Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  12    Verses:  500-512

500. As far as depended upon the Lord the coming
of the eternal Word as man was most fortunate and
blessed for all the mortals ; for He came in order to give
light and life to all those that were in darkness and in
the shadows of death (Luke 1, 79). If the foreknown
and incredulous stumbled and hurt themselves on this
cornerstone (Rom. 9, 33), seeking ruin where they could
and should have found resurrection to an eternal life,
that was not the fault of the stone, but of those that
made of it an occasion of scandal and of harm to them
selves. Only for hell the birth of the infant God was
terrible, since He was the strong and invincible One,
who came to despoil that armed enemy of his tyrannous
rule, founded in lies (Psalm 23, 8), who had held his
fortification in unjust yet peaceful possession for a long
time. In order to depose this prince of the world and
of darkness, it was befitting, that the sacrament of the
coming of the Word should be hidden from him. Be
cause of his malice he was not only unworthy to be
informed of the mysteries of the divine wisdom (Wisd.
2, 21, 24) ; but it was just that by divine Providence the
malice of this enemy should be blinded and confused ; in
his malice he had brought into the world the deceit and
blindness of sin and cast down the whole human race
by the fall of Adam.
501. Accordingly Lucifer and his ministers were left
in ignorance of many things, which they could naturally
have known concerning the incarnation of the Word and
other events in the course of his most holy life, a fact
which it is necessary to take notice of in this history (Nos.
326, Vol. Ill, 217, 226, 284). For if he had known for
certain, that Christ was the true God, he evidently would
not have procured his death (I Cor. 2, 8), but he would
have sought to prevent it, as will be said in its proper
place (Vol. Ill, -494, 540, 613). Concerning the mystery
of the Nativity he knew only that most holy Mary had
given birth to a Son in poverty and in a forsaken cave,
and that She had not found even lodging and shelter;
also that the Child was circumcised and otherwise treated
as mere man : all of which was calculated rather to mis
lead his pride than to enlighten it. But he was ignorant
of the manner of his Birth, and of the virginity of the
blessed Mother before and after the Birth; likewise of
the message of the angels to the just, and to the
shepherds; of their conversations, and of their adora
tion of the infant God. Nor did he see the star,
nor did he know the purpose of the kings in coming
to Bethlehem, although he saw them make the journey
and attributed it to some worldly enterprise. The de
mons were also unable to account for the changes in
the elements, the stars and planets; though they well
perceived these changes and wonderful effects. They
misjudged the words of the Magi in the presence of
Herod, their arrival at the stable and the adoration, and
the gifts offered. Notwithstanding, that they perceived
the fury of Herod against the children and abetted it;
yet they did not understand his object and they stirred
up his cruelty. Although Lucifer suspected, that Herod
was seeking to kill the Messias, he considered him de
mented and treated him with derision. For in his pride
he obstinately held fast to the opinion, that the Word,
upon entering into the world in order to set up his
dominion, would not come humbly and in a hidden
manner, but with ostentatious power and majesty, while
in reality the infant God chose a far different way, being
born of a Mother poor and despised by men.
502. Thus misled, Lucifer, having noticed some of
the strange events connected with the Nativity, called
together his helpers in hell, and said to them : "I do not
find any occasion for fear in the events, which we have
noticed in the world. It is true, the Woman whom we
persecuted so much, has given birth to a Son, but in
such poverty and neglect, that She could not even pro
cure a lodging-place in order to be delivered. We know
all this to be far from the power and greatness of God.
If He is to advance against us as weak as we have seen
this Child and as we have assured ourselves concerning
It, He certainly can make no headway against our power.
We need not fear that He is the Messias, since there
is even a plot to kill Him as being mortal like the rest
of men. This does not seem to point to the salvation
of the world, since He himself seems to stand in need
of atoning for his fault by death. All these signs con
flict with the purpose of the Messias in coming into the
world and therefore it seems to me, that we can rest
assured, that He has not yet come." The ministers of
evil approved of the decision of their damned chief and
they were all satisfied, that the Messias had not yet
come, for they were all accomplices in the malice and
pride which blinded him (Wis. 2, 21). It never occurred
to satan in his vanity and indomitable pride, that the
majesty and greatness of God should humiliate itself;
because he himself sought after applause, ostentation,
reverence and exaltation, wishing if possible to appro
priate all honor to himself. Since all honor was attain
able by God, it never entered his mind, that He would
consent to the contrary and subject Himself to humilia
tion, so much abhorred by the spirits of evil.
