Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 2 chapter 22 verses 755-771THE ESPOUSAL OF MOST HOLY MARY WITH THE MOST CHASTE SAINT JOSEPH.

  INDEX   Book 2  Chapter  22    Verses:  755-771

755. On the day on which, as we have said in the pre
ceding chapter, our Princess Mary completed the four
teenth year of her life, the men, who at that time in the
city of Jerusalem were descendants of the tribe of Juda
and of the race of David, gathered together in the tem
ple. The sovereign Lady was also of that lineage.
Among the number was Joseph, a native of Nazareth,
and then living in Jerusalem; for he was one of the de
scendants of the royal race of David. He was then
thirty-three years of age, of handsome person and pleas
ing countenance, but also of incomparable modesty and
gravity; above all he was most chaste in thought and
conduct, and most saintly in all his inclinations. From
his twelfth year he had made and kept the vow of chas
tity. He was related to the Virgin Mary in the third
degree, and was known for the utmost purity of his life,
holy and irreprehensible in the eyes of God and of men.
756. All these unmarried men gathered in the temple
and prayed to the Lord conjointly with the priests, in
order to be governed by the holy Spirit in what they
were about to do. The Most High spoke to the heart of
the highpriest, inspiring him to place into the hands of
each one of the young men a dry stick, with the com
mand that each ask his Majesty with a lively faith, to
single out the one whom He had chosen as the spouse
of Mary. And as the sweet odor of her virtue and no-
bility, the fame of her beauty, her possessions and her
modesty, and her position as being the firstborn in her
family was known to all of them, each one coveted the
happiness of meriting Her as a spouse. Among them
all only the humble and most upright Joseph thought
himself unworthy of such a great blessing; and remem
bering the vow of chastity which he had made and re
solving anew its perpetual observance, he resigned him
self to God s will, leaving it all to his disposal and being
filled at the same time with a veneration and esteem
greater than that of any of the others for the most noble
maiden Mary.
757. While they were thus engaged in prayer the staff
which Joseph held was seen to blossom and at the same
time a dove of purest white and resplendent with ad
mirable light, was seen to descend and rest upon the
head of the saint, while in the interior of his heart God
spoke : "Joseph, my servant, Mary shall be thy Spouse ;
accept Her with attentive reverence, for She is accept
able in my eyes, just and most pure in soul and body,
and thou shalt do all that She shall say to Thee." At
this manifestation and token from heaven the priests de
clared saint Joseph as the spouse selected by God him
self for the maiden Mary. Calling Her forth for her
espousal, the Chosen one issued forth like the sun, more
resplendent than the moon, and She entered into the
presence of all with a countenance more beautiful than
that of an angel, incomparable in the charm of her
beauty, nobility and grace ; and the priests espoused Her
to the most chaste and holy of men, saint Joseph.
758. The heavenly Princess, more pure than the stars
of the firmament, with tearful and sorrowful counte
nance and as the Queen of majesty, most humble yet
uniting all perfections within Herself, took leave of the
priests, asking their blessing, and of her instructress and
her companions, begging their pardon. She gave thanks
to all of them for the favors received at their hands dur
ing her stay in the temple. The humility of her be
havior enhanced the prudence and aptness of her words
for the performance of these last duties in the temple;
for on all occasions She spoke in few and weighty
words. She took leave of the temple not without great
grief on account of the sacrifice of her inclinations and
desires. In the company of attendants who were some
of the more distinguished laymen in the service of the
temple, She betook Herself with her spouse Joseph to
Nazareth, the native city of this most fortunate married
couple. Joseph, although he had been born in that place,
had, by the providential disposition of circumstances,
decided to live for some time in Jerusalem. Thus it
happened that he so improved his fortune as to become
the spouse of Her, whom God had chosen to be his own
759. Having arrived at their home in Nazareth,
where the Princess of heaven had inherited the pos
sessions and estates of her blessed parents, they were
welcomed and visited by their friends and relatives
with the joyful congratulations customary on such occa
sions. After they had in a most holy manner complied
with the natural duties of friendship and politeness, and
satisfied the worldly obligations connected with the con
versation and intercourse of their fellowmen, the two
most holy spouses, Joseph and Mary, were left at leisure
and to their own counsel in their house. Custom had
introduced the practice among the Hebrews, that for the
first few days of their married state the husband and
wife should enter upon a sort of study or trial of each
others habits and temperament, in order that afterwards
they might be able to make reciprocal allowance in their
conduct one toward the other.
