Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  15    Verses:  540-551

540. By the infused knowledge of holy Scriptures and
her high supernatural enlightenment, our great Queen
knew that the Magi Kings of the Orient would come to
acknowledge and adore her most holy Son as their true
God. She was aware of it also more particularly be
cause an angel had been sent to them to announce the
birth of the incarnate Word, as mentioned in chapter
second (No. 492), and the Virgin Mother was not
ignorant of this message. Saint Joseph had no fore
knowledge of these mysteries ; because they had not been
revealed to him, nor had his most prudent Spouse in
formed him of this secret. In all things She was most
wise and discreet, awaiting the sweet and timely dispo
sitions of the divine Providence (Wis. 8, 1). After the
Circumcision, the holy spouse suggested to the Mistress
of heaven that they leave their poor and forsaken habita
tion on account of the insufficient shelter which it
afforded the divine Infant and to Her ; for it would now
be possible to find a lodging in Bethlehem, where they
could remain until after presenting the Child in the
temple of Jerusalem. This proposal of the most faithful
spouse arose from his solicitude and anxiety lest the Child
and the Mother should want even that comfort and
convenience which it was possible for their poverty to
procure ; but he left it all to the disposition of his heavenly
541. Without revealing the mystery, the humble Queen
answered: "My spouse and master, I resign myself to
thy will, and wherever thou wishest to go I will follow
with great pleasure: arrange it as thou pleasest." The
heavenly Lady had an affection for the cave on account
of its humbleness and poverty, and because the incarnate
Word had consecrated it by the mysteries of his Nativity
and Circumcision, and was to hallow it by the mystery
of the Magi s visit, although She did not know at what
time that would happen. This was a most pious affec
tion, full of devotion and reverence ; yet She preferred to
give an example of the highest perfection in all things.
She considered it more important to resign and submit
to saint Joseph, letting her spouse decide what was to be
done. While they were thus conferring with each other,
the Lord himself informed them through the two celes
tial princes Michael and Gabriel, who were attending in
corporeal forms to the service of their Lord and God
and of their great Queen. They spoke to Mary and
Joseph, saying: "Divine Providence has ordained that
three kings of the earth, coming from the Orient in
search of the King of heaven, should adore the divine
Word in this very place (Ps. 71, 6). They are already
ten days on the way ; for at the hour of the birth of Jesus
they were informed of it, and they immediately set out
on their journey. Therefore they will shortly arrive,
fulfilling all that the Prophets had from very ancient
times foreknown and foretold."
542. By this announcement saint Joseph was instructed
on his part concerning the will of the Lord, and Mary
his most holy Spouse said to him: "My master, this
place, chosen by the Most High for such magnificent
mysteries, although it is poor and ill-furnished in the
eyes of the world, in the sight of eternal Wisdom is
rich, precious, the most estimable and preferable on this
earth, since the Lord of heaven is satisfied with it and
has consecrated it by his presence. He who is the true
land of promise can favor us with his vision in this
place. And if it is his pleasure, He will afford us some
protection and shelter against the inclemencies of the
weather during the few days in which we are to stay
here." Saint Joseph was much consoled and encour
aged by these words of the most prudent Queen. He
answered Her, that, since the divine Child was to fulfill
the law, which required Him to be presented in the
temple, just as He had subjected Himself to the law of
Circumcision, they could remain in this sacred place until
that day should arrive, without first undertaking the dis
tant and wearisome journey to Nazareth during the in
clement weather. If, perhaps, the severity of the season
would compel them to seek shelter in the city, they could
easily do so; since from Bethlehem to Jerusalem there
was only a distance of two hours.
543. In all these matters the most holy Mary con
formed Herself to the will of her watchful spouse; for
She knew his solicitude for the sacred tabernacle which
was confided to his care, and which was more holy and
venerable than the Holy of Holies in the temple. Await
ing the time when her Onlybegotten should be presented
in the temple, She was unremitting in her care of Him,
lest She forget anything necessary to protect Him
against the cold and the roughness of the weather. She
also prepared the cave for the arrival of the Kings,
cleaning it once more and arranging it anew as far as
the rudeness and destitution of the place allowed. But
her greatest attention and care was always reserved for
the Child itself, bearing It in her arms continually unless
absolute necessity demanded otherwise. Besides all this
She made use of her power as Queen of all creation
whenever the rigors of winter rose to excess; for She
commanded the frost and the winds, the snow and the
ice not to incommode their Creator, and to spend their
elemental fury and asperity upon her person alone. The
heavenly Queen gave her commands as follows : "Re
strain your wrath before your Creator, Author, Lord
and Preserver, who has called you into existence and
given you strength and activity. Be mindful, creatures
of my Beloved, that you are furnished with rigor on
account of sin for the chastisement of the disobedience
of the first Adam and his progeny. But with the second
Adam, who comes to repair this fall and cannot have
any part therein, you must be courteous, reverencing and
not offending Him, to whom you owe worship and sub
jection. And therefore I command you in his name to
cause no inconvenience or displeasure to Him."
