Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 3 chapter 22 verses 270-282BIRTH OF THE PRECURSOR OF CHRIST AND WHAT THE LADY MARY DID ON THIS OCCASION.

  INDEX   Book 3  Chapter  22    Verses:  270-282

270. The hour for the rising of the morning star,
which was to precede the clear Sun of justice and an
nounce the wished-for day of the law of grace, had ar
rived (John 5, 35). The time was suitable to the Most
High for the appearance of his Prophet in the world;
and greater than a prophet was John, who pointing out
with his finger the Lamb (John 1, 29), was to prepare
mankind for the salvation and sanctification of the world.
Before issuing from the maternal womb the Lord re
vealed to the blessed child the hour in which he was to
commence his mortal career among men. The child had
the perfect use of his reason, and of the divine science
infused by the presence of the incarnate Word. He
therefore knew that he was to arrive at the port of
a cursed and dangerous land, and to walk upon a world
full of evils and snares, where many are overtaken by
ruin and perdition.
271. On this account the great child was as it were
in a state of suspense and doubt: for on the one hand,
nature having nourished his body to that state of perfec
tion, which is proper to birth, he recognized and felt, in
addition to the express will of God, the compelling forces
of nature which urged him to leave the retreat of the
maternal womb. On the other hand he contemplated
the dangerous risks of mortal life. Thus he hesitated
between the fear of danger and the desire to obey. And
he debated within himself : "If I meet this danger of
losing God, whither shall it lead me? How can I safely
converse with men, of whom so many are enveloped in
darkness and wander from the path of life ? I am in the
obscurity of my mother s womb, but I must leave it for
a more dangerous darkness. I was imprisoned here,
since I received the light of reason; but more must I
dread the unrestrained freedom of mortals. But let me,
O Lord, fulfill thy will and enter the world; for to exe
cute it is always best. To know that my life and my
faculties shall be consumed in thy service, highest King,
will make it easier for me to come forth to the light and
begin life. Bestow, O Lord, thy blessing for my passage
into the world."
272. By this prayer the Precursor of Christ merited
new graces and blessings at his birth. The fortunate
child knew by the indwelling of God in his mind, that
he was sent to perform great things and was assured of
the necessary help. Before describing this most happy
birth, I will try to explain the scriptural dates concerning
it. It must be remembered, that the miraculous preg
nancy of saint Elisabeth lasted nine days less than nine
months. For on account of the fecundity miraculously
restored to a barren woman, the fruit conceived matured
for parturition in this shorter time. When the angel
Gabriel announced to most holy Mary, that her cousin
was in the sixth month of her pregnancy, it must be un
derstood to mean, that eight or nine days were still
wanting for the completion of the sixth month. I have
also said in chapter sixteen that the heavenly Lady de
parted on the fourth day after the incarnation of the
Word for her visit to saint Elisabeth. Saint Luke does
not say, that most holy Mary departed immediately, but
"in those days," and though She went "in haste," yet
she consumed four days on her journey, as said in the
same chapter (No. 207).
273. I likewise reminded the reader, that when the
Evangelist says, that holy Mary remained about three
months in the house of saint Elisabeth, there were only
two or three days missing; for in all respects the Evan
gelist was exact in his words. Accordingly most holy
Mary, our Lady, was present not only at the confine
ment of saint Elisabeth and at the birth of John, but
also at the naming and circumcision of saint John, as I
will now show. Counting eight days after the incarna
tion of the Word, our Lady arrived at the house of
Elisabeth on the evening of the second of April, if we
reckon according to our solar months; adding thereto
three months less two days, we have the first of July, the
eighth day of the birth of saint John, and early next
day most holy Mary departed on her return to Nazareth.
Saint Luke mentions the return of our Queen before he
speaks of the birth of saint John, although this happened
before She returned. The sacred text anticipates the
mention of the journey, in order to have done with it,
and not to interrupt the thread of the narrative of the
Precursor s birth. This is what I was told to write down
in explanation of the text.
