THE MYSTICAL CITY OF GOD

THE HISTORY AND LIFE OF THE VIRGIN MOTHER OF GOD OUR QUEEN AND MEDIATRIX OF GRACE

Manifested to Sr. Mary of Jesus Prioress of the convent of the Immaculate Conception in Agreda, Spain

For new enlightenment of the world, for rejoicing of the Catholic Church, and encouragement of men. Completed in 1665

IMPRIMATUR: H.J. ALERDING, BISHOP OF FORT WAYNE, IND. 1912 

INCARNATION BOOK 1

PARAGRAPHS 1-374

Translated from the Spanish by Fiscar Marison

MODERN ENGLISH EDITION FOR THE INTERNET

 CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 1

CHAPTER 1

THE MOST HIGH BEGINS TO PREPARE IN MOST HOLY MARY THE MYSTERY OF THE INCARNATION; THE EVENTS OF THE 9 DAYS PRECEDING THIS MYSTERY

 1In order that Her most faultless life might be to all an example of the highest holiness, the Most High had placed upon our Queen and Mother the duties of a spouse of St. Joseph which was a position requiring more interaction with Her neighbors. The Heavenly Queen, finding Herself in this new estate, was filled with such exalted thoughts and sentiments in the fulfillment of Her duties, and ordered all the activities of Her life with such wisdom, that She was an object of admirable emulation to the angelic spirits and an unparalleled example for men. Few knew Her and still fewer had spoken with Her: but these happy ones were so filled with that celestial influence of Mary, that with a wonderful joy and with unusual flights of spirit they sought to express and manifest the light, which illumined their hearts and which they knew came from Her. The most prudent Queen was not unaware of these operations of the Most High; but neither was it yet time, nor would Her most profound humility as yet consent to their becoming known to the world. She continually besought the Lord to hide them from men, to make all the favors of His Right Hand redound solely to His praise, and to permit Her to be ignored and despised by all men, in as far as His infinite goodness would not be offended thereby.

2These prayers were accepted by Her Divine Spouse with great benignity and His Providence arranged all things in such a manner, that the very light, which incited men to proclaim Her greatness, at the same time caused them to be mute. Moved by Divine Power, they refrained from expressing their thoughts, inwardly prais­ing the Lord for the light, which they felt within them­selves. Filled with marvel they suspended their judg­ment, and leaving creatures behind, they sought their Creator. Many turned from sin at the mere sight of Her; others amended their lives; all were affected at seeing Her and experienced heavenly influences in their souls. But immediately they forgot the source of these influences; for if they could have remained in Her pres­ence, or could have retained the memory of Her image, and if God had not prevented it by a mystery, nothing would have been able to divert their attention from Her and all would have sought Her without wavering.

3In such fruitful occupations and in augmenting the gifts and graces from which all this good proceeded, our Queen, the Spouse of Joseph, busied Herself during the 6 months and 17 days, which intervened between Her espousal and the Incarnation of the Word. I cannot pretend to refer even briefly to Her great heroic acts of all the virtues, interior and exterior, to all Her deeds of charity, humility, religion, and all Her works of mercy, the alms and benefactions; for this exceeds the power of the pen. The best I can do is to sum up and say that the Most High found in most Holy Mary the fulfillment of all His pleasure and of His wishes, as far as is possible in the correspondence of a creature with its Creator. By Her sanctity and merits God felt Himself as it were obliged, and, (according to our way of speaking), com­pelled, to hasten His steps and extend the Arms of His Omnipotence to bring about the greatest of wonders con­ceivable in the world before or after; namely the Incar­nation of the Only Begotten of the Father in the virginal womb of this Lady.

4In order to proceed with a dignity befitting Himself, God prepared most Holy Mary in a singular manner during the 9 days immediately preceding this Mystery, and allowed the river of His Divinity to rush impetuously forth (Ps 45:5) to inundate this City of God with its floods. He communicated such great graces and gifts and favors, that I am struck dumb by the perception of what has been made known to me concerning this miracle, and my lowliness is filled with dread at even the mention of what I understood. For the tongue, the pen, and all the faculties of a creature fall far below any pos­sibility of revealing such incomprehensible sacraments. Therefore I wish it to be understood, that all I say here is only an insignificant shadow of the smallest part of these wonders and ineffable prodigies, which are not at all to be encompassed by our limited words, but only by that heavenly power, which I do not possess.

5On the first day of this most blessed novena the Heavenly Princess Mary, after a slight rest, according to the example of Her father David and according to the diurnal order and arrangement laid out for Her by the Lord, left Her couch at midnight (Ps 119:62), and, prostrate in the Presence of the Most High, commenced Her accustomed prayer and holy exercises. The Angels, who attended upon Her, spoke to Her and said: "Spouse of our King and Lord, arise, for His Majesty calls You." She raised Herself with fervent affection and answered: "The Lord commands the dust to raise itself from the dust." And turning toward the Face of the Lord, Who called Her, She added: "Most High and Powerful Master, what do You wish to do with me?" At these words Her most holy soul was raised in spirit to a new and higher habitation, closer to the Lord and more remote from all earthly and passing things.

6She felt at once, that She was being prepared by those illuminations and purifications, which at other times She had experienced in some of the most exalted visions of the Divinity. I do not dwell on them, since I have described them in the first part (Part I, 620-629). The Divinity manifested Itself not by an intuitive, but by an abstractive vision; however so clearly, that by it, She understood more of this incomprehensible Object, than what the blessed see and enjoy by intuition. For this vision was more exalted and more profound than the others of that kind; since this Heavenly Lady made Her­self more capable day by day and, because She made such perfect use of graces, She disposed Herself for ever greater ones. Moreover, the repeated enlightenments and visions of the Divinity continually enabled Her to respond more and more befittingly to its infinite operations.

7In this vision our Princess Mary learned most high secrets of the Divinity and of its perfections, and espe­cially of God's communications ad extra in the work of creation. She saw that it originated in the goodness and liberality of God, that creatures were not necessary for supplementing His Divine Existence, nor for His infinite glory, since without them He was glorious through the interminable eternities before the creation of the world. Many sacraments and secrets were manifested to our Queen, which neither can nor should be made known to all; for She alone was the only one (Song 6:8; 7:6), the chosen one, selected by the highest King and Lord of creation for these delights. But as Her Highness in this vision perceived this impulse and inclination of the Divinity to communicate Itself ad extra with a force greater than that which makes all the elements tend toward their center, and as She was drawn within the sphere of this Divine Love, She besought the Eternal Father with heart aflame, that He send His Only Begotten into the world and give salvation to men, since in this manner He should satisfy, and, (speaking humanly), execute the promptings of His Divinity and its perfections.

8These petitions of His Spouse were very sweet to the Lord, they were the scarlet lace, with which She bound and secured His love. And in order to put His desires into execution He sought first to prepare the Tabernacle or Temple, where He was to descend from the Eternal Father. He resolved to furnish His beloved and chosen Mother with a clear knowledge of all His works ad extra, just as His Omnipotence had made them. On the first day therefore, and in this same vision, He manifested to Her all that He had made on the first day of the creation of the world, as it is recorded in Genesis, and She perceived all with greater clearness and comprehension, than if She had been an eye-witness; for She knew them first as they are in God, and then as they are in themselves.

9She perceived and understood, how the Lord in the beginning (Gen 1:1, 5), created heaven and earth; * in how far and in what way it was void, and how the darkness was over the face of the abyss; how the Spirit of the Lord hovered over the waters and how, at the Divine Command, light was made, and what was its nature; how, after the darkness was divided, it was called night and the light day, and how thus the first day was made. She knew the size of the earth, its longitude, latitude and depth, its caverns, hell, limbo and purgatory with their inhabitants; the countries, climes, the meridians and divisions of the world, and all its inhabitants and occupants. With the same clearness, She knew the inferior orbs and the empyrean heaven; how the angels were made on the first day; She was informed of their nature, conditions, diversity, hierarchies, offices, grades and virtues. The rebellion of the bad angels was revealed to Her, their fall and the occasion and the cause of that fall. Though the Lord always concealed from Her that which concerned Herself. She understood the pun­ishment and the effects of sin in devils, seeing them as they are in themselves; and at the conclusion of the first day, the Lord showed Her, how She too was formed of this lowly earthly material and endowed with the same nature as all those, who return to the dust; He did not however say, that She would again return to it; yet He gave Her such a profound knowledge of the earthly existence, that the great Queen humiliated Her­self to the abyss of nothingness; being without fault, She debased Herself more than all the children of Adam with all their miseries.  * Editor’s note.  In our modern world, we have become accustomed to believe in a 4.6 billion year old earth and an 18 billion year old universe.  But there are thousands of politically incorrect scientists world-wide who agree with the Mother of God that the earth and the universe are indeed less than 10,000 years old and that God created it all in 6 days. Politically correct scientists who insist on billions of years simply ignore all the evidence that they are wrong. For instance, there are hundreds of dating systems that show that the earth and universe are under 10,000 years old. The only proof of an old earth is radiometric dating which doesn’t work. A good example of radiometric dating not working can be seen in the results given for the 1980 Mt. St. Helens volcanic eruption;  2.5 million years, 800,000 years  and 300,000 years ago depending on which method is used. Different tests invariably give different results. The NASA experience in having a moon rock dated is hilarious.  One moon rock was broken into 9 pieces. A piece was sent to 9 leading universities. None of the universities knew about the other 8 universities chosen.  NASA received dates ranging from a low of 2 billion years to a high of 18 billion years old.  No two universities came close to agreement on the age of the moon.  Hundreds of other dating systems show that the earth and universe are under 10,000 years old. For further information,  see:

  www.CreationScience.com and www.AnswersInGenesis.org.  “Google "Creation Science” for many other sites. 

Remember those dinosaurs that were supposed to have been extinct for millions of years before people evolved. There are 2 kinds of Dinosaurs described in the Holy Bible (Job 40 & 41). Unfortunately, the footnotes were written by politically correct theologians.  CreationToday.org/  and CreationEvidence.org are good sites to introduce the reader to dinosaur and human footprints found together. I myself have seen dinosaur tracks and human footprints together and you can too at the Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose Texas, about 60 miles (97 km) S.W. of Ft. Worth. 

Man and Dinosaur walked the Earth together?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9_SDVFHMbk 
You may have to copy and paste.

10This whole vision and all its effects the Most High arranged in such a way as to open up in the Heart of Mary the deep trenches that were required for the of the edifice, which He wished to erect in Her; namely so high a one, that it would reach up to the Substantial and Hypostatic Union of the Human and Divine nature. And as the dignity of Mother of God was without limits and to a certain extent infinite, it was becoming that She should be grounded in a proportionate humility, such as would be without limits though still within the bounds of reason itself. Attaining the summit of virtue, this Blessed One among women humiliated Herself to such an extent, that the Most Holy Trinity was, as it were, fully paid and satisfied, and (according to our mode of under­standing) constrained to raise Her to the highest position and dignity possible among creatures and nearest to the Divinity Itself. In this highest benevolence His Majesty spoke and said to Her:

11"My Spouse and Dove, great is My desire of redeeming man from sin and My immense kindness is as it were strained in waiting for the time, in which I shall descend in order to repair the world; ask Me con­tinually during these days and with great affection for the fulfillment of this desire. Prostrate in My Royal Presence, let not Your petitions and clamors cease, asking Me that the Only Begotten of the Father descend in reality to unite Himself with the human nature." Where­upon the Heavenly Princess responded and said: "Lord and God Eternal, Whose is all the power and wisdom, Whose wish none can resist (Esther 13:9), who shall hinder Your Omnipotence? Who shall detain the im­petuous current of Your Divinity, so that Your Pleasure in conferring this benefit upon the whole human race remain unfulfilled? If perhaps, O My Beloved, I am a hindrance to such an immeasurable benefit, let Me perish before I impede Your Pleasure; this blessing cannot depend upon the merits of any creature; therefore, My Lord and Master, do not wait, as we might later on merit it so much the less. The sins of men increase and the offenses against You are multiplied; how shall we merit the very blessing, of which we become daily more unworthy? In You Yourself, My Lord, exists the last cause and motive of our salvation; Your infinite bounty, Your numberless mercies incite You, the groans of Your Prophets and of the Fathers of Your people solicit You, the saints sigh after You, the sinners look for You and all of them together call out to You; and if I, insignificant wormlet, on account of My ingratitude, am not unworthy of Your merciful condescension, I venture to implore You, from the bottom of my heart, to speed Your coming and to hasten Your Redemption for Your greater glory."

12When the Princess of heaven had finished this prayer, She returned to Her ordinary and more natural state; but anxious to fulfill the mandate of the Lord, She continued during that whole day Her petitions for the Incarnation of the Word and with the deepest humility She repeated the exercises of prostrating Herself to the ground and praying in the form of a cross. For the Holy Spirit, Who governed Her, had taught Her this posture, by which She so highly pleased the Most Blessed Trinity. God saw, in the body of the future Mother of the Word, as it were the Crucified Person of Christ and therefore He received this morning sacrifice of the most pure Virgin as an advance offering of that of His Most Holy Son.

INSTRUCTION WHICH THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN GAVE ME

13My daughter, mortals are not capable of un­derstanding the ineffable operations of the Arm of the Omnipotent in preparing Me for the Incarnation of the Eternal Word. Especially during the 9 days, which preceded This Exalted Sacrament, My spirit was elevated and united with the Immutable Being of the Divinity. I was submerged in the ocean of His Infinite Perfections, participating in all those eminent and divine effects, which are beyond all presentiments of the human hearts. The knowledge of creatures, communicated to Me, penetrated into their very essence, so that it was more profound and piercing than that of all the angelic spirits, though their knowledge of creation, on account of the beatific vision, is altogether admirable. Moreover the images of them all were impressed upon My mind to be used by Me according as I desired.

14What I wish of you today is to take notice how I used this knowledge and to imitate Me according to your power with the help of the infused light, which you have received for this purpose. Profit by the knowledge of creatures by making of them a ladder to ascend to God your Creator; so that you may seek in all of them their first beginning and their last end. Let them serve you as a mirror from which the Godhead is reflected, reminding you of His Omnipotence and inciting you to the love, which He seeks in you. Be filled with wonder and praise at the greatness and magnificence of the Creator and in His Presence, humiliate yourself to the dust. Shun no difficulty or suffering in order to become meek and humble of heart. Take notice, that this virtue of humility was the firm foundation of all the wonders, which the Most High wrought in Me; and in order that you may esteem this virtue so much the more, remember that of all others, it is at the same time the most precious, the most delicate and perishable; for if you lose it in any respect, and if you are not humble in all things without exception, you will not be humble in anything. Remember your earthly and corruptible nature, and be not ignorant of the fact, that the Most High has providentially formed man in such a way that his own existence and formation intimate and re­hearse the important lesson of humility never allowing him to be without this salutary teaching. On this account He has not formed him of the most excellent material, and has concealed the noblest part of his being in the sanctuary of his interior (Ex 30:24), teaching him to weigh as in a balance on the one side, the infinite and eternal existence of the Lord, and on the other, his own ignoble material existence. Thus he is to give to God what belongs to Him, and to himself what belongs to his own self (Matt 22:21).

15Most zealously I attended to this adjustment, be­coming an example and guide therein to all men. I wish that you also do it in imitation of Me, and that you zealously study to acquire the humility, which pleases the Most High and Myself, Who desire your true advancement. I wish that your perfection be built up in the deep trenches of your own self-knowledge; in order that the deeper its foundations are laid, to so much the higher and more exalted perfection may rise the edifice of your virtue. Thus your will shall find a most intimate conformity with that of the Lord, Who looks down from the eminence of His Throne upon the humble of the earth.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 1

CHAPTER 2

THE LORD CONTINUES PREPARING MARY FOR THE INCARNATION OF THE WORD ON THE SECOND DAY

16In the first part of this history (Part 1, 219), I mentioned, that the most pure body of Mary was con­ceived and perfectly formed within the space of 7 days. The Most High wished to work this miracle, in order that this most holy soul might not have to wait so long as the souls of ordinary men. He wished it to be created and infused before the usual time, (as it also really happened), in order that this beginning of the reparation of the world might have some similarity to the beginning of its creation. This correspondence again took place at the coming of the Redeemer so that, having formed the new Adam, Christ, God might rest as One Who had strained all the powers of His Omnipotence in the greatest of His works; and that He might enjoy the most delicious Sabbath of all His delights. And as these wonders necessitated the intervention of the Mother of the Divine Word, who was to give Him a visible form, and as She was to unite the 2 extremes, man and God, it was proper that She should bear relation to both. Her dignity was inferior only to that of God and supe­rior to all that was not God; to this dignity belonged also a proportionate knowledge and understanding, as well of the highest essence of the Divinity, as also of all the inferior creatures.

17Following up His intention, the Supreme Lord continued the favors, by which He wished to dispose most Holy Mary for the Incarnation during 9 days, as I have begun to explain. On the second day, at the same hour of midnight, the Virgin Mary was visited in the same way as described in the last chapter. The Divine power raised Her up by the same elevations and illuminings to prepare Her for the visions of the Divinity. He manifested Himself again in an abstractive manner as on the first day, and She was shown the works performed on the second day of the creation. She learned how and when God divided the waters (Gen 1:6), some above and others below, establishing the firmament, and above it the crystal, known also as the watery heaven. Her in­sight penetrated into the greatness, order, conditions, movements and all the other qualities and conditions of the heavens.  

18And in the most prudent Virgin this knowledge did not lay idle, nor remain sterile; for immediately the most clear light of the Divinity overflowed in Her, and inflamed and emblazoned Her with admiration, praise and love of the goodness and power of God. Being trans­formed as it were with a godlike excellence, She produced heroic acts of all the virtues, entirely pleasing to His Divine Majesty. And as in the preceding first day God had made Her a participant of His Wisdom, so on this second day, He made Her in corresponding measure a participant in the Divine Omnipotence, and gave Her power over the influences of the heavens, of the planets and elements, commanding them all to obey Her. Thus was this great Queen raised to Sovereignty over the sea, the earth, the elements and the celestial orbs, with all the creatures, which are contained therein.

19This sovereignty and supreme power belonged to the dignity of most Holy Mary on account of the reason mentioned above; and besides for 2 other special ones; the first: because this Lady was the privileged Queen, exempt from the common law of sin and its conse­quences: therefore She was not to be put in the same general class with the insensate sons of Adam, against whom the Omnipotent armed the creatures for vengeance of His injuries and for the punishment of their frenzy. For if they had not in their disobedience turned against their Creator, neither would the elements nor their dependencies have been disobedient toward them, nor would they have molested them, nor turned against them the rigor and inclemency of their activity. And if this rebellion of the creatures is a punishment of sin, it could not justly extend itself to the most Holy Mary, who was immaculate and without fault. Nor was it just, that She should be less privileged than the angels, who were not subject to these consequences of sin, or deprived of the dominion over the elementary powers. (Wis 5:18)  Although most Holy Mary was of corporeal and terres­trial substance, yet She raised Herself above all corporeal and spiritual creatures, and made Herself Queen of all creation. In this, therefore, She deserved so much the higher credit, as it was the rarer and the more precious. More must be conceded to the Queen than to Her vassals and to the servants.

20The second reason is, because Her Most Holy Son was Himself to obey this Heavenly Queen and His Mother. Since He was the Creator of the elements and of all things, it follows naturally that they should obey Her, to whom the Creator subjected Himself, and that they should be commanded by Her. Was not the person of Christ Himself, in so far as His human nature was con­cerned, to be governed by His Mother according to the constitution and law of nature? This privilege of sov­ereignty tended also greatly to enhance the virtues and merits of most Holy Mary, for thereby that which in ourselves is usually done under constraint and against our will, was performed by Her freely and meritoriously. This most prudent Queen did not use Her sovereignty over the elements and the creatures indiscriminately and for Her own alleviation and comfort; but She commanded the creatures not to suspend their activities and influences in as far as they would naturally be painful and incon­venient to Her. For in these things She was to be like Her Most Holy Son and suffer conjointly with Him. Her love and humility did not permit Her to withhold and suspend the inclemencies of the creatures in Her regard, since She knew how valuable suffering is and how estimable in the Eyes of the Lord.

21Only on some occasions, when She knew that it was not for Her benefit but necessary for Her Son and Creator, the sweet Mother restrained the force of the elements and their influences, as we shall see farther on during Her journey to Egypt and on other occasions, where She most prudently judged it proper, that the creatures recognize their Creator and reverence Him, or protect and serve Him in some necessity (Inc. Bk 2. # 543, 590, 633). What mortal will not marvel at the knowl­edge of such a new miracle? To see a mere earthly creature, yet One clothed with the sovereignty and dominion of the whole creation, esteem Herself in Her own eyes as the most unworthy and insignificant of the creatures, and, in these humble sentiments, command the wrath of the winds and all the rigors of the natural elements to turn against Her and under obedience fulfill Her command! In obeying Her, however, these elements, full of reverence and courtesy toward such a Queen, yielded to Her wishes, not in vengeance of the wrongs of their Creator, as they do in regard to the rest of the children of Adam, but in order to respect Her commands.

22In the presence of this humility of our invincible Queen, we mortals cannot deny our most arrogant vanity and presumption, or rather our audacity, since, seeing that on account of our insane outrages we merit the furious rebellion of the elements and of all the harmful forces of the universe against us, we complain of their rigor, as if their molestations were an injury. We deprecate the rigor of the cold, we complain of the exhaustion of heat; all painful things we abhor, and we condemn with all energy these ministers of Divine Justice and seek our own comforts and delights, as if they were to last forever and as if it were not certain that we are only drawing therefore a heavier punishment of our faults.

23But returning to the consideration of the knowl­edge and power given to the Princess of heaven and the other gifts preparing Her worthily for the position of Mother of God, we can understand their excellence, for we see in them a certain infinity or boundlessness, par­ticipating of the Divinity, and similar to that which was afterwards possessed by the Most Holy Soul of Christ. For She not only knew all creatures in God, but compre­hended them in such a way as to master them and at the same time reserve capacity for knowing many others, if there had existed more to be known. I call this knowl­edge an infinity, because it seems to partake of the quali­ties of infinite knowledge and because, in one and the same action of Her mind and without successive ad­vertence, She saw and perceived the number of the heavens, their latitude and profundity, their order, motions, qualities, their matter and form; the elements with all their changes and accidents: all of these She knew at the same time. The only thing the most wise Virgin did not know was the immediate end of this knowledge until the moment of Her consent and the ful­fillment of the ineffable Mercy of the Most High. She continued during these days Her most fervent prayers for the coming of the Messiah, according to the command of the Lord. And He had given Her to understand that He would not tarry, as the time destined for His arrival was at hand.

INSTRUCTION THAT THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN GAVE ME

24My daughter, from what you are going to learn of the favors and blessings conferred upon Me in prepa­ration for the dignity of Mother of God, I wish you to perceive the admirable order of His wisdom in the cre­ation of man. Take notice, therefore, that his Creator made him out of nothing, not in order to be a slave, but in order to be the king and the master of all creation (Gen 1:26), and in order that he make use of creatures in sovereignty, command and mastery; yet at the same time man was to recognize himself as the image of his Maker and the work of His Hand, remaining more de­voted to God and more submissive to His Will than the creatures to man; for all this was demanded by justice and reason. And in order that man might not be without information and knowledge of the Creator and of the means of perceiving and executing His Will, He added to his natural light a greater one, more penetrating, more limpid, more certain, more free and extensive, namely the light of divine faith, by which man might know the existence of God and of His perfections, and conjointly with these, His works. Furnished with this knowledge and dominion man was established in good standing, honored and enriched, having no excuse for not devoting himself entirely to the fulfillment of the Divine Will.

25But the foolishness of man disturbs this order and destroys this harmony, when, being created as the lord and king of creatures, he enslaves himself, subjecting himself to them, and degrading his dignity in using visi­ble things not as a prudent master, but as an unworthy vassal. For he debases himself beneath the love of creatures, by losing sight of the fact that he is their superior. All this perversity arises from the use of crea­tures not for the service of the Creator through well-ordered faith, but for the indulgence of the passions and the delights of the senses. Hence also arises man's great abhorrence of those things that are not pleasing to the senses.

26You, My dear, look faithfully toward your Cre­ator and Lord and in your soul seek to copy the image of His Divine perfections. Lose not the mastery and dominion over creatures. Let none of them infringe upon Your liberty; but seek to triumph over all of them, allowing nothing to interpose itself between you and your Creator. Subject yourself gladly, not to the pleasurable in creatures, since that will obscure your understanding and weaken your will, but to the adverse and the painful resulting from their activity. Suffer this with joyous willingness, for I have done the same in imitation of My Son, although I had the power to neutralize their molestations and had no sins to atone for. 

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 1

CHAPTER 3

THE GRACES CONFERRED TO MARY ON THE THIRD DAY OF THE NOVENA

27The Right Arm of the Most High, Which threw open the doors of the Divinity to most holy Mary, con­tinued to enrich and adorn at the expense of His infinite attributes this most pure spirit and virginal body which He had chosen as His Tabernacle, as His Temple, and as the Holy City of His habitation. And the Heavenly Lady, engulfed in this vastness of the Divinity, winged Her flight day by day farther away from earthly things, and transformed Herself more and more into a heavenly being, discovering ever new Sacraments in the Most High. For as He is the infinite Object of desire, although the appetite is satiated with that which is received, always more remains to be desired and understood. Not all the hierarchies of the angels, nor all men together, have attained such preferment in Blessings, Mysteries and Sacraments as this Princess attained, especially as regards those due to Her as Mother of the Creator

28On the third day of preparation at which I have now arrived, having again been prepared as on the first day, the Divinity manifested Itself anew in abstractive vision. Too slow and inadequate are our powers for understanding the increase of the gifts and graces, which the Most High then lavished on Heavenly Mary; and at this juncture I am at a loss for words to explain even the least portion of what I perceived. I can only express myself by saying, that the Divine Wisdom and Power pro­ceeded in a manner worthy of Her, who was to be the Mother of the Word, so as to ensure, as far as is possible for a creature, that likeness and proportion, which was due to the Divine Persons. Whoever has even a faint understanding of the distance which lies between the 2 extremes, the Infinite God and the limited human crea­ture, can comprehend so much the better, what is neces­sary to bring them together and establish a proportion.

29More and more the Queen of Heaven reflected His infinite attributes and virtues; more and more brilliantly shone forth Her beauty under the touch of the pencil of Divine Wisdom and under the colors and lights added to it from on high. On this day She was informed of the works of creation as they happened on the third day. She learned when and how the waters, which were be­neath the firmament, flowed together in one place (Gen 1:9), disclosing the dry land, which the Lord called earth, while He called the waters the sea. She learned in what way the earth brought forth the fresh herbs, and all plants and fructiferous trees with their seeds, each one according to its kind. She was taught and She comprehended the greatness of the sea, its depth and its divisions, its correspondence with the streams and the fountains, that take their rise from it and flow back into it; the different plants and herbs, the flowers, trees, roots, fruits and seeds; She perceived how all and each one of them serve for the use of man. All this our Queen understood and penetrated with the keenest insight more clearly, distinctly and comprehensibly than Adam or Solomon. In comparison with Her, all those skilled in medicine in the world would appear but ignorant even after the most thorough studies and largest experience. The most holy Mary knew all that was hidden from sight, as Wisdom says (Wis 7:21); and just as She learned it without any fiction, She also communicates it without envy. Whatever Solomon says there in the Book of Wisdom was realized in Her with incomparable and eminent perfection.

30On some occasions our Queen made use of this science in order to exercise Her charity toward the poor and needy, as will be related in the sequence of this his­tory (No. 668, 867, 868, 1048; III. 159, 423). She had it under perfect control, and it was as familiar to Her as the well-trained musician is with his instrument. The same was true of all the rest of the sciences, whenever She found it desirable or necessary to make use of them in the service of the Most High, for She was Queen of all of them more perfectly than any of the mortals who ever did excel in any art or science. She was versed in the virtuous qualities and activities of the stones, herbs and plants, and in Her was true what Christ our Lord promised to the Apostles and first Christians, that poisonous draughts would not hurt them. This privi­lege belonged to the Queen as a sovereign, so that neither poison or any other thing could ever injure Her or cause Her any harm except with Her permission.

31These privileges and favors the most prudent Princess and Lady always kept concealed, and She made no use of them for Herself, as I have said, desiring not to be deprived of a share in the suffering, which had been chosen by Her Most Holy Son. Before conceiving Him and becoming His Mother, She was inspired with divine knowledge and science concerning the passibility of the Word made flesh. And when She became Mother She saw and experienced this truth in Her Son and Lord Him­self and therefore She gave a greater license, or rather a more strict command, to creatures to afflict Her, since She saw the results of this activity in their own Creator. Hence, as the Most High did not wish His only and chosen Spouse to be continually molested by the crea­tures, even though She herself desired it, He often restrained them and neutralized their operations, so that the Heavenly Princess, unhindered by them, might occa­sionally enjoy the delights of the Most High King.

32There is another special favor, which the most holy Mary received for the benefit of mankind on the third day and in that vision of the Divinity; for during this vision God manifested to Her in a special way the desire of His Divine love to come to the aid of men and to raise them up from all their miseries. In accordance with the knowledge of His Infinite Mercy and the object for which it was conceded, the Most High gave to Mary a certain kind of participation of His own attributes, in order that afterwards, as the Mother and Advocate of sinners, She might intercede for them. This participa­tion of the most holy Mary in the love of God and in His inclination to help Her, was so heavenly and powerful that if from that time on the strength of the Lord had not come to Her aid, She would not have been able to bear the impetuosity of Her desire to assist and save man­kind. Filled with this love and charity, She would, if necessary or feasible, have delivered Herself an infinite number of times to the flames, to the sword and to the most exquisite torments of death for their salvation. All the torments, sorrows, tribulations, pains, infirmities She would have accepted and suffered; and She would have considered them a great delight for the salvation of sinners. Whatever all men have suffered from the be­ginning of the world till this hour, and whatever they will suffer till the end, would have been a small matter for the love of this most merciful Mother. Let therefore everyone, especially sinners understand what they owe to most holy Mary.

33From that day on, we can say, the heavenly Lady continued to be the Mother of kindness and great mercy, and for 2 reasons: first, because from that moment She sought with an especial and anxious desire to communi­cate without envy the Treasures of Grace, which She had comprehended and received; and therefore such an ad­mirable sweetness grew up in Her Heart, that She was ready to communicate it to everyone and to shelter them in Her heart in order to make them participants of the Divine love, which there was enkindled. Secondly, be­cause this love of most holy Mary for the salvation of men was one of the principal dispositions required for conceiving the Eternal Word in Her virginal womb. It was eminently befitting that She should be all mercy, kindness, piety and clemency, who was Herself to con­ceive and give birth to the Word made Man, since He in His mercy, clemency and love desired to humiliate Him­self to the lowliness of our nature, and wished to be born of Her in order to suffer for men. It is said that like begets like, just as the water partakes of the qualities of the minerals through which it flows; and although the Birth of Christ originated in the Divinity, yet it also partook of the conditions of the Mother as far as was possible. She therefore would not have been suitable for concur­rence with the Holy Spirit in this conception, in which only the activity of the man was lacking, if She had not been endowed with perfections corresponding to those of the Humanity of Christ.

34The most holy Mary issued from this vision with ever increasing fervor, and during all the rest of the day She occupied Herself in the prayers and petitions com­manded Her by the Lord. The Heart of Her Spouse was wounded with love, so that (according to our mode of thinking) He already longed for the day and the hour when He should rest in the arms and recline at the breast of His Beloved.

INSTRUCTION THAT THE MOST HOLY QUEEN GAVE ME

35My daughter, great were the favors which the Hand of the Most High showered upon Me in the visions of the Divinity, given to Me during the 9 (days before His conception in My womb. And although He did not manifest Himself intuitively and altogether unveiled, yet He did it in an exalted manner and with such effects as are reserved to His Wisdom. In the re­membrance of what I perceived in this vision, I rose to the true perception of the position which God held in comparison to men and men in comparison to God; My Heart was inflamed with love and was torn with sorrow; for I realized the immensity of His love towards mankind, and their most ungrateful oblivion of His Incomprehensible Goodness. Many times would I have died at the thought of these extremes, if God Himself had not comforted and preserved Me. This sacrifice of His servant was most pleasing to His Majesty and He accepted it with greater complacency than all the holocausts of the Old Law, for He beheld My humility and delighted in it very much. Whenever I performed these exercises, He showed great mercy to Me and to My people.

36These Sacraments, I manifest to you in order to encourage you to imitate Me, as far as is possible with your weak forces aided by grace. Look upon the works, which you have learnt of, as a pattern and example to be closely followed. Meditate much, and weigh over and over again as well in the light of grace as in that of reason, how exactly men ought to cor­respond to this immense kindness of God and to His eagerness to assist them. Compare at the same time the heartless obduracy of the children of Adam. I wish that your heart be softened in affectionate thankfulness toward the Lord and melted in sorrow at these unhappy proceedings of men. I assure you, My daughter, that on the day of the General Judgment, the cause of the greatest Wrath of the Just Judge shall be man's most ungrateful forgetfulness of this truth; and the confusion of men on account of this Wrath shall be such, that on that day they would of their own accord cast themselves into the abyss of pain, if there were no ministers of Divine Justice to visit this retribution upon them.

37In order to avoid such an abominable fault and in order to forestall such a horrible chastisement, renew in yourself the memory of the blessings, which you have received at the Hands of His love and infinite clemency; and remember that God has distinguished you in prefer­ence to the souls of many generations. Do not make the mistake of considering these great favors and special gifts as conferred on you for yourself alone: they were conferred also for the sake of your brethren: for Divine Mercy is extended to everyone. Therefore the return, which you owe to the Lord, must be made first for yourself and then for your brethren. And because you are poor, offer up the Life and Merits of My Most Holy Son, and with them, all that I have suffered by the forces of My love. Thus will you make yourself pleasing to God and tender some recompense for the ingratitude of men. In all these things exercise yourself repeatedly many times, remembering in the meanwhile what I thought and felt in similar acts and exercises.


CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 1

CHAPTER 4

THE MOST HIGH CONTINUES HIS FAVORS ON THE 4TH DAY

38 Still the favors and most exalted mysteries of the Most High toward our Queen in preparing Her for approaching dignity of Motherhood continued. The 4th day of this preparation had arrived and at the same hour She was again raised to the abstractive vision of the Divinity. But new effects of exalted enlightenments in this most pure Soul accompanied this vision. The Divine Power and Wisdom has no bounds or limits; to His operations only our will, or the limitation of our created nature, offers resistance. But in the will of most holy Mary the Divine Power found no hindrance, for all Her works were executed with plenitude of holi­ness and entirely according to the pleasure of the Lord, drawing Him on, as He Himself said, and wounding His Heart with love (Song 4:9). Only in so far as most holy Mary was a mere creature was the power of the Divine Arm limited; but within these limits it could act without bound or restriction, and without measure, offer­ing Her the waters of wisdom from the purest and most crystalline founts of the Divinity.

39The Most High manifested to Her in this vision, by most special enlightenments, the new Law of Grace which the Redeemer of the world was to establish, the Sacraments contained in it, the end for which He would leave them in His new Church of the Gospel, the gifts and blessings prepared for men, and His desire, that all should be saved and that all should reap the Fruit of the Redemption. And so great was the wisdom, which the most holy Mary drew from these visions, wherein She was taught by the Most High Teacher and the Corrector of the wise (Wis 7:15), that, if by any means man or angel could describe it, more books would have to be written of this science of our Lady than all those which have been composed in this world concerning all the arts and sciences, and all the inventions of men. And no wonder Her science was greater than that of all other men: for into the heart and mind of our Princess was emptied and exhausted the Ocean of the Divinity, which the sins and the evil disposition of the creatures had confined, repressed and circumscribed. It was concealed within its own source until the proper time, which was no other than the Hour in which She was chosen as Mother of the Only Begotten of the Father.

40Joined with the sweetness of this Divine science, our Queen felt a loving, yet piercing sorrow, which this very science continued to renew. She perceived in the Most High the ineffable treasures of grace and blessings, which He had prepared for mankind and She saw the weight of the Divinity as it were inclined toward the desire of seeing all men enjoy them eternally. At the same time She saw and considered the wicked disposition of the world, and how blindly men impeded the flow of these treasures and deprived themselves of participa­tion of the Divinity. From this resulted a new kind of martyrdom full of grief for the perdition of men and of the desire of remedying such lamentable loss. This caused Her to offer up the most exalted prayers, peti­tions, sacrifices, humiliations and heroic acts of love of God and of men, in order that no one, if possible, should henceforth damn himself, and that all should recognize their Creator, and Redeemer, confess Him, adore and love Him. All this took place in this very vision; but as these petitions were of the same kind as those already described, I do not expatiate on them here.

41In conjunction therewith the Lord showed Her also the works of creation performed on the 4th day (Gen 1:14-17). The Heavenly Princess Mary learned how and when the luminaries of heaven were formed in the firmament for dividing day and night and for indi­cating the seasons, the days and the years; how for this purpose was created the great light of heaven, the sun, presiding as the ruler of the day, and joined with it, the moon, the lesser light, which reigns over the darkness of the night. In like manner were formed the stars of the 8th heaven, in order that they might gladden the night with their brilliance and preside with their various influences over both the day and the night. She under­stood what were the material substance of these luminous orbs, their form, their size, their properties, their various movements and the uniformity as well as the inequality of the planets. She knew the number of the stars, and all their influences exerted upon the earth, both in regard to the living and the lifeless creatures, the effects and changes, which they cause in them by these influences.

42This is not in conflict with what the Prophet says, (Ps 147:4), that God knows the number of the stars and has called them by their names; for David does not thereby deny to His Majesty the liberty of conceding to a creature that as a privilege which He possesses by nature. It is plain that since this knowledge is com­municable and since it would contribute to Mary's excel­lence, it should not be denied to Her. Has He not con­ferred upon Her greater favors, and has He not made Her the Queen of the stars and of all other creatures? And this knowledge was as it were only a sequel of Her dominion and sovereignty over the powers, influences and movements of all the celestial orbs, since they were commanded to obey Her as their Queen.

43In consequence of this command, which the Lord gave to the celestial orbs and in accordance with the dominion that most holy Mary obtained over them, She possessed such power, that if She commanded the stars to leave their positions in heaven, they would obey Her instantly and would hasten to the regions that She chose to designate. The same is true of the sun and the planets: all would pause in their course and suspend their operations to execute the command of Mary. I have already said above (No. 21) that sometimes Her Highness made use of this sovereignty; for, as we shall see farther on, it happened a few times in Egypt, where the rays of the sun are exceedingly strong, that She com­manded the sun to moderate its heat and not to molest or fatigue the Infant God, its Master. And the sun obeyed Her therein, causing inconvenience and suffering to Her, because She wished it, and yet respecting the tender years of the Sun of Justice, Whom She held in Her arms. The same happened also with other stars, and on a few occasions She detained the sun in its course, as I will mention later.

44Many other hidden sacraments the Most High mani­fested to our great Queen in this vision, and what I have said and will say of all these mysteries, leaves me dissat­isfied and with a heart as it were torn asunder: for I see, that I can say little of that which I understand and, in proportion, I understand still less of what really did happen to the Heavenly Lady. Many of the mysteries concerning Her are reserved for the last day, when Her Most Holy Son shall proclaim them, since now we are not capable of receiving their revelation. The most holy Mary issued from this vision still more inflamed and filled with the Divinity, entirely transformed by the knowledge of God's attributes and perfections; and Her advance in virtues kept pace with Her progress in Divine favors. She multiplied Her requests, Her fervent sighs, and Her meritorious works, in order to hasten the Incar­nation of the Word and our salvation.

INSTRUCTION FROM THE HEAVENLY QUEEN 

45My dear daughter, I wish that you busy yourself much in meditating and pondering upon that which you have understood of My endeavors and sufferings at the time, when the Most High gave Me such a deep insight into His goodness, which drew Him as with an infinite force to enrich men, and when He showed Me the lack of cor­respondence and the dark ingratitude of mortals. When I turned from the consideration of this most liberal condescension of the Most High, to the perception and understanding of the foolish hard-heartedness of sinners, My soul was pierced with an arrow of mortal anguish, which remained for life. And I wish to tell you of another mystery. Many times the Most High in order to heal the affliction and consternation of My heart in this sorrow, sought to console Me by saying: "Accept, My Spouse, the gifts, which the blind and ignorant world in its unworthy despises and is incapable of receiving and understanding." With these words the Most High was accustomed to set free the currents of His Divine bounty, which rejoiced My soul more than human powers can comprehend, or tongue explain.

46I desire, therefore, that you, My friend, be My companion now in the sorrow that I suffered and which is so little noticed by the living. In order to imitate Me therein and in the effects of this most just grief, you must deny yourself.  Forget yourself entirely, and crown your heart with the thorns of sorrow at the behavior of men. Weep in seeing them laugh at their eternal damnation, for such weeping is the most legiti­mate occupation of the true spouses of My Most Holy Son. Let them seek their delight only in the tears, which they pour out on account of their sins and those of the igno­rant world. Thus prepare your heart in order that the Lord may make you a participant of His treasures; not in order to become rich, but in order that His Majesty may fulfill His most generous love toward you and in order that souls may find justification. Imitate Me in all that I teach you, since you know that this is My desire in favoring you.


CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 1

CHAPTER 5

THE WORKS OF THE FIFTH DAY OF CREATION AND OTHER MYSTERIES

47The 5th day of the novena, which the Most Blessed Trinity celebrated in the Temple of most holy Mary, in order that the Eternal Word might assume human shape in Her, had arrived. Just as in the preceding days She was elevated to an abstractive vision of the Divinity, and, as the veil fell more and more from the secrets of the infinite wisdom, She discovered new mysteries also during this day. For the preparations and enlighten­ments emitted ever stronger rays of light and Divine graces, which flashed into Her most holy soul and emptied the treasures of infinity into Her faculties, assimilating and transforming the Heavenly Lady more and more to a likeness of Her God in order to make Her worthy of being His Mother.

48In this vision, showing Himself to Her with in­effable signs of affection, the Most High spoke to the Heavenly Queen and manifested to Her additional secrets, saying: "My Spouse and My Dove, in the secret of My Heart You have perceived the immense bounty, to which My love for the human race inclines Me, and the treas­ures, which are secretly prepared for their happiness. So powerful is this love in Me that I wish to give them My Only Begotten for their instruction and salvation. You have also seen something of the small returns, of their most listless ingratitude and contempt, in which men hold My clemency and love. Yet, although I have shown You part of their malice, I wish, My friend, that You should once more know in Me, how small is the number of those who are to know and love Me as My chosen ones; and how great and extended is the number of the ungrateful and the reprobate. The innumerable sins and abominations of these impure and defiled men, whom I have foreseen in My infinite knowledge, retard My bounteous mercy and have locked up the Treasure House of My Divinity, making the world entirely unworthy of receiving My gifts."

49The Princess Mary, through these words of the Most High, was instructed in the great mysteries re­garding the number of the predestined and the reprobate; and also regarding the hindrances and impediments by which sinful men delayed the coming of the Eternal Word as man into the world. Having present before Herself the vision both of the infinite bounty and equity of the Creator and of the measureless iniquity and malice of men, the most prudent Queen, inflamed by the fire of Divine love, spoke to His Majesty and said:

50"My Lord and Infinite God of Wisdom and Incom­prehensible Sanctity, what Mystery is this, which You have manifested to Me? Only Your Wisdom can comprehend the mis­deeds of men that are without measure. But can all these and many more, perhaps, extin­guish Your bounty and love, or contend with them? No, My Lord and Master, it must not be so; the malice of men must not detain Your Divine Mercy. I am the most useless of the entire human race; yet on its behalf I remind You of Your fidelity. Infallibly true it is, that heaven and earth will come to naught, before Your Word can fail (Is 51:6), and it is also true, that You have many times given Your Word through the Holy Prophets; and You have prom­ised them by Word of mouth, a Redeemer and our salva­tion. How then, My God, can these promises fail of ful­fillment without conflicting with Your Infinite Wisdom; or how can man be deceived without conflicting with Your Goodness? In order to induce You to fulfill Your Promise and to secure them eternal felicity through Your Incarnate Word, I have nothing to offer on the part of men nor can any creature oblige You; and if this blessing could be merited, then Your Infinite and Bounteous Clemency would not thereby be glorified. Only through Your own Self can this obligation be imposed upon You, for only in God can a sufficient reason be found for His becoming Man. In You alone was the reason and the motive for our creation, and therefore in You alone also the reason for our Reparation after our fall. Do not seek, My God and Most High King, for merits, nor for a greater motive, than Your own Mercy and the Exaltation of Your Holy Name."

51"It is true, My Spouse," answered the Most High, "that on account of My goodness I bound Myself to the promise of vesting Myself in human nature and of dwell­ing among them, and that no one could merit in My Sight such a promise; but the ungrateful behavior of men, so abominable in My Sight and  My Justice, does not merit the execution of this promise. For though I seek only their eternal happiness as a return of My love, I perceive and find only obduracy, by which they are certain to waste and despise the Treasures of My Grace and Blessing. They will yield thorns instead of fruit; great insults for benefits, and base ingratitude for My unbounded and gen­erous Mercy; and the end of all these evils will be for them the privation of My Vision in eternal torments. Take notice of these truths recorded in the secrets of My Wisdom, My Friend, and weigh these great Sacraments; for to You My Heart is laid open, so that You can see the Justice of My proceeding."

52It is impossible to describe the hidden secrets, which most holy Mary then saw in the Lord; for She perceived in Him all the creatures of the past, present and the future, and the position of each one in creation, the good and bad actions and the final ending of each one. If She had not been strengthened, She could not have preserved Her life under the effects and feelings caused by the knowledge and insight into these hidden sacra­ments and mysteries. But as His Majesty, in these new miracles and blessings had such high ends in view; He was not sparing but most liberal with the beloved one, whom He had chosen as His Mother. And as our Queen derived this science from God, She participated also in the fire of His Eternal Charity, which inflamed Her with the love of God and the neighbor. Therefore, continuing Her intercession, She said:

53"Lord and Eternal God, Invisible and Immortal, I confess Your Justice, I magnify Your works, I adore Your Infinite Essence and hold in reverence Your Judgments. My heart melts within Me with tender affection, when I perceive Your unlimited bounty toward men and their dark ingratitude and grossness toward You. For all of them, O My God, You seek Eternal Life; but there are few who are thankful for this inestimable benefit, and many who will perish by their malice. If on this ac­count, O My Eternal Good, You relinquish Your under­taking, we mortals are lost; but while You, in Your Divine Fore-knowledge, perceive the sins and the malice of men who offend You so much, You also foresee Your Only Begotten made Man and His Works of infinite value and price in Your Sight; and these will counterbalance and exceed the malice of sin beyond all comparison. Through this God Man, let Your equity be conquered and on His account give us Him now; and in order to urge My petitions upon You once more in the name of the human race, I unite myself with the Spirit of this Word, already made Man in Your Mind, and pray for His coming in fact and for the Eternal Life of men through His Hands."

