Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  7    Verses:  438-447

438. The divine pregnancy of the Mother of the
eternal Word had already far advanced. Although She
knew that the necessary coverings and linens for the
time of her parturition must be provided, She wished
to proceed in all things with the fullness of heavenly
prudence. Therefore, fulfilling all requirements of an
obedient and faithful handmaid, She presumed to arrange
nothing without the permission and consent of the Lord
and of her holy spouse. Although She could have acted
for Herself in such matters as pertained to her office of
chosen Mother and of her most holy Son, She would not
undertake anything without speaking to saint Joseph.
Therefore She said to him: "My master, it is time
that we prepare the things necessary for the birth of
my most holy Son. Although his Majesty wishes to
be treated as one of the children of men, humiliating
Himself and suffering with them, yet it is just that we
acknowledge Him as our God and as our true King and
Lord by rendering Him our devoted service, and by
making careful provision for his wants as an infant. If
thou give me permission I will begin to prepare the cov
erings and linens for his protection and shelter. I have
already woven with my own hands a piece of linen
which may serve as his first swaddling-clothes; and do
thou, my master, seek to procure some woolen cloth of a
soft texture and an humble color from which I may pre
pare other coverings; and later on I will weave a seam
less tunic appropriate for Him. In order to avoid any
mistake, let us offer special prayers asking his Highness
to govern and direct us in the right way, so that we may
know his will and fulfill his pleasure."
439. "My Spouse and Lady," answered saint Joseph,
"if it were possible to serve with my own heart-blood
my Lord and God and thus fulfill thy commands, I would
be willing to shed it amid most atrocious torments;
and as I cannot do this, would that I had great riches
to buy the most costly textures in order to offer them
to Thee on this occasion. Do Thou give thy orders as
Thou seest fit, for I will serve Thee as thy servant."
Both of them betook themselves to prayer, and each
separately heard the answer of the Lord, repeating what
the sovereign Queen had already heard many times, and,
which now was said in her hearing and that of saint
Joseph : "I have come from heaven to the earth in
order to exalt humility and discredit pride, to honor
poverty and contemn riches, to destroy vanity and estab
lish truth, and in order to enhance worthily the value of
labor. Therefore it is my will that exteriorly you treat
Me according to the humble position which I have as
sumed, as if I were the natural child of both of you,
and that interiorly you acknowledge Me as the Son of
my eternal Father, and bestow the reverence and love
due to Me as the Man-God."
440. Encouraged by this divine voice to seek the
wisest course in the rearing of the infant God, most holy
Mary and Joseph conferred with each other in what way
they might conceal the most noble and perfect worship
which was ever given to the true God by his creatures,
beneath the treatment which in the eyes of the world was
due to a natural child of them both; for this was to be
the opinion of the world, and such a conduct the Lord
himself had enjoined upon them. Having therefore
come to an agreement they lived up to this command of
the Lord in such perfection that they were the admira
tion of all heaven ; and further on I will say more of this
(Nos. 506, 508, 536, 545). They both concluded that
according to the limited means allowed them by their
poverty they were to expend whatever they could afford
in the service of the infant God without going into
excess or failing in anything; for the sacrament of the
King was to be concealed in humble poverty, though at
the same time they wished to exercise their burning love
as far as was possible. Saint Joseph, in exchange for
some of his work, accepted two pieces of woolen cloth
such as his heavenly Spouse had described ; the one white,
the other mulberry-colored mixed with grey, both of
them of the best quality he could find. Of these the
heavenly Queen made the first little dresses of her most
holy Son, while She prepared the swathing clothes and
shirts from the piece of linen which She herself had
spun and woven. Being woven by such hands, it was
a most delicate piece of cloth. She had commenced work
upon it from the day of her entrance into their house at
Nazareth ; for She had intended it for the temple as a
present. Although it could now serve for another much
higher purpose, nevertheless, She offered whatever re
mained of it after She had completed the furnishings of
the infant God as a gift to the temple of Jerusalem, ac
cording to her original intention. All the articles and
coverings necessary for her divine Infant the great Lady
prepared with her own hands, and while She sewed and
trimmed them She shed tears of ineffable devotion
remaining continually on her knees. Saint Joseph gath-
ered such flowers and herbs as he could find from which,
together with other aromatic materials, the zealous
Mother extracted fragrant essences. With these She
sprinkled the sacred vestments of the Victim of sacrifice
which She awaited ; then She folded and laid them away
in a chest, in which She afterwards took them along with
Her, as I shall relate farther on.
