Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  8    Verses:  448-455

448. It had been decreed by the immutable will of
Providence that the Onlybegotten of the Father should
be born in the town of Bethlehem (Mich. 5, 2), and ac
cordingly it had been foretold by the Saints and Prophets
of foregone ages (Jerem. 10, 9) ; for the decrees of the
absolute will of God are infallible, and since nothing can
resist them (Esther 13, 9), sooner would heaven and
earth pass away than that they fail of accomplishment
(Matth. 24, 35). The fulfillment of this immutable de
cree the Lord secured by means of an edict of Caesar
Augustus for the whole Roman empire, ordering the
registration or enumeration of all the world, as saint
Luke says (Luke 2, 1). The Roman empire at that time
embraced the greater part of what was then known of
the earth and therefore they called themselves masters of
the world, ignoring all the other nations. The object
of this census was to make all the inhabitants acknowl
edge themselves as vassals of the emperor, and to pay a
certain tax to their temporal lord; for this registration
every one was to go to his native city in order to be
inscribed. This edict was also proclaimed in Nazareth
and came to the hearing of saint Joseph while he was on
some errand. He returned to his house in sorrowful
consternation and informed his heavenly Spouse of the
news which had spread about concerning the edict. The
most prudent Virgin answered: "Let not this edict of
our temporal ruler cause thee any concern, my master and
spouse, for all that happens to us is ordained by the Lord
and King of heaven and earth; and in all events his
Providence will assist and direct us (Eccli. 22, 28). Let
us resign ourselves into his hands and we shall not be
449. Most holy Mary was capable of being entrusted
with all the mysteries of her most holy Son and She
knew of the prophecies and their fulfillment ; hence, also,
that the Onlybegotten of the Father and her own was to
be born in Bethlehem, a Stranger and an Unknown.
But She said nothing of this to saint Joseph; for without
being commissioned by the Lord She would reveal none
of his secrets. All that She was not commanded to re
veal She concealed with admirable prudence, notwith
standing her desire of consoling her most faithful and
holy spouse. She wished to entrust Herself to his direc
tion and arrangement without acting the part of those
who are wise in their own conceit, as Wisdom warns us
(Prov. 3, 7). They therefore conferred with each other
about the course to be pursued ; for already the pregnancy
of the heavenly Lady was far advanced and her parturi
tion was approaching. Saint Joseph said: "Queen of
heaven and earth and my Mistress, if Thou hast no order
to the contrary from the Almighty, it seems to me nec
essary that I go alone. Yet, although this order refers
only to the heads of families, I dare not leave Thee with
out assistance, nor could I live without Thee, nor would
I have a moment s peace away from Thee ; for my heart
could not come to any rest without seeing Thee. Thy
heavenly delivery is too imminent to ask Thee to go with
me to Bethlehem, whither this edict calls us; and I fear
to place Thee in any risk, as well on account of thy con
dition as also on account of my poverty. If thy delivery
should happen on the way, amid inconveniences, which I
could not alleviate, I would be heartbroken. These are
the anxious thoughts which trouble me. I pray Thee,
Lady, present them before the Most High and beseech
Him to grant me my desire of not being separated from
450. His humble Spouse obeyed saint Joseph and
although She was not ignorant of the divine will, yet
She would not omit this act of obedience as a most sub
missive Spouse. She presented to the Lord the fervent
wishes of saint Joseph and received the following answer :
"My dearest Dove, yield to the wishes of my servant
Joseph in what he proposes. Accompany him on the
journey. I shall be with Thee and I shall assist Thee
with paternal love in the tribulations which Thou shalt
suffer for my sake; although they shall be very great,
my powerful arms will make Thee come forth glorious
from all of them. Thy footsteps will be beautiful in my
sight (Cant. 7, 1), do not fear, since this is my will."
Then the Lord gave to the holy guardian angels, in the
presence of the heavenly Mary, a new and special com
mand and precept, that they serve Her during this jour
ney with particular care and solicitude, as befitted the
magnificent mysteries that should be transacted. Beside
the thousand angels which served ordinarily as her guard,
the Lord commanded other nine thousand to attend on
their Queen and Mistress, and serve as a guard of honor
ten thousand strong from the first day of her journey.
This they did as most faithful servants of the Lord, as
I shall say later on (Nos. 456, 489, 616, 622, 631, 634).
The great Queen was renewed and strengthened with
new enlightenment for the troubles and tribulations
which would be occasioned by the persecution of Herod
and other happenings at the birth of the infant God
(Matth. 2, 16). Her invincible heart being thus pre
pared, She offered Herself to the Lord without any dis
quietude and gave thanks for all that He should choose
to do and arrange in regard to these future events.
451. She returned from this heavenly interview to
saint Joseph, and announced to him the will of the Most
High, that She accede to his wishes and accompany him
on his journey to Bethlehem. Joseph was filled with
new consolation and delight; acknowledging the great
favor conferred upon him by the right hand of the Most
High, he gave thanks with fervent acts of gratitude and
humility; and, addressing the heavenly Spouse, he an
swered: "My Lady, source of my happiness and good
fortune, the only cause of grief in this journey will now
be the hardships which Thou must undergo because I
have no riches to procure Thee the conveniences which I
would like to furnish for thy pilgrimage. But we shall
find relations, acquaintances and friends of our family in
Bethlehem; I hope they will receive us hospitably, and
there thou canst rest from the exertions of the journey,
if the Lord will dispose as I thy servant would wish."