544. It is worthy of our admiration and imitation to
notice the ready obedience of the irrational creatures to
the divine will, intimated to them by the Mother of God :
for upon her command, the snow and rain approached
no nearer than ten yards, the winds stopped short and
the surrounding air retained a mild temperature. To
this miracle was added another one : at the same time in
which the divine Infant in her arms received this homage
of the elements and was protected from their asperity,
the Virgin Mother felt and suffered the cold and in
clemency of the weather as if it were exerting all its
natural influences in that place. In this they obeyed the
Loving Mother and sovereign Mistress of creatures to
the letter, as She wished not to exempt Herself from
their asperity while She prevented her tender Child and
her God from suffering under it. Saint Joseph enjoyed
the same privilege as the sweet Infant; he noticed the
favorable change of the temperature, without knowing
that it was due to the commands of his heavenly Spouse
and- an effect of her power; for She had not manifested
to him this privilege, because She had no command to
that effect from the Most High.
545. As to the order and manner in which the great
Queen nourished her Child JESUS, it is to be remarked
that She offered Him her virginal milk three times a day,
and always with such reverence that She asked his per
mission beforehand and his pardon for the indignity,
considering Herself and acknowledging Herself un
worthy of such a privilege. Many times, while holding
Him in her arms, She was on her knees adoring Him;
and if at any time it was necessary to seat Herself She
always asked his permission. With the same tokens of
reverence She handed Him to saint Joseph and received
Him from his arms, as I have said above. Many times
She kissed his feet, and when She wished to kiss his
face She interiorly asked his benevolent consent. The
sweetest Child returned these caresses of his Mother not
only by the expression of pleasure in his countenance,
which was at the same time full of majesty, but also
by other actions usual in children. In Him, however,
they were accompanied by a serene deliberation. The
most ordinary token of his love was to recline sweetly
upon the breast of the most pure Mother, or upon her
shoulder, encircling her neck with his divine arms.
These caresses the Empress Mary met with so much
attention and discretion that She neither petulantly sought
them as other mothers, nor too timidly withdrew from
them. In all these things She behaved most perfectly
and prudently, without defect or excess of any kind : the
more openly and affectionately her most holy Son mani
fested his love toward Her, so much the more deeply did
She humiliate Herself, and so much the greater was her
reverence; in the same manner She gaged also the
tokens of her affection and lent new glory to her mag
546. There was an interchange of caresses of anothei
kind between the Infant and his Mother: for besides
understanding by divine enlightenment all the interior
acts of the most holy soul of her Onlybegotten, as I have
already stated (481, 534), it often happened that, hold
ing Him in her arms, She was privileged to see through
his humanity as through a crystal casement, thus per
ceiving the hypostatic union of the Son of God with his
human nature, and witnessing the activity of his soul in
interceding with the eternal Father for the human race.
These operations and intercessions the heavenly Lady
faithfully imitated, being entirely absorbed and trans
formed in her divine Son. His Majesty on his part
looked upon Her with new accidental joy and delight,
regaling Himself in the purity of this Creature, rejoicing
that He had created Her, and that his becoming man had
resulted in such a living image of his Divinity and
humanity. In regard to this mystery the words of the
soldiers of Holofernes when they beheld the beauty of
Judith in the camp of Bethulia, occurred to me : "Who
can despise the people of the Hebrews, who have such
beautiful women? Shall we not think it worth our
while for their sakes to fight against them?" This say
ing seemed to be mysteriously realized in the incarnate
Word, since He, with greater cause, could address them
to his eternal Father and to all the rest of the creatures :
"Who shall fail to see, that my coming from heaven and
assuming flesh is fully justified, since by coming upon the
earth and dethroning the demon, the world and the flesh,
and by conquering and vanquishing them, such a Woman
is called into existence as is my Mother among the chil
dren of Adam ?" O sweetest love, essence of my virtue,
life of my soul, most loving Jesus, behold and see that
most holy Mary by Herself possesses such immense
beauty as exceeds that of all the human race! She is
the only and chosen One (Cant. 6, 8), so perfectly pleas
ing to Thee, my Lord and my God, that She not only
equals but far surpasses all the rest of thy people; and
that She alone compensates God for all the wickedness
of the race of Adam.
