Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda

Virgin Mary Mystical City of God - Book 4 chapter 14 verses 530-539THE DIVINE INFANT IS CIRCUMCISED AND RECEIVES THE NAME JESUS.

  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  14    Verses:  530-539

530. Like other towns of Israel, the city of Bethlehem
had its own synagogue, where the people came together
to pray (wherefore it was also called the house of
prayer), and to hear the law of Moses. This was read
and explained by a priest from the pulpit in a loud voice,
in order that the people might understand its precepts.
But in these synagogues no sacrifices were offered; this
was reserved for the temple of Jerusalem, except when
the Lord commanded otherwise. It was not left to the
choice of the people, in order to avoid the danger of
idolatry, as is mentioned in Deuteronomy (12, 6). But
the priest, who was the teacher or minister of the law in
those places, was usually also charged with administering
the circumcision ; not that this was a binding law, for not
only priests but any one could perform the circumcision ;
but because the pious mothers firmly believed that the
infants would run less danger in being circumcised by
the hands of a priest. Our great Queen, not on account
of any apprehension of danger, but because of the dignity
of the Child, also wished a priest to administer this rite
to Him; and therefore She sent her most fortunate
spouse to Bethlehem to call the priest of that town.
531. The priest came to the gates or cave of the
Nativity, where the incarnate Word, resting in the arms
of his Virgin Mother, awaited him. With the priest
came also two other officials, who were to render such
assistance as was customary at the performance of the
rite. The rudeness of the dwelling at first astonished
and somewhat disconcerted the priest. But the most
prudent Queen spoke to him and welcomed him with
such modesty and grace that his constraint soon changed
into devotion and into admiration at the composure and
noblest majesty of the Mother; and without knowing the
cause he was moved to reverence and esteem for such an
unusual personage. When the priest looked upon the face
of Mary and of the Child in her arms he was filled with
great devotion and tenderness, wondering at the contrast
exhibited amid such poverty and in a place so lowly and
despised. And when he proceeded to touch the divine
flesh of the Infant, he was renovated by a secret influence
which sanctified and perfected him; it gave him a new
existence in grace, and raised him up to a state of holi
ness very pleasing to the most high Lord.
532. In order to show as much exterior reverence for
the sacred rite of circumcision as was possible in that
place, saint Joseph lighted two wax candles. The priest
requested the Virgin Mother to consign the Child to the
arms of the two assistants and withdraw for a little
while in order not to be obliged to witness the sacrifice.
This command caused some hesitation in the great Lady ;
for her humility and spirit of obedience inclined Her to
obey the priest, while on the other hand She was withheld
by the love and reverence for her Onlybegotten. In
order not to fail against either of these virtues, She
humbly requested to be allowed to remain, saying that
She desired to be present at the performance of this rite,
since She held it in great esteem, and that She would
have courage to hold her Son in her arms, as She wished
not to leave Him alone on such an occasion. All that
She would ask would be that the circumcision be per
formed with as much tenderness as possible on account
of the delicacy of the Child. The priest promised to
fulfill her request, and permitted the Child to be held in
the arms of his Mother for fulfilling the mystery. Thus
She became the sacred altar on which the truths typified
in the ancient sacrifice became a reality (Heb. 9, 6) ; and
She herself offered up this new morning s sacrifice on
her own arms in order that it might be acceptable to the
eternal Father in all particulars.
533. The divine Mother then unwound the swaddlingclothes
in which her most holy Son was wrapped and
drew from her bosom a towel or linen cloth, which She
had previously placed there for the purpose of warming
it; for the weather was very cold on that day. While
holding the Child in her hands She so placed this towel
that the relics and the blood of the Circumcision would
fall upon it. The priest thereupon proceeded to his duty
and circumcised the Child, the true God and man. At
the same time the Son of God, with immeasurable love,
offered up to the eternal Father three sacrifices of so
great value that each one would have been sufficient for
the Redemption of a thousand worlds. The first was
that He, being innocent and the Son of the true God,
assumed the condition of a sinner (Phil. 2, 7) by sub
jecting Himself to a rite instituted as a remedy for
original sin, and to a law not binding on Him (II Cor. 5,
21). The second was his willingness to suffer the pains
of circumcision, which He felt as a true and perfect man.
The third was the most ardent love with which He began
to shed his blood for the human race, giving thanks to
the eternal Father for having given Him a human nature
capable of suffering for his exaltation and glory.
