Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  5    Verses:  418-427

418. The most faithful Joseph, after being informed
of the mystery and sacrament of the Incarnation, was
filled with such high and befitting sentiments concerning
his Spouse, that, although he had always been holy and
perfect, he was changed into a new man. He resolved to
act toward the heavenly Lady according to a new rule
and with much greater reverence, as I will relate farther
on. This was conformable to the wisdom of the saint
and due to the excellence of his Spouse ; for saint Joseph
by heavenly enlightenment saw well, that he was the
servant and She the Mistress of heaven and earth. In
order to satisfy his desire for honoring and reverencing
Her as the Mother of God, whenever he passed Her or
spoke to Her alone, he did it with great external venera
tion and on bended knees. He would not allow Her to
serve him, or wait upon him, or perform any other
humble services, such as cleaning the house or washing
the dishes and the like. All these things the most happy
spouse wished to do himself, in order not to derogate
from the dignity of the Queen.
419. But the heavenly Lady, who among the humble
was the most humble and whom no one could surpass in
humility, so managed all these things, that the palm of
victory in all these virtues always remained with Her.
She besought saint Joseph not to bend the knees to Her,
for though this worship was due to the Lord whom She
carried in her womb, yet as long as He was within
unseen by any one no distinction was externally manifest
between his and her own person. The saint therefore
allowed himself to be persuaded and conformed to the
wishes of the Queen of heaven ; only at times, when She
was not looking, he continued to give this worship to the
Lord whom She bore in her womb, and also to Her as
his Mother, intending thereby to honor Both according
to the excellence of Each. In regard to the other works
and services, an humble contention arose between them.
For saint Joseph could not overcome his conviction as
to the impropriety of allowing the great Queen and Lady
to perform them, and therefore he sought to be before
hand with such household duties. His heavenly Spouse
was filled with the same eagerness to seize upon occasions
in advance of saint Joseph. As however he busied him
self in these duties during the time which She spent in
contemplation, he frustrated her continual desire of serv
ing him and of performing all the duties of the house
hold, which She considered as belonging to Her as a
servant. In her affliction on this account, the heavenly
Lady turned to the Lord with humble complaints, and
besought Him to oblige saint Joseph not to hinder Her
in the exercise of humility, as She desired. As this
virtue is so powerful before the divine tribunal and has
free access, no prayer accompanied by it is small.
Humility makes all prayers effective and inclines the im
mutable Being of God to clemency. He heard Her peti
tion and He ordered the angel guardian of the blessed
husband to instruct him as follows: "Do not frustrate
the humble desires of Her who is supreme over all the
creatures of heaven and earth. Exteriorly allow Her to
serve thee and interiorly treat Her with highest rever
ence, and at all times and in all places worship the in
carnate Word. It is his will, equally with that of the
heavenly Mother, to serve and not to be served, in order
to teach the world the knowledge of life and the excel
lence of humility. In some of the work thou canst
assist Her, but always reverence in Her the Lord of all
420. Instructed by this command of the Most High,
saint Joseph permitted the heavenly Princess to exercise
her humility and so both of them were enabled to make
an offering of their will to God : most holy Mary, by
exercising the deepest humility and obedience toward her
spouse in all her acts of virtue which She performed
without failing in the least point of perfection ; and saint
Joseph by obeying the Almighty with a holy and prudent
embarrassment, which was occasioned by seeing himself
waited upon and served by Her, whom he had recognized
as his Mistress and that of the world, and as the Mother
of his God and Creator. In this manner the prudent
saint made up for the humility, which he could not prac
tice in the works now consigned to his Spouse. This
arrangement seemed to humiliate him more and filled
him with a greater reverential fear. In this fear he
observed most holy Mary, always bearing in mind the
Treasure of her virginal womb and adoring, magnifying
and praising the Lord. A few times, in reward of his
holiness and reverence, or for the increase of both, the
infant God manifested Himself to him in a wonderful
manner: he saw Him in the womb of his purest Mother
enclosed as it were in the clearest crystal. The sovereign
Queen conversed with the glorious saint concerning the
Incarnation ; because She did not need to be so reserved
in her heavenly words since he had been enlightened and
instructed in the sublime sacraments of the hypostatic
union of the divine and human natures in the virginal
chamber of his Spouse.