547. So powerful were the effects of this delightful
intercourse with her Son and true God, that She was
more and more spiritualized and made Godlike. Many
times in these flights of her soul the force of her burning
love would have torn asunder the ligaments of her mem
bers and destroyed the union of her soul and body, if
She had not been miraculously comforted and preserved.
She spoke to her most holy Son secret words so exalted
and full of weight that they cannot come within the
range of our expression. All that I can reproduce can
never be anything more than a mere shadow of that
which was manifested to me. She said to Him: "O
my Love, sweet Life of my soul, who art Thou, and
who am I? What dost Thou wish to make of me by
thus becoming man of man, lowering thy greatness and
magnificence in favor of such useless dust? O what
shall thy slave do to pay the debt of love which she owes
to Thee ? What return shall I make for the great things
which thou hast done to me (Ps. 115, 12) ? My being,
my life, my faculties, my feelings, my desires and long
ings, all is for Thee. Comfort thy servant and thy
Mother, in order that She may not fail in thy service
at the sight of her own insignificance, and in order that
she may not die for love of Thee. O how limited is
the power of man! How circumscribed his capacity!
How insufficient is human affection, as it cannot suffi
ciently render a just return for thy love! But the vic
tory of mercy and magnificence must always be thine,
and to Thee belong the triumphal songs of love; while
we must on the contrary always consider ourselves over
come and vanquished by thy power. Let us be humili
ated and let us grovel in the dust, while thy greatness is
magnified and exalted in all the eternities." The heav
enly Lady, partaking of the science of her most holy Son,
sometimes beheld the souls which in the course of the
new law of grace were to distinguish themselves in divine
love, the works which they were to perform, the martyr
dom which they were to suffer in imitation of the Lord;
in this knowledge She became so inflamed with love that
her longings of love caused in Her a greater martyrdom
than those actually suffered by the saints. To her
happened what the Spouse in the Canticles mentions
(Cant. 8, 6), that the emulations of love are strong as
death and hard as hell. To these agonies of the loving
Mother, caused by the mortal wounds of divine affection,
her most holy Son answered in the words there used :
"Place Me as a sign or seal in thy heart and upon thy
arm," causing in Her at the same time the full under
standing of these words as well as their actual fulfill
ment. By this divine suffering most holy Mary was a
Martyr above all other martyrs. Among such beds of
lilies the meekest Lamb, Jesus, wandered, while the day
of grace began to break and the shades of the ancient
Law receded.
548. The divine Qrld ate nothing during the time in
which He was nourished at the virginal breast of his
most holy Mother, for this milk was his only sustenance.
This was most sweet and substantial, since it originated
in a body so pure, perfect and refined, and one built up
in exquisite harmony without any disorder or inequality.
No other body was equal to it in healthfulness ; and the
sacred milk, even if it would have been preserved a long
time, would have remained free from corruption; by an
especial privilege it never changed or soured, though the
milk of other women immediately degenerates and be
comes corrupt, as experience teaches.