534. This prayerful sacrifice of JESUS our Savior the
Father accepted, and, according to our way of speaking,
He began to declare Himself satisfied and paid for the
indebtedness of humanity. The incarnate Word offered
these first fruits of his blood as pledges that He would
give it all in order to consummate the Redemption and
extinguish the debt of the sons of Adam. All these in
terior acts and movements of the Onlybegotten his most
holy Mother perceived, and in her heavenly wisdom She
penetrated the mystery of this sacrament, acting as his
Mother and in concert with Her Son and Lord in all
that He was doing and suffering. True to his human
nature, the divine Infant shed tears as other children.
Although the pains caused by the wounding were most
severe, as well on account of the delicacy of his body
as on account of the coarseness of the knife, which was
made of flint, yet his tears were caused not so much by
the sensible pain as by the supernatural sorrow caused
by his knowledge of the hard-heartedness of mortals.
For this was. more rude and unyielding than the flint,
resisting his sweetest love and the divine fire He had
come to enkindle in the world and in the hearts of the
faithful (Luke 12, 49). Also the tender and affectionate
Mother wept, like the guileless sheep, which raises its
voice in unison with the innocent lamb. In reciprocal
love and compassion the Child clung to his Mother,
while She sweetly caressed Him at her virginal breast
and caught the sacred relics and the falling blood in the
towel. These She entrusted to saint Joseph, in order
to tend to the divine Infant and wrap Him once more
in the swaddling-clothes. The priest was somewhat sur
prised at the tears of the Mother; yet, not understanding
the mystery, he conjectured that the beauty of the Child
might well cause such deep and loving sorrow in Her
who had given Him birth.
535. In all these proceedings the Queen of heaven was
so prudent, circumspect and magnanimous, that She
caused admiration in the angelic choirs and highest de
light to her Creator. She gave forth the effulgence of
the divine wisdom, which filled Her, performing each of
her actions as perfectly as if She had that alone to per
form. She was unyielding in her desire of holding the
Child in her arms during the Circumcision, most careful
in preserving the relics, most compassionate in her afflic
tion and tears, feeling Herself his pains, most loving in
her caresses, most diligent in procuring his comfort,
fervent in imitating Him in his works, always careful to
treat Him with the highest reverence, without ever fail
ing or intermitting her acts of virtue, and without ever
letting the perfection of one disturb that of the other.
Wonderful spectacle exhibited by a Maiden of fifteen
years, and affording even the angels a sort of new lesson
and cause of admiration! In the meanwhile the priest
asked the parents what name they wished to give to the
Child in Circumcision; the great Lady, always attentive
to honor her spouse, asked saint Joseph to mention the
name. Saint Joseph turned toward Her in like reverence
and gave Her to understand that He thought it proper
this sweet name should first flow from her mouth.
Therefore, by divine interference, both Mary and Joseph
said at the same time: "JESUS is his name." The
priest answered : "The parents are unanimously agreed,
and great is the name which they give to the Child" ; and
thereupon he inscribed it in the tablet or register of
names of the rest of the children. While writing it the
priest felt great interior movements, so that he shed
copious tears; and wondering at what he felt yet not
being able to account for, he said : "I am convinced that
this Child is to be a great Prophet of the Lord. Have
great care in raising Him, and tell me in what I can
relieve your needs." Most holy Mary and Joseph an
swered the priest with humble gratitude and dismissed
him after offering him the gift of some candles and other
536. Being again left alone with the Child, most holy
Mary and Joseph celebrated anew the mystery of the
Circumcision, commenting on the holy name of JESUS
amid sweet canticles and tears of joy, the fuller knowl
edge of which (as also of other mysteries which I have
mentioned) is reserved as an additional accidental glory
to the saints in heaven. The most prudent Mother ap
plied to the wound caused by the knife such medicines
as were wont to be used on such occasions for other
children, and during the time while the pain and the
healing lasted She would not for a moment part with
Him, holding Him in her arms day and night. The
tender love of the heavenly Mother is beyond all compre
hension or understanding of man; for her natural love
was greater than any other mother was capable of, and
her supernatural love exceeded that of all the angels and
saints together. Her reverence and worship cannot be
compared with that of any other created being. These
were the delights of the incarnate Word (Prov. 8, 31),
which He desired and longed for among the children of
men; and this was the recompense, which his loving
heart drew from the exceeding sanctity of the Virgin
Mother for the sorrows occasioned Him by their be
havior. Although He pleased Himself in Her alone
above all the mortals and in Her found full satisfaction
of his love, yet the humble Queen sought to alleviate
his bodily pains by all the means within her power.
