Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  6    Verses:  428-437

428. Before saint Joseph had been instructed in the
mystery of the Incarnation, the Princess of heaven made
use of opportune occasions for reading to him some of
the passages of holy Scriptures, especially from the
Prophets and from the Psalms. As a most wise Teacher
She also explained them to him, and her holy spouse who
was indeed capable of the exalted truths contained therein,
asked Her many questions, wondering at and consoling
tiimself with the heavenly answers of his Spouse; and
thus both of them alternately praised and blessed the
Lord. But after he had himself become instructed in the
great sacrament, he conversed with our Queen, as with
one, who was Herself to be the Coadjutrix of the admira
ble works and mysteries of our Redemption. For now
they could more openly and clearly discuss the divine
prophecies and oracles concerning the conception of the
Word through a Virgin-Mother, of his birth, his bring
ing up, and his most holy life. All these things her
Highness discussed and explained, delineating beforehand
the course of action, which they were to pursue, when
the longed-for day of the birth of the Child should have
arrived, when She should hold Him in her arms, nourish
Him at her breast with virginal milk, and when the holy
spouse himself should share in this greatest of mortal
blessedness. Only of his Passion and Death, and of the
sayings of Isaias and Jeremias, the most prudent Queen
spoke more rarely; for as her spouse was of a most kind
and tender heart, She thought it best not to dilate upon
or anticipate that which he himself remembered of the
sayings of the ancient writers concerning the coming and
the sufferings of the Messiah. The most prudent Virgin
also waited until the Lord should grant more particular
revelation of what was to happen, or until She herself
would know better the divine will in this respect.
429. Her most faithful and blessed husband was
wholly inflamed by her sweet words and conversations,
and with tears of joy he said to the heavenly Spouse :
"Is it possible, that in thy most chaste arms I shall see my
God and Redeemer? That I shall hear him speak, and
touch Him, and that my eyes shall look upon his divine
face, and that the sweat of my brow shall be so blessed
as to be poured out in his service and for his sustenance ?
That He shall live with us, and that we shall eat with
Him at the same table, and that we shall speak and con
verse with Him ? Whence comes to me this good fortune
which nobody can ever deserve? O how much do I
regret that I am so poor ! Would I possessed the richest
palaces for his entertainment and many treasures to offer
Him !" And the sovereign Queen answered : "My mas
ter and spouse, there is abundant reason that thy desires
extend to all things possible for the reception of thy
Creator; but this great God and Lord does not wish to
enter into the world in the pomp of ostentatious riches
and royal majesty. He has need of none of these (Ps.
15, 2), nor does He come from heaven for such vanities.
He comes to redeem the world and to guide men on the
path of eternal life (John 10, 10) ; and this is to be done
by means of humility and poverty; in these He wishes
to be born, live and die, in order to destroy in the hearts
of men the fetters of covetousness and pride, which
keep them from blessedness. On this account He chose
our poor and humble house, and desired us not .to be
rich in apparent, deceitful and transitory goods, which
are but vanity of vanities and affliction of spirit (Eccles.
1, 24) and which oppress and obscure the understanding/
430. At other times the saint asked the most pure
Lady to teach him the nature and essence of virtues,
especially of the love of God, in order that he might
know how to behave toward the Most High become man
and in order that he might not be rejected as a useless
and incapable servant. The Queen and Teacher of vir
tues complied with these requests and explained to him
the nature of true virtues and the manner of exercising
them in all perfection. But in these discourses She pro
ceeded with so much humility and discretion that She
did not appear as the Teacher of her spouse, though such
She was; but She managed to give her information
under the guise of conversation or in addressing the
Lord, or at other times asking questions of saint Joseph,
which of themselves suggested the information. In all
circumstances She knew how to preserve her most pro
found humility, without permitting even the least gesture
not in accordance with it. These alternate discourses or
readings from the holy Scriptures they interrupted by
manual labor as occasion required. Not only was the
hard and tiresome labor of saint Joseph lightened by the
admirable words of sympathy of our Lady, but in her
rare discretion She also knew how to add instruction, so
that his manual labor became more an exercise of virtue
than a work of the hands. The mildest Dove, with the
prudence of a most wise virgin, administered her conso
lations by pointing out the most blessed fruits of labor.
In Her estimation She held Herself unworthy of being
supported by her spouse, and She felt Herself in con
tinual debt to the sweat of saint Joseph, as one who is
receiving a great alms and most generous gift. All
these considerations caused in Her sentiments of deepest
obligation, as if She were the most useless creature on
earth. Therefore, though She could not assist the saint
in his trade, since that was above the strength of women
and unbecoming the modesty and retirement of the
heavenly Queen; yet in all that was befitting Her She
served Him as an humble handmaid, since her discreet
humility and thankfulness would not suffer any less re
turn for the faithful services of saint Joseph.