421. No human tongue can reproduce the celestial
words and conversations of the most holy Mary and the
blessed Joseph. I will adduce some of them in the fol
lowing chapters, as far as I know how. Yet, who can
declare the effects wrought in the sweet and devout heart
of this saint in seeing himself not only constituted the
husband of Her who was the true Mother of his Creator,
but in rinding himself also served by Her as if She was
the humblest slave, while at the same time he beheld Her
raised in sanctity and dignity above the highest seraphim
and inferior only to God? If the divine right hand en
riched with blessings the house of Obededom for having
sheltered for a few mpnths the figurative ark of the old
Testament (I Par. 13, 14), what blessings did He not
shower upon saint Joseph, to whom He entrusted the
true ark and the Lawgiver himself enshrined in Her?
Incomparable was the good fortune and happiness of this
saint! Not only because he had with him in his house
the living and true ark of the new Testament, the altar,
the sacrifice, and the temple, all left in his charge ; but
also because he cared for them worthily and as a faithful
servant (Matth. 24, 45), constituted by the Lord himself
over his family to provide for all their necessities in the
right time as a most faithful dispenser (Os. 14, 20).
Let all generations and peoples acknowledge and bless
him, let them extol his merits; since the Most High has
favored none other in the same degree. I, an unworthy
and poor worm, in the light of such venerable sacraments,
exalt and magnify this Lord God, confessing Him as
holy, just, merciful, wise and admirable in the disposi
tion of all his great works.
422. The humble but blessed house of Joseph con
tained three rooms, which occupied nearly all its space
and formed the exclusive dwelling place of the two
Spouses ; for they kept neither a man- nor a maid-servant.
In one of the rooms saint Joseph slept, in another he
worked and kept the tools of his trade of carpentering;
the third was ordinarily occupied by the Queen of heaven
and was also her sleeping room. It contained a couch
made by the hands of saint Joseph. This arrangement
they had observed since their espousal and from the day
on which they had come to this, their dwelling. Before
knowing the dignity of his Spouse and Lady, saint Joseph
rarely went to see Her; for while She kept her retire
ment he was engaged in his work, unless some affair
made it absolutely necessary to consult Her. But after
he was informed of his good fortune, the holy man was
more solicitous for her welfare, and in order to renew
the joy of his heart he began to come often to the retreat
of the sovereign Lady, visiting Her and receiving her
commands. But he always approached Her with extreme
humility and reverential fear, and before he spoke to
Her, he was careful to note in what She was engaged.
Many times he saw Her in ecstasy raised from the earth
and resplendent with most brilliant light; at other times
in the company of her angels holding celestial intercourse
with them; and at other times, he found Her prostrate
upon the earth in the form of a cross, speaking to the
Lord. Her most fortunate spouse was a participator in
these favors. But whenever he found the great Lady
in these occupations and postures, he would presume no
farther than to look upon Her with profound reverence ;
and thereby he merited sometimes to hear the sweetest
harmony of the celestial music, with which the angels
regaled their Queen, and perceived a wonderful fragrancy
which comforted him and filled him entirely with jubila
tion and joy of spirit.
423. The two holy spouses lived alone in their house,
for as I have said, they had no servants of any kind, not
only on account of their humility, but in order more
fittingly to hide from any witnesses the wonders, which
passed between them and which were not to be communi
cated to outsiders. Likewise the Princess of heaven did
not leave her dwelling, except for very urgent causes in
the service of God or her fellow-men. Whenever any
thing was necessary She asked that fortunate neighbor,
who as I have said had served saint Joseph during the
absence of Mary in the house of Zacharias. This woman
received such a good return from Mary, that not only
she herself became most holy and perfect, but her whole
household and family was blessed by the help of the
Queen and Mistress of the world. She was visited by
most holy Mary in some of her sicknesses and with her
family was copiously enriched by the blessings of heaven.
424. Never did saint Joseph see his heavenly Spouse
asleep, nor did he of his own experience know whether
She ever slept, although he besought Her to take some
rest, especially during the time of her sacred pregnancy.
The resting-place of the Princess was the low couch,
which I said had been constructed by saint Joseph; and
on it were the coverings which served Her during her
brief and holy sleep. Her undergarment was a sort of
tunic made of cotton, but softer than the ordinary or
common cloth. This tunic She never changed from the
time since She left the temple, nor did it wear out or
grow old or soiled, and no person ever saw it, nor did
saint Joseph know that She wore that kind of a gar
ment; for he never saw any other part of her clothing
except the outside garments, which were open to the
view of other persons. Those were of a gray color, as i
have said (Part I. No. 400), and these only and her
head-coverings were the garments, which the Queen
changed now and then ; not because they were soiled, but
because, being visible to all, She wished to avoid notice
by such strange sameness of outward appearance. Noth
ing that She wore upon her most pure and virginal body
became soiled or worn; for She neither perspired, nor
was She subject to the punishments, which are laid upon
the sin-impregnated bodies of the children of Adam. She
was in all respects most pure and the works of her hands
were like crystal ornaments; and with the same purity
She cared for the clothes and other necessities of saint
Joseph. The food of which She partook, was most
limited in kind and quantity; but She partook of some
every day and in company of her spouse; she never ate
meat, although he did, and She prepared it for him.
