Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  18    Verses:  573-584

573. After the departure of the three Kings and after
the due celebration of the great mystery of the adoration
of the Infant Jesus, there was really nothing to wait for
in that poor yet sacred place, and they were free to
leave it. The most prudent Mother then said to saint
Joseph: "My master and spouse, the offerings which
the Kings have made to our God and Child must not
remain here idle; but they must be applied in the service
of his Majesty and should be used according to his will
and pleasure. I deserve nothing, even of temporal
goods ; dispose of all these gifts as belonging to my Son
and to thee." The most faithful of husbands answered,
with his accustomed humility and courtesy, that he would
leave all to Her and would be pleased to see Her dispose
of them. But her Majesty insisted anew and -said:
"Since thou makest an excuse of humility, my master,
do it then for love of the poor, who are waiting for their
share ; they have a right to the things which their heav
enly Father has created for their sustenance." They
therefore immediately concluded to divide the gifts into
three parts : one destined for the temple of Jerusalem,
namely the incense and myrrh, as well as part of the
gold ; another part as offering to the priest, who had cir-
cumcised the Child, in order that he might use it for him
self and for the synagogue or oratory in Bethlehem, and
the third part for distribution among the poor. This
resolve they executed with generous and fervent affection.
574. The Almighty made use of a poor but honorable
and pious woman to be the occasion of their leaving the
cave. She had come a few times to visit our Queen;
for the house in which She lived was built up against
the wall of the city, not far from the cave. Some time
later this devout woman, not being aware of what had
happened, but having heard the rumor of the Kings
coming, held a conversation with most holy Mary and
asked Her whether She had heard that some wise men,
who were said to be kings, had come from far seeking
the Messias ? The heavenly Princess, aware of the good
disposition of this woman, took occasion to instruct her
and catechize her in the common belief, without reveal
ing to her the hidden sacrament connected with Herself
and the sweetest Child whom She held in her arms
(Tob. 12, 7). In order to relieve her poverty She gave
her some of the gold destined for the poor. Thereby
the condition of this fortunate woman was much im
proved and she became attached with heart and soul
to her Teacher and Benefactress. She invited the holy
Family to live in her house; and as it was a poor one,
it was so much the more accommodated to the Founders
and Builders of holy poverty. The poor woman pleaded
with great persistence, as she saw the great inconvenience
to which the most holy Mary and Joseph with the Child
were subject in the cave. The Queen did not refuse her
offer and answered, that She would let her know of her
decision. Mary and saint Joseph conferred with each
other and they resolved to leave the cave and lodge in
the house of this woman, awaiting there the time of the
purification and the presentation in the temple. They
did it so much the more willingly as it afforded them a
chance to remain near the cave of the Nativity; and also
because many people began to frequent the cave on ac
count of the rumor of the visit of the Kings, which had
been spread about.
575. On account of these and other considerations
most holy Mary, with saint Joseph and the sacred Child
took leave of the cave although with tenderest regret.
They accepted the hospitality of that fortunate woman,
who received them with the greatest charity and assigned
to them the larger portion of her dwelling. The holy
angels and ministers of the Most High accompanied them
in human forms, which they had always retained. When
ever the heavenly Mother and saint Joseph her spouse
piously revisited the memorable spots of this sanctuary,
they came and went with them as numerous courtiers
delegated to their service. Moreover, when the Child
and his Mother took leave of the cave, God appointed
an angel as its keeper and watcher, as He had done with
the garden of Paradise (Gen. 3, 24). And this guard
remained and does remain to this day sword in hand
at the opening of the cave; and never since then has an
animal entered there. That this holy angel does not
hinder the entrance of hostile infidels, in whose posses
sion this and the other holy places are, is because of the
judgments of the Most High, who allows men to execute
the designs of his wisdom and justice. This permission
would not be necessary, if Christian princes were filled
with fervent zeal for the honor and glory of Christ and
would seek the restoration of these holy places, con
secrated by the blood and the labors of the Lord and of
his most holy Mother, and by the works of our Redemp
tion. And even if this would not be possible, there is no
excuse for not attending with faithful diligence to the
decent keeping of the mysterious places; since nothing is
impossible to the believer, who can overcome the moun
tains (Matth. 17, 19). I was given to understand, that
the pious devotion and veneration for the Holy Land
is one of the most powerful and efficacious means for
establishing and confirming Catholic monarchies ; and no
one can deny, that many of their excessive and unneces
sary expenses could be avoided by employing their re
sources in such a pious enterprise, which would be pleas
ing both to God and to men; for in making such an
honest use of their incomes there is no need of outward
576. The most pure Mary and her spouse, having with
her divine Child moved to the dwelling in the vicinity
of the cave, remained there until, according to the re
quirements of the law, She was to be present Herself
with her First-born for purification in the temple. For this
mystery the most holy of creatures resolved to dispose
Herself worthily by a fervent desire of carrying the infant
Jesus as an offering to the eternal Father in his temple ;
by imitating her Son and by seeking the adornment and
beauty of great virtues as a worthy offering and victim
for the Most High. With this intention the heavenly
Lady, during the days which still remained until her
purification, performed such heroic acts of love and of
all other virtues, that neither the tongue of angels nor
of men can explain them. How much less can this then
be done by a useless and entirely ignorant woman? By
sincere piety and devotion, the Christians who dispose
themselves by reverent contemplation, will merit to feel
these mysteries. Judging of the more intelligible favors
received by the Virgin Mother, they can surmise and
imagine the others, which do not fall within the scope
of human words.
