Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  2    Verses:  388-396

388. In his tormenting- doubts the most upright heart
of saint Joseph sometimes prudently tried to find relief
and ease for his sorrow by reasoning for himself and per
suading himself that the pregnancy of his Spouse was as
yet doubtful. But this self-deception vanished more and
more every day on account of the increasing evidence of
that state in the most holy Virgin. As this vain and
fleeting consolation failed him more and more and finally
changed into complete conviction as her pregnancy ad
vanced, the glorious saint found no haven of refuge in
his anxieties. In the meanwhile the heavenly Princess
grew in loveliness and in perfect freedom from all bodily
failings. Her charming beauty, healthfulness and grace
fulness visibly increased before his eyes. All this only
nourished the anxieties and the torments of his most
chaste love, so that his interior was involved by the turbu
lent waves of his loving sorrow in unutterable confusion
and he was finally stranded on the shores of a sea of grief
by the overpowering evidence of his senses in regard to
the pregnancy of Mary. Although his spirit was always
conformed to the will of God, yet his flesh in his weak
ness felt the excess of his interior trouble, which at last
reached such a point that he knew not any more which
way to turn. The strength of his body was broken and
vanished away, not by a definite disease, but in weakness
and emaciation. These effects of his profound sorrow
and melancholy became openly visible in his countenance.
Moreover, as he suffered all this alone without seeking
relief or lessening his sorrow by communication with
others, as is customary with the afflicted, his suffering
grew to be so much the more serious and incurable.
389. In the meanwhile the sorrow which filled the
heart of the most holy Mary was equally great. Yet,
although her sorrow exceeded all bounds, the capacity of
her generous and magnanimous soul was much greater
and therefore She could conceal her grief more com
pletely, and occupy her faculties in the loving care of
saint Joseph, her spouse. Her sorrow therefore only in
cited Her to attend so much the more devotedly to his
health and comfort. Nevertheless, as the inviolable rule
of the actions of the most prudent Queen was to perform
all in the fullness of wisdom and perfection, She con
tinued to conceal the mystery about the disclosure of
which She had received no command. Though She
alone could relieve her spouse by an explanation, She
withheld it in reverence and faithfulness due to the sac
rament of the heavenly King (Tob. 12, 7). As far as
She herself was concerned, She exerted her utmost
powers; She spoke to him about his health, She asked
what She could do to serve him and afford him help in
the weakness which so mastered him. She urged him to
take some rest and recreation, since it was a duty to yield
to necessity and repair the weakened strength, in order
to be able to work for the Lord afterward. Saint
Joseph observed all the actions of his heavenly Spouse,
and, pondering over such virtue and discretion and feel
ing the effects of her intercourse and presence, he said:
"Is it possible that a Woman of such habits, and in whom
such graces of the Lord are manifest, can bring over
me such affliction ? How can this prudence and holiness
agree with these open signs of her infidelity to God and
to me, who love Her so much? If I conclude to send
Her away, or to leave Her, I lose her most loving com
pany, all my comfort, my home and my tranquillity. What
blessing equal to Her can I find if I withdraw from Her?
What consolation, if this one fails? But all this weighs
less than the infamy connected with this sad misfortune,
and that I should come to be looked upon as her accom
plice in crime. That this event remain concealed is not
possible; since time will reveal all, even if I strive now
to hide it. To pass as the author of this pregnancy will
be a vile deceit and a blotch on my good name and con
science. I cannot recognize it as caused by me, nor can
I ascribe it to any other source known to me. Hence,
what am I to do in this dire stress? The least evil will
be to absent myself and leave my house before her de
livery comes upon Her; for then I would be still more
confused and afflicted. I would then be obliged to live
in my own house with a child not my own, without being
able to find any outlet or expedient."
390. The Princess of heaven, becoming aware of the
resolve of her spouse saint Joseph to leave Her and ab
sent himself, turned in great sorrow to her holy angels
and said to them : "Blessed spirits and ministers of the
highest King, who raised you to felicity which you enjoy,
and by his kind Providence accompany me as his faith
ful servants and as my guardians, I beseech you, my
friends, to present before God s clemency the afflictions
of my spouse Joseph. Beseech the Lord to look upon
him and console him as a true Father. And you also,
who so devotedly obey his words, hear likewise my
prayers ; in the name of Him who is infinite, and to whom
I am to give human shape in my womb, I pray, beseech
and supplicate you, that without delay you assist and
relieve my most faithful spouse in the affliction of his
heart and drive from his mind and heart his resolve of
me." The angels which the Queen selected for
this purpose obeyed immediately and instilled into the
heart of saint Joseph many holy thoughts, persuading him
anew that his Spouse Mary was holy and most perfect,
and that he could not believe anything wrong of Her;
that God was incomprehensible in his works, and most
hidden in his judgments (Ps. 33, 19) ; that He was al
ways most faithful to those who confide in Him, and that
He would never despise or forsake them in tribulation.