54At this prayer of most pure Mary, the Eternal Father (in our way of speaking) represented to Himself His Only Begotten as borne in the virginal womb of this great Queen; and He was moved by Her humble and loving petitions. His apparent hesitation was merely a device of His tender love in order to enjoy so much the longer the voice of His Beloved, causing Her sweet lips to distil most sweet honey (Song 4:11) and Her emissions to be like those of paradise (Song 4:13). And to draw out still more this loving contention, the Lord answered Her: "My sweetest Spouse and chosen Dove, great is that which You ask of Me and little is that which obliges Me on the part of men; how then shall such a singular blessing be conferred on those unworthy ones? Leave Me, My friend, to treat them according to their evil deserts." Our powerful and kind Advocate re­sponded: "No, My Master, I will not desist from My importunity; if much I ask, I ask it of You, Who are Rich in Mercies, Powerful in Action, True in Your Words. My father David said of You and of the Eternal Word: "The Lord has sworn, and He will not repent: You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchise­dech" (Ps 110:4). Let then that Priest come, Who is at the same time to be the Sacrifice for our rescue; let Him come, since You can not repent of Your promise; for You do not promise in ignorance. Let Me be clothed, O My Sweet Love, with the strength of this Man God, which will not allow Me to put a stop to My impor­tunity, until You give Me Your blessing as to My father Jacob" (Gen 32:26).

55In this contest (just as it once happened to Jacob) our Lady and Queen was asked, what was Her name; and She said: "I am a daughter of Adam, formed by Your Hands from the insignificant dust." And the Most High answered: "Henceforth You shall be called: Chosen for the Mother of the Only Begotten." But only the courtiers of heaven heard the latter part of this name, while to Her it was as yet hidden until the proper time. She therefore heard only the word "Chosen." Having thus protracted this amorous con­tention according to the disposition of His Divine Wisdom and as far as served to inflame the heart of this elected One, the Whole Blessed Trinity gave to Mary, our most pure Queen, the explicit promise, that They would now send into the world the Eternal Word made man. Filled with incomparable joy and exultation by this fiat, She asked and received the Benediction of the Most High. Thus this strong Woman issued forth from the contest with God more victorious than Jacob; for She came out rich, strong and laden with spoils, and the One Who was wounded and weakened (to speak in our way) was God Himself; for He was drawn by the love of this Lady to clothe Himself in that sacred bridal chamber of Her womb with the weakness of our passable nature. He disguised and enveloped the strength of His Divinity, so as to conquer in allowing Himself to be conquered, and in order to give us life by His Death. Let men see and acknowledge, how most holy Mary, next to Her Most Blessed Son, is the cause of their salvation.

56During this vision were also revealed to this great Queen the works of the 5th day of the creation in the manner in which they happened; She saw how, by the force of the Divine Command, were engendered and pro­duced in the waters beneath the firmament, the imperfect reptiles, which creep upon the earth, the winged animals that course through the air, and the finny tribes that glide through the watery regions. Of all these creatures She knew the beginnings, the substance, the form and figure according to their kinds; She knew all the species of the animals that inhabit the fields and woods, their condi­tions, peculiarities, their uses and connections; She knew the birds of heaven (for so we call the atmosphere), with the varied forms of each kind, their ornaments, feathers, their lightness; the innumerable fishes of the seas and the rivers, the differences between the whales, their forms, composition and qualities, their caverns and the foods furnished them by the sea, the ends which they serve, the use to which they can be put in the world. And His Majesty especially commanded all these hosts of creatures to recognize and obey most holy Mary, giving Her the power to command all of them, as it happened on many occasions to be mentioned later on (No. 185, 431, 636). Therewith She issued from the trance of this day and She occupied Herself during the rest of it in the exercises and petitions, which the Most High had pointed out to Her.

INSTRUCTION FROM OUR LADY 

57My daughter, the more complete knowledge of the wonderful operations of the Arm of the Almighty in raising Me during the abstractive visions of the Divinity to the dignity of Mother, is reserved for the predestined when they shall come to know them in the Heavenly Jerusalem. There they shall understand and see them in the Lord Himself and with that special delight and astonishment, which the angels experienced, when the Most High revealed these things to them for His exal­tation and praise. And since His Majesty has shown Himself so lovingly generous toward you, giving you in preference to all the generations of men, such great knowledge and light concerning these so hidden sacra­ments, I desire, My friend, that you signalize yourself above all creatures in praising and magnifying His Holy Name for the works of His Powerful Arm in My regard.

58At the same time you must strive, with all your power, to imitate Me in the works, which I performed by the aid of these great and wonderful blessings. Pray and sigh for the eternal salvation of your brethren, and that the Name of My Son may be extolled by all and known to the whole world. You must establish the habit of this kind of prayer, by a constant resolve, founded upon firm faith and unshaken confidence, and by never losing sight of your misery in profound humility and self-abasement. Thus prepared, you must battle with the Divine Love for the good of your people, firmly con­vinced, that the most glorious triumphs of Divine Love may especially be looked for in its dealings with the humble, who love God in uprightness. Raise yourself above yourself and give Him thanks for the special bless­ings conferred upon you and for those conferred upon the human race. Transformed by this Divine Love, you will merit other gifts, both for yourself and for your brethren; and whenever you find yourself in His Divine Presence, ask for His Blessing.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 1

CHAPTER 6

THE WORKS OF DAY 6 OF CREATION MANIFESTED AND ADDITIONAL MYSTERIES

59While the Most High continued the proximate preparation of our Heavenly Princess for the reception of the Eternal Word in Her virginal womb, She, on Her part, persevered without intermission in Her fervent sighs and prayers to hasten His Coming into the world. When the night of the 6th of these days, which I have begun to describe, had arrived, and when She had previously been elevated by still more profound illuminations, She was again called and invited in spirit to the abstractive vision of the Divinity. Although this happened in the same manner as at other times, yet it was accompanied by more heavenly effects and by a more profound insight into the attributes of the Most High. She remained 9 hours in this trance and issued from it at the third hour. Yet, although the high vision of the Essence of God ceased at that hour, the most holy Mary continued to enjoy another kind of vision and prayer. This was indeed inferior to the first, but in itself was most exalted and more excel­lent than that experienced by any of the saints or the just. The gifts and favors so far described partook more and more of the Divine during the last days preceding the Incarnation, without at the same time being a hindrance to the active occupations of Her married state, for here Martha had no right to complain, that Mary forsook Her in Her ministrations (Lk 10:40).

60Having seen God in this vision She was immedi­ately shown the works on the sixth day of the creation of the world. She witnessed, as if She Herself had been present, how at the command of the Lord the earth brought forth the living beings according to their kinds, as Moses says (Gen 1:24). Holy Scripture here refers to the terrestrial animals, which being more perfect than the fishes and birds in life and activity, are called by a name signifying the more important part of their nature. She saw and understood all the kinds and species of animals, which were created on this sixth day, and by what name they were called: some, beasts of burden, because they serve and assist man, others, wild beasts, as being more fierce and untamed; others, reptiles, be­cause they do not raise themselves or very little from the earth. She knew and comprehended the qualities of all of them: their fury, their strength, the useful purposes that they serve, and all their distinctions and singular­ities. Over all these She was invested with dominion and they were commanded to obey Her. She could without opposition on their part have trodden upon asps and basilisks, for all would have meekly borne Her heel. Many times did some of these animals show their subjection to Her commands, as when, at the Birth of Her Most Holy Son, the ox and the ass prostrated themselves and by their breaths warmed the Infant God at the command of His Blessed Mother.

61In this plenitude of knowledge and science our Heavenly Queen understood perfectly the secret ways of God in making all creation serve for the benefit of man, and how much man owes to his Creator on this account. And it was most proper that She should possess this knowledge and understanding, so that with it She might be able to give fitting thanks for these blessings. Neither men nor angels have done so, failing to correspond and falling short of their duty in this regard. The Queen of all filled all these voids, and She satisfied for the debt of gratitude, which we could not or would not pay. Through Her, Divine Equity was duly satisfied, consider­ing Her as a medium between Itself and creatures. By Her innocence and gratitude She became more pleasing to His Majesty than all the rest of creatures. The Mysterious Advent of God into the world was thus being prepared: for the last hindrance was removed by the sanctification of Her, who was to be His Mother.

62After seeing the creation of all the irrational creatures, She became aware, how the Most Blessed Trin­ity, in order to complete and perfect the world, said: "Let Us make man to Our Image and Likeness" (Gen 1:26), and how by virtue of this Divine decree the first man was formed of the earth as the first parent of all the rest. She had a profound insight into the harmonious composition of the human body and soul and of their faculties, of the creation and infusion of the soul into the body and of its intimate union with the body. Of the structure of the human body and all its parts, She obtained a deep knowledge: She was informed of the number of the bones, veins, arteries, nerves and ligatures; of the concourse of humors to compose the befitting temperaments, the faculties of nutrition, growth and loco­motion; She learned in what manner the disturbances or changes in this harmony caused the sicknesses, and how these can be cured. All this the most prudent Virgin understood and comprehended without the least error, better than all the wise men of the world and better than even the angels.

63The Lord manifested to Her also the happy state of Original Justice, in which He placed the first parents Adam and Eve; She understood their condition, beauty and perfection of innocence and grace, and for how short a time they persevered in it. She perceived how they were tempted and overcome by the astuteness of the serpent (Gen 2:51), and what were the consequences of their sin; and how great were the fury and hate of the devil against the human race. At the vision of all these things our Queen made great and heroic acts of virtue, highly pleasing to God. She understood that She was a daughter of these first parents and that She descended from a nature so thankless to its Creator. In the remembrance of this She humiliated Herself in His Divine Presence, thereby wounding the Heart of God and obliging Him to raise Her above all that is created. She took it upon Herself to weep for the first sin and for all the rest that followed from it, as if She Herself had been guilty of them all. Hence, even at that time, that first sin might have been called a fortunate fault, which caused tears so precious in the Eyes of the Lord, and which earned us such sureties and pledges of our Redemption.

64Rendering worthy thanks to the Creator for the magnificent work of the creation of man, She reflected deeply on his disobedience, the seduction and deception of Eve, and She inwardly resolved to yield that perpetual obedience, which these first parents had refused to their Creator. So acceptable in His Eyes was this subjection, that His Majesty in the presence of the heavenly courtiers decreed the immediate fulfillment and execution of that, which was prefigured in the history of the King Assuerus, by whom the queen Vashti was repudiated and deprived of royal dignity on account of disobedience, while the humble and gracious Esther was raised to her place (Esther 7:2).

65There was an admirable similarity between that event and these mysteries; for the exalted and true King, in order to show the greatness of His powers and the treasures of His Divinity, had prepared the great banquet of His creation, and having spread the liberal repast for all the creatures, invited the guests, that is the human race, by the creation of its first parents. Vashti, our mother Eve, disobeyed, failing to submit herself to the Divine command, and now amid the wonderful acclama­tion and jubilee of the angels, the true Assuerus ordered the most humble Esther to be on that day elevated to Sovereignty over all creation, this Esther being none other than the most holy Mary, Full of Grace and beauty, chosen among all the daughters of men as their Restor­er and the Mother of His Messiah.

66In the plenitude of this mystery the Most High infused into the Heart of our Queen a new abhorrence of the devil, such as filled Esther toward Haman (Esther 7:10); and thus it happened, that She thrust him from his position of superiority and command over the world. She crushed the head of his pride, hanging him on the gallows of the Cross, where he had hoped to destroy and conquer the God Man, but was himself chastised and overcome by it. Toward all this the most holy Mary was instrumental, as we shall relate in its place (Vol. III, 653). Just as the envy of the dragon against the Woman, that is this Heavenly Lady, commenced in heaven, when he saw Her clothed with the sun (Rev 12:4, Part I, 95); so this strife continued until he was deprived of his tyrannous dominion. Just as the most faithful Mordecai was given the position of the proud Haman (Esther 6:10); so also was honored the most chaste and faithful Joseph, who continually urged Her to pray for the liberty of Her people. This was the constant subject of conversation between Joseph and his most pure Spouse; for this very purpose was he raised to the summit of sanctity, and to the exalted dignity of holding the sealing ring of the highest King (Esther 8:2), whereby he received authority to com­mand the God Man Himself, as is related in the Gospel. Having experienced all these mysteries, our Queen issued from Her vision.

INSTRUCTION, WHICH THE HEAVENLY QUEEN GAVE ME

67Wonderful My daughter, was the gift of humil­ity which the Most High conferred upon Me in the event described by You. And since His Majesty does not reject the prayers of those, that dispose themselves to receive it, I desire that You imitate Me and be My companion in the exercise of this virtue. I had no part in the sin of Adam, for I was exempted from his disobedience; but because I partook of his nature and by it was his daugh­ter, I humiliated Myself in My estimation to nothingness. In the light of this example then, how far must those humiliate themselves, who not only have had a part in the first sin, but also have committed other sins without number? The aim and motive of this humiliation more­over, should not be to remove the punishments of those sins, but to make restoration and recompense for the diminution and loss of honor, which was thereby occa­sioned to the Creator and Lord.

68If a brother of yours should grievously offend your natural father, you would not be a loving and loyal daughter of your father, nor a true sister to your brother, if you would not grieve for the offense and weep not over his ruin as over your own; for to the father is due reverence and to your brother you owe love as to your­self. Consider then, and examine in the proper light, how much difference there is between your Father Who is in heaven and your natural father, and how all of you are His children, bound together by the strictest obligation of brethren and of servants of one true Master. Just as you would shed tears of humiliation and con­fusion at some ignominious fault of your natural brother; so I wish that you do it for the sins, which men commit against God, sorrowing for them in confusion as if you were responsible for them yourself. That is what I did at the thought of the disobedience of Adam and Eve and of all the evils, which ensued from there to the human race. And the Most High was pleased with My charitable interest; for most agreeable in His Sight are the tears shed for the sins, which are forgotten by those, who have committed them.

69At the same time, bear ever in mind, that, no matter how great and rare are the favors received from the Most High, you do not despise the danger of sin nor contemn the solicitous and humble performance of the ordinary duties of precept and charity. For these do not oblige you to leave the Presence of God. Faith teaches you, and inspiration should govern you, to bear Him with you in all occupations and places, quitting your­self and your inclinations, but fulfilling in all things the Will of your Lord and Spouse. Do not allow yourself to be led in these sentiments by the trend of your own inclina­tions, nor by that which seems to agree with your own interior liking and taste; for many times the greatest danger is hidden beneath this cloak. In such doubts and hesitations let holy obedience be your umpire and master. Through it you can decide securely, and you will need no other criterion for your actions. Great victories and advances in merit are connected with the true submission of self and subjection of our own judgments to those of others. You should never wish to retain for yourself the power to will or not to will: then you shall sing of victories and overcome your enemies.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 1

CHAPTER 7

A NEW ESPOUSAL WITH THE PRINCESS OF HEAVEN

TO INAUGURATE THE NUPTIALS OF THE INCARNATION 

70Great are the works of the Most High, for all of them were and are executed with the plenitude of knowl­edge and goodness, ordained in equity and number (Wis 11:21). None of them is faulty, useless or in­effectual, superfluous or vain. All are exquisite and mag­nificent, finished and executed according to the full meas­ure of His Holy Will. Such He desired them to be, in order that He might be known and magnified in them. But in comparison to the Mystery of the Incarnation, all the Works of God ad extraalthough they are in them­selves great, stupendous and marvelous, more to be ad­mired than comprehended, are only a small spark, issuing from the unfathomable abyss of the Divinity. This great Sacrament of vesting Himself in a passable and mortal nature is pre-eminently the greatest work of His Infinite Power and Wisdom and the one that immeasurably ex­cels all the other works and wonders of His Powerful Arm. For in this Mystery, not merely a spark of the Divinity, but that whole vast volcano of the Infinite God­head, broke forth and communicated itself to men, unit­ing Itself by an indissoluble and eternal union to our terrestrial human nature.

71If this wonderful Sacrament of the King is to be measured only by His own vastness, it follows that the Woman, in whose womb He was to become Man, de­served to be so perfectly adorned with the plenitude of His Treasures, that no gift or grace within the range of possibility be omitted, and all these gifts be so consum­mate, that nothing is lacking to them. As all this was reasonable and altogether befitting the greatness of the Omnipotent, He certainly fulfilled it in the most holy Mary, much better than king Assuerus did with the gracious Esther (Esther 2:9), when he raised her to his magnificent throne. The Most High visited our Queen Mary with such great favors, privileges and gifts, that the like was never even conceived in the mind of creatures, and, when She issued forth in the presence of the cour­tiers of this great King of the Eternal Ages (1 Tim 1:17), they recognized and exalted in Her the Power of God, at the same time understanding, that He, Who chose to select a woman for His Mother, knew also how to make Her worthy of assuming that position.

72The 7th day of this mysterious preparation for the approaching sacrament arrived, and in the same hour as already mentioned, the Heavenly Lady was called and elevated in spirit, but with this difference, that She was bodily raised by Her Holy Angels to the empyrean heaven, while in Her stead one of them remained to rep­resent Her in corporeal appearance. Placed into this highest heaven, She saw the Divinity by abstract vision as in other days; but always with new and more pene­trating light, piercing to new and more profound myster­ies, which God according to His free will can conceal or reveal. Presently She heard a Voice proceeding from the Royal Throne, Which said: "Our Spouse and chosen Dove, Our gracious Friend, who have been found pleasing in Our Eyes and have been chosen among thousands: We wish to accept You anew as Our Bride, and therefore We wish to adorn and beautify You in a manner worthy of Our Design."

73On hearing these words the most Humble among the humble abased and annihilated Herself in the Pres­ence of the Most High more than can be comprehended by human power. Entirely submissive to the Divine Pleas­ure and with entrancing modesty, She responded: "At Your Feet, O Lord, lies the dust and abject worm, ready is Your poor slave for the fulfillment of all Your pleasure in Her. Make use, O Eternal Good, of this Your insignificant instrument according to Your desire, and dispose of it with Your Right Hand." Presently the Most High commanded 2 Seraphim, of those nearest to His throne and highest in dignity to attend on this Heavenly Virgin. Accom­panied by others, they presented themselves in visible form before the throne, and there surrounded the most holy Mary, who was more inflamed with Divine Love than they.

74It was a spectacle worthy of new wonder and jubilee for all the angelic spirits to see in this heavenly place, never touched by other feet, a humble Maiden consecrated as their Queen and raised to the closest proximity to God of all the created beings; to see that Woman, whom the world ignored and held in obliv­ious contempt, so highly esteemed and appreciated (Prov 31:10); to see our human nature in its first fruits receiving the pledge of superiority over the celestial choirs and already assuming its place among them. O what a holy and just envy must such a strange wonder have caused in the ancient courtiers of that heavenly Jerusalem! What thoughts rose up within them in praise of its Author! What sentiments of humility did it awaken in them, subjecting all their high understandings to the decrees of the Divine Will! They saw that He was Holy and Righteous, Who exalted the humble, Who favored human lowliness and raised it above the angelic choirs.

75While the inhabitants of heaven were lost in their praiseworthy admiration, the Most Blessed Trinity, (according to our imperfect mode of understanding and speaking), conferred within Itself, how pleasing in Its Sight was the Princess Mary, how perfectly and com­pletely She had corresponded with the blessings and gifts confided to Her, how adequately She had augmented the Glory of the Lord; and how free She was of any fault, defect or hindrance, that might compromise the dignity of Her predestined Motherhood of the Word. Accordingly the 3 Persons of the Trinity resolved to raise this Creature to the highest position of grace and friendship of God, such as no creature had ever or would ever attain; and then and there They gave to Her more than to all the rest of creatures together. The Most Blessed Trinity was pleased and rejoiced in seeing that the supreme holiness of Mary was such as had been con­ceived and determined for Her in the Divine Intellect.

76In correspondence with this holiness, and as a completion of it, and as a testimony of the benevolence with which the Lord wished to communicate to Her ever new influences of His Divinity, He ordained and com­manded, that most holy Mary be visibly clothed and adorned with mysterious vestments and jewels, which should symbolize the interior graces and privileges of a Queen and of a Heavenly Spouse. Although such bridal adornment had already been conferred upon Her before that time, when She was presented in the Temple (Part I, 436); yet now this was done under new and wonderful conditions; for it was to serve as the imme­diate preparation for the miracle of the Incarnation.

77Presently therefore, upon the command of the Lord the 2 Seraphim clothed most holy Mary with a tunic or ample robe, which, as a symbol of Her purity and grace, was so exquisitely white and resplendent, that if one single ray of the light so profusely emitted by it would flash into the world, it would by itself give more refulgence than all the stars combined, even if they were all suns; and in comparison with it, all the light, which is known to us, would appear as darkness. While the Seraphim vested Her, the Most High gave Her a pro­found understanding of the obligation entailed thereby; namely, that She must make a befitting return to His Majesty, by proportioning Her faithful love and the ex­alted perfection of Her actions to that, which She had now learnt. Nevertheless, the purpose, for which the Lord intended these blessings, that is His Incarnation through Her, continued to be hidden to Her mind. All the rest of the Mysteries our Lady understood and for all of them She humiliated Herself with ineffable prudence, and She asked the Divine Assistance for corre­sponding to these favors and blessings.

78Over this robe the same Seraphim placed a girdle, as a symbol of the holy fear, which was infused into Her. It was very rich, with jewels of extreme refulgence and beauty. At the same time the fountain of light bursting forth from the Divinity enlightened and illumined the Heavenly Princess, so that She understood the exalted reasons, why all creatures should fear God. With this gift of fear of the Lord She was appropriately girded, as befitted a Creature, who was to treat and con­verse so familiarly with Her Creator as His Mother.

79Presently She perceived, that the Seraphim adorned Her with most beautiful and abundant hair, held together by a rich clasp, more brilliant than pure and polished gold. She understood, that in this em­bellishment was conceded to Her the privilege of spending Her whole life in exalted and Divine thoughts, inflamed by the subtlest charity as signified by the gold. In connection with this privilege She was established anew in the habits of unclouded wisdom and science, exquisitely binding up the hair of exalted thoughts by an ineffable participation in the wisdom and science of God Himself. Sandals or shoes were also given to Her, to indicate, that all Her steps and movements would be most beauteous (Song 7:1), tending always to the high and holy aim of the greater glory of the Most High. And these shoes were laced with the especial grace of anxious diligence in doing good both before God and man (Lk 1:39), as it happened when She hastened to visit Sts. Elisabeth and John; and thus this Daughter of the Prince issued most beautiful in Her footsteps (Song 7:1).

80Her arms were adorned with bracelets, filling Her with magnanimity for undertaking great works in par­ticipation of the Divine magnificence; and thus She always extended them toward courageous deeds (Prov 31:19). Rings embellished Her fingers, in order that in smaller or more inferior matters She might act in a superior manner, exalted in aim and pur­pose and in all respect making Her undertakings grand and admirable. To this they added a necklace, set with in­estimable and brilliant jewels and containing symbols of the 3 most excellent virtues of faith, hope and charity in correspondence with the 3 Divine Persons. Conjointly with this gift they renewed in Her the habits of these most noble virtues, which She would especially need in the Mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption.

81In Her ears they hung earrings of gold, filigreed with silver (Sg 1:10), thus preparing Her ears for the message, which She was shortly to hear from Arch­angel Gabriel, and at the same time they furnished Her with knowledge in order that She might listen attentively and give discreet and acceptable answers to the Divine proposals. Thus would the pure silver of Her innocence resound in the Ears of the Lord and re-echo, in the Heart of the Divinity, those charming and sacred words: "Be it done to Me ac­cording to your word" (Lk 1:38).

82Then they spread over Her garment inscriptions, which at the same time served as embroidery or borders of the finest colors mixed with gold. Some of them bore the legend: "Mary, Mother of God;" others: "Mary, Virgin and Mother." But these inscriptions were not intelligible to Her, nor were they explained to Her, but the Holy Angels knew their meaning. The differ­ent colors symbolized the habits of all the virtues in the most excellent degree and their active exercise, surpassing all that was ever practiced by the rest of the intellectual creatures. And as a complement of all this beauty, they furnished Her as if with lotions for Her face, by illumi­nating Her with the light drawn from the proximity and participation of the inexhaustible Being and perfection of God Himself. For as She was destined actually and truly to shelter within Her virginal womb the infinite perfection of God, it was befitting, that She should have received it beforehand by grace in the highest measure possible to a mere creature.

83In this adornment and beauty our Princess Mary stood before the Lord so beautiful and charming, that even the Supreme King could desire Her as Spouse (Ps 45:12). I do not detain myself here in repeating what I have already said, what I will yet say in this history about Her virtues. I only say that new features and effects altogether divine accompanied this adornment. All this was proper to the infinite power and to its immense perfection and sanctity, which offer to our comprehension ever-new fields of speculation. And when there is question of this ocean of perfection in most holy Mary, we certainly can hope only to skirt its shores. My understanding of that, which I perceive, is always preg­nant with vast fields of thought, on which. I cannot expatiate.

INSTRUCTION WHICH THE MOST HOLY QUEEN MARY GAVE ME

84My daughter, the work-shops and treasure-rooms of the Most High are those of a Divine Lord and Omnip­otent King, and therefore without number or limit are the riches and treasures which they contain for the en­dowment of His chosen brides. He can enrich innumer­able others just as He has enriched My soul, and yet infinitely more will remain. Although He will give to no creature as much as He has conferred upon Me, it is not because He is not able or does not wish, but because no one will dispose himself for His grace as I did. But the Almighty is most liberal with some souls and enriches them so munificently, because they impede His gifts less, and dispose themselves better than others.

85I desire that you place no ob­stacle to the love of your Lord; but I wish, that you dispose yourself for the jewels and gifts, intended for you in order to make you worthy of His bridal chamber. Remember that all righteous souls receive this adornment from His Hands, though each one according to the degree of the friendship and grace, which makes them capable of receiving them. If you wish to attain the highest purity of that perfection and become worthy of standing in the Presence of your Lord and Spouse, strive to be robust and strong in love; and you know, that this is augmented in the same degree, as mortification and self-abnegation are practiced. You must deny yourself and forget all earthly things. You must expel all your mean­ings toward yourself and toward visible things. You must increase and advance in Divine Love solely. Wash and purify yourself in the Blood of your Redeemer, Christ, and apply this cleansing many times by renewing your loving sorrow for your sins. Thereby will you find grace in His Eyes and He will desire your beauty, and all your adornments will be full of the greatest perfection and purity.

86And as you have been so highly favored and dis­tinguished by the Blessings of the Lord, it is just that you, more than many generations of men, give thanks and with incessant praises magnify Him for what He has condescended to do for you. If this vice of ingrati­tude is so vile and reprehensible in the creatures, who owe Him little and in their earthliness and coarseness, forget the benefits of the Lord; greater will your guilt be in fall­ing short of your obligations. And do not deceive yourself with the pretext of being humble; for there is a great difference between thankful humility and humble thank­lessness. Remember that the Lord very often shows great favors to the unworthy, in order to manifest His goodness and munificence. On the contrary let no one become inflated, but let every one acknowledge so much the more his unworthiness, using it as a medicine against the poison of presumption. But gratitude will agree with this humble opinion of self, since we must acknowledge, that every good gift comes from the Father of lights and cannot ever be merited by creatures (Jacob 1:17). All have their source only in His good­ness, binding us and obliging us to grateful recognition.

 CITY OF GOD   THE INCARNATION   BOOK 1

CHAPTER 8

OUR LADY PLEADS FOR THE HASTENING OF THE INCARNATION

AND FOR THE REDEMPTION OF MAN

87The Heavenly Princess, most holy Mary, had now attained such fullness of grace and beauty and the Heart of God was so wounded by Her tender affections and desires (Song 4:9), that He was so to say irresistibly drawn to begin His flight from the Eternal Father to the bridal-chamber of Her virginal womb and end the long delay of more than 5,000 years.* Nevertheless, since this new wonder was to be executed in the plenitude of His Wisdom and Equity, the Lord arranged this event in such a way, that the Princess of the Heavens Herself, being the worthy Mother of the Incarnate Word, should at the same time be also the most powerful Media­trix of His Coming and the Redeemer of His people much more than Esther was of Israel (Esther 7 & 8). In the Heart of most holy Mary burned the flame, which God Himself had enkindled, and without intermission, She prayed for the salvation of the human race. However, as yet the most humble Lady restrained Herself in modesty, knowing that on account of the sin of Adam, the sentence of death and of eternal privation from the vision of God had been promulgated (Gen 3:19).    *Editors note: If anyone doubts that the earth is young as professed in this work, let him take a serious look at the evidence: www.CreationScience.com and other Creation Science sites as listed on  Google.com.

88A heavenly strife thus arose in the most pure Heart of Mary between Her love and Her humility, and, lost in these sentiments, She repeated many times: "Oh who shall be able to secure the salvation of My brethren! Oh who shall be able to draw from the Eternal Father His Only Begotten and make Him a partaker of our mortality! Oh who shall oblige Him to give to our human nature the kiss of His Mouth, for which the bride asks Him! (Song 1:1). But how can we, the children and descendants of the malefactor, who committed the crime, ask for this favor? How can we draw Him toward us, Whom our fathers repelled? Oh My Love, if I could but see You at the breasts of Your Mother, the human nature! (Song 8:1). Oh Light of lights, God of the true God, would that You descend, bending down Your heavens (Ps 144:5) and shedding Your light upon those that live sitting in darkness! (Is 9:2). Would that You pacify Your Father, and, by Your Right Hand that is by His Only Begotten, hurl the proud haman, Your enemy, the devil, from his height! Who shall be the Mediatrix, who shall draw from the celestial altar, as with tongs of gold (Is 6:6), that ember of the Divinity, for the purification of the world, as once did the Seraphim, ac­cording to the word of the Prophet Isaiah!"

89This prayer most holy Mary repeated during the 8th day of Her preparation, and at midnight, being wrapped and entranced in the Lord, She heard His Majesty responding to Her: "My Spouse and My Dove, come, My Chosen one, for the common law does not apply to You (Esther 15:13). You are exempt from sin and You are free from its effects since the moment of Your Conception. When I gave being to You, I turned away from You the scepter of My Justice and laid upon Your neck that of My great clemency, in order that the general edict of sin might not touch You. Come to Me, and be not dismayed in the consciousness of Your human nature; I am He, Who raises the humble, and fills with riches those who are poor. You have Me for Your Friend and My Liberal Mercies shall be at Your disposal."

90These words our Queen heard intellectually and, as in the preceding night, She presently felt Herself raised by the Holy Angels bodily to Heaven, while in Her stead remained one of the Angels of Her guard. Again She ascended to the Presence of the Most High, so en­riched by the treasures of His graces and gifts, so fortu­nate and beautiful, that She singularly excited the wonder of the supernal spirits. They broke out in praise of the Almighty, saying: "Who is this, who ascends from the desert, overflowing with delights? (Song 8:5). Who is She, who so attracts and compels Her Beloved as to bear Him with Her to the earthly habitation? Who is She, who rises as the dawn, more beautiful than the moon, chosen as the sun? (Song 6:9). How refulgent does She rise from the darkness of the earth? How is She so courageous and strong, being clothed in such fragile nature? How does She in Her strength overcome the Almighty? And how comes it that the Heavens, which are closed against the children of Adam, are thus thrown open to this singular Woman, sprung from the same race?"

91The Most High received His holy and chosen Bride, most holy Mary, into His Presence. Although this happened not in an intuitive, but in an abstractive vision of the Divinity, it was accompanied with incom­parable favors of light and purification proceeding from the Lord Himself, such as were especially reserved for this day. For they were so Divine, that, in our way of speak­ing, God Himself Who wrought them, was astonished and was charmed with the Work of His Hand. As if entranced with love, He spoke to Her and said: "Return, return, O Shulamitess, that We may behold You. My Spouse, My most perfect and beloved Dove, pleasing in My Sight, turn and advance toward Us, that We may behold You and be charmed by Your beauty. I do not regret to have created man and I delight in his formation, since You have been born of him. Let My celestial spirits see how justly I have desired and do desire to choose You as My Spouse and the Queen of all creatures. Let them see what good reason I have to rejoice in this My bridal chamber, from where My Only Begotten, next to that of My own Heart, shall derive the greatest glory. Let all understand, that if I justly repudiated Eve, the first queen of the earth, on account of her disobedience, I now place You and establish You in the highest dignity, showing My magnificence and power in dealing with Your purest humility and self-abasement."

92This day was for the Angels a day of jubilation and rejoicing greater than any since their creation. And when the Most Blessed Trinity thus chose and appointed His Spouse and Mother of the Word for the Queen and Lady of the creatures, the Holy Angels and all the celes­tial court of spirits acknowledged and received Her as their Queen and Superior, and they sung sweet hymns of glory in Her honor and in praise of Her Author. Dur­ing these hidden and admirable Mysteries the Heavenly Queen Mary was absorbed in the abyss of the Divinity and in the light of His infinite perfections: and thereby the Lord prevented Her from attending to all that hap­pened. Thus the Sacrament of Her Mothership of the Only Begotten still remained hidden to Her until the proper time. Never did the Lord deal in such a manner with any nation (Ps 147:20), nor did He ever show Himself so great and powerful in any creature, as on this day in most holy Mary.

93The Most High added yet other favors, saying to Her with extreme condescension: "My chosen Spouse, since You have found grace in My Eyes, ask of Me without restraint, what You desire, and I assure You, as the most faithful God and powerful King, that I shall not reject Your petitions nor deny You what You ask." Our great Princess humiliated Herself profoundly and relying on the Promise and Royal Word of the Lord, and inspired with highest confidence, She answered saying: "My Lord and highest God, if I have found grace in Your Eyes (Gen 18:3,27), although I am dust and ashes, I will speak in Your Divine Presence and pour out to You My heart" (Ps 61:9). Again His Majesty assured Her and commanded Her to ask in the presence of all the heavenly court, for whatever She desired, even if it were a part of His kingdom (Esther 5:3). "I do not ask, O Lord, for a part of Your kingdom in My own behalf," answered most holy Mary, "but I ask for the whole of it for all the race of men, who are My brothers. I implore You, Most High and powerful King, that according to Your immense kindness You send us Your Only Begotten our Redeemer, in order that He may satisfy for the sins of all the world, that Your people may gain the freedom so much desired, and that, through the satisfaction thus rendered to Your Justice, peace may be declared among men upon (Ez 34:25) earth, and that the portals of heaven, closed by sin, may be thrown open for its in­habitants. Let all flesh see Your Salvation (Is 52:10); let peace and justice give each other that close embrace and the kiss, which David asked for (Ps 85:11); let us mortals possess a Teacher, a Guide and a Savior (Is 30:20), a Chief, Who shall live and dwell with us (Baruch 3:38). Let the day of Your Promises dawn upon us, O My God, let Your Words be fulfilled, and let the Messiah, expected for so many ages, arrive. These are My anxious desires, and for this do I breathe forth My sighs, since You show to Me the condescension of Your infinite clemency.”

94The Most High Lord, Who wished to bind Himself by Her prayer, disposed and incited the petitions of His beloved Spouse. Benignly He inclined toward Her and answered Her with singular clemency: "Pleasing to My Will are Your requests, and acceptable are Your petitions: it shall be done as You ask. I desire, My Daughter and Spouse, what You seek; and as a pledge of this, I give You My Word and promise You, that very shortly My Only Begotten shall descend to the earth and shall vest Himself and unite Himself with the human nature. Thus Your acceptable wishes shall be executed and fulfilled."

95With this assurance and Divine Promise our great Queen Princess felt new enlightenment and security in Her spirit, convincing Her, that the end of that long pro­tracted night of sin and of the ancient Law was approaching and that the brightness of human Re­demption was about to dawn. And because the rays of the Sun of Justice, Whose dawn was soon to arise from Her, so closely and so intensely enveloped Her about, She became Herself the most beautiful aurora, inflamed and refulgent as it were with the fiery clouds of the Divinity, which transformed all things within Her. All afire with love and gratitude for the approaching Re­demption, She gave unceasing praise to the Lord both in Her own name and in that of all men. In this occupation She passed that day, after the angels had again restored Her to the earth. I must grieve at my igno­rance and shortcomings in explaining these so exalted mysteries; and if learned men and great students can­not give an adequate explanation of these things, how shall a poor and lowly woman give it? May my ignorance be supplemented by the light of Christian charity and my presumption be atoned for by my obedience.

INSTRUCTION OF OUR QUEEN.

96My daughter, how far removed is worldly wisdom from the admirable operations of the Divine power in these Sacraments of the Incarnation of the Divine Word in My womb! Flesh and blood cannot reach them, and not the Angels and Seraphim, though they be of the highest; nor can they know Mysteries so deeply hidden and so far above the ordinary course of grace. Praise the Lord for them with inces­sant love and thankfulness. Be not any longer slow in understanding the greatness of His Divine Love and His readiness to benefit His friends and dear ones, whom He desires to elevate from the dust and enrich in diverse manners. As soon as you have penetrated into this truth, it will oblige you to thank Him and incite you to undertake the great things that become a most faithful daughter and spouse.

97And in order that you may dispose yourself and be inspired so much the more, I remind you, that the Lord often says these same words to His chosen ones: " Return, return, O Shulamitess, that We may behold you." For He de­rives just as great pleasure from their deeds, as when a father rejoices in his beloved and well-behaved son, whom he looks upon many times with great affection; or as an artist, when he beholds with pride the perfect works of his hands; or as a king, who inspects the rich city, which he has added to his dominions; or as one, who is pleased with his much beloved friend. There is only this difference: the Most High finds incomparably more delight than all these in the souls, which He has chosen for His blessings; and in proportion as they dis­pose themselves and advance in virtue, the Lord also multiplies His favors and benefits. If men, who attain to the light of faith, would enter into this truth, they would, merely on account of this complacence of the Almighty in their good deeds, not only preserve themselves from sin, but they would zealously engage in great works until death and eagerly show their loving servitude to Him, Who is so liberal in rewarding, and so generous in His favors.

98When, on this eighth day which you have de­scribed, the Lord in heaven spoke to Me these words: "Return, return…," asking Me to turn toward Him and allow the celestial spirits to look upon Me; I was made aware, that the pleasure, which His Divine Majesty derived in beholding Me, by itself exceeded all the de­light and complacency, which He ever derived from all the most saintly souls in the height of their sanctity. In His gracious condescension He was more pleased in Me than in all the Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins and all the rest of the saints. And this pleasure and complacency of the Most High overflowed and enriched My spirit with such an influx of grace and participation of the Divinity that you can neither understand nor explain it as long as you are in the mortal flesh. But I tell you of this hidden Mystery, in order that you may bless its Author, and that, while yet your exile from the fatherland continues, you dispose and exert yourself in My place and name to extend and reach out your hands to great things (Prov 31:19). Give to the Lord the satisfaction expected of you, and strive after it, thus earning His blessings and soliciting them for yourself and your neighbor with perfect charity.

CITY OF GOD   THE INCARNATION   BOOK 1

CHAPTER 9

OUR LADY MADE THE QUEEN OF THE UNIVERSE AS

THE ULTIMATE PREPARATION FOR THE INCARNATION

99On the last day of the novena of immediate preparation of the Tabernacle (Ps 45:5), which He was to sanctify by His coming, the Most High resolved to renew His wonders and multiply His tokens of love, re­peating the favors and benefits which up to this day He had conferred upon the Princess Mary. But the Al­mighty chose to work in such a way, that in drawing forth from His infinite treasures His gifts of old, He al­ways added thereto such as were new. All of these dif­ferent kinds of wonders were appropriate to the end He had in view: lowering His Divinity to the human nature and raising a woman to the dignity of Mother of God. In descending to the lowliness of man's estate, God neither could, nor needed to change His Essence: for, remaining immutable in Himself, He could unite His Person to our nature; but an earthly woman, in ascend­ing to such an excellence that God should unite with Her and become Man of Her substance, apparently must traverse an infinite space and be raised so far above other creatures, as to approach God's Infinite Being Itself.


100 The day had then arrived, in which most holy Mary was to reach the last stage and be placed so close to God, as to become His Mother. In that night, at the hour of greatest silence, the Lord again called Her as it had happened on the other days. The humble and prudent Queen responded: "My heart is prepared (Ps 108:2), My Lord and exalted Sovereign: let Your Divine Pleasure be fulfilled in Me." Immediately She was, as on the preceding day, borne body and soul by the hands of Her Angels to the empyrean and placed in the Presence of the Royal Throne of the Most High; and His Divine Majesty raised Her up and seated Her at His side, assigning to Her the position and throne, which She was to occupy forever in His Divine Presence. Next to the one reserved for the Incarnate Word, it was the highest and the most proximate to God Himself; for it excelled incomparably that of any of the other blessed, and that of all of them together.

101 From this position She saw the Divinity by an abstractive vision, as at other times, and His Majesty, hiding from Her the dignity of Mother of God, mani­fested to Her such unusual and such high Sacraments, that on account of their sublimity and my insignificant capacities, I cannot describe them. Again She saw in the Divinity all things created and many other possible and future ones. The corporeal things God manifested and made known to Her by corporeal and sensible images, as if they had been presented to Her ocular vision. The fabric of the universe, which before this She had known in parts, now appeared to Her in its entirety, distinctly pictured as upon canvas, with all the creatures contained therein. She saw the harmony, order, connection and dependence of each toward each, and of the Divine Will, Which had created them, governs and preserves them, each in its place and mode of existence. Again She saw all the heavens and the stars, the elements, and those that lived in them, purgatory, limbo, hell and all the occupants of these caverns. Just as the position of the Queen of Creation was above all creatures and in­ferior only to that of God, so also the knowledge given to Her was superior to that of all created things being inferior only to that of the Lord.

102 While thus the Heavenly Lady was lost in ad­miration of what the Almighty showed to Her, and was wrapped in praise and exaltation of the Lord, His Ma­jesty spoke to Her and said: "My chosen Dove, all the visible creatures, which You behold, I have created and preserved in all their variety and beauty by My Providence, solely for the love of men. And from all souls, which I have until now created and which are predestined to be created unto the end, I shall choose and select the congregation of the faithful, who shall be set apart and washed in the Blood of the Lamb in the Redemption of the world. They shall be the special fruit of His Redemption, and they shall enjoy its blessings through the New Law of Grace and the Sacraments to be instituted by the Redeemer; and afterwards those that persevere shall partake of My eternal glory and friend­ship. For these chosen ones I have primarily created these wonderful works! And if all of them would strive to serve Me, adore and acknowledge My Holy Name, as far as I am concerned, I would for each and every one of them create these great treasures and assign all over to them as their possession.


103 And if I had created only one being capable of My grace and glory, I would have made it the lord and master of all creation; for this would be a much smaller favor than to make it partaker of My friendship and of Eternal Happiness. You, My Spouse, shall be My chosen One and You have found grace in My Sight; and there­fore I make You Queen of all these goods and I give You dominion and possession of them all, so that, if You are a faithful spouse according to My wishes, You may distribute and dispose of them according as You desire and according as Your intercession shall direct; for this is the purpose, for which they are given into Your possession." Therewith the Most Blessed Trinity placed a crown on the head of our Princess Mary, consecrat­ing Her as the sovereign Queen of all creation. Upon it was spread and enameled the inscription: Mother of God; but its meaning was not known to Her at this time. The heavenly spirits, however, knew it and they were filled with admiration at the magnificence of the Lord toward this Maiden, most fortunate and blessed among womankind. They revered and honored Her as their legitimate Queen and as Sovereign of all creation.

104 All these portents of love the Right Hand of the Most High wrought according to the order most befit­ting His Infinite Wisdom; for before coming down to assume flesh in the virginal womb of this Lady, it was proper that all His courtiers should acknowledge His Mother as their Queen, and give Her due honor as such. It was certainly proper and just that God should first make Her Queen before making Her Mother of the Prince of Eternities; for She that was to bear a Prince, must necessarily first be a Queen and be acknowledged as Queen by Her vassals. That the angels should know Her as Mother, was not improper, nor was there any necessity of concealing it from them. But on the other hand it seemed due to the Majesty of the Di­vinity, that the Tabernacle chosen for His Indwelling should appear before them prepared and adorned with all that was highest in dignity and perfection, in nobility and magnificence to the full extent, in which it was pos­sible. Thus then, was She presented to the Holy Angels, and recognized by them, as their honored Queen and Lady.

105 In order to put the last touch to this prodigious work of preparing the most holy Mary, the Lord ex­tended His Powerful Arm and expressly renewed the spirit and the faculties of the great Lady, giving Her new inclinations, habits and qualities, the greatness and excellence of which are inexpressible in terrestrial terms. It was the finishing act and the final retouching of the living image of God, in order to form, in it and of it, the very shape, into which the Eternal Word, the Essen­tial Image of the Eternal Father (2 Cor 4:4) and the Figure of His Substance (Heb 1:3), was to be cast. Thus the whole Temple of most holy Mary, more so than that of Solomon, was covered with the purest gold of the Divinity inside and out, (1 Kgs 6:30), so that no­where could be seen in Her any grossness of an earthly daughter of Adam. Her entire being was made to shine forth the Divinity. For since the Divine Word was to issue from the Eternal Father to descend to Mary, He provided for the greatest possible similarity between the Mother and the Father.

106 No words at my disposal could ever suffice to describe, as I would wish, the effects of these favors in the heart of our great Queen and Mother. Human thought cannot conceive them, how then can human words express them? But what has caused the greatest wonder in me, when I considered these things in the light given to me, is the humility of this Heavenly Woman and the mutual contest between Her humility and the Divine Power. Rare and astonishing prodigy of hu­mility, to see this Maiden, most holy Mary, though raised to the supreme dignity and holiness next to God, yet humiliating Herself and debasing Herself below the meanest of creatures; so that, by the force of this humility, no thought of Her being destined for the Moth­ership of the Messiah could find entrance into Her mind! And not only this: She did not even have a suspicion of anything great or admirable in Herself (Ps 130:1). Her eyes and heart were not elated; on the contrary the higher She ascended by the operation of the Right Hand of Her God, so much the lowlier were Her thoughts concerning Herself. It was therefore just, that the Al­mighty should look upon Her humility (Lk 1:48), and that therefore all generations should call Her fortunate and blessed.

INSTRUCTION THAT THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN GAVE ME

107 My daughter, the soul that has only a selfish and servile love is not a worthy spouse of the Most High, for she must not love or fear like a slave, nor is she sup­posed to serve for her daily wages. Yet although her heart must be a filial and generous love on account of the excellence and immense goodness of her Spouse, she must nevertheless also feel herself much bound to Him, when she considers how rich and liberal He is; how, on account of His love for souls, He has created such a variety of visible goods in order that they might serve those who serve Him; and especially, when she considers how many hidden treasures He has in readi­ness in the abundance of His sweetness  (Ps 31:19) for those that fear Him as His true children. I wish that you feel deeply obliged to your Lord and Father, your Spouse and Friend, at the thought of the riches given to those souls, who become His dearest children. For, as a Powerful Father, He holds in readiness these great and manifold gifts for His children, and if necessary, all of His gifts for each one of them in particular. In the midst of such motives and incentives of love the disaf­fection of men is inexcusable, and at the sight of so many blessings, given without measure, their ingratitude is unpardonable.