274. Her time approaching, saint Elisabeth felt the
child in motion as if he wanted to place himself on his
feet; but he was merely following the ordinary course
of nature and the dictates of obedience. Some moderate
pains overtook the mother and she informed the Princess
Mary. But she did not call Her to be present at the
birth, because reverence for the dignity of Mary and for
the Fruit within her womb, prudently withheld her from
asking, what might not seem befitting. Nor was the
great Mistress in the same room, but She sent her the
coverings and swaddling-clothes, which She had made
for the fortunate child. Presently thereafter he was
born, very perfect and complete in shape, and by the
freedom from impure matter showed signs of the purity
of his soul. He was wrapped in the coverings sent by
Mary, which therefore had already been great and ven
erable relics. Shortly after, when saint Elisabeth had
composed herself, most holy Mary, at the command of
the Lord, issued from her oratory, in order to pay her
visit to the mother and child and give them her bless
275. At the request of his mother the Queen received
in her arms the new-born child and offered him as a new
oblation to the eternal Father, and his Majesty, well
pleased, accepted it as the first-fruits of the Incarnation
and of the divine decrees. The most blessed child, full
of the Holy Ghost, acknowledged his sovereign Queen,
showing Her not only interior, but outward reverence
by a secret inclination of his head, and again he adored
the divine Word, which was manifested to him in her
womb by an especial light. And as he also was aware,
that he was privileged before all men, the grateful child
performed acts of fervent thanksgiving, humility, love
and reverence of God and of his Virgin Mother. The
heavenly Queen, in offering him to the eternal Father,
pronounced this prayer for him: "Highest Lord and
Father, all holy and powerful, accept in thy honor this
offering and seasonable fruit of thy most holy Son and
my Lord. He is sanctified by the Onlybegotten and
rescued from the effects of sin and from the power of
thy ancient enemies. Receive this morning s sacrifice,
and infuse into this child the blessings of thy holy Spirit,
in order that he may be a faithful minister to Thee and
to thy Onlybegotten." This prayer of our Queen was
efficacious in all respects, and She perceived how the
Lord enriched this child, chosen as his Precursor; and
She also felt within Herself the effects of these admirable
276. While the Queen of the Universe held the in
fant in her arms, She was for a short time secretly
wrapt in sweetest ecstasy; during it She offered up this
prayer for the child, holding it close to the same breast
where the Onlybegotten of the Eternal and her own was
soon to rest. This was the singular prerogative of the
great Precursor, granted to none among the saints.
Therefore it is not surprising, that the angel called him
great in the eyes of the Lord; for before he was born,
the Lord visited and sanctified him, and being born,
he was placed on the throne of grace; he was embraced
by the arms, which were to enfold the incarnate Word
God, and thereby excited in the sweetest Mother of God
the entrancing desire of holding within them the Son
of the Most High, filling Her with delightful affections
for his Precursor, the new-born child. Saint Elisabeth,
being divinely informed of these sacraments, beheld her
wonderful child in the arms of Her, who was his Mother
in a more exalted sense than she herself, she being his
mother only, as to his natural being, while most holy
Mary held that position as to his existence in the order
of grace. All this caused a most sweet tie of affection
between the most blessed women and in the child, who
likewise was enlightened in regard to these mysteries.
By the motions of his tender body he manifested the
joy of his spirit, clinging to the heavenly Lady and seek
ing to attract her caresses and to remain with Her. The
sweetest Lady fondled him, but with such majestic mod
eration, that She did not kiss him, as his age would have
permitted; for She preserved her most chaste lips intact
for her most holy Son. Nor did She look intently into
his face, directing all her intention to the holiness of his
soul. So great was the prudence and modesty of the
great Queen of heaven in the use of her eyes, that She
would scarcely have known him by sight.
277. When the birth of John become known, all the
relations and acquaintances, as saint Luke says, gathered
to congratulate saint Zacharias and Elisabeth, for his
house was rich, noble and honored in the whole province
and their piety attracted the hearts of all that knew them.
Having known them so many years without children
and being aware of the sterility and advanced age of
Elisabeth, all were stirred to amazement and joyful
wonder, and they looked upon the birth of the child
rather as a miracle than as a natural event. The holy
priest Zacharias remained mute and unable to manifest
his joy by word of mouth ; for the hour of his miraculous
cure had not arrived. But, freed of his incredulity, he
showed his joy in other ways and he was full of affec
tionate gratitude and praise for the rare blessing, which
he had now witnessed with his own eyes. His behavior
we shall describe in the next chapter.
278. My dearest daughter, do not be surprised, that
my servant John feared and hesitated to come into the
world. Life can never be loved by the ignorant devotee
of the world in the same degree, as the wise, in divine
science, abhor and fear its dangers. This science was
eminently possessed by the Precursor of my most holy
Son; hence knowing of the loss which threatened, he
feared the risk. But, since he that knows and dreads
the treacherous seas of this world, sails so much the
more securely over their unfathomed depths, it served
him in good stead for entering securely into the world.