441. All these doings of the Princess of heaven are to
be thought of and estimated not as being without life,
nude and bare as I here represent them, but of incom
parable grace and loveliness, full of sanctity and ex
alted merit, of a greater perfection than human intel
lect can comprehend; because She performed all these
works as the Mother of wisdom, and as the Queen of all
virtues. In preparing for the appearance of the most
holy humanity of her Son in this world, She celebrated
the dedication of the living temple of God. The sov
ereign Queen understood better than all the rest of cre
ation the ineffable greatness of the mystery of the Incar
nation of a God and of his coming into the world. Not
in a spirit of doubt, but inflamed by love and veneration,
She repeated many times the words of Solomon when he
built the temple: "How is it possible that God should
dwell with men on earth? If all the heavens, and the
heaven of heavens cannot comprehend Thee, how can
this human body contain Thee, which is formed in my
womb?" But if the temple of Solomon, which served
only as a place in which God should hear the prayers
within it, was built and dedicated with such lavish ex
penditure of gold, silver, treasures and sacrifices, what
should not the Mother of the true Solomon do for the
building up and the dedication of the living temple
(Colos. 2, 9) where was to dwell the plenitude of the
true Divinity, the eternal and incomprehensible God?
All these innumerable sacrifices and treasures of the
figurative temple, most holy Mary duplicated not in gold,
silver, or rich texture, since God sought no such riches
in the living temple, but in heroic virtues and in canticles
of praise, by which She fructified and extolled the graces
and gifts of the Most High. She offered up the sacrifice
of her burning love, and ransacked all the holy writings
for hymns, canticles and psalms to praise and magnify
this mystery, adding thereto the expression of her own
exalted sentiments. In a mystical and yet altogether
real manner She fulfilled the ancient figures and types by
her virtues and by her interior and her exterior acts. She
called upon and invited all the creatures to praise their
God, to give honor and glory to their Creator, and place
the hope of their santification in his coming into the
world. In many of these exercises the most fortunate
and blessed Joseph, her spouse, took part.
442. No human tongue can describe, and no created
understanding can reach the sublime height of merit
which the Princess of heaven attained, and the degree of
pleasure and complacency which they afforded the Most
High. If the least degree of grace, which any creature
merits by an act of virtue, is more valuable than all the
created universe, what treasures of grace did She not
gain, whose acts exceeded in value not only all the sacri
fices, offerings and holocausts of the old law and all the
merits of the human race, but far excelled also those of
the highest seraphim? The loving extremes of the
heavenly Lady in hoping to look upon her Son and true
God, to receive Him in her arms, nourish Him at her
breast, tend Him with her own hands, converse with Him
and serve Him, and adore Him made man from her own
flesh, reached such a pass that in the ardors of love She
would have breathed forth her spirit and have been con368
sumed if She had not been preserved from dissolution,
assisted and strengthened by the miraculous intervention
of that same God. Yes, many times would She have lost
her life, if it had not been preserved by her most holy
Son ; for many times She saw Him in her virginal womb
and with divine clearness She saw his humanity united
to his Divinity, observed the interior acts of that most
holy Soul, the conditions and postures of his body, the
prayers offered up by Him for Her, for saint Joseph, for
all the human race and especially for the predestined.
All these and other mysteries were open to Her, and in
perceiving them She was altogether inflamed with the
desire of imitating and exalting Him, since She bore
within Her the devouring fires which illumine yet do
not consume (Exod. 3, 2).