108Remember, also, My dear, that you were no foreigner, or stranger in this House of the Lord, His Holy Church (Eph 2:19); but you were made a do­mestic and a spouse of Christ among the saints, favored by His gifts and by the dowry of a bride. Since all the treasures and riches of the bridegroom belong to the legitimate spouse, consider of how great possessions He makes you participant and sovereign. Enjoy them all, then, as His domestic, and be zealous for His honor as a much-favored daughter and spouse; thank Him for all these works and benefits, as if they had all been pre­pared for you alone by the Lord. Love and reverence Him for yourself and for all your neighbors, to whom God has been so liberal. In all this, imitate with your weak faculties that which you have understood of what I have done. I assure you also, daughter, that it will be very pleasing to Me, if you magnify and praise the Om­nipotent with fervent affection, for the favors and riches which, beyond all human conception, the Divine Right Hand showered upon Me.

CITY OF GOD   THE INCARNATION   BOOK 1

CHAPTER 10

ARCHANGEL GABRIEL SENT TO ANNOUNCE TO MARY THAT

SHE IS CHOSEN TO BE THE MOTHER OF GOD

109For infinite ages had been appointed the con­venient hour and time, in which the great mystery of piety (1 Tim 3:16), which was approved by the Spirit, prophesied to men, foretold to the angels, and expected in the world, was to be drawn from the hidden recesses of the Divine Wisdom in order to be appropriately mani­fested in the Flesh. The plenitude of time (Gal 4:4) had arrived, that time which until then, although filled with prophecies and promises, was nevertheless void and empty. For it lacked the fullness of the most holy Mary, by whose will and consent all the ages were to receive their complement, namely the Eternal Word made flesh, capable of suffering and redeeming man. Before all ages this mystery was prearranged in such a way, that it should be fulfilled through the mediation of this Heavenly Maiden. Since now She existed in the world, the Redemption of man and the coming of the Only Begotten of the Father was no longer to be de­layed. For now He would not need to come and live as if by sufferance merely in tents (2 Sam 7:6) or in a strange house; but He could enjoy a free welcome as in His Temple and as in His own House, one that had been built and enriched at His own Preordained Expense, more so than the Temple of Solomon at the expense of His father David (I Chr 22:5).

110In this predetermined time then, the Most High resolved to send His Only Begotten Son into the world. And comparing, (according to our way of understand­ing and speaking), the decrees of His eternity with the prophecies and testimonies made to man from the be­ginning of the world, and all this together with the po­sition of sanctity to which He had raised most holy Mary, He judged that all the circumstances were favorable for the Exaltation of His Holy Name, and that the execution of His Eternal Will and Decree should be made manifest to the angels and be commenced by them. His Majesty spoke to Archangel Gabriel in such words or lan­guage, as He was accustomed to use in intimating His Divine Will to the Holy Angels. Although God usually illumines the holy spirits by commencing with the higher angels, who in turn purify and illumine the others in their order down to the least among them, thus making known the revelations of the Divinity; yet on this occasion this usage was not maintained, for the Holy Archangel re­ceived his message immediately from the Mouth of God.

111At the bidding of the Divine Will the holy Ga­briel presented himself at the foot of the throne intent upon the Immutable Essence of the Most High. His Ma­jesty then expressly charged him with the message, which he was to bring to the most holy Mary and in­structed him in the very words with which he was to salute and address Her. Thus the first Author of the Message was God Himself, Who formed the exact words in His Divine Mind, and revealed them to the holy Archangel for transmission to the most pure Mary. At the same time the Lord revealed to the holy prince Gabriel many hidden sacraments concerning the Incarnation. The Blessed Trinity commanded him to go to the heavenly Maiden and announce to Her, that the Lord had chosen Her among women to be the Mother of the Eternal Word, that She should conceive Him in Her vir­ginal womb through operation of the Holy Spirit without injury to Her virginity. In this and in all the rest of the message, which he was to declare and manifest to this great Queen, the Blessed Trinity instructed the Archangel.

112Thereupon His Majesty announced to all the other angels that the time of the Redemption had come and that He had commanded it to be brought to the world without delay; for already, in their own presence, the most holy Mary had been prepared and adorned to be His Mother, and had been exalted to the supreme dig­nity. The heavenly spirits heard the Voice of their Crea­tor, and with incomparable joy and thanksgiving for the fulfillment of His Eternal and Perfect Will, they intoned new Canticles of praise, repeating therein that hymn of Zion: "Holy, Holy, Holy are You, Lord God Sabaoth (Is 6:3). Righteous and powerful are You, Lord our God, Who lives in the highest (Ps 113:5) and looks upon the lowly of the earth. Admirable are all Your works, most high and exalted in Your designs."

113The supernal prince Gabriel, obeying with sin­gular delight the Divine Command and accompanied by many thousands of most beautiful angels in visible forms, descended from the highest heaven. The appearance of the great prince and legate was that of a most hand­some youth of rarest beauty; his face emitted resplen­dent rays of light, his bearing was grave and majestic, his advance measured, his motions composed, his words weighty and powerful, his whole presence displayed a pleasing, kindly gravity and more of godlike qualities than all the other angels until then seen in visible form by the Heavenly Queen. He wore a diadem of exquisite splendor and his vestments glowed in various colors full of refulgent beauty. Enchased on his breast, he bore a most beautiful cross, disclosing the mystery of the Incarnation, which He had come to announce. All these circumstances were calculated to rivet the affec­tionate attention of the most prudent Queen.

114The whole of this celestial army with their princely leader holy Gabriel directed their flight to Naz­areth, a town of the province of Galilee, to the dwelling place of most holy Mary. This was a humble cottage and Her chamber was a narrow room, bare of all those furnishings that are accustomed to be used by the world in order to hide its own meanness and lack of all higher goods. The heavenly Queen was at this time 14 years, 6 months and 17 days of age; for Her birthday anniversary fell on September 8 and 6 months 17 days had passed since that date, when this greatest of all mysteries ever performed by God in this world, was enacted in Her.

115The bodily shape of the Heavenly Queen was well proportioned and taller than is usual with other maidens of Her age; yet extremely elegant and perfect in all its parts. Her face was rather more oblong than round, gracious and beautiful, without leanness or gross­ness; its complexion clear, yet of a slightly brownish hue.  Her forehead spacious yet symmetrical; Her eye­brows perfectly arched; Her eyes large and serious, of incredible and ineffable beauty and dovelike sweetness, dark in color with a mixture tending toward green; Her nose straight and well shaped; Her mouth small, with red-colored lips, neither too thin nor too thick. All the gifts of nature in Her were so symmetrical and beautiful, that no other human being ever had the like. To look upon Her caused feelings at the same time of joy and seriousness, love and reverential fear. She attracted the heart and yet restrained it in sweet reverence. Her beauty impelled the tongue to sound Her praise, and yet Her grandeur and Her overwhelming perfections and graces hushed it to silence. In all who approached Her, She caused Divine effects not easily explained. She filled the heart with heavenly influences and Divine operations, tending toward the Divinity.

116Her garments were humble and poor, yet clean, of a dark silvery hue, somewhat like the color of ashes, and they were arranged and worn without pretense, but with the greatest modesty and propriety. At the time when, without Her noticing it, the embassy of heaven drew near unto Her, She was engaged in the highest contemplation concerning the Mysteries that the Lord had renewed in Her by so many favors during the 9 preceding days. And since, as we have said above, the Lord Himself had assured Her that His Only Begotten would soon descend to assume human form, this great Queen was full of fervent and joyful affection in the ex­pectation of its execution and inflamed with humble love, She spoke in Her heart: "Is it possible that the blessed time has arrived, in which the Word of the Eternal Father is to be born and to converse with men? (Baruch 10:38). That the world should possess Him? That men are to see Him in the Flesh? (Is 40:5). That His inacces­sible light is to shine forth to illumine those who sit in darkness? (Is. 9:2). O, who shall be worthy to see and know Him, O, who shall be allowed to kiss the earth touched by His Feet! "

117"Rejoice, you heavens, and console yourself, O earth (Ps 96:11); let all things bless and extol Him, since already His eternal happiness is nigh! O children of Adam, afflicted with sin, and yet creatures of My Beloved, now shall you raise your heads and throw off the yoke of your ancient servitude! (Is 14:25). O, you an­cient Forefathers and Prophets, and all you just, who are detained in limbo and are waiting in the bosom of Abra­ham, now shall you be consoled and your much desired and long promised Redeemer shall tarry no longer! (Haggai 2:8). Let us all magnify Him and sing to Him hymns of praise! O who shall be the slave of Her, whom Isaiah points out as His Mother (Is 7:4)? O Emmanuel, true God and Man! O Key of David, Who is to unlock heaven! (Is 22:22)! O Eternal Wisdom! O Lawgiver of the new Church! Come, come to us, O Lord, and end the captivity of Your people; let all flesh see Your Salva­tion!" (Is 40:5).

118In these petitions and aspirations, and in many more too deep for my tongue to explain, the most holy Mary was engaged at the hour, when the Holy Archangel Gabriel arrived. She was most pure in soul, most per­fect in body, most noble in Her sentiments, most exalted in sanctity, Full of Grace and so deified and pleasing in the Sight of God, that She was fit to be His Mother and an instrument adapted for drawing Him from the Father to Her virginal womb. She was the power­ful means of our Redemption and to Her we owe it on many accounts. And therefore it is just, that all gen­erations and nations shall bless and forever extol Her (Luke 1:48). What happened at the entrance of the heavenly embassy, I will relate in the following chapter.

119 I wish only to state here a fact worthy of admira­tion, that for the reception of the message of the Arch­angel and for the execution of the exalted mystery, which was to be wrought in the Heavenly Lady by Her consent, His Majesty left Her without any other aid than the resources of Her common human nature and those furnished Her by the faculties and virtues of Her ordi­nary condition, such as have been described in the first part of this history (Part I, 674-714). The Most High disposed it thus, because this Mystery was to be enacted as a Sacrament of Faith conjointly with Hope and Char­ity. And therefore the Lord provided Her with no spe­cial aid, leaving Her to Her belief and hope in His Divine Promises. Thus prepared She experienced what I shall try to relate in my inadequate and limited terms. The greatness of these sacraments makes my ability to ex­plain them appear so much the more insufficient.

INSTRUCTION OF THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN

120 My daughter, with special affection I manifest to you now My will and desire that you make yourself worthy of the intimate and familiar converse with God, and that for this purpose you dispose yourself with great zeal and solicitude, weeping over your sins, and forgetting and rejecting all the visible things, so that you have no thought henceforth for any other thing outside of God. Therefore you must begin to practice all that I have taught you until now, and whatever I will yet teach you in the balance of this history. I will accompany you and guide you on the course with which you must maintain in this familiar communication and in regard to the favors, which you receive through His condescen­sion, entertaining Him in your heart by means of the faith, light and grace given to you. If you do not first conform to this My admonition, and prepare your­self accordingly, you will not reach the fulfillment of your desires, nor shall I reap the fruit of My instruc­tions, which I give to you as your Teacher.

121 Since you have found, without any merit of yours, the hidden treasure and the precious pearl of My teachings and instruction (Matt 13:44), despise all other things, in order to possess and secure for yourself this prize of inestimable value; for with it you shall receive all other goods and you will make yourself worthy of the intimate friendship of the Lord and of His perpetual indwelling in your heart. In exchange for this great blessing, I desire that you die to all earthly things and that you offer the thankful love of an en­tirely purified will. In imitation of Me be so humble, that as far as you are concerned, you are per­suaded and convinced of your entire worthlessness and in­capability, not meriting to be considered even as a slave of the servants of Christ.

122 Remember, I was far from imagining, that the Most High had designed Me for the dignity of Mother of God; and this was My state of mind although He had already promised His speedy coming into the world and although He had commanded Me to desire after Him with such great affection, that on the day before the execution of this Mystery I thought I would die and My heart would burst with loving sighs, if the Divine Providence had not comforted Me. He dilated My spirit with the firm hope that the Only Begotten of the Eternal Father would descend from heaven without delay. Yet on the other hand, My humility inclined Me to fear, lest My presence in the world might perhaps retard His com­ing. Contemplate then, My beloved, this secret of My heart, and what an example it is for you and for all men. And since it is difficult for you to understand and describe such high wisdom, look upon Me in the Lord, in order that by His Divine Light, you may meditate and comprehend the perfection of My actions; follow Me by imitating Me, and walk in My footsteps.

CITY OF GOD   THE INCARNATION   BOOK 1

CHAPTER 11

THE INCARNATION OF THE ETERNAL WORD

123 I wish to confess before heaven and earth and its inhabitants, and in the Presence of the Eternal God, the Creator of the Universe, that in setting myself to write of the profound Mystery of the Incarnation, my feeble strength deserts me, my tongue is struck mute, my discourse is silenced, my faculties are benumbed, my understanding is eclipsed and overwhelmed by the Divine Light, which guides and instructs me. In it all is per­ceived without error and without any deviousness; I see my insignificance and I am made aware of the empti­ness of words and the insufficiency of human terms for doing justice to my concepts of this Sacrament, which comprehends at one and the same time God Himself and the greatest and most wonderful work of His Omnipo­tence. I see in this Mystery the divine and admirable harmony of His Infinite Providence and Wisdom, with which from all eternity He has ordained and prearranged, and by which He directed all creation toward its ful­fillment. All His works and all His creatures were only well adjusted means of advancing toward this apex of His aims, the condescension of a God in assuming human nature.

124 I saw that the Eternal Word had awaited and chosen, as the most opportune time and hour for His descent from the Father, the midnight of mortal perversion (Wis 18:14), when the whole pos­terity of Adam was buried and absorbed in the sleep of forgetfulness and ignorance of their true God, and when there was no one to open his mouth in confessing and blessing Him, except some chosen souls among His people. All the rest of the world was lost in silent dark­ness, having passed a protracted night of about 5,200 years.* Age had succeeded age, and generations followed upon generations, each one in the time predestined and decreed by the Eternal Wisdom, each also having an opportunity to know and find Him, its Creator; for all had Him so near to them, that He gave them life, movement and existence within their own selves (Acts 17:28). But as the clear day of His inac­cessible light had not arrived, Though some men, like the blind, came near to Him and touched Him in His creatures, yet they did not attain to the Divinity (Rom 1:23) and in failing to recognize Him, they cast themselves upon the sensible and most vile things of the earth. *Creation Scientists agree that the world and universe is less than 10,000 years old.  See note above (par. 9). Scientists who believe that the world and the universe are billions of years old ignore all the evidence that they are wrong and that radiometric dating doesn't work.  For example, we know that Mt. St. Helen blew its top in 1980.  But according to radiometric dating, it happened millions of years ago or hundreds of thousands of years ago depending on which method was used. Different methods invariably disagree. 

125 The day then had arrived in which the Most High, setting aside the long ages of this dark ignorance, resolved to manifest Himself to men and begin the Re­demption of the human race by assuming their nature in the womb of most holy Mary, now prepared for this event. In order to be able to describe what was revealed concerning this event to me, it is necessary to make men­tion of some hidden Sacraments connected with the De­scent of the Only Begotten from the Fa­ther. I assume as firmly established what the Holy Faith teaches in regard to the Divine Persons, that although there is a real personal distinction between the 3 Per­sons, yet there is no inequality in Wisdom, Omnipotence or other attributes, just as little as there is in the Divine Nature; and just as They are equal in dignity and in­finite perfection, so They are also equal in these opera­tions ad extra, which proceed from God Himself for the production of some creature or temporal object. These operations are indivisibly wrought by 3 Divine Per­sons; for not One Person Alone produces them, but all 3 in so far as They are One and the Same God, pos­sessing One and the Same Wisdom, One and the Same Understanding and Will. Thus what the Son knows and wishes, that also the Father knows and wishes; and so also the Holy Spirit knows and wishes whatever is known and willed by the Father and the Son.

126 In this indivisibility of action the 3 Persons wrought and executed, by one and the same act, the Mys­tery of the Incarnation, although only the Person of the Son accepted for Himself the nature of man, uniting it to Himself hypostatically. Therefore we say that the Eternal Father, sent the Son from Whose Intelli­gence He proceeds, and that the Father sent Him, by the intervening operations of the Holy Spirit. As it was the Person of the Son Which came to be made Man, this same Person before descending from the heavens and the Father, in the Name of that same hu­manity to be received by Him, made a conditional re­quest, that, on account of His foreseen merits, His Salva­tion and Satisfaction of the Divine Justice for sins be ex­tended to the whole human race. He desired the ratification of the Most Blessed Will of the Father, Who sent Him, for the acceptance of this Redemption by means of His Most Holy Works and His Passion, and through the Mysteries, which He was to enact in the New Church and in the Law of Grace.

127The Eternal Father accepted this petition and the foreseen merits of the Word. He conceded all that was proposed and asked for men, and He Himself confirmed the elect and predestined souls as the inheri­tance and possession of Christ forever. Hence, Christ Himself, our Lord, through St. John says that He has not lost nor has allowed to perish, those whom the Father had given Him (John 18:9). In another place it is said: that no one shall snatch His sheep from His Hands nor from Those of His Father (John 17:12). The same would hold good of all those that are born, if they would avail themselves of the Redemption, which, as it is suffi­cient, should also be efficacious for all and in all; since His Divine Mercy desired to exclude no one, if only all of them would make themselves capable of receiving its benefits through the Redeemer.

128 All this, according to our way of understanding, happened in Heaven at the Throne of the Most Blessed Trinity as a prelude to the fiat of the most Holy Mary, of which I will presently speak. At the moment, in which the Only Begotten of the Father descended to Her virginal womb, all the heavens and the creatures were set in com­motion. On account of the inseparable union of the Di­vine Persons, the 3 of Them descended with the Word, though the Word Alone was to become Incarnate. And with the Lord their God, all the hosts of the celes­tial army, issued from Heaven, full of invincible strength and splendor. Although it was not necessary to pre­pare the way, since the Divinity fills the universe, is present in all places and cannot be impeded by anything; nevertheless the heavens showed deference to their Creator, and, together with the in­ferior elements, opened up and parted as it were, for His passage; the stars shone with greater brilliancy, the moon and sun with the planets hastened their course in the service of their Creator, anxious to witness the great­est of His wonderful works.

129 Men did not perceive this commotion and re­newal of all the creatures; both because it happened during the night, as well as because the Lord wished it to be known only to the angels. These with new wonder praised Him, knowing these profound and venerable Mysteries to be hidden from men. For they knew that men were far removed from understanding these won­derful benefits, so admirable even in the eyes of angelic spirits. To these angelic spirits alone was at that time assigned the duty of giving glory, praise and reverence for these benefits to their Creator. However, in the hearts of some of the righteous, the Most High infused at that hour a new feeling and affection of extraordinary joy of which they became conscious. They conceived new and grand ideas concerning the Lord; some of them were inspired and began to confer within themselves, whether this new sensation, which they felt, was not the effect of the Coming of the Messiah in order to redeem the world; but all this remained concealed, for each one thought, that he alone had experienced this renewal of his interior.

130 In the other creatures there was a like renovation and change. The birds moved about with new songs and joyousness; the plants and trees gave forth more fruit and fragrance; and in like proportion all the rest of the creatures received and felt some kind of vivifying change. But among those that received the greatest share, were the Fathers and Saints in limbo, where Archangel Michael was sent with the glad message, in order to console them and cause in them the fullness of jubilee and praise. Only for hell it was a cause of new consternation and grief; for at the Descent of the Eternal Word from on high, the devils felt an impet­uous force of the Divine Power, Which came upon them like the waves of the sea and buried all of them in the deepest caverns of their darkness without leaving them any strength of resistance or recovery. When by Divine permission they were again able to rise, they poured forth upon the world and hastened about to discover what strange happening had thus undone them. How­ever, although they held several conferences among them­selves, they were unable to find the cause.  The Divine Power concealed from them the Sacra­ment of the Incarnation and the manner in which most Holy Mary conceived the Incarnate Word (No. 326). Not until the Death of Christ on the Cross did they arrive at the certainty, that He was God and true Man, as we shall there relate.

131 In order that the Mystery of the Most High might be fulfilled, Archangel Gabriel, in the shape described in the preceding chapter and accom­panied by innumerable angels in visible human forms and resplendent with incomparable beauty, entered into the chamber, where most Holy Mary was praying. It was on a Thursday at 6 o'clock in the evening and at the approach of night. The great modesty and restraint of the Princess of heaven did not permit Her to look at him more than was necessary to recognize him as an Angel of the Lord. Recognizing him as such, She, in Her usual humility, wished to do him reverence; the holy prince would not allow it; on the contrary he himself bowed profoundly as before his Queen, in whom he adored the Heavenly Mysteries of his Creator. At the same time he understood that from that day on the ancient times and the custom of old whereby men should worship angels, as Abraham had done (Gen 28:2), were changed. For as human nature was raised to the dignity of God Himself in the Person of the Word, men now held the position of adopted children, of com­panions and brethren of the angels, as the angel said to Evangelist St. John, when he refused to be wor­shipped (Rev 19:10).

132 The holy Archangel saluted our and his Queen and said: "Rejoice Full of Grace, * the Lord is with You, Blessed are You among women" (Luke 1:28). Hearing this new sal­utation of the angel, this most humble of all creatures was disturbed, but not confused in mind (Luke 1:29). This disturbance arose from 2 causes: first, from Her humility, for She thought Herself the lowest of the crea­tures and thus in Her humility, was taken unawares at hearing Herself saluted and called the "Blessed among women;" secondly, when She heard this salute and be­gan to consider within Herself how She should receive it, She was interiorly made to understand by the Lord, that He chose Her for His Mother, and this caused a still greater perturbance, having such an humble opinion of Herself. On account of this perturbance the angel pro­ceeded to explain to Her the decree of the Lord, saying: "Do not fear, Mary, for You have found grace before the Lord (Luke 1:30); behold You shall conceive a Son in Your womb, and You shall give birth to Him, and You shall name Him Jesus; He shall be great, and He shall be called Son of the Most High," and the rest as recorded of the Holy Archangel. * Editor: “Hail” is an old English word for rejoice.  Full of Grace is to be capitalized as it is actually a new name given to Our Lady by God.

133 Our most prudent and humble Queen alone, among all the creatures, was sufficiently intelligent and magnanimous to estimate at its true value such a new and unheard of Sacrament; and in proportion as She realized its greatness, so She was also moved with ad­miration. But She raised Her humble heart to the Lord, Who could not refuse Her any petition, and in the secret of Her spirit She asked new light and assistance by which to govern Herself in such an arduous transaction; for, as we have said in the preceding chapter, the Most High, in order to permit Her to act in this Mystery solely in Faith, Hope and Charity, left Her in the common state and suspended all other kinds of favors and interior ele­vations, which She so frequently or continually enjoyed. In this disposition She replied and said to holy Gabriel, what is written in St. Luke: "How shall this happen, that I conceive and bear; since I know not, nor can know, man?" At the same time She interiorly represented to the Lord the vow of, chastity, which She had made and the espousal, which His Majesty had celebrated with Her.

134 The holy prince Gabriel replied (Luke 1:24): "Lady, it is easy for the Divine Power to make You a Mother without the co-operation of man; the Holy Spirit shall remain with You by a new Presence and the Virtue of the Most High shall overshadow You, so that the Holy of Holies can be born of You, Who shall Himself be called the Son of God. And behold, Your cousin Elisa­beth has likewise conceived a son in her sterile years and this is the 6th month of her conception; for noth­ing is impossible with God. He Who can make her con­ceive, who was sterile, can bring it about, that You, Lady, be His Mother, still preserving Your virginity and enhancing Your purity. To the Son Whom You shall bear, God will give the throne of His father David and His reign shall be everlasting in the house of Jacob. You are not ignorant, O Lady, of the prophecy of Isaiah (Is 7:14), that a Virgin shall conceive and shall bear a Son, Whose Name shall be Emmanuel, God with us. This prophecy is infallible and it shall be fulfilled in Your person. You know also of the great mystery of the bush, which Moses saw burning without its being con­sumed by the fire (Ex 3:2). This signified that the 2 Natures, Divine and Human, are to be united in such a manner, that the latter is not consumed by the Divine, and that the Mother of the Messiah shall conceive and give birth without violation of Her virginal purity. Re­member also, Lady, the promise of the Eternal God to the Patriarch Abraham, that, after the captivity of his posterity for 4 generations, they should return to this land; the mysterious signification of which was, that in this, the 4th generation,*the Incarnate God is to rescue the whole race of Adam through Your co-operation from the oppression of the devil (Gen 15:16). And the ladder, which Jacob saw in his sleep (Gen 28:12), was an express figure of the royal way, which the Eternal Word was to open up and by which men are to ascend to heaven and the angels to descend to earth. To this earth the Only Begotten of the Father shall lower Himself in order to converse with men and communicate to them the treasures of His Divinity, imparting to them His virtues and His immutable and eternal perfections." *In the autograph manuscript Mary of Agreda explains this 4th genera­tion as follows: "The mystery of this 4th generation is that there are 4 generations: 1st, that of Adam without a father or mother; 2nd, that of Eve without a mother; 3rd, of our own, from a father and mother; 4th, that of our Lord Jesus Christ, from a Mother without a father."

135 With these and many other words the ambassa­dor of heaven instructed the most Holy Mary, in order that, by the remembrance of the ancient promises and prophecies of Holy Scriptures, by the reliance and trust in them and in the infinite power of the Most High, She might overcome Her hesitancy at the heavenly message. But as the Lady Herself exceeded the angels in wisdom, prudence and in all sanctity, She withheld Her answer in order to be able to give it in accordance with the Divine Will and that it might be worthy of the greatest of all the Mysteries and Sacraments of the Divine Power. She reflected that upon Her answer depended the Promise of the Most Blessed Trinity, the fulfillment of His Prophecies, the most pleasing and acceptable of all sacrifices, the opening of the gates of Paradise, the victory and triumph over hell, the Redemption of all the human race, the Satisfaction of  Divine Justice, the foundation of the new Law of Grace, the glorification of men, the rejoicing of the angels, and whatever was con­nected with the Incarnation of the Only Begotten of the Father and His assuming the form of servant in Her virginal womb (Phil 2:7).

136 A great wonder, indeed, and worthy of our ad­miration, that all these Mysteries and whatever others they included, should be entrusted by the Almighty to a humble Maiden and made dependent upon Her fiatBut befittingly and securely He left them to the wise and strong decision of this courageous Woman (Prov 31:11), since She would consider them with such mag­nanimity and nobility, that perforce His confidence in Her was not misplaced. The operations, which proceed within the Divine Essence, depend not on the co-opera­tion of creatures, for they have no part in them and God could not expect such co-operations for executing the works ad intrabut in the works ad extra and such as were contingent, among which that of becoming man was the most exalted, He could not proceed without the co-operation of most Holy Mary and without Her free consent. For He wished to reach this summit of all the works outside Himself in Her and through Her and He wished that we should owe this benefit to this Mother of Wisdom and our Repairer.

137 Therefore this great Lady considered and in­spected profoundly this spacious field of the dignity of Mother of God in order to purchase it by Her fiat; She clothed Herself in fortitude more than human, and She tasted and saw how profitable was this enterprise and commerce with the Divinity. She com­prehended the ways of His hidden benevolence and adorned Herself with fortitude and beauty. And hav­ing conferred with Herself and with the heavenly mes­senger Gabriel about the grandeur of these high and Divine Sacraments, and finding Herself in excellent con­dition to receive the message sent to Her, Her purest soul was absorbed and elevated in admiration, reverence and highest intensity of Divine Love. By the intensity of these movements and supernal affections, Her most pure heart, as it were by natural consequence, was contracted and compressed with such force, that it distilled 3 drops of Her most pure blood, and these, finding their way to the natural place for the act of conception, were formed by the Power of the Divine and Holy Spirit, into the Body of Christ our Lord. Thus the matter, from which the Most Holy Humanity of the Word for our Re­demption is composed, was furnished and administered by the most pure heart of Mary and through the sheer force of Her true love. At the same moment, with a humility never sufficiently to be extolled, inclining slightly Her head and joining Her hands, She pro­nounced these words, which were the beginning of our salvation: "Let it be done to Me according to your word"(Luke 1:31).

138 At the pronouncing of this "Let it be done…(Fiat)" so sweet to the Hearing of God and so fortunate for us, in one in­stant, 4 things happened. First, the Most Holy Body of Christ our Lord was formed from the 3 drops of blood furnished by the heart of most Holy Mary. Sec­ondly, the Most Holy Soul of the Lord was created, just as the other souls. Thirdly, the Soul and the Body united in order to compose His Perfect Humanity. And fourthly, the Divinity united Itself in the Person of the Word with the humanity, which together became One Composite Being in Hypostatical Union; and thus was formed Christ True God and Man, our Lord and Re­deemer. This happened in springtime on March 25, at break or dawning of the day, in the same hour, in which our first father Adam was made and in the year of the creation of the world 5199, which agrees also with the count of the Roman Church in her Martyrology under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This reckoning is the true and certain one, as was told me, when I inquired at command of my supe­riors. Conformable to this, the world was created in the month of March, which corresponds to the beginning of creation. And as the works of the Most High are per­fect and complete (Deut 32:4), the plants and trees came forth from the Hands of His Majesty bearing fruit, and they would have borne them continually without in­termission, if sin had not changed the whole nature.

139 In the same instant, in which the Almighty cele­brated the nuptials of the Hypostatic Union in the womb of most Holy Mary, the Heavenly Lady was elevated to the beatific vision and the Divinity manifested Itself to Her clearly and intuitively. She saw most high Sacra­ments, of which I will speak in the next chapter. The Mysteries of the inscriptions, with which She was adorned and which the angels exhibited as related in Chapter 7 (No. 82, also Part I, 207, 363-4), were made clear to Her each in particular. The Divine Child began to grow in the natural manner in the recess of the womb, being nourished by the substance and the blood of His most holy Mother, just as other men; yet He was more free and exempt from the imperfections, to which other children of Adam are subject in that place and period. For from some of these, namely those that are accidental and unnecessary to the substance of the act of generation, being merely effects of sin, the Empress of Heaven was free. She was also free from the superflui­ties caused by sin, which in other women are common and happen naturally in the formation, sustenance and growth of their children. For the necessary matter, which is proper to the infected nature of the descend­ants of Eve and which was lacking in Her, was sup­plied and administered in Her by the exercise of heroic acts of virtue and especially by charity. By the fervor of Her soul and Her loving affections the blood and hu­mors of Her body were changed and thereby Divine Providence provided for the sustenance of the Divine Child. Thus in a natural manner the Humanity of our Redeemer was nourished, while His Divinity was recre­ated and pleased with Her heroic virtues. Most Holy Mary furnished to the Holy Spirit, for the formation of this Body, pure and limpid blood, free from sin and all its tendencies. And whatever impure and imperfect matter is supplied by other mothers for the growth of their children was administered by the Queen of Heaven most pure and delicate in substance; for it was built up and supplied by the power of Her loving affections and Her other virtues. In a like manner was purified whatever served as food for the Heavenly Queen. For, as She knew that Her nourishment was at the same time to sustain and nourish the Son of God, She partook of it with such heroic acts of virtue, that the angelic spirits wondered how such common human actions could be connected with such supernal heights of merit and per­fection in the Sight of God.

140 The Heavenly Lady was thus established in such high privileges in Her position as Mother of God, that those which I have already mentioned and which I shall yet mention, convey not even the smallest idea of Her excellence, and my tongue cannot describe it. For, neither is it possible to conceive it by the understanding, nor can the most learned, nor the most wise of men find adequate terms to express it. The humble, who are proficient in the art of Divine Love, become aware of it by infused light and by the interior taste and feeling, by which such Sacraments are perceived. Not only was most Holy Mary become a Heaven, a Temple and Dwelling Place of the Most Holy Trinity, transformed thereto, ele­vated and made godlike by the special and unheard of operation of the Divinity in Her most pure womb; but Her humble cottage and Her poor little oratory was con­secrated by the Divinity as a new Sanctuary of God. The heavenly spirits, which as witnesses of this marvelous transformation were present to contemplate it, magni­fied the Almighty with ineffable praise and jubilee; in union with this most happy Mother, they blessed Him in His Name and in the name of the human race, which was ignorant of this the greatest of His benefits and mercies.

INSTRUCTION OF THE MOST HOLY QUEEN MARY

141 My daughter, you are filled with astonishment at seeing, by means of new light, the mystery of the humiliation of the Divinity in uniting Himself with the human nature in the womb of a poor maiden like Me. I wish, however, that you turn your attention toward yourself and consider, how God humili­ated Himself, and came into My womb, not only for My­self alone, but for you as well. The Lord is infinite in His Mercy and His love has no limit, and thus He at­tends and esteems and assists every soul who receives Him, and He rejoices in it, as if He had created it alone, and as if He had been made man for himself alone. There­fore with all the affection of your soul you must, as it were, consider yourself as being yourself in person bound to render the full measure of thanks of all the world for His coming; and for His coming to redeem all. And if, with a lively faith you are convinced and confess, that the same God Who, infinite in His attributes and Eternal in His Majesty, lowered Himself to assume human flesh in My womb, seeks also you, calls you, re­joices you, caresses you, and thinks of you alone, as if you were His only creature (Gal 2:20); think well and reflect to what His admirable condescension obliges you. Convert this admiration into living acts of faith and love; for that He condescends to come to you, you owe entirely to the goodness of the King and Savior, since you yourself could never find Him nor attain Him.

142 Considering merely that which this Lord can give you outside of Himself, it will appear to you grand, even when you perceive it only by a mere human intelligence and affection. It is certainly true that any gift from such an eminent and supreme King is worthy of all estimation. But when you begin to consider and know by Divine Light, that this gift is God Himself and that He makes you partaker of His Di­vinity, when you will understand, that without your God and without His coming, all creation would be as noth­ing and despicable in your sight; you would want to enjoy yourself and find rest only in the consciousness of possessing such a God, so loving, so amiable, so power­ful, sweet and affluent; Who, being such a great and in­finite God, humiliates Himself to your lowliness in order to raise you from the dust and enrich your poverty, per­forming toward you the duties of a Shepherd, of a Father, a Spouse and most faithful Friend.
143 Attend, therefore, My daughter, in the secret of your heart to all the consequences of these truths. Ponder and confer within yourself about this sweetest love of the Great King for you; how faithful He is in His gifts and caresses, in His favors, in the works confided to you, in the enlightenment of your interior, instructing you by Divine science in the infinite greatness of His Being, in His admirable Works and most hidden Mysteries, in uni­versal truth and in the nothingness of visible existence. This science is the first beginning and principle, the basis and foundation of the knowledge which I have given you in order that you may attain to the de­corum and magnanimity, with which you are to treat the favors and benefits of this your Lord and God, your true blessedness, your treasure, your light and your Guide. Look upon Him as upon the Infinite God, loving; yet overwhelming. Listen to My words, to My teach­ings and discipline, for therein are contained the peace and the enlightenment of your soul.

 CITY OF GOD   THE INCARNATION   BOOK 1

CHAPTER 12

THE ACTIONS OF THE SOUL OF CHRIST IN THE FIRST INSTANT OF HIS CONCEPTION

144 In order to understand what were the first acts of the Most Holy Soul of Christ our Lord, we must refer to that which has been said in the preceding chapter (No. 138), namely, that all that substantially belonged to this Divine Mystery, the formation of the Body, the creation and the infusion of the Soul, and the union of the individual Humanity with the Person of the Word, happened and was completed in one act or instant; so that we cannot say that in any moment of time, Christ our highest Good was only Man. For from the first in­stant He was Man and true God; as soon as His Human­ity arrived at being Man, He was also God; therefore He could not at anytime be called a mere man, not for one instant; but from the very beginning He was God-Man or Man God. And as the active exercise of the faculties is co-existent with operative essences, therefore the Most Holy Soul of Christ our Lord, in the same in­stant, in which the Incarnation took place, was beatified by intuitive vision and love. According to our way of speaking, the powers of His Intellect and Will immediately united with the Divinity Itself. For His Human Essence joined the Divinity in one instant by Hypostatic Union, and thus His Human Faculties in their most perfect ac­tivity were united with the Essence of God Himself, so that both in Essence and in Operation He was entirely Deified.

145 The wonder about this Sacrament is that so much glory, yes, the greatness of the Immense Divinity, was enclosed within such a small compass, not larger than the body of a bee, or not greater than a small al­mond. For the dimension of the Most Holy Body of Christ was not any greater than that at the instant when the conception and Hypostatic Union took place. More­over in this small compass was included the highest glory as well as the capability for suffering; for the Hu­manity was at the same time Glorified and also Passable, it was both a Comprehensor and a Viator, possessing heaven though yet on His pilgrimage to heaven. God, how­ever, in His Infinite Power and Wisdom, could thus contract Himself and enclose His Infinite Deity within the sphere of a Body thus minute by a new and admirable mode of existence, without in the least ceasing to be God. By the same Omnipotence, He provided that this Most Holy Soul of Christ, in its superior faculties and in its most noble operations, should be in the state of glory and enjoying beatitude; while all this immense glory was at the same time compressed, as it were, into the superior parts of His Soul, suspending the effects and gifts of glory, that would otherwise naturally have communicated them­selves to His Body. On this account He could be at the same time a Viator, subject to suffering, enabling Him to procure our salvation by means of His Cross, Passion and Death.

146 In order to be fully equipped for these and for whatever the Most Holy Humanity was to perform, all the habits, natural to His faculties and necessary for their activity and operation both as Comprehensor and as Viator, were infused into it at the moment of His Conception. Thus He was furnished with the infused science of the blessed; with the sanctifying grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which according to Isaiah rested upon the Messiah (Is 11:2). He possessed all the virtues, except faith and hope; for these are incom­patible with the beatific vision and possession, and were lacking in Him; likewise were lacking in the Holy of the holy ones, all other virtues, which presuppose any imperfection; since He could not sin, nor was deceit found in His Mouth (1 Pet 2:22). The dignity and ex­cellence of His science and grace, the virtues and perfec­tions of Christ our Lord need not be mentioned here, for that is taught by the doctors and masters of theology in a profuse manner. For me it is sufficient to state that all this was as perfect as was possible to the Divine Power and that it cannot be encompassed by hu­man understanding. For the Most Holy Soul of Christ drank from the very fountain of the Divinity (Ps 36:9) and could do so without limit or retrenchment, as David says (Ps 110:7). Therefore He must have been possessed of the plenitude of all virtues and per­fections.

147 Thus adorned and deified by the Divinity and its gifts, the Most Holy Soul of Christ our Lord proceeded in its operations in the following order: immediately it began to see and know the Divinity intuitively as it is in itself and as it is united to His Most Holy Humanity, loving it with the highest beatific love and perceiving the inferiority of the human nature in comparison with the Essence of God. The Soul of Christ humiliated it­self profoundly, and in this humility it gave thanks to the Immutable Being of God for having created it and for the benefit of the Hypostatic Union, by which, though remaining human, it was raised to the Essence of God.  It also recognized that His Most Holy Humanity was made capable of suffering, and was adapted for attaining the end of the Redemption. In this knowledge He of­fered Himself as the Redeemer in Sacrifice for the human race (Ps 40:8), accepting the state of suffering and giving thanks in His own Name and in the name of man­kind to the Eternal Father. He recognized the composi­tion of His Most Holy Humanity, the substance of which it was made, and how most Holy Mary by the force of Her charity and of Her heroic virtues, furnished its sub­stance. He took possession of this holy Tabernacle and dwelling; rejoicing in its most exquisite beauty, and, well pleased, reserved as His own property the soul of this most perfect and most pure Creature for all eternity. He praised the Eternal Father for having created Her and endowed Her with such vast graces and gifts; for having exempted Her and freed Her from the common law of sin, as His Daughter, while all the other descen­dants of Adam have incurred its guilt (Rom 5:18). He prayed for the most pure Lady and for St. Joseph, asking eternal salvation for them. All these acts, and many others, were most exalted and proceeded from Him as true God and Man. Not taking into account those that pertain to the beatific vision and love, these acts and each one by itself, were of such merit that they alone would have sufficed to redeem infinite worlds, if such could exist.

148 Even the act of obedience alone, by which the Most Holy Humanity of the Word subjected itself to suf­fering and prevented the glory of His Soul from being communicated to His Body, was abundantly sufficient for our salvation. But although this sufficed for our salva­tion, nothing would satisfy His immense love for men except the full limit of effective love (John 13:1); for this was the purpose of His life, that He should consume it in demonstrations and tokens of such intense love, that neither the understanding of men nor of angels was able to comprehend it. And if in the first instant of His entrance into the world He enriched it so immeasur­ably, what treasures, what riches of merits must He have stored up for it, when He left it by His Passion and Death on the Cross after 33 years of labor and activity all divine! O Immense Love! O charity without limit! O Mercy without measure! O most generous kind­ness! And, on the other hand, O ingratitude and base forgetfulness of men in the face of such unheard of and such vast patronage! What would have become of us without Him? How much less could we do for this our Redeemer and Lord, even if He had conferred on us but small favors, while now we are scarcely moved and obliged by His doing for us all that He could? If we do not wish to treat as a Redeemer Him, Who has given us Eternal Life and liberty, let us at least hear Him as our Teacher; let us follow Him as our Leader, as our guiding light, which shows us the way to our true hap­piness.

149 This Lord and Master did not work for Himself, nor did He preempt His Soul, nor gain this augmentation of grace, for Himself, but entirely for us. He had no need of all this, nor could He receive an increase of grace or glory, since He was filled with them (John 1:14), for He was the Only Begotten of the Father at the same time that He was man. In this He had no equal, nor could He have an imitator. All the saints and mere creatures gained merits for themselves and labored for reward; the love of Christ alone was without self-interest and altogether for us. And if He wished to enter and go through the school of bodily experience of this life (Luke 2:52), it was in order to teach us and enrich us by His obedience (Heb 5:8), while He turned over to us His infinite merits and His example, in order that we might be wisely instructed in the art of loving. For this is not learned perfectly by affection and desire, unless it is truly and effectively practiced in deeds. I do not enlarge upon the Mysteries of the Most Holy Life of Christ our Lord, on account of my incapacity, and I refer to the Gospels, selecting only that which will seem necessary for the heavenly history of His Mother, Our Lady. For the lives of this Son and His most Holy Mother are so intimately connected and intertwined with each other, that I cannot avoid making references to the Gospels and besides add other facts, which are not mentioned by them concerning the Lord and which were not necessary in their narratives for the first ages of the Catholic Church.

150 These operations of Christ our Lord in the first instant of His conception were followed, in another es­sential instant, by the beatific vision of the Divinity, which we have mentioned in the preceding chapter (No. 139); for in one instant of time many instants of essence can take place. In this vision the Heavenly Lady per­ceived with clearness and distinction the Mystery of the Hypostatic Union of the Divine and the Human Natures in the Person of the Eternal Word, and the Most Holy Trinity confirmed Her in the title and the rights of Mother of God. This in all rigor of truth She was, since She was the natural Mother of a Son, Who was Eternal God with the same certainty and truth as He was man. Although this great Lady did not directly co­operate in the union of the Divinity with the humanity, She did not on this account lose Her right to be called the Mother of the True God; for She concurred by administering the material and by exerting Her faculties, as far as it pertained to a true Mother; and to a greater extent than to ordinary mothers, since in Her, the con­ception and the generation took place without the aid of a man. Just as in other generations, the agents which bring them about in the natural course, are called father and mother, each furnishing that which is neces­sary, without however concurring directly in the crea­tion of the soul, nor in its infusion into the body of the child; so also, and with greater reason, most Holy Mary must be called, and did call Herself, Mother of God; for She alone concurred in the generation of Christ, true God and Man, as a Mother, to the exclusion of any other natural cause; and only through this concurrence of Mary in the generation, Christ, the Man-God, was born.

151 The Virgin Mother of Christ also understood in this vision the future Mysteries of the Life and Death of Her sweetest Son and of the Redemption of the human race, together with those of the New Law of the Gospel, which was to be established in connection therewith. To Her were also manifested other great and profound secrets, which were made known to no other saint. The most prudent Queen, seeing Herself thus in the immediate Presence of God and furnished with the plenitude of divine gifts and science as befitting the Mother of the Word, lost in humility and love, adored the Lord in His Infinite Essence, and without de­lay also in Its union with the Most Holy Humanity. She gave Him thanks for having favored Her with the dig­nity of Mother of God and for the favors done to the whole human race. She gave thanks and glory also for all men. She offered Herself as an acceptable sacrifice in His service, in the rearing up and nourishing of Her sweetest Son, ready to assist and co-operate (as far as on Her part it would be possible), in the work of the Redemption; and the Holy Trinity accepted and appointed Her as the Coadjutor in this sacrament. She asked for new graces and divine light for this purpose and for directing Herself in the worthy ministration of Her office as Mother of the Incarnate Word, that She might treat Him with the veneration and magnanimity due to God Himself. She offered to Her Holiest Son all the children of Adam yet to be born and the saints of limbo; and in the name of all and of Herself She per­formed many acts of heroic virtue and asked for great favors, which however I will not stop to mention, as I have already done in regard to others on different occa­sions. For from these it can easily be conjectured what petitions this Heavenly Queen made on this occasion, which so far excelled all the other fortunate and happy days of Her previous life.

152 But She was especially persistent and fervent in Her prayer to obtain guidance of the Almighty for the worthy fulfillment of Her office as Mother of the Only Begotten of the Father. For this, before all other graces, Her humble heart urged Her to desire, and this was especially the subject of Her solicitude, that She might be guided in all Her actions as proper to the Mother of God. The Almighty answered Her: "My Dove, do not fear, for I will assist You and guide You, directing You in all things necessary for the service of My Only Begotten Son." With this promise She came to Herself and issued from Her ecstasy, in which all that I have said had happened, and which was the most wonderful She ever had. Restored to Her faculties, Her first action was to prostrate Herself on the earth and adore Her Holiest Son, God and Man, conceived in Her virginal womb; for this She had not yet done with Her external and bodily senses and faculties. Nothing that She could do in the service of Her Creator, did this most prudent Mother leave undone. From that time on She was con­scious of feeling new and Divine effects in Her holiest soul and in Her exterior and interior faculties. And although the whole tenor of Her life had been most noble both as regards Her body as Her soul; yet on this day of the Incarnation of the Word it rose to still greater nobility of spirit and was made more godlike by still higher reaches of grace and indescribable gifts.

153 But let no one think that the purest Mother was thus favored and so closely united with the Humanity and Divinity of Her Holiest Son, only in order to con­tinue to enjoy spiritual delights and pleasures, free from suffering and pain. Not so, for in closest possible imi­tation of Her sweetest Son, this Lady lived to share both joy and sorrow with Him; the memory of what She had so vividly been taught concerning the labors and the Death of Her Holiest Son, was like a sword piercing Her heart. This sorrow was proportionate to the knowledge and love, which such a Mother had of such a Son, and which His Divine Presence and association so continually recalled to Her mind. Although the whole life of Christ and of His most holy Mother was a con­tinued martyrdom and suffering like that of the Cross, and was filled with incessant pain and labors; yet in the most pure and loving heart of the Heavenly Queen there was also this special feature of suffering, that to Her inward sight as a most loving Mother, the Passion, Torments, Ignominies and Death of Her Son were for­ever present. And by this continued sorrow of 33 years She took upon Herself the long vigil of our Redemption and during all this time this Sacrament was concealed in Her heart without companionship or allevi­ation from any creatures.