Thus the holy spouse saint Joseph lovingly planned ; but
the Lord had already pre-arranged all things in a way
unknown to him; and therefore he experienced so much
the greater bitterness of disappointment when all his
loving expectations failed, as we shall see. Most holy
Mary said nothing to saint Joseph of what She knew
the Lord had decreed concerning the heavenly Birth,
although She well knew that it would be different from
what he expected. She rather encouraged him, saying:
"My spouse and my master, I accompany thee with much
pleasure, and we will make this journey as poor people
in the name of the Lord: for the Most High will not
despise poverty, which He came to seek with so much
love. Relying on his protection and assistance in our
necessities and labors, we will proceed with confidence.
Do thou, my master, place to his account all thy difficul
452. They at the same time resolved upon the day of
their departure, and Joseph diligently searched in the
town of Nazareth for some beast of burden to bear the
Mistress of the world. He could not easily find one
because so many people were going to different towns
in order to fulfill the requirements of the edict of the
emperor. But after much anxious inquiry saint Joseph
found an unpretentious little beast which, if we can call
such creatures fortunate, was the most fortunate of all
the irrational animals; since it was privileged not only
to bear the Queen of all creation and the blessed fruit
of her womb, the King of kings and the Lord of lords,
but afterwards to be present at his Birth (Isaias 1, 3) ;
and since it gave to its Creator the homage denied to Him
by men, as I shall relate (No. 485). They provided the
articles for the journey, which would last five days. The
outfit of the heavenly travelers was the same as that
which they had provided for their previous journey to
the house of Zacharias on their visit to Elisabeth. They
carried with them bread, fruit and some fishes, which
ordinarily composed their nourishment. As the most
prudent Virgin was enlightened regarding their pro
tracted absence, She made use of prudent concealment
in taking along the linens and clothes necessary for her
heavenly delivery, for She wished to dispose all things
according to the exalted intents of the Lord and in prepa
ration for the events which She expected. Their house
they left in charge of some neighbor until they should
453. The day and hour for their departure for Beth
lehem arrived and, because of the reverence with which
the most faithful and fortunate Joseph had begun to treat
his sovereign Spouse, he diligently and anxiously sought
to do all in his power to please Her; he besought Her
with great affection to make known to him all her wishes
and to call his attention to all that he might forget in
regard to her pleasure, convenience and comfort, or that
might please the Lord whom She bore in her womb.
The humble Queen thanked him for his loving attention,
and referring it to all the glory and service of her most
holy Son, She consoled and animated him to meet cour
ageously the hardships of the journey, assuring him anew
that the Almighty was pleased with his affectionate solici
tude. She also informed him of the will of his Majesty
that they meet with patience and joy of heart the hard
ships of poverty on their way. In order to begin her
journey the Empress of heaven knelt at the feet of saint
Joseph and asked him for his blessing. Although the man
of God shrunk from such a request and strenuously ob
jected on account of the dignity of his Spouse, She never
theless remained victorious in her humility and prevailed
upon him to give Her his benediction. Saint Joseph
complied with great timidity and reverence, and imme
diately cast himself at her feet in a flood of tears, asking
Her to present him anew to her most holy Son, and obtain
for him divine pardon and grace. Thus prepared they
started from Nazareth for Bethlehem in midwinter, which
made the journey more painful and difficult. But the
Mother of God, who bore eternal Life within Her, at
tended solely to the divine activities and colloquies of the
Lord, observing Him in the virginal chamber of her
womb, imitating Him in his works, and giving Him more
delight and honor than all the rest of creatures taken
454. My daughter, in all thy discourse on my life, and
in each of the chapters and mysteries so far rehearsed,
thou wilt find the admirable providence of the Most High
and his fatherly love toward me, his humble servant.
Although human capacity cannot fully penetrate and
estimate the admirable works of such high wisdom, yet
it must venerate it with all its powers, and must seek to
participate in the favors which the Lord showed me, by
striving to imitate me. For mortals must not think that
only for my sake and in me God wished to show Him
self as holy, powerful and infinitely good. It is certain
that if any or all of the souls would entrust themselves
to the direction and government of this Lord they would
soon experience that same fidelity, punctuality and most
sweet efficacy with which his Majesty arranged all things
that touched upon his honor and service in my life. They
would likewise taste those delightful and divine emotions
which I felt in relying upon his most holy will; nor would
they fail to receive the abundance of his gifts, which are
enclosed as in an infinite ocean within his Divinity. And
just as the waters of the ocean rush forth wherever they
find a suitable opening, so the graces and blessings of
the Lord overflow upon rational creatures, when they are
well-disposed and do not hinder their course. This truth
is hidden to mortals because they do not stop to ponder
and consider the works of the Almighty.
455. I desire thee to study this truth, to write it within
thy heart, and to learn from my own actions the secret
workings of thy own interior so that thou understand
what goes on within thee; also that thou practice ready
obedience and subjection to others, always preferring the
good counsels of others to thy own insight and judg
ment. Thou must carry this to such a point that, in
order to obey thy superiors and thy spiritual directors,
thou take no notice of what thou foreseest will happen
contrary to their expectations; just as I, when I knew
that what my holy spouse Joseph expected would not
happen on our journey to Bethlehem. And even when
some equal or inferior command thee such things, be
silent and hide thy better foreknowledge ; perform all that
is no sin or imperfection. Listen to all with attention
and silence so that thou mayest learn ; in speaking be very
slow and reserved, for in this consist prudent and care
ful intercourse. Always bear in mind that thou ask the
blessing of the Lord for all that thou wishest to under
take, in order that thou mayest not wander from what
is pleasing to Him. Whenever thou hast an opportunity,
ask also the permission and blessing of thy spiritual
father and director, so that thou mayest not fall short of
the greatest merits and perfections in thy works, and in
order that thou mayest also give me the pleasure, which I
desire of thee.
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