Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 2  Chapter  23    Verses:  772-784

772. As soon as the Princess of heaven, Mary, found
Herself so unexpectedly in the new state of matrimony,
She raised her pure soul to the Father of light for illu
mination and direction in the fulfillment of all its obli
gations according to his pleasure. In order to give me
some insight into her holy thoughts at this time, the
Lord referred me to the last chapter of the Proverbs, in
which Solomon outlined the virtues of our Lady in de
scribing the qualities and doings of a valiant woman.
Discoursing on this chapter I will say as much as I can
of what I was made to understand regarding Her. The
chapter begins with the words : "Who shall find a valiant
woman? The price of Her is as of things brought from
afar off and from the uttermost coasts." This question
is one implying admiration in regard to our great and
valiant woman Mary and a doubt in regard to all other
women, when compared with Her; for none other as
valiant can be found in the whole range of the human
and natural existence. All the others are weak and
wanting, not one being exempt from tribute to the demon
through the guilt of sin. Who then will find another
woman? Not the kings and monarchs, nor the princes
of the earth, nor the angels of heaven, nor the divine
power itself will find another, since it had not created
another like Her : She is the only one, without a peeress
or one resembling Her, who was exalted in dignity ac
cording to the measure of his own Omnipotence. For
He could not have given Her more than his own eternal
Son, consubstantial, equal to Him in immensity, un
created and infinite.
773. Accordingly the price of this Woman is as some
thing coming from afar, since upon earth and among
creatures there was none like to Her. The price of a
thing is the value for which a thing is bought or at
which it is estimated ; then is its price known, when it is
known at what value it is held or estimated. The price
of this valiant woman Mary was set in the council of
the most blessed Trinity, when God himself claimed or
purchased Her for Himself in advance of all the other
creatures, having received Her in real purchase as a sort
of return for the creation of the whole human nature.
The price and payment, which He gave for Mary, was
the incarnate Word itself and the eternal Father (ac
cording to our way of speaking) considered Himself
sufficiently repaid by Mary. For finding this valiant
Woman in his divine mind, He set such a value on Her,
that He devoted his only Son to be at the same time his
Son and Hers: and the Son himself took from Her
human flesh and chose Her as Mother. Thus this pur
chase price by which the Most High acquired and
appropriated Her, included his wisdom, goodness, omnip
otence, justice and all other attributes, and all the
merits of his Son, releasing beforehand the whole human
race from debt; so that, if all men were to be lost as
Adam had lost himself, He would still have left Mary
and her Son. Hence truly She was estimated at a price
so distant, that all creation would not be able to reach
an estimate and appreciation of it. This is meant by the
saying "that She came from afar."
774. By this term "afar" are also to be understood
the ends of the earth; for God is the last end and the
beginning of all creation, from which all things proceed
and to which all things return, as the streams return
to the sea (Eccles. 1, 7). Also the empyrean heaven
is the final material end of all corporeal matter; and it
is called in an especial way the footstool of the Divinity
(Isaias 66, 1). Yet, in another sense, the end of natural
life and the full perfection of virtue might be called the
ends of the earth, for in these is fulfilled the purpose of
man s natural existence; being called forth by the Crea
tor for the knowledge and love of God, He himself is
the ultimate and most apparent end of life and action.
All this is included, when the price of most holy Mary
is said to come from the farthest ends. Her graces,
gifts and merits came and commenced from the ultimate
regions, they began where those of the other saints,
the Virgins, Confessors, Martyrs, Apostles and Patri
archs ended : they in all their lives and all their sanctity
did not arrive at the point where Mary merely com
menced. And if Christ, her Son and our Lord, calls
Himself the end of the works of Abraham, so can it be
said with equal justice, that the price of most holy Mary
is as from the farthest ends; for all her purity, inno
cence and sanctity came from her most holy Son as the
exemplary, anteceding and principal cause of Her alone.
775. "The heart of her husband trusteth in Her, and
he shall have no need of spoils." (Prov. 31, 11). It is
certain that the heavenly Joseph is called the husband
of this valiant Woman, as he had legitimately espoused
Her; and it is also certain, that his heart confided in
Her, believing that on account of her incomparable vir
tues all true blessings would come to him. But especially
did he trust in Her when he perceived her pregnancy
and yet was ignorant of its mysterious origin; for then
he believed and hoped against hope (Rom. 4, 18) ; all
indications being adverse and having no other founda
tion for his hopeful belief, than the holiness of such a
Spouse and Wife. And although he resolved to leave
Her (Matth. 1, 19) as he saw the outward tokens of
pregnancy with his own eyes without the slightest knowl
edge of the cause ; yet he never ventured to distrust her
honor and modesty, nor did he ever diminish in his holy
and pure love, with which his most upright heart was
bound to such a Spouse. Nor was he disappointed in
anything, nor was he in need of spoils; for if spoils are
things that are superfluous, then this man was abundant
ly supplied with them, as soon as he knew who was his
Spouse and what belonged to Her.