154 With this loving sorrow, full of the sweetest an­guish, She often looked upon Her Holiest Son both be­fore and after His birth, and speaking to Him from Her innermost heart, She would repeat these words: "Lord and God of My soul, Most Sweet Son of My womb, why have You given Me the position as Mother and yet connected with it the sorrowful thought of losing You, leaving Me an orphan, bereft of Your desirable company? Scarcely are You put in possession of a Body for Your earthly life, when You are notified of the Sentence of a Sorrowful Death for the rescue of men. The first of Your actions is one of superabundant merit in satisfaction for his sins. O would that the Justice of the Eternal Father were thereby satisfied and Your Sufferings and Death fall upon Me! From My body and blood You have composed Your Own, without which it would not be possible for You to suffer, since You are the Im­mutable and Immortal God. If therefore I have fur­nished You the instrument or the matter of Your Suffer­ings, let Me too suffer with You the same Death. O inhuman sin, how, being so cruel and the cause of so much evil, could you nevertheless be so fortunate, that your Repairer should be One, Who on account of His Infinite Goodness, can make you a "happy fault!" O My Sweetest Son and My love, who shall be Your guard, who shall defend You from Your enemies? O would that it were the Will of the Father, that I guard You and save You from Death, or die in Your company, and that You never leave Mine! But that which happened to the Patriarch Abraham, shall not now take place (Gen 22:11); for the predestined decree shall be exe­cuted. Let the Will of the Lord be fulfilled." Our Queen many times repeated these loving sighs, as I shall say farther on, and the Eternal Father accepted them as an agreeable sacrifice, while they were the sweet­est diversion of Her Most Holy Son.

INSTRUCTION OF OUR QUEEN AND LADY GAVE ME

155 My daughter, since you have, by faith and Divine light, arrived at a knowledge of the grandeur of God and of His ineffable condescension in coming down from heaven for you and for all men, let not this benefit be for the idle and fruitless. Adore the Essence of God with profound reverence, and praise Him for what you know of His goodness. Receive not light and grace in vain (2 Cor 6:1); and study the encourag­ing example given by My Most Holy Son and Myself in imitation of Him, as you have come to be instructed in it; for as He was the true God, and I, His Mother (for in so far as He was Man, His Most Holy Humanity was created). Let us humiliate ourselves in the remem­brance of our lowly human nature and confess the great­ness of the Divinity, greater than any creature can com­prehend. Do this especially when you receive the Lord in the Holy Sacrament. In this admirable Sacrament My Most Holy Son with Divinity and humanity comes to you and remains with you in a new and incom­prehensible way. His great condescension is manifest, though it is little taken notice of and respected by mortals, nor does it find the return due to such love.

156 Let then your acknowledgment be accompanied with as much humility, reverence and worship as is pos­sible to your combined powers and faculties; for though they be exerted to the utmost limit, they will always fall short of what you owe to God and of what He deserves. And in order that you may as far as possible make up for your deficiencies, offer up that, which My Most Holy Son and I have done; unite your spirit and your affections in union with the Church triumphant and militant, offering at the same time your life as a sacrifice and praying that all nations may know, confess and adore their true God Who became man for all. Thank Him for the benefits, which He has conferred and confers on all, whether they know Him or not, whether they confess or repudiate Him. Above all I ask of you, to do that which is most acceptable to the Lord and most pleasing to Me; that you grieve, and in sweet affection mourn over the gross ignorance and dangerous tardiness of the sons of men; over the ingratitude also of the children of the Church, who, having received the light of the Divine faith, yet live in such interior forgetfulness of the works and benefits of the Incarnation, yes, of God Himself, and so much so, that they seem to differ from infidels only in some ceremonies and exterior worship. They perform these without spirit or heartiness, many times offending and provoking the Divine Justice, which they should placate.

157 Through this ignorance and torpidity it happens that they are not prepared to receive and acquire the true science of the Most High. They bring upon them­selves the loss of the Divine light and they deserve to be left in the heavy darkness, making themselves more unworthy than the infidels themselves and meriting for themselves an incomparably greater chastisement. Mourn over such great damage of your neighbors and pray for help from the bottom of your heart. And in order that you may put away from your own self such formidable dangers, do not undervalue the favors and benefits, which you receive, nor, even under pretense of humility, belittle or forget them. Remember and consider how distant was the journey, which the grace of the Most High has made in order to call you (Ps 19:6). Pon­der in your mind, how it has waited upon you and con­soled you, assured you in your doubts, quieted you in your fears, ignored and pardoned your faults, multiplied favors, caresses and blessings. I assure you, My daugh­ter, that you must confess in your heart, that the Most High has not done such things with any other genera­tion. You of yourself can do nothing; you are poor and more useless than others. Let then your thanks be greater than that of all the creatures.

CITY OF GOD   THE INCARNATION   BOOK 1
CHAPTER 13
THE STATE IN WHICH OUR LADY FOUND HERSELF AFTER THE INCARNATION

158 The deeper I begin to understand the Divine ef­fects and conditions that were caused by the concep­tion of the Eternal Word in the Queen of Heaven, the more am I involved in the difficulties of describing this event. For I find myself immersed in exalted and com­plicated Mysteries, while my intellect and my power of expression are entirely insufficient for encompassing what is presented to me. Nevertheless my soul experiences such great sweetness and such delight in spite of this deficiency, that I cannot bring myself to repent entirely of my undertaking; at the same time obedience animates me and also compels me to overcome the hardships, which in a weak and womanly mind would be insuper­able, if the assurance and encouragement coming from this source would not assist me. This is true especially of this chapter, in which I am to treat of the gifts of glory enjoyed by the blessed in heaven. Taking their prerogatives as models I will try to describe the state of the heavenly Empress Mary after becoming the Mother of God.

159 For this purpose I will speak of the blessed from 2 points of view: of their own perfection and of their relation to God. As regards the latter, the Divinity is made clear and manifest to them with all its perfections and attributes. This is called the object of their beatitude, their glory, the substantial joy, the ultimate end, wherein the whole creature finds its adequate end and rest. On the part of the saints there are the beatific operations of vision and love, and of others necessarily connected with that most happy state, which neither the eyes have seen, nor ears have heard, nor can enter into the thoughts of men (Is 64:4; 1 Cor 2:29). Among the gifts and prerogatives of this glory of the saints, some are called endowments freely given as to a spouse entering upon the spiritual matrimony, which is con­summated in the joys of the eternal felicity. Just as the earthly spouse acquires possession and dominion of Her endowments and enjoys in common with Her hus­band the use of them, so also in glory these gifts are made to the saints as their own, while their use is com­mon both to them, in as far as they themselves rejoice in them, and to God, in as far as He is glorified in them by the saints. And these ineffable gifts are more or less excellent according to the merits and the dignities of each. But they are not given to those, who are not of the same nature as the Spouse, namely Christ our Lord; hence only to men, not to angels. For the Incarnate Word has not entered into any espousals with the angels, (Heb 2:16) as He has done with men, by uniting Him­self with them in that great Sacrament mentioned by the Apostle, (Eph 5:32), in Christ and in the Church. Since, however, the Bridegroom Christ, as Man, is composed of Body and Soul, just like the rest of men, therefore both body and soul are to be glorified in His Presence and the gifts of glory are both for the body and the soul. The gifts of vision, comprehension and fruition pertain to the soul; and clearness, impassibility, subtlety and agility pertain to the body, and these are properly the effects of intuitive vision overflowing from the glory of the soul.

160 In all these gifts our Queen Mary participated to a certain extent already in this life, especially after the Incarnation of the Word in Her virginal womb. It is true that these gifts are given to the saints as comprehensors, being pledges and dowries of the eternal and imperishable felicity, and as it were securities for the unchangeableness of their state. On that account they are not conferred upon those still on the way to heaven. But upon holy Mary these gifts were conferred as a viator; hence not as on a comprehensor, not per­manently, but from time to time and step by step, and with a certain difference, as we shall explain. In order that the appropriateness of this rare blessing in the sovereign Queen may be the better understood, let that, which I have said in Chapters 7 and following before the Incarnation, be remembered; for there the preparation and espousal with which the Most High favored His most blessed Mother in accordance with Her dignity, are explained. On the day in which the Divine Lord assumed human nature in Her virginal womb, this spiritual marriage, as far as the Heavenly Lady is concerned, was consummated by that most exalted and exquisite beatific vision, which, as we have said, was then given to Her. But for the other faithful the Incarnation was as it were an espousal, which is to be consummated in their heavenly fatherland (Hosea 2:19).

161 Our great Queen possessed another prerequisite for these privileges: She was exempt from all stain of original and actual sin and was confirmed in grace by actual impeccability. Thus She was capable of celebrat­ing this marriage in the name of the Church militant and to make promises in the name of all its members (Eph 5:32); for in this matter, as She was the Mother of the Savior, His foreseen merits found their applica­tion through Her. By Her transient vision of the Glory of the Divinity, She became the accepted surety for all the children of Adam, that this same reward will not be denied to any of those, who shall use the grace of their Redeemer to merit it. The Divine Incarnate Word certainly was highly pleased to find, that His most burn­ing love and His infinite merits should immediately bear fruit in Her, who at the same time was His Mother, His first Spouse and the bridal chamber of His Divinity; and that His rewards should fall upon one, in whom there was no hindrance. By conferring these privileges and favors upon His most holy Mother, Christ our Salva­tion, indulged and partly satiated His love for Her and in Her, for all mortals; too long a delay did it seem to the Divine love, to wait 33 years until He should manifest His Divinity to His own Mother. Although He had shown Her this favor at other times, as related in the first part (No. 382, 429), yet on this occasion of His Incarnation He did it in a more excel­lent manner; one which corresponded with the glory. of His Most Holy Soul. However, all this in Her was not permanent, but renewed from moment to moment with the flow of time, in as far as was compatible with the ordinary state of pilgrimage.

162 Conformably to this, God, on the day in which most holy Mary assumed the position of Mother of the Eternal Word by conceiving Him in Her womb, invested us with a right to our Redemption, founded upon the espousal of the human nature with Himself. In the consummation of this spiritual marriage by the beatifica­tion of the most holy Mary and the conferring upon Her the gifts of glory, the same reward was also promised to us, if we should make ourselves worthy of it through the merits of His Most Holy Son, our Redeemer. But so far did the Lord raise His Mother above all the glory of the saints in the blessings of this day, that all the angels and men, even in their highest reaches of beatific vision and love, cannot attain to that which the Heavenly Queen then attained; the same must also be said of the gifts of glory, which overflowed from the soul to Her body; for all of them corresponded with Her innocence, holiness and merits, and these again corre­spond with that highest of all dignities possible to a crea­ture: that of being the Mother of Her Creator.

163 Coming now to these gifts in particular, the first gift to Her soul was the clear and beatific vision, which corresponds to the obscure knowledge of faith in the viators. This vision was given to the most holy Mary at the times and in the manner already explained and to be explained later. Besides these intuitive visions, She had many other abstractive ones of the Divinity, of the kind mentioned above. Although all these were transient, yet they left in Her mind most exquisite and various images furnishing Her with such a clear and exalted knowledge of the Divinity that no words can be found to express it. In this our Lady was singularly privileged before all other creatures, and thus She pos­sessed the permanent effects of the gifts of glory as far as compatible with Her position as viator. When at times the Lord hid Himself from Her, suspending the use of these images for certain high ends; She made use of infused faith, which in Her was superexcellent and most efficacious. In such manner, one way or the other, Her soul never lost sight of that Divine Object, nor wan­dered from It even for a moment. However, during the 9 months in which She bore in Her womb the Incarnate Word, She enjoyed even greater visions and gifts of the Divinity.

164 The second of these gifts is comprehension, pos­session or apprehension. This consists in the attainment of the end, corresponding to the virtue of hope, whereby we seek after the final object in order to possess It without danger of ever losing it. This possession and comprehension in most holy Mary corresponded to the visions mentioned; because seeing the Divinity, She pos­sessed It. Whenever She depended on faith alone, hope was in Her more firm and secure than in any other creature; and more than this; for, as the security of possession in the creature is founded to a great extent upon sanctity and impeccability, our Heavenly Lady on this account was so privileged, that the firmness and security of Her possession of God, although She was a pilgrim, equaled in certain respects the firmness and security of the blessed. For on account of Her stainless and unimpeachable sanctity, She was assured of never losing God, although the cause of this security in Her as Viator was not the same as in the glorified saints. During the months of Her pregnancy, She enjoyed this possession of God in various ways by special and won­derful graces through which the Most High manifested Himself and united Himself to Her most pure soul.

165 The third gift is fruition, which corresponds to charity, since charity does not cease but is perfected in glory (1 Cor 13:8); for fruition consists in loving the Highest Good possessed by us. This is the charity of heaven, that, just as God is known and possessed as He is in Himself, so also He is loved for His own sake. True, even now, while we are yet viators, we love Him for His own sake; but there is a great difference. Now we love Him in desire and we know Him not as He is in Himself, but as He is represented to us by incongruous images or by enigmas (1 Cor 13:12; Jn 3:2); therefore our love is not perfected, nor do we rest in it, or find the plenitude of delight therein, Though there is much to in­cite us. But in the clear vision and possession we shall see Him as He is in Himself and we shall see Him through Himself, not through enigmas; thus we shall love Him as He should be loved and as far as we can love Him respectively; our love will be perfected and the fruition of Him will be satiated, without leaving anything to be desired.

166 Most holy Mary participated in this fruition more abundantly than in any other; for even though Her most ardent love might, in a certain respect, have been inferior to that of the blessed whenever She was without the clear vision of the Divinity, yet it was superior in many other points of excellence, even while remaining in the lower state. No one ever possessed the Heavenly Science in the same degree as this Lady, and by it She under­stood how God is to be loved for Himself. This science was perfected by the memory of what She had seen and enjoyed higher in degree than the angels. And as Her love was nourished by this knowledge of God, it neces­sarily exceeded that of the blessed in all that did not pertain to immediate fruition and unchangeableness as to increase or augmentation. On account of Her pro­found humility, the Lord condescended to an arrange­ment whereby She could act as a Viator remaining in a holy fear of displeasing Her Beloved. This burning love was of the most perfect kind and tended entirely to­ward God Himself; it caused in Her ineffable joy and delight, proportioned to the excellence of Her love.

167 In regard to the gifts of the body, redounding from the gifts of glory, and other gifts of the soul constituting the accidental part of the glory of the blessed, I will say, that they serve for the perfection of the glorious bodies in the activity of their senses and motive powers. By them the bodies are assimilated to the soul and throw off the impediments of their earthly gross­ness, enabling them to obey the wishes of the souls, which in that most happy state cannot be imperfect or opposed to the Will of God. The senses require 2 gifts: one to refine the reception of sensible images, and this is perfected by the gift of clearness; the other, to repel all activity or passivity hurtful and destructive of the body, and this is done by the gift of impassibility. There are 2 other gifts required in order to perfect the power of motion: one, in order to overcome the resistance or impediment of gravity, furnished by the gift of agility; the other, in order to overcome the resistance of other bodies, furnished by the gift of subtlety. With these gifts the body becomes glorious, clear, incorruptible, agile and subtle.

168 In all these privileges our great Queen and Lady participated during Her mortal life. The gift of clear­ness disposes the body to receive the light and at the same time to give it forth, doing away with earthly opaqueness and obscurity and making it more transparent than clearest crystal. Whenever most holy Mary enjoyed the clear and beatific vision, Her virginal body partic­ipated in this privilege in a measure beyond all human calculation. The after-effects of this purity and clear­ness would have been most wonderful and astounding, if they could have been made perceptible to the senses. Sometimes they were noticeable in Her most beautiful face, as I will say later on, especially in the third part; yet they were not known or perceived by all who conversed with Her, for the Lord interposed a curtain or veil, in order that they might not always or indiscriminately be manifested. But in many respects She Herself enjoyed the advantages of this gift, though it was disguised, sus­pended or hidden to the gaze of others; She for instance was not inconvenienced by earthly opaqueness, as the rest of men.

169 St. Elisabeth perceived something of this clear­ness, when at the sight of Mary she exclaimed: "And why is this given to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Lk 1:43). The world was not capable of perceiving this sacrament of the King (Tob 12:7), nor was it opportune to manifest it at that time. Yet to a certain extent Her face was always more bright and lustrous than that of other creatures. Also in other re­spects it exhibited qualities altogether above the natural order of other bodies, which produced in Her a most delicate and spiritualized complexion, like that of an animated crystal. This presented to the touch not the asperity natural to the flesh, but the softness as it were of the purest and the finest silk, so that I cannot find any other comparison to make myself understood. Yet all this should not appear strange in the Mother of God, for She bore Him in Her womb and She had seen Him often, even face to face. For the Israelites could not look upon Moses face to face, nor bear the splendor, which shone forth from him after his communication with the Lord upon the mountain (Ex 34:29), Though it was much inferior to that given to most holy Mary. There is no doubt, that if God had not by a special provi­dence withheld and hidden the splendor in reality due to the countenance and the body of His most pure Mother, it would have brightened the world more than 1,000 suns combined. None of the mortals could, by natural power, have sustained its brilliancy; since, even thus restrained and concealed, it was sufficient to cause in them the same effects, which St. Dionysius the Areop­agite experienced in looking upon Her and which he describes in his letter to St. Paul.

170 Impassibility produces in the glorified body such a condition, that no agent, except God Himself, can by any activity or influence, change or disturb it, no matter how powerful this activity may be. Our Queen par­ticipated in this gift in 2 ways: first, in regard to the temperament and humors of the body. She possessed these in such a delicate measure and proportion, that She could not contract or suffer any infirmities, nor was She subject to any other human hardships which arise from the inequality of the 4 humors, being in this regard as it were almost impassible. Secondly, in re­gard to the dominion and commanding power, which She had over all the creatures, as mentioned above, (No. 13, 18, 43, 56, 60); for none of them had power to act contrary to Her will and consent. We can add still another participation of impassibility: the assistance of Divine power in proportion to Her innocence. For, if it is said, that the first parents in paradise could not suffer a violent death as long as they persevered in orig­inal justice, it must not be understood to mean that they enjoyed this privilege by intrinsic or inherent powers (for if a lance would have wounded them they could die), but they enjoyed it through the assistance of the Lord, Who would always prevent them from being wounded. If then the first parents possessed this priv­ilege and could transmit it to their descendants as their servants and vassals, it was due, by a much better title, to the innocence of the sovereign Mary; and so in truth was She endowed with it.

171 Our most humble Queen made no use of these privileges, for She renounced them in imitation of Her Most Holy Son and in order to labor and gain merits for our benefit; in spite of them She, wished to suffer and She really suffered more than the martyrs. Human intellect cannot weigh correctly the greatness of these labors. We shall speak of them throughout this heavenly history, leaving much more untold, for common language and words cannot encompass them. But I must advert to 2 things: first, that the sufferings of our Queen bore no relation to any sins of Her own, for She had none to atone for; and therefore She suffered none of the bitterness, which is mixed with pains endured in the memory and consciousness of our own guilt of sins committed. Secondly: that in Her sufferings She was Divinely sustained in accordance with the ardors of Her love, for She could not naturally endure so much suf­ferings, as Her love called for, or as much as, on ac­count of this very love, the Lord allowed Her to endure.

172 Subtlety is a gift, which takes away from the glorified body the density or grossness natural to quanti­tative matter and which enables it to penetrate other bodies and to occupy the same place with them. The subtilized bodies of the blessed therefore are endowed with qualities peculiar to the spirit and can without difficulty penetrate the quantitative matter of other bodies. Without dividing or separating them it can occupy the same place. Thus our Lord's Body, coming forth from the grave (Matt 28:2) and entering the closed doors (Jn 20:19), penetrated the material en­closing these places. Most holy Mary participated in this gift not only while She enjoyed the beatific visions, but also otherwise according to Her will and desire, as happened many times in Her life in Her bodily appear­ances to some persons, of which we shall yet relate; for in all these She made use of Her gift of subtlety penetrating other bodies.

173 The last gift of the body enables the glorified body to move from place to place instantly and without the impediment of terrestrial gravity, in the manner of pure spirits, which move by their own volition. Mary most holy possessed a continual and wonderful participation in this agility, especially as a direct result of the Divine visions. She did not feel in Her body the force of weight and gravity; therefore She could walk without feeling the inconvenience usual to that kind of exercise; She could move about with instantaneous speed, without feeling any shock or fatigue as we would feel. All this belonged naturally to the quality and condition of Her body, so spiritualized and well formed. During the time of Her pregnancy She felt even less the weight of Her body; although, in order to bear Her share of labors, She al­lowed hardships to produce their effect. She was so ad­mirable and perfect in the possession and use of these privileges, that I find myself lacking in words to ex­press all that has been made manifest to me concerning them; for it exceeds all that I have said or am able to say.

174 Queen of Heaven and my Mother, since You have condescended to adopt me as Your daughter, Your word will remain a pledge, that You will be my Guide and Teacher. Relying on this promise I presume to propose a difficulty, in which I find myself: How does it come, my Mother and Lady, that Your most blessed soul, after it had enjoyed the clear intuition of God accord­ing to the disposition of His Majesty, did not remain in the state of blessedness? And why can we not say, that You remained in this state of beatitude, since there was no sin nor any other obstacle to this state in You, according to the dignity and sanctity revealed to me by supernatural light?

ANSWER AND EXPLANATION OF OUR QUEEN AND LADY

175 My dearest daughter, you doubt as one that loves Me and ask as one not knowing. Consider then, that the perpetuity and durability of blessedness and felicity is destined for the saints, since their happiness is to be entirely perfect; if it would last only for some time, it would be lacking in the completeness and ade­quacy necessary for constituting it as the highest and most perfect happiness. At the same time it is incom­patible with the common law and ordinary course, that the creature be glorified and at the same time be subject to sufferings, even though it is without sin. If this Law did not hold good with My Most Holy Son (Jn 1:18), it was because He was at the same time God and Man and it was not befitting that His Most Holy Soul, being Hypostatically united with the Divinity, should be without the beatific vision; and as He was at the same time Redeemer of the human race, He could not suffer nor pay the debt of sin, that is pain, if He had not possessed a body capable of suffering. But I was a mere creature, and therefore I could have no claim to the vision, which to Him was due as God. Moreover I could not be said to have permanently enjoyed the state of blessedness, because it was conceded to Me from one time to another. Under these conditions I was capable of suffering at one time and enjoying blessedness at another; moreover it was more usual for Me to suffer and to gain merits, than to be blessed, since I belonged to the viators and not to the comprehensors.

176 Justly the Most High has ordained, that the blessedness of eternal life should not be enjoyed in this mortal existence (Ex 33:20), and that immortality should be reached by passing through existence in a mor­tal body and by gaining merits in a state of suffering, such as is the present life of men (Rom 6:23). Although death in all the sons of Adam was the wage and punishment of sin (Rom 6:23), and therefore death and all the other effects and chastisements had no rights in Me, who had not sinned; yet the Most High ordained, that I also, in imitation of My Most Holy Son, should enter into felicity and eternal life by the death of the body (Lk 24:26). There was nothing in­congruous in this for Me, but it afforded Me many ad­vantages, allowing Me to follow the royal way of all men and gain many merits and great glory by suffering and dying. Another advantage resulted there from for men, for they saw that My Most Holy Son and I Myself, who was His Mother, were truly human as they them­selves, since We proved to them our mortality. Thereby the example, which We left them became much more efficacious and they would be induced to imitate the life, which We led and which redounded so much to the greater glory and exaltation of My Son and Lord, and of Myself. All this would have come to naught, if the visions of the Divinity had been continuous in Me. How­ever, after I conceived the Eternal Word, the benefits and favors were more frequent and greater, since I was then brought into close connection with Him. This is My answer to your questions. No matter how much you have meditated and labored in manifesting the privileges and their effects enjoyed by Me in mortal life, you will never be able to comprehend all that the Powerful Arm of the Omnipotent wrought in Me. And much less can you describe in human words what you have un­derstood.

177 Now attend to the instruction, which I will give you regarding the preceding chapters. If I was the model to be imitated in the way I responded to the coming of God into the soul and into the world by show­ing due reverence, worship, humility, and thankful love, it follows, that if you, (and in the same way all other souls), are solicitous in imitating Me, the Most High will come and produce the same effects in you as in Myself; Though they may be not so great and efficacious. For if the creature, as soon as it obtains the use of reason, begins to advance toward the Lord as it should, directing its footsteps in the path of life and sal­vation, His Most High Majesty will issue forth to meet it, (Wis 6:15), being beforehand with His favors and communications; for to Him it seems a long time to wait for the end of the pilgrimage in order to manifest Himself to His friends.

178 Thus it happens, that by means of faith, hope and charity, and by the worthy reception of the Sacra­ments, many Divine effects, wrought by His condescen­sion, are communicated to souls. Some are com­municated according to the ordinary course of grace and others according to a more supernatural and wonderful order; and each one will be more or less conformable to the disposition of the soul and to the ends intended by the Lord, which are not known at present. And if the souls do not place any obstacle on their part, He will be just as liberal with them as with those who dis­pose themselves, giving them greater light and knowledge of His Immutable Being, and by a Divine and exceedingly sweet infusion of grace, transforming them into a like­ness of Himself and communicating to them many of the privileges of the beatified. For after He is found, He allows Himself to be taken possession of and enjoyed by that hidden embrace, which the Spouse felt, when She said: "I will hold Him and not dismiss Him" (Song 3:4). Of this possession and of His Presence the Lord Himself will give many tokens and pledges, in order that the soul may possess Him in peace like the blessed, although always only for a limited time. So liberal as this will God, our Master and Lord, be in rewarding the objects of His love for the labors accepted by them for His sake and fearlessly undertaken to gain possession of Him.

179 In this sweet violence of love the creature begins to withdraw from and die to all earthly things; and that is why love is called strong as death. From this death arises a new spiritual life, which makes the soul capable of receiving new participations of the blessed and their gifts; for it enjoys more frequently the over­shadowing of the Most High and the fruits of the high­est Good, which it loves. These mysterious influences cause a sort of overflow into the interior and animal parts of the creature, producing a certain transparency and purifying it from the effects of spiritual darkness; it makes it courageous and as it were indifferent to suffering, ready to meet and endure all that is adverse to the inclinations of the flesh. With a certain subtle thirst, it begins to seek after all the difficulty and violence incident to the attainment of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt 11:12); it becomes alert and unhindered by earthly grossness, so that many times the body itself be­gins to feel this lightness in regard to its own self; the labors, which before seemed burdensome, become easy. Of all these effects you have knowledge and experience, My daughter, and I have described and rehearsed them for you, in order that you may dispose yourself and labor so much the more earnestly; so that the Divine activity and Power of the Most High, in working out His Pleasure in you, may find you well disposed and free from resistance and hindrance.

CITY OF GOD   THE INCARNATION   BOOK 1

CHAPTER 14

THE ATTENTION AND CARE OF OUR LADY FOR THE FRUIT OF HER WOMB

180 As soon as our Lady and Queen issued from the trance, in which She had conceived the Eternal Incarnate Word, She prostrated Herself upon the earth and adored Him in Her womb, as I have already said in Chapter 12 (No. 152). This adoration She continued all Her life, commencing it at midnight every day and re­peating these genuflexions 300 times, until the same hour of the following night, and oftener, whenever She had opportunity; in this She was even more diligent during the 9 months of Her Divine pregnancy. In order to comply entirely with the new duties consequent upon the guarding of this Treasure of the Eternal Father in the virginal bridal chamber, She directed all Her at­tention toward frequent and fervent prayer. She was solicitous in sending up many and reiterated petitions to be able worthily to preserve the Heavenly Treasure con­fided to Her. Accordingly She dedicated anew to the Lord Her soul and all Her faculties, practicing all virtues in a heroic and supreme degree, so that She caused new astonishment in the angels. She also consecrated and offered up all the motions of Her body to the worship and service of the Infant God Man within Her. Whether She ate, slept, labored or rested, She did it all for the nourishment and conservation of Her sweetest Son, and in all these actions She was inflamed more and more with Divine Love.

181 On the day following the Incarnation, the 1,000 guardian angels who attended upon most holy Mary, appeared in corporeal form and with profound humility adored their Incarnate King in the womb of the Mother. Her also they acknowledged anew as their Queen and rendered Her due homage and reverence, saying: "Now, O Lady, You are the true Ark of the Covenant Deut 10:5), since You con­tain the Lawgiver Himself and preserve the Manna of heaven (Hosea 9:4), Which is our True Bread. Receive, O Queen, our congratulations on account of Your dignity and happiness, for which we also thank the Most High; since He has befittingly chosen You for His Mother and His Tabernacle. We offer anew to You our homage and service, and wish to obey You as vassals and ser­vants of the Supreme and Omnipotent King, Whose Mother You are." These protestations and homages of the Holy Angels excited in the Mother of Wisdom incom­parable sentiments of humility, gratitude and love of God. For in this most prudent heart, where all things were weighed with the scales of the sanctuary accord­ing to their true value and weight, this reverence and acknowledgment of the angelic spirits proclaiming Her as their Queen, was held in high esteem. Although it was a greater thing to see Herself the Mother of the King and Lord of all creation, yet all Her blessings and dignities were made more evident by these demonstra­tions and homages of the Holy Angels.

182 The Angels rendered this homage as executors and ministers of the Will of the Most High. When their Queen and our Lady was alone, all of them attended upon Her in corporeal form, and they assisted Her in Her outward actions and occupations; and when She was engaged in manual labor, they administered to Her what was needed. Whenever She happened to eat alone in the absence of St. Joseph, they waited upon Her at Her poor table and at Her humble meals. Everywhere they followed Her and formed an escort, and helped Her in the services rendered to St. Joseph. Amid all these favors and obsequious attendance the Heavenly Lady did not forget to ask permission from the Master of masters for all Her operations and undertakings and to implore His direction and assistance. So exact and so well governed were all Her exercises according to the plenitude of perfection that the Lord alone could com­prehend and properly weigh them.

183 Besides the ordinary guidance during the time in which She carried in Her most holy womb the In­carnate Word, She felt His Divine Presence in diverse ways, all admirable and most sweet. Sometimes He showed Himself to Her by abstractive vision, as men­tioned above. At other times She saw and beheld Him, as He was now present in the virginal Temple, united hypostatically with the human nature. At other times the Most Holy Humanity was manifested to Her, as if in a crystalline monstrance, composed of Her own maternal womb and purest body; this kind of vision afforded special consolation and delight to the great Queen. At other times She perceived how the glory of His Most Holy Soul overflowed into the Body of the Divine Child, com­municating to It some of the effects of its own blessed­ness and glory and how the clarity and light of the natural Body of Her Son passed over in a wonderfully sweet ineffable and divine manner into Herself as Mother. This favor transformed Her entirely into another kind of being, inflaming Her heart and causing in Her such effects as no created capacity can explain. Let the in­tellect of the highest Seraphim extend and dilate as much as it may, it would nevertheless find itself overwhelmed by this glory (Prov 25:27); for the entire being of the Heavenly Queen was an intellectual and animated heaven, and in Her was summarized the Divine Glory and great­ness, in a measure that even the vast confines of the heavens themselves could not encompass.

184These and other prerogatives alternated and suc­ceeded each other in accordance with the exercises of the Heavenly Mother, and such variety as suited the different kinds of work that She performed. All Her undertakings, whether spiritual or manual or otherwise of the body, served Her God or benefited Her neighbors, being under­taken and accomplished by this prudent Maiden to pro­duce a harmony admirable and most sweet before the Lord, and wonderful to the angelic spirits. And when, by the disposition of the Most High, the Queen of the world returned to a more natural state, She suffered mortal agony, caused by the force and violence of Her love; for to Her could in truth be applied what Solomon says in the name of the Spouse: "Stay me with flowers, compass me about with apples" (Song 2:5); and thus it would happen, that by the piercing wounds of these sweet arrows of love She was brought close to death. But in this necessity the Powerful Arm of the Most High was prone to strengthen Her in a su­pernatural manner.

185 Sometimes, in order to afford Her sensible relief, innumerable birds would come to visit Her by the com­mand of the Lord. As if they were endowed with in­tellect, they would salute Her by their lively movements, and dividing into harmonious choirs, would furnish Her with sweetest music, and they would wait for Her blessing before again dispersing. This happened in a special manner soon after She had conceived the Divine Word, as if they wished to congratulate Her on Her dignity in imitation of the angels. The Queen of all creatures on that day spoke to the different kinds of birds and commanded them to remain and praise with Her the Creator, in thanksgiving for the creation, and for the existence and beauty given to them and to sing His praises for their conservation. Immediately they obeyed Her as their Queen and anew they began to form choirs, singing in sweetest harmony and bowed low to the ground to worship their Creator and honor the Mother, who bore Him in Her womb. They were ac­customed to bring flowers to Her in their beaks and place them into Her hands, waiting until She should command them to sing or to be silent according to Her wishes. It also happened that in bad weather some birds would come and seek the protection of the Heavenly Lady, and She took them in and nourished them, in Her admirable innocence glorifying the Creator of all things.

186 And our weak ignorance must not be estranged at these wonders, for, though the incidents might be called small, the purposes of the Most High are great and venerable in all His works; and also the works of our most prudent Queen were great, no matter of what kind they might have been. And who is so presump­tuous as to ignore the importance of knowing how much of God's Essence and perfections are manifest in the existence of all His creatures? How important it is to seek Him and find Him, to bless Him and magnify Him in all His creatures, as admirable, powerful, generous and holy? Why should it not be our duty to imitate Mary, who overlooked no time, place or occasion, to attain this object? And how also shall our ungrateful forgetfulness not be confounded, and our hardness of heart not be softened? How can our listless heart fail to be aroused, when we see ourselves reprehended and urged for very shame to thankfulness by the irrational creatures? Merely for the slight participation of the Divinity that consists in bare existence, they proclaim His praises without in­termission; whereas we men, who are made to the image and likeness of God, furnished with the powers of know­ing Him and enjoying Him eternally, forget Him so far as not even to know Him, and instead of serving Him, offend Him! Thus it comes that in no way can men be preferred to the brute animals, since they have become worse than the brutes (Ps 49:12).

INSTRUCTION GIVEN BY OUR MOST HOLY QUEEN

187 My daughter, you have received My instruction until now in order to desire and strive after the heavenly science, which I wish you so earnestly to acquire and which shall teach you to understand profoundly, what decorous reverence is due to God. I remind you once more, that this science is very hard to learn and little coveted by men on account of their ignorance; for thence, to their great loss, it arises that, in conversing with the Most High or rendering Him service or worship, they fail to form a worthy concept of His Infinite Greatness, and to free themselves from the darksome images of their earthly occupations, which make them torpid and carnal, unworthy and unfit for the magnificent association with the supernal Deity. And this ill-bred coarseness entails another disorder: namely, that when­ever they converse with their neighbors, they do it without order, measure or discretion, become entangled in their outward actions, and losing the memory and Pres­ence of their Creator in the excitement of their passions, are completely entangled in what is earthly.

188 I desire therefore, My dearest friend, that you flee from this danger and learn the science, of the Immutable Being and infinite attributes of God. In such a way must you study Him and unite yourself to Him that no created being will come between your soul and the true and highest Good. At all times and in all places, occupations and operations you must keep Him in sight, without re­leasing Him from the intimate embrace of your heart (Song 3;4). Therefore I command you to treat Him with a magnanimous heart, with decorum and reverence, with deep-felt fear of the soul. And whatever pertains to His Divine Worship, I desire that you handle with all attention and care. Above all in order to enter into His Presence by prayer and petitions, free yourself from all sensible and earthly images. And since human frailty cannot always remain constant in the force of love, nor always experience the sweet violence of its movements on account of its earthly nature, you should seek other assistance, such as will help you toward the same end of finding your God. Such help, for instance, is afforded by His praise in the beauty of the heavens and of the stars, in the variety of the plants, in the pleasant vista of the fields, in the forces of the elements, and especially in the exalted nature of the angels and in the glory of His saints.

189 But bear continually in mind especially this par­ticular caution, not to seek any earthly alleviation in any event or in any labor which you are to undergo, nor to indulge in any diversion coming from human creatures; and especially not in those coming from men, for an ac­count of your naturally weak and yielding character, so much adverse to giving pain, you place yourself in dan­ger of exceeding and overstepping the limit of what is allowed or just, following, more than is proper for the religious spouses of My Most Holy Son, your sensible lik­ings. The risks of this negligence all human crea­tures incur; for if full reins are given, to frail human nature, it will not give heed to reason, not to the true light of the Spirit; but, forgetting them entirely, it will blindly follow the impulse of its passions and pleasures. Against this general danger is provided the enclosure and retirement of the souls consecrated to My Son and Lord, in order to cut off the root of those unhappy and dis­graceful occasions for those religious, who would will­ingly seek them and entangle themselves in them. Your recreations, My dear, and those of your sister religious, must be free from such danger and deadly poison. Seek always those, which you shall find in the secret of your heart and in the chamber of your Beloved, Who is faith­ful in consoling the sorrowful and in assisting the af­flicted.

CITY OF GOD   THE INCARNATION   BOOK 1

CHAPTER 15

THE LORD INFORMS OUR LADY OF HIS WILL THAT SHE VISIT ST. ELISABETH

190 By the words of the heavenly messenger, Archangel Gabriel, most holy Mary had been informed, that Her cousin Elisabeth (who was held to be sterile) had conceived a son and that she was already in the sixth month of her pregnancy. Afterwards, in one of the intellectual visions, the Most High revealed to Her, that in a miraculous birth, Elisabeth would bring forth a son, who would be great before the Lord (Lk 1:15); a Prophet and the Forerunner of the Incarnate Word; also other great mysteries of the holiness and of the per­sonality of St. John were revealed to Her. On this same occasion and on others the Heavenly Queen was in­formed, that it would be agreeable and pleasing to the Lord, if She would visit Her cousin, in order that as well Elisabeth as also the child in her womb might be sanctified by the Divine Presence of their Redeemer; for His Majesty was anxious to communicate the benefits of His coming into the world and His merits to His Precursor, in order to make of him as it were the well seasoned first fruit of His Redemption.

191At the news of this sacramental mystery the most prudent Virgin, with admirable jubilee of spirit, rendered thanks to the Lord for such great condescension and favor bestowed to the soul of the Precursor and Prophet and to his mother Elisabeth. Signifying Her readiness to fulfill the Divine pleasure, She spoke to His Majesty and said: "Most high Lord, beginning and cause of all good, let Your Name be eternally glorified, acknowledged and praised by all the nations. I, the least of Your creatures, give You humble thanks for the liberal kindness, which You wish to show to Your ser­vant Elisabeth and to the son of her womb. If, it is according to the promptings of Your condescension, that I serve You in this work, I stand prepared, my Lord, to obey eagerly Your Divine mandates." The Most High answered Her: "My Dove and My Beloved, elect among creatures, truly I say to You, that on account of Your in­tercession and Your love I will, as a Father and most liberal God, take care of Your cousin Elisabeth and of the son, who is to be born of her: I will choose him as My Prophet and as the Precursor of the Word, Which is made Man in You; I will look upon them as belonging to You and intimately connected with Yourself. Therefore I wish, that My and Your Only Begotten go to see the mother, in order to free the son from the chains of the first sin and in order that, before the common and ordi­nary time decreed for other men, his voice and praise may sound up to My Ears (Song 2:14), and that the Mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption may be revealed to his sanctified soul. Therefore I wish You to visit Elisabeth; for We 3 Persons of the Blessed Trinity have chosen her son for great deeds conformable to Our pleasure."

192 To this command of the Lord the most obedient Mother responded: "You know, My Lord and God, that all the desires of My heart seek Your Divine pleas­ure and that I wish to fulfill diligently whatever You command to Your humble servant. Allow Me, My God, to ask permission from My husband Joseph and that I make this journey according to his will and direction. And in order that I may not diverge from what is Your pleasure, govern Me during that journey in all My actions, direct My footsteps to the greater glory of Your Name (Ps 119:113). Accept therefore the sacri­fice, which I bring in going out in public and in leaving My cherished retirement. I wish to offer more than My desires, God and King of My soul, I hope to be made able to suffer all that will conduce to Your greater service and pleasure purely for Your love, so that the longings of My soul may not remain entirely unfulfilled."

193 When our great Queen came out of this vision, She called upon the thousand angels of Her guard, who appeared to Her in bodily forms, and told them of the command of the Most High. She asked them to assist Her with careful solicitude in this journey, to teach Her how to fulfill all the commands according to the greater pleasure of the Lord, to defend Her and guard Her from dangers so that She might conduct Herself in all things during that journey in the most perfect manner. The holy princes, with wonderful devotion, offered to obey and serve Her. In the same manner the Queen of all prudence and humility was inclined to act also on other occasions. For though She was Herself more wise and more perfect in Her deeds than the angels, yet be­cause She was yet in the state of pilgrimage and endowed with a nature lower than that of the angels, She was always solicitous to attain the plenitude of perfection by consulting and asking for the aid of Her guardian angels, though they were Her inferiors in sanctity. Under their direction, as also by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, all Her human actions were well disposed and well or­dered. The heavenly spirits obeyed Her with alacrity and punctuality, such as was proper to their nature and due to their Queen and Lady. They held sweet communication and delightful colloquy with Her, and alternately with Her they sang highest songs of praise and adora­tion of the Most High. At other times they conversed about the supernal Mysteries of the Incarnate Word, the Hypostatic Union, the Sacrament of the Redemption, the triumphs to be celebrated by Him, the fruits and blessings accruing there from to mortals. 

194 The humble Spouse proceeded immediately to ask the consent of St. Joseph for executing the man­date of the Most High, and, in Her consummate prudence, She said nothing of these happenings, but simply spoke to him these words: "My lord and spouse, by Divine light it was made known to me, that through condescen­sion of the Most High the prayer of My cousin Elisabeth, the wife of Zechariah, has been heard; she has conceived a son, though she was sterile. Since she has obtained this singular blessing, I hope that through God's infinite bounty, her son will greatly please and glorify the Lord. I think that on this occasion I am under obligation to visit her and converse with her on certain things for her consolation and spiritual encouragement. If this is ac­cording to your liking, My master, I will perform it with your permission, for I am entirely subject to your will and pleasure. Consider then what is best for Me and com­mand what I am to do."

195 This prudent silence of the most holy Mary, so full of humble subjection, was very agreeable to the Lord; for She showed Herself thereby worthy and ca­pable of receiving the deposit of the great Sacraments of the King (Tob 12:7). Therefore, and on account of the confidence in his fidelity with which She proceeded, His Majesty disposed the most pure heart of St. Joseph, giving him His Divine light to act conformably to His Will. This is the reward of the humble, who ask for counsel: that they will find it with certainty and security (Sirach 32:19). It is also the peculiar prerogative of a holy and discreet zeal to be able to give prudent advice to those who ask. Full of this holy counsel St. Joseph answered our Queen: "You know already, my Lady and Spouse, that my utmost desires are to serve You with all diligence and attention; for I am bound to have this confidence in Your great virtue, that You will not incline toward anything, which is not according to the greater pleasure and glory of the Most High; and this is my belief also in regard to this journey. Lest Your making this journey alone and without the company of Your husband cause surprise I will gladly go with You and attend to Your needs on the way. Appoint the day on which we shall depart together."

196  The most holy Mary thanked Her prudent spouse Joseph for his loving solicitude and for his attentive co­operation with the Will of God in whatever he knew to be for His service and honor. They both concluded to depart immediately on their visit to the house of St. Elisabeth (Lk 1:39), and prepared without delay the provisions, which consisted merely in a little fruit, bread and a few fishes, procured by St. Joseph. In addition to these he borrowed a humble beast of burden, in order to carry their provisions and his Spouse, the Queen of all creation. Forthwith they departed from Nazareth for Judea; the journey itself I will describe in the following chapter. On leaving their poor dwelling the great Queen of the world knelt at the feet of Her spouse Joseph and asked his blessing in order to begin the journey in the Name of the Lord. The saint was abashed at the rare humility of his Spouse, with which He had already been impressed by experience on so many other occasions. He hesitated giving Her his blessing; but the meek and sweet persistence of the most holy Mary overcame his objections and he blessed Her in the Name of the Most High. The Heavenly Lady raised Her eyes and Her heart to God, in order to direct Her first steps toward the fulfillment of the Divine pleasure and willingly bearing along in Her womb the Only Begotten of the Father and Her own, for the sanctification of John in that of his mother Elisabeth.

INSTRUCTIONS OF THE HEAVENLY QUEEN

197 My dearest daughter, many times I have confided and manifested to you the love burning within My heart: for I wish that it should be ardently re-enkindled within your own, and that you profit from the instruction, which I give you. Happy is the soul, to which the Most High manifests His Holy and Perfect Will; but more happy and blessed is he, who puts into execution, what he has learned. In many ways God shows men the high­ways and pathways of eternal life: by the Gospels and the Holy Scriptures, by the Sacraments and the Laws of the Holy Church, by the writings and examples of the saints, and especially, by the obedience due to the guidance of its ministers, of whom His Majesty said: "Who­ever hears you, hears Me;" (Lk 10:16) for obeying them is the same as obeying the Lord Himself. Whenever by any of these means you have come to the knowledge of the Will of God, I desire you to assume the wings of humility and obedience, and, as if in ethereal flight or like the quickest sunbeam, hasten to execute it and thereby ful­fill the Divine pleasure.

198 Besides these means of instruction, the Most High has still others in order to direct the soul; namely, He intimates His Perfect Will to them in a supernatural manner, and reveals to them many sacraments. This kind of instruction is of many and different degrees; not all of them are common or ordinary to all souls, for the Lord dispenses His light in measure and weight (Wis 11:21). Sometimes He speaks to the heart and the interior feelings in commands; at others, in correction, advising or instructing: sometimes He moves the heart to ask Him; at other times He proposes clearly what He desires, in order that the soul may be moved to fulfill it; again He manifests, as in a clear mirror, great mys­teries, in order that they may be seen and recognized by the intellect and loved by the will. But this Great and Infinite Good is always sweet in commanding, powerful in giving the necessary help for obedience, just in His commands, quick in disposing circumstances so that He can be obeyed, notwithstanding all the impediments which hinder the fulfillment of His Most Holy Will.

199 In receiving this divine light, My daughter, I wish to see you very attentive, and very quick and dili­gent in following it up in deed. In order to hear this most delicate and Spiritual Voice of the Lord it is neces­sary, that the faculties of the soul be purged from earthly grossness and that the creature live entirely according to the spirit; for the animal man does not perceive the ele­vated things of God (1 Cor 2:14). Be atten­tive then to His secrets (Is 24:16) and forget all that is of the outside; listen, My daughter, and incline your ear; free yourself from all visible things (Ps 45:11).  And in order that you may be diligent, cultivate love; for love is a fire, which does not have its effect until the material is prepared; therefore let your heart always be disposed and prepared. Whenever the Most High bids you or communicates to you anything for the welfare of souls, or especially for their eternal salvation, devote yourself to it entirely; for they are bought at the in­estimable price of the Blood of the Lamb and of Divine Love. Do not allow yourself to be hindered in this matter by your own lowliness and bashfulness; but overcome the fear that restrains you, for if you yourself are of small value and usefulness, the Most High is rich (1 Pet 1:18), powerful, great, and by Himself performs all things (Rom 10:12). Your promptness and affection will not go without its reward, although I wish you rather to be moved entirely by the pleasure of your Lord.

