we reprehend Her, She makes fun of all of us by pros
trating Herself at our feet with feigned humility, and
afterwards She quarrels anew and throws all into up
705. The priests and the instructress brought the Mis
tress of the world into another room, and there they
severely reprehended Her, giving full credit at that time
to all the accusations of her companions, and, having
exhorted Her to reform and behave as one living in the
house of God, they threatened to expel Her from the
temple, if She would not mend Her conduct. This threat
was the most severe punishment, which they could have
given Her, even if She had been guilty; so much the more
severe was it, when She was altogether innocent of any of
the faults imputed to Her. Whoever will obtain from
the Lord some understanding of a part only of the pro
found humility of the most holy Mary will also under
stand somewhat of the effects of these mysteries in her
most innocent heart; for She judged Herself to be the
most vile of the womanborn, the most unworthy to live
among them and to burden the earth with her presence.
This threat cruelly lacerated the heart of the most pru
dent Virgin, and in tears She answered and said to the
priests : My masters, I acknowledge the favor, which
you do me in correcting and teaching me, the most im
perfect and despicable of creatures; but I beseech you,
pardon me, you who are the servants of the Most High,
and overlooking my defects, direct me in all things so
that I may reform and from now on give pleasure to his
Majesty and to my sisters and companions. With the
grace of the Lord I will resolve this anew and will
commence from today."
706. Our Queen added other words full of sweetest
innocence and modesty; and therewith the instructress
and the priests dismissed Her, enjoining anew upon Her
that doctrine, of which She herself was the most wise
Teacher. Immediately She betook Herself to her com
panions, and prostrating Herself at their feet, She asked
them pardon, as if the faults, with which they had charged
Her, could ever have been shared by the Mother of all in
nocence. They received Her this time with more good will,
because they thought that her tears were the effect of the
punishment and the warning of the priests and the in
structress, whom they had induced to act thus in pur
suance of their badly governed passions. The dragon,
who was secretly contriving this entanglement, urged the
incautious hearts of all these girls to still greater haugh
tiness and presumption, and as they had now made head
way in the estimation of the priests themselves, they pro
ceeded to greater audacity in discrediting and lowering the
good name of the most pure Virgin. Accordingly by insti
gation of the devil, they fabricated new accusations and
lies ; but the Most High never permitted them to say any
thing very grave and dishonorable of Her, whom He had
chosen as the most holy Mother of his Onlybegotten. He
merely allowed the indignation and deceit of the maidens
to go so far as to exaggerate very much some small
faults, which were even in themselves altogether fictitious,
but which they accused Her of. Moreover they were
permitted to practice many feminine intrigues, to which
their own restlessness drove them. In these different
ways and in the reprehensions of her instructress and
of the priests our most humble Lady Mary found many
occasions of exercising virtues, of increasing the gifts
of the Most High, and of exalting Her merit.
707. In all this our Queen acted with the plenitude of
perfection in the eyes of the Lord, who regaled Himself
with the sweetest odor of that humble spikenard (Cant.
1, 18), maltreated and despised by the creatures, who
did not know Her. She repeated and continued her
clamors and her sighs on account of the absence of her
Beloved; and on one of these occasions She said: "My
highest Good and Lord of infinite mercies, if Thou who
art my Lord and my Maker, hast forsaken me, it is not
strange, that all the creatures abhor me and rise up
against me. All this my ingratitude to thy benefits well
merits ; nevertheless I will always acknowledge and con
fess Thee as my refuge and my treasure. Thou alone art
my God, my Beloved and my rest : If then Thou art this
to me, how can my afflicted heart come to rest? The
creatures do only that with me, which they should; but
they do not go so far in this as I merit, because Thou, O
my Lord and Father, in punishing, art so sparing, and in
rewarding art so generous. Discount, O Lord, my negli
gences by my sorrow of having lost thy interior presence,
and pay back with a liberal hand the benefits, blessings,
which thy creatures gain for me in forcing me to ac
knowledge thy goodness and my meanness. Raise, O
Lord, the needy one from the dust of the earth (I Reg.
2, 8) and renew her, who is poor and the most abject
of the creatures, and then may I see thy divine face and
be saved." (Psalm 79, 5).