577. From his very Birth the infant Jesus spoke to
his sweetest Mother in audible words; for immediately
after his Birth (as mentioned in chapter the tenth), He
said to Her : "Imitate Me, my Spouse, make thyself like
unto Me/ This was when They were alone, and al
though He always spoke to Her most plainly, saint
Joseph never heard his words until the Child was one
year of age, when He also spoke to him. Nor did the
heavenly Lady reveal this secret, for She understood,
that it was only for Her. The conversations of the in
fant God were such as were worthy of the greatness of
his majesty and his infinite power; such as were befitting
the most pure and holy, the most wise and prudent of
all creatures next to Himself, and One who was his true
Mother. Sometimes He said: "My Dove, my chosen
One, my dearest Mother." (Cant. 2, 10). In such
caressing words as were contained in the Canticles and
other continual interior intercourse the most holy Son
and Mother passed their time ; and in these the heavenly
Princess received favors, and was delighted by caresses
so sweet and loving, as exceed those of the Canticles
of Solomon; and greater ones than all the just and holy
souls enjoyed from the beginning to the end of the world.
Many times, during these mysteries of his love, the In
fant Jesus repeated these words already mentioned :
"Make thyself like unto Me, my Mother and my Dove."
As they were words of life and infinite power, and as
most holy Mary at the same time was furnished with the
infused knowledge of all the interior operations of the
soul of her Onlybegotten, no tongue can declare nor
thought can comprehend the effects wrought in the most
candid and inflamed heart of this Mother of the Godman.
578. Among the more rare and excellent privileges of
most pure Mary, the chief one is, that She is Mother of
God, which is the foundation of all the rest. The second
is, that She was conceived without sin. The third, that
She enjoyed many times the beatific vision in this mortal
life, and the fourth is that She continually saw clearly
the most holy soul of her Son and all its operations for
her imitation. She had it present to her eyes, as a most
clear and pure mirror, in which She could behold Her
self again and again in order to adorn Herself with most
precious gems of virtue, made in imitation of those seen
in that most holy Soul. There She saw it united with
the divine Word and She exercised her humility in see
ing how much her own human nature was inferior to
that of Christ. She perceived with the clearest insight
the acts of gratitude and praise, with which the soul of
Christ praised the Almighty for having been created
out of nothing as the rest of the souls, and for the graces
and gifts, with which it was endowed above others as
a creature; and especially, for having been elevated and
made godlike by the union of the human nature with the
Divinity. She pondered over his petitions, prayers and
supplications to his eternal Father for the human race;
and how in all his other activity He prepared Himself
for its Redemption and instruction, as the sole Redeemer
and Teacher of man for eternal life.
579. All these works of the most holy humanity of
Christ, our supreme Good, his most pure Mother con
tinually sought to imitate. There is much to say con
cerning this great mystery of her imitation in this his
tory; for She had this example and model incessantly
before her eyes, and according to it She regulated her
own activity and behavior during the Incarnation and
Nativity of her Son. Like a busy bee She continually
built up the sweetest honeycomb of delights for the in
carnate Word. His Majesty, having come from heaven
as our Redeemer and Teacher, wished that his most holy
Mother, of whom He had formed his human existence,
should participate in a most exalted and singular manner
in the fruits of the common Redemption and that She
should be the chosen and selected Disciple, in whom his
teaching should be vividly stamped and whom He wished
to make as similar to Himself as possible. In the light
of these intentions and blessed purposes of the incarnate
Word we must judge of the greatness of Mary s deeds,
and of the delights, which He enjoyed while resting upon
her arms and reclining upon her breast; for it was in
deed the bridal-chamber and the couch of this the true
Spouse (Cant. 1, 15).
580. During the days in which the most holy Queen
tarried near Bethlehem before the purification, some of
the people came to see and speak with Her; but almost
all of them were of the poorest class. Some of them
came because of the alms which She distributed, others,
because they had heard of the Kings, who had visited
the cave. All of them spoke of this visit and of the
coming of the Redeemer; for in those days, (not with
out divine predisposal), the belief, that the birth of the
Messias was at hand, was very widespread among the
Jews, and the talk about it was very frequent. This gave
the most prudent Mother repeated occasion to exercise
Herself in magnanimous works, not only by guarding
the secret of her bosom and by conferring within Her
self about all that She saw and heard, but also by direct
ing many souls toward the knowledge of God, by con
firming them in the faith, instructing them in the practice
of virtues, enlightening them in the mysteries of the
Messias whom they were expecting, and dispelling the
ignorance, in which they were cast as a low-minded peo
ple, little versed in the things of God. Sometimes their
talk about these matters was so full of error and woman
ish prattle, that the simple saint Joseph smiled in secret.
He wondered at the heavenly wisdom and force of the
answers, with which the great Lady met their gossip
and instructed them; at her patience and gentleness in
leading them to the truth and to the perception of the
light; at her profound humility and yet patient reserve,
with which She knew how to dismiss all of them con
soled, rejoiced and furnished with all that was good for
them to know. She spoke to them words of eternal
life, which penetrated, inflamed and strengthened their
hearts (John 6, 69).
581. My daughter, by the divine light I knew, better
than all other creatures, at what a low value the Most
High esteems earthly blessings and riches. Therefore,
in my holy liberty of spirit, I felt myself troubled and
inconvenienced by the possession of the treasures of the
Kings offered to my most holy Son. As in all my deeds
I was to shine in humility and obedience, I did not wish
to appropriate them to myself, nor dispose of them ac
cording to my own will, but according to the wishes of
my spouse Joseph. In this resignation I managed to act
as if 1 were his handmaid and as if none of these gifts
concerned me in any way ; for it is debasing, and for you
weak creatures, very dangerous to appropriate or attrib
ute any of the goods of the earth, be they of material
possessions or goods of honor ; for all this cannot be done
without covetousness, ambition and vain ostentation.
582. I wished to tell thee all this, my dearest, in order
that thou mayest know how to refuse riches or honor as
due to thee, and not appropriate to thyself any of them ;
especially not if thou receive them from persons of in
fluence and exalted station. Preserve thy interior liberty
and make no show of a thing which is worth nothing and
which cannot justify thee before God. If anything is
brought to thee, never say: "This is given to me, or is
presented to me;" but "This the Lord sends to our con
vent; pray to God for those, whom his Majesty has sent
as the instruments of his mercies." And mention the
name of the giver, in order that they may pray partic
ularly for him and that he may not be disappointed in
the purpose of his gift. Also do not receive it personally,
lest you raise a suspicion of covetousness, but let those
appointed for this duty receive it. And, if in thy office
as superior, thou must make distribution of things within
the convent, let it be with detachment and without any
show of personal rights of possession in them; yet at
the same time, as one who knows that she does not
deserve any favors, do not forget to thank the Most
High and the giver. That which is brought to the
other religious thou must acknowledge thankfully as the
superior and immediately see that thou apply it for the
community, without reserving any part of it for thy own
use. Do not inquire curiously about the incomes of the
convent, in order that thou mayest not take a sensible
pleasure therein and that thou mayest not seek delight
in the reception of such favors ; for frail and passionate
nature incurs many defects in such a transaction and of
few of the defects does it render much account to itself.
Nothing can be trusted to infected human nature; for it
always seeks after more than it possesses, and it never
says enough, and the more it receives the greater thirst it
has for more.
583. But it is to the intimate and frequent intercourse
with the Lord by unceasing love, praise and reverence,
that I wish thee to attend most of all. In this I wish,
my daughter, that thou work with all thy strength, and
that thou apply thy faculties and powers incessantly with
great watchfulness and care; for without this the in
ferior parts will inevitably weigh down thy soul, derange
and upset it, divert and cast it down, causing it to lose
the vision of the highest Good (Wis. 9, 15). This lov
ing intercourse of the Lord is so delicate, that even by
listening or attending to the deceits of the enemy, the
soul loses it. On this account the enemy makes great
efforts to draw thy attention toward himself, knowing
that the punishment of listening to him will be the con
cealment of the object of its love from the soul (Cant. 5,
6). As soon as it carelessly ignores the beauty of the
Lord, it enters upon the byways of neglect and is de
prived of the divine sweetness (Cant. 1, 7). When after
wards the soul, having with sorrow experienced the evils
of such inadvertence wishes to return to seek Him, it
does not always find or recover Him (Cant. 3, 1, 2).
As the demon, who deceived it, then presents other de
lights so vile and unlike those to which the soul has been
accustomed interiorly, new cause of sadness, disturbance,
dejection, lukewarmness and dissatisfaction arises and
its whole interior is filled with dangerous confusion.
584. Of this truth, my dearest, thou thyself hast some
experience, wherein thou couldst notice the effects of
neglect and tardiness in believing the favors of the Lord.
It is time that thou be prudent in thy sincerity and con
stant in keeping up the fire of the sanctuary (Lev. 6,
12), without ever losing sight for a moment of that same
Object, which I attended to with all the powers of my
soul and all my faculties. Although the distance between
thy conduct, that of a mere wormlet, and that which I
propose for thy imitation is great, and although thou
canst not enjoy the supreme Good so unreservedly as I,
nor live in the same condition as I ; yet, since I instruct
thee and show thee what I did to assimilate myself to my
most holy Son, thou canst imitate me according to thy
strength using my doings as a mirror. I saw Him in
the mirror of his humanity, thou in my soul and person.
If the Almighty calls and invites all men to the highest
perfection by following Him, consider what thou art
obliged to do, since thou hast been drawn toward the
Most High by such a generous and powerful influence
of his right hand (Matth. 11, 28; Cant 1, 3).
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