Her sustenance was fruit, fishes, and ordinarily bread and
cooked vegetables; but of all these She partook in exact
measure and weight, only so much as was necessary for
the nourishment of the body and the maintaining of the
natural warmth without any superfluities that could pass
over into excess of harmful corruption ; the same rule She
observed in regard to drink, although Her fervent acts of
love often caused a superabundance of preternatural
ardor. This rule, as to the quantity of her nourishment,
She followed during her whole life, although as to the
kind of food She adapted Herself to the various circum
stances demanding a change, as I shall relate further on.
425. In all things the most pure Mary exhibited con
summate perfection, without any fault or want of grace ;
and all her actions both in the natural and the super
natural order reached the pinnacle of excellence. But
words fail me in describing it: for I am never satisfied,
seeing how far short these words fall of that which I
perceive and how much more excellence this sublime
Creature possesses than I can express. Continually I am
grieved by my insufficiency and dissatisfied with my
limited terms and descriptions, fearing lest I presume
more than I should in striving to do that which so far
exceeds my powers. But the force of obedience inspires
me with I do not know what sweet strength, which
dispels my hesitancy and impels my backwardness, en
couraging me to face the greatness of my undertaking
and the smallness of my ability. I work under obedience,
and through it I hope to make great gains. It will also
serve me as an excuse.
426. My daughter, in the school of humility, which
my whole life affords thee, I wish that thou be studious
and diligent; and this should be thy first and principal
care, if thou wishest to enjoy the sweet embraces of the
Lord, assure thyself of his favor and possess the treas
ures of light, which are hidden to the proud (Matth. 11,
25). For without the trusty foundation of humility such
treasures cannot be confided to any man. Let all thy
ambition be to humble thyself in. thy own estimation and
thought, so that in thy exterior actions thou mayest truly
exhibit this humility of thy interior. It must be a sub
ject of confusion and a spur of humility for thee and for
all the souls to have the Lord as their Father and Spouse,
to see, that the presumption and pride of worldly wisdom
is more powerful in its devotees, than humility and true
self-knowledge is in the children of light. Consider the
watchfulness, the untiring study and care of ambitious
and aspiring men. Look upon their struggle to be
esteemed in the world, their strivings never at rest,
though so vain and worthless; how they conduct them
selves outwardly according to the false notions which
they have of themselves; how they pretend to be what
they are not, and how they exert themselves to obtain
through these false pretenses the treasures, which, though
only earthly, they do not deserve. Hence it should be a
cause of confusion and shame to the good, that deceit
should urge on the sons of perdition with greater force
than truth urges the elect ; that the number of those, who
in the world are anxious to strive in the service of their
God and Creator, should be so small in comparison with
the number of those who serve vanity; that there should
be so few of the elect, though all are called (Matth. 20,
427. Seek therefore, my daughter, to make progress
in this science of humility and to gain for thyself the
palm of victory in this virtue in the midst of the children
of darkness; in opposition to their pride, study what I
did in order to overcome darkness in this world by the
pursuit of humility. In this the Lord and I desire thee
to be very wise and proficient. Never miss an occasion
of exercising humility and allow no one to deprive thee
of such works; and if occasions of humility fail thee
and are scarce, seek after them and ask God to send
them to you; for it pleases his Majesty to see such kind
of anxiety and ambition in what He desires so much.
For the sake of this divine complacency alone, thou, as a
daughter of his house, as his domestic and as his spouse,
shouldst be solicitous and anxious for acts of humility;
for in this, human ambition itself will teach thee not to
be negligent. Observe how a woman in her house and
family conducts herself in order to benefit and advance
her family, and how she loses no chance of advancing it ;
nothing seems too much for her, and if anything, no
matter how small it is, goes to loss (Lucas. 15, 8) she
becomes much excited. All this is the effect of worldly
covetousness, and there is certainly no reason, that the
wisdom of heaven be less fruitful or less careful in the
gifts received. Therefore I desire thee to allow no care
lessness or forgetfulness concerning what so much con
cerns thee, and to lose no occasion of practicing humility
and laboring for the glory of the Lord ; but do thou seek
arid strive after his gifts and draw merits from them as
a faithful daughter and spouse. Then wilt thou find
grace in the eyes of the Lord and in mine, according to
thy desire.
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