760. During this time saint Joseph said to his spouse
Mary : "My spouse and Lady, I give thanks to the Lord
most high God for the favor of having designed me as
your husband without my merits, though I judged my
self unworthy even of thy company; but his Majesty,
who can raise up the lowly whenever He wishes, showed
this mercy to me, and I desire and hope, relying on thy
discretion and virtue, that Thou help me to make a
proper return in serving Him with an upright heart.
Hold me, therefore, as thy servant, and by the true love
which I have for thee, I beg of thee to supply my
deficiencies in the fulfillment of the domestic duties and
of other things, which as a worthy husband, I should
know how to perform ; tell me, Lady, what is thy pleas
ure, in order that I may fulfill it."
761. The heavenly Spouse heard these words with an
humble heart, and yet also with a serene earnestness,
and She answered the saint: "My master, I am fortu
nate, that the Most High, in order to place me in this
state of life, has chosen thee for my husband and that
He has given me such evident manifestation of his will,
that I serve thee; but if thou givest me leave I will
speak of my thoughts and intentions, which I wish to
manifest to thee for this purpose." The Most High
forestalled the sincere and upright heart of saint Jo
seph with his grace and inflamed it anew with divine
love through the word of most holy Mary, and he an
swered Her, saying: "Speak, Lady, thy servant hears."
On this occasion the Mistress of the world was sur
rounded by the thousand angels of her guard, in visible
form. She had asked them to be present in that man
ner, because the Lord, in order that the most pure Vir
gin might act with greater grace and merit, had per
mitted her to feel the respect and reverence, with which
She was bound to speak to her husband and left her to
the natural shyness and dread, which She always felt in
speaking to men alone; for She had never done this,
except perhaps by accident with the highpriest.
762. The holy angels obeyed their Queen and, visible
only to Her, stood in attendance. In this glorious com
pany She spoke to her spouse saint Joseph, and said to
him: "My lord and spouse, it is just that we give
praise and glory with all reverence to our God and Cre
ator, who is infinite in goodness and incomprehensible
in his judgments. To us, who are so needy, He has
manifested his greatness and mercy in choosing us for
his service. I acknowledge myself among all creatures
as more beholden and indebted to Him than all others,
and more than all of them together; for, meriting less,
I have received from his liberal hand more than they.
At a tender age, being compelled thereto by the force of
this truth, which, with the knowledge of the deceitfulness
of visible things, his divine light made known to
me, I consecrated myself to God by a perpetual vow of
chastity in body and soul ; his I am and Him I acknowl
edge as my Spouse and Lord, with fixed resolve to pre
serve for Him my chastity. I beseech thee, my master,
to help me in fulfilling this vow, while in all other things
I will be thy servant, willing to work for the comfort of
thy life as long as mine shall last. Yield, my spouse, to
this resolve and make a like resolve, in order that, of
fering ourselves as an acceptable sacrifice to our eternal
God, He may receive us in the odor of sweetness and
bestow on us the eternal goods for which we hope."
763. The most chaste spouse Joseph, full of interior
joy at the words of his heavenly Spouse, answered Her:
"My Mistress, in making known to me thy chaste and
welcome sentiments, thou hast penetrated and dilated
my heart. I have not opened my thoughts to Thee be
fore knowing thy own. I also acknowledge myself un
der greater obligation to the Lord of creation than other
men; for very early He has called me by his true en
lightenment to love Him with an upright heart; and I
desire Thee to know, Lady, that at the age of twelve
years I also made a promise to serve the Most High
in perpetual chastity. On this account I now gladly
ratify this vow in order not to impede thy own; in the
presence of his Majesty I promise to aid Thee, as far
as in me lies, in serving Him and loving Him according
to thy full desires. I will be, with the divine grace, thy
most faithful servant and companion, and I pray Thee
accept my chaste love and hold me as thy brother, with
out ever entertaining any other kind of love, outside the
one which Thou owest to God and after God to me."