503. O sons of vanity! What examples are not here
given to you for your enlightenment! Great is the
lesson, which the humility of Christ, our Teacher and
our highest Good, teaches and urges upon us : but if
this does not move us, let the pride of Lucifer at least
deter and frighten us. O vice, O sin, dreadful beyond
human imagination ! since it confused an angel of such
high intellect so much, that he could judge of the in
finite bounty by no other standard than that by which
he judged himself and of his own malicious disposi
tion! How far then does not man proceed in malice,
if to his ignorance he joins guilt and pride? O un
happy and most foolish Lucifer! How far didst thou
go astray in judging of so reasonable and commendable
a proceeding! What is more beautiful than humility
and meekness joined with majesty and power? Why
dost thou fail to see, insignificant creature, that not to
know how to humiliate thyself is only weakness of mind
and comes from a base heart? The magnanimous and
truly great do not seek payment in vanity, nor do they
seek after what is low, nor can they be satisfied with what
is false and apparent. It is evident, O Lucifer, that thou
art shut out from truth and but an ignorant guide for
the blind (Matth. 15, 14) ; since thou didst fail to un
derstand, that the greatness of the bounty and love of
God (Rom. 5, 8) manifested and magnified itself in
humility and obedience even to the death of the Cross
(Phil 2, 8).
504. All these errors and insanities of Lucifer and his
ministers were known to the Mother of wisdom and
our Mistress; and with a just appreciation of such high
mysteries She magnified and blessed the Lord, because
He had concealed them from the proud and arrogant and
revealed them to the poor and humble, thus beginning to
overcome the tyranny of the demons (Matth. 11, 25).
The kind Mother offered up fervent prayers for all the
mortals, who on account of their faults were unworthy
of seeing the light, which for their salvation had ap
peared in the world ; of all this She reminded her most
sweet Son with incomparable compassion and love for
sinners. In these affections She spent most of the time
of her stay in the cave of the Nativity. But as this
place was bare of all comfort and much exposed to the
inclemencies of the weather, the great Lady was most
solicitous for the shelter of her tender and sweet Child.
As a most prudent Mother She had brought along a
mantle, with which She covered Him in addition to the
ordinary swaddling-clothes. Moreover She held Him con
tinually in the embrace of her sacred arms, except at
times, when, in order to make saint Joseph happy, She
asked him to hold his incarnate God in his arms and
serve him as a father.
505. When for the first time She placed the infant
God in his arms, the most holy Mary said to him : "My
husband and my helper, receive in thy arms the Creator
of heaven and earth and enjoy his amiable and sweet
company, in order that my Lord and my God may be
delighted and recompensed by thy faithful services
(Prov. 8, 31). Take to thyself the Treasure of the
eternal Father and participate in this blessing of the hu
man race." And speaking interiorly to the divine In
fant, She said : "Sweetest Love of my soul and Light of
my eyes, rest in the arms of Joseph, my friend and
spouse : do thou hold sweet intercourse with him and
pardon me my shortcomings. Much do I feel the loss
of Thee even for one instant, but I wish to communicate
without envy the good I have received, to all that are
worthy" (Wis. 7, 13). Her most faithful husband,
acknowledging this new blessing, humbled himself to
the earth and answered: "Lady and Sovereign of the
world, my Spouse, how can I, being so unworthy, pre
sume to hold in my arms God himself, in whose presence
tremble the pillars of heaven? (Job 26, 11). How can
this vile wormlet have courage to accept such an exalted
favor? I am but dust and ashes, but do Thou, Lady,
assist me in my lowliness and ask his Majesty to look
upon me with clemency and make me worthy through his
506. His desire of holding the infant God and his
reverential fear of Him caused in saint Joseph heroic
acts of love, of faith, of humility and profoundest rev
erence. Trembling with discreet fear He fell on his
knees to receive Him from the hands of his most holy
Mother, while sweetest tears of joy and delight copiously
flowed from his eyes at a happiness so extraordinary.