CITY OF GOD   THE INCARNATION   BOOK 1

CHAPTER 16

OUR LADY’S JOURNEY TO VISIT ST. ELIZABETH AND HER ARRIVAL

200  "... Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judea" (Luke 1:39). This rising up of our heavenly Queen signified not only Her exterior prepara­tions and setting out from Nazareth on Her journey, but it referred to the movement of Her spirit and to divine impulse and command which directed Her to arise in­teriorly from the humble retirement, which She had chosen in Her humility. She arose as it were from the Feet of the Most High, Whose Will and pleasure She eagerly sought to fulfill, like the lowliest handmaid, who according to the word of David (Ps 123:2) keeps her eyes fixed upon the hands of her mistress, awaiting her commands. Arising at the bidding of the Lord She lovingly hastened to accomplish His Most Holy Will, in procuring without delay the Sanctification of the Precur­sor of the Incarnate Word, who was yet held prisoner in the womb of Elisabeth by the bonds of original sin. This was the purpose and object of this journey. There­fore the Princess of Heaven arose and proceeded in diligent haste, as mentioned by the Evangelist St. Luke.

201 Leaving behind then the house of Her father and forgetting Her people (Ps 45:11), the most chaste spouses, Mary and Joseph, pursued their way to the house of Zechariah in mountainous Judea. It was 26 leagues distant from Nazareth, and the greater part of the way was very rough and broken, unfit for such a delicate and tender Maiden. All the convenience at their disposal for the arduous undertaking was a humble beast, on which She began and pursued Her journey. Although it was intended solely for Her comfort and service, yet Mary, the most humble and unpretentious of all creatures, many times dismounted and asked Her spouse St. Joseph to share with Her this commodity and to lighten the difficulties of the way by making use of the beast. Her discreet spouse never accepted this offer; and in order to yield somewhat to the solicitations of the heavenly Lady, he permitted Her now and then to walk with him part of the way, whenever it seemed to him that Her delicate strength could sustain the exertion without too great fatigue. But soon he would again ask Her, with great modesty and reverence, to accept of this slight alleviation and the celestial Queen would then obey and again proceed on Her way seated in the saddle.

202 Thus alleviating their fatigue by humble and courteous contentions, the most holy Mary and St. Joseph continued on their journey, making good use of each single moment. They proceeded alone, without ac­companiment of anyone; but all 1,000 angels, which were set to guard the couch of Solo­mon, the most holy Mary, attended upon them (Song 3:7). Although the angels accompanied them in cor­poreal form, serving their great Queen and Her Most Holy Son in Her womb, they were visible only to Mary. In the company of the angels and of St. Joseph, the Mother of grace journeyed along, filling the fields and the mountains with the sweetest fragrance of Her pres­ence and with the Divine praises, in which She unceas­ingly occupied Herself. Sometimes She conversed with the angels and, alternately with them, sang Divine Canticles concerning the different Mysteries of the Divinity and the works of Creation and of the Incarnation. Thus ever anew the pure heart of the Immaculate Lady was inflamed by the ardors of Divine love. In all this Her spouse St. Joseph contributed his share by maintaining a discreet silence, and by allowing his beloved Spouse to pursue the flights of Her spirit; for, lost in highest con­templation, he was favored with some understanding of what was passing within Her soul.

203 At other times the 2 would converse with each other and speak about the salvation of souls and the Mercies of the Lord, of the Coming of the Redeemer, of the prophecies given to the ancient Fathers concerning Him, and of other Mysteries and Sacraments of the Most High. Something happened on the way, which caused great wonder in Her holy spouse Joseph: he loved his Spouse most tenderly with a chaste and holy love, such as had been ordained in Him by the special grace and dispensation of  Divine love (Song 2:4); in addition to this privilege (which was certainly not a small one) the saint was naturally of a most noble and cour­teous disposition, and his manners were most pleasing and charming; all this produced in him a most discreet and loving solicitude, which was yet increased by the great holiness, which he had seen from the beginning in his Spouse and which was ordained by heaven as the immediate object of all his privileges. Therefore the saint anxiously attended upon most holy Mary and asked Her many times, whether She was tired or fatigued, and in what he could serve Her on the journey. But as the Queen of heaven already carried within the virginal chamber the Divine Fire of the Incarnate Word, holy Joseph, without fathoming the real cause, experienced in his soul new reactions, proceeding from the words and conversations of his beloved Spouse. He felt himself so inflamed by Divine love and imbued with such exalted knowledge of the Mysteries touched upon in their conversations, that he was entirely renewed and spiritualized by this burning interior light. The farther they proceeded and the more they conversed about these heavenly things, so much the stronger these affections grew, and he became aware, that it was the words of his Spouse, which thus filled his heart with love and inflamed his will with Divine ardor.

204 So great were these new sensations, that the prudent Joseph could not help but pay the greatest at­tention to them. Although he knew that all this came to him through the mediation of most holy Mary, and although it was a wonderful consolation to him, that She was the cause, he meditated upon it without curiosity, and, on account of his great modesty, he did not dare to ask Her any questions. The Lord having ordained it thus, for it was not yet time that he should know the Sacra­ment of the King, which was already completed in Her virginal womb. The Heavenly Princess beheld the in­terior of Her spouse, knowing all that passed within his soul; and in Her prudence She reflected how it would naturally be unavoidable, that he should come to know of Her pregnancy; for there would be no possibility of concealing it from Her most beloved and chaste spouse. The great Lady did not know at the time, how God would arrange this matter; yet, although She had not received any intimation or command to conceal this Mystery, Her heavenly prudence and discretion taught Her that it would be proper to conceal it as a Great Sacrament, greater than all other Mysteries. Therefore She kept it secret, saying not a word about it to Her husband, neither after the message of the angel, nor during this journey, nor later on, during the anxieties occasioned to St. Joseph at becoming aware of Her pregnancy.

205 O admirable discretion and prudence more than human! The great Queen resigned Herself entirely to Divine Providence, hoping that God would arrange all things; yet She felt anxiety and pain, at the thought of what Her husband might think, and of Her inability to do anything in order to dissipate his anxiety. This anxiety was increased by the attentive care and service, lavished by him upon Her with so much love and affec­tion; since his faithful services certainly deserved a cor­responding return on Her part as far as was prudently possible. Therefore, in loving solicitude and in pursuance of Her desires to solve this coming difficulty, She prayed to the Lord, asking Him to grant His Divine assistance and guidance to St. Joseph, when it should arrive. In this state of suspense, in which She found Herself, Her Highness performed great and heroic acts of faith, hope and charity, of prudence, humility, patience and fortitude, imbuing all Her activity with the plenitude of holiness and reaching in all things the summit of perfection.

206 This journey was the first pilgrimage begun by the Divine Word, 4 days after He had entered the world; for His most ardent love would not suffer any longer delay or procrastination in enkindling the fire, which He came to scatter in the world (Lk 12:49), and in beginning His justification of mankind with His Precursor. This haste He communicated also to His holy Mother, in order that She might arise without de­lay and take off on Her visit to Elisabeth (Lk 1:39). The most heavenly Lady on this occasion served as the coach of the true Solomon; but much more richly adorned and more elegant, as Solomon himself infers in the Canticles (Song 3:9). Therefore this journey was glorious and occasioned great joy to the Only Begotten of the Father. For He traveled at His ease in the virginal chamber of His Mother, enjoying the sweet tokens of Her love. At the time She alone was the archive of this Treasure, the secretary of so great a Sacrament, and She adored Him, blessed and admired Him, spoke and listened to Him, and answered Him; She reverenced Him and thanked Him for Herself and for the entire human race, much more than all the men and the angels together.

207 In the course of the journey, which lasted 4 days, the 2 holy pilgrims, Mary and Joseph, exercised not only the virtues which were interior and had God for their immediate object, but also many other outward acts of charity toward their neighbors; for Mary could not remain idle at the sight of need. They did not find the same hospitable treatment at all the inns of the road; for some of the innkeepers, being ruder, treated them with slight consideration in accordance with their natural disposition; others received them with true love inspired by Divine grace. But the Mother of Mercy denied to no one such help as She could administer; and therefore, whenever She could decently do so, She hastened to visit and hunt up the poor, infirm and afflicted, helping them and consoling them, and curing their sicknesses. I will not stop to relate all that happened on the way, but will only mention the good fortune of a poor sick girl, whom our great Queen found in passing through a town on the first day of Her journey. She was moved to tender compassion at the sight of Her grievous illness; and, mak­ing use of Her power as Queen of the creatures, She commanded the fever to leave the maiden and the humors to recompose and reduce themselves to their natural state and condition. At this command and at the sweet presence of the purest Mother, the sick maiden was suddenly freed and healed from Her pains of body and benefited in soul; so that afterwards She lived more and more perfectly and attained the state of sanctity; for the image of the Author of Her happiness re­mained stamped within Her memory and Her heart was enkindled with a great love toward the Heavenly Lady, although She never again saw Her, nor was the miracle ever made public.

208 Having pursued their journey 4 days, the most holy Mary and Her spouse arrived at the town of Judah, where Zachary and Elisabeth then lived. This was the special and proper name of the place, where the parents of St. John lived for a while, and there­fore the Evangelist St. Luke specifies it, calling it Judah, although the commentators have commonly be­lieved that this was not the name of the town in which Elisabeth and Zechariah lived, but simply the name of the province, which was called Judah or Judea; just as for the same reason the mountains south of Jerusalem were called the mountains of Judea. But it was ex­pressly revealed to me that the town was called Judah and that the Evangelist calls it by its proper name; although the learned expositors have understood by this name of Judah the province, in which that town was sit­uated. This confusion arose from the fact that some years after the Death of Christ the town Judah was de­stroyed, and, as the commentators found no trace of such a town, they inferred that St. Luke meant the province and not a town; thus the great differences of opinion in regard to the place, where most holy Mary visited Elisabeth, are easily explained.

209 As holy obedience has enjoined upon me the duty of clearing up these doubts, on account of the strange inconsistency in the sayings of learned men, I will also add to what I have already said, that the house in which the visitation took place was built upon the very spot on which now the faithful pilgrims, who travel to or live in the Holy Land, venerate the Divine Mysteries transacted during the visit. Although the town of Judah itself, where the house of Zechariah stood is ruined, the Lord did not permit the memory of the venerable locality in which those great Mysteries tran­spired, and which were hallowed by the footsteps of most holy Mary, of Christ our Lord, and of the Baptist as well as of his holy parents, to be blotted out and ef­faced from the memory of men. Therefore it was by Divine influence, that the ancient Christians built up those churches and restored the holy places, in order to preserve by the agency of Divine light the traditional truth and to renew the memory of the admirable sacra­ments. Thus we ourselves, the faithful of our times, can enjoy the blessing of venerating the sacred localities, proclaiming and confessing our Catholic faith in the works of our Redemption.

210 For the better understanding of these things let it be remembered that after the devil had become aware on Calvary that Christ our Lord was God and the Redeemer of men, he sought with incredible fury to blot out the remembrance of Him from the land of the living, as Jeremiah says (Jer 11:19); and the same is to be said of the memory of His most holy Mother. Thus he managed to have the most Holy Cross hidden and buried under ground and to have it delivered as spoil of war to the Persians; and in the same way he procured the ruin and obliteration of many holy places. On this account the Holy Angels carried back and forth so many times the venerable and Holy House of Loreto; For the same dragon who pursued the Heavenly Lady (Rev 12:13), had already excited the minds of the inhabitants of that land to tear down and raze to the ground that most sacred oratory, which had been the workshop of the Most High in the Mystery of the In­carnation. The same astute hatred of the enemy urged him to blot out the town of Judah, aided partly by the negligence of the inhabitants, who gradually died off, partly also by untoward events and happenings. Yet the Lord did not allow all traces of the house of Zachariah to be effaced or obliterated, on account of the Sacraments, which were there enacted.

211 This town was distant from Nazareth, as I have said, 26 leagues, and about 2 leagues from Jerusalem, and it was situated in that part of the Judean mountains, where the stream Sorek takes its rise. After the birth of St. John and the return of the most holy Mary and Her spouse Joseph to Nazareth, St. Elisa­beth received a Divine revelation that a great calamity and slaughter impended over the infants of Bethlehem and its vicinity. And Though this revelation was inde­terminate and unclear, it nevertheless induced the mother of St. John with Zechariah, her hus­band, to move to Hebron, which was 8 leagues more or less from Jerusalem; for they were rich and noble, and they had dwellings not only in Judah and Hebron, but they had houses and possessions also in other places. When the most holy Mary and Joseph were on their way fleeing from Herod to Egypt (Matt 2:14) after the Birth of the Word and some months after the birth of St. John, Sts. Elisabeth and Zechariah were in Hebron. Zechariah died 4 months after our Lord was born, which was 10 months after the birth of his son John. It seems to me I have now sufficiently solved this doubt, and it ought to be evident that the House of the Visitation was neither in Jerusalem, nor in Bethlehem, nor in Hebron, but in the town called Judah. I saw that this is the true explanation, which was made known to me by Divine light together with the other Mysteries of this heavenly history; afterwards, when I was constrained by obe­dience to ask about this matter, a Holy Angel again made the same declaration to me.

212 It was at this city of Judah and at the house of Zechariah that most holy Mary and Joseph arrived. In order to announce their visit, St. Joseph hastened ahead of Mary and calling out saluted the inhabitants of the house, saying: "The Lord be with you and fill your souls with divine grace." Elisabeth was already fore­warned, for the Lord Himself had informed her in a vision that Mary of Nazareth had departed to visit her. She had also in this vision been made aware that the Heavenly Lady was most pleasing in the Eyes of the Most High; while the Mystery of Her being the Mother of God was not revealed to her until the moment, when they both saluted each other in private. But St. Elisa­beth immediately issued forth with a few of her family, in order to welcome most holy Mary, who, as the more humble and younger in years, hastened to salute Her cousin, saying: "The Lord be with you, my dearest cousin," and Elisabeth answered: "The same Lord re­ward you for having come in order to afford me this pleasure." With these words they entered the house of Zechariah and what happened I will relate in the follow­ing chapter.

INSTRUCTION WHICH OUR QUEEN AND LADY GAVE ME

213 My daughter, whenever the creature holds in proper esteem the good works and the services, which the Lord commands for His glory, it will feel within itself great facility of operation, great sweetness in un­dertaking them, and a readiness and alacrity in continu­ing and pursuing them. These different feelings then give testimony of their being truly useful and com­manded by God. But the soul cannot experience these affections, if it is not altogether devoted to the Lord, keeping its gaze fixed upon His Divine pleasure, hearing of it with joy, executing it with alacrity and forgetting its own inclination and conveniences. The soul must be like the faithful servant, who seeks to do only the will of his master and not his own. This is the manner of obeying, which is fruitful and which is due from all the creatures to their God and much more from all the religious, who explicitly promise this kind of obedience. In order that you may attain to it per­fectly, remember with what esteem David in many places speaks of the precepts (Ps 119), of the sayings and of the justifications of the Lord; and remember the effects, which they caused in that Prophet and even now in souls. He says that they make the infants wise (Ps 19:8), rejoice the heart of men (Ps 19:9), that they enlighten the eyes of the soul, so that they become a most brilliant light for its footsteps (Ps 119:105), that they are more sweet than honey (Ps 19:11), more de­sirable and more estimable than the most precious stones. This promptitude and subjection to the Divine Will and to His Laws made David so conformable to the Heart of God. These are the kind of souls His Majesty seeks for His servants and friends (1 Sam 13:14, Acts 13:22).

214 Attend therefore with all solici­tude to the works of virtue and perfection, which you know to be desirable in the Eyes of the Lord. De­spise none of them nor withdraw from any of them and cease not to exercise them, no matter how violently your inclinations and your weakness should oppose their exer­cise. Trust in the Lord and proceed to put them into execution, and soon His power will overcome all diffi­culties. Soon you will also know by happy experience how light is the burden and how sweet is the yoke of the Lord (Matt 11:29). He did not deceive us when He spoke those words, as might be argued by the tepid and the negligent, who in their torpidity and distrust, tacitly repudiate the truth of this statement. I wish also that you, in order to imitate Me in this perfection, take notice of the favor, which the Divine condescension gave Me in furnishing Me with a most sweet love and affection for creatures as participators in Divine goodness and existence. In this love I sought to console, alleviate and enliven all souls; and by a natural compassion I procured all spiritual and cor­poreal goods for them; to none of them, no matter how great sinners they might have been, did I wish any evil; on the contrary I was urged by the great compas­sion of My tender heart to procure for them eternal sal­vation. From this also arose My anxiety concerning the grief, which was to grow out of My pregnancy to My spouse St. Joseph; for to him I owed more than to all other creatures. Tender compassion filled My heart, especially for the suffering and the infirm, and I tried to obtain some relief for all. In these virtues then I wish that you, making use of the knowledge of them given to you, most prudently imitate Me.

CITY OF GOD   THE INCARNATION   BOOK 1

CHAPTER 17

OUR LADY’S SALUTATION TO ST. ELISABETH

AND THE SANCTIFICATION OF ST. JOHN

215 When the most holy Mother Mary arrived at the house of Zechariah, the Precursor of Christ had com­pleted the 6th month of his conception in the womb of St. Elisabeth. The body of the child John had already attained a state of great natural perfection; much greater than that of other children, on account of the miracle of his conception by a sterile mother and on account of the intention of the Most High to make him the depositary of greater sanctity than other men (Matt 11:11). Yet at that time his soul was yet filled with the darkness of sin, which he had contracted in the same way as the other children of Adam, the first and common father of the human race; and as, accord­ing to the universal and general law, men cannot receive the light of grace before they have issued forth to the light of the sun (Rom 5:7); so, after the first, the original sin contracted by our nature, the womb of the mother must serve as a dungeon or prison for all of us, who have laden upon ourselves this guilt of our father and head, Adam. Christ our Lord resolved to anticipate this great blessing in His Prophet and Pre­cursor by conferring the light of His grace and justifi­cation upon him 6 months after his conception by St. Elisabeth, in order that he might be distinguished as well in holiness, as he was in his office of Precursor and Baptist.

216 After the first salutation of Elisabeth by the most holy Mary, the 2 cousins retired, as I have said at the end of the preceding chapter. And immediately the Mother of grace saluted anew Her cousin saying: "May God save you, my dearest cousin, and may His Divine light communicate to you grace and life" (Luke 1:40). At the sound of most holy Mary's voice, St. Elisabeth was filled by the Holy Spirit and so enlight­ened interiorly, that in one instant she perceived the most exalted Mysteries and Sacraments. These emo­tions, and those that at the same time were felt by the child John in the womb of his mother, were caused by the Presence of the Word made flesh in the bridal cham­ber of Mary's womb, for, making use of the voice of Mary as His instrument, He, as Redeemer, began from that place to use the power given to Him by the Eternal Father for the salvation and justification of souls. And since He now operated as Man, though as yet of the diminutive size of one conceived 8 days before, He assumed, in admirable humility, the form and pos­ture of one praying and imploring the Father. He asked in earnest prayer for the justification of His future Precursor and obtained it at the Hands of the Blessed Trinity.

217 Saint John was the third one for whom our Redeemer made special petition since His Divine Presence in the womb of His mother. His Mother was the first for whom He gave thanks and prayed to the Father; next in order was Her spouse, St. Joseph, for whom the Incarnate Word offered up His prayers, as we have said in Chapter 12; and the third one was the Pre­cursor St. John, whom the Lord mentioned by name in His prayers to the Father. Such was the great good for­tune and privilege of St. John, that Christ our Lord presented to the Eternal Father the merits of His Passion and Death to be endured for men; and in view thereof He requested the sanctification of this soul. He ap­pointed and set apart this child as one who is to be born holy as His Precursor and as a witness of His coming into the world (John 1:7), as one who was to prepare the hearts of His people in order that they might recognize and receive Him as the Messiah. He ordained that for such an exalted ministry the Precursor should receive all the graces, gifts and favors that are befitting and proportionate to his office. All this the Father granted just as the Only Begotten had requested it of Him.

218 This happened before the most holy Mary had put Her salutation into words. At the pronunciation of the words mentioned above, God looked upon the child in the womb of St. Elisabeth, and gave him perfect use of reason, enlightening him with His Divine light, in order that he might prepare himself by foreknowledge for the blessings, which he was to receive. Together with this preparation he was sanctified from original sin, made an adopted son of God, and filled with the most abundant graces of the Holy Spirit and with the plenitude of all His gifts; his faculties were sanctified, subjected and sub­ordinated to reason, thus verifying in himself what Archangel Gabriel had said to Zechariah; that his son would be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb of his mother (Lk 1:17). At the same time the for­tunate child, looking through the walls of the maternal womb as through clear glass upon the Incarnate Word, and assuming a kneeling posture, adored his Redeemer and Creator, Whom he beheld in most holy Mary as if enclosed in a chamber made of the purest crystal. This was the movement of jubilation, which was felt by his mother Elisabeth as coming from the infant in her womb (Lk 1:44). Many other acts of virtue the child John performed during this interview, exercising faith, hope, charity, worship, gratitude, humility, devo­tion and all the other virtues possible to him there. From that moment he began to merit and grow in sanctity, without ever losing it and without ever ceasing to exer­cise it with all the vigor of grace.

219 St. Elisabeth was instructed at the same time in the Mystery of the Incarnation, the sanctification of her own son and the sacramental purpose of this new wonder. She also became aware of the virginal purity and of the dignity of the most holy Mary. On this oc­casion, the Heavenly Queen, being absorbed in the vision of the Divinity and of the Mysteries operated by it through Her Most Holy Son, became entirely transcendent, filled with the clear light of the Divine gifts which She participated; and thus filled with majesty St. Elisabeth saw Her. She saw the Word made man as through a most pure and clear glass in the virginal chamber, lying as it were on a couch of burning and enlivened crystal. The efficacious instrument of all these wonderful ef­fects was the voice of most holy Mary, as powerful as it was sweet in the hearing of the Lord. All this force was as it were only an outflow of that which was con­tained in those powerful words: "Let it be done according to your word," by which She had drawn the Eternal Word from the Father down to Her soul and into Her womb.

220 Filled with admiration at what She saw and heard in regard to these Divine Mysteries, St. Elisa­beth was wrapt in the joy of the Holy Spirit; and, looking upon the Queen of the world and Who was contained in Her, she burst forth in loud voice of praise, pronouncing the words reported to us by St. Luke: "Blessed are You among women and blessed is the Fruit of Your womb. why is this given to me to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of Your salutation sounded in my ear, the infant in my womb leaped for joy, and blessed are You, who has believed, because those things shall be accomplished, that were spoken to You by the Lord." In these prophetic words St. Elisabeth rehearsed the noble privileges of most holy Mary, perceiving by the Divine light what the power of the Lord had done in Her, what He now performed, and what He was to ac­complish through Her in time to come. All this also the child John perceived and understood, while listen­ing to the words of his mother; for she was enlight­ened for the purpose of his sanctification, and since he could not from his place in the womb bless and thank Her by word of mouth, she, both for herself and for her son, extolled the most holy Mary as being the in­strument of their good fortune.

221 These words of praise, pronounced by St. Elisabeth were referred by the Mother of wisdom and humility to the Creator; and in the sweetest and softest voice She intoned the Magnificat as recorded by St. Luke (1: 46-55).  My soul magnifies the Lord; and My spirit has rejoiced in God My Savior. Because He has regarded the humility of His handmaid, for behold from henceforth all genera­tions shall call Me blessed. Because He Who is mighty has done great things to Me, and Holy is His Name. And His Mercy is from generation unto gen­eration to those who fear Him. He has shown might in His Arm; He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He has put down the mighty from their seat and has exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He has sent empty away. He has received Israel, His servant, being mindful of His Mercy; as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed forever."

222 Just as St. Elisabeth was the first one who heard this sweet Canticle from the mouth of most holy Mary, so she was also the first one who understood it and, by means of her infused knowledge, commented upon it. She penetrated some of the great Mysteries, which its Author expressed therein in so few sen­tences. The soul of most holy Mary magnified the Lord for the excellence of His Infinite Essence; to Him She referred and yielded all glory and praise (1 Tim 1:17), both for the beginning and the accomplishment of Her works. She knew and confessed that in God alone every creature should glory and rejoice, since He alone is their entire happiness and salvation (2 Cor 10:17). She confessed also the equity and magnificence of the Most High in attending to the humble and in confer­ring upon them His abundant spirit of Divine love (Ps 138:6). She saw how worthy of men it is to per­ceive, understand and ponder the gifts that were con­ferred on the humility of Her, whom all nations were to call blessed, and how all the humble ones, each one according to his degree, could share the same good for­tune. By one word also She expressed all the mercies, benefits and blessings, which the Almighty showered upon Her in His Holy and Wonderful Name; for She calls them altogether "great things" since there was nothing small about anything that referred to this great Queen and Lady.

223 And as the Mercies of the Most High over­flowed from Mary's plenitude to the whole human race, and as She was the portal of heaven, through which they issued and continue to issue, and through which we are to enter into the participation of the Divinity; therefore She confessed, that the Mercy of the Lord in regard to Her is spread out over all the generations, communi­cating itself to those who fear Him. And just as the in­finite mercies raise up the humble and seek out those that fear God; so also the Powerful Arm of Divine Jus­tice scatters and destroys those who are proud in the mind of their heart, and hurls them from their thrones in order to set in their place the poor and lowly. This Justice of the Lord was exercised in wonderful splendor and glory upon the chief of all the proud, satan and his followers, when the Almighty Arm of God scattered and hurled them (because they themselves precipitated themselves) from their exalted seats which befitted their angelic natures and their graces, and which they occu­pied according to the original (Isaiah 14; Rev 12) decree of Divine love. For by it He intended that all should be blessed (1 Tim 2:4) while they, in trying to ascend in their vain pride to positions, which they neither could attain nor should aspire to, on the con­trary cast themselves from those that they occupied (Isaiah 14:13). In their arrogance they were found opposed to the just and inscrutable judgments of the Lord, which scattered and cast down the proud angel and all his followers (Rev 12:8). In their place were installed the humble of heart through the mediation of most holy Mary, the Mother and the Treasure House of His ancient Mercies.

224 For the same reason this Heavenly Lady says and proclaims that God enriches the needy, filling them with the abundance of His treasures of grace and glory; and those that are rich in their own estimation and pre­sumptuous arrogance, and those who satisfy their heart with the false goods, which the world esteems as riches and happiness, the Most High has banished and does banish from His Divine Presence, because they are void of the truth, which cannot enter into hearts filled and occupied with falsehood and deceit. He received His servants and His children, the people of Israel, remembering His Mer­cies in order to teach them, wherein prudence, truth and understanding  (Baruch 3:14), wherein free and abundant life and nourishment, wherein the light of the eyes and peace consists. He taught them the way of prudence and the hidden paths of wisdom and discipline, which is concealed from the princes of the gentiles, and is not known to the powerful, who dominate over the beasts of the earth and entertain themselves and play with the birds of the air and heap up treasures of gold and silver. Nor can the sons of Hagar and the inhabitants of Teman, who are the wise and the proudly prudent of this world, ever attain this wisdom. But to those that are sons of the light (Gal 3:7), and who are sons of Abraham by faith, hope and obedience, the Most High distributes it; for in this manner has it been promised to His posterity and His spiritual children, made secure by the blessed and happy Fruit of the virginal womb of the most holy Mary.

225 St. Elisabeth looking upon Mary the Queen of creation understood these hidden mysteries; and not only those, which I am able to express here, did this for­tunate matron understand, but many more and greater sacraments, which my understanding cannot compre­hend; nor do I wish to dilate upon all that have been shown to me, lest I unduly extend this history. But the sweet discourses and conversations, which these 2 holy and discreet ladies held with each other, reminded me of the 2 Seraphim, which Isaiah saw above the throne of the Most High, repeating the Divine and always new Canticle: Holy, Holy, Holy etc., while they covered their head with one pair of wings, their feet with another, flew with the third pair (Is 6:2). It is certain that the inflamed love of these 2 holy women exceeded that of all the Seraphim, and Mary by Herself loved more than they all together. They were consumed in the flame of divine love, extending the 2 wings of their hearts in order to manifest to each other their love and in order to soar into the most exalted intelligence of the Mys­teries of the Most High. With 2 more wings of rarest knowledge they covered their faces; because both of them discussed and contemplated the Sacrament of the King (Tob 12:7), guarding its secrets within themselves all their lives; also because they restrained their discourse and subjected it to their devoted faith, without giving scope to proud inquisitiveness. They also covered the Feet of the Lord and their own with the third pair of seraphic wings, because they were lowered and annihilated in their own humble estimation of them­selves at the sight of such great Majesty. Moreover since most holy Mary enclosed within Her virginal womb the God of Majesty Himself, we can with reason and with literal truth say that She covered the seat where the Lord sat enthroned.

226 When it was time to come forth from their retirement, St. Elisabeth offered herself and her whole family and all her house for the service of the Queen of Heaven. She asked Her to accept, as a quiet retreat, the room which she herself was accustomed to use for her prayers, and which was much retired and accom­modated to that purpose. The Heavenly Princess ac­cepted the chamber with humble thanks, and made use of it for recollecting Herself and sleeping therein, and no one ever entered it, except the 2 cousins. As for the rest She offered to serve and assist Elisabeth as a handmaid, for She said, that this was the purpose of visiting her and consoling her. O what friendship is so true, so sweet and inseparable, as that which is formed by the great bond of Divine love! How ad­mirable is the Lord in manifesting this great sacrament of the Incarnation to 3 women before He would make it known to any one else in the human race! For the first was St. Anne, as I have said in its place; the second one was her Daughter and the Mother of the Word, most holy Mary; the third one was St. Elisa­beth, and conjointly with her, her son, for he being yet in the womb of his mother, cannot be considered as dis­tinct from her. Thus "the foolishness of God is wiser than men," as St. Paul says.

227 The most holy Mary and Elisabeth came forth from their retirement at nightfall, having passed a long time together; and the Queen saw Zechariah standing before Her in his muteness, and She asked him for his blessing as from a priest of the Lord, which the saint also gave to Her. Yet, although She tenderly pitied him for his affliction, She did not exert Her power to cure him, because She knew the mysterious occasion of his dumbness; yet She offered a prayer for him. St. Elisabeth, who already knew the good fortune of the most chaste spouse Joseph, although he himself as yet was not aware of it, entertained and served him with great reverence and highest esteem. After staying 3 days in the house of Zechariah, however, he asked per­mission of his heavenly Spouse Mary to return to Naza­reth and leave Her in the company of St. Elisabeth in order to assist her in her pregnancy. The holy hus­band left them with the understanding that he was to return in order to accompany the Queen home as soon as they should give him notice.  St. Elisabeth offered him some presents to take home with him; but he would take only a small part of them, yielding only to their earnest solicitations, for this man of God was not only a lover of poverty, but was possessed of a magnanimous and noble heart. Therewith he pursued his way back to Nazareth, taking along with him the little beast of bur­den, which they had brought with them. At home, in the absence of his Spouse, he was served by a neigh­boring woman and cousin of his, who, also when most holy Mary was at home, was accustomed to come and go on the necessary errands outside of the house.

INSTRUCTION WHICH THE QUEEN AND LADY GAVE ME

228 My daughter, in order that your heart may be ever more and more inflamed with the desire of gaining the grace and friendship of God, I wish very much that you grow in the knowledge of the dignity, excel­lence and happiness of a soul, that has been endowed with this privilege; however, remember that it is so ad­mirable and of so great a value that you can not com­prehend it, even if I would explain it to you; and much less can you express it in words. Look upon the Lord and contemplate Him by means of divine light, which you receive, and then you will understand that the Lord performs a greater work in justifying a soul than in having created all the orbs of heaven and the whole earth with all the beauty and perfection contained within them. And if on account of the wonders which creatures are able in part to perceive in these works by the senses, they are impressed with the greatness and power of God, what would they say and think if they could see with the eyes of their soul the preciousness and beauty of grace in so many creatures, who are capable of receiving them?

229 There are no terms of language equal to the task of expressing what participations and perfec­tions of God are contained in sanctifying grace. It is little to say that it is more pure and spotless than the snow; more refulgent than the sun; more precious than gold or precious stones, more charming, more amiable and pleasing than all the most delightful feasts and en­tertainments, and more beautiful than all that in its en­tirety can be imagined or desired by men. Take notice also of the ugliness of sin, in order that by the opposite you may come to so much the better under­standing of the beauty of grace; for neither darkness, nor rottenness, nor the most horrible, the most dreadful, nor the foulest of creatures can ever be compared to sin and to its ugliness. The martyrs and saints understood much of this mystery (Heb 11:36), who in order to secure the beauty of grace and preserve themselves from the ruin of sin, did not fear fire, nor wild beasts, nor the sword, nor torments, nor prisons, ignominies, pains, afflictions, nor death itself, nor prolonged and per­petual suffering; for to escape all these must be counted for little or nothing, and must scarcely be thought of in comparison with one degree of grace, which souls may attain, even though they be the most abject of the whole world. All this, men who esteem and seek after the fugitive and apparent beauty of creatures, are ignorant of; and whatever does not present to them this deceitful beauty, is for them vile and contemptible.

230 You perceive therefore something of the greatness of the blessing, which the Incarnate Word con­ferred upon His Precursor in the womb of His mother; and because St. John recognized it, he leaped for joy and exultation in the womb of his mother. You will also see what you yourself must do and suffer in order to attain this happiness, and in order not to lose, or in the least impair this most precious beauty by any fault, nor retard its consummation by any imperfection, no matter how small. I wish that in imitation of My cousin Elisabeth, You do not enter into any friendship with anyone, except those, with whom you can and should converse about the Works of the Most High and of His Mysteries, and with whom you can learn to pursue the true path of His Divine Pleasure. Although you are engaged in important undertakings and works, do not forget or omit your spiritual exercises and the strictness of a perfect life; for this must not only be preserved and watched over, when all things go smoothly, but also under the greatest adversity, diffi­culty and labor; for imperfect human nature takes oc­casion of the slightest circumstance to relax its vigilance.

CITY OF GOD   THE INCARNATION   BOOK 1

CHAPTER 18

OUR LADY’S LIFE IN THE HOUSE OF ZECHARIAH’S

231 When the Precursor John had been sanctified and St. Elisabeth, his mother, had been endowed with such great gifts and blessings, and when thus the princi­pal object of Mary's visit was fulfilled, the great Queen proceeded to arrange Her daily life in the house of Zechariah; for Her occupations could not be uniformly the same as those She was accustomed to in Her own house. In order to direct Her desire by the guidance of the Holy Spirit She retired and placed Herself in the Presence of the Most High, asking Him as usual to guide Her and direct Her in that which She was to do during Her stay in the house of His servants Elisabeth and Zechariah; so that She might in all things be pleasing to Him and fulfill entirely His pleasure. The Lord heard Her peti­tion and answered Her saying: "My Spouse and My Dove, I will direct all Your actions and I will direct Your footsteps in the fulfillment of My service and pleasure, and I will make known to You the day on which I wish You to return to Your home. In the meanwhile remain in the house of My servant Elisabeth and converse with her. As for the rest, continue Your exercises and prayers, especially for the salvation of men, and pray also, that I withhold My Justice in dealing with their incessant of­fenses against My bounty. Conjointly with Your prayers You shall offer to Me the Lamb without spot (1 Pet 1:19) Whom You bear in Your womb and Who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Let these now be Your occupations."

232 In conformity with this instruction and new mandate of the Most High, the Princess of heaven or­dered all Her occupations in the house of Her cousin Elisabeth. She rose up at midnight in accordance with Her former custom, spending the hours in the continued contemplation of the Divine Mysteries and giving to wak­ing and sleep the time, which most perfectly and exactly agreed with the natural state and conditions of Her body. In labor and repose She continued to receive new favors, illuminations, exaltation and caresses of the Lord. During these 3 months She had many visions of the Divinity, mostly abstractive in kind. More fre­quent still were the visions of the Most Holy Humanity of the Word in His Hypostatic Union; for Her virginal womb, in which She bore Him, served Her as Her con­tinual altar and sanctuary. She beheld the daily growth of that Sacred Body. By this experience and by the sacraments, which every day were made manifest to Her in the boundless fields of the Divine Power and Essence, the spirit of this exalted Lady expanded to vast propor­tions. Many times would She have been consumed and have died by the violence of Her affections, if She had not been strengthened by the Power of the Lord. To these occupations, which were concealed from all, She added those, which the service and consolation of Her cousin Elisabeth demanded, although She did not apply one moment more to them, than charity required. These fulfilled, She turned immediately to Her solitude and recollection, where She could pour out the more freely Her spirit before the Lord.

233 Not less solicitous was She to occupy Herself interiorly, while She was engaged for many hours in man­ual occupations. And in all this the precursor was so fortunate that the great Queen, with Her own hands, sewed and prepared the swaddling clothes and coverlets in which he was to be wrapped and reared; for his mother Elisabeth, in her maternal solicitude and atten­tion, had secured for St. John this good fortune, hum­bly asking this favor of the heavenly Queen. Mary with incredible love and subjection complied with her request in order to exercise Herself in obedience to her cousin, whom She wished to serve as the low handmaid; for in humility and obedience most holy Mary always sur­passed every one. Although St. Elisabeth sought to anticipate Her in much that belonged to her service, yet, in Her rare prudence and wisdom, Mary knew how to forestall her cousin, always gaining the triumph of humility.

234 In this regard a great and sweet competition arose between the 2 cousins, which was very pleasing to the Most High and wonderful in the sight of the angels; for St, Elisabeth was very solicitous and at­tentive in serving our Lady and great Queen, and in commanding also the same service to be rendered Her by all the servants of the house. But She, who was the Teacher of virtues, most holy Mary, being still more attentive and eager to serve, met and diverted the anxie­ties of Her cousin, saying: "My dear cousin, I find My consolation in being commanded and in obeying during all My life.  It is not good that your love should deprive Me of the comfort I feel therein. Since I am the younger one, it is proper that I serve not only you, as My mother, but all in your house; deal with Me as with your servant as long as I am in your company." St. Elisabeth an­swered: "My beloved Lady, it seems much more proper that I obey You and that You command and direct me in all things. This I ask of You with greater justice. For if You, the Queen, wish to exercise humility, I on my part owe worship and reverence to my God and Lord, Whom You bear in Your virginal womb, and I know that Your dignity is worthy of all honor and rev­erence." And the most prudent Virgin rejoined: "My Son and Lord did not choose Me for His Mother, in order that I receive reverence as Queen; for His King­dom is not of this world (John 18:36), nor did He come into it in order to be served; but to serve (Matt 20:28), and to suffer, and to teach obedience and hu­mility to mankind (Matt 11:29), condemning fastidi­ousness and pride. Since therefore His Majesty teaches Me this and the Highest calls Himself the ignominy of men (Ps 22:22), how can I, who am His slave and do not merit the company of creatures, consent that you serve Me, who are formed according to His image and likeness?" (Gen 1:27).

235 Saint Elisabeth still insisted and said: "My Queen and Protector, this is true for those, who do not know the sacrament which is enclosed in You. But I, who have without merit been informed by the Lord, will be very blamable in His Eyes, if I do not give Him in You the veneration which is due to Him as God, and to You as His Mother; for it is just that I serve Both, as a slave serves his masters." To this the most holy Mary answered: "My dear sister, this reverence which You owe and desire to give, is due to the Lord, Whom I bear within My womb, for He is the true and highest Good and our Redeemer. But as far as I am concerned, who am a mere creature and among creatures only a poor worm, look upon Me as I am in Myself, although You should adore the Creator, Who chose My poor self as His dwelling. By His Divine enlightenment You shall give unto God, what is due to Him, and allow Me to perform that which pertains to Me, namely to serve and to be below all. This I ask of You for My consolation and in the Name of the Lord, Whom I bear within Me."

236 In such blessed and happy contentions most holy Mary and Her cousin Elisabeth passed some of their time. But the heavenly prudence of our Queen caused in Her such an alertness and ingenuity in matters concern­ing humility and obedience, that She never failed to find means and ways of obeying and of being commanded. However, during all the time in which She stayed with St. Elisabeth, all this was done in such a way that both according to their condition treated with the high­est respect the Sacrament of the King which had been entrusted to their knowledge, and which was deposited in the most holy Mary. This high respect in Mary was such as befitted the Mother and the Queen of all vir­tue and grace, and in Elisabeth, such as was worthy of the prudent matron, so highly enlightened by the Holy Spirit. By this light she wisely directed her behavior in regard to the Mother of God, yielding to Her wishes and obeying Her in whatever she could, and at the same time reverencing Her dignity, and in it, Her Creator. In her inmost heart she made the intention that if she were obliged to give any command to the Mother of God, she would do it only in order to obey and satisfy Her wishes; and whenever she did it, she asked permis­sion and pardon of the Lord, at the same time never ordering anything by direct command, but always by request; and she would use greater earnestness only in such things as were conducive to Mary's convenience, as for instance, that She take some sleep or nourishment.  She also asked Mary to make a few articles for her with Her own hands; Mary complied, but St. Elisabeth never made use of them, except to preserve them with the greatest veneration.

237 In this way most holy Mary put into practice the Doctrine of the Eternal Word Who humiliated Him­self so far, that, being the Form of the Eternal Father, the Figure of His Substance, True God of True God, He nevertheless assumed the form and condition of a ser­vant (Heb 1:3, Phil 2:6,7).This Lady was the Mother of God, Queen of all creation, superior in ex­cellence and dignity to all creatures, and yet She re­mained the humble servant of the least of them.  Never would She accept homage and service as if due to Her, nor did She ever exalt Herself, or fail to judge Herself in the most humble manner. What shall we now say of our most execrable presumption and pride? Since, full of the abomination of sin, we are so sense­less as to claim for ourselves with dreadful insanity the homage and veneration of the entire world? And if this is denied us, we quickly lose the little sense, which our passions have left us. This whole heavenly history bears the stamp of humility, and is a condemnation of our pride. And since it is not my office to teach or cor­rect, but to be taught and to be corrected, I implore and pray all the faithful children of light to place this ex­ample before their eyes for our humiliation.

238 It would not have been difficult for the Lord to preserve His most holy Mother from such extreme low­liness and from the occasions in which She embraced it; He could have exalted Her before creatures, ordaining that She be renowned, honored and respected by all; just as He knew how to procure homage and renown for others as Ahasuerus did for Mordecai (Esther). Perhaps, if this had been left to the judgment of men, they would have so managed that a Woman more holy than all the hierarchies of heaven, and who bore in Her womb the Creator of the Angels and of the Heavens, should be sur­rounded by a continual guard of honor, withdrawn from the gaze of men and receiving the homage of all the world; it would have seemed to them unworthy of Her to engage in humble and servile occupations, or not to have all things done only at Her command, or to refuse homage, or not to exercise fullest authority. So narrow is human wisdom, if that can be called wisdom, which is so limited. But such fallacy cannot creep into the true science of the saints, which is communicated to them by the Infinite Wisdom of God,  and which esteems at their just weight and price these honors without confounding the values of men.  The Most High would have denied His beloved Mother much and benefited Her little, if He had deprived and withdrawn from Her the occasion of exercising the profoundest humility and had instead exposed Her to the exterior applause of men. It would also be a great loss to the world to be without this school of humility and this ex­ample for the humiliation and confusion of its pride.

239 From the time of her receiving the Lord as her Guest in her house, though yet in the womb of the Vir­gin Mother, the holy Elisabeth was much favored by God. By the continued conversation and the familiar relationship with the Heavenly Queen in proportion as she grew in the knowledge and understanding of the Mysteries of the Incarnation, this great matron advanced in all manner of sanctity, as one who draws it from its very fountain. A few times she merited to see most holy Mary during Her prayers, ravished and raised from the ground and altogether filled with heavenly splendor and beauty, so that she could not have looked upon Her face, nor remain alive in Her presence, if she had not been strengthened by divine power. On these occasions, and at others whenever she could be witness of them without attracting the attention of most holy Mary, she pros­trated herself and knelt in Her presence, and adored the Incarnate Word in the Virginal Temple of the most holy Mother. All the Mysteries which became known to her by Divine light and by the contact with the great Queen, St. Elisabeth sealed up in her heart, being a most faithful depositary and prudent secretary of that which was confided to her. Only with her son John and with Zechariah, during the short time in which he lived after the birth of his son, St. Elisabeth con­versed to some extent concerning those Sacraments, which had become known to all. But in all this she acted as a courageous, wise and very holy woman.

INSTRUCTION OF MOST HOLY MARY

240 My daughter, the favors of the Most High and the knowledge of His Heavenly Mysteries, in attentive souls, engender a kind of love and esteem of humility, which raises them up with a strong and sweet force, like that which causes fire to ascend, like the gravity which causes a stone to fall, each of them striving to reach its own and natural sphere. This is done by the true light, which places the creature in the possession of a clear knowledge of its own self and attributes the graces to the proper source, from where all perfect things come (Jacob 1:17). Thus it brings all things into correct bal­ance. And this is the most proper order of right reason, which overthrows and as it were exerts violence against the false presumption of men. On account of this presumption of pride the heart, wherein it lives, cannot strive after contempt, nor bear it, nor can it suffer a su­perior over itself, and is offended even at equals. It violently opposes all in order to place itself alone above all fellow creatures. But the humble heart is abased in proportion to the benefits it received.  In its in­terior quietly grows a desire or an ardent hunger for self-abasement and for the last place.  It is violently dis­turbed in not finding itself esteemed as the inferior of all and in being deprived of humiliation.

241 In Meyou will find exhibited the practical application of this doctrine; since none of the favors and blessings, which the Right Hand of the Most High lavished upon Me, were insignificant. Yet never was My heart inflated with presumption above itself, nor did it ever know anything else than to desire to be abased and occupy the last place among all creatures. The imitation of this I desire especially of you; let your ambition be to take the last place, to live in subjection to all others; abased and considered as useless, in the Presence of the Lord and of men, You must judge yourself as less than the dust of the earth itself. You cannot deny, that in no generation has anyone been more favored than you, and no one has merited these favors less than you. How then will you make any return for this great debt of gratitude if you do not humiliate yourself below all others and more than all the sons of Adam; and if you do not awaken within yourself exalted and loving sentiments concerning humility? It is good to obey the prelates and instruc­tors, therefore do it always. But I desire that you go much farther, and that you obey the most insignificant of your fellow beings in all that is not sinful, and in such a way, as if you were obeying the highest of your superiors; and I desire that in this matter you be very earnest, as I was during My earthly life.