Therefore She besought the holy angels to assist Her
and produce sweet harmony for their incarnate God, and
her suffering Child. The ministers of the Most High
obeyed their Queen and Lady and in audible voices they
rehearsed the canticles which She herself had composed
with her spouse in praise of the new and sweet name
537. With this music, so sweet that in comparison to it
all human music seemed but irksome discord, the heavenly
Lady entertained her most holy Son; and sweeter yet
was the harmony of her heroic virtues, which in her soul
formed "choirs as of serried armies/ as the Lord and
Spouse himself says in the Canticles. Hard are human
hearts, and more than slow and dull in recognizing and
thankfully acknowledging such venerable sacraments, in
stituted for their eternal salvation by the immense love
of the Creator and Redeemer. O sweetest Good of my
soul and of my life! What wicked return do we make
for the exquisite artifices of thy eternal love! O meas
ureless charity, which is not extinguished by the over
whelming waters of our gross and faithless ingratitude!
Truly the essential Bounty and Holiness could not go to
a greater length of condescension for love of us, nor
exercise more exquisite love than to assume the form of
a sinner (Phil. 2, 7), drawing upon his own innocence
the punishment of the sin, which otherwise could never
approach Him. If men despise such an example and
forget such a benefit, how can they be said to retain the
use of their reason? How can they presume upon and
glory in their wisdom, prudence or judgment? It would
be prudence, ungrateful man, if thou wouldst afflict thy
self and weep over thy notorious dullness and darkness
of mind in not being moved by such great works of thy
God ; since not even the divine love can melt the iciness
of thy heart.
538. My daughter, I wish thee to consider attentively
the blessed favor conferred upon thee by being informed
of the solicitous care and attention which I lavished upon
my most holy and sweetest Son in the mysteries just
now described. The Most High does not give thee this
special light in order only to be regaled by the knowledge
of these mysteries ; but in order to imitate me in all these
things as a faithful handmaid and in order to distinguish
thyself in rendering thanks for his works in the same
measure as thou art distinguished in knowing them more
fully. Ponder, then, dearest, upon the small return given
for the love of my Son and Lord by mortals, and how
forgetful of thanks even his faithful continue to be.
Assume it as thy task, as far as thy weak powers allow,
to render satisfaction for this grievous offense: loving
Him, thanking Him and serving Him with all thy powers,
for all the other men who fail to do so. Therefore thou
must be an angel in promptitude, most fervent and
punctual on all occasions; thou must die to all earthly
things, eliminating and crushing all human inclinations
and rising upon the wings of love to the heights of love
designed for thee by the Lord.
539. Thou art not ignorant of the sweet efficacy con
tained in the memory of the works performed by my
most holy Son : and although thou canst so copiously
avail thyself of the light given thee to be thankful : yet,
in order that thou mayest fear so much the more the
danger of forgetfulness, I particularly inform thee that
the saints in heaven, comprehending by the divine light
these mysteries, are astonished at themselves for not
having paid more attention to them during their life.
And if they were capable of pain, they would be deeply
grieved for their tardiness and carelessness in not having
set proper value upon the works for the Redemption, and
for failing in the imitation of Christ. All the angels
and saints, by an insight hidden to mortals, wonder at
the cruelty of human hearts against themselves and
against Christ their Redeemer. Men have compassion
neither for the sufferings of the Lord, nor for the suffer
ings they themselves stand in danger of incurring. When
the foreknown, in unending bitterness shall recognize
their dreadful forgetfulness and their indifference to the
works of Christ their Savior, their confusion and despair
will be an intolerable punishment, and it alone will be
a chastisement beyond all imagination ; for they will then
see the copiousness of the Redemption, which they have
despised ( Ps. 44, 11). Hear me, my daughter, and bend
thy ears to these counsels and doctrines of eternal life.
Cast out from thy faculties every image and affection
toward human creatures and turn all the powers of thy
heart and soul toward the mysteries and blessings of the
Redemption. Occupy thyself wholly with them, ponder
and weigh them, give thanks for them as if thou alone
wert in existence, as if they had been wrought solely for
thee, and singly for each human being in particular
(Gal. 2, 20). Thus thou wilt find life and the way of
life, proceeding thus thou canst not err; but thou shalt
find therein the light of thy eyes and true peace.
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