The divine Infant looked at him caressingly and at the
same time renewed his inmost soul with such divine ef
ficacy as no words will suffice to explain. He broke out
in new canticles of praise at seeing himself thus en
riched with such magnificent blessings and favors. After
having for some time enjoyed in spirit the sweetest ef
fects of holding in his arms the Lord, who contains
heaven and earth (Is. 40, 12), He replaced Him into the
arms of his fortunate Mother, both of them being on
their knees in receiving and giving Him. Similar rev
erence the most prudent Mother observed every time
She took Him up or relinquished Him, in which also
saint Joseph imitated Her, as often as it was his happy
lot to hold the incarnate Word. When they approached
his Majesty, they also made three genuflections, kissing
the earth and exciting heroic acts of humility, worship
and reverence. Thus both the great Queen and the
blessed Joseph observed all propriety in receiving or giv
ing the Child from and to one another.
507. When the heavenly Mother judged it time to
nourish Him at her breast, She reverently asked permis
sion of her Son; for although She knew, that She was
to nourish Him as her true and human Child, She never
theless bore in mind, that He was at the same time the
true God and Lord and that a great distance intervened
between the infinite Being and a mere creature such as
She was. As this consciousness was unfailing in the
most prudent Virgin, her reverence remained faultless
and undiminished and permitted not the least forgetfulness
in Her. She was always filled with a comprehensive
insight and She always reached perfection in all her acts.
Therefore She nourished, served and tended her Child,
not with an uneasy haste, but with unremitting care, rev
erence and discretion, causing ever new admiration in
the angels, whose celestial understanding reached not
so far as to comprehend such heroic acts of a tender
Maiden. As they were always corporally present during
the time which She spent at the gates of Bethlehem, they
administered to Her in all things demanded by the service
of the infant God and of Her. All these mysteries are
so wonderful and admirable, and so worthy of our atten
tion and remembrance, that we cannot deny our negli
gence in forgetting them, and we cannot acknowledge
sufficiently, what harm we are doing ourselves in ceas
ing to think of them, nor do we sufficiently understand
the divine effect, which the memory of them produces in
the faithful and grateful children of the Church.
508. From what has been revealed to me of the rev
erence, with which most holy Mary and the glorious
saint Joseph as well as the angelic hosts treated the In
carnate God, I could easily extend my discourse on the
subject. Though I refrain, I yet wish to confess the
want of reverence, with which I have until now auda
ciously behaved toward God, and how many faults, of
which I have been guilty toward Him in this respect,
have become known to me. As I said, and will relate
further on, in order to assist the Queen, all the angels
of her guard remained present in visible forms from the
time of the Birth until the flight of the Child into Egypt.
The solicitude of the humble and loving Mother for
her divine Infant was so unremitting, that She would
not part with Him to place Him in the arms of saint
Joseph or into those of the holy princes Michael or
Gabriel, except on rare occasions when She was obliged
to take some nourishment; for these two archangels had
besought Her, to consign the Child to their care during
meals or when saint Joseph was at his work. Thus He
was placed into the hands of the angels, in admirable
fulfillment of the words of David : "In their hands they
shall bear Thee up," etc. (Ps. 90, 12). The most watch
ful Mother would not take any sleep in her solicitude for
her most holy Son, except when his Majesty commanded
Her to do so. In reward for her diligence He provided
for Her a new and more miraculous kind of sleep than
that which She had until then enjoyed; for while She
slept, her heart was awake, continuing or rather not in
terrupting the divine intelligence and contemplation of
the Divinity (Cant. 5, 2). But from this day on the
Lord added still another miracle, namely, during the
sleep, which was necessary, She retained in her arms
the power of holding and embracing the Child in the
same way as if She were awake; and She gazed upon
Him with the eyes of her intellect, as if She were look
ing upon Him with her bodily eyes, understanding all
that She herself and her Child did exteriorly in the mean
while. Thus was miraculously fulfilled, what is said in
the Canticles : "I sleep, but my heart is awake."
509. The canticles of praise and exaltation of the Lord,
which our celestial Queen composed in honor of the
Child, alternately singing them with the holy angels and
also with her spouse Joseph, I cannot express by my
limited terms of speech. Of them alone there would be
much to write, for they were uninterrupted; but the
knowledge of them is reserved for the special enjoyment
of the elect. Among all mortals the most faithful Joseph
was privileged and blessed in this respect, for in many
of them he himself participated and many of them he
understood. Beside this he enjoyed another favor, of
singular benefit and consolation to his soul and procured
for him by the most prudent Virgin : namely, many
times, in conversing with him of the Child, She spoke
of Him as of "our Son" (Luke 2, 48) ; not that He
was the natural Son of saint Joseph, since in the super
natural order He was the Son of the eternal Father and
in the natural order, the Son of his Virgin Mother;
but because in the opinion of men He was reputed to be
the son of Joseph. This favor and privilege was of in
estimable value to the saint and caused him immeasur
able delight; on this account his heavenly Spouse de
lighted in using this appellation when conversing about
her Son.
510. My daughter, I see thee full of devout emulation
of the happiness, which the intercourse with my Son af
forded me, my spouse and the holy angels, since we be
held Him present to our bodily eyes as thou desirest for
thyself, if it were possible. I wish to console thee and
guide thy affections toward that which thou thyself canst
and shouldst do according to thy condition in order to
attain the same happiness which thou covetest in us. For
this purpose, beloved, recall what thou hast already suf
ficiently understood concerning the ways of God in rais
ing up those souls, whom He seeks with paternal love
and affection. Thou hast attained this knowledge by be
ing favored with so many particular calls and enlighten
ments of the Lord, wherein He continually waits at the
portals of thy heart, and urges thee onward expecting
thy conversion (Wis. 6, 15). Thou hast seen Him draw
ing thee to Himself by repeated favors and by most
exalted doctrines, selecting thee for the narrow bands
of his loving intercourse (Coloss. 3, 14) ; and the great
purity due to this concession.
511. Faith likewise teaches thee, that God is present
in all places by his essence and by the power of his
Divinity; and that to Him are open all thy thoughts,
thy desires and sighs without exception. If thou co
operate with this truth so as to preserve the graces,
which thou receivest through the sacraments and other
channels divinely instituted, the Lord will remain with
thee also by divine and special assistance; and in it He
will regale thee with his love as his chosen spouse. Now
since thou knowest and understandest all these truths,
tell me, what more canst thou envy or desire, when thou
already possesses! all that thou so anxiously sighest
after? What I require of thee, and all that remains for
thee to do, is, that thou exert thyself in holy emulation
to imitate this intercourse and reproduce in thyself the
disposition of the angels, the purity of my husband, and
to copy in thyself my life, as far as possible, in order to be
a fit dwelling-place of the Most High (I Cor. 3, 17).
Thou must direct all those endeavors, all those desires
and exertions, with which thou wouldst have wished thy
self to be animated if thou hadst seen and adored my
most holy Son in his birth and infancy, toward the ful
fillment of this doctrine; for if thou imitatest me, thou
mayest rest secure, that thou hast me as a Teacher and
the Lord for an assured possession of thy soul. In this
assurance thou canst speak to Him, embrace Him and
delight thyself with Him, as with One who is present;
for in order to communicate these delights to the pure
and untainted souls He has assumed human flesh and
become a Child. But always look upon Him as the great
God, though a Child, in order that thy caresses may be
guarded by reverence and thy love accompanied by holy
fear; for the one is due to Him as God, and the other
befits his immense bounty and merciful magnificence.
512. In this manner of intercourse thou must continue
without intervals of lukewarmness, lest thou disgust Him.
Thy legitimate and chosen occupation should be none
other than the love and the praise of the infinite God.
All the rest thou must enter into only sparingly, in such
a way as if visible and earthly things scarcely concerned
thee and cannot detain thee even for a moment. Thou
must maintain thyself in this soaring height, so that thou
seem not to have anything earnestly to attend to, except
to seek the highest and true God. Me thou shouldst
imitate and for God alone thou shouldst live ; all the rest
should not exist for thee, nor shouldst thou exist for it.
But the gifts and blessings, which thou receivest I wish
thou dispense and communicate for the good of thy fellowmen,
observing the perfect order of holy charity; thus
thy gifts will not evaporate, but be still more increased
(I Cor. 13, 8). In all this thou must keep the regula
tions, which befit thy condition and state, as I have already
shown and instructed thee in other places at other times.
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