242 You must, however, be circumspect in regard to the obedience to your inferiors, so that they may not, knowing of your anxiousness to obey in all things, seek to induce you to obey in things unseemly and unbecom­ing. You can do much good by giving them the good and orderly example of obedience, without caus­ing them to lose any of their subjection and without derogating from your authority as their superior. If any disagreeable accident or injury should happen, which affects you alone; accept it gladly, without so much as moving your lips in self-defense, or making any complaints. Whatever is an injury to God reprehend without mixing up any of your own grievances with those of His Majesty; for you should never find any cause for self defense, but always be ready to defend the honor of God. But neither in the one nor the other, allow yourself to be moved by disorderly anger and pas­sion. I wish also, that you use great prudence in hid­ing and concealing the favors of the Lord, for the Sacra­ment of the King is not to be lightly manifested (Tob 12:7), nor are carnal men capable or worthy of the Mysteries of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2:14). In all things imitate and follow Me, since you wish to be My beloved daughter; this you will attain by obeying Me and you will induce the Almighty to strengthen and direct your footsteps to that which I desire to ac­complish in you. Do not resist Him, but dispose and prepare your heart sweetly and quickly to obey His light and grace. Let grace not be void in you (2 Cor 6:1), but labor diligently and let your actions be performed in all perfection.

CITY OF GOD   THE INCARNATION   BOOK 1

CHAPTER 19

CONVERSATIONS WITH ST. ELIZABETH AND WITH ANGELS

243 The plenitude of the wisdom and grace of most holy Mary, being of such immense capacity, could not remain idle at any point of time, nor in any place or occasion. For it gave forth the plenitude of all perfec­tion; active at all times and seasons to the fullest extent of duty and possibility, without ever falling short of the holiest and the most excellent in virtue. And as in all places She acted the part of a pilgrim on earth and of an inhabitant of heaven, and as She Herself was the in­tellectual and most glorious heaven, the living Temple, in which God Himself had made His habitation.  She also carried with Her, Her own oratory and sanctuary and in this respect there was for Her no difference between Her own house and that of Her cousin St. Elisabeth, nor could any other place, time or occupation be a hindrance to Her in this regard. She was placed above all things and without any outside claim She incessantly devoted Herself to the influence of the love, which was contin­ually in Her sight. Yet at the same time She conversed with  creatures at opportune times and treated with them according as occasion required, giving as much at­tention to them, as the most prudent Lady could fit­tingly spare for each in particular. And as Her most frequent conversings during the 3 months, in which She remained in the house of Zechariah, were with St. Elisabeth and with the Holy Angels of Her guard, I shall relate in this chapter something of that which formed the subject of Her conferences with them, and also men­tion other things, which happened in Her association with the saint.

244 When She was left alone and free to Herself our heavenly Princess passed many hours ravished and elevated in divine contemplations and visions. Some­times during these trances, sometimes outside of them, She was accustomed to converse with Her Angels about the Sacraments and Mysteries of Her interior love. One day, soon after She had arrived at the house of Zechariah, She spoke to them in the following manner: "Heav­enly spirits, My guardians and companions, ambassadors of the Most High and luminaries of His Divinity, come and strengthen My heart, which is captured and wounded by His Divine Love; for it is afflicted with its own limita­tions in that it cannot properly respond to the obliga­tions which are known to it and which dictate its de­sires. Come, supernal princes, and praise with Me the admirable Name of the Lord and let us magnify His holy judgments and operations. Help this poor little worm to praise its Creator, Who condescends kindly to look upon its insignificance. Let us talk of the wonders of My Spouse; let us discuss the beauty of My Lord, of My Beloved Son! Let My heart find relief in uniting its inmost aspirations to your own, My friends and com­panions; for you know the secrets of My Treasure, which the Lord has deposited within Me in the narrow­ness of so fragile and constrained a vase. Great are these Sacraments and admirable these Mysteries; and I contemplate them with sweet affection, but their su­pernal greatness overwhelms Me.  The profundity and the greatness of My love overpowers Me even while they inflame My heart. In the ardor of My soul I cannot rest satisfied and I find no repose; for My desires surpass all that I can accomplish and My obligations are greater than My desires; I am dissatisfied with Myself, because I do not exert Myself as much as I desire, because I do not desire to accomplish as much as I should, and be­cause I find Myself continually falling short and van­quished by the greatness of the returns, which are due. Heavenly Seraphim, listen to My loving anxieties; I am fallen sick with love (Song 2:5). Open to Me your hearts, whence the beauty of My God is flashed forth, in order that the splendors of His light and the visions of His loveliness may replenish the life, which wastes away in His love."

245 "Mother of our Creator and our Queen," an­swered the Holy Angels, "You possess truly the Al­mighty and our highest Good. Since You have Him so closely bound to You and are His true Spouse and Mother, rejoice in Him and keep Him with You for all eternity. You are the Spouse and the Mother of the God of love, and as in You is the only Cause and Fountain of Life, no one shall live with Him as You, our Queen. But do not seek to find re­pose in a love so inflamed.  Your state and condition of a pilgrim do not permit Your love to attain the repose of perfect consummation, nor will it cease to aspire to new and greater increase of merit and triumph. Your obligations surpass without comparison those of all the nations.  They are to increase and grow continually.  Never will Your so vastly inflamed love equal its Object, since It is eternal and infinite and without measure in its perfection.  You shall always be happily vanquished by its greatness; for no one can comprehend It.  Only He Himself comprehends Himself and loves Himself in the measure, in which He deserves to be loved.  Eternally, O Lady, shall You find in Him more to desire and more to love, since that is required by the essence of His greatness and of our beatitude."

246 In these colloquies and conferences the fire of Di­vine Love was more and more enkindled in the heart of most holy Mary.  In Her was exactly fulfilled the com­mand of the Lord (Lev 6:12), that in His Tabernacle and on His Altar should burn continually the fire of the holocaust and that the priest of the ancient law should see to its perpetual nourishment and maintenance. This precept was executed to the letter in the most holy Mary, for in Her were jointly contained the Altar and the new High Priest.  Christ our Lord nourished and aug­mented its flame day by day, by administering new ma­terial in favors, blessings, graces and communications of His Divinity. The exalted Lady on Her part, contributed Her ceaseless exertions, which were ineffably enhanced in value by the continual flow of the graces and sanctity of the Lord.  From the moment in which this Lady entered into the world, this conflagration of His Divine Love took its rise, in order never to be extin­guished on this Altar through all the eternities of God Himself. For the fire of this living Sanctuary will be as lasting as this eternity.

247 At other times She spoke and conversed with the Holy Angels, when they appeared to Her in human forms, as I have said in several places. Most frequently this con­versation turned about the Mystery of the Incarnate Word; and in this She manifested so profound a knowl­edge in citing the Holy Scriptures and the Prophets that She caused wonder even in the Angels. On one oc­casion in speaking to them of these venerable Sacra­ments, She said: "My lords, servants of the Most High and His friends, My heart is pierced and torn by arrows of grief, when I meditate on what the Sacred Scriptures say of My Most Holy Son, what Isaiah and Jeremiah wrote (Is 33:2; Jer 11:18) concern­ing the most bitter pains and torments in store for Him. Solomon says (Wis 2:20), that they shall condemn Him to a most ignominious death and the Prophets al­ways speak in weighty and superlative terms of His Pas­sion and Death, which all are to be fulfilled in Him. O were it the Will of His Majesty that I live at that time in order to offer Myself to die instead of the Author of My life! My soul is sorely afflicted in the consideration of these infallible truths and that My God and My Lord should come forth from My womb only in order to suf­fer. O who will guard Him and defend Him against His enemies!  O tell Me, heavenly princes, by what services or by what means can I induce the Eternal Fa­ther to divert the rigor of His justice upon Me, in order that the Innocent, Who cannot have any guilt upon Him, may be freed from punishment? Well do I know that in order to satisfy the Infinite God for the offenses of men, the satisfaction of the Incarnate God is required; but by His first act My Most Holy Son has merited more than all the human race can lose or demerit by its of­fenses. Since this is sufficient, tell Me, is it not possible that I die in order to relieve Him from His death and torments? My humble desires will not be annoying to My God, and My anxieties will not be displeasing to Him. Yet, what am I saying?  To what lengths do sorrow and love drive Me, since I must be subject in all things to the Divine Will and its perfect fulfillment?"

248 Such and like colloquy the most holy Mary held with Her Angels, especially during the time of Her pregnancy. The Holy Angels met all Her anxieties and com­forted Her with great reverence, consoling Her by re­newing the memory of the very Sacraments, which She already knew.  They reminded Her of the reasonable­ness and propriety of the Death of Christ for the salva­tion of the human race, for the conquest of the demons and spoliation of their power, for the glory of the Eternal Father and the exaltation of the Most Holy and Highest Lord His Son (Tim 2:14). So great and ex­alted were the Mysteries touched upon in these dis­courses of the Queen with the Holy Angels, that neither can the human tongue describe, nor our capacity compre­hend them in this life. When we shall enjoy the Lord we shall see what we cannot at present conceive. From this little which I have said, our piety can help us to draw conclusions in regard to others much greater.

249 St. Elisabeth was likewise much versed and enlightened in the Sacred Scriptures, and much more so since the Visitation; and therefore our Queen conversed with her concerning these Heavenly Mysteries, which were known and understood by the matron, instructing and enlightening her by heavenly teachings.  Through Her intercession Elisabeth was enriched with many bless­ings and gifts of heaven. Many times she wondered at the profound wisdom of the Mother of God, and blessed Her over and over again, saying: "Blessed are You, Mother of my Lord, among all womankind (Lk 1:42); and may the nations know and magnify Your dignity. Most fortunate are You on account of the Rich Treasure, which You bear in Your virginal womb. I tender to You my humble and most affectionate congratulations for the joy with which Your spirit shall be filled, when You shall hold in Your arms the Son of Righteousness and nurse Him at Your virginal breasts. Remember me Your servant, O Lady, in that hour and offer my heart in sacrifice to Your Most Holy Son, my true and Incarnate God.  O who shall merit to serve You from now on and attend upon You! But if I am unworthy of this good fortune, may I enjoy that of being borne in Your heart; for I fear (not without cause) that mine will be torn asunder, when I must part from You." Many other sentiments of sweetest and most tender love St. Elisabeth uttered in her personal exchange with the most holy Mary; and the most pru­dent Lady consoled her, strengthened and enlivened her by her divinely efficacious reasonings. These so exalted and heavenly dealings of Mary were diversified by many other acts of humility and self-abasement in serving not only Her cousin Elisabeth, but also the servants of her house. Whenever She could find an occasion, She swept the house of Her relative, and always Her oratory at regular times; and with the servants She washed the dishes, and performed other acts of profound humility. Let no one think it strange that I particularize in these small matters; for the greatness of our Queen has made them of importance for our instruction and in order that knowing of them, our pride may vanish and our vile­ness may come to shame. When St. Elisabeth learnt of the humble services, performed by the Mother of piety, She was deeply moved and tried to prevent them; and therefore the Heavenly Lady concealed them from Her cousin wherever it was possible.

250 O Queen of Heaven and earth, my Protector and Advocate, although You are the Teacher of all sanctity and perfection, lost in astonish­ment at Your humility, I dare, O my Mother, to ask You: how was it possible that, knowing of the Only Begotten of the Father within Your virginal womb, and wishing in all things to conduct Yourself as His Mother, Your great­ness should abase itself to such lowliness, as sweeping the floor and similar occupations; since, according to our notions, You could, on account of the reverence due to Your Most Holy Son, easily have excused Yourself without failing against the duties of Your most perfect Moth­erhood. My desire is, O Lady, to understand how Your Majesty was governed in this matter.

ANSWER AND INSTRUCTION OF THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN

251 My daughter, in order to solve your difficulty more explicitly than as already noted down in the fore­going chapter, you must remember that no occupation or exterior act pertaining to virtue, no matter how lowly it may be, can, if it is well-ordered, impede the worship, reverence and exaltation of the Creator of all things; for these acts of virtue do not exclude one another.  They are all compatible with one another in the creature, and much more in Me, who lived in the continual Presence of the Highest Good without ever losing It out of sight by exterior activity. I adored and remembered God in all My actions, referring them all to His greater glory; and the Lord Himself, Who orders and creates all things, de­spises none of them, nor is He offended, or irritated by their smallness. The soul that loves Him, is not dis­concerted by any of these little things in His Divine Pres­ence; for it seeks and finds Him as the beginning and the end of all creatures. And because terrestrial crea­tures cannot exist without these humble performances and without others that are inseparable from our lowly condition and the preservation of our nature, it is neces­sary to understand this doctrine well, in order that we may be governed by it. For if we engage in these thoughts and occupations without reference to their Cre­ator, they will cause many and great interruptions in the practice of virtue and in our merits, as well as in the right use of interior advantages. Our whole life will be blameworthy and full of reprehensible defects, little re­moved from the earthliness of creatures.

252 According to this doctrine you must so regu­late your terrestrial occupations, whatever they may be, that you do not lose your time, which can never be re­covered. Whether you eat, labor, rest, sleep, or watch, in all times and places, and in all occupations, adore, reverence and look upon your great and powerful Lord, Who fills all things and conserves all things (1 Cor 10:3; Matt 11:29). I wish also that you pay special attention to that which moved and incited Me most to perform all acts of humility; namely, the thought that My Divine Son came in the guise of humility in order to teach the world this virtue in word and example, to inculcate the hate of vanity and pride and rooting out its seed sown by satan among mortals in the first sin. His Majesty gave me such a deep knowledge of how much He is pleased with this virtue, that in order to be allowed to perform only one of the acts mentioned by you, such as sweeping the floor or kissing the feet of the poor, I would have been ready to suffer the greatest torments of the world. You will never find words to express the love for humility that I had, nor to de­scribe its excellence and nobility. In the Lord you will know and understand what you can not describe in words.

253 Write this doctrine in your heart and observe it as the rule of your life.  Continue to exercise yourself in the contempt of all things belonging to human vanity, and esteem them as odious and execrable in the Eyes of the Most High. But in connection with this humility of your life, let your thoughts always be of the noblest and your conversation in heaven and with the angelic spirits (Phil 3:20).  Deal with them and converse with them in order to obtain new light concerning the Divinity and the Mysteries of Christ My Most Holy Son. With crea­tures let your communication be such as will continually in­crease your fervor and serve you as means of advancing and profiting by means of humility and divine love. In your own mind assume the lowest place beneath all crea­tures, so that when the occasion and the time of exer­cising the acts of humility arrive, you may be found prompt and willing to exercise them. Only then will you rule the passions, if first you have acknowledged yourself in your heart as the least and weak­est and most useless of all the creatures.

CITY OF GOD   THE INCARNATION   BOOK 1

CHAPTER 20

FAVORS GIVEN BY OUR LADY TO THOSE IN ZECHARIAH’S HOUSEHOLD

254 It is a well known quality of love to be active as the fire in works of kindness, wherever it finds occasion. This is especially true of the fire of spiritual love, for it will reach out in search of material as soon as this falls short. The Master has taught lovers of God so many ways and methods of pursuing virtue, that there is no need of remaining idle. And as love is not blind nor insane, it knows well the qualities of the noble ob­ject it aims at. Its only concern is that not all men love it properly; and thus it seeks to communicate this love without strife or envy. We know that the love of all the other saints, though most fervent and holy, appears limited in comparison with that of most Holy Mary. Yet if their love is admirable and powerful, inciting them to vast works of zeal for souls, what immense works then must not the love this great Queen have accom­plished for the benefit of Her fellowmen, since She was the Mother of Divine Love (Eccl 24:24), and since She carried with Her the true and Living Fire that was to enkindle the world. (Lk 12:49). Let all men learn from this heavenly history how much they owe to the love of this Lady. Although it will be impossible to notice all the particular instances of the benefits con­ferred on souls by Her, nevertheless, in order that from some of them, many more may be inferred, I will relate a few that our Queen conferred while in the house of Her cousin Elisabeth.

255 One of the servants in that house was of per­verse inclination, restless, subject to anger, and accus­tomed to swear and curse. With all these vices and dis­orders, she still knew how to make herself agreeable to her masters, but at the same time she was so given over to the power of the devil that this tyrant could easily induce her to throw herself into all sorts of miseries and mistakes. For 14 years many devils sur­rounded and accompanied her without intermission in order to make certain the capture of her soul. Only when this woman came into the presence of the Queen of Heaven, most Holy Mary, these enemies with­drew; for, as I have said in other places, the virtue issu­ing from our Queen tormented them, and especially dur­ing that time when She carried within Her virginal re­pository the Powerful God and Lord of all virtues. As on the one hand this woman was freed from her cruel exactors, being released from the evil influences of their company, and as on the other hand she experienced within her the beneficial effects of the sweet vision and contact of the Queen.  She began to be much at­tracted and moved toward Mary and she sought to be in Her presence and offered to serve Her with much af­fection, striving to pass all the time possible with Her and watching Her with reverence.  For among her distorted inclinations she had also a good one, which was a natural kindness and compassion for the needy and the humble, so that she was naturally drawn to­ward them and ready to do them good.

256 The Heavenly Princess, who saw and knew all the inclinations of this woman, the state of her con­science, the danger of her soul and the malice of the demons against her, turned upon her an eye of mercy and watched her with the love of a mother. Although Her Majesty knew that the company and the interference of devils was a just punishment for the sins of this woman, yet She interceded for her and obtained for her pardon, remedy and salvation. She commanded the de­mons, in virtue of the authority conceded to Her, to leave this creature and not dare to disturb her or molest her thenceforth. As they could not resist the sway of our great Queen, they yielded and fled in highest consterna­tion, not knowing how to account for such power of the most Holy Mary. They conferred about it in as­tonishment and indignation, saying: "Who is this Woman, that exerts such dominion over us? Where does such strange power come from, which enables Her to perform all that She wishes?" The demons therefore conceived new wrath and indignation against Her, who had crushed their heads (Gen 3:15). The happy woman, however, was snatched from their claws. Mary admonished her, corrected her, and taught her the way of salvation, and changed her into a woman of kind and meek disposition. She persevered therein during all her life, being well aware, that all this had come to her through the hands of our Queen; although she did not know nor penetrate into the mystery of Her dignity, she remained humbly thankful and lived a holy life.

257 Not in a better state than this servant was an­other woman living in the neighborhood of the house of Zechariah, who as a neighbor was inclined to come and listen to the conversation of the family of St. Elisa­beth. She lived a licentious life, far from honorable, and when she heard of the arrival of our great Queen in that town, of Her modesty and retirement, she spoke of Her lightly and with some curiosity: "Who is this Stranger, who has come as a guest of our neighbors, and who gives Herself such holy and recollected airs?" In the vain and inquisitive desire of spying out novelty, as is customary with such kind of people, she managed to get sight of the Heavenly Lady and scrutinized Her dress and Her countenance. Her intention was imperti­nent and presumptuous; but far different the effect: for having succeeded in scrutinizing most holy Mary, she left with a wounded heart; the presence and the sight of the Queen transformed her into a new woman. Her inclinations were altogether changed, and without know­ing by what efficacious influence the change came about, she felt its power and began to shed abundant floods of tears in deep-felt sorrow for her sins. Merely on ac­count of having fixed her attentive gaze in curiosity upon the Mother of virginal purity, this happy woman received in return the love of chastity and was freed from the sensual habits and inclinations of her former life. In that very hour she sorrowfully retired to weep over her wicked life. Whenever later on she desired to converse with the Mother of Grace, Her Highness, in order to confirm her, permitted it. For as Mary knew what had happened and as She bore within Her the Origin of Grace, the Sanctifier and Justifier by Whose power She fulfilled Her office of Advocate of sinners She received her with maternal kindness, admonished and instructed her in virtue, dismissing her strengthened and confirmed for perseverance in her new life.

258 In this manner our great Lady performed many works and caused many admirable conversions in a great number of souls, although it was done in silence and hidden to all. The whole family of Sts. Elisabeth and Zechariah were sanctified by Her contact and conver­sation. Those who were just, experienced new increase of gifts and favors; those that were not, She justified and enlightened by Her intercession; all of them were captured by reverential love of Her so completely, that each one strove to obey Her and acknowledge Her as Mother, as Protector and as a consolation in all their necessities. The mere privilege of seeing Her, without any words, was sufficient to produce all these effects; yet She was careful not to omit whatever seemed neces­sary to obtain this end. As She penetrated the secrets of all hearts and knew the state of each one's conscience, She knew how to apply the opportune medicine. Some­times, not always, the Lord manifested to Her the final end of those She met; informing Her, which were chosen and which were reprobate, predestined for hap­piness or foreknown as damned. At sight of both one and the other Her heart broke forth in admirable flashes of most perfect virtue.  For when She knew of any that were just and predestined, She bestowed upon them many blessings, which She also does now in heaven, and the Lord looked with favor upon Her beneficence. Exerting incredible and prayerful diligence She asked Him to preserve them in His grace and friendship. When­ever She saw any one in sin, She asked from the bot­tom of Her heart for His justification and ordinarily She also obtained it. But if it happened to be one of the reprobate, She wept bitterly and humiliated Herself in the Presence of the Most High for the loss of that image and work of the Divinity.  She redoubled Her heart­felt prayers, offerings and humiliations in order that no others might damn themselves.  Her whole being was one flame of Divine Love, which never rested nor re­posed in accomplishing great things.

INSTRUCTION FROM THE HEAVENLY QUEEN

259 My dearest daughter, within 2 limits, as if within 2 extremes, all the harmony of your powers and wishes must move. They are: to preserve yourself in the grace and friendship of God, and to seek the same good fortune for others. In this let all your life and activity be consumed. For such high purpose I wish that you spare no labor, imploring the Lord and offering yourself in sacrifice unto death, accepting actually all that is op­portune and possibleAlthough, in order to solicit the good of souls, you need not make any great ado before creatures, since that is not appropriate to your sex; yet you must seek and prudently apply all the hidden means that are most efficacious within your knowledge. If you will be My daughter and a spouse of My Most Holy Son, consider that the possessions of Our house are the rational creatures, which He acquired as a rich prize at the cost of His Life (1 Cor 6:20) and of His Blood; for through their own disobedience they were lost to Him (Gen 3:6), after He had created and selected them for Himself.

260 Hence whenever the Lord sends to you, or throws in your way, a needy soul and makes you aware of its state, labor faithfully to assist it. Pray and weep with heartfelt and fervent love, that God may furnish the remedy for such great and dangerous evil, and do not neglect any means, divine or human, as far as you are concerned, in order to obtain the salvation of eternal life for the soul entrusted to you. By means of the prudence and moderation that I have taught you, you must not grow weary in admonishing, nor in praying for that which will benefit that soul; and in all secrecy continue your labor in its behalf. Likewise I wish, that whenever it is necessary, you command the demons in the powerful Name of the Almighty and My own, to depart and leave in peace the souls oppressed by them; and as all this is to be done in secret, you can in all propriety animate and encourage yourself to this kind of work. Remember that the Lord has placed you, and will place you in a position to exercise this doctrine. Do not forget it, nor fail in understanding, how much you are bound to His Majesty to use care and solicitude in extending the possessions of your Father's house. Do not rest until you accustom yourself to do this with all dili­gence (Phil. 4:13). Fear not, for you can do all in Him that strengthens you; and His power will strengthen your arm to do great things (Prov 31:27).

CITY OF GOD   THE INCARNATION   BOOK 1

CHAPTER 21

ST. ELISABETH ASKS OUR LADY TO AS­SIST AT HER CONFINEMENT

261 Already 2 months had passed since the coming of the Princess of heaven into the house of holy Elisa­beth; and the discreet matron was even now filled with grief at the thought of the departure and of the absence of the Queen of the world. She dreaded the loss of such a great a blessing as Her presence, and with reason, since she knew, that it could not come within the range of human merits; in her holy humility she scrutinized her heart, fearing lest any fault of hers might be the cause of the setting of that beautiful moon and of the Sun of Righteousness within the virginal Womb. Sometimes she wept and sighed in private, because she could find no means of prolonging their stay, which had shed much clear light of grace in her soul. She asked the Lord with many tears to inspire her Cousin, the most holy Lady Mary, not to forsake her; at least, not to withdraw so soon her sweet company. She served Her with great reverence and solicitude and studied how to oblige Her. It is no wonder that so saintly, attentive and prudent a woman should ask for that which even the angels coveted. For in addition to the Divine Light, which she had received from the Holy Spirit concerning the supreme dignity and sanctity of the Virgin Mother, she had the personal experience of Her most sweet association and conversa­tion, and all this combined had ravished her heart, so that without Divine aid, she could not have survived the part­ing, after once having known and conversed with the blessed Lady.

262 In order to find some consolation, St. Elisa­beth resolved to open her heart to the Heavenly Lady, who was, however, not ignorant of her sorrow; and she said to Her in great submission and humility: "Cousin, dear Lady, on account of the respect and consideration, with which I am bound to serve You, I have not until now dared to speak of my desire and of the sorrow in my heart.  Give me now the permission to relieve it by making them known. The Lord has condescended in His mercy to send You here, in order that I might have the unmerited blessing of conversing with You and of knowing the Mysteries, which His Divine Providence has entrusted to You, my Queen. I am unworthy to praise Him eternally for this favor (Dan 3:53). You are the Living Temple of His Glory, the Ark of the Testa­ment, containing the Manna, Which is the Food of the Angels (Heb 9:4). You are the Tablet of the True Law, written in His own Being (Ps 78:25). I appreciate in my lowliness how rich His Majesty has made me, that without my merit I should entertain in my own house the Treasure of Heaven and Her, whom He has chosen as His Mother among all women. I justly fear that I displease You and the Fruit of Your womb by my sins, and that therefore You will forsake Your slave, with­drawing the great blessing, which I now enjoy. Pos­sibly, if it be Your pleasure, I might have the happiness of serving You and remaining with You all the rest of my life. If it is a hardship for You to return to Your dwelling, it will be most convenient for You to stay in my house. If You will call Your holy spouse Joseph and live with him here as my masters, I will serve you with affectionate readiness of heart. Although I do not merit what I ask, I implore You not to despise my humble petition, since the Lord can surpass by His mercies all my merits and desires."

263 The most holy Mary heard with sweetest com­placency the petition of Her cousin Elisabeth and an­swered her: "Dearest friend of My soul, your holy wishes are acceptable in the Eyes of the Most High. I also thank You from My heart; but in all our undertakings and resolves it is necessary that We conform to the Divine Will and entirely subject ourselves to it. Although this is the duty of all creatures, you know, that it is My duty before all others, since by the Power of His Arm He has raised Me from the dust and in boundless love has looked upon Me (Lk 1:53). All My words and move­ments must be guided by the Divine Will of My Lord and Son and I must not desire anything except what is ac­cording to His Pleasure. Let us present to His Majesty Your desires, and whatever He in His goodness shall or­dain, that let us execute. I must also obey My spouse Joseph, for without his order and consent, I can neither decide upon My occupations, nor upon My dwelling-place; it is just, My dear, that we obey our superiors."

264 St. Elisabeth yielded to the persuasive words of the Princess of heaven and answered with humble submission: "My Lady, I am ready to obey Your will and revere Your teaching. I wish only once more to com­mend to You my sincere affection and heartfelt devo­tion to Your service. If my wishes cannot be fulfilled and are contrary to the Will of God, I desire at least, if pos­sible, that You, my Queen, do not forsake me until my son shall come forth to the light; in order that, just as within my womb he has adored and recognized his Re­deemer in Your own, so he may enjoy His Divine Presence and enlightenment before any other creature; and that he may receive Your blessing for the first advances in life (Prov 16:9) by the Presence of Him, Who is to direct his footsteps. And Mother of grace, pre­sent Him to the Creator and obtain from His goodness the perseverance in that grace, which he received at the sound of Your sweetest voice, when it came to my unworthy ears. Let me behold my child in Your arms, where the God, Who made and preserves heaven and earth, is likewise to rest (Is 42:5). Let not Your mater­nal kindness be strained or diminished by my sins; deny not this consolation to me, nor to my son this great hap­piness, which as a mother I ask and unworthily desire for him."

265 Most holy Mary did not wish to refuse and She promised to pray the Lord for the fulfillment of this request of Her cousin, asking her at the same time to unite her prayers with Hers in order to know His Most Holy Will. Accordingly the 2 mothers of the 2 Most Holy Sons born into the world proceeded to the oratory of the Heavenly Princess and presented their peti­tions to the Most High. Most pure Mary fell into an ecstasy, wherein She was enlightened anew concerning the mysterious life and the dignity of the Precursor and concerning his work in preparing the hearts of men for the reception of their Redeemer and Teacher, and She made known to St. Elisabeth these sacraments in as far as it was proper. She was informed of the great sanctity of Her saintly cousin, also, that she had only a short while to live and that Zechariah would die before her. The kind Mother lovingly besought the Lord to assist her at her death and to fulfill her wishes in regard to her son. In regard to the other fond desires, the most prudent Virgin made no request, for in her heavenly wisdom She immediately saw, that to live always in the house of her cousin was not advisable, nor according to the Will of the Most High.

266 To these petitions His Majesty answered: "My Spouse and My Dove, it is My pleasure that You assist and console My servant Elisabeth at her childbirth, which is to be very soon; for there are only 8 days left before that event. After her son shall be circumcised, You shall return to Your home with Your spouse Joseph. After his birth You shall offer to Me my servant John in pleasing sacrifice; and continue, my Beloved, to pray to Me for the salvation of souls." St. Elisabeth united her prayers with those of the Queen of heaven and earth, imploring the Lord to command His Mother and Spouse not to forsake her during her confinement. During this prayer the Lord revealed to her, that her confinement was close at hand, and informed her also of many other things for her relief and consolation in her anxiety.

267 Most holy Mary issued from Her trance and, hav­ing finished their prayer, the 2 mothers conferred upon the nearness of the confinement of St. Elisabeth as made known to them by the Lord; and anxious to make sure of her good fortune, the holy matron asked our Queen: "My Lady, tell me, whether I shall have the hap­piness of Your assistance at my impending confinement?" Her majesty answered: "My beloved cousin, the Most High has heard our prayers and commanded Me to assist on that occasion. This I will do, not only remaining till then, but also until the circumcision of Your child, which will take place in 15 days." At this resolve of the most Holy Mary the joy of her cousin was renewed; she acknowledged this great favor in humble thankfulness to the Lord and to the Holy Queen. Thus rejoiced and enlivened by mutual conferences, the holy matron began to prepare for the birth of her son and for the departure of her exalted Cousin.

INSTRUCTION GIVEN TO ME BY THE HEAVENLY QUEEN

268 My daughter, whenever our desires arise from loving affection and are accompanied by a good inten­tion, the Most High is not offended at our making them known, as long as it is done with submission and resigna­tion to the dispositions of His Divine Providence. When the soul presents itself before the Lord with such senti­ments, He looks upon it as a Father and grants to it what is proper, withholds what is improper or does not conduce to its true welfare. The desire of My cousin to remain with Me all her life arose from a pious and praiseworthy zeal.  But it was not in harmony with the plans of the Most High, by which He had already ar­ranged the conduct, travels and events of My life. Though the Lord denied her this request He was not displeased, but granted her whatever would not hinder the decrees of His Infinite Wisdom and whatever would benefit her or her son John. On account of the love shown toward Me by the mother and son, and on account of My inter­cession, the Almighty enriched them with many blessings and favors. For to ask Him with upright intention and through My mediation, is always the most efficacious means of moving His Majesty.

269 I wish that you offer up all your petitions and prayers in the Name of My Most Holy Son and My own; and be assured without doubt, that they will be heard, if they are joined with the upright intention of pleasing God. Look upon Me with loving affection as your Mother, your refuge and your help; trust yourself to My devoted love, and remember that My desire for your greater good urges Me to teach you the means of ob­taining great blessings and favors of Divine Grace at the Most Liberal Hands of God. Do not make yourself unfit for them, nor hinder them by your timidity. And if you wish to induce Me to love you as My much, beloved daughter, rouse yourself to a fulfillment of what I tell you and manifest to you. Toward this direct your careful efforts, resting satisfied only when you have labored hard to put My teachings into practice.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 1

CHAPTER 22

THE BIRTH OF THE PRECURSOR OF CHRIST

270 The hour for the rising of the morning star, which was to precede the clear Sun of Justice and an­nounce the wished-for day of the Law of Grace, had ar­rived (John 5:35). The time was suitable to the Most High for the appearance of His Prophet in the world; and greater than a prophet was John, who pointing out with his finger the Lamb (John 1:29), was to prepare mankind for the salvation and sanctification of the world. Before issuing from the maternal womb the Lord revealed to the blessed child the hour in which he was to commence his mortal career among men. The child had the perfect use of his reason, and of the Divine Science infused by the Presence of the Incarnate Word. He therefore knew that he was to arrive at the port of a cursed and dangerous land, and to walk upon a world full of evils and snares, where many are overtaken by ruin and perdition.

271 On this account the great child was as it were in a state of suspense and doubt: for on the one hand, nature having nourished his body to that state of perfec­tion, which is proper to birth, he recognized and felt, in addition to the express Will of God, the compelling forces of nature which urged him to leave the retreat of the maternal womb. On the other hand he contemplated the dangerous risks of mortal life. Thus he hesitated between the fear of danger and the desire to obey. And he debated within himself: "If I meet this danger of losing God, where shall it lead me? How can I safely converse with men, of whom so many are enveloped in darkness and wander from the path of life? I am in the obscurity of my mother's womb, but I must leave it for a more dangerous darkness. I was imprisoned here, since I received the light of reason; but more must I dread the unrestrained freedom of mortals. But let me, O Lord, fulfill Your will and enter the world; for to exe­cute it is always best. To know that my life and my faculties shall be consumed in Your service, Most High King, will make it easier for me to come forth to the light and begin life. Bestow, O Lord, Your blessing for my passage into the world."

272 By this prayer the Precursor of Christ merited new graces and blessings at his birth. The fortunate child knew by the indwelling of God in his mind, that he was sent to perform great things and was assured of the necessary help. Before describing this most happy birth, I will try to explain the scriptural dates concerning it. It must be remembered, that the miraculous preg­nancy of St. Elisabeth lasted 9 days less than 9 months. For on account of the fecundity miraculously restored to a barren woman, the fruit conceived matured for parturition in this shorter time. When Archangel Gabriel announced to most holy Mary, that Her cousin was in the 6th month of her pregnancy, it must be un­derstood to mean, that 8 or 9 days were still wanting for the completion of the 6th month. I have also said in Chapter 16 that the Heavenly Lady de­parted on the 4th day after the Incarnation of the Word for Her visit to St. Elisabeth. St. Luke does not say, that most holy Mary departed immediately, but "in those days," and though She went "in haste," yet she consumed 4 days on Her journey, as said in the same chapter (No. 207).

273 I likewise reminded the reader, that when the Evangelist says, that Holy Mary remained about 3 months in the house of St. Elisabeth, there were only 2 or 3 days missing; for in all respects the Evan­gelist was exact in his words. Accordingly most holy Mary, our Lady, was present not only at the confine­ment of St. Elisabeth and at the birth of John, but also at the naming and circumcision of St. John, as I will now show. Counting 8 days after the Incarna­tion of the Word, our Lady arrived at the house of Elisabeth on the evening of the 2nd of April, if we reckon according to our solar months; adding thereto 3 months less 2 days, we have the first of July, the 8th day of the birth of St. John, and early next day most holy Mary departed on Her return to Nazareth. St. Luke mentions the return of our Queen before he speaks of the birth of St. John, although this happened before She returned. The sacred text anticipates the mention of the journey, in order to have done with it, and not to interrupt the thread of the narrative of the Precursor's birth. This is what I was told to write down in explanation of the text.

274 Her time approaching, St. Elisabeth felt the child in motion as if he wanted to place himself on his feet; but he was merely following the ordinary course of nature and the dictates of obedience. Some moderate pains overtook the mother and she informed the Princess Mary. But she did not call Her to be present at the birth, because reverence for the dignity of Mary and for the Fruit within Her womb, prudently withheld her from asking, what might not seem befitting. Nor was the great Queen in the same room, but She sent her the coverings and swaddling clothes, which She had made for the fortunate child. Presently thereafter he was born, very perfect and complete in shape, and by the freedom from impure matter showed signs of the purity of his soul. He was wrapped in the coverings sent by Mary, which therefore had already been great and ven­erable relics. Shortly after, when St. Elisabeth had composed herself, most holy Mary, at the command of the Lord, issued from Her oratory, in order to pay Her visit to the mother and child and give them Her bless­ing.

275 At the request of his mother the Queen received in Her arms the newborn child and offered him as a new oblation to the Eternal Father, and His Majesty, well pleased, accepted it as the first fruits of the Incarnation and of the Divine Decrees. The most blessed child, full of the Holy Spirit, acknowledged his sovereign Queen, showing Her not only interior, but outward reverence by a secret inclination of his head, and again he adored the Divine Word, Who was manifested to him in Her womb by a special light. And as he also was aware, that he was privileged before all men, the grateful child performed acts of fervent thanksgiving, humility, love and reverence of God and of His Virgin Mother. The Heavenly Queen, in offering him to the Eternal Father, pronounced this prayer for him: "Most High Lord and Father, all holy and powerful, accept in Your honor this offering and seasonable fruit of Your Most Holy Son and My Lord. He is sanctified by the Only Begotten and rescued from the effects of sin and from the power of Your ancient enemies. Receive this morning's sacrifice, and infuse into this child the blessings of Your Holy Spirit, in order that he may be a faithful minister to You and to Your Only Begotten." This prayer of our Queen was efficacious in all respects, and She perceived how the Lord enriched this child, chosen as His Precursor; and She also felt within Herself the effects of these admirable blessings.

276 While the Queen of the Universe held the in­fant in Her arms, She was for a short time secretly wrapt in sweetest ecstasy; during it She offered up this prayer for the child, holding it close to the same breast where the Only Begotten of the Eternal and Her own was soon to rest. This was the singular prerogative of the great Precursor, granted to none among the saints. Therefore it is not surprising, that the Angel called him great in the Eyes of the Lord; for before he was born, the Lord visited and sanctified him, and being born, he was placed on the throne of grace; he was embraced by the arms, which were to enfold the Incarnate Word God, and thereby excited in the sweetest Mother of God the entrancing desire of holding within them the Son of the Most High, filling Her with delightful affections for his Precursor, the new-born child. St. Elisabeth, being divinely informed of these sacraments, beheld her wonderful child in the arms of Her, who was his Mother in a more exalted sense than she herself, she being his mother only, as to his natural being, while most holy Mary held that position as to his existence in the order of grace. All this caused a most sweet tie of affection between the most blessed women and in the child, who likewise was enlightened in regard to these mysteries. By the motions of his tender body he manifested the joy of his spirit, clinging to the Heavenly Lady and seek­ing to attract Her caresses and to remain with Her. The sweetest Lady fondled him, but with such majestic mod­eration, that She did not kiss him, as his age would have permitted; for She preserved Her most chaste lips intact for Her Most Holy Son. Nor did She look intently into his face, directing all her intention to the holiness of his soul. So great was the prudence and modesty of the great Queen of Heaven in the use of Her eyes, that She would scarcely have known him by sight.

277 When the birth of John became known, all the relations and acquaintances, as St. Luke says, gathered to congratulate Sts. Zechariah and Elisabeth, for his house was rich, noble and honored in the whole province and their piety attracted the hearts of all that knew them. Having known them so many years without children and being aware of the sterility and advanced age of Elisabeth, all were stirred to amazement and joyful wonder, and they looked upon the birth of the child rather as a miracle than as a natural event. The holy priest Zechariah remained mute and unable to manifest his joy by word of mouth; for the hour of his miraculous cure had not arrived. But, freed of his incredulity, he showed his joy in other ways and he was full of affec­tionate gratitude and praise for the rare blessing, which he had now witnessed with his own eyes. His behavior we shall describe in the next chapter.

INSTRUCTION FROM THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN

278 My dearest daughter, do not be surprised, that my servant John feared and hesitated to come into the world. Life can never be loved by the ignorant devotee of the world in the same degree, as the wise, in divine science, abhor and fear its dangers. This science was eminently possessed by the Precursor of My Most Holy Son.  Hence knowing of the loss which threatened, he feared the risk. But, since he who knows and dreads the treacherous seas of this world, sails so much the more securely over their unfathomed depths, it served him to good advantage for entering securely into the world. The fortunate child began his career with such disgust and abhorrence of all earthly things, that his horror never abated. He made no peace with the flesh (Mk 6:17), nor partook of its poison, nor allowed vanity to enter his senses nor obstruct his eyes; in abhorrence of the world and of worldly things, he gave his life for righteousness. The citizen of the true Jerusalem cannot be in peace or in alliance with Babylon; nor is it possible to enjoy at the same time the Grace of the Most High and the friendship of His declared enemies; for no one can serve 2 hostile masters, nor can light and darkness, Christ and Beliel, harmonize (Matt 4:4).

279 Guard yourself, My dearest, against those living in darkness and the lovers of the world more than against fire; for the wisdom of the sons of this world is carnal and diabolical, and their ways lead to death. In order to walk the way of truth, even at the cost of the natural life, it is necessary to preserve the peace of the soul. I point out 3 dwelling-places for you to live in, from which you must never intentionally come forth. If at any time the Lord should bid you to relieve the necessities of your fellow creatures, I desire that you do not lose this refuge. Act as one who lives in a castle surrounded by enemies, and who perchance must go to the gate to transact necessary business. He acts with such wariness, that he will pay more attention to safe­guard his retreat and shield himself, than to transact business with others, being always on the watch and on guard against danger. So must you live, if you wish to live securely.  Doubt not, that enemies more cruel and poisonous than asps and basilisks surround You.

280 Your habitations shall be the Divinity of the Most High, the Humanity of My Most Holy Son, and your own interior. In the Divinity you must live like the pearl in its shell, or like the fish in the sea, allowing your desires and affections to roam in its infinite spaces. The Most Holy Humanity shall be the wall, which defends you; and His Heart shall be the place of your rest, and under His wings shall you find refreshment (Ps 17:8). Your own interior shall afford you peaceful delight through the testimony of a good conscience (Cor 2:12), and it will, if you keep it pure, familiarize you with the sweet and friendly communication of your Spouse. In order that you may be aided therein by retirement of the body, I desire that you remain secluded in your choir or in your cell, leaving it only, when obedience or charity make it inevitable. I will tell you a secret. There are demons, whom satan has expressly ordered to watch for the religious, who come forth from their retire­ment, in order to beset them and engage them in battle and cause their fall. The demons do not easily go into the cells, because there they do not find the occasions afforded by conversations and the use of the senses, wherein they ordinarily capture and devour their prey like ravenous wolves. They are tormented by the re­tirement and recollection of religious, knowing that they are foiled in their attempts, as long as they cannot entice them into human discourse.

281 It is also certain that ordinarily the demons have no power over souls, unless they gain entrance by some venial or mortal fault. Mortal sin gives them a sort of direct right over those who commit it; while venial sin weakens the strength of the soul and invites their attacks. Imperfections diminish the merit and the progress of virtue, and encourage the enemy. Whenever the astute serpent notices that the soul bears with its own levity and forgets about its danger, it blinds it and seeks to instill its deadly poison. The enemy then entices the soul like a little heedless bird, until it falls into one of the many snares from which there seems to be no escape.

282 Admire thenwhat you have learned Divine Enlightenment and weep in deepest sorrow over the ruin of so many souls absorbed in such dangerous tepidity. They live in the obscurity of their passions and depraved inclinations, forgetful of the danger, unmoved by their losses, and heedless of their dealings. Instead of fearing and avoiding the occa­sions of evil, they encounter and seek for them in blind ignorance. In senseless fury they follow their pleasures, place no restraint on their passionate desires, and care not where they walk, even if to the most dan­gerous precipices. They are surrounded by innumerable enemies, who pursue them with diabolical treachery, un­ceasing vigilance, unquenchable wrath and restless dili­gence. What wonder then, that from such extremes, or rather from such unequal combat, irreparable defeats should arise among men? And that, since the number of fools is infinite, the number of the reprobate should also be uncountable, and that the demon should be inflated by his triumphs in the perdition of so many men? May the Eternal God preserve you from such a misfortune.  Weep and deplore the plight of your brethren, continually asking for their salvation as far as is possible.                                      

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 1

CHAPTER 23

THE CIRCUMCISION OF ST. JOHN AND SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE

WHICH OUR LADY GAVE ST. ELIZABETH

283 After the birth of the Precursor of Christ the return of most Holy Mary was unavoidable; and although the prudent Elisabeth had found consolation in resign­ing herself to the Divine Will, she could not restrain her desire of securing for herself the good counsel and instruction of the Mother of Wisdom. Therefore She spoke to Her and said: "My Queen and Mother of the Creator, I know, that You are preparing to leave me and that I am to be deprived of Your loving presence, help and protection. I implore You, my Cousin, furnish me with some good counsel, which will help me to con­form all my actions to the greater pleasure of the Most High. In Your virginal womb You bear Him, Who is the Corrector of the wise and the Fountain of light (Wis 7:15); through Him You can communicate it to all. Let some of the rays, which illumine Your purest soul fall upon Your servant, in order that I may be en­lightened in the paths of righteousness, until I arrive at the vision of God in Zion."

284 These words of St. Elisabeth moved the most holy Mary to tender compassion and She spoke words that served Her cousin as heavenly guidance for the rest of her life. This, She said, would be of short duration; but the Most High would take care of her child, and She Herself had prayed for him to the Almighty. Although it is not possible to record all the sweet words of counsel, which the Heavenly Lady spoke to St Elisabeth before Her departure, I will write down some of them, as far as I have understood them and as far as our insufficient language can reproduce them. Most holy Mary said: "My beloved cousin, the Lord has selected you for the fulfillment of most exalted mysteries. He has con­descended to enlighten you concerning them and wishes, that I should open to you My heart. Your name is written within it for remembrance before His Majesty. I will not forget the devoted kindness with which you have treated Me, the most useless of creatures; and from My Most Holy Son and Lord I hope you shall receive a plentiful reward."

285 "Keep your mind and spirit fixed on high and by the light of Divine Grace preserve the vision of the un­changeable and Infinite Being of God and the remem­brance of His immense goodness, which moved Him to create out of nothing all the intellectual creatures in order to bestow upon them His glory and His gifts of grace. The Extreme Mercy of the Most High, in favoring us more than all other creatures with His knowledge and light, ought to incite us to make up by our thankfulness for the blind ingratitude of men, who are so far re­moved from acknowledging and praising their Creator. This shall be our task, that we keep our hearts free and unhindered in our advance toward the last end. There­fore, My beloved, I charge you to keep it unhampered and unburdened of all earthly things, free from even such as pertain to your possessions, in order that, void of earthly hindrances, it may attend to the divine calls. Hope in the coming of the Lord (Lk 12:36), so that when He arrives, You may answer His call joyfully and not with convulsive violence at the thought of leaving your body and all earthly things. Now, while it is time to suffer and earn the crown, let us gain merit and hasten to be united intimately with our true and highest God."

