Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 3  Chapter  23    Verses:  283-303

283. After the birth of the Precursor of Christ the
return of most holy Mary was unavoidable ; and although
the prudent Elisabeth had found consolation in resign
ing herself to the divine will, she could not restrain
her desire of securing for herself the good counsel and
instruction of the Mother of wisdom. Therefore She
spoke to Her and said : "My Mistress and Mother of the
Creator, I know, that Thou art preparing to leave me
and that I am to be deprived of thy loving intercourse,
help and protection. I beseech Thee, my Cousin, furnish
me with some good counsel, which will help me to con
form all my actions to the greater pleasure of the Most
High. In thy virginal womb Thou bearest Him, who is
the Corrector of the wise and the fountain of light
(Wis. 7, 15) ; through Him Thou canst communicate it
to all. Let some of the rays, which illumine thy purest
soul fall upon thy servant, in order that I may be en
lightened in the paths of justice, until I arrive at the
vision of the God of gods in Sion." (Ps. 22, 3.)
284. These words of saint Elisabeth moved the most
holy Mary to tender compassion and She spoke words
that served her cousin as celestial guidance for the rest
of her life. This, She said, would be of short duration ;
but the Most High would take care of her child, and She
herself had prayed for him to the Almighty. Although
it is not possible to record all the sweet words of counsel,
which the heavenly Lady spoke to saint Elisabeth before
her departure, I will write down some of them, as far
as I have understood them and as far as they can be
reproduced by our insufficient language. Most holy Mary
said : "My beloved cousin, the Lord has selected Thee for
the fulfillment of most exalted mysteries. He has con
descended to enlighten thee concerning them and wishes,
that I should open to thee my heart. Thy name is
written within it for remembrance before his Majesty.
I will not forget the devoted kindness with which thou
hast treated me, the most useless of creatures ; and from
my most holy Son and Lord I hope thou shalt receive a
plentiful reward/*
285. "Keep thy mind and spirit fixed on high and by
the light of divine grace preserve the vision of the un
changeable and infinite being of God and the remem
brance of his immense goodness, which moved Him to
create out of nothing all the intellectual creatures in order
to bestow upon them his glory and his gifts of grace.
The extreme mercy of the Most High, in favoring us
more than all other creatures with his knowledge and
light, ought to incite us to make up by our thankfulness
for the blind ingratitude of mortals, who are so far re
moved from acknowledging and praising their Creator.
This shall be our task, that we keep our hearts free and
unhindered in our advance toward the last end. There
fore, my beloved, I charge thee to keep it unhampered
and unburdened of all earthly things, free from even
such as pertain to thy possessions, in order that, void
of earthly hindrances, it may attend to the divine calls.
Hope in the coming of the Lord (Luke 12, 36), so
that when He arrives, thou mayest answer his call joy
fully and not with convulsive violence at the thought
of leaving thy body and all earthly things. Now, while
it is time to suffer and earn the crown, let us gain merit
and hasten to be united intimately with our true and
highest God."
286. "As long as thy husband Zacharias lives, seek
to love, serve and obey him with especial earnestness.
Look upon thy miraculous child as a continual sacrifice to
his Creator; in God and for God thou canst love him as
a mother; for he shall be a great Prophet, and in the
spirit of Elias he shall defend the honor of the Most
High and exalt his name. My most holy Son, who has
chosen him for his Precursor and for the harbinger of
his coming, will favor him with the special gifts of his
right hand (Matth. 11, 9) and make him great and won
derful among the nations, manifesting to the world
his great sanctity."