549. The most fortunate Joseph not only witnessed
the favors and caresses which passed between the Child
and its Mother; but he himself shared in others, which
Jesus deigned to confer upon him. Many times his
heavenly Spouse placed him in his arms. This hap
pened whenever She had to do some work during which
She could not hold Him herself; as for instance, when
She prepared the meals, or arranged the clothes of the
Infant or cleaned the house. On these occasions saint
Joseph held Him in his arms and he always felt divine
effects in his soul. The Child Jesus showed exterior
signs of affection by his pleased looks, by reclining upon
his breast, and by other tokens of affection usual with
children in regard to their fathers, but in Him these
tokens were always tempered with kingly majesty. Yet
all this was not so frequent in his dealings with saint
Joseph, nor with such endearment, as with his true Virgin
Mother. Whenever She left Jesus in his care, She
received from saint Joseph the relic of the Circumcision,
which the latter ordinarily bore about with him for
his consolation. Thus both the two Spouses were con
tinually enriched : She by holding her most holy Son,
he by his sacred blood and deified flesh. They pre
served it in a crystal vase, which saint Joseph had pur
chased with the money sent to them by saint Elisa
beth. In this they had enclosed the particle of flesh and
the sacred blood shed at the Circumcision, which had
been caught up in pieces of linen. The opening of the
vase was encased in silver, which the mighty Queen, in
order to preserve the sacred relics more securely, had
sealed by her mere command. Thus the silver opening
was more firmly sealed than if it had been soldered by
the artisan, who had made the vessel. In this vase the
prudent Mother treasured the relics during her whole
life and afterwards She entrusted it to the Apostles,
leaving it as an inheritance to the holy Church. In this
immense sea of mysteries I find myself so annihilated
and dumbfounded by my ignorance as a woman, and so
narrowed in my powers of expression, that I must leave
much of it to be fathomed by the faith and piety of the
550. My daughter, in the foregoing chapter, thou hast
been instructed not to seek information from the Lord
by supernatural means, neither in order to relieve any
suffering, nor in order to satisfy a natural hankering of
curiosity. Now I exhort thee likewise not to yield, for
any of these reasons, to the desire of performing any
exterior action according to the promptings of nature.
For in all the activity of thy exterior faculties and senses
thou must seek to moderate and subject thy inclinations,
not yielding to them in their demands, although they may
have the color of virtue or piety. I was in no danger
of going to excess in these affections on account of my
sinlessness; nor was there a want of piety in my desire
of remaining in the cave, where my most holy Son had
been born and had been circumcised. Yet I did not wish
to express my desire, even when asked about it by my
spouse; for I preferred obedience to this pious inclina
tion, and I knew that it is more secure for the souls and
more according to the pleasure of the Lord to seek his
will in the counsel and decision coming from other,
rather than in their own inclination. In me this course
of action was advisable only on account of the greater
perfection contained therein, but in thee and in other
souls, who are subject to error in their judgment, this
rule must be observed most rigorously, so as to prevent
and avoid mistakes diligently and discreetly. For in
their ignorance and pusillanimity men are easily carried
away by their feelings and inclinations toward insignifi
cant things, and very often they occupy themselves with
trifles as if they were important matters, and with vani
ties, as if they were realities. All such activity weakens
the soul and deprives it of great spiritual blessings, of
grace, enlightenment and merit.
551. This doctrine shalt thou write in thy heart to
gether with all the others which I am to give thee. Seek
to use it as a reminder of all that I did, so that as thou
hast come to know it thou mayest also understand and
execute it in thy life. Take notice of the reverence, love
and solicitude, the holy and discreet fear, with which I
conversed with my most holy Son. I always lived in
this kind of watchfulness ; and even after I had conceived
Him in my womb, I never lost it out of sight, nor did
the grat love which He showed me dimmish it in me.
In this ardent desire to please Him my heart found no
rest until it was entirely united and absorbed in the en
joyment of this my highest Good and ultimate End.
Excepting at certain times, during which I rested in
his love as in my sole joy, I invariably carried about with
me this continual solicitude, like one who restlessly pur
sues his way, and who permits himself not to be delayed
by anything that is useless or hinders the attainment of
his desired object. So far was my heart from attaching
itself to any earthly thing, or from following the incli
nation of the senses, that I lived as if I had not been
composed of earthly substance. If other creatures are
not free from passions, or do not overcome them as much
as possible, let them not blame nature, but their own will :
on the contrary, they justly incur the reproaches of weak
nature; because, instead of governing and directing
nature by the sovereign power of the will, they make no
use of that power. They allow the natural inclinations to
involve them in disorders, abetting it by the free will and
using their understanding to find still more dangerous
occupations and occasions of ruin. On account of these
pitfalls presenting themselves in mortal life, I warn thee,
my dearest, not to hanker after or seek any of the visible
things, although they may appear to thee necessary and
most appropriate for the circumstances. Use all things,
thy cell, thy garments, thy sustenance, and whatever else
of this life, only in obedience and with the full consent
of thy superiors ; because the Lord requires this of thee ;
and it is also my pleasure to see thee apply all things
for the service of the Omnipotent. According to these
great rules which I have given thee thou must regulate
all thy activity.
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