776. But this heavenly Mistress had another Man,
who confided in Her, and to Him principally does Solo
mon refer ; and this Man was her own Son, the true God
and Man, who confided in this Woman to the extent of
his own life and honor in the face of all creation. In
this confidence was included the greatness of both these,
his life and his honor; for neither God could confide
more to Her, nor could She correspond better so as to
assure Him of superabundant return. O what a miracle
of the infinite power and wisdom! That God should
trust Himself to a mere creature and a woman, assum
ing flesh in her womb and of her very substance! To
call her Mother with unchangeable confidence, and She
to call Him Son, nurse Him at her breast and have Him
subject to her commands! That She should be his Coadjutrix
in the rescue and restoration of the world,
the Depositary of the Divinity, the Dispensatrix of his
infinite treasures and of the merits of his most holy
Son, and of all the merits of his life, his miracles, his
preaching, his death and of all the other mysteries! All
this He confided to most holy Mary. But our wonder
increases, when we find that He was not frustrated in
his confidence; for we see that a mere Creature recog
nized and could adequately fulfill such a trust, without
failing in the least point, and in such a manner, that
She could not act with greater faith, love, prudence,
humility and perfection of all holiness. Her Man found
Himself in no need of spoils, but rich, prosperous and
well supplied with honor and renown. Therefore Scrip
ture adds :
777. "She will render him good, and not evil, all the
days of her life." That for which most holy Mary
makes a return to her Man, I understand to be the bless
ing, which Christ, her true Son, rendered unto Her ;
for what, She herself rendered is already mentioned.
The equity, which the Lord observes in remunerating
with the greatest blessings and favors even the smallest
good deed, wr ill enable us to form some idea of those
which flowed from the divine power upon our Queen
during her life. They commenced from the first instant
of her existence and were showered upon Her more
abundantly than upon the highest angels as a fitting ad
junct of her preservation from original sin; She cor
responded with these favors in an adequate manner and
co-operated with them to the utmost limit, and all the
deeds of her life were without remissness, negligence or
tardiness. What wonder then, that only her most holy
Son was superior to Her and that all the rest of the
creatures were left behind as it were at an infinite dis
tance ?
778. "She hath sought wool and flax, and hath
wrought by the counsel of her hands." A well beseem
ing praise and worthy of a valiant woman: that she
should be industrious and diligent within her home, spin
ning flax and weaving linen for the shelter and comfort
of her family, providing these things for the inmates
and for others, who may be benefited thereby. This is
profitable counsel, which is put in practice by hands in
dustrious and not idle; for the idleness of a woman,
who lives from hand to mouth, is a proof of base fool
ishness and of other vices, which cannot be imputed
without shame. In this exterior virtue, which in a
married woman is the foundation of good domestic
management, most holy Mary was a valiant woman and
a worthy example to all the womankind. For She was
never idle, but was diligently engaged in preparing linen
and wool for her spouse and for her Son and for many
poor, whom She aided by the labor of her hands. Never
theless, since She joined in the most perfect manner the
works of Martha with those of Mary, She was more
busy with the counsels of her heart in regard to interior
works than in the works of her hand. Preserving the
memory of the divine visions and the sayings of the holy
Scriptures, She was never interiorly at leisure, but con
tinued to utilize and increase the gifts and virtues of her
soul. Accordingly the text continues:
779. "She is like the merchant ship, she bringeth her
bread from afar." As this visible world is called an un
quiet and stormy sea, those that live upon it and are
tossed about upon it, can appropriately be called ships.
All are engaged in this navigation in order to earn their
bread, namely the sustenance and the maintenance of
this life, which is meant by bread. That vessel brings
its bread from the farthest distance, which is farthest
from what it is to procure; and that, which spends
more labor upon it, gains the more, since it brings it
from afar by so much the greater difficulty. There is a
sort of agreement between God and man, that while
they, as servants cultivate the earth and work upon it
in the sweat of their brow, making use of the secondary
causes by which the Lord of all succors them, the earth
in return should sustain man and pay him for his per
spiration and labor. What happens in regard to this
temporal contract, happens also in regard to the spiritual,
namely, that he who does not work shall also not eat.
