Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 3  Chapter  18    Verses:  231-242

231. When the Precursor John had been sanctified
and saint Elisabeth, his mother, had been endowed with
such great gifts and blessings, and when thus the princi
pal object of Mary s visit was fulfilled, the great Queen
proceeded to arrange her daily life in the house of Zacharias;
for her occupations could not be uniformly the
same as those She was accustomed to in her own house.
In order to direct her desire by the guidance of the Holy
Ghost She retired and placed Herself in the presence of
the Most High, asking Him as usual to guide Her and
direct Her in that which She was to do during her stay
in the house of his servants Elisabeth and Zacharias; so
that She might in all things be pleasing to Him and
fulfill entirely his pleasure. The Lord heard Her peti
tion and answered Her saying: "My Spouse and my
Dove, I will direct all thy actions and I will direct thy
footsteps in the fulfillment of my service and pleasure,
and I will make known to thee the day on which I wish
thee to return to thy home. In the meanwhile remain
in the house of my servant Elisabeth and converse with
her. As for the rest, continue thy exercises and prayers,
especially for the salvation of men, and pray also, that I
withhold my justice in dealing with their incessant of
fenses against my bounty. Conjointly with thy prayers
thou shalt offer to Me the Lamb without spot (I Pet. 1,
19) which thou bearest in thy womb and which takes
away the sins of the world (John 1, 291). Let these
now be thy occupations."
232. In conformity with this instruction and new
mandate of the Most High, the Princess of heaven or
dered all her occupations in the house of her cousin
Elisabeth. She rose up at midnight in accordance with
her former custom, spending the hours in the continued
contemplation of the divine mysteries and giving to wak
ing and sleep the time, which most perfectly and exactly
agreed with the natural state and conditions of her
body. In labor and repose She continued to receive new
favors, illuminations, exaltation and caresses of the
Lord. During these three months She had many visions
of the Divinity, mostly abstractive in kind. More fre
quent still were the visions of the most holy humanity
of the Word in its hypostatic union; for her virginal
womb, in which She bore Him, served Her as her con
tinual altar and sanctuary. She beheld the daily growth
of that sacred body. By this experience and by the
sacraments, which every day were made manifest to Her
in the boundless fields of the divine power and essence,
the spirit of this exalted Lady expanded to vast propor
tions. Many times would She have been consumed and
have died by the violence of her affections, if She had
not been strengthened by the power of the Lord. To
these occupations, which were concealed from all, She
added those, which the service and consolation of her
cousin Elisabeth demanded, although She did not apply
one moment more to them, than charity required. These
fulfilled, She turned immediately to her solitude and
recollection, where she could pour out the more freely
her spirit before the Lord.
233. Not less solicitous was She to occupy Herself in
teriorly, while She was engaged for many hours in man
ual occupations. And in all this the Precursor was so
fortunate that the great Queen, with her own hands,
sewed and prepared the swaddling clothes and coverlets
in which he was to be wrapped and reared; for his
mother Elisabeth, in her maternal solicitude and atten
tion, had secured for saint John this good fortune, hum
bly asking this favor of the heavenly Queen. Mary with
incredible love and subjection complied with her request
in order to exercise Herself in obedience to her cousin,
whom She wished to serve as the lowest handmaid; for
in humility and obedience most holy Mary always sur
passed all men. Although saint Elisabeth sought to
anticipate Her in much that belonged to her service,
yet, in her rare prudence and wisdom, Mary knew how
to forestall her cousin, always gaining the triumph of
234. In this regard a great and sweet competition
arose between the two cousins, which was very pleasing
to the Most High and wonderful in the sight of the
angels; for saint Elisabeth was very solicitous and at
tentive in serving our Lady and great Queen, and in
commanding also the same service to be rendered Her
by all the inmates of the house. But She, who was the
Teacher of virtues, most holy Mary, being still more
attentive and eager to serve, met and diverted the anxie
ties of her cousin, saying: "My dear cousin, I find my
consolation in being commanded and in obeying during
all my life; it is not good that thy love should deprive
me of the comfort I feel therein ; since I am the younger
one, it is proper that I serve not only thee, as my mother,
but all in thy house ; deal with me as with thy servant as
long as I am in thy company/ Saint Elisabeth an
swered: "My beloved Lady, it beseems much more that
I obey Thee and that Thou command and direct me in
all things; and this I ask of thee with greater justice.
For if Thou, the Mistress, wishest to exercise humility,
I on my part owe worship and reverence to my God and
Lord, whom Thou bearest in thy virginal womb, and I
know that thy dignity is worthy of all honor and rev
erence." And the most prudent Virgin rejoined: "My
Son and Lord did not choose me for his Mother, in
order that I receive reverence as mistress; for his king
dom is not of this world (Joan 18, 36), nor did He
come into it in order to be served; but to serve (Matth.
