Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  19    Verses:  585-595

585. Already the forty days after the birth of a son,
during which a woman, according to the law, was con
sidered unclean and during which she was obliged to con
tinue her purification for her re-admittance into the tem
ple, were coming to a close (Lev. 22, 4). In order to
comply with this law and satisfy another obligation con
tained in Exodus, chapter thirteenth, which demanded the
sanctification and presentation to the Lord of all the first
born sons, the Mother of all purity prepared to go to
Jerusalem, where She was to appear in the temple with
her Son as the Onlybegotten of the eternal Father and
purify Herself according to the custom of other women.
She had no doubts about complying with that part of
the law, which applied to Herself in common with other
mothers. Not that She was ignorant of her innocence
and purity; for, ever since the incarnation of the Word,
She knew of her exemption from actual sin and from the
stain of original sin. Nor was She ignorant of the fact
that She had conceived by the Holy Ghost, and brought
forth without labor, remaining a virgin more pure than
the sun (Luke 1, 15). Yet She hesitated not to subject
Herself to the common law; on the contrary, in the ar
dent longing of her heart after humiliation and annihila
tion to the dust, She desired to do this of her own free
586. In regard to the presentation of her most holy
Son there was some occasion for the same doubt as in
regard to the Circumcision, for She knew Him to be the
true God, superior to the laws, which He himself had
made. But She was informed of the will of the Lord
by divine light and by the interior acts of the most holy
soul of the incarnate Word; for She saw his desire of
sacrificing Himself and offering Himself as a living Vic
tim (Eph. 5, 2) to the eternal Father, in thanksgiving
for having formed his most pure body and created his
most holy soul ; for having destined Him as an acceptable
sacrifice for the human race and for the welfare of mor
tals. These acts of the most sacred humanity of the
Word were continual, conforming Himself to the divine
will not only in so far as He was already beatified, but
also in so far as He was still a wayfarer upon earth
and our Redeemer. Yet, in addition to these interior
acts and in obedience to the law, He wished to be offered
to the eternal Father in the temple where all adored and
magnified Him, as in a house of prayer, expiation and
sacrifice (Deut. 12, 5).
587. The great Lady conferred about the journey with
her husband, and, having resolved to be in Jerusalem
on the very day appointed by the law and having made
the necessary preparations, they took leave of the good
woman, who had so devotedly entertained them. Although
this woman was left in ignorance of the divine mysteries
connected with her Guests, she was filled with the bless
ings of heaven, which brought her abundant fruit. Mary
and Joseph betook themselves to the cave of the Nativity,
not wishing to begin their journey without once more ven
erating that sanctuary so humble and yet so rich in hap
piness, though at that time this was yet unknown to the
world. The Mother handed the Child Jesus to saint
Joseph in order to prostrate Herself and worship the earth
which had been witness to such venerable mysteries. Hav
ing done this with incomparable devotion and tenderness,
She said to her husband : "My master, give me thy bene
diction for this journey, as thou art wont to do at depart
ing from home. I beseech thee also to allow me to per
form this journey on foot and unshod; since I am to bear
in my arms the Victim, which is to be offered to the
eternal Father. This is a mysterious work and as far
as it is possible, I should wish to perform it with due rev
erence and ceremony." Our Queen was accustomed, for
the sake of modesty, to wear shoes, which covered her
feet and served as a sort of stocking. They were made
of a certain plant used by the poor and something like
hemp or mallow, dried and woven into a coarse and strong
texture, which, though poor, was yet cleanly and ap
588. Saint Joseph told Her to arise, for She was
kneeling before him, and said : "May the Most High Son
of the eternal Father, whom I hold in my arms, give
Thee his blessing. As for the rest it is well and good,
that Thou journey afoot in bringing Him to Jerusalem.
But Thou must not go barefoot, because the weather
does not permit it; and thy desire will be accepted by
the Lord instead of the deed." Thus saint Joseph, in
order not to deprive most holy Mary of the joy of
humiliation and obedience, made use of his authority
as husband, although with great reverence. And as
saint Joseph only obeyed Her and humiliated and mor
tified himself in commanding Her, it happened that both
of them exercised humility and obedience reciprocally.
That he refused Her permission to go barefoot to Jeru
salem was occasioned by his apprehensions, lest the cold
should injure her health; for he did not know the won
derful qualities and composition of her virginal and per
fect body, nor the other privileges, conferred upon Her
by the divine right hand. The obedient Queen made no
reply to the orders of her husband and obeyed his wish
not to go unshod. In order to again receive in her arms
the Infant Jesus She prostrated Herself on the earth,
thanking Him and adoring Him for the blessings, which
He had wrought for them and for the whole human race
in that cave. She besought his Majesty, that this sanc
tuary be held in esteem and reverence by the Catholics
and that it remain in their possession; and She again
placed it in charge of the holy angel, who had been set
as its guardian. She covered Herself with a cloak for the
journey and, receiving in Her arms Jesus, the Treasure
of heaven, She pressed Him to her breast, tenderly shield
ing Him from the inclemency of the wintry weather.