286 "As long as your husband Zechariah lives, seek to love, serve and obey him with special earnestness. Look upon your miraculous child as a continual sacrifice to His Creator; in God and for God you can love him as a mother; for he shall be a great Prophet, and in the spirit of Elijah he shall defend the honor of the Most High and exalt His Name. My Most Holy Son, Who has chosen him for His Precursor and for the harbinger of His coming, will favor him with the special gifts of His Right Hand (Matt 11:9) and make him great and won­derful among the nations, manifesting to the world his great sanctity."

287 "See that the Holy Name of your God and the Lord of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob be honored and reverenced by all your house and family (Tob 4). Above all be anxiously careful to relieve the needs of the poor, as far as is possible.  Enrich them with the temporal goods so lavishly given to you by your God.  Show a like generosity to the needy, knowing that these earthly goods are more theirs than yours, since we are the children of the Heav­enly Father to Whom all things belong. It is not proper, that the child of a rich father should live in superfluity, while his brethren live in poverty and need. In this you can make yourself especially pleasing to the God of undying mercy. Continue in your former practices and follow out your plans of still greater charity, since Zechariah has given this work into your hands. With his per­mission you can be generous. Confirm your hopes in all the tasks imposed upon you by the Lord, and with your fellow beings practice kindness, humility and patience in the joy of your soul, although some of them will give you occasion to increase your crown of merit. Bless God eternally for having manifested to you His exalted mysteries and pray for the salvation of souls with un­abated love and zeal. Pray also for Me, that His Majesty may govern and guide Me worthily to preserve the Sacra­ment confided by His goodness to so lowly and poor a servant as I am. Send for My husband in order that I may have his company while returning to Nazareth. In the meanwhile prepare for the circumcision of your child and call him John; for this name was given to him according to an unchangeable decree of the Most High."

288 These counsels of most holy Mary together with other words of eternal life produced in the heart of St. Elisabeth such divine affections, that for a time, she was lost in the exalted teachings and sentiments of these heavenly doctrines and made mute by the force of the spiritual light infused into her. For the Lord, by means of the living words of His most pure Mother, enlivened and renewed the heart of His servant. When the flow of her tears had moderated, she answered: "My Lady and Queen of the universe, speech fails me in alternate sorrow and consolation. Hear the words of my inmost heart, which my tongue cannot express. My affections shall witness, what my lips leave unspoken. May the Lord, Who is the enricher of our poverty, return to You the favor You show me. I implore You, who are the fountain of all my help and the source of all my blessings, to obtain for me the grace to fulfill Your counsels and to bear the great sorrow of losing Your company."

289 Then they made the arrangements for the cir­cumcision of the child, for the time appointed by the law was approaching. Complying with the custom ob­served among the Jews, especially among the more dis­tinguished, many relatives and other acquaintances of the house of Zechariah began to gather, in order to resolve upon the name to be given to the child; for, in addition to the ordinary preparations and consultations concerning the name to be given to a son, the high position of Zechariah and Elisabeth and the news of the miraculous fecundity of the mother naturally suggested the existence of some great mystery to the minds of all their relations. Zechariah was still dumb, and therefore it was necessary that St. Elisabeth should preside at this meeting. Over and above the high esteem that she inspired, she now exhibited such evident signs of the exalted renewal and sanctification of her soul, which resulted from the knowledge of the mysteries and from the contact with the Queen of Heaven, that all her relatives and friends noticed the change. For even in her counte­nance, she exhibited a kind of effulgence that made her mysteriously attractive and was the reflection of the Divinity, in Whose Presence she lived.

290 At this meeting was present also the heavenly Lady Mary, for Elisabeth had earnestly entreated Her, and had even compelled Her by a sort of reverent and humble command. The great Lady obeyed, but She begged the Most High not to make known any of Her great privileges, lest She draw upon Herself the applause or veneration of others. The desire of the most Hum­ble among the humble was granted. And as the world persists in ignoring those who fail to use ostentation, nobody took particular notice of Her except St. Elisa­beth, who looked upon Her with outward and inward reverence and who knew, that on Her depended the success of this consultation. As is recorded in the Gospel of St. Luke, some of those present in the meet­ing suggested that the infant be named after his father: but the prudent mother, seconded by the most holy Mary, said: "My son must be named John." Her relatives objected, that none of their family bore that name; for the names of illustrious forefathers were always held in great esteem, and were preferred in order to incite their bearers to the imitation of ancestral virtues. St. Elisa­beth again expressed herself to the effect, that the child should be called John.

291 The relatives then appealed by signs to Zechariah, who, being unable to speak, asked for a pen and declared his will by writing upon the tablet: "John is his name." At the same time most holy Mary, making use of Her power over all nature, commanded the dumbness to leave him, his tongue to be loosened, as the moment had arrived when it should bless the Lord. At this heavenly command he found himself freed from his affliction, and, to the as­tonishment and fear of all present, he began to speak, as narrated by the Evangelist. What I say here is not adverse to the Gospel narrative; for, although it is there related, that the Angel foretold Zechariah that he should remain mute until his message should be fulfilled, yet God, when He reveals any decree of His Will, absolutely unfailing as they are, does not always reveal the means or the manner of their fulfillment, foreseen by Him in His infinite foreknowledge. Thus the Archangel an­nounced to Zechariah the punishment of his unbelief, but he did not tell him that he should be freed from it by the intercession of most holy Mary, although this also had been foreseen and decreed.

292 Therefore, just as the voice of our Lady Mary was the instrument for the sanctification of the child John and his mother, so Her secret mandate and Her inter­cession had the effect of loosening the tongue of Zechariah, filling him with the Holy Spirit and the gift of prophecy. Hence he broke forth in the words (Luke 1, 68-79): "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; because He has visited and wrought the redemption of His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation to us, in the house of David His servant as He has spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets, who are from the beginning; Salvation from our enemies, and from the hands of all that hate us to perform mercy to our fathers, and to re­member His holy testament, the oath, which He swore to Abraham our father, that He would grant to us, that being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve Him without fear, in holiness and justice before Him, all our days.  And You, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you shall go before the Face of the Lord to prepare His ways; to give knowledge of salvation to His people unto the remission of their sins, through the Compassionate Mercy of our God, in Which the Orient from on high has visited us to enlighten those who sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, to direct our feet into the way of peace."

293 In the heavenly Canticle of the Benedictus Zechariah embodied all of the highest mysteries, which the ancient prophets had foretold in a more profuse manner concerning the Divinity, Humanity and the Redemption of Christ, and in these few words, he embraces many great sacraments. He also understood them by the grace and light, which filled his spirit, and which raised him up in the sight of all that had come to attend the circumcision of his son; for all of them were witnesses to the solving of his tongue and to his heavenly prophecies. I will hardly be able to give an explanation of the deep meaning of these prophecies; such as they had in the mind of that holy priest.

294 "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel," he says, knowing that the Most High could have saved His people and given them eternal salvation merely by desiring it or speaking one word, but He exerted not only His power, but showed also His immense goodness and mercy, the Son of the Eternal Father Himself coming down to visit His people and to become their Brother in the human nature; their Teacher by His example and doctrine, their Redeemer by His Life, Passion and Death on the Cross. At these words Zechariah understood the union of the 2 natures in the Person of the Word and in heavenly clearness he saw this mystery realized in the virginal bridal-chamber of the most Holy Mary. He understood also the exaltation of the Humanity by the triumph of the God Man, in earning the salvation of the human race according to the promises made to David and his ances­tors (2 Sam 7:12; Ps 132:11). He understood that the same promise had been made to the whole world by the prophecies of the Saints and Patriarchs from the beginning. For from the first creation God commenced to direct the course of nature and grace toward His coming into the world, and to ordain all His works since the time of Adam toward this same blessed end.

295 He understood that the Most High in this manner provided for us the means of obtaining grace and eternal life lost by our enemies in their pride and stub­born disobedience, which hurled them into hell; and the seats which would have been theirs, if they had been obedient, were reserved for the obedient among men. He saw how ever since then, the enmity which the serpent had conceived against God was now turned against men, because we were decreed and enshrined in the Eternal Mind according to His Divine Will (Rev 12:17); how Adam and Eve, our first parents, having fallen from His friendship and grace, were not given over to chastisement, like the rebellious angels, but were raised to a state of hope (Wisdom 10:2); and that, in order to assure their descendants of His Mercy, God provided the prophecies and figures of the Old Tes­tament, which were to be fulfilled in the coming of the Redeemer and Savior. To make this promise still more certain, it was made to Abraham under an oath, affirm­ing that he would be the father of all His people and of all the children of the faith (Gen 22:16). Assured of this stupendous and vast blessing, namely that of receiv­ing His own Son made man, we may serve God free from the fear of our enemies; for by our adoption and regen­eration they are already overcome and subdued through our Redeemer (Gal 4:5).

296 In order that we may understand what the Word has earned for us in restoring to us this liberty in the service of God, he says: that He has renewed the world in sanctity and justice, and founded the new Law of Grace for all the days of this world, and for the time of life given to each of the children of the Church. In it they not only can, but they should live in holiness and righteousness. And as Zechariah saw in his son John the be­ginning of all these sacraments, he turns to him and con­gratulates him, because of the dignity and sanctity of his office, saying: "And you, child, shall be called a prophet of the Most High; for you shall go before His Face…" namely His Divinity, and prepare His ways by spreading the light of His coming, and giving notice to the people of the Jews concerning Eternal Life, Which is Christ our Lord, the promised Messiah (Mark 1:41). Thus might they dispose themselves by the baptism of penance for the remission of their sins and become convinced that the Messiah has come to take away not only their sins, but those of the whole world (John 1:29); since it is through His Mercy and on account of His Merits (Tit 3:5) that He visits us, by descending from the Eternal Father and by being born as Man. He it was that brought light to those who had lost the truth for so many ages, who were sitting in darkness and in the shadows of death. He it was who by His own example taught us to direct our steps toward the true peace, which we were awaiting.

297 Much more clearly than I can explain, Zechariah perceived these mysteries in their plenitude and depth, and expressed them in his prophecies. Some of those present were likewise enlightened, becoming aware that the time of the Messiah and of the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies was at hand. Full of astonishment at these unexpected wonders and prodigies, they exclaimed: "Who shall this child be, since the Hand of the Most High is in him so marvelous and powerful?" In ac­cordance with the letter of the law, and with the concur­rence of his father and mother, the child was then cir­cumcised and named John; and the report of these won­ders spread through all the mountains of Judea.

298 Queen of the Universe, I admire the wonderful works wrought through Your intervention by the Arm of the Lord in His servants Elisabeth, John and Zechariah. At the same time I reflect on the different courses pur­sued by Divine Providence and on Your rare discretion. Your most sweet voice served the son and the mother as an instrument of sanctification, filling them with the Holy Spirit, and this remained hidden; then again Your secret prayer and command solved the tongue of Zechariah, and this was manifested to all the bystanders, revealing the effects of God's grace in the holy priest. I cannot find the reason for this diversity, and therefore I make known to You my ignorance, so that You may instruct me as my Teacher.

ANSWER AND INSTRUCTION OF THE QUEEN OF THE WORLD

299 My daughter, the divine effects wrought through Me by My Son in Sts. John and Elisa­beth were concealed for 2 reasons, while those in Zechariah were mani­fest. First, because Elisabeth spoke out clearly in praise of the Incarnate Word and of Me; yet at the time it was not proper that either this Mystery or My dignity should be openly known; the coming of the Messiah was to be manifested by other more appropriate means. Secondly, not all hearts were so well prepared as that of Elisabeth for receiving such precious and unprecedented seed of Divine Knowledge, nor would they have welcomed such Sacramental Revelation with due reverence. On the other hand it was more becoming that Zechariah in his priestly dignity should proclaim what was then to be made known; for the beginnings of the heavenly light would be accepted more readily from him than from St. Elisabeth, especially while he was present. That which she said, was reserved to bring forth its effects in due time. Although the Words of God have their own inherent force; yet the more sweet and acceptable man­ner of communicating with the ignorant and the un­skilled in Divine Mysteries is by means of the priest.

300 Likewise it was proper that the dignity and honor of the priesthood should receive its due; for the Most High holds the priests in such esteem, that if He finds them in the right disposition, He exalts them and fills them with His Spirit in order that the world may venerate them as His chosen and anointed ones. More­over the wonders of the Lord run less risk in priests, even when they are more openly revealed to them. If they live up to their dignity, their works in comparison with those of the other creatures are like those of the angels and of the seraphim. Their countenance should be resplendent, like that of Moses, when he came forth from converse with the Lord (Ex 34:29). At least they should deal with the rest of men in such a manner that they be honored and revered as next to God. I desire that you understand, My dearest, that the Most High is greatly incensed against the world in this matter: as well against the priests as against laymen. Against the priests because, forgetting their exalted dig­nity, they debase themselves by a contemptible, degraded and scandalous life, giving bad example to the world by mixing up with it to the neglect of their sanctification. And against the laymen, because they act with a fool­hardy presumption toward the anointed of the Lord whom, though of imperfect and blameworthy lives, they ought to honor and revere as taking the place of Christ, My Most Holy Son, on earth.

301 On account of this reverence due to the priest­hood My behavior toward St. Zechariah was different from that toward Elisabeth. For, although the Lord wished, that I should be the instrument, by which the gifts of the Holy Spirit should be communicated to both; yet I saluted Elisabeth in such a manner, that I at the same time showed a certain authority, exerting My power over the original sin of her son; for at My words this sin was forgiven him, and both mother and son were filled with the Holy Spirit. As I had not contracted original sin and was exempt from it, I possessed do­minion over it on this occasion: I commanded as the Queen, who had triumphed over it by the help of the Lord (Gen 3:15), and who was no slave of it, as all the sons of Adam, who sinned in him (Rom 5:12).Therefore the Lord desired that, in order to free John from the slavery and chains of sin, I should command over it as one who never was subject to its bondage. I did not salute Zechariah in this authoritative way, but I prayed for him, observing the reverence and decorum due to his dignity and My modesty. I would not have commanded the tongue of the priest to be loosened, not even mentally and secretly, if the Most High had not enjoined it upon Me, intimating at the same time, that the defect of speech hardly suited his office, for a priest should stand ready to serve and praise the Almighty with all his powers. In regard to the respect due to priests I will tell you more on another occasion; let this suffice at present for the solution of your doubt.

302 But from My instruction today learn especially to seek direction in the way of virtue and of eternal life in all your association with men, be they above or below you in dignity. Imitate therein Me and My cousin Elisa­beth, with due discretion asking all to direct you and guide you; for in return for such humility the Lord will provide you with secure counsel and divine light for exercising your discreet and sincere love of virtue. Drive away, or do not allow yourself to be influenced by even the least breath of flattery and avoid the conversations that expose you to it. For such deceitful pleasure darkens the light and perverts the unsuspecting mind. The Lord is so jealous of the souls especially beloved by Him that He will immediately turn away from them if they find pleasure in the praises of men and seek to recompense themselves by their flatteries, since by this levity they become unworthy of His favors. It is not possible to unite in a soul the adulations of the world and the caresses of the Most High. For these latter are sincere, holy, pure, and lasting: they humiliate, cleanse, pacify and illumine the heart; while on the other hand the flatteries of creatures are vain, fleeting, deceit­ful, impure and false, issuing from the mouths of those who are all liars (Ps 116:11); and whatever is deceitful is a work of the enemy.

303 Your Spouse, My dearest daughter, does not wish your ears to be enthralled by deceitful earthly talk, nor contaminated by the flatteries of the world. Therefore I desire that you keep them closed and well guarded against all these poisonous influences. If your Lord is pleased to speak to your heart the words of eternal life, it is proper that you yourself be deaf and lifeless to all that is earthly. All else should be to you a deadly torment in comparison with the caresses of His love. Remember that you owe Him the perfection of your love, and that all hell will combine against you, in order to ensnare you by your natural tenderness to be sweet and loving toward creatures, and less grateful to the Eternal God. Watch over yourself, and see that you resist this un­faithfulness, trusting in your beloved Master and Spouse.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 1

CHAPTER 24

MOST HOLY MARY RETURNS HOME

304 At the call of Elisabeth, the most fortunate of husbands, St. Joseph, had come in order to attend most holy Mary on Her return to Her home in Nazareth. On arriving at the house of Zechariah he had been wel­comed with indescribable reverence and devotion by Sts. Elisabeth and Zechariah; for now also the holy priest knew that he was the guardian of the Sacramental Treas­ures of heaven, Though this was yet unknown to the great patriarch St. Joseph himself. His Heavenly Spouse received him in modest and discreet jubilation, and, kneeling before him, She, as usual, besought his blessing, and also his pardon, for having failed to serve him for nearly 3 months during Her attendance upon Her cousin Elisabeth. Though She had been guilty of no fault, not even of an imperfection in thus devotedly fulfilling the Will of God in conformity with the wishes of Her spouse, yet, by this courteous and endearing act of humility, She wanted to repay Her husband for the lack of Her consoling companionship. The holy Joseph answered that as he now again saw Her, and again en­joyed Her delightful presence, he was relieved of the pain caused by Her absence. In the course of a few days they announced the day of their departure.

305 Thereupon the princess Mary took leave of the priest Zechariah. As he had already been enlightened by the Lord concerning Her dignity, he addressed Her with the greatest reverence as the living sanctuary of the Divinity and Humanity of the Eternal Word. "My Lady," he said, "praise and bless eternally Your Creator Who in His infinite mercy has chosen You among all His creatures as His Mother, as the sole Keeper of all His great blessings and sacraments. Be mindful of me, Your servant, before Your Lord and God, that He may lead me in peace through this exile to the security of the eternal peace which we hope for, and that through You I may merit the vision of His Divinity, Which is the glory of the saints. Remember also, O Lady, my house and family, and especially my Son John, and pray to the Most High for Your people."

306 The great Lady knelt before him and in pro­found humility asked him to bless Her. This Zechariah hesitated to do and instead asked Her to give him Her blessing. But nothing could overcome the humility of Her who was the Teacher of that virtue and of all holi­ness; and therefore She importuned the priest for his blessing until he yielded to the impulse of the divine light. In the words of Holy Scripture, he said to Her: "The Right Arm of the Almighty and True God assist You always, and deliver You from all evil (Ps 120:7). Possess the grace of His unfailing protection, and be filled with the dew of heaven and with the fruits of the earth, and let Him give You abundance of bread and wine (Gen 27:28).  Let the nations serve You and let the generations venerate You, since You are the Tabernacle of God (Eccl. 24:12). Be the Queen of Your brethren, and let the sons of Your mother kneel in Your presence. Those that praise and bless You shall be honored and blessed; and those that bless and extol You not shall be cursed. In You let all nations know their God (Judith 13:31), and through You let the Name of the Most High God of Jacob be glorified."

307 In return for this prophetic blessing, most holy Mary kissed the hand of the priest and asked him to for­give Her the faults committed in his house. The saintly old man was much moved by these parting words of the most pure and amiable of creatures, and ever thereafter bore hidden within him the memory of the mysteries revealed to him concerning the most holy Mary. Only once, when he was present at a meeting of the priests in the Temple, who were congratulating him on account of the birth of his son and the restoration of his speech, he was moved by the excess of his joy and he answered them: "I believe firmly that the Most High has visited us and has already sent us the promised Messiah, Who will redeem His people." But he spoke no further of what he really knew of the mystery. The holy priest Simeon, however, who was present and heard these words, was seized with great joy of spirit and by divine impulse exclaimed: "Let not, O Lord God of Israel, Your servant depart from this valley of misery before he has seen Your Salvation and the Redeemer of His people." To this prayer he afterwards alluded when, at the Presen­tation of Infant God in the Temple, he received Him into his arms, as we shall see later on. Until that event took place he desired more and more ardently to see the Incarnate Word.

308 Leaving Zechariah in tears, Mary went to Her cousin Elisabeth. As She was a cousin of Mary, of a tender heart, and as She had enjoyed so many days of sweet friendship, and had received so many favors of the Mother of Grace, she was almost overcome with grief at the mere thought of now losing the source of so many blessings already received and those blessing that were yet to flow, if she could only retain it. Hence, when the time for taking leave of the Queen of heaven and earth finally arrived her heart was torn with sorrow, and she could say only a few words amid her copious tears and sighs revealing her inmost soul. The serene Queen, be­ing superior to all inordinate movements of the natural passions, in affable modesty spoke to Elisabeth: "My beloved cousin, do not grieve so much over My de­parture, since the charity of the Most High, in Whom I truly love you, knows no distance of time or place. In Him I behold you, and I keep you in My mind; and you also will find Me in that same presence. Short is the time of our bodily separation, since all the days of human life are so fleeting (Job 14:5), and if we gain the victory over our enemies we shall very soon see our­selves and enjoy ourselves in the Heavenly Jerusalem, where there is no sorrow, no weeping, no separation (Rev 21:4). In the meanwhile you will find all blessings in the Lord and also Me.  You will find and possess in Him. He will remain in your heart and con­sole you." Our most prudent Queen said no more to allay the grief of St. Elisabeth.  Instead She knelt down at her feet and asked her blessing, and her pardon for what might have been disagreeable in her interaction with her; nor would Mary yield to the protests of Elisa­beth until her petition was granted. Elisabeth then in­sisted on her part and asked the blessing of the Heavenly Lady in return, and not wishing to deny her this con­solation, most holy Mary complied.

309 The Queen visited also the child John, received him in Her arms and bestowed upon him many myste­rious blessings. The wonderful infant by divine dispen­sation spoke to the Virgin, although in a low and in­fantile voice: "You are the Mother of God Himself, the Queen of all creation, the Keeper of the Ineffable Treasure of Heaven, my help and protection.  Grant me, Your servant, Your blessing, and may Your intercession and favor never fail me." He kissed the hand of the Queen of heaven and adored the Incarnate Word in Her virginal Womb, and asked Him for His blessing and grace. The Infant God manifested His pleasure and benevolence toward His Precursor, while the most happy Mother Mary beheld and understood all that was passing. In all things She acted with the plenitude of Divine Science, venerating all these Mysteries accord­ing to their proper import, for She responded with a magnanimous heart to all the works of His Divine Wisdom (2 Macc 2:9).

310 The whole household of Zechariah had been sanc­tified by the presence of most holy Mary and of the Incarnate Word in Her womb; all its servants had been edified by Her example, instructed by Her conversations and teachings, and sweetly affected by Her contact and modest behavior. While She had drawn toward Herself all the hearts of that happy family, She also merited and obtained for them from Her Most Holy Son the plenitude of heavenly gifts. Zechariah, Elisabeth and John held holy Joseph in high veneration, for they had come to know his high dignity before he him­self was yet aware of it. The blessed Patriarch, happy in his Treasure, the full value of which as yet he did not know, took leave of all and departed for Nazareth.  What happened on the way I will narrate in the following chapter. But before they began their journey most holy Mary, on bended knees, asked St. Joseph to bless Her, as She was accustomed to do on such occasions, and after She had received his blessing, they started their journey.

INSTRUCTION BY THE MOST HOLY QUEEN MARY

311 My daughter, the happy souls which God has chosen for His intimate friendship and perfection must keep themselves in continual readiness and peace, in order to perform all that His Majesty may ordain without hesi­tation or delay. That is what I did when the Most High commanded Me to leave the beloved retreat of My house and go to Elisabeth; likewise, when He or­dered Me to return. I obeyed in all these things with joyful alacrity; and although I had received so many benefits from Elisabeth and her family and so many tokens of love and friendship, as you have seen, yet, knowing the Will of the Lord, I set aside all obligation and My own inclination and followed them only so far as was strictly demanded by charity and compassion, and in so far as the promptest obedience to the divine com­mand permitted.

312 My dearest daughter, how will you not hasten to obtain this true and perfect resignation as soon as you know its vast value! How pleasing it is in the Eyes of the Lord, and how profitable for your soul! Labor then to attain it in imitation of Me, as I have already so often invited you and urged you. The greatest hin­drances toward its attainment are the leanings and special attachments to earthly things; for these make the soul un­worthy of the caresses of the Lord and of knowing fully His Will. And even if the soul knows His Will, the base love of unworthy things will keep the soul from fulfilling it. For on account of its inclinations, it will be lacking in the ready and joyful obedience required by the Lord. Take notice of this danger, My daughter, and do not allow any particular affection to enter into your heart, for I wish that you be well versed and perfect in this art of Divine Love, and that your obedience be that of an Angel, and your love that of a Seraphim. Thus show yourself in all your actions, for to this My love urges you, and thus are you taught by the knowledge and light imparted to you.

313 I do not say that you must do away with all sensible feeling, for that is not naturally possible to the creature; but whenever you meet adverse happenings, or when you are deprived of what is useful, necessary or agreeable, you must bear it with joyful resignation and give praise to the Lord, because His Will is being fulfilled in your regard. By seeking only His Pleasure, and considering all else as of passing moment, you will gain a quick and easy victory over yourself, and you will seek all occasions to humiliate yourself under the Mighty Hand of the Lord (I Pet 5:6). I also exhort you to imitate Me in My esteem and veneration of the priests, and that you always ask their blessing before speaking to them and in leaving them. Do this also in regard to the Most High before beginning any work. Toward your superiors always show yourself devoted and submissive. If any married women come to seek your advice, exhort them to be obedient to their husbands (Tit 5:2), peace­fully subjecting themselves, living retired in their houses and carefully fulfilling their obligations toward their families. Tell them not to give themselves up entirely to their occupations, nor to lose themselves in their daily cares on pretext of necessity; for 
much more must be trusted to the goodness and liberality of God than to one's own immoderate bustle and activity.
 In whatever happened to Me in My condition, you will find true instruction and example; and My whole life will be an example of perfection for the guidance of souls, and therefore I will not need to give you further direction.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 1

CHAPTER 25

THE JOURNEY HOME FROM THE HOUSE OF ZECHARIAH.  

314 Returning from the town of Judah to Nazareth the most holy Mary, the living tabernacle of God, pur­sued Her way through the mountains of Judea in the company of Her most faithful spouse St. Joseph. Although the Evangelists do not make mention of any haste in this journey homeward, such as is recorded by St. Luke and occasioned by the special mystery connected with it, yet the great Princess made also this return journey with great expediency, on account of the events which awaited Her at home. All the journeys of this Heavenly Lady were a mystical counterpart of Her spir­itual and interior advances. For She was the true Tabernacle of the Lord, which was to find no definite resting-place in this mortal pilgrimage (1 Chr 17:5).  On the contrary, progressing daily from one stage to another and to higher condition of wisdom and grace, She continually pushed forward on Her pilgrimage to the promised land (Num 7:89); and She bore continually with Her on Her journey the True Propitiatory from Whom She drew ceaseless increase of Her gifts and acquired for us Eternal Salvation.

315 The great Queen and St. Joseph again consumed 4 days in their return journey, as they had done on their coming. On the way they maintained the same heavenly conversations, and they experienced events similar to those already mentioned in Chapter 16. In the ordinary practices of humility, in which they vied with each other, our Queen always came out victorious, except when St. Joseph called obedience to his aid, because She considered obedience the greater humility. As She was already in Her third month of pregnancy, She was more attentive and careful in Her journey, not that Her pregnancy caused Her any difficulties, for it was on the contrary a most sweet alleviation of any hardships. But this careful and prudent Mother was filled with the con­sciousness of Her Treasure, for She beheld day by day the natural growth of the Body of Her Most Holy Son in Her virginal womb. Notwithstanding the ease and light­ness of Her pregnancy, She nevertheless was subject to the exertion and the fatigue of the journey; for the sov­ereign Lady made no use of Her privileges to diminish Her sufferings, but She gave free scope to the fatigues and inconveniences of travel in order to be in all things our teacher and the faithful image of Her Most Holy Son.

316 As the Divine Fruit of Her womb was naturally of the most perfect growth, and as She was Herself of the most comely and well-proportioned shape without any defect whatever, it was natural that Her condition should become noticeable, and She knew that it would be impossible to conceal it much longer from Her hus­band. Already She began to look upon him with greater tenderness and compassion in view of the shock that his love would feel on noticing Her condition. Gladly would She have turned it aside if She had known that such was the Will of God.  But the Lord gave Her no intimation of His Will in these anxious thoughts; for He had ordained that the event should come about in such a way as to increase His glory and the merits both of St. Joseph and of the Virgin Mother. Nevertheless the great Lady besought His Majesty to fill the heart of Her Spouse with patience and wisdom, and to assist him with grace, that he might act in this conjuncture according to His Divine Pleasure. For She was convinced that it would occasion him great grief to see Her pregnant.

317 In the course of the journey the Queen of the world performed some wonderful works, although always in secret. It happened that when they arrived at a place not far from Jerusalem, some people from another town came to the same hostelry. They brought with them a young woman seeking a cure for her sickness in the larger and more populous city. She was known to be very sick, but no one knew what was her sickness or the cause of it. This woman had lived a very virtuous life. On this account the enemy, who knew her character and her ad­vanced virtues, began to direct his attacks especially against her, as he always does against the friends of God, since he considers them his own enemies. He caused her to commit some sins and, in order to force her from one abyss into another; he tempted her with despondent thoughts and disorderly grief at her fall. Having thus upset her judgment this dragon found entrance into her body, and now he, with many other demons, had pos­session of her. I have already said in the first part that the infernal dragon, when he saw in heaven the woman clothed with the sun (Rev 12:1), conceived a great wrath against all virtuous women. Of her progeny are all those that follow Mary, as also seen in Revelation 12. On this account he exerted all his arrogance and tyranny in the possession of the body and soul of this afflicted woman.

318 The Heavenly Princess saw her in the inn and knew of her affliction, which was unknown to the others. Moved by her motherly pity, She begged Her Most Holy Son to give health of body and soul to the unfortunate woman. Perceiving that the Divine Will was inclined to Mercy, She used Her power as Queen and commanded the demons instantly to leave this creature never to return. Moreover, She banished them to the infernal depths, their lawful and appropriate dwelling. This command of our great Queen and Lady was not given vocally, but men­tally, in such a way as to be perceptible to the impure spirits. It was so powerful that satan and his com­panions hastened to leave that body and hurl themselves into the infernal darkness. The fortunate woman was freed and seized with wonder at the unhoped-for de­livery; and in her inmost heart she was drawn toward the most pure and holy Lady. She looked upon Her with an especial veneration and love, thereby deserving 2 other favors. One was that she was filled with a most sincere sorrow for her sins; the other, that the evil effects or traces of the demoniacal possession under which she had suffered were effaced. She was aware that the Mysterious Stranger, whom she had so fortunately met on her way, was involved in the heavenly blessing. She therefore spoke to Her, and our Queen answered with words that went straight to the heart; She exhorted her to perseverance and also merited it for her during the rest of her life. Her companions likewise recognized the miracle; but they attributed it to their promise of bringing her to the Temple of Jerusalem and of offering some gift for her. This promise they fulfilled, praising God, but remaining ignorant of the source of their good fortune.

319 Vast and furious was the wrath of satan when he found himself and his demons dispossessed and cast out from their abode by the mere word of this Woman Mary. Full of wrathful astonishment, he exclaimed: "Who is this weak Woman, who commands us and oppresses us with so much power? What new surprise is this, and how can my pride stand it? We must hold a council and see how we can unite to destroy Her." Since I will say more of their endeavors in the next chapter, I leave them to their wrathful designs. Our pilgrims in the meanwhile came to another inn, the master of which was a man of bad habits and character; and as a beginning of his happiness, God ordained that he should receive most holy Mary and Joseph with a good will and marks of kindness. He showed them more courtesy and a good service than he was accustomed to show to others. In order to return his hospitality with still greater kind­ness the great Queen, who knew the sad state of his interior, prayed for him, justifying his soul and causing him to change his life. Her prayers had also the effect of adding to his worldly possession, for on account of the small favor done to his heavenly guests, God in­creased them from that time on. Many more miracles the Mother of grace wrought in this journey, for all Her endeavors were heavenly (Song 4:13), and Her presence sanctified all who were of proper disposition. They finished their journey at Nazareth, where the Princess of Heaven set Her house in order and cleaned it with the assistance of Her Holy Angels, for they vied with Her in humility and were anxious to serve and honor Her by taking part in these humble occupations. The holy Joseph applied himself to his ordinary daily work, pro­viding for the sustenance of the Queen; and his trusting heart was not deceived in Her (Prov 31:11). She girded Herself with new strength for the mysteries which She awaited, and She put forth Her hands to valiant deeds, enjoying in Her soul the undimmed vision of the Treasure of Her womb and, connected with it, incomparable delights and blessings. Thus She con­tinued to gain vast merits and made Herself unspeak­ably pleasing to God.

INSTRUCTION WHICH THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN GAVE ME

320 My daughter, the faithful souls and children of the Church, who know God, must make no distinction of time, place or occasions in the practice of faith and the other virtues connected with it. For God is present in all things and fills them with His Infinite Being (Jer 23:24), and in all places and circumstances faith will enable them to see and adore Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:22). Just as preservation follows upon cre­ation, and as breathing follows upon life, and just as there is no intermission in the breathing, nourishment and growth of man until the end is reached: so the rational creature, after having been regenerated by faith of grace, must never interrupt the course of the spiritual life, continually pursuing works of life by faith, hope and charity in all places and at all times (Jacob 2:26). On account of their forgetfulness and carelessness, the chil­dren of men, and especially the members of the Church, possess the life of faith as if they had lost it, allowing it to die for lack of charity. These are the ones who have received in vain this their new soul, as David says, because they neglect it as if they had never obtained it (Ps 24:4).

321 I desire that your spiritual life be just as continual as your natural life. You must continue to lead a life such as is required by the grace and gifts of the Most High, believing and hoping in the Lord, loving, praising and adoring Him in spirit and in truth, no matter what changes there may be in time, occupation or place, He is in all things and He wishes to be loved and served by all rational creatures. I therefore charge you that whenever souls come to you full of this forget­fulness of their faults, and harassed by the demons, you pray for them with lively faith and confidence. If the Lord does not always fulfill what you desire and what they ask, He will follow His own secret counsel, and you will have pleased Him by having acted as a true spouse and daughter. If you faithfully follow My instruc­tions, I assure you that He will confer upon you many special privileges for the benefit of souls. Consider what I did at the sight of souls who were displeasing to the Lord, and how zealously I worked for all, and for some in par­ticular. To imitate and oblige Me, do likewise work and pray for those whose interior becomes known to you through the Lord or through other means; admonish them with prudence, humility and resignation; for the Almighty does not desire you to proceed noisily, nor that the results of your labors be always manifest, but that they remain hidden. In this He conforms Himself to your naturally retiring disposition and to your desires, and He seeks what is most secure for you. And, although you must pray for all souls, yet you must pray more earnestly for those whom the Divine Will points out to you.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 1

CHAPTER 26

The devils take counsel against MOST HOLY MARY

322 At the instant of the Incarnation of the Word, as I said in Chapter 11 (140), satan and all hell felt the Power of the Right Arm of the Almighty Which hurled them to the deepest of the infernal caverns. There they remained overwhelmed for some days, until the Lord in His Admirable Providence allowed them to come forth from this captivity, the cause of which they did not know. The great dragon then arose and scoured the earth, spying everywhere for new developments to which he might attribute the rout which he and all his satellites had experienced. This search the proud prince of darkness would not trust entirely to his companions, but he himself issued forth in their company to course about upon the globe, seeking with the most cunning malice to find what he wanted. He spent in this search 3 months and finally returned to hell just as ignorant of the true cause as when he had come forth. For the great Mysteries of Heaven were not intelligible to him at that time, because the darkness of his malice did not permit him either to rejoice in their wonderful effects or to glorify and bless their Author. This was reserved to us men, for whom Redemption was inaugurated.

323 The enemy of God was very much confused and aggrieved, without knowing how to account for it. In order to discuss the matter, he called together all the infernal hosts, without excusing or permitting a single one of the demons to be absent. In this convention, from a place of vantage, he addressed the meeting in this manner: "You well know, my subjects, with what great anxiety, ever since God has cast us out from His dwell­ing and deprived us of our might, I have sought to avenge myself and tried to destroy the Power of the Almighty. Although I cannot do anything to injure Him, I have spared no time or exertion in extending my dominion over men whom He loves. By my own strength I have peopled my reign (Job 41:25) and many nations and tribes obey and follow me (Lk 4:6). Day by day I draw toward myself innumerable souls, depriving them of the knowledge and possession of God, in order that they may not enjoy the happiness that we have lost. I ensnare them to these eternal pains that we suffer, since they will follow my teachings and guidance.  On them I will wreak the vengeance that I have conceived against their Creator. But all this appears of small con­sequence to me in the face of the sudden overthrow that we have experienced, for an attack so powerful and ruinous has not happened to us since we were hurled from heaven. I must acknowledge as well that my power and yours has met a serious shock. This new and extraor­dinary defeat must have some new cause, and our weak­ness, I fear, is the beginning of our ruin."

324  "This matter will require renewed diligence, for my fury is unquenchable and my vengeance remains insa­tiable. I have scoured the whole earth, observed all its inhabitants with great care, and yet I have found nothing notable. I have watched and persecuted all the virtuous and perfect women who are of the race of Her whom we saw in heaven, and whom I expected to meet among them. But I find no sign of Her having as yet been born, for I do not find one who possesses the marks of Her who is to be the Mother of the Messiah. A Maiden whom I feared on account of Her great virtues, and whom I persecuted in the Temple, is already married; and therefore She cannot be the one we look for, since Isaiah says She is to be a Virgin (Is 7:14). Never­theless I fear and detest this Maiden, since such a vir­tuous Woman might give birth to the Mother of the Messiah or to some great prophet. To this hour I have not been able to overcome Her in anything, and of Her life I understand less than of that of others. She has always valiantly resisted me, as She eludes my memory; or remembering Her, I cannot approach Her. I have not yet been able to decide whether these difficulties in regard to Her are miraculous, or arise from my forget­fulness, or whether they are simply the consequences of the contempt in which I hold such an insignificant Maiden. But I will consider this matter; for recently we could not resist the power of Her command, which dispossessed us of our right to dwell in those per­sons from whom She drove us. This certainly requires satisfaction, and She merits my wrath solely on account of what She has shown Herself to be on these occasions. I resolve to persecute Her and overcome Her, and you yourselves assist me in this enterprise with all your strength and malice; and those who will distinguish themselves in this conquest shall receive great rewards at my hands."

325 The whole infernal rabble, which had listened attentively to satan, praised and approved his inten­tions, and they told him not to worry over this Woman, for She would easily be overcome and he should not be without his triumphs over Her, since his power was so great and ruled all the world (Jn 14:30). Then they set about discussing the means of entrapping most Holy Mary, supposing Her to be a woman of distinguished and remarkable virtue and holiness, but not the Mother of the Incarnate Word; for at that time, as I have said, the demons were ignorant of the hidden Sacrament con­nected with Her. Accordingly satan and his com­panions in malice immediately entered upon a mighty conflict with the Heavenly Princess, thus making it pos­sible for Her to crush the head of the infernal dragon many times (Gen 3:15). Yet, though this was a great battle, and one of the most remarkable conflicts of Her life, She fought another one later on after the Ascension of Her Most Holy Son into heaven. Of this I will speak in the third part of this history. It was very remarkable, because satan at that time already knew Her as the Mother of God. St. John speaks of it in Revelation 12, as I will explain in its place.

326 In dispensing the Mysteries of the Incarnation the Providence of the Most High was most admirable, and so it is even yet in the government of the Catholic Church. There is no doubt that it is befitting the strong and sweet Providence of God to hide many things from the devils, which are better unknown to them; as well because they are unworthy of knowing the Sacred Mys­teries, as also because the Divine Power becomes more manifest in keeping the devils in subjection. But it is especially necessary that they remain in ignorance in order that the Works of God in the Church and His Sacraments may take their course in greater peace; also in order that the unmeasured wrath of the devils may be more effectively curbed by not allowing them to proceed according to their malice. Although the Almighty could always repress and restrain the devils by force, yet He proceeds in this matter according to what is most appropriate to His infi­nite goodness. On this account the Lord concealed from these enemies the dignity of the most Holy Mary and the wonderful manner of Her pregnancy, as well as Her virginal integrity before and after the birth; and He con­cealed it still more effectively by giving Her a husband. Likewise they were uncertain of the Divinity of Christ our Lord until the moment of His Death; only then they saw that they had been deceived and misled in regard to many Mysteries of the Redemption. Instead of inciting the Jews to inflict upon Him the most cruel death, they would have sought to prevent it, and they would have tried to retard our Redemption by making known to the world that Christ is the true God. Therefore, when St. Peter confessed Him as such, Christ forbade him and the rest of the Apostles to make it known to anyone (Matt 16:20). Although, on account of the miracles He wrought and the exorcisms that He per­formed (Lk 8:28), they almost began to suspect Him to be the Messiah, and called Him Son of God; yet His Majesty would not allow them to publish it about. Nor did they call Him so with certain conviction. For their suspicions subsided when they saw our Lord despised and fatigued: they could never penetrate the Mystery of the Savior's humility and their inflated pride kept them in darkness.

327 Since satan then did not know the dignity of Mary the Mother of God at the time of this persecu­tion, fierce as it was, it was not so terrible as the one She suffered later on, when he knew who She was. If in this present occasion he had known that She was the One whom he had seen in heaven clothed with the sun and (Rev. 12, 1) that She was to crush his head (Gen 3:15), he would have been lashed into devouring fury and consumed in fiery wrath. If they were so fearfully enraged at the mere thought of Her sanctity and perfection, it is certain, that, had they known Her great­ness, they would, as far as would be allowed them, have disturbed the whole universe, in order to make an end of Her. However, since they on the one hand were igno­rant of the Mysteries of the Heavenly Lady and other hand felt the effects of Her extreme virtue and sanctity, they were on this occasion thrown into confusion and doubt, asking each other who this Woman could be, against whom they saw their power dwindle into insig­nificance? And whether perhaps She was not the one who was to hold first place among creatures?

328 Others judged that She could not possibly be the Mother of the Messiah, for whom men were waiting, for besides having a husband, She with Her husband belonged to the poorest, humblest, and the most insignificant people in this world.  They had wrought no public miracles or prodigies, nor had they attracted the esteem or reverence of any of their fellowmen. As satan and his associates are so proud, they could not persuade themselves that such extreme humility and self-debase­ment can consort with the dignity of Mother of God. The devil thought that God in His power would not choose for Himself what the devil had considered unworthy of his own dignity, which he knew was beneath that of the Almighty. In short, he was deceived by his own arro­gance and giddy pride, for these are the vices which are most apt to darken the intellect and to drag the will to ruin. On this account Solomon says, that their own malice has made them blind (Wis 2:21), in order that they might not know that the Eternal Word was to make use of such means in order to destroy the arro­gance and haughtiness of the dragon. For his thoughts were more distant from those of the Almighty than the earth is distant from heaven (Is 55:9). He thought that God would come from heaven into the world with great show of strength and opposition, humil­iating by His power the proud princes and monarchs, which the devil had filled with his own arrogance. He had succeeded so well, that many, who reigned before the time of Christ, were inflated with such pride and pre­sumption, as to have lost their common sense and to have forgotten that they were mortal and earthly. The devil judged of all these things according to his own vanity and according to his own method of proceeding against the works of the Lord.

329 But the Infinite Wisdom took measures beyond all the calculations of satan: for He came to conquer him not only by His Omnipotence, but by humility, meek­ness, obedience and poverty, which are the weapons of His warfare  (2 Cor 10:4).   Far from Him are the empty show and vanity maintained by the riches of the world. He came disguised and hidden in the outward appearance of lowliness.  He chose a poor Mother. All that the world values, He came to despise, teaching the true science of life in word and example. Thus the devil found himself deceived and overcome by the very things that were most repugnant and unbearable to him.

330 In ignorance of all these mysteries, satan spent some days in spying out and reconnoitering the natural condition of most Holy Mary, Her character, temperament, inclinations, the tranquility, evenness and considerateness of Her conduct; but the enemy could discover no flaw. Seeing the perfection and sweetness of all that concerned Her, and that She was like an impregnable wall, he re­turned to his demons and laid before them the great difficulty of tempting Her. All of them projected mighty plans of attack, encouraging each other in trying to solve the difficulties. Of the execution of these designs, of the glorious triumphs of the Heavenly Princess over all Her enemies, and of the foiling of all their damned and ma­licious counsels, I will speak in the following chapter.

INSTRUCTION BY THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN

331 I wish that you be very cautious and watchful in regard to the ignorance and darkness, by which the devil commonly ensnares men and makes them forget their eternal salvation and the continual danger of its loss through his persecutions. Men are lost in forgetful rest and sleep, as if there were no vigilant and powerful enemies. his dreadful careless­ness arises from 2 causes: on the one hand men are so taken up with their earthly and sensible being (1 Cor 2:14), that they do not feel any other evils except those concerning the animal nature in them; all that is interior is harmless in their estimation. On the other hand, since the princes of darkness are invisible and unperceived by any of the senses (Eph 6:12) and since carnal men neither touch, nor feel, nor see them, they forget the fear of them. Yet for this very reason they ought to be more attentive and careful, since invis­ible enemies are more cunning and adroit in injuring us by their treachery. So much the more certain is the danger, the more concealed it is, and so much the more deadly are the wounds, the less they are felt and recog­nized.

332 Listen, My daughter, to most important truths concerning eternal life. Attend to My counsels, follow My instructions and receive My warnings, for if you pass them by unheeded, I will cease to speak to you. Hear what you have not until now known of the dis­position of these enemies. I wish to make known to you that no intellect, nor any tongue of man or angels can describe the wrath and fury which satan and his demons entertain against men just because they are Images of God and because they are capable of enjoying Him for all eternity. The Lord Alone can comprehend the wicked malice of these proud and rebellious spirits against His Holy Name and against His Worship. If His Almighty Arm did not restrain these foes they would in one moment destroy the world.  They would like fam­ishing lions, like wild beasts and fierce dragons, dispatching all mankind and tearing them to pieces. Now however the Most Kind Father of All Mercies wards off and curbs their wrath and He bears His little children in His arms in order that they may not fall a prey to these hellish wolves.

333 Consider then, as seriously as You can, whether anything deserves greater pity, than to see so many men misled into danger and made forgetful of it; how some of them cast themselves into it on account of their lightheartedness, some of them for trivial reasons, others for a short and instantaneous pleasure, others through negligence, and yet others on account of their in­ordinate appetites, tearing themselves away from the places of refuge, in which the Almighty has placed them, to fall into the hands of such cruel and furious enemies.  And not only to feel their fury for an hour, a day, a month, or a year, but also to suffer indescribable and unmeasured tor­ments for all eternity. You should be filled with fear and wonder to see such horrible and dread­ful foolishness among the impenitent and to see even the faithful, who have come to know and confess all this by faith, so far lose their understanding and allow themselves to be so insanely blinded by the devil that they neither regard nor avoid this danger.

