Mystical City of God - Virgin Mary

By Sor Maria of Agreda


  INDEX   Book 4  Chapter  20    Verses:  596-605

596. The sacred humanity of Christ belonged to the
eternal Father not only because it was created like other
beings, but it was his special property by virtue of the
hypostatic union with the person of the Word, for this
person of the Word, being his Onlybegotten Son,
was engendered of his substance, true God of true God.
Nevertheless the eternal Father had decreed, that his
Son should be presented to Him in the temple in mys
terious compliance with the law, of which Christ our
Lord was the end (Rom. 10, 4). It was established
for no other purpose than that the just men of the
old Testament should perpetually sanctify and offer to
the Lord their first-born sons, in the hope that one
thus presented might prove to be the Son of God
and a Child of the Mother of the expected Messias (Exod.
13, 2). According to our way of thinking his Majesty
acted like men, who are apt to repeat and enjoy over and
over again a thing which has caused them enjoyment.
For although the Father understood and knew all things
in his infinite wisdom, He sought pleasure in the offer
ing of the incarnate Word, which by so many titles al
ready belonged to Him.
597. This will of the eternal Father, which was con
formable to that of his Son in so far as He was God, was
known to the Mother of life and of the human nature
of the Word; for She saw that all his interior actions
were in unison with the will of his eternal Father. Full
of this holy science the great Princess passed the night
before his presentation in the temple in divine colloquies.
Speaking to the Father She said: "My Lord and God
most high, Father of my Lord, a festive day for heaven
and earth will be that, in which I shall bring and offer
to Thee in thy holy temple the living Host, which is
at the same time the Treasure of thy Divinity. Rich, O
my Lord and God, is this oblation; and Thou canst well
pour forth, in return for it, thy mercies upon the human
race: pardoning the sinners, that have turned from the
straight path, consoling the afflicted, helping the needy,
enriching the poor, succoring the weak, enlightening the
blind, and meeting those who have strayed away. This
is, my Lord, what I ask of thee in offering to Thee thy
Onlybegotten, who, by thy merciful condescension is also
my Son. If Thou hast given Him to me as a God, I re
turn Him to Thee as God and man ; his value is infinite,
and what I ask of Thee is much less. In opulence do I
return to thy holy temple, from which I departed poor;
and my soul shall magnify Thee forever, because thy
divine right hand has shown itself toward me so liberal
and powerful."
598. On the next morning, the Sun of heaven being
now ready to issue from its purest dawning, the Virgin
Mary, on whose arms He reclined, and being about to rise
up in full view of the world, the heavenly Lady, hav
ing provided the turtle-dove and two candles, wrapped
Him in swaddling-clothes and betook Herself with saint
Joseph from their lodging to the temple. The holy angels,
who had come with them from Bethlehem, again formed
in procession in corporeal and most beautiful forms, just
as has been said concerning the journey of the preced
ing day. On this occasion however the holy spirits added
many other hymns of the sweetest and most entrancingharmony
in honor of the infant God, which were heard
only by the most pure Mary. Besides the ten thousand,
who had formed the procession on the previous day, in
numerable others descended from heaven, who, accom
panied by those that bore the shields of the holy name
of Jesus, formed the guard of honor of the incarnate
Word on the occasion of his presentation. These how
ever were not in corporeal shapes and only the heavenly
Princess perceived their presence. Having arrived at the
temple-gate, the most blessed Mother was filled with new
and exalted sentiments of devotion. Joining the other
women, She bowed and knelt to adore the Lord in spirit
and in truth in his holy temple and She presented Her
self before the exalted Majesty of God with his Son
upon her arms (John 4, 23). Immediately She was
immersed in an intellectual vision of the most holy
Trinity and She heard a voice issuing from the eternal
Father, saying: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I
am well pleased" (Matth. 27, 20). Saint Joseph, the
most fortunate of men, felt at the same time a new
sweetness of the Holy Ghost, which filled him with joy
and divine light.
599. The holy high-priest Simeon, moved by the Holy
Ghost as explained in the preceding chapter, also entered
the temple at that time (Luke 2, 27). Approaching the
place where the Queen stood with the Infant Jesus in
her arms, he saw both Mother and Child enveloped in
splendor and glory. The prophetess Anne, who, as the
Evangelist says, had come at the same hour, also saw
Mary and her Infant surrounded by this wonderful light.
In the joy of their spirit both of them approached the
Queen of heaven, and the priest received the Infant Jesus
from her arms upon his hands. Raising up his eyes to
heaven he offered Him up to the eternal Father, pro
nouncing at the same time these words so full of mys
teries: "Now dost thou dismiss thy servant, O Lord, ac
cording to thy Word in peace. Because my eyes have
seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the
face of all peoples : a light for the revelation of the gen
tiles, and the glory of thy people Israel" (Luke 2, 29).