287. "See that the holy name of thy God and the Lord
of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob be honored and reverenced
by all thy house and family (Tob. 4). Above all be
anxiously careful to relieve the needs of the poor, as far
as is possible; enrich them with the temporal goods so
lavishly given to thee by thy God ; show a like generosity
to the needy, knowing that these earthly goods are more
theirs than yours, since we are the children of the heav
enly Father to whom all things belong. It is not proper,
that the child of a rich father should live in superfluity,
while his brethren live in poverty and need. In this thou
canst make thyself especially pleasing to the Good of
undying mercy. Continue in thy former practices and
follow out thy plans of still greater charity, since Zachar
ias has given this work into thy hands. With his per
mission thou canst be generous. Confirm thy hopes in
all the tasks imposed upon thee by the Lord, and with
thy fellow beings practice kindness, humility and patience
in the joy of thy soul, although some of them will give
thee occasion to increase thy crown of merit. Bless
God eternally for having manifested to thee his exalted
mysteries and pray for the salvation of souls with un
abated love and zeal. Pray also for me, that his Majesty
may govern and guide me worthily to preserve the sacra
ment confided by his goodness to so lowly and poor a
servant as I am. Send for my husband in order that
I may have his company while returning to Nazareth.
In the meanwhile prepare for the circumcision of thy
child and call him John ; for this name was given to him
according to an unchangeable decree of the Most High."
288. These counsels of most holy Mary together with
other words of eternal life produced in the heart of saint
Elisabeth such divine affections, that for a time, she was
lost in the exalted teachings and sentiments of these
heavenly doctrines and made mute by the force of the
spiritual light infused into her. For the Lord, by means
of the living words of his most pure Mother, enlivened
and renewed the heart of his servant. When the flow of
her tears had moderated, she answered: "My Mistress
and Queen of the universe, speech fails me in alternate
sorrow and consolation. Hear Thou the words of my
inmost heart, which my tongue cannot express. My
affections shall witness, what my lips leave unspoken.
May the Lord, who is the enricher of our poverty,
return to Thee the favor Thou showest me. I beseech
Thee, who art the fountain of all my help and the source
of all my blessings, to obtain for me the grace to fulfill
thy counsels and to bear the great sorrow of losing thy
289. Then they bespoke the arrangements for the cir
cumcision of the child, for the time appointed by the
law was approaching. Complying with the custom ob
served among the Jews, especially among the more dis
tinguished, many relatives and other acquaintances of the
house of Zacharias began to gather, in order to resolve
upon the name to be given to the child; for, in addition
to the ordinary preparations and consultations concerning
the name to be given to a son, the high position of
Zacharias and Elisabeth and the news of the miraculous
fecundity of the mother naturally suggested the existence
of some great mystery to the minds of all their relations.
Zacharias was still dumb, and therefore it was necessary
that saint Elisableth should preside at this meeting.
Over and above the high esteem which she inspired, she
now exhibited such evident signs of the exalted renewal
and sanctification of her soul, which resulted from the
knowledge of the mysteries and from the intercourse
with the Queen of heaven, that all her relatives and
friends noticed the change. For even in her counte
nance she exhibited a kind of effulgence which made her
mysteriously attractive and was the reflection of the
Divinity, in whose presence she lived.
290. At this meeting was present also the heavenly
Lady Mary, for Elisabeth had earnestly besought Her,
and had even compelled Her by a sort of reverent and
humble command. The great Lady obeyed, but She
begged the Most High not to make known any of her
great privileges, lest She draw upon Herself the applause
or veneration of others. The desire of the most Hum
ble among the humble was granted. And as the world
persists in ignoring those who fail to use ostentation,
nobody took particular notice of Her except saint Elisa
beth, who looked upon Her with outward and inward
reverence and who knew, that on Her depended the
success of this consultation. As is recorded in the
Gospel of saint Luke, some of those present in the meet
ing suggested that the infant be named after his father:
but the prudent mother, seconded by the most holy Mary,
said: "My son must be named John." Her relatives
objected, that none of their family bore that name; for
the names of illustrious forefathers were always held in
great esteem, and were preferred in order to incite their
bearers to the imitation of ancestral virtues. Saint Elisa
beth again expressed herself to the effect, that the child
should be called John.