The fortunate child began his career with such disgust
and abhorrence of all earthly things, that his horror never
abated. He made no peace with the flesh (Mark 6, 17),
nor partook of its poison, nor allowed vanity to enter his
senses nor obstruct his eyes; in abhorrence of the world
and of worldly things, he gave his life for justice. The
citizen of the true Jerusalem cannot be in peace or in
alliance with Babylon; nor is it possible to enjoy at
the same time the grace of the Most High and the
friendship of his declared enemies; for no one can serve
two hostile masters, nor can light and darkness, Christ
and Beliel, harmonize (Matth. 4, 4).
279. Guard thyself, my dearest, against those living in
darkness and the lovers of the world more than against
fire ; for the wisdom of the sons of this world is carnal
and diabolical, and their ways lead to death. In order
to walk the way of truth, even at the cost of the natural
life, it is necessary to preserve the peace of the soul.
Three dwelling-places I point out for thee to live in,
from which thou must never intentionally come forth.
If at any time the Lord should bid thee to relieve the
necessities of thy fellow creatures, I desire that thou do
not lose this refuge. Act as one who lives in a castle
surrounded by enemies, and who perchance must go to
the gate to transact necessary business. He acts with
such wariness, that he will pay more attention to safe
guard his retreat and shield himself, than to transact
business with others, being always on the watch and
on guard against danger. So must thou live, if thou
wishest to live securely ; for doubt not, that enemies more
cruel and poisonous than asps and basilisks surround
280. Thy habitations shall be the Divinity of the Most
High, the humanity of my most holy Son, and thy own
interior. In the Divinity thou must live like the pearl
in its shell, or like the fish in the sea, allowing thy
desires and affections to roam in its infinite spaces. The
most holy humanity shall be the wall, which defends thee;
and his bosom shall be the place of thy rest, and under
his wings shalt thou find refreshment (Ps. 16, 8). Thy
own interior shall afford thee peaceful delight through
the testimony of a good conscience (Cor. 2, 12), and
it will, if thou keep it pure, familiarize thee with the
sweet and friendly intercourse of thy Spouse. In order
that thou mayest be aided therein by retirement of the
body, I desire that thou remain secluded in thy choir
or in thy cell, leaving it only, when obedience or charity
make it inevitable. I will tell thee a secret: there are
demons, whom Lucifer has expressly ordered to watch
for the religious, who come forth from their retire
ment, in order to beset them and engage them in battle
and cause their fall. The demons do not easily go into
the cells, because there they do not find the occasions
afforded by conversations and the use of the senses,
wherein they ordinarily capture and devour their prey
like ravenous wolves. They are tormented by the re
tirement and recollection of religious, knowing that they
are foiled in their attempts, as long as they cannot entice
them into human discourse.
281. It is also certain that ordinarily the demons have
no power over souls, unless they gain entrance by some
venial or mortal fault. Mortal sin gives them a sort of
direct right over those who commit it; while venial sin
weakens the strength of the soul and invites their attacks.
Imperfections diminish the merit and the progress of
virtue, and encourage the enemy. Whenever the astute
serpent notices that the soul bears with its own levity
and forgets about its danger, it blinds it and seeks to
instill its deadly poison. The enemy then entices the
soul like a little heedless bird, until it falls into one
of the many snares from which there seems to be no
282. Admire then, my daughter, what thou hast
learned by divine enlightenment and weep in deepest
sorrow over the ruin of so many souls absorbed in such
dangerous tepidity. They live in the obscurity of their
passions and depraved inclinations, forgetful of the
danger, unmoved by their losses, and heedless of their
dealings. Instead of fearing and avoiding the occa
sions of evil, they encounter and seek for them in
blind ignorance. In senseless fury they follow their
pleasures, place no restraint on their passionate desires,
and care not where they walk, even if to the most dan
gerous precipices. They are surrounded by innumerable
enemies, who pursue them with diabolical treachery, un
ceasing vigilance, unquenchable wrath and restless dili
gence. What wonder then, that from such extremes,
or rather from such unequal combat, irreparable defeats
should arise among the mortals? And that, since the
number of fools is infinite, the number of the reprobate
should also be uncountable, and that the demon should
be inflated by his triumphs in the perdition of so many
men? May the eternal God preserve thee from such a
misfortune; and do thou weep and deplore that of thy
brethren, continually asking for their salvation as far
as is possible.
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