431. Among other wonderful happenings in connec
tion with his intercourse with most holy Mary during
these days of her pregnancy, saint Joseph one day saw
many birds flocking around Her in order to pay their
respect to the Queen and Mistress of all creatures. They
surrounded Her as if to form a choir and raised up their
voices in songs of sweet harmony not less wonderful than
their visit to the heavenly Lady. Saint Joseph had never
seen this wonder until that day and, full of admiration
and joy, he said to his sovereign Spouse: "Is it possible,
my Mistress, that these simple birds and irrational crea
tures should understand and fulfill their obligations better
than I? Surely it is reasonable, that if they recognize,
serve and reverence Thee according to their powers, that
Thou allow me to perform that which in duty I am bound
to do." The most pure Virgin answered him: "My
master, in the behavior of these little birds the Creator
offers us a powerful motive worthily to employ all our
strength and faculties in his praise, just as they recognize
and acknowledge their Creator in my womb. I, how
ever, am but a creature and therefore I deserve no vener
ation, nor is it right that I accept it; it is my duty to
induce all creatures to praise the Most High, since He
has looked upon me, his handmaid, and has enriched me
with the treasures of the divinity" (Luke 1, 48).
432. It happened also not a few times that the heavenly
Lady and her spouse found themselves so poor and desti
tute of means that they were in want of the necessaries of
life ; for they were most liberal in their gifts to the poor,
and they were never anxious to store up beforehand food
or clothing, as is wont with the children of this world in
their faint-hearted covetousness (Matth. 6, 25). The Lord
so disposed things that the faith and patience of his most
holy Mother and of saint Joseph should not be vain, for
this indigence was a source of incomparable consolation
to our Lady, not only because of her love of poverty, but
also on account of her astonishing humility. She con
sidered Herself unworthy of the sustenance of life, and
that She above all others should suffer the want of it.
Therefore She blessed the Lord for this poverty as far
as it affected Her, while She asked the Most High to
supply the needs of saint Joseph, as being a just and holy
man and well worthy of this favor of the Almighty. The
Lord did not forget his poor entirely (Ps. 73, 19), for
while He permitted them to exercise virtues and gain
merits, He also gave them nourishment in opportune
time (Ps. 144, 15). This his Providence provided in
various ways. Sometimes He moved the hearts of their
neighbors and acquaintances to bring some gratuitous
gift or pay some debt. At other times, and more ordi
narily, saint Elisabeth sent them assistance from her
home ; for ever since She had harbored in her house the
Queen of heaven this devoted matron insisted on sending
them a gift from time to time, which the humble Princess
always acknowledged by sending in return some work of
her hands. On some occasions, for the greater glory of
the Most High, the blessed Lady availed Herself of the
power given to Her as the Mistress of all creation; then
She would command the birds of the air to bring some
fishes from the sea, or fruits of the field, and they would
fulfill her commands to the point ; sometimes they would
bring also bread in their beaks, which the Lord had fur
nished them. Many times the most fortunate spouse
saint Joseph was a witness to all these happenings.
433. Also in other necessities they were on some occa
sions succored by the holy angels in an admirable manner.
In order properly to understand some of the great mira
cles which happened through the ministry of the angels
to most holy Mary and Joseph, it is necessary to take into
account the magnanimity and generous faith of the saint,
for these virtues were so great in him that not even the
shadow of covetousness, or greediness, could find en
trance into his soul. Although he labored for others, as
did also his heavenly Spouse, yet never did they ask for
any wages, or set a price on their work, asking payment
therefor ; they performed all their work not for gain, but
in obedience to a request or for charity, leaving the pay
ment of wages entirely in the hands of their employers
and accepting it not as a just return for their labors, but
as a freely given alms. This is the perfection of sanctity,
which saint Joseph learnt from the heavenly example
given to him in his house by the most holy Virgin. Owing
to this circumstance, that he was not paid for his work, it
happened sometimes that they were in total want of food
and sustenance until the Lord would provide for them.
One day it came to pass that the hour set for their meal
passed without their having anything in the house to eat.
They persevered in prayer until very late, giving thanks
to the Lord for this privation, and hoping that He would
open his all-powerful hand (Ps. 144, 16). In the mean
while the holy angels prepared the meal and placed upon
the table some fruit, and whitest bread and fishes, also
especially a sort of preserve or jelly of wonderful and
nourishing sweetness. Then some of the angels went to
call their Queen, and others called saint Joseph her spouse.
Each came forth from their separate retirement and, per
ceiving the regalement provided by heaven, they thanked
the Most High in tears of fervent gratitude and partook
of the food; and afterwards they broke out in exalted
songs of praise of the Almighty.