291. The relatives then appealed by signs to Zacharias,
who, being unable to speak, asked for a pen and
declared his will by writing upon the tablet : "Johannes
est nomen ejus." "John is his name." At the same
time most holy Mary, making use of her power over all
nature, commanded the dumbness to leave him, his
tongue to be loosened, as the moment had arrived when
it should bless the Lord. At this heavenly command he
found himself freed from his affliction, and, to the as
tonishment and fear of all present, he began to speak,
as narrated by the Evangelist. What I say here is not
adverse to the Gospel narrative; for, although it is there
related, that the angel foretold Zacharias that he should
remain mute until his message should be fulfilled, yet
God, when He reveals any decree of his will, absolutely
unfailing as they are, does not always reveal the means
or the manner of their fulfillment, foreseen by Him in
his infinite foreknowledge. Thus the archangel an
nounced to Zacharias the punishment of his unbelief, but
he did not tell him that he should be freed from it by the
intercession of most holy Mary, although this also had
been foreseen and decreed.
292. Therefore, just as the voice of our Lady Mary
was the instrument for the sanctification of the child
John and his mother, so her secret mandate and her inter
cession had the effect of loosening the tongue of Zacharias,
filling him with the holy Spirit and the gift of
prophecy. Hence he broke forth in the words (Luke 1,
68-79) :
68. "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; because
He hath visited and wrought the redemption of his
people :
69. And hath raised up an horn of salvation to us,
in the house of David his servant :
70. And he hath spoken by the mouth of his holy
prophets, who are from the beginning;
71. Salvation from our enemies, and from the hands
of all that hate us :
72. To perform mercy to our fathers, and to re
member his holy testament,
73. The oath, which he swore to Abraham our
father, that he would grant to us,
74. That being delivered from the hand of our
enemies, we may serve him without fear,
75. In holiness and justice before him, all our days.
76. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of
the Highest : for thou shalt go before the face of the
Lord to prepare his ways :
77. To give knowledge of salvation to his people:
unto the remission of their sins :
78. Through the bowels of the mercy of our God,
in which the Orient from on high hath visited us:
79. To enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in
the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way
of peace."
293. In the divine canticle of the Benedictus Zacharias
embodied all of the highest mysteries, which the ancient
prophets had foretold in a more profuse manner con
earning the Divinity, Humanity and the Redemption of
Christ, and in these few words he embraces many great
sacraments. He also understood them by the grace and
light, which rilled his spirit, and which raised him up in
the sight of all that had come to attend the circumcision
of his son ; for all of them were witnesses to the solving
of- his tongue and to his divine prophecies. I will hardly
be able to give an explanation of the deep meaning of
these prophecies, such as they had in the mind of that
holy priest.
294. "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel," he says,
knowing that the Most High could have saved his people
and given them eternal salvation merely by desiring it
or speaking one word, but He exerted not only his power,
but showed also his immense goodness and mercy, the
Son of the eternal Father himself coming down to visit
his people and to become their Brother in the human
nature ; their Teacher by his example and doctrine, their
Redeemer by his life, passion and death of the Cross.
At these words Zacharias understood the union of the
two natures in the person of the Word and in heavenly
clearness he saw this mystery realized in the virginal
bridal-chamber of the most holy Mary. He understood
also the exaltation of the Humanity by the triumph of
the Godman, in earning the salvation of the human race
according to the promises made to David and his ances
tors (II Kings 7, 12; Ps. 131, 11). He understood
that the same promise had been made to the whole world
by the prophecies of the Saints and Patriarchs from the
beginning. For from the first creation God commenced
to direct the course of nature and grace toward his
coming into the world, and to ordain all his works since
the time of Adam toward this same blessed end.
295. He understood that the Most High in this man-
ner provided for us the means of obtaining grace and
eternal life lost by our enemies in their pride and stub
born disobedience, which hurled them into hell ; and the
seats which would have been theirs, if they had been
obedient, were reserved for the obedient among the
mortals. He saw how ever since then the enmity which
the serpent had conceived against God was now turned
against men, because we were decreed and enshrined in
the eternal mind according to his divine will (Apoca
lypse 12, 17) ; how Adam and Eve, our first parents,
having fallen from his friendship and grace, were not
given over to chastisement, like the rebellious angels, but
were raised to a state of hope (Wisdom 10, 2) ; and
that, in order to assure their descendants of his mercy,
God provided the prophecies and figures of the old Tes
tament, which were to be fulfilled in the coming of the
Redeemer and Savior. To make this promise still more
certain it was made to Abraham under an oath, affirm
ing that he would be the father of all his people and of
all the children of the faith (Gen. 22, 16). Assured of
this stupendous and vast blessing, namely that of receiv
ing his own Son made man, we may serve God free from
the fear of our enemies ; for by our adoption and regen
eration they are already overcome and subdued through
our Redeemer (Gal. 4, 5).