In this conversation the Most High confirmed anew the
virtue of chastity in the heart of saint Joseph, and the
pure and holy love due to his most holy spouse Mary.
This love the saint already had in an eminent degree,
and the Lady herself augmented it sweetly, dilating his
heart by her most prudent discourse.
764. By divine operation the two most holy and
chaste Spouses felt an incomparable joy and consolation.
The heavenly Princess, as one who is the Mistress of all
virtues and who in all things pursued the highest per
fection of all virtues, lovingly corresponded to the de
sires of saint Joseph. The Most High also gave to saint
Joseph new purity and complete command over his nat
ural inclinations, so that without hindrance or any trace
of sensual desires, but with admirable and new grace,
he might serve his spouse Mary, and in Her, execute his
will and pleasure. They immediately set about dividing
the property inherited from saint Joachim and Anne,
the parents of the most holy Virgin; one part they of
fered to the temple, where She had stayed, another they
destined for the poor, and the third was left in the hands
of the holy spouse saint Joseph to be disposed of accord
ing to his judgment. Our Queen reserved for Herself
only the privilege of serving Him and of attending to
the household duties. For from intercourse with out
siders and from the management of property, buying or
selling, the most prudent Virgin always kept aloof, as I
will mention farther on (552, 553).
765. In his former life saint Joseph had learnt the
trade of carpentering as being a respectable and proper
way of earning the sustenance in life. He was poor in
earthly possessions, as I have said above. He therefore
asked his most holy Spouse, whether it was agreeable to
Her, that he should exercise his trade in order to be
able to serve Her and to gain something for distribution
among the poor ; since it was necessary to do some work
and not to remain idle. The most prudent Virgin ap
proved of this resolve, saying that the Lord did not wish
them to be rich, but poor and lovers of the poor, desir
ous of helping them in as far as their means would
allow. Then arose between the two Spouses a holy con
test, who should obey the other as superior. But She,
who among the humble was the most humble, won in
this contest of humility; for as the man is the head of
the family, She would not permit this natural order to
be inverted. She desired in all things to obey her
spouse saint Joseph, asking him solely for permission to
help the poor, which the saint gladly gave.
766. As saint Joseph during these days by divine en
lightenment learnt to know more and more the qualities
of his spouse Mary, her rare prudence, humility, purity
and all her other virtues exceeding by far his thoughts
and estimates, he was seized with ever new admiration
and, in great joy of spirit, continued to praise and thank
the Lord again and again for having given him a Com
panion and Spouse so far above his merits. And in
order that this work of the Most High might be entirely
perfect (for it was the beginning of the greatest, which
He was to execute by his Omnipotence) He ordained
that the Princess of heaven, by her mere presence and
intercourse, should infuse into the heart of her spouse a
holy fear and reverence greater than words could ever
suffice to describe. This effect was wrought upon saint
Joseph by an effulgence or reflection of the divine light,
which shone from the face of our Queen and which was
mingled with an ineffable and always visible majesty.
So much the more was this due to Her than to Moses
descending from the mountain, (Exod. 24, 30) as her
intercourse and conversation with God had been more
extended and intimate.