391. By these and other holy inspirations the troubled
spirit of saint Joseph was somewhat quieted, although he
did not know whence they came ; but as the cause of his
sorrow was not removed, he soon relapsed, not finding
anything to assure and soothe his soul, and he returned
to his resolve of withdrawing and leaving his Spouse.
The heavenly Queen was aware of this and She con
cluded that it was necessary to avert this danger and to
insist in earnest prayer on a remedy. She addressed
Herself entirely to her most holy Son in her womb, and
with most ardent affection of her soul She prayed:
"Lord and God of my soul, with thy permission, although
I am but dust and ashes (Gen. 18, 27), I will speak in
thy kingly presence and manifest to Thee my sighs, that
cannot be hidden from Thee (Ps. 37, 10). It is my
duty not to be remiss in assisting the spouse whom I
have received from thy hand. I see him overwhelmed
by the tribulation, which Thou hast sent him, and it
would not be kind in me to forsake him therein. If I
have found grace in thy eyes, I beseech Thee, Lord and
eternal God, by the love which obliged Thee to enter
into the womb of thy servant for the salvation of man
kind, to be pleased to console thy servant Joseph and dis
pose him to assist me in the fulfillment of thy great works.
It would not be well that I, thy servant, be left without
a husband for a protection and guardian. Do not per
mit, my Lord and God, that he execute his resolve and
withdraw from me."
392. The Most High answered Her: "My dearest
Dove, I shall presently visit my servant Joseph with con
solation; and after I shall have manifested to him by
my angel the sacrament, which is unknown to him, thou
mayest speak openly about all that I have done with thee,
without the necessity of keeping silent thenceforward in
these matters. I will fill him with my spirit and make
him apt to perform his share in these mysteries. He will
assist Thee in them and aid Thee in all that will hap
pen." With this promise of the Lord, most holy Mary
was comforted and consoled, and She gave most fervent
thanks to the same Lord, who disposes all things in ad
mirable order, measure and weight. For besides the con
solation, which the relief from this anxiety afforded Her,
She also knew well how proper it was that the spirit of
saint Joseph be tried and dilated by this tribulation be
fore the great mysteries should be entrusted to his care.
393. In the meanwhile saint Joseph was anxiously de
bating within himself concerning the proper course of
action, for he had borne his tribulation already for two
months; and now, overcome by the greatness of it, he
argued with himself: I do not find a better way out of
these difficulties than to absent myself. I confess that
my Spouse is most perfect and exhibits nothing but what
shows Her a saint ; but after all She is pregnant and of
it I cannot fathom the mystery. I do not wish to injure
Her reputation of holiness by involving Her in the pun
ishment of the law ; yet at the same time I cannot stand
by and witness the consequences of her pregnancy. I
will leave her now, and commit myself to the providence
of the Lord, who governs me." He then resolved to de
part during that night, and in order to prepare for his
journey he packed some clothes and other trifles into a
small bundle. Having also claimed some wages due to
him for his work, he retired to rest with the intention of
leaving at midnight. But on account of the strangeness
of his undertaking, and because he was in the habit of
commending his intentions to God in prayer, after he had
come to this resolve he spoke to the Lord: "Highest
and eternal God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob, Thou true and only refuge of the poor and
afflicted, the grief and tribulation of my heart are well
known to thy clemency. Thou knowest also, O Lord
(although I am unworthy), that I am innocent of that
which causes my sorrow, and Thou likewise art aware
of the infamy and danger consequent upon the condition
of my Spouse. I do not believe Her an adulteress, be
cause I see in Her great virtue and perfection ; yet I cer
tainly see Her pregnant I do not know by whom or
how it was caused ; and therefore I find no way to restore
my peace. In order to choose the least evil I will with
draw from Her and seek a place where no one knows
me and, resigning myself to thy Providence, I will pass
my life in a desert. Do not forsake me, my Lord and
eternal God, since I desire solely thy honor and service."
394. Saint Joseph prostrated himself on the ground
and made a vow to go to the temple of Jerusalem and
offer up a part of the small sum of money which he
had provided for his journey, in order that God might
help and protect Mary his Spouse from the calamities
of men and free Her from all misfortune ; for great was
the uprightness of that man of God, and the esteem in
which he held the heavenly Lady. After this prayer he
composed himself for a short sleep with the intention of
1 in secret and at midnight from his Spouse.