296. In order that we may understand what the Word
has earned for us in restoring to us this liberty in the
service of God, he says : that He has renewed the world
in sanctity and justice, and founded the new law of
grace for all the days of this world, and for the time of
life given to each of the children of the Church. In it
they not only can, but they should live in holiness and
justice. And as Zacharias saw in his son John the be
ginning of all these sacraments, he turns to him and con
gratulates him, because of the dignity and sancity of his
office, saying : And thou, child, shalt be called a prophet
of the Most High; for thou shalt go before his face,
namely his Divinity, and prepare his ways by spreading
the light of his coming, and giving notice to the people
of the Jews concerning eternal life, which is Christ our
Lord, the promised Messias (Mark 1, 41). Thus might
they dispose themselves by the baptism of penance for
the remission of their sins and become convinced that
the Messias has come to take away not only their sins,
but those of the whole world (John 1, 29) ; since it
is through his mercy and on account of his merits
(Tit 3, 5) that He visits us, by descending from the
bosom of the eternal Father and by being born as man.
He it was that brought light to those who had lost the
truth for so many ages, who were sitting in darkness and
in the shadows of death. He it was who by his own
example taught us to direct our steps toward the true
peace, which we were awaiting.
297. Much more clearly than I can explain, Zacharias
perceived these mysteries in their plenitude and depth,
and expressed them in his prophecies. Some of those
present were likewise enlightened, becoming aware that
the time of the Messias and of the fulfillment of the
ancient prophecies was at hand. Full of astonishment at
these unexpected wonders and prodigies, they exclaimed :
"Who shall this child be, since the hand of the Most
High is in him so marvelous and powerful?" In ac
cordance with the letter of the law, and with the concur
rence of his father and mother, the child was then cir
cumcised and named John ; and the report of these won
ders spread through all the mountains of Judea.
298. Queen of the universe, I admire the wonderful
works wrought through thy intervention by the arm of
the Lord in his servants Elisabeth, John and Zacharias.
At the same time I reflect on the different courses pur
sued by divine Providence and on thy rare discretion.
Thy most sweet voice served the son and the mother as
an instrument of sanctification, filling them with the Holy
Ghost, and this remained hidden; then again thy secret
prayer and command solved the tongue of Zacharias, and
this was manifested to all the bystanders, revealing the
effects of God s grace in the holy priest. I cannot find
the reason for this diversity, and therefore I make known
to Thee my ignorance, so that Thou mayest instruct me
as my Teacher.
299. For two reasons, my daughter, the divine effects
wrought through me by my Son in saint John and Elisa
beth were concealed, while those in Zacharias were mani
fest. First, because Elisabeth spoke out clearly in praise
of the incarnate Word and of me; yet at the time it was
not proper that either this mystery or my dignity should
be openly known; the coming of the Messias was to be
manifested by other more appropriate means. Secondly,
not all hearts were so well prepared as that of Elisabeth
for receiving such precious and unprecedented seed of
divine knowledge, nor would they have welcomed such
sacramental revelation with due reverence. On the other
hand it was more becoming that Zacharias in his priestly
dignity should proclaim what was then to be made
known; for the beginnings of the heavenly light would
be accepted more readily from him than from saint
Elisabeth, especially while he was present. That which
she said, was reserved to bring forth its effects in due
time. Although the words of God have their own
inherent force; yet the more sweet and acceptable man
ner of communicating with the ignorant and the un
skilled in divine mysteries is by means of the priest.
300. Likewise it was proper that the dignity and
honor of the priesthood should receive its due; for the
Most High holds the priests in such esteem, that if He
finds them in the right disposition, He exalts them and
fills them with his Spirit in order that the world may
venerate them as his chosen and anointed ones. More
over the wonders of the Lord run less risk in priests,
even when they are more openly revealed to them. If
they live up to their dignity, their works in comparison
with those of the other creatures, are like those of the
angels and of the seraphim. Their countenance should
be resplendent, like that of Moses, when he came forth
from converse with the Lord (Exod. 34, 29). At least
they should deal with the rest of men in such a manner
that they be honored and revered as next to God. I
desire that thou understand, my dearest, that the Most
High is greatly incensed against the world in this
matter: as well against the priests as against laymen.