767. Soon after most holy Mary had a vision of the
Lord, in which God spoke to Her: "My most beloved
Spouse and Chosen one, behold how faithful I am to
my promises with those who love Me. Correspond
therefore now to my fidelity by observing all the laws of
a spouse, in holiness, purity and all perfection and let
the company of my servant Joseph, whom I have given
Thee, help thee thereto. Obey him as thou shouldst
and listen to his advice." The most holy Mary re
sponded: "Most high Lord, I praise and magnify Thee
for thy admirable disposition and providence in my re
gard, though I am so unworthy and poor a creature;
I desire to obey Thee and please Thee as one hav
ing greater obligation to Thee than any other. Be
stow upon me, my Lord, thy divine favor, in order
that I may be assisted in all things and governed accord
ing to thy pleasure, and also in order that I may attend
to the duties of the state, in which Thou hast placed
me, never as Thy slave erring from thy commands and
wishes. Show me thy good will and blessing and with
it I will strive to obey and serve thy servant Joseph,
in such a manner as Thou, my Lord and Maker, commandest.&
768. On such heavenly beginnings was founded the
home and the married life of the most holy Mary and
saint Joseph. From the eighth of September, when
they were espoused, until the twenty-fifth of March fol
lowing, when the Incarnation of the divine Word took
place (as I will say in the second part), the two Spouses
thus lived together, being prepared in the meanwhile for
the work designated for them by the Most High.
769. But I cannot at this juncture withhold my words
of congratulation at the good fortune of the most happy
among men, saint Joseph. Whence is it, O man of God,
that thou among all sons of Adam, shouldst have the
happiness and good fortune of possessing God himself
in such a manner, that He conducted Himself and was
reputed as thy only Son? The eternal Father gives to
Thee his Son, and the Son gives to thee his true and
real Mother, and the Holy Ghost entrusts to thee his
Spouse, while the whole blessed Trinity in its turn
yields and espouses to thee as thy legitimate wife its
chosen One, its only One, elect as the sun? Dost thou
realize, O Saint, thy dignity? Dost thou know thy ex
cellence? Dost thou understand, that thy Spouse is the
Queen and Lady of heaven and earth and that Thou art
the depositary of the inestimable treasures of God him
self? Be mindful, man of God, of thy entrusted pledge
and know, that if thou art not envied by the angels and
seraphim, thou hast certainly filled them with wonder
and astonishment at thy good fortune and at the sacra
mental mystery connected with thy matrimony. Accept
the congratulations for such great happiness in the name
of the whole human race. Thou art the archive of the
history of the divine mercies, the master and spouse of
Her, who is inferior only to God himself; thou findest
thyself enriched and prosperous in the sight of all men
and of the angels themselves. Remember our poverty
and misery, and remember me the most worthless worm
of the earth: for I desire to be thy client, blessed and
favored by thy powerful intercession.
770. My daughter, in the example of the matrimonial
life wherein the Most High placed me, thou findest a
reproof for those souls, who allege their life in the world
as an excuse for not following perfection. To God
nothing is impossible, and nothing is likewise impossible
to those, who with a lively faith, hope in Him, and re
sign themselves entirely to his divine Providence. I
lived in the house of my spouse with the same perfec
tion as in the temple; for in changing my state of life I
altered neither my sentiments nor the desire and anxiety
to love and serve God; on the contrary I added to my
solicitude lest the obligations of a spouse should hinder
me in God s service. On this account God favored me
and disposed and accommodated powerfully all things in
conformity to my desires. The Lord will do the same
for all men, if on their part they correspond. They
however blame the state of matrimony, deceiving them
selves; for the hindrance to a holy and perfect life, is
not the state, but the vain and superfluous cares and
anxieties, in which they involve themselves forgetting
the sweetness of the Lord and seeking and preferring
their own.
771. And if there is no excuse for not living a perfect
life in the world, still less will the duties and obliga
tions of the religious state be an excuse. Never imagine
thyself exempt from the pursuit of perfection on account
of being a superioress; for since God has placed thee
in office by obedience, thou must not despair of his
assistance and protection ; He himself will each day as
sume the responsibility of strengthening thee and helping
thee to fulfill thy duties, without relaxing in the pursuit
of a perfect love due to God. Oblige Him by the
sacrifice of thy own will, submitting in humble patience
to all that his divine Providence may ordain. If thou
dost not hinder the course of his Providence, I assure
thee of his protection and of the power of his divine arm
to direct thee and guide all thy actions toward perfec
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