20, 28), and to suffer, and to teach obedience and hu
mility to mortals (Matth. 11, 29), condemning fastidi
ousness and pride. Since therefore his Majesty teaches
me this and the Highest calls Himself the ignominy of
men (Ps. 21, 22), how can I, who am his slave and do
not merit the company of creatures, consent that thou
serve me, who art formed according to his image and
likeness?" (Gen. 1, 27).
235. Saint Elisabeth still insisted and said : "My Mis
tress and Protectress, this is true for those, who do not
know the sacrament which is enclosed in Thee. But I,
who have without merit been informed by the Lord, will
be very blamable in his eyes, if I do not give Him in
Thee the veneration which is due to Him as God, and
to Thee as his Mother; for it is just that I serve Both,
as a slave serves his masters." To this the most holy
Mary answered : "My dear sister, this reverence which
thou owest and desirest to give, is due to the Lord,
whom I bear within my womb, for He is the true and
highest Good and our Redeemer. But as far as I am
concerned, who am a mere creature and among creatures
only a poor worm, look upon me as I am in myself, al
though thou shouldst adore the Creator, who chose my
poor self as his dwelling. By his divine enlightenment
thou shalt give unto God, what is due to Him, and allow
me to perform that which pertains to me, namely to
serve and to be below all. This I ask of Thee for my
consolation and in the name of the Lord, whom I bear
within me."
236. In such blessed and happy contentions most holy
Mary and her cousin Elisabeth passed some of their
time. But the divine prudence of our Queen caused in
Her such an alertness and ingenuity in matters concern
ing humility and obedience, that She never failed to find
means and ways of obeying and of being commanded.
However, during all the time in which She stayed with
saint Elisabeth, all this was done in such a way that
both according to their condition treated with the high
est respect the sacrament of the King which had been
entrusted to their knowledge, and which was deposited
in the most holy Mary. This high respect in Mary was
such as befitted the Mother and the Mistress of all vir
tue and grace, and in Elisabeth, such as was worthy of
the prudent matron, so highly enlightened by the holy
Spirit. By this light she wisely directed her behavior
in regard to the Mother of God, yielding to her wishes
and obeying Her in whatever she could, and at the same
time reverencing her dignity, and in it, her Creator. In
her inmost heart she made the intention that if she
were obliged to give any command to the Mother of
God, she would do it only in order to obey and satisfy
her wishes; and whenever she did it, she asked permis
sion and pardon of the Lord, at the same time never
ordering anything by direct command, but always by
request; and she would use greater earnestness only in
such things as were conducive to Mary s convenience, as
for instance, that She take some sleep or nourishment.
She also asked Mary to make a few articles for her with
her own hands; Mary complied, but saint Elisabeth
never made use of them, except to preserve them with
the greatest veneration.
237. In this way most holy Mary put into practice
the doctrine of the eternal Word who humiliated Him
self so far, that, being the form of the eternal Father,
the figure of his substance, true God of the true God, He
nevertheless assumed the form and condition of a ser
vant (Heb. 1, 3, Philip 2, 6, 7). This Lady was the
Mother of God, Queen of all creation, superior in ex
cellence and dignity to all creatures, and yet She re
mained the humble servant of the least of them; and
never would She accept homage and service as if due to
Her, nor did She ever exalt Herself, or fail to judge of
Herself in the most humble manner. What shall we
now say of our most execrable presumption and pride?
Since, full of the abomination of sin, we are so sense
less as to claim for ourselves with dreadful insanity
the homage and veneration of all the world? And if
this is denied us, we quickly lose the little sense which
our passions have left us. This whole heavenly history
bears the stamp of humility, and is a condemnation of
our pride. And since it is not my office to teach or cor
rect, but to be taught and to be corrected, I beseech and
pray all the faithful children of light to place this ex
ample before their eyes for our humiliation.
238. It would not have been difficult for the Lord to
preserve his most holy Mother from such extreme low
liness and from the occasions in which She embraced it ;
He could have exalted Her before creatures, ordaining
that She be renowned, honored and respected by all;
just as He knew how to procure homage and renown
for others as Assuerus did for Mardocheus. Perhaps,
if this had been left to the judgment of men, they would
have so managed that a Woman more holy than all the
hierarchies of heaven, and who bore in her womb the
Creator of the angels and of the heavens, should be sur
rounded by a continual guard of honor, withdrawn
from the gaze of men and receiving the homage of all
the world; it would have seemed to them unworthy of
Her to engage in humble and servile occupations, or
not to have all things done only at her command, or to
refuse homage, or not to exercise fullest authority. So
narrow is human wisdom, if that can be called wisdom,
which is so limited. But such fallacy cannot creep into
the true science of the saints, which is communicated to
them by the infinite wisdom of the Creator, and which
esteems at their just weight and price these honors with
out confounding the values of the creatures. The Most
High would have denied his beloved Mother much and
benefited Her little, if He had deprived and withdrawn
from Her the occasion of exercising the profoundest
humility and had instead exposed Her to the exterior
applause of men. It would also be a great loss to the
world to be without this school of humility and this ex
ample for the humiliation and confusion of its pride.