Against the priests because, forgetting their exalted dig
nity, they debase themselves by a contemptible, degraded
and scandalous life, giving bad example to the world by
mixing up with it to the neglect of their sanctification.
And against the laymen, because they act with a fool
hardy presumption toward the anointed of the Lord,
whom, though of imperfect and blameworthy lives,
they ought to honor and revere as taking the place of
Christ, my most holy Son, on earth.
301. On account of this reverence due to the priest
hood my behavior toward saint Zacharias was different
from that toward Elisabeth. For, although the Lord
wished, that I should be the instrument, by which the
gifts of the holy Spirit should be communicated to both;
yet I saluted Elisabeth in such a manner, that I at the
same time showed a certain authority, exerting my power
over the original sin of her son; for at my words this
sin was forgiven him, and both mother and son were
rilled with the Holy Ghost. As I had not contracted
original sin and was exempt from it, I possessed do
minion over it on this occasion: I commanded as the
Mistress, who had triumphed over it by the help of the
Lord (Gen. 3, 5), and who was no slave of it, as all
the sons of Adam, who sinned in him (Rom. 5, 12).
Therefore the Lord desired that, in order to free John
from the slavery and chains of sin, I should command
over it as one who never was subject to its bondage. I
did not salute Zacharias in this authoritative way, but I
prayed for him, observing the reverence and decorum
due to his dignity and my modesty. I would not have
commanded the tongue of the priest to be loosened, not
even mentally and secretly, if the Most High had not
enjoined it upon me, intimating at the same time, that the
defect of speech hardly suited his office, for a priest
should stand ready to serve and praise the Almighty with
all his powers. In regard to the respect due to priests I
will tell thee more on another occasion ; let this suffice at
present for the solution of thy doubt.
302. But from my instruction today learn especially
to seek direction in the way of virtue and of eternal life
in all thy intercourse with men, be they above or below
thee in dignity. Imitate therein me and my cousin Elisa
beth, with due discretion asking all to direct thee and
guide thee; for in return for such humility the Lord will
provide thee with secure counsel and divine light for
exercising thy discreet and sincere love of virtue. Drive
away, or do not allow thyself to be influenced by even
the least breath of flattery and avoid the conversations
which expose thee to it; for such deceitful pleasure
darkens the light and perverts the unsuspecting- mind.
The Lord is so jealous of the souls especially beloved by
Him, that He will immediately turn away from them if
they find pleasure in the praises of men and seek to
recompense themselves by their flatteries; since by this
levity they become unworthy of his favors. It is not
possible to unite in a soul the adulations of the world
and the caresses of the Most High. For these latter
are sincere, holy, pure, and lasting: they humiliate,
cleanse, pacify and illumine the heart ; while on the other
hand the flatteries of creatures are vain, fleeting, deceit
ful, impure and false, issuing from the mouths of those
who are all liars (Ps. 115, 11) ; and whatever is deceitful
is a work of the enemy.
303. Thy Spouse, my dearest daughter, does not wish
thy ears to be enthralled by deceitful earthly talk, nor
contaminated by the flatteries of the world. Therefore
I desire that thou keep them closed and well guarded
against all these poisonous influences. If thy Lord is
pleased to speak to thy heart the words of eternal life, it
is proper that thou thyself be deaf and lifeless to all that
is earthly. All else should be to thee a deadly torment
in comparison with the caresses of his love. Remember
that thou owest Him the perfection of thy love, and that
all hell will combine against thee, in order to ensnare
thee by thy natural tenderness to be sweet and loving
toward creatures, and less grateful to the eternal God.
Watch over thyself, and see that thou resist this un
faithfulness, trusting in thy beloved Master and Spouse.
the Work of God Apostolate - mcog #74                                                

INDEX  Page up ^^


 The Work of God

 Mistical City of God