708. It would not be possible, nor is it necessary, to
relate all that happened to our Queen in this test of her
virtues. But leaving Her at present therein, and con
sidering Her behavior, we will have in Her a living
example, teaching us to bear with exultation all the
troubles, pains and strifes, which are so necessary in order
to satisfy for our sins and subject our necks to the yoke
of mortification. There was no sin nor any deceit in our
most innocent Dove, yet, in humble silence and patience,
She suffered ungrounded hate and persecution. Let us
then be confounded in her presence, that we should deem
slight injuries irreparable offenses which must be avenged ;
whereas all offenses, of whatever kind, are to be held but
slight by those, who have God for their enemy. The
Most High was mighty to preserve Her from all persecu
tion, but then He could not have shown his power in
leading Her out of it unharmed, nor would He have
given Her such dear pledges of his love, nor would She
have reaped the sweet fruit of loving her enemies and
her persecutors. We make ourselves unworthy of such
great blessing in raising an outcry against creatures
whenever we are injured and our proud heart rises up
against God himself, who arranges all things; for it re
fuses to subject itself to its Creator and Justifier, who
knows what is necessary for our salvation.
709. Take notice then, my Daughter, that the ex
ample of these events of my life should serve thee for thy
instruction and direction. Treasure up this example lov
ingly in thy bosom and allow it to dilate thy heart, so as
to receive with joy the persecutions and calumnies of
creatures, whenever thou art made partaker of such hap
piness. The sons of perdition, who serve vanity, are
ignorant of the treasure of suffering injuries and of par
doning them, and they make a boast of vengeance, which
even according to the requirements of the natural reason
is reprehensible and arises from a heart brutal and beast
ly, rather than from a human. On the other hand, he who
pardons injuries magnanimously and forgets them, al
though he may not have divine faith nor the light of the
Gospel, becomes noble and excellent, and does not pay
vile tribute to the fierce and irrational brutality of re
710. And if the vice of revenge is so contrary even
to the dictates of nature, consider, my daughter, how
much it is opposed to grace and how hateful and abomi
nable the vengeful are in the eyes of my most holy Son,
who made Himself man, suffered and died for no other
purpose than to forgive and to obtain the pardon of the
Almighty for the injuries committed by the human race.
Against this tendency of his whole life and against his
whole nature and infinite bounty, vengeance is arrayed;
as far as in him lies, the vindictive man destroys entirely,
as well God himself as all his works. And for this at
tempt he well merits, that God should destroy him with
all his might. Between the person who pardons and
suffers injuries, and the vindictive, there is the same
difference as between the one and only heir and the deadly
enemy; this one provokes all the wrath of God and the
other merits and obtains all blessings; because in this
virtue he exhibits a most perfect image of the celestial
711. I wish thee, O soul, to understand, that to suffer
injuries with equanimity and to pardon them entirely for
the Lord, will be more acceptable in his eyes, than if thou
choose of thy own will to do the most severe penance and
shed thy own blood for Him. Humble thyself before
those who persecute thee, love them and pray for them
from thy true heart ; thereby shalt thou turn toward thee
in love the heart of thy God and rise to the perfection
of holiness, and thou shalt overcome hell in all things.
That great dragon, who persecutes all men, was con
founded many times by my humility and meekness, and
his fury could not tolerate the sight of these virtues.
From them he fled more swiftly than the sun s rays. I
gained great victories for my soul and won glorious
triumphs for the exaltation of the Divinity. When any
creature rose up against me, I conceived no anger toward
it, for I knew in reality it was an instrument of the Most
High, directed by his Providence for my special good.
This knowledge and the consideration, that it was a crea
ture of my Lord, capable of grace, excited me to love it
truly with a greater fervor, and I did not rest until I
could reward this benefit of persecution by obtaining for
it eternal life, as far as was possible.
712. Strive after, therefore, and labor for the imita
tion of that, which thou hast understood and written;
show thyself most meek, peaceful and agreeable toward
those, who molest thee; esteem them truly in thy heart,
and do not take vengeance of thy Lord by taking ven
geance on his instruments, nor despise the inestimable
jewel of injuries. As far as lies in thee always give good
for evil, (Rom. 12, 14) benefits for injuries, love for
hate, praise for blame, blessings for malediction. Then
wilt thou be a perfect daughter of thy Father (Matth. 5,
43), the beloved spouse of thy Lord, my friend and my
most cherished daughter.
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