It was as if He had said : "Now, Lord, thou wilt release
me from the bondage of this mortal body and let me go
free and in peace; for until now have I been detained in
it by the hope of seeing thy promises fulfilled and by the
desire of seeing thy Onlybegotten made man. Now that
my eyes have seen thy salvation, the Onlybegotten made
man, joined to our nature in order to give it eternal wel
fare according to the intention and eternal decree of thy
infinite wisdom and mercy, I shall enjoy true and secure
peace. Now, O Lord, Thou hast prepared and placed
before all mortals thy divine light that it may shine upon
the world and that all who wish may enjoy it through
out the universe and derive therefrom guidance and sal
vation. For this is the light which is revealed to the
gentiles for the glory of thy chosen people of Israel"
(John I, 9, 32).
600. Most holy Mary and saint Joseph heard this can
ticle of Simeon, wondering at the exalted revelation it
contained. The Evangelist calls them in this place the
parents of the divine Infant, for such they were in the
estimation of the people who were present at this event.
Simeon, addressing himself to the most holy Mother of
the Infant Jesus, then added : "Behold this Child is set
for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel,
and for a sign which shall be contradicted. And thy own
soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts
may be revealed." Thus saint Simeon ; and being a priest
he gave his blessing to the happy parents of the Child.
Then also the prophetess Anne acknowledged the incar
nate Word, and full of the Holy Ghost, she spoke of the
mysteries of the Messias to many, who were expecting
the redemption of Israel. By these two holy old people
public testimony of the coming of the Redeemer was
given to the world.
601. At the moment when the priest Simeon men
tioned the sword and the sign of contradiction, which
were prophetical of the passion and death of the Lord,
the Child bowed its head. Thereby, and by many in
terior acts of obedience, Jesus ratified the prophecy of
the priest and accepted it as the sentence of the eternal
Father pronounced by his minister. All this the loving
Mother noticed and understood; She presently began to
feel the sorrow predicted by Simeon and thus in ad
vance was She wounded by the sword, of which She
had thus been warned. As in a mirror her spirit was
made to see all the mysteries included in this prophecy;
how her most holy Son was to be the stone of stumbling,
the perdition of the unbelievers, and the salvation of the
faithful ; the fall of the synagogue and the establishment
of the Church among the heathens; She foresaw the
triumph to be gained over the devils and over death, but
also that a great price was to be paid for it, namely the
frightful agony and death of the Cross (Colos. 2, 15).
She foresaw the boundless opposition and contradiction,
which the Lord Jesus was to sustain both personally
and in his Church (John 15, 20). At the same time
She also saw the glory and excellence of the predestined
souls. Most holy Mary knew it all and in the joy and sor
row of her most pure soul, excited by the prophecies of
Simeon and these hidden mysteries, She performed heroic
acts of virtue. All these sayings and happenings were
indelibly impressed upon her memory, and, of all that
She understood and experienced, She forgot not the least
iota. At all times She looked upon her most holy Son
with such a living sorrow, as we, mere human creatures
with hearts so full of ingratitude, shall never be able to
feel. The holy spouse saint Joseph was by these prophe
cies also made to see many of the mysteries of the Re
demption and of the labors and sufferings of Jesus. But
the Lord did not reveal them to him so copiously and
openly as they were perceived and understood by his
heavenly spouse; for in him these revelations were to
serve a different purpose, and besides, saint Joseph was
not to be an eye-witness of them during his mortal life.
602. The ceremony of the presentation thus being over,
the great Lady kissed the hand of the priest and again
asked his blessing. The same She did also to Anne, her
former teacher; for her dignity as Mother of God, the
highest possible to angels or men, did not prevent Her
from these acts of deepest humility. Then, in the com
pany of saint Joseph, her spouse, and of the fourteen
thousand angels in procession, She returned with the
divine Infant to her lodging. They remained, as I shall
relate farther on, for some days in Jerusalem, in order
to satisfy their devotion and during that time She spoke
a few times with the priest about the mysteries of the
Redemption and of the prophecies above mentioned. Al
though the words of the most prudent Virgin Mother
were few, measured and reserved, they were also so
weighty and full of wisdom, that they filled the priest
with wonder and excited in him the most exalted and the
sweetest sentiments of joy in his soul. The same hap
pened also to the prophetess Anne. Both of them died
in the Lord shortly afterwards. The holy Family
lodged at the expense of Simeon. During these days
the Queen frequented the temple and in it She was visited
with many favors and consolations in recompense for
the sorrow caused by the prophecies of the priest. In
order to heighten their sweetness her most holy Son
spoke to Her on one of these days saying: "My dearest
Mother and my Dove, dry up thy tears and let thy purest
heart be expanded ; since it is the will of my Father, that
I accept the death of the Cross. I desire that Thou be
my companion in my labors and sufferings; I long to
undergo them for the souls, who are the works of my
hands (Ephes. 2, 10), made according to my image and
likeness, in order to make them partakers of my reign
and of eternal life in triumph over my enemies (Coloss.