443. Amidst this conflagration of divine love She
spoke sometimes to her most holy Son: "My sweetest
Love, Creator of the universe, when shall my eyes enjoy
the light of thy divine countenance? When shall my
arms be consecrated as the altar of the Victim, which is
awaited by the eternal Father? When shall I kiss the
earth trodden by thy divine feet, and when shall I as thy
Mother gain the coveted kiss of my Beloved (Cant. 1,1)
so that I may inhale thy own Spirit from the flow of thy
breath ? When shalt Thou, the inaccessible light, the true
God of the true God, Light of the Light (John 1, 9),
manifest Thyself to us mortals, after so many ages of
concealment from our view? When shall the children
of Adam, laden with the guilt of their sins, know their
Redeemer (Baruch 3, 38), see their salvation, welcome
in their midst their Teacher, their Brother and their true
Father? O Light of my soul, my strength, my Beloved,
for whom dying I live! Son of my womb, how can I
fulfill the office of a Mother, since I know not how to
fulfill the duties, nor merit the name of even a slave?
How shall I be able to treat Thee worthily, who am a
vile and insignificant, poor worm ? How can I serve and
administer to Thee, since Thou art sanctity itself and
infinite goodness, and I only dust and ashes? How can
I dare to speak before Thee, or stand in Thy presence?
Do Thou, Master of my being, who hast chosen me, the
little one among the other daughters of Adam, govern
my conduct, direct my desires and inflame my affections,
in order that I may please Thee with all my powers !
And what shall I do, my only Delight, since Thou art to
issue from my womb into the world in order to suffer
affronts and death for the human race, if at the same time
I shall not be allowed to die with Thee and accompany
Thee in thy sacrifice? Since Thou art my life and my
being, let the same cause and motive that brings about
thy Death bring about also mine ; for they are united as
if they were one and the same. Less than thy Death will
suffice to save the world, yes thousands of worlds; let
me die instead of Thee, and let me suffer thy ignominies,
while Thou, by thy love and light, sanctify the world and
enlighten the darkness of mortals, and if it is not pos
sible to revoke the decree of the eternal Father, which
requires that Redemption be abundant (Ephes. 2, 4) and
thy excessive chanty be satisfied, look graciously upon
my desires and let me take part in all the labors of thy
life, since Thou art my Son and Lord."
444. The variety of these and other sweetest senti
ments of love uttered by the Queen made Her most beau
tiful in the eyes (Esth. 2, 9) of the Prince of the eterni
ties, who was enshrined in the virginal chamber of her
womb. All her interior movements were conformable to
the actions of that most sacred and deified Humanity;
for as a worthy Mother of such a Son She closely ob
served them as models for her imitation. Sometimes the
infant God would place Himself on his knees in order
to pray to the Father or assume the position of one cru
cified, as if in order to exercise Himself therein before
hand. From that retirement (as even now from the
highest throne in heaven) He looked upon and compre
hended, by the science of his most holy soul, all that He
knows even at this day, and no creatures of the present,
past, or future, with all their thoughts and actions, was
hidden from his view. To all things He attended as
the Lord and Redeemer. Since these mysteries were
manifest also to his heavenly Mother and since She was
also endowed with all the graces and gifts necessary for
acting in concert with Him, She brought forth such great
fruits of sanctity, that no human words can ever describe
them. But if we were not perverted in our judgments,
and if we were not hardened as stone, we would find it
impossible, at the sight and experience of these vast and
admirable works, to remain untouched by loving sorrow
and thankful acknowledgment.
445. The lesson of this chapter, my daughter, should
be, that thou bear in mind with what reverence thou must
handle all the things consecrated and devoted to the
divine service ; and at the same time estimate how repre
hensible is the irreverence with which the ministers of
the Lord offend in their disregard for the sacred objects.