780. Among all the children of Adam most holy Mary
was the rich and prosperous merchant ship, which
brought her own and our bread from afar. No one ever
was so discreetly diligent and zealous in the government
of her house; no one so solicitous for that, which in
divine prudence She deemed necessary for its support
and for succoring the needy. She merited and earned
all this by the most prudent solicitude, by which She
brought it from afar; for She was far removed from
our vicious nature and from all its doings. How much
She thus acquired, merited and distributed to the needy
ones is impossible to conceive. But still more estimable
and admirable was the spiritual and living Bread, which
She drew down from heaven for us; for She not only
drew It from the bosom of the Father, whence It would
not have descended, if It had not been drawn by this
valiant Woman, but It would never have come to this
world, so greatly unworthy of It, if It had not been
brought in the ship of Mary. Although She could not,
as a mere creature, merit the advent of God into the
world, yet She merited the hastening of his advent,
and She merited, that He should come in the rich ship of
her womb; for, since God could not take abode in any
other inferior to Her in merit, She alone induced Him
to become visible and to communicate Himself, and to
nourish those who were so far off.
781. "And She hath risen in the night, and given a
prey to her household, and victuals to her maidens."
Not less laudable is this activity of the valiant woman,
that she deprived Herself of the repose and sweet rest
of the night in order to govern her family, directing her
domestics, her husband, her sons and relations, and also
her servants to perform their duties and all that is neces
sary for the welfare of the family. This kind of valor
and prudence does not look upon night as the time for
disengaging itself and forgetting in sleep its duties and
obligations ; withdrawal from work should not be sought
merely to satisfy a whim, but as a necessary means for
returning to it so much the more ardently. Our Queen
was truly admirable in this prudent kind of economy;
although She had no servants in her family, because her
love of obedience and humility did not permit her to
charge any one but Herself with the servile duties of the
house; nevertheless, in the care for her most holy Son
and for her spouse Joseph, She rendered the most vigi
lant service and never was She guilty of any remissness,
forgetfulness, tardiness, or inadvertency in providing
what was necessary for them, as I shall have occasion
to relate in the whole of the succeeding discourse.
782. But what tongue could ever describe the untir
ing watchfulness of this valiant Woman? She arose
and was on her feet in the night, when divine secrets
were still withheld from her heart; and in the hidden
darkness of the mystery of her matrimony She lived
in vigilant hope of its unravelment, attentive to execute
humbly and obediently, whatever was commanded to
Her. She provided all the necessary nourishment for her
domestics and servants, namely her interior faculties and
her exterior senses, and distributed to each one its sus
tenance in the labor of the day, so that while they were
engaged in the outward service, the spirit might not find
itself needy and unprovided. She commanded the fac
ulties of her soul to follow the inviolable rule of seek
ing its sustenance from the light of the Divinity, of
being incessantly occupied in the ardent meditation and
contemplation of the holy law day and night, never al
lowing it at any time to be withdrawn therefrom by
exterior work or occupation of her state of life. This
was the government and the nourishment of the servants
of her soul.
783. Also to the other servants, the exterior senses,
She distributed their legitimate occupation and nourish
ment; making use of the jurisdiction, which She pos
sessed over these faculties, She commanded, that, as
servants, they serve the spirit ; that, though in the world,
they be dead to it and ignore its vanities and live solely
in as far as was necessary for nature and grace; that
they be not taken up with sensible delights, except in
so far as the superior part of the soul should allow and
communicate by its overflowing influence. She placed
boundaries and limits to all their operations, so that
without the slightest imperfection they were appropriated
to the sphere of divine love, all of them serving and
co-operating with it without resistance, unwillingness or
784. In another way also She arose and governed Her
Domestics. For there was another kind of night in
which this valiant Woman rose and other servants for
which She provided. She arose in the night of the an
cient Law, in the obscure dawn of the future light : She
came into the world at the decline of that night and with
ineffable foresight She proffered and distributed the
nourishment of grace and of eternal life to all her do
mestics and to the servants, namely her own people, to
the rest of the human race, to the holy Fathers and the
just of her own nation, and to the sinners, slaves and
captives of all the world. And She gave it so truly and
so fully, that the nourishment was taken from her own
substance and from her own blood, since it originated in
her virginal womb.
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