334 In order that you may fear it and preserve yourself the better, remember that this dragon knows you and lurks about you ever since the hour of your creation and entrance into this world. Night and day he rest­lessly prowls about seeking some chance of capturing you as a prize. He observes your natural inclinations and also the gifts of the Lord, in order to combat you with your own weapons. He charges other demons with your ruin and promises reward to those that are more diligent in securing it. They weigh your actions carefully, watch your footsteps, and work zealously to lay snares for you in all your undertakings. I desire you to meditate on these truths in the Lord, Who will show you where they lead.  Compare them afterwards with your own ex­perience and you will understand, whether you have any occasion for sleep in the midst for such dangers. Although this watchfulness is important for all the woman-born, it is more necessary to you than to others for especial reasons: and if I do not mention them all to you now, do not doubt that you must live with great vigilance and caution. It suffices to remind you of your soft and yielding nature, which your enemies will strive to make use of for your destruction.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 1

CHAPTER 27

The Lord prepares Our Lady to meet satan in battle

335 The Eternal Word, already made Man in the womb of Mary the Virgin, and possessing Her as His Mother, was aware of the designs of satan, not only through the uncreated knowledge of His Godhead, but also by the created knowledge of His Humanity. He pre­pared the defense of His Tabernacle, which was more estimable in His Sight than all other creatures. In order to clothe the invincible Lady with new strength against the foolhardy daring of the treacherous dragon and his hosts, the Most Holy Humanity of Christ, rose up as it were in an attitude of defense in the virginal chamber of Mary in order to meet and offer battle to the princes of darkness. In this position He prayed to the Father and asked Him to renew His favors and graces in Mary, in order that She might with added strength crush the head of the ancient serpent, that this Woman might humiliate and overcome him, frustrate his designs and all his powers, and that She come forth triumphant and victorious over hell to the glory and praise of God and of His virginal Mother.

336 The Prayer of Christ our Lord was punctually fulfilled in the Most Blessed Trinity. Then, in an inde­scribable manner, Her Most Holy Son was shown to Mary in Her virginal womb. In this vision the plenitude of graces and unspeakable gifts were bestowed to Her.  Illumined anew with additional light of wisdom She recognized the highest and most hidden mysteries im­possible to describe. She understood especially that satan had prepared vast designs of pride against the Glory of the Lord; and that his arrogance rose up to drink the pure waters of Jordan (Job 40:18). The Most High, informing Her of these things, said to Her: "My Spouse and My Dove, the infernal dragon thirsts with such wrath against My Holy Name and all those that adore It, that he wishes to drag toward him all without exception and with daring presumption he tries to blot out My Name from the land of the living. I wish You, My Beloved, to come to the defense of My Cause and of My Holy Name, by giving battle to the cruel enemy; and I will be with You in battle, since I am in Your virginal womb. I wish that You confound and destroy the enemies before I appear in the world.  For they are con­vinced that the Redemption of the world is nigh and therefore they desire to gain over and ruin all souls without exception, before the world is redeemed. I trust this victory to Your fidelity and love. Battle in My Name, just as I in You, against this dragon and ancient serpent"(Rev 12:9).

337 These words of the Lord and the knowledge of these secrets so moved the heart of the Heavenly Mother that I cannot find expression for that which then hap­pened. When She understood, that Her Most Holy Son wished Her to defend the honor of the Most High, She was so inflamed with Divine Love and filled with such in­vincible fortitude, that, if each one of the demons would have been an entire hell and filled with the fury of all its inmates, they altogether would have been only like a few weak ants, compared to the incomparable strength of this our valiant Leader. All of them She would have vanquished and destroyed by the smallest part of Her virtues and of Her zeal for the Honor and Glory of the Lord. And Her Divine Protector and Helper ordained this glorious triumph of His most Holy Mother over hell, in order that the arrogance of His enemies might no longer lord it over us nor rest assured of being able to destroy the world. But He wished to hasten its Redemp­tion and put us under obligation not only to the inestimable love of His Most Holy Son, but also to Mary, our Heavenly Defender and Repairer. She was to issue forth to battle, stop his progress, vanquish and suppress him, placing mankind on a proper footing for the reception of their Redeemer.

338 O sons of men dull and slow of heart! How is it that you do not heed such admirable blessings? Who is man, that You should honor and favor Him thus (Ps 8:5), O Most High King! Your Own Mother and our Queen You send out to labor and combat in our defense! Who ever heard of similar happenings? Who has ever shown such force and ingenuity of love? Where is our intellect? Who has deprived us of the use of reason? What hardness of heart is this? What has drawn us into such vile ingratitude? What shameful conduct of men, who, while they claim to love and honor Her so much, are guilty of such low and infamous in­gratitude as to forget such an obligation? The true nobility and honor of the sons of Adam would rather seem to consist in thanking Her incessantly and sacrific­ing their lives in gratitude!

339 The obedient Mother, offering Herself to battle with satan for the honor of Her Most Holy Son, of the Holy Trinity and our own, answered Him Who had com­manded Her, saying: "My Lord and highest Good, from Whom I have received My being and all the grace and light which I possess: to You I belong entirely.  You, Lord, have condescended to be My Son. Do with Your servant, what shall be to Your greater glory and pleas­ure. For if You are in Me, and I in You, who shall be powerful enough to resist Your will? I shall be the instrument of Your Almighty Arm.  Give Me Your strength and come with Me, and let Us go forth to battle against the dragon with all his followers." In the meanwhile satan issued from the meeting, now filled with such hateful spite against Her, that he considered the perdition of all the other souls as of small consequence. If we could know the fury of satan as it is in reality, we would understand better what God says to holy Job, that he counts steel as straw and bronze as rotten wood (Job 41:18). Such was the wrath of the dragon against most Holy Mary; and such it is even now against souls.  For if he esteemed the most holy, the invincible and most strong Woman to be no more than a dried up leaf, what will he do to sinners, who like empty and de­caying reeds do not withstand him? (Eph 6:16). Living faith alone and humility of heart are the double armor, which enable them to procure glorious victory.

340 In order to begin his battle satan brought with him the 7 legions with their 7 principal leaders whom after the fall from heaven he had appointed to tempt men to the 7 capital sins (Rev 12). Each of these 7 squadrons he charged with the duty of ex­erting their utmost strength against the Immaculate Princess. The invincible Lady was occupied in prayer, when the Lord permitted the first legion of devils to begin the battle by tempting Her to the sin of pride, to which special work they had been appointed. They sought to approach the Heavenly Queen by trying to cause changes in Her natural passions and inclinations, for this is the ordinary way in which the demons find access to other mortals; and they thought that She was infected in the same way as other men with passions disordered by sin. They could not however come as close to Her as they wished, for they were repelled by the fragrance of Her virtues and holiness, which tormented them more than the fire which consumes them. In spite of this obstacle and although the very sight of most Holy Mary pierced them with raging torments, they nevertheless ignored their pains and lashed themselves into furious and ungovernable wrath in their obstinate endeavors to approach nearer to Her and exert upon Her their cursed and damnable influence.

341 The most Holy Mary, who was alone and left only to Her natural forces, stood prepared for the assault of those countless devils; yet She by Herself was as formidable and terrible (Song 6:3) to them as many armies in battle array. They presented themselves before Her (Ps 119:85) in the most horrid masks and with wicked lies. But the sovereign Queen, teaching us how to conquer, did not change Her position nor was moved interiorly or exteriorly, nor did She show any emotion of fear in Her countenance. She took no notice of them, nor attended to them any more than if they had been the weakest ants. She despised them with an invincible and magnanimous heart.   Just as little could For this kind of battle, as it is a battle of virtues, is not accompanied by the extremes of noise and excitement, but is fought in all tranquility, in outward and inward peace and modesty. The passions and the appetites that move our Queen, were not in subservience to the devil. In Her they were all swayed by reason, and this again was subject to God, since none of Her faculties had been cast into disorder by the first sin, as in the rest of the children of Adam. Therefore the arrows of these enemies were like those of little children and their armories were like those that were without ammunition. Only to themselves were they harmful, for their weakness only brought upon them confusion. Although they were not aware of the innocence and the original justice of most Holy Mary and therefore did not understand that She was not to be injured by the common temptations.  Yet by the Majesty of Her bearing and Her constancy they could conjecture their ill success and how She despised them. Their efforts were not of the least avail; for, as says the Apostle (Rev 12:18) and as I have mentioned in the first part (1-129), the earth helped the Woman, who was clothed with the sun, when the dragon opened upon Her the flood of his impetuous temptations; meaning thereby, that the earthly body of this Lady had not been vitiated in its faculties and passions, as those of others, who had been touched by sin.

342 The devils then assumed corporeal shapes of the most horrible and dreadful kind; and they began to emit fearful howls, roaring with terrible voices, pre­tending to rush upon Her and threatening destruction; they shook the earth and the house, striving also by other furious assaults to frighten and disturb the Princess of the world; so that at least in this, or in making Her desist from prayers they might seem victorious. But the invincible and magnanimous heart of most Holy Mary was not disturbed, nor moved in the least. It must be remembered, that in order to enter upon this battle, the Lord left Her entirely to the resources of Her own faith and virtue. He suspended the effects of the other favors and privileges, which She was accustomed to enjoy at other times. The Most High wished it so, in order that the triumph of His Mother might be more glorious and honorable. Besides this there were the other reasons, which God has in allowing the souls to be tempted in this manner. His judgments are unsearchable and un­knowable (Rom 11:33). At times the great Lady would repeat: "Who is like unto God, Who lives in the highest and looks upon the humble in heaven and on earth?" (Ps 113:5). By these words She routed the hosts that opposed Her.

343 Then these hungry wolves laid aside their terri­ble shapes: they assumed sheep’s clothing, transforming themselves into angels of light, resplendent and beautiful. Approaching the Heavenly Lady, they said: "You have conquered, You have conquered, we come to attend on You and reward Your fortitude and invincible courage." Surrounding Her, they protested their friendship in flat­tering and deceitful terms. But the most prudent Lady withdrew within Herself, suspended all the activity of Her senses and, raising Herself above Herself (Lam 3:28) by means of the infused virtues, adored the Lord in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23). De­spising all the snares of these evil tongues and their deceitful lies, She spoke to Her Most Holy Son: "My Lord and Master, Light of light and My Strength, in Your Help Alone and the exaltation of Your Holy Name do I place all My confidence. All those that speak otherwise I abjure, abhor and detest." But the doers of evil persevered in their insane attempts against the Mother of knowledge and continued to extol beyond the skies Her, who had humiliated Herself beneath the lowest of creatures. They protested that they wished to exalt Her above all women and confer upon Her an exquisite favor.  They would select Her in the Name of the Lord for the Mother of the Messiah, and they assured Her that Her holiness would be greater than that of the Patriarchs and Prophets.

344 The dragon himself was the author of this new plot and his malice is here made known for a warning to other souls. But it was ridiculous to offer to Mary, the Queen of Heaven, a dignity already Her own. They themselves were ensnared and deceived, not only in offer­ing what they neither knew nor were able to give, but also in being ignorant of the Sacrament of the King so in­timately connected with the most Blessed Woman, whom they persecuted. Nevertheless the iniquity of the dragon was great, because he knew that he could not fulfill what he promised. He tried to spy out whether perhaps our blessed Lady held that dignity, or whether She would give him some signs, by which he could conjecture it. Most Holy Mary was aware of this double-dealing of satan, and admirably met it with a quiet firmness. She answered the deceitful flatteries by quietly continuing Her prayer and adoring the Lord. Prostrated upon the floor She humiliated Herself, confessing Herself as the most despicable of creatures, more despicable than the dust under Her feet. By this humble prayer and prostra­tion She cut off the presumptuous pride of satan as long as this temptation lasted. As for the rest which happened, the cunning of the devils, their cruelty and lying deceits on this occasion, it seemed to me, that I should not relate all, nor that I should expatiate on all that has been shown to me; let this much suffice for our instruction; for not all can be trusted to the ignorance of weak and earthly creatures.

345 Dismayed and routed, the first host of enemies retired and gave way to the second. These were to tempt Her, who was the most poor of human kind, to the sin of avarice. They offered to Her great riches, gold, silver, and most precious gems and in order that these might not seem empty promises, they placed before Her a great quantity of these riches, although they were only apparent; for they thought that they could exert greater influence on Her will by actually presenting these objects before Her. They accompanied this offer with many deceitful words and told Her that God had sent Her all this for distribution among the poor. When they saw that all this had no effect upon Her, they changed their tactics and urged, that since She was so holy, it was a great wrong that She should remain so poor. It was more reasonable that She possess these riches, than that they remain in the hands of wicked sinners, for this would be an injustice and a disarrange­ment of the Divine Providence that the just be visited with poverty, while God's wicked enemies abound in riches and affluence.

346 In vain the net is spread before the eyes of the bird in its flight, says the wise man. (Pr 1:17) This was true of all the temptations of our sovereign Queen; but the malice of the serpent was much more preposterous in regard to this temptation of avarice, for this Phoenix of poverty was so far removed from the earth, and winged Her flight so far above that of even the Seraphim, that such a vile and contemptible snare was entirely in vain. The most prudent Lady, although She possessed heavenly wisdom, never undertook to argue with these enemies, as in truth nobody should.  For they battle against the mani­fest truth and will not admit defeat, even when they must acknowledge its effects. The most Holy Mary made use of some words of the Holy Scriptures and repeated them with serene humility. On this occasion She selected the words of the 119th Psalm: "I have acquired for my heritage and for my riches the keeping of Your testimonies and Your laws, my Lord" (Ps 119:112). She made use of many other passages, gratefully praising and blessing the Most High, because He had created and preserved Her without Her merits. In this most wise manner She re­jected and overcame the second temptation, to the con­fusion and torment of these agents of iniquity.

347 Then advanced the third legion, led on by the prince of impurity who assails the weakness of the flesh. These made so much the greater efforts, because they foresaw more clearly the improbability of success; and in truth they gained less than all the others, if one may speak of more or less in these different temptations of the Virgin Mary. They tried to suggest to Her vile images and to produce before Her eyes unspeakable monstrosities. But all their efforts vanished in midair, for the most pure Virgin, as soon as She had recognized the first signs of this vice, withdrew entirely within Herself and suspended all the activity of Her senses. Thus not even the shadow of a suggestion or indecent image could enter Her thoughts, since none of Her faculties were in action. With the most ardent longing She renewed many times Her vow of chastity in the Presence of the Lord, and She merited more on this occasion than all the virgins who ever existed or will exist in this world. The Almighty furnished Her with such virtue, that in comparison, the sudden expulsion of the cannon ball from the cannon, is but a poor image of the force with which these enemies were repelled from the presence of most Holy Mary when they sought to touch Her purity by their temptations.

348 The 4th legion undertook to test Her meek­ness and patience, seeking to move this mildest Dove to anger. This temptation was most annoying, for the demons overturned the whole house: they broke and shattered everything contained therein, and in such a manner as to cause the greatest amount of annoyance to the most meek Lady; but Her Holy Angels soon repaired all the damage. Foiled in this attempt, the demons as­sumed the shapes of some women known to the serene Princess. They flew at Her with greater wrath and fury than if they had been real women; they added outrageous insults, dared to threaten Her, and took possession of things most necessary. But all these were only despicable tricks in the eyes of Her who knew them; for none of their pranks and assaults escaped the penetration of the most Holy Mary. She disregarded them altogether and despised them entirely, without giving any signs of being moved or influenced by them. The demons then chose a real woman of a disposition adapted to their purposes, whom they influenced by diabolical art against the Prin­cess of Heaven. For this purpose one of the demons as­sumed the shape of an acquaintance of this Woman and began to tell her that this Mary, the wife of Joseph, had slandered her in her presence and had accused her of many gross faults, which this demon invented for the occasion.

349 The deceived woman, who was naturally very much inclined to anger, hastened furiously to our meekest Lamb and hurled at Her the vilest accusations and in­sults. She, however, allowing the angry woman to pour out her wrath gradually began to speak to her in words so humble and sweet, that She changed her entirely, ap­peased and softened her heart. When She had thus brought her about, She consoled and admonished her against the wiles of the devil. As this woman was poor, Mary added some alms and dismissed her in peace. Thus also this attempt was foiled, just as were many others, by which the devil tried to irritate our meekest Dove and bring Her into discredit. The Most High always defended the honor of His most Holy Mother, making use of Her own perfection in virtue and of Her prudence and humil­ity, so that the devil could never succeed in harming Her good name in the least. She always acted so prudently and with so much meekness and wisdom, that the multitudes of the hellish attempts were totally ineffectual. The tranquility and meekness of the sovereign Lady during these temptations of the dragon caused the admiration of the angels. Even the demons were full of astonish­ment, (though of a different kind), at seeing such be­havior in a mere creature and that a woman, for never had they seen the like.

350 The 5th legion followed with temptations to gluttony. Although the ancient serpent did not bid our Queen to turn stones into bread (Matt 4:3) as he after­wards presumed to do with Her Most Holy Son (for he had not seen Her do such great wonders, since they had been withheld from his knowledge), yet he tempted Her like the first woman with the pleasures of the taste (Gen 3). They placed before Her a great feast, in order to incite and mislead Her appetite by outward allurance; they tried to influence the humors of Her body, so as to cause in Her a counterfeit hunger and they used other means to attract Her attention to what they were offering. But all their labor was in vain and without effect.  For from all these material and earthly things the noble heart of our Princess was as far removed as heaven is from earth. Just as little did She use Her senses in order to enjoy the pleasures of taste, yes She never even took notice of them; for in all things She had set Herself to counteract what our first mother Eve had done. Eve incautiously and heedlessly had looked upon the beauty of the tree of knowledge and upon its sweet fruit, and then had reached out her hand to eat, thus beginning our woe. Not so most Holy Mary, who withdrew and 1ocked up Her senses, although She was in no such danger as Eve. Our first mother was overcome for our perdi­tion, while our Queen conquered for our rescue and sal­vation.

351 Much dismayed by the discomfitures of the pre­ceding hosts, the spirits of envy approached. Though they could not estimate the full perfection of the deeds of the Mother of sanctity, they nevertheless felt Her in­vincible strength. They had seen Her so unmovable that they almost despaired of enticing Her to any of their wicked purposes. Nevertheless the insatiate hatred of the dragon and his immeasurable pride would not yield.  They laid new plots in order to provoke the Lady most beloved of the Lord and of men to envy in others what She Herself possessed and even what She abhorred as useless and dangerous. They drew up a long list of natural blessings possessed by others and denied to Her. And as they thought that supernatural gifts would move Her more, they mentioned great spiritual favors and blessings, which the Almighty had conferred upon others and not upon Her. But how could these lying repre­sentations move Her, who was the Mother of all the graces and gifts of heaven? For the blessings of all the creatures taken together were less than Her single privi­lege of being the Mother of the Author of Grace. Pre­cisely because His Majesty had so favored Her and be­cause the fire of His charity burned within Her, She ardently desired, that the Hand of the Most High enrich and favor Her fellowmen so much the more. How then could envy find room, where charity abounded? (1 Cor 13:4). But the fierce enemies would not desist.  They pictured to the Queen the apparent happiness of those, who in their riches and good fortune, considered themselves happy and exalted in this world. They in­duced several persons to approach most Holy Mary and describe to Her the consolation of being rich and well to do. As if this deceitful happiness of men had not been condemned so often in Holy Scriptures, and as if contempt of riches had not been the very science and doctrine, which the Queen of Heaven and Her Most Holy Son had come to exemplify in their lives for the benefit of the whole world!

352 Those persons, who came to our Heavenly Mother, were exhorted by Her to use the temporal goods and riches well and to give thanks for them to the Author of all good. She Herself fulfilled this duty, making up for the habitual ingratitude of men. Although the most humble Lady judged Herself unworthy of the least of blessings of the Most High; yet Her own sanctity and exalted dignity in point of fact gave witness to the words of Holy Scriptures saying in Her name: "With Me are glorious riches and righteousness. For My fruit is better than gold and precious stone" (Prov 8:18). "In Me is all grace of the way and the truth, in Me is all hope of life and of virtue" (Sir 24:25). In this exalted excel­lence of virtue She conquered all Her enemies, astonishing and confusing them by this new experience. For they were made to feel that where they had exerted their greatest force and their deepest cunning, they gained least and experienced the greatest repulse.

353 Nevertheless the devils stubbornly persisted and preceded with the 7th temptation, which was that of idleness. They sought to cause in Her a corporeal indis­position, or a feeling of weakness and fatigue, accom­panied by dejection of spirit. This is a trick of satan little known and under its cover,  the sin of laziness causes much ruin among souls and prevents much progress in virtue. They suggested moreover that She postpone some exercises on account of weariness in order to be able to perform them so much the better after having rested. This too is one among many other tricks of satan, and we do not often discover it or know what to do against it. They also sought maliciously to hinder the most Holy Lady in some exercises by means of human creatures, whom they sent to visit Her at unseasonable times, trying to impede the performance of some of Her holy exercises and occupations at the time and hour set for them. But the most prudent and alert Princess detected all these delusions. She evaded them by Her wise precautions, without permitting the enemy to succeed in any of them and acting in all things up to the standard of the most exquisite perfection. Her enemies were obliged to desist, hopelessly foiled and repulsed. The devil was full of rage against his companions and against himself. But in their fury and insane pride, they resolved to make one more general assault upon Mary, as I will relate in the following chapter.

INSTRUCTION BY THE MOST HOLY QUEEN MARY

354 My daughter, although you have only very briefly summed up My lengthy battle against temptations, I wish that from what you have written and from what you know otherwise concerning these things, you learn the manner of resisting and overcoming the powers of hell. The surest way of fighting the dragon is to de­spise him, looking upon him as the enemy of the Most High, who has lost all fear of God and all hope of good; who in his stubbornness has deprived himself of all means of recovery and is without sorrow for his wickedness. Relying on this indubitable truth you should show your­self far superior to him, exalted and unflinching in your thoughts, and treat him as a despiser of the honor and worship of his God. Knowing that you are defending so just a cause, do not let your courage sink; but resist and counteract him with great strength and valor in all his attempts, as if you were fighting at the side of the Lord Himself; for there is no doubt that His Majesty assists all those that enter loyally into His battles. You are truly in good hope and in the way of eternal life glory, as long as you labor faithfully for your Lord and God.

355 Remember then, that devils detest and abominate that which you desire and love, namely the honor of God and your eternal felicity. Remember that they are striving to deprive you of that which they cannot restore to themselves. God has reprobated the devil, while He offers to you His grace, His virtues and His strength in order to overcome His and your enemy and to procure for you the happy end of eternal peace; only you must work faithfully and keep the commandments of the Lord. The arrogance of the dragon is great (Is 16:6), yet his weakness is greater; and he does not represent more than a weak atom in the Face of Divine Power. Yet as his cunning and malice far ex­ceed that of men (Job 41:21), it is not advisable to allow the soul to bandy words with him, whether he is present invisibly or visibly; for from his darksome mind, as from a smoking furnace, issue the shadows of con­fusion, obscuring the judgments of men. If they listen to him, he will fill their minds with deceits and darkness, so that they will neither recognize the truth and the beauty of virtue, nor the vileness of his poisonous falsehoods. Thus the souls will be made unable to dis­tinguish the precious from the worthless, life from death, truth from error (Jer 15:19), and they easily fall into the clutches of this fierce and wicked dragon.

356 In temptation let it be your invariable course not to attend to anything that he proposes; not to listen, not to argue with him concerning anything. If you can withdraw and place yourself at a distance, so as not to perceive or recognize his wicked attempts, so much the more secure you will be for thus looking upon him only at a distance. The devil always seeks to prepare the way for his deceits; especially in souls that he fears will resist his entrance unless he can thus facilitate his approach. He is accustomed to begin by causing sorrow or dejection of heart, or he makes use of other trickery or snares, by which he diverts or withdraws the soul from the love of the Lord.  Then he comes with his poison, con­cealed in the golden cup in order to diminish the horror of the soul. As soon as you notice in yourself any of these signs, (for you have your experience, obedience and instructions for a guide), I wish that with the wings of the dove you direct your flight to the High Refuge of the Almighty (Ps 55:7), calling upon Him for aid and proffering the merits of My Most Holy Son. To Me also should you flee for protection as I am Your Mother and Teacher, and to your devoted angels, and to all the rest of your advocates in the Lord. Quickly close up your senses and consider yourself, as dead to them, or as a soul already belonging to the other life, where the jurisdiction and the exacting tyranny of the serpent does not reach. Occupy yourself so much the more earnestly in the exer­cise of the virtue contrary to the vice to which he tempts you, and especially in acts of faith, hope and love, which dispel cowardice and doubt, and weaken the influence of discouragement and fear in the human heart.

357 You must seek in God Alone the arguments for overcoming the devil and do not disclose them to your enemy, lest he meet you with fallacies and confusing pre­tense. Besides knowing it to be dangerous, esteem it as unworthy of you to argue with him openly, or to pay particular attention to him, who is not only the enemy of your Beloved but also of you. Show yourself superior to him and high-mindedly apply yourself to the practice of all virtues. Be content with this treasure and withdraw yourself; for the most skillful battle of the children of God consists in fleeing farthest from evil. The devil is proud and is deeply hurt by contempt. In the presumption of his arrogance and vanity he desires above all the attention of men. On this account he is so persistent in pursuing us step by step; for in his deceitfulness he cannot rely upon the force of truth, but on his persistent counter­feiting of the good and the true. As long as this slave of wickedness is not despised, he never believes himself dis­covered and he continues, like an importunate fly, to buzz about the spot tainted by the greatest corruption.

358 Not less warily must you conduct yourself, when your enemy makes use of other creatures for your destruc­tion. This he does in 2 ways; either leading them on to immoderate love, or to undue dislike or hatred. As soon as you notice a disorderly affection in those with whom you converse, observe the same precaution as in fleeing from the devil.  Yet with this difference, that while you hate him as your enemy, you consider the others as God's creatures to whom you must not deny the consideration due to them on account of His Majesty. But in as far as withdrawing from them is concerned, act as if they were your enemies; for in regard to the service, which the Lord requires of you and in regard to your present condition, it is the devil who operates in these persons toward separating you from your God and from your duty. If on the other hand they hate and persecute you, answer them with meekness and love, praying for them with intimate affection of your heart (Matt 5:44). If it should be necessary, soothe the wrath of your per­secutors with sweet words, and undeceive those who are led astray by false reports. Do this not in order to ex­cuse yourself, but in order to pacify your brothers and for their inward and outward peace; thus you will at one and the same time conquer yourself and those who hate you. In order to be well practiced in this way of acting it is necessary to cut off the very roots of the capital sins, to tear them out, and to die to the movements of the appetites. For in these appetites the 7 capital vices to which the devil leads men, are rooted, and in these dis­orderly and undisciplined passions he sows the germs of the 7 sins.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 1

CHAPTER 28

Our Lady conquers satan and his legions

359 Even if the prince of darkness and wickedness had now retreated, his exorbitant pride would have been sufficiently discomfited and humiliated by the victories, which had been gained by the Queen of Heaven. But as, even if vanquished, he continues to rise up against God with insatiate malice, he did not acknowledge his defeat (Ps 73:23). Finding himself conquered, and conquered so completely by an apparently insignificant and weak Woman, though he and his hosts had overcome so many valiant men and high-minded women, his fury raged on­ward, though in smothered flames of wrath. God had permitted the enemies to become aware of the pregnancy of the most holy Mary, though leaving them under the impression, that it was entirely a natural process.  For the Divinity of the Child and other Mysteries connected with it always remained hidden to these enemies. Hence they persuaded themselves that this was not the promised Messiah, since they held this Child to be a man like the rest of the human race. This error also confirmed them in the mistake that most Holy Mary was not the Mother of the Word (Gen 3:15): Both of Whom were to crush the head of the dragon. Yet they were persuaded that of a Woman so valiant and victorious, some man of dis­tinguished sanctity would be born. The great dragon, convinced of this, conceived against the Fruit of the most Holy Mary that vast fury mentioned in Revelation 12 and referred to in this history, and he awaited the birth of Her Son in order to devour Him.

360 Whenever satan directed his looks toward this Child enclosed in the womb of the most Holy Mary, he felt a mysterious power oppressing him. Although His Presence seemed to cause only a certain weakening and deadening of his strength; yet this was sufficient to en­rage him and to make him seek by all means the destruc­tion of this suspicious Child and of His Victorious Mother. Assuming the most fearful shapes of fiercest bulls and terrible dragons or of other monsters, he sought to ap­proach Her without ever being able to succeed. He rushed upon Her, but found himself repulsed, without knowing by whom or how. He struggled like a wild beast in chains and gave forth awe-inspiring howls, which, if God had not prevented their being heard, would have terrified the world and would have frightened many men to death. He shot forth from his mouth fire and fumes of sulfur mixed with poisonous spittle. All this the Heavenly Princess Mary saw and heard, without being moved more than if She saw a gnat. He caused disturb­ances in the air, upon the earth, or in Her house, dis­arranging and overthrowing it in all its parts; but most Holy Mary still remained unmoved, retaining Her inward and outward tranquility and peace and showing Herself invincibly superior to all his attempts.

361 The devil, finding himself thus vanquished, opened his most impure mouth and set in motion his lying and defiled tongue. He loosened the floodgates of his malice and spouted forth in the presence of the Heavenly Empress all the heresies and infernal falsehoods of the sects, which he and his associates spread through the world. For after they had been hurled from heaven and after they were informed that the Divine Word was to assume Human Flesh in order to be the Chief of a race, which He would replenish with graces and Heavenly teachings, the dragon resolved to concoct falsehoods and heresies, in opposition to all the truths concerning the knowledge, love and worship of the Most High. In this occupation, devils consumed many years before the coming of Christ, the Lord of the world; and all this poisonous deceit satan, the ancient serpent, had stored up within himself. Now he poured it out in the presence of the Mother of truth and purity; hoping to infect Her by all the falsehoods, which He had conceived against the truth of God up to that day.

362 They are not fit to be described here, even less so than some of the temptations indicated in the last chap­ter; for it would be dangerous not only for the weak souls, but even the strongest must fear the pestilential breath of satan, who on this occasion exhaled all his deceitful malice. According to what I saw, I believe doubtlessly, that there was no error, idolatry or heresy known to have existed in the world to this day, which this dragon did not vomit forth in the hearing of the sovereign Mary. Therefore the Church can truly con­gratulate Mary on account of Her victories, affirming of Her, that She by Herself has smothered and extinguished all the heresies of the whole world (Office B. V. M.). Thus in truth our victorious Shulamite, armed with Her virtues advanced like an army in battle array (Song 7:1) to confound, overwhelm and destroy the infernal hosts. All their falsehoods, and each one in particular, She re­futed, contradicting, detesting and anathematizing all of them with invincible faith and sublime constancy. She proclaimed the various truths opposed to his falsehoods, magnifying the Lord by means of them as true, just and holy. She broke out into songs of praise, in which His virtues and doctrines were extolled as true, holy, immac­ulate and altogether praiseworthy. In fervent prayer She besought the Lord to humiliate the arrogance of the devils by preventing them from spreading so freely their poisonous errors through the world, and asking Him to diminish the influence of the false teachings, which they had already sowed and which they were yet allowed to sow among men.

363 On account of this victory of the great Queen and on account of Her prayers, I perceived that the Most High in justice set narrower bounds to the devils, so that they would not be able to scatter the seeds of error as much as they intended and as much as the sins of men would merit. Although their sins are the cause of so many heresies and sects unto this day, yet they would have caused many more, if most Holy Mary had not crushed the head of the dragon by such great victories, by Her prayers and petitions. I have been informed of a great mystery, which affords us consolation in this con­flict of the Holy Church against Her wicked enemies. Namely, on account of this triumph of most Holy Mary and on account of another, which She gained over the devils after the Ascension of our Lord (Part 3, 528), the Almighty, in reward of Her battles, decreed, that through Her intercession and virtue all the heresies and sects of the world against the Holy Church were to be destroyed and extinguished. The time appointed for this blessing was not made known to me; probably, the ful­fillment of this decree is dependent upon some tacit and unknown condition. Yet I am sure, that if the Catholic leaders and their citizens would seek to please this great Queen of heaven and seek Her intercession as being their especial Patroness and Protector, and if they would direct all their influence and riches, all their power and sovereignty toward the exaltation of the faith and the honor of God and of purest Mary (for this may perhaps be the condition imposed), they would be as it were the instruments, by which the infidels would be re­futed and vanquished, the sects and errors infesting the world would be repressed, and splendid and magnificent victories would be gained for the Catholic truth.

364 Before the Birth of Christ our Redeemer it seemed to satan (as was intimated in the foregoing chapter) that His coming was retarded by the sins of the world. In order to prevent His coming altogether he sought to increase this hindrance by multiplying the aberrations and crimes of men. The Lord confounded this iniquitous pride of the devil by the magnifi­cent triumphs of His most Holy Mother. After the Birth and the Death of the Redeemer, the malicious dragon sought to hinder and divert the fruits of His Blood and Redemption. For this purpose he began to sow and spread the errors, which after the times of the Apostles have afflicted and do now afflict the Church. The vic­tory over this infernal malice was likewise left by Christ in the hands of His most Holy Mother, for She alone could merit, and did merit, such a victory. Through Her, idolatry was extinguished by the preaching of the Gos­pel; through Her were brought to naught the ancient sects of Arius, Nestorius and Pelagius and of others; She it was that instigated the zeal and solicitude of rulers, fathers, and doctors of the Holy Church. Hence, how can it be doubted, if  Catholic rulers, both of the Church and of the state, would use the proper diligence, aiding as it were this Heavenly Lady, that She on Her part would not fail to help them, conferring upon them happiness in this life and in the next, and cutting down all the heresies of the world? For this very pur­pose the Lord has so enriched so greatly the Church as well as Catholic administrations and authorities. If it were not for this purpose, it were better that they remain poor. It was not proper that all the results of the Gos­pel should be obtained through miracles, but through natural means, obtainable by the proper application of riches. But it is not for me to judge whether they ful­fill this obligation or not. I have only to report what the Lord Himself has made known to me that those who hold the titles of honor and sovereignty conferred by the Church, without coming to her aid and defense and without applying their riches toward preventing the waste of the Blood of Christ our Savior, are usurpers and unjust possessors of those titles; for in this very thing should the difference between Christian and infidel rulers consist.

365 Coming back to my subject, I say that the Most High, in His infinite foresight, well knew the iniquity of the dragon, and that in the pursuit of his wrath against the Church he would bring to disorder many of the faithful, striking down the stars of the heaven of the militant church, namely the faithful, and thus seeking to rouse still more Divine Justice and diminish the fruits of the Redemption. The Most High Lord in immense kind­ness resolved to meet this danger that threatened the world. In order that He might be moved in this by so much the greater equity and for the greater glory of His Name, He arranged that the most Holy Mary should oblige Him to give this help. She alone was worthy of the privileges, gifts and prerogatives by which She was to overcome the world.  And this most eminent Lady alone was capable of such an enterprise as to draw toward Her the Heart of God by Her holiness, purity, merits and prayers. For the greater exaltation of the Divine power He wished it to be known through all the eternities that He had conquered satan and all his followers through means of a mere Creature and a Woman, just as the devil had cast down the whole human race by another woman, and that there was none other to whom this salvation of the Church and whole world could be worthily credited. On account of these and other rea­sons apparent to us in faith, the Almighty gave into the hands of our victorious Chief the sword for cut­ting off the head of the infernal dragon; a power never to be diminished in Her, and with which She defends and assists the militant Church according to the labors and necessities of coming centuries.

366 While satan with his infernal legions in visi­ble forms persisted in his unhappy attempts, the most serene Mary never looked upon them nor paid any atten­tion to them, although by the permission of God She heard the uproar. Since the hearing cannot be so easily stopped as the sight, She took precaution, lest what She heard should enter Her imagination or interior faculties. Nor did She speak to them other than to command them to stop their blasphemies. And this com­mand was so powerful that it forced the devils to press their mouths to the earth, while She in the meanwhile sang great Canticles of praise and glory in honor of the Most High. This relationship of Her Majesty with God and Her profession of Divine Truths was likewise so oppressive and painful to them that they began to attack each other like ravenous wolves, or like rabid dogs.  Every action of the Empress Mary was for them a burning shaft, and every one of Her words a flame of fire more dreadful than hell itself. This is not an exaggeration for the dragon and his followers really strove to fly and escape from the presence of most Holy Mary.  While the Lord, in order to enhance the triumph of His Mother and Spouse and confound entirely the pride of satan, de­tained them by a secret force. His Majesty permitted and ordained that the devils themselves should hu­miliate themselves so far as to ask the Heavenly Lady to command them to go and be driven from Her presence, which they had sought. Accordingly She commanded them to return to the infernal regions. There they lay prostrate for a time, while the great Vanquisher Mary remained absorbed in Divine praise and thanksgiving.

367 When by the permission of the Lord, the devil rose from his defeat, he returned to the conflict, selecting for his instrument some of the neighbors of the holy spouses, and sowing among them and their wives the hellish seed of discord concerning temporal interests. For this purpose the demon took the shape of a woman known to them all and telling them that they should not disagree among themselves, since the source of all their differences was none other than Mary, the wife of Joseph. The woman, whose shape the devil took, held the esteem and regard of all these persons, and there­fore her words were so much the weightier. Although the Lord did not allow the good name of His most Holy Mother to suffer in any important point, yet He permitted, that for Her greater glory and merit, all these deceived persons should give Her an opportunity of exercising Her patience on this occasion. All together they went to the house of St. Joseph and in his presence they called forth most Holy Mary and spoke very harshly to Her, accusing Her of disturbing their homes and their peace. This event was painful to the most innocent Lady, on account of the worry occasioned to St. Joseph, who had already noticed the increase of Her virginal womb, and who, as She had perceived, was already troubled by the thoughts beginning to arise in his heart. Nevertheless, in Her prudence and wisdom, She sought to meet this disturbance with humility, and overcome it by patience and lively faith. She did not defend Herself, nor fall back on the faultlessness of Her conduct; on the contrary, She humiliated Herself and begged Her ill-informed neighbors to pardon Her, if in anything She had offended them. With sweet and wise words She enlightened and pacified them, making them understand that none of them had committed any offense against the others. Satisfied by Her explanations and edified by the humility of Her answer, they peacefully withdrew to their houses, while the devil fled, not being able to endure such great sanctity and heavenly wisdom.

368 St. Joseph remained somewhat pensive and sad, and he began to give way to conjecture, as I will relate in the following chapters (No. 375 to 394). The devil, although he was ignorant of the chief cause of the troubled thoughts of St. Joseph, wished to profit by the occasion (for he allows none to escape him), in order to disquiet him still more. But doubting whether his dis­satisfaction did not arise from a certain disgust at his poverty and his lowly habitation, the devil hesitated be­tween 2 different courses. On the one hand he sug­gested a feeling of restlessness to St. Joseph, irritating and disgusting him against his poverty; and on the other hand he tried to persuade him that Mary, his Spouse, devoted too much time to Her meditations and prayers, and led a too negligent and leisurely life, instead of ex­erting Herself to improve their poor circumstances. But St. Joseph, upright and magnanimous of heart, readily despised and rejected such considerations. The solici­tude with which he was secretly filled in regard to the pregnancy of his Spouse easily smothered all other anx­ieties. The Lord, leaving him in the beginning to these anxious thoughts, freed him from the temptations of the devil through the intercession of the most Holy Mary. For She was very attentive to all that passed within the heart of Her most faithful spouse. She therefore be­sought Her Most Holy Son to relieve him of these as­saults, and to be satisfied with the service which he ren­dered to God in enduring the sorrow of seeing Her pregnant.

369 The Most High ordained that the Princess of heaven should still farther prolong this great battle with the devil. He permitted him and all his legions in one general assault to strain all their forces and exert all their malice, so that the devils might find themselves entirely crushed and vanquished. The Heavenly Lady was to achieve the greatest triumph that ever was gained, or could be gained, over hell by a mere creature. These legions of wickedness arrived in all their hellish array to present themselves before the Heavenly Queen, and with indescribable fury. Uniting all the scheming plots, of which they had until now availed themselves sepa­rately, and adding what little they could, they advanced to make a universal onslaught. But I will not detain myself in describing it specially, as nearly all can be un­derstood from what has been described in the 2 pre­ceding chapters. She met them all and awaited their fearful onslaught with the same tranquility, high-minded­ness and serenity, as if She had been in the position of the highest choirs of the angels seated on their secure and unassailable thrones. No strange or improper emo­tion could disturb the serenity of Her heavenly interior, although the menacing terrors, illusions and falsehoods of all hell were poured forth in torrents by the dragon against this strong and unconquered Woman, most Holy Mary.

370 While She thus in the midst of this conflict exer­cised heroic acts of all the virtues against Her enemies, She was made aware of the adorable decree of the Most High, that She should humiliate and crush the pride of the dragon by Her great dignity as Mother of God. Rising up in ardent and invincible valor, She turned toward the devils and spoke to them: "Who is like unto God, Who dwells on high?" (Ps 113:5) And repeating these words, She added: "Prince of darkness, author of sin and death, in the Name of the Most High I command you to become mute, and with your legions to cast yourself into the infernal caverns, where your place is appointed to you, and from where you shall not come forth until the promised Messiah shall vanquish you and crush you, or until He otherwise permit." The Heavenly Empress shone forth in the light and splendor of heaven; and, as the proud dragon made pretense of resisting Her com­mand, She directed upon him the full force of Her power. His resistance drew upon him so much the greater pain, humiliation and torment, since such he thereby merited before all the other demons. Together they fell into the abyss and remained fixed in its lowest caverns, as had happened to them at the time of the Incarnation, and as I will describe further on at the temptation and at the Death of Christ our Lord (No. 130, 999, 1421). And when this dragon afterwards engaged in his last battle with this Queen, which is described in the third part of this history (Part 3, 452 seq.), this heavenly Lady van­quished him so completely that through Her and Her Most Holy Son his head was entirely crushed. In that final battle his strength was so weakened and ruined that if human creatures do not deliver themselves into the hands of his malice they can very easily resist and overcome him with Divine Grace.

371 Then the Lord Himself appeared to His most Holy Mother, and in reward of Her glorious victories He com­municated to Her new gifts and privileges. Her thousand guardian angels visibly presented themselves with innumerable hosts of others, and sang to Her new Canticles of praise in honor of the Most High and of Herself. And with celestial concord of sweet and audible voices they sang of Her, that which the Holy Church figura­tively sings of the triumph of Judith: "You are all beautiful, Mary our Lady, and there is no stain of sin in You; You are the glory of the heavenly Jerusalem, You the honor of the people of God; You are She, who magnifies His Name, the Advocate of sinners, who defends them against their proud enemy! O Mary! You are Full of Grace and of all perfection." The Heavenly Lady was filled with glad jubilee, praising the Author of all good and acknowledging Him as the source of all She possessed. Whereupon She began to pay more particular attention to the well being of Her spouse, as I shall relate in the following chapter of the 4th book.

INSTRUCTION OF OUR QUEEN AND MOTHER 

372 My daughter, the silence which the soul should maintain when the invisible enemies advance with their specious reasoning, should not prevent it from imposing silence upon them in the Name of the Most High, and from commanding them to leave its presence in confu­sion. Therefore I desire this to be your prudent behavior when they assault you; for there is no other defense so powerful against the dragon than to be conscious of the power which we possess as children of God, and to use the advantage which this confidence gives us by exercis­ing our dominion and superiority over the infernal spirits (Matt 6:9). For the whole aim of satan, after he had fallen from heaven, consists in enticing souls from their Creator and in sowing the seed of discord, by which he hopes to separate from the Heavenly Father His adopted children, and the spouses of Christ from their Bridegroom. Whenever he perceives that a soul is united with his Creator and in living communion with Christ its Head, he tries to surpass himself in his furious attempts at persecuting it; his envy arouses the utmost exertion of his deceitfulness and malice for its destruc­tion. But as soon as he sees that he cannot succeed in his attempts, because the soul takes refuge in the unfail­ing and unassailable protection of the Most High, he weakens in his attempts and begins to writhe in exquisite torments. If the soul, thus strengthened with the au­thority of God's Truth, despises and casts him out, there is no creeping worm or ant so weak as that giant of iniquitous pride.

373 By this most true doctrine you must comfort and strengthen yourself, when, according to the decree of the Almighty, you meet tribulations and are sur­rounded by the sorrows of death in temptations such as I have suffered. For they afford your Spouse the best occasion of verifying your fidelity by experience. There­fore love must not be satisfied merely with mere protes­tations of affection without looking for more valuable fruit.  For the desire which costs nothing is not a suffi­cient proof of love in a soul, nor of its proper esteem of the good which it pretends to hold dear and love. If you wish to give a satisfactory proof of your love to your Spouse, show yourself invincible in your trust in Him also then when you find yourself most afflicted and for­saken by human aid; confide in the Lord your God, and hope in Him, if necessary, against hope (Rom 4:18). For He does not slumber, nor does He sleep, (Ps 121:4)  Who calls Himself the protection of Israel. In due time He will command the waves and the wind, and restore tranquility (Matt 8:26).

374 You must be much more wary in the beginning of the temptations; for there is then greater danger lest the soul, yielding to the concupiscent or the irascible passions, by which the light of reason is obscured and darkened, allow itself to be thrown into confusion. As soon as the devil notices such a state of mind he will raise a whirlwind of dust in the faculties. His fierceness is so immeasurable and implacable that it will then increase in fury. He will add flame to flame, thinking that the soul has no one to defend and rescue it from his hands.  With the force of his temptations increases also the danger of failing in the necessary resistance, since the soul has commenced to yield in the very beginning. All this I make known to you, in order that you may fear the danger of being remiss in guarding against the first approaches of the devil. Do not incur it in what is so important. You should continue in the even tenor of your duties in every temptation; keeping up the sweet and devout union with the Lord and preserving your prudent and loving interaction with your neighbors. You should forestall by prayer and by restraint of your feelings the disorder which the enemy seeks to bring about in your soul.

THE END OF THE INCARNATION BOOK 1

&

THE BEGINNING OF THE INCARNATION BOOK 2

PART 2

CITY OF GOD     THE INCARNATION      BOOK 2

PARAGRAPHS 375-711

Describing the Anxieties of St. Joseph on Account of the Pregnancy of Most Holy Mary, the Birth of Christ our Lord, His Circumcision, the Adoration of the Kings, the Presentation of the Infant Jesus In the Temple, the Flight Into Egypt, the Death of the Holy Innocents, and the Return to Nazareth. 

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 2

CHAPTER 1.

THE ANXIETY OF ST. JOSEPH OVER

THE PREGNANCY OF OUR LADY

375 The Divine pregnancy of the Princess of Heaven had advanced to its 5th month when the most chaste Joseph, Her husband, commenced to notice the condition of the Virgin; for on account of the natural elegance and perfection of Her virginal body, as I have already re­marked (No. 115), any change could not long remain concealed and would so much the sooner be discovered. One day, when St. Joseph was full of anxious doubts and saw Her coming out of Her oratory, he noticed more particularly this evident change, without being able to explain away what he saw so clearly with his eyes. The man of God was wounded to his inmost heart by an arrow of grief, unable to ward off the force of evidence, which at the same time wounded his soul. The principal cause of his grief was the most chaste, and therefore the most intense love with which he cherished his most faithful Spouse, and in which he had from the beginning given over to Her his whole heart. Moreover, Her charming graces and incomparable holiness had captured and bound to Her his inmost soul. As She was so per­fect and accomplished in Her modesty and humble reticence, St. Joseph, besides his anxious solicitude to serve Her, naturally entertained the loