Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  13    Verses:  513-529

513. From the moment the most prudent Virgin found
Herself chosen as the Mother of the divine Word, She be
gan to ponder upon the labors and sufferings in store for
her sweetest Son. As her knowledge of Scripture was
so profound, She understood all the mysteries contained
therein and She began to foresee and prepare with in
comparable compassion for all that He was to suffer
for the Redemption of Man. This sorrow, foreseen and
expected with such a full knowledge of details, was a
prolonged martyrdom for the most meek Mother of the
sacrificial Lamb of God (Jer. 11, 19). But in regard
to the Circumcision, which was to take place after the
birth of the Child, the heavenly Lady had received no
command or intimation of the will of the eternal Father.
This uncertainty excited the loving solicitude and sweet
plaints of the tender and affectionate Mother. Her pru
dent foresight enabled Her to conjecture, that, as her
most holy Son had come to honor and confirm his law
by fulfilling it and as He had moreover come in order
to suffer for men, He would be constrained by his burning1
love and by other motives to undergo the pains of cir
514. On the other hand her maternal love and com-
passion longed to exempt her sweet Child if possible,
from this suffering; moreover She knew, that circum
cision was a rite instituted for cleansing the newborn
children from original sin, whereas the divine Infant
was entirely free from this guilt, not having contracted
it in Adam. In this hesitation between love of her divine
Son and obedience to the eternal Father, the most pru
dent Virgin practiced many heroic acts of virtue, un
speakably pleasing to his Majesty. Although She could
have easily escaped this uncertainty by directly asking the
Lord what was to be done; yet, being as humble as She
was prudent, She refrained. Neither would She ask her
angels; for with admirable wisdom, She awaited the
opportune time and occasion, assigned by divine Provi
dence for all things, and She would not presume curiously
to search or pry into his decrees by consulting supernat
ural sources of information, especially in order to rid
Herself of any suffering. When any grave and doubt
ful affair arose, in which there was danger of offending
God, or some urgent undertaking for the good of crea
tures, in which it would be necessary to know the divine
will, She first asked permission to submit her petition for
enlightenment regarding the divine pleasure.
515. This does not conflict with what I said in book
second, chapter tenth, namely, that the most holy Mary
undertook nothing without asking permission and coun
sel of God, for this consultation concerning the divine
pleasure was not coupled with the desire of special revela
tion. In this as I have said, She was most discreet and
diffident, rarely asking for such extraordinary interven
tion. Without aspiring to new revelation She was in
the habit of consulting the habitual and supernatural aid
of the Holy Ghost, who governed and guided Her in all
her actions. In directing Her faculties by this interior
light, She perceived the greater perfection and sanctity
open to Her in the affairs and transactions of every-day
life. Although it is true, that the Queen of heaven
possessed special claims and rights to be informed of the
will of God in different ways ; yet, as She was the model
of all sanctity and discretion, She would not avail Her
self of this supernatural order and direction, except in
such cases as were appropriate. As for the rest She
guided Herself by fulfilling to the letter the words of
David: "As the eyes of the handmaid are on the hands
of her mistress, so are our eyes unto the Lord our God,
until He have mercy on us" (Ps. 122, 2). But this nat
ural and ordinary light in the Mistress of the world was
greater than that of all the mortals together; and in it
She sought the fiat of the divine will.
516. The mystery of the Circumcision required a
special and particular dispensation; it demanded a sep
arate enlightenment of the Lord, and for this the pru
dent Mother was waiting. In the meanwhile, addressing
in these words the law that required it, She said : "O
law, made for all, thou art just and holy; but thou dost
afflict my heart by thy hardness, if thou art to wound
Him, who is thy life and thy Author ! That thou shouldst
inflict thy sufferings upon those, who must be cleansed
of guilt, is just; but that thou shouldst visit with thy
severity the Innocent, who is without fault (Heb. 7, 26),
seems the excess of rigor unless his own love concedes
this right to thee. O would that it might please my
Beloved to exempt Himself from this punishment! But
how shall He refuse to undergo it, since He came to seek
pain, to embrace the Cross, to fulfill and accomplish the
law? (Matth. 5, 27). O cruel knife! Would thou
couldst direct thy attacks upon my own life, and not
upon the Lord, who gave it to me! O my Son, sweet
Love and Light of my soul, is it possible, that Thou so
soon shalt shed thy blood, which is more precious than
heaven and earth? My loving compassion inclines me
to hold Thee exempt from the common law, from which
Thou art excluded as its Author. But the desire to ful
fill it urges me to comply with it, leaving Thee a prey
to its rigor, unless Thou, my sweet Life, art willing to
change the decree and punish me instead. The human
nature, which Thou hast from Adam, my Lord, I have
given Thee, but without its fault or guilt; since in thy
Omnipotence Thou hast preserved it among all the rest
from original stain. Since Thou art the Son of the
eternal Father and the figure of his substance (Heb. 1,
3 ) , and since thy generation is eternal, Thou art infinitely
removed from sin. Why then, my Lord, shouldst Thou
subject thyself to the remedy provided for sin by the
law ? Yet am I aware, my Son, that Thou art the Teacher
and Redeemer of men and that Thou must confirm thy
precepts by the example: Thou wilt not yield the least
point in this matter. O eternal Father, let the knife now
lose its sharpness and the flesh its sensitiveness! Let
pain descend rather upon me, insignificant wormlet; let
thy Onlybegotten Son fulfill the law, but let me alone feel
the punishment. O inhuman and cruel sin, which so soon
profferest the gall to Him, who cannot be guilty of thee !
O sons of Adam, abhor and fear sin, which, for a remedy,
demands bloody punishment of the Lord and God him
517. Such grief the sorrowful Mother mixed with the
joy of seeing the Onlybegotten of the Father born of
Her and resting in her arms, and thus She passed the
days which remained before the Circumcision, being
faithfully attended by her most chaste spouse Joseph.
To him alone She spoke of the Circumcision ; yet only in
few words and mixed with the tears of compassion of
them both. Before the eight days after the Birth were
completed, the most prudent Queen placed Herself on
her knees in the presence of the Lord and thus addressed
Him: "Highest King, Father of my Lord (Eph. 5, 2),
behold here thy slave with the true Sacrifice and Victim
in her arms. My sighs and their cause are not unknown
to thy wisdom (Ps. 37, 10). I know, my Lord, what
according to the law is thy pleasure and what should be
done with thy Son. If by suffering much more rigorous
pains I can rescue my Son and God, my heart is prepared.
But I am likewise ready to see Him submit to circum
cision, if that is thy will."
518. The Most High answered Her, saying: "My
Daughter and my Dove, do not let thy heart be afflicted
because thy Son is to be subjected to the knife and to
the pains of circumcision. I have sent Him into the
world as an example, that He put an end to the law of
Moses by entirely fulfilling it (Matth. 5, 17). Though
it is true that the habitation of his humanity, which thou
hast given Him as his natural Mother, is to be violated,
and his flesh wounded together with thy soul, yet re
member: He is my natural Son by an eternal genera
tion (Ps. 2, 7), the image of my substance (Heb. 1, 3),
equal to Me in essence, majesty and glory, and by thus
subjecting Himself to the sacramental law freeing from
sin (John 10, 30), without letting man know that He
is exempt therefrom, He suffers also in his honor
(II Cor. 2, 21). Thou knowest beforehand, my Daugh
ter, that thou must reserve thy Onlybegotten and Mine
for this and other greater sufferings. Resign thyself,
then, to the shedding of his blood and willingly yield
to Me the first fruits of the eternal salvation of men."
519. To this decree of the eternal Father the heavenly
Lady, as the Co-operatrix of our salvation, conformed
Herself with such a plenitude of all sanctity as is far
beyond human understanding. With complete and most
loving obedience She offered up her Onlybegotten, say
ing: "Supreme Lord and God, I offer to Thee this
Victim and Host of acceptable sacrifice with all my
heart, although I am full of compassion and sorrow that
men have offended thy immense Goodness in such a way
as to force a God to make amends. Eternally shall I
praise Thee for looking with such infinite love upon thy
creatures and for preferring to refuse pardon to thy own
Son rather than hinder the salvation of man (Eph. 5, 2).
I, who by thy condescension am his Mother, must before
all other mortals subject myself to thy pleasure and
therefore I offer to Thee the most meek Lamb, which
is to take away the sins of the world by his innocence
(John 1, 29). But if it is possible to mitigate the pains
caused by this knife at the expense of suffering in me,
thy arm is mighty to effect this exchange."
520. Most holy Mary issued from her prayer and re
quested saint Joseph to take the necessary steps for the
Circumcision of the divine Infant. With rarest prudence
She avoided telling Him anything of what She had been
told in answer to her prayer. She spoke as if She wished
to consult Him or ask his opinion in regard to the Cir
cumcision, saying that the time appointed by law for thcv
Circumcision of the Child had arrived and since they
had not received any orders to the contrary, it seemed
necessary to comply with it. They themselves, She said,
were more bound to please the Most High, to obey more
punctually his precepts, and to be more zealous in the
love and care of his most holy Son than all the rest of
creatures, seeking to fufill in all things the divine pleasure
in return for his incomparable favors. To these words
saint Joseph answered with the greatest modesty and
discretion, saying, that, as no command to the contrary
had been given concerning the Child he wished in all
things to conform himself to the divine will manifested
in the common law; that, although as God the incarnate
Word was not subject to the law, yet He was now clothed
with our humanity, and, as a most perfect Teacher and
Savior, no doubt wished to conform with other men
in its fulfillment. Then he asked his heavenly Spouse
how the Circumcision was to take place.
521. The most holy Mary answered, that the Circum
cision should be performed substantially in the same way
as it was performed on other children : but that She need
not hand Him over or consign Him to any other person,
but that She would herself hold Him in her arms. And
because the delicacy and tenderness of the Infant would
make this ceremony more painful to Him than to other
children, they should have at hand the soothing medi
cine, which was ordinarily applied at circumcision.
Moreover, She requested saint Joseph to procure a crystal
or glass vessel for preserving the sacred relic of the Cir
cumcision of the divine Infant. In the meanwhile the
cautious Mother prepared some linen cloths to catch the
sacred blood, which was now for the first time to be shed
for our rescue, so that not one drop of it might be lost
or fall upon the ground. After these preparations the
heavenly Lady asked saint Joseph to inform the priest
and request him to come to the cave where, without the
necessity of bringing the Child to any other place, he
might, as a fit and worthy minister of so hidden and great
a sacrament, with his priestly hands perform the rite of
the Circumcision.
522. Then most holy Mary and Joseph took counsel
concerning the name to be given to the divine Infant in
the Circumcision, and the holy spouse said : "My Lady,
when the holy angel of the Most High informed me of
this great sacrament, he also told me that thy most
sacred Son should be called JESUS." The Virgin
Mother answered : "This same name was revealed to
me when He assumed flesh in my womb; and thus re
1 this name from the Most High through the
mouth of his holy angels, his ministers, it is befitting
that we conform in humble reverence with the hidden and
inscrutable judgments of his infinite wisdom in confer
ring it on my Son and Lord, and that we call Him
JESUS. This name we will propose to the priest, for
inscription in the register of the other circumcised
523. While the great Mistress of heaven and saint
Joseph thus conversed with each other, innumerable
angels descended in human forms from on high, clothed
in shining white garments, on which were woven red
embroideries of wonderful beauty. They had palms in
their hands and crowns upon their heads and emitted a
greater splendor than many suns. In comparison with
the beauty of these holy princes all the loveliness seen
in this world appeared repulsive. But pre-eminent in
splendor were the devices or escutcheons on their breasts,
on each of which the sweet name of Jesus was engraved
or embossed. The effulgence which each of these es
cutcheons emitted exceeded that of all the angels together,
and the variety of the beauty thus exhibited in this great
multitude was so rare and exquisite as neither human
tongue can express nor human imagination ever compass.
The holy angels divided into two choirs in the cave,
keeping their gaze fixed upon the King and Lord in the
arms of his virginal Mother. The chiefs of these
heavenly cohorts were the two princes, saint Michael
and saint Gabriel, shining in greater splendor than the
rest and bearing in their hands, as a special distinction,
the most holy name of JESUS, written in larger letters
on something like cards of incomparable beauty and
524. The two princes presented themselves apart from
the rest before their Queen and said: "Lady, this is
the name of thy Son (Matth. 1, 21), which was written
in the mind of God from all eternity and which the
blessed Trinity has given to thy Onlybegotten Son and
our Lord as the signal of salvation for the whole human
race; establishing Him at the same time on the throne
of David. He shall reign upon it, chastise his enemies
and triumph over them, making them his footstool and
passing judgment upon them; He shall raise his friends
to the glory of his right hand. But all this is to happen
at the cost of suffering and blood; and even now He is
to shed it in receiving this name, since it is that of the
Savior and Redeemer; it shall be the beginning of his
sufferings in obedience to the will of his eternal Father.
We all are come as ministering spirits of the Most High,
appointed and sent by the holy Trinity in order to serve
the Onlybegotten of the Father and thy own in all the
mysteries and sacraments of the law of grace. We are
to accompany Him and minister to Him until He shall
ascend triumphantly to the celestial Jerusalem and open
the portals of heaven; afterwards we shall enjoy an
especial accidental glory beyond that of the other blessed,
to whom no such commission has been given." All this
was witnessed by the most fortunate spouse Joseph con
jointly with the Queen of heaven; but his understanding
of these happenings was not so deep as hers, for the
Mother of wisdom understood and comprehended the
highest mysteries of the Redemption. Although saint
Joseph understood many more mysteries than other
mortals, yet he did not penetrate them in the same way
as his heavenly Spouse. Both of them, however, were
full of heavenly joy and admiration, and extolled the
Lord in new canticles of glory. All that they experi
enced in these various and wonderful events surpasses
human language, and certainly my own powers, and I
cannot find adequate words for expressing my con
525. My daughter, I wish to renovate in thee the
enlightened teaching which thou hast received in order
that thou mayst treat with thy Spouse in the highest
reverence; for humility and reverential fear should in
crease in the soul in the same measure in which especial
and extraordinary favors are conferred upon it. On
account of not being mindful of this truth, many souls
either make themselves unworthy or incapable of great
blessings, or, if they receive them, grow into a dangerous
rudeness and torpidity, which offends the Lord very
much. The loving sweetness with which the Lord often
treats them engenders in them a certain presumption and
disrespectful forwardness, causing them to deal with his
infinite Majesty in an irreverent manner, and with a vain
desire of searching and inquiring into those hidden ways
of God which are far above their comprehension and
capacity. They fall into this presumption because they
judge of the familiar intercourse with God according to
the imperfect insight of mortals, presuming to regulate
it after the friendly intercourse of human creatures with
one another.
526. But in this way of judging the soul is much
deceived, measuring the reverence and respect due to the
infinite Majesty by the familiarity and equality caused
by the human love of mortals to one another. The
rational creatures are by nature equal to each other,
although the conditions and circumstances of each may
be different; and the familiarity of human love and
friendship may disregard the accidental differences in
yielding to the human feelings. But the love of God
must ever be mindful of the immeasurable excellence of
the infinite Being, since its object is as well the infinite
goodness as the infinite majesty of God: for just because
the goodness and majesty in God are inseparable, there
fore also reverence must not be separated from love of
God in the creature. The light of divine faith must
always go before, manifesting to the one that loves the
greatness of the Object loved, awakening and fomenting
reverential fear, restraining the exuberance of blind affec
tions, and bridling them by the memory of the excellence
and superiority of the Beloved.
527. If the creature is noble-hearted, practiced in and
accustomed to holy and reverential fear, it is not in such
danger of forgetting the respect due to the Most High,
no matter how great the favors it receives; for it does
not give itself up unguardedly to the spiritual delights
and does not lose, on account of them, the discreet con
sciousness of the supreme Majesty; but it respects and
reverences Him in proportion to the greatness of his
divine love and enlightenment. With such souls the
Lord converses as one friend with another (Exod. 33,
11). Let it therefore, my daughter, be to thee an invio
lable rule that the closer the embraces, and the greater
the delights with which the Most High visits thee, so
much the more unremitting shall be the consciousness
of his immutable and infinite Majesty, extolling and
1 Him at one and the same time. In this wise
consciousness thou wilt learn to know and estimate more
becomingly the greatness of his favors. Thou wilt avoid
the dangerous presumption of those who lightly inquire
into the secrets of the Lord at each trivial or even im
portant event, imagining that his most wise Providence
should pay attention to or regard the vain curiosity
excited by some passion or disorder, or some human and
reprehensible affection far removed from holy zeal and
528. Take notice of the cautiousness with which I
proceeded in my duties; since, as regards finding grace
in the eyes of the Lord, a vast difference always remains
between the efforts of other creatures and my own.
Nevertheless, though I held in my arms God himself as
his true Mother, I never presumed to ask Him to explain
to me anything whatever by extraordinary revelation,
neither for the sake of knowing it or for the sake of
ridding myself of suffering, nor for any other merely
human reason ; for all this would have been human weak
ness, vain and vicious curiosity, which could find no room
in me. Whenever necessity urged it upon me for the
glory of his Majesty, or some circumstances made it
unavoidable, I asked permission to propose my wishes.
Although I always found Him most propitious, ready to
answer me with kindness and mercifully urging me to
declare my wishes, I nevertheless humiliated myself to
the dust and merely asked Him to inform me of what was
most pleasing and acceptable in his eyes.
529. Write this doctrine in thy heart, my daughter,
and guard thyself against the disorderly and curious
desire of searching into or knowing anything above the
powers of the human intellect. For besides the fact that
the Lord makes no response to such foolish inquiry,
because it displeases Him very much, remember that the
demon is the real author of this fault in those who are
in pursuit of a spiritual life. As he is ordinarily the
author of such blameworthy inquiries, astutely promot
ing them in the soul, he also satisfies its curiosity by
answering them himself at the same time assuming the
appearance of an angel of light and thus deceiving the
imperfect and the unwary (II Cor. 12, 14). When such
inquisitiveness arises from one s own natural inclination,
one must be equally careful not to follow or attend to it.
For in what concerns such high matters as familiar inter
course with the Lord, one s own reason and judgment is
not a safe guide, it being hampered by evil inclinations
and passions. Our depraved and infected nature has
been thrown into great disorder by sin, and is subject
to much confusion and excess, making it unfit for guid
ance and direction in the high things of God. Equally
wrong is it for the soul to rely on divine revelations in
order to free itself from suffering and labor; for the
spouses of Christ and his true servants must not seek
his favors for the purpose of avoiding the cross, but in
order to seek and bear it with the Lord (Matth. 16, 24),
patiently enduring the sufferings which his divine Provi
dence chooses to send. This course of action I desire
thee to maintain in humble fear, and rather to go to
extremes in this regard so as to avoid so much the more
securely the opposite fault. From now on I wish that
thou perfect all thy motives and thy undertakings by
divine love (Phil. 1, 9), as being the great end of all
thy undertakings. In this thou needst not observe degree
or measure ; on the contrary I wish thee to create in thee
an excess of love, accompanied by so much of holy fear
as will suffice to keep thee from transgressing the law
of the Most High, and to perform all thy exterior and
interior acts in rectitude. Be careful and diligent therein,
even if it cost thee much exertion and pain; for I have
endured the same in the Circumcision of my most holy
Son, and for no other reason than because in his holy
law this was manifested and intimated to me as the will
of the Lord, whom we must in all things fully obey.
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