They should not forget or slight the indignation of his
Majesty against them for the gross discourtesy and in
gratitude, which they ordinarily show by handling the
sacred ornaments and objects of worship without atten
tion and respect. And much greater is the anger of the
Lord against those who possess the incomes or stipends
of his most sacred blood, if they waste and squander them
in vile vanities and indecent profanities. They seek for
their sustenance and convenience what is most costly and
valuable, while for the honor and worship of the Lord
they are satisfied with what is most cheap, common and
ordinary. When this happens, especially in regard to
the linens, which touch the body and blood of my most
holy Son, such as corporals and purificators, I wish thee
to understand that the holy angels, that assist at the most
exalted and sublime sacrifice, are as it were struck with
horror and cover their eyes at the sight, full of astonish
ment that the Most High bears with them and suffers
such boldness and presumption. Although not all offend
in this, yet there are many; and few distinguish them
selves in outward respect and care at the divine cult, or
treat the sacred objects with due reverence; they are the
smaller number and even they do not all have the pure
intention, not observing this due respect out of reverence,
but out of vanity and for other human ends. Thus they
who adore and worship their Creator in the spirit of truth
and with a pure and upright intention have become very
446. Consider, my dearest, what should be our senti
ments when, on the one hand, we reflect on the incom
prehensible being of God, who in his goodness has cre
ated us for his honor and worship, establishing this as
the very law of our nature and of all the created universe,
and when, on the other hand, we see with what ingrati
tude men correspond to the gifts of the most liberal
Creator by withholding from his service the very things
intended for it, reserving for their own vanities the most
costly and valuable and applying for their Creator only
the most valueless and despicable of this world. This
fault is little thought of and recognized, and therefore I
wish not only that thou deplore it with true sorrow, but
also that thou make reparation for it as far as possible
during the time in which thou art superioress. Give to
the Lord of the best, and instruct thy religious that they
attend with a sincere and devout heart to the keepingin
order and the cleaning of the sacred articles ; and this
not only for their own convent, but also by seeking to
furnish other poor churches with the corporals and vest
ments of which they stand in need. Let them be con
vinced that the Lord will repay their holy zeal for his
worship, and that He will relieve their poverty and the
necessities of their convent like a Father, and that thereby
it will never become poorer. This is the most appro
priate occupation and- legitimate business of the spouses
of Christ, and in this they ought to consume their time
which may remain after fulfilling the obligations of the
choir and other duties of obedience. If all the religious
would busy themselves purposely in these honorable,
praiseworthy and agreeable occupations they would never
suffer any want and they would maintain an angelic ex
istence in this life. Because they do not attend to this
service of the Lord, many of them, forsaken by the hand
of the God, turn toward the dangerous levities and dis
tractions, which on account of their vileness, I do not wish
thee to describe or consider except to deplore them from
thy heart and to avert such displeasure and offense against
447. But because I have especial reason to look with
favor upon the inmates of thy convent, I wish that, in my
name and by my authority, thou admonish and lovingly
urge them always to live retired and dead to the world,
with unbroken forgetfulness of all that passes within it;
that among themselves their conversation be of heaven,
and that above all they preserve intact the mutual peace
and love, to which I have exhorted thee so often
(Philip 3, 20). If they obey me in this I offer them my
protection, and I will constitute myself their Mother, their
help and defense in the same way as I am thine, and I
will also promise them my continual and efficacious inter
cession with my most holy Son, if they do not displease
me. For this purpose thou shouldst exhort them to con
tinual love and devotion toward me, engrafting it in their
hearts ; in being thus faithful they will attain all that thou
wishest for them, and much more, for I will obtain it for
them. In order that they may occupy themselves with
joy and alacrity in preparing things for the divine wor
ship, and gladly undertake all that pertains to it, remind
them of all that I did in the service of my most holy Son
and of the temple. I desire thee to understand that the
holy angels were full of admiration at the zeal, careful
attention and neatness with which I took charge of all
that belonged to the service of my Son and Lord. This
loving and reverent anxiety caused me to prepare all that
was necessary for his rearing up beforehand, so that I
was never in want of anything necessary for clothing
Him and administering to his comfort (as some have
thought) ; for my prudence and love would not permit
any negligence or inadvertence in this regard.
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