During this sleep, however, happened what I will relate
in the next chapter. The great Princess of heaven,
(assured by the divine promise), observed from her re
tirement all that saint Joseph was preparing to do ; for the
Almighty showed it to Her. And hearing the vow,
which he made for her welfare, and seeing the small
bundle and the poor provision he prepared for his jour
ney, She was rilled with tender compassion and prayed
anew for him, giving praise and thanks to the Lord for
his Providence in guiding the actions of men beyond all
human power of comprehension. His Majesty so or
dained events, that both most holy Mary and saint Jo
seph should be brought to the utmost reach of interior
sorrow. For besides the merits of this prolonged
martyrdom they would gain the admirable and precious
blessing of the divine consolation deserved thereby. Al
though the great Lady persevered in the belief and hope
of a seasonable intervention of the Lord, and therefore
remained silent in order not to reveal the sacrament, con
cerning the disclosure of which the King had given Her
no command; yet She was much afflicted by the resolve
of saint Joseph to leave Her ; because She reflected upon
the great inconvenience of being alone, without a com
panion and a protector, on whom She could rely for con
solation and support in the natural order; for She well
knew that She could not expect all to proceed according
to the supernatural and miraculous. Yet all her sighs
could not prevent Her from exercising the most exalted
virtues with a magnanimous spirit, such as patience in
bearing her afflictions and the suspicions of saint Joseph
and its results; prudence, in withholding the disclosure
of the mystery on account of its greatness; silence, in
signalizing Herself as a woman who knew how to re
frain from speaking about that which so many human
reasons urged Her to make known ; forbearance and hu
mility, in silently submitting to the suspicions of saint
Joseph. Many other virtues did She exercise in this
trouble in a wonderful manner; by which She taught us
to hope in the Almighty for our deliverance in the
greatest tribulations.
395. My daughter, the example of my silence, which
thou hast been writing about, should teach thee to use it
as a guide in thy treatment of the favors and sacraments
of the Lord, namely that thou keep them concealed
within thy heart. Although it might at times seem use
ful to reveal them for the consolation of some soul, thou
must not act upon this opinion without having first con
sulted God in prayer, and then thy superiors. For these
spiritual matters must not be made dependent upon
human feeling, which are so much subject to the passions
and inclinations of nature. There is always great dan
ger of considering that to be an advantage which is
harmful, and a service to God, what is injurious. It is
not given to eyes of the flesh and blood (I Cor. 2, 14) to
discern the interior movements, so as to decide which of
them are divine and caused by grace, or which are
human, engendered by the disorderly affections. Al
though there is great difference between these two kinds
of affections and their causes, nevertheless, if the creature
is not highly enlightened and dead to its passions, it can
not recognize this difference, nor separate the precious
from the vile (Jer. 15, 19). This danger is greater
when some temporal or human motive is mixed up with
or underlies our actions ; for then our natural selflove is
wont to creep in and take away discretion and supervi
sion of heavenly and spiritual things, leading on to many
sudden and dangerous falls.
396. Let it therefore be to thee as a rule always to be
followed that thou reveal nothing to any one except to
thy spiritual guide, unless I command otherwise. Since
I have constituted myself thy Teacher, I will not fail to
give thee advice and direction in this and in all other
things, lest thou stray from the path appointed to thee by
the will of my most holy Son. Yet I admonish thee to
appreciate highly all the favors and revelations of the
Most High. Preserve them with a magnanimous heart ;
esteem them, give thanks for them, and put them to prac
tice in preference to anything else, especially in pref
erence to anything originating from thy own inclinations.
The reverential fear of God bound me to silence, having
(as was proper) such a high regard for the Treasure
deposited in me. Notwithstanding the natural feeling
of love and obligation toward my master and spouse
saint Joseph, and in disregard of the sorrow and compas
sion for his afflictions, of which I so desired to free him,
I hid the secret of my state in silence, preferring the
pleasure of the Lord to all these, and leaving to Him the
defense of my cause. Learn also from this never to de
fend thyself against accusations, no matter how innocent
thou mayest be. Oblige the Lord to do it by confiding in
his love. Charge thy reputation to his account; and in
the meanwhile overcome by patience and humility, by
sweet and kind words, those who have offended thee.
Above all things I admonish thee never to judge evil of
any one, even if thou seest with thy own eyes the out
ward warrants of thy judgment; for perfect and sincere
charity will teach thee to find a prudent evasion and ex
cuse for all faults of thy neighbor. God has placed my
spouse, saint Joseph, as a shining example for such a
course of action, since no one had more evident proofs
of evil, and no one was more discreet in deferring his
judgment. For in the law of discreet and holy charity
it must be held as prudence, not temerity, to suspect
higher causes, as yet unseen, rather than to judge and
condemn our neighbors for faults in which his guilt is
not clearly evident. I do not give thee special instruc
tions for those that are in the state of matrimony, since
they can derive them manifestly from the whole course
of my life. But from the above instruction all can profit,
although just now I have in view thy own advancement,
because I desire it with especial love. Hear me, daugh
ter, and fulfill my counsels and follow these my words of
eternal life.
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