589. They departed from the cave, asking the blessing
of the infant God, which his Majesty gave them in a visi
ble manner. Saint Joseph placed upon the ass the chest
containing the clothes of the Infant and the gifts of the
Kings destined for their temple-offering. Thus began
the most solemn procession, which was ever held from
Bethlehem to the temple in Jerusalem; for in company
with the Prince of the eternities, Jesus, the Queen, his
Mother, and saint Joseph, her spouse, journeyed the ten
thousand angels, that had assisted at these mysteries,
and the other legions, that had brought from heaven
the sweet and holy name of Jesus at the Circumcision
(No. 523). All these heavenly courtiers passed along
in visible human forms, so beautiful and shining, that in
comparison with them, all that is delightful or precious in
the world, is less than dirt or mud compared to the finest
and purest gold; and in their splendor they obliterated
the sun in its brightest light and would have turned
night into the brightest day. The heavenly Queen and
saint Joseph rejoiced in their effulgence, while all of them
together exalted these mysteries by new canticles of praise
in honor of the divine Child about to be presented in
the temple. In this fashion they journeyed the two
leagues from Bethlehem to Jerusalem.
590. On this occasion, not without divine dispensation,
the weather was unusually severe, so that, without regard
for the tender Child, its Creator, the cold and sleety
blasts pierced to his shivering limbs and caused the divine
Infant to weep as it rested in the arms of his loving
Mother, being however moved thereto more by his com
passion and love for men than by the effects of the in
clemency of the weather upon his body. The mighty
Empress turned to the winds and elements and as Mis
tress of creation reprehended them with indignation, that
they should thus persecute their Maker. She commanded
them to moderate their rigor toward the Child but not
toward Her. The elements obeyed the commands of
their true and rightful Mistress: the cold blasts were
changed into a soft and balmy air for the Infant, without
diminishing their inclemency toward the Mother; thus
She herself felt it, but not her Infant, as on other occa
sions already mentioned and yet to be mentioned. She
addressed also sin, which She had not contracted, and
said : "O sin, how most disorderly and inhuman art thou,
since, in order to satisfy for thee, the Creator of all
things is afflicted by the very creatures, which He has
made and preserves in being! Thou art a terrible and
horrible monster, offensive to God and destructive of
creatures; thou turnest them into abominations and deprivest
them of their greatest happiness, that of being
friends of God. O children of men, how long will you
be so heavy-hearted as to love vanity and deceit? Be
not so ungrateful toward the Most High and so cruel
to yourselves. Open your eyes and recognize your dan
gers. Do not despise the precepts of your eternal Father,
and do not forget the teachings of your Mother, who has
brought you forth by charity; for since the Onlybegotten
of the Father has assumed flesh in my womb, He
has made me the Mother of all creation. As such I love
you and if it were possible and according to the will of
the Most High, that I suffer all the punishments visited
upon you from the time of Adam until now, I would
accept them with pleasure."
591. During the journey of our Lady with the infant
God, it happened in Jerusalem that Simeon, the highpriest,
was enlightened by the Holy Ghost concerning
the coming of the incarnate Word and his presentation
in the temple on the arms of his Mother. The same
revelation was given to the holy widow Anne, and she
was also informed of the poverty and suffering of saint
Joseph and the most pure Lady on their way to Jeru
salem. These two holy persons, immediately conferring
with each other about their revelations and enlighten
ments, called the chief procurator of the temporal affairs
of the temple, and, describing to him the signs, whereby
he should recognize the holy Travelers, they ordered him
to proceed to the gate leading out to Bethlehem and re
ceive them into his house with all benevolence and hos
pitality. This the procurator did and thus the Queen
and her spouse were much relieved, since they had been
anxious about finding a proper lodging for the divine
Infant. Leaving Them well provided in his house, the
fortunate host returned in order to report to the highpriest.