2, 15). This is what Thou thyself dost wish in union
with Me." The Mother answered : "O my sweetest Love
and Son of my womb, if my accompanying Thee shall
include not only the privilege of witnessing and pitying
thy sufferings, but also of dying with Thee, so much the
greater will be my relief ; for it will be a greater suffering
for me to live, while seeing Thee die." In these exer
cises of love and compassion She passed some days,
until saint Joseph was advised to fly into Egypt, as I
shall relate in the following chapter.
603. My daughter, the doctrine and example contained
in the foregoing chapter will teach thee to strive after
the constancy and expansion of heart, by which thou
mayest prepare thyself to accept blessings and adversity,
the sweet and the bitter with equanimity. O dearest
soul! How narrow and unwilling is the human heart
toward that which is contrary and distasteful to its earthly
inclinations ! How it chafes in labors ! How impatiently
it meets them! How insufferable it deems all that is
contrary to its desires ! How persistently it forgets, that
its Teacher and Master has first accepted sufferings, and
has honored and sanctified them in his own Person! It
is a great shame, yea a great boldness, on the part of the
faithful, that they should abhor suffering, even after my
most holy Son did suffer for them and when so many of
the just before his Death were led to embrace the cross
solely by the hope that Christ would once suffer upon
it, although they would never live to see it. And if this
want of correspondence is so base in others, consider well,
my dearest, how vile it would be in thee, who art so
anxious to obtain the grace and the friendship of the
Most High; who desirest to merit the name of a spouse
and friend of God, who wishest to belong entirely to Him
and that He belong entirely to thee, who wishest to be
my disciple and that I be thy Teacher, who aspirest to
follow and imitate me, as a faithful daughter her mother
(Matth. 7, 21). All this must not result in mere senti
ment and in empty words, or oft-repeated exclamations
of: Lord, Lord; and, when the occasion of tasting the
chalice and the cross of suffering is at hand, thou must not
turn away in sorrow and affliction from the sufferings, by
which the sincerity of a loving and affectionate heart
is to be tried.
604. All this would be denying in your actions, what
you profess in your words, and it would be a swerving
from the path of eternal life : for thou canst not follow
Christ, if thou refusest to embrace the cross and re
joice in it, nor shalt thou find me by any other way
(Matth. 8, 34). If creatures fail thee, if temptation or
trouble assail thee, if the sorrows of death encompass
thee (Ps. 17, 5), thou must in no wise be disturbed or
disheartened; since nothing displeases my most holy Son
or me more than placing a hindrance or misapplying the
grace given by Him for thy defense. By misusing it and
receiving it in vain, thou yieldest great victory to the
demon, who glories much in having disturbed or subjected
any soul that calls itself a disciple of Christ and of me;
and having once brought thee to default in small things,
he will soon oppress thee in greater ones. Confide then
in the protection of the Most High and press onward
trusting in me. Full of this trust, whenever tribulation
comes over thee, fervently exclaim: "The Lord is my
light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? (Psalm 26,
1). He is my Helper, why should I hesitate? I have a
Mother, a Queen and Mistress, who will assist me and
take care of me in my affliction."
605. In this security seek to preserve interior peace and
keep forever in thy view my works and my footsteps
for thy imitation. Remember the sorrow, which pierced
my heart at the prophecies of Simeon, and how I re
mained in peace and tranquillity, without any sign of
disturbance, although my heart and soul were trans
fixed by a sword of pain. In every event I sought mo
tives for glorifying and adoring his admirable wisdom.
If the transitory labors and sufferings are accepted with
joy and with serenity of heart, they spiritualize the crea
ture, they elevate it and furnish it with a divine insight ;
by which the soul begins to esteem affliction at its proper
value and soon finds consolation and the blessings of
mortification and of freedom from disorderly passions.
This is the teaching of the school of the Redeemer,
hidden from those living in Babylon and from those who
love vanity (Matth. 11, 25). I wish also that thou imitate
me in respecting the priests and ministers of the Lord,
who in the new law hold a much higher dignity than in
the old, since the divine Word has now united Itself with
human nature and become the eternal High-Priest ac
cording to the order of Melchisedech (Ps. 109, 4). Listen
to their words and instructions, as God requires, whose
place they take. Consider the power and authority given
them in the Gospels, where it is said: "Who hears you,
hears Me; who obeys you obeys Me" (Luke 10, 16).
Strive after the perfection they teach thee. Ponder and
meditate without intermission upon that, which my most
holy Son suffered, so that thy soul be a participant in his
sorrows. Let the pious memory of his sufferings en
gender in thee such a disgust and abhorrence of all earthly
pleasures that thou despise and forget all that is visible,
and instead, follow the Author of eternal life.
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