239. From the time of her receiving the Lord as her
Guest in her house, though yet in the womb of the Vir
gin Mother, the holy Elisabeth was much favored by
God. By the continued conversation and the familiar
intercourse with the heavenly Queen in proportion as
she grew in the knowledge and understanding of the
mysteries of the Incarnation, this great matron advanced
in all manner of sanctity, as one who draws it from its
very fountain. A few times She merited to see most
holy Mary during her prayers, ravished and raised from
the ground and altogether filled with divine splendor and
beauty, so that she could not have looked upon her face,
nor remain alive in her presence, if she had not been
strengthened by divine power. On these occasions, and
at others whenever she could be witness of them without
attracting the attention of most holy Mary, she pros
trated herself and knelt in her presence, and adored the
incarnate Word in the virginal temple of the most holy
Mother. All the mysteries which became known to her
by the divine light and by the intercourse with the great
Queen, saint Elisabeth sealed up in her bosom, being a
most faithful depositary and prudent secretary of that
which was confided to her. Only with her son John
and with Zacharias, during the short time in which he
lived after the birth of his son, saint Elisabeth con
versed to some extent concerning those sacraments
which had become known to all. But in all this she acted
as a courageous, wise and very holy woman.
240. My daughter, the favors of the Most High and
the knowledge of his divine mysteries, in the attentive
souls, engender a kind of love and esteem of humility,
which raises them up with a strong and sweet force, like
that which causes fire to ascend, like the gravity which
causes a stone to fall, each of them striving to reach its
own and natural sphere. This is done by the true light,
which places the creature in the possession of a clear
knowledge of its own self and attributes the graces to
the proper source, whence all perfect things come (James
1, 17) ; and thus it brings all things into correct bal
ance. And this is the most proper order of right reason
which overthrows and as it were exerts violence against
the false presumption of mortals. On account of this
presumption of pride the heart, wherein it lives, cannot
strive after contempt, nor bear it, nor can it suffer a su
perior over itself, and is offended even at equals; it
violently opposes all in order to place itself alone above
all fellow creatures. But the humble heart is abased
in proportion to the benefits it received, and in its in
terior quietly grows a desire or an ardent hunger for
self-abasement and for the last place ; it is violently dis
turbed in not finding itself esteemed as the inferior of
all and in being deprived of humiliation.
241. In me, my dearest, thou wilt find exhibited the
practical application of this doctrine ; since none of the
favors and blessings, which the right hand of the Most
High lavished upon me, were insignificant. Yet never
was my heart inflated with presumption above itself
(Ps. 110, 1), nor did it ever know anything else than to
desire to be abased and occupy the last place among all
creatures. The imitation of this I desire especially of
thee; let thy ambition be to take the last place, to live
in subjection to all others; abased and considered as
useless, in the presence of the Lord and of men, thou
must judge thyself as less than the dust of the earth
itself. Thou canst not deny, that in no generation has
any one been more favored than thou, and no one has
merited these favors less than thou. How then wilt thou
make any return for this great debt of gratitude if thou
dost not humiliate thyself below all others and more
than all the sons of Adam; and if thou dost not awaken
within thyself exalted and loving sentiments concerning
humility? It is good to obey the prelates and instruc
tors, therefore do it always. But I desire that thou
go much farther, and that thou obey the most insignifi
cant of thy fellow beings in all that is not sinful, and in
such a way, as if thou wert obeying the highest of thy
superiors; and I desire that in this matter thou be very
earnest, as I was during my earthly life.
242. Thou must, however, be circumspect in regard
to the obedience to thy inferiors, so that they may not,
knowing of thy anxiousness to obey in all things, seek
to induce thee to obey in things unseemly and unbecom
ing. Thou canst do much good by giving them the
good and orderly example of obedience, without caus
ing them to lose any of their subjection and without
derogating from thy authority as their superioress. If
any disagreeable accident or injury should happen,
which affects thee alone, accept it gladly, without so
much as moving thy lips in self-defense, or making
any complaints. Whatever is an injury to God do thou
reprehend without mixing up any of thy own grievances
with those of his Majesty; for thou shouldst never find
any cause for self defense, but always be ready to defend
the honor of God. But neither in the one nor the other,
allow thyself to be moved by disorderly anger and pas
sion. I wish also, that thou use great prudence in hid
ing and concealing the favors of the Lord, for the sacra
ment of the King is not to be lightly manifested (Tob.
12, 7), nor are carnal men capable or worthy of the
mysteries of the Holy Ghost (I Cor. 2, 14). In all
things imitate and follow me, since thou wishest to be
my beloved daughter; this thou wilt attain by obeying
me and thou wilt induce the Almighty to strengthen
and direct thy footsteps to that which I desire to ac
complish in thee. Do not resist Him, but dispose and
prepare thy heart sweetly and quickly to obey his light
and grace. Let grace not be void in thee (II Cor. 6,
1), but labor diligently and let thy actions be performed
in all perfection.
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