592. On that evening, before they retired, most holy
Mary and Joseph conferred with each other about what
they were to do. The most prudent Lady reminded
him that it was better to bring the gifts of the Kings
on that same evening to the temple in order to be able
to make the offering in silence and without noisy demon
stration, as was proper with all donations and sacrifices,
and that on the way he might procure the two turtle
doves, which on the next day were to be the public offer
ing for the Infant Jesus. Saint Joseph complied with her
request. As a stranger and one little known he gave the
myrrh, incense and gold to the one who usually received
such gifts for the temple, but saint Joseph took care not
to reveal himself to any one as the donor of these great
presents. Although he could have bought the lamb,
which the rich usually offered for their first-born, he
chose not to do so ; because the humble and poor apparel
of the Mother and the Child as well as of the husband,
would not have agreed with a public offering as valuable
as that of the rich (Matth. 8, 20). In no particular did
the Mother of wisdom deem it befitting to depart from
poverty and humility, even under the cover of a pious
and honorable intention. For in all things was She the
Teacher of perfection, and her most holy Son, that of
holy poverty, in which He was born, lived and died.
593. Simeon, as saint Luke tells us, was a just and
god-fearing man and was hoping in the consolation of
Israel (Luke 2, 24) ; the Holy Ghost, who dwelt in him,
had revealed to him, that he should not taste death until
he had seen the Christ, the Lord. Moved by the holy
Spirit he came to the temple; for in that night, besides
the revelations he had already received, he was again
divinely enlightened and made to understand more clearly
the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption of man,
the fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaias, that a Virgin
should conceive and bear a Son and that from the root
of Jesse a flower should blossom, namely Christ (Is. 7,
14) ; likewise all the rest contained in these and other
prophecies. He received a clear understanding of the
hypostatic union of the two natures in the person of
the Word, and of the mysteries of the passion and death
of the Redeemer. Thus instructed in these two high
things, saint Simeon was lifted up and inflamed with
the desire of seeing the Redeemer of the world. On the
following day then, as soon as he had received notice
that Christ was coming to present Himself in the temple
to the Father, he was carried in spirit to the temple, for
so great is the force of divine enlightenment. Whereupon
succeeded that, which I shall relate in the following chap
ter. Also the holy matron Anne was favored with a
revelation during the same night concerning many of
these mysteries and great was the joy of her spirit on
that account; for, as I have said in the first part of this
history, she had been the teacher of our Queen, during
her stay in the temple. The Evangelist tells us that She
never left the temple-grounds serving in it day and night
in prayer and fasting (Luke 1, 27) ; that she was a
prophetess, daughter of Samuel, of the tribe of Aser.
She had lived seven years with her husband and was
now eighty years old. As will be seen, she spoke pro
phetically of the Child s future.
594. My daughter, one of the misfortunes, which de
prive souls of happiness, or at least diminish it, is that
they content themselves with performing good works
negligently or without fervor, as if they were engaged
in things unimportant or merely accidental. On account
of this ignorance and meanness of heart few of them
arrive at an intimate friendship of God, which they can
attain only by fervent love. This is called fervent pre
cisely because of its similarity to boiling water. For just
as water is made to boil and foam by the fire, so the
soul, by the sweet violence of the divine conflagra
tion of love, is raised above itself and above all created
things as well as above its own doings. In loving, it is
more and more inflamed, and from this very love springs
an unquenchable affection, which makes the soul despise
and forget all earthly things while at the same time it
becomes dissatisfied with all temporal goodness. And
as the human heart, when it does not attain what it
dearly loves (if that attainment is possible) is inflamed
with ever greater desire of reaching it by other means;
therefore, the loving soul, finds ever new things to strive
after for the sake of the Beloved and all service will seem
to it but little. Thus it will pass from good will to a
perfect will, and from this to what will please the Lord
still more, until it arrives at the most intimate union
with Him and at a perfect conformation with the will of
595. Hence thou wilt understand, my dearest, why I
desired to go barefooted to the temple, carrying at the
same time my most holy Son in order to present Him
there; and why I also wished to comply with the law
of the purification ; for, urged on by my love, which in
cessantly demanded what was most perfect and agree
able to the Lord, I sought the fullness of perfection in all
my doings and it was precisely this anxiety, which
created in me such a desire of excellence in all my
works. Labor to imitate me with all diligence in all
that I did ; for I assure thee, my dear, that it is this exer
cise of thy love, which the Most High is desiring and ex
pecting of thee, and, as is mentioned by the spouse in the
Canticles (Cant. 2, 9), He is watching thee so close at
hand, that not more than a slight screen intervenes be
tween the soul and its vision of the Lord. Enamoured
and drawn onward He approaches closely to those souls,
who thus love and serve Him in all things, while He
withdraws from the lukewarm and negligent ones, or
deals with them only according to the general rules of his
divine Providence. Do thou aspire continually to the
most pure and perfect in the practice of virtues and study
and invent new schemes and projects of love; so that all
the forces of thy interior and exterior faculties continue
to be zealously occupied in what is most exalted and ex
cellent in the service of the Lord. At the same time
mention all these affections to thy spiritual father and
subject them to the obedience and advice of thy counselor,
following his instructions : for this will always be the most
preferable and secure way.
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