434. Many other similar events came to pass almost
daily in the house of most holy Mary and her spouse ; for
as they were alone and as there was no need of hiding
these wonders from witnesses, the Lord did not hesitate
to perform them for his beloved, who were entrusted
with co-operation in the most wonderful of all the works
of his powerful arm, I wish merely to remark, that when
I say Mary sang canticles of praise, either She by Her
self or in company with saint Joseph or the holy angels,
new songs are meant, such as saint Anne sang, the
mother of Samuel, or Moses, Ezechias and other
Prophets, when they were visited by great blessings of
the Lord. If all the canticles (Kings 2, 1 ; Deut. 32, 1,
etc.) which the Queen of heaven composed and sang
would have been recorded, there would be a large volume
of them, the contents of which would excite unheard of
wonder in this world.
435. Much-beloved daughter, I wish that the science
of the Lord be many times renewed in thee, and that
thou acquire the knowledge of the voice (Wis. 1, 7), so
that thou mayst know, (and let also mortals know), the
dangerous deceit and perverse estimation in which they,
as lovers of falsehood, hold the temporal and visible
goods (Ps. 4, 4). How many men are not fascinated by
their unbounded greed? All of them ordinarily stake
their hopes on gold and material riches; and in order to
increase them, they exert all the forces of their natural
being. Thus they spend all the time of their life, which
was given them in order to gain eternal rest and happi
ness, in these vanities. They lose themselves in these
dark labyrinths and mazes, as if they knew nothing of
God and of his Providence ; for they do not think of ask
ing Him for that which they desire, and do not moderate
their desires in such a way as will dispose them to ask
and hope for what they desire at his hands. Thus they
lose all, because they confide in the lying and deceitful
prospects of their own efforts. This blind greed is the
root of all evils (I Tim. 6, 20) ; for the Lord, incensed
at such great perversity, permits the mortals to be en
tangled in the vile slavery of avarice, in which their
understanding is darkened and their will hardened. Soon
the Most High, for greater punishment, withdraws his
kindly care as from creatures so detestable and denies
them his paternal protection, thus letting them fall into
what is the deepest misfortune that can befall man in this
436. Although it is true that nothing can hide itself
from the eyes of the Lord (Ps. 138, 6), yet when the
transgressors and enemies of his law offend Him, they
forfeit the kind attention and care of his Providence and
are left to their own desires (Ps. 80, 13). They cease
to experience the paternal foresight shown toward those
who trust in the Lord. Those that confide in their own
efforts and in the gold, which they can touch and feel,
will reap the fruit of their hopes. But just as far as the
divine Essence and Power is distant from the lowliness
and limitation of mortals, so far also the results of human
covetousness are distant from the help and protection of
eternal Providence shown to the humble who trust in
it (Ps. 17, 31). Upon these his Majesty looks with
kindest love, delights in them, nourishes them at his
breast, and attends to their wishes and wants. I and my
holy spouse Joseph were poor, and at times we suffered
great wants ; but none of them were powerful enough to
engender within our hearts the contagion of avarice. We
concerned ourselves entirely with the glory of the Most
High, relying wholly on his most faithful and tender care.
This was what pleased Him so much, as thou hast under
stood and written ; since He supplied our wants in various
manners, even commanding the angels to help us and pre
pare for us our nourishment.
437. I do not wish to say that the mortals should yield
to laziness and negligence ; on the contrary it is just that
all should labor (Ps. 48, 7), and doing nothing is also
a great and very reprehensible fault. Neither leisure nor
solicitude must be disorderly; nor should the creature
trust in his own strength; nor should he smother the
divine love in anxiety; nor seek more than is necessary
for a temperate life. Neither should he fear that the
divine Providence will fail to supply what is necessary,
nor should he be troubled or lose hope when the Creator
seems to delay his assistance. In the same way he that
is in abundance should not (Eccli. 31, 8) lay aside all
exertion and forget that he is a man subject to labor and
travail. Thus riches as well as poverty must be attributed
to God and made use of in a holy and legitimate way for
the glory of the Creator and Ruler of all things. If men
would observe this rule of action nobody would be with
out the assistance of the Lord, who is a true Father, and
neither would the poor be led into sin by poverty, nor the
rich by prosperity. Of thee, my daughter, I require the
practice of these rules, and through thee I wish to incul
cate them on other mortals. Thou must especially im
press this doctrine upon all thy subjects, telling them not
to be troubled or faint-hearted becaus
e of the wants they
suffer, nor inordinately solicitous about their eating or
clothing (Matth. 6, 25), but that they confide in the
Most High and in his Providence. For if they corre
spond to his love, I assure them that they shall never
suffer from the want of what is necessary. Exhort them
also to let their words and conversations continually turn
about holy and divine things, engaging in the praise and
exaltation of the Lord according to the teachings of the
Bible and holy writings. Let their conversations be in
heaven (Philip 3, 20) with the Most High, and with me,
who am their Mother and Superior, and let it be with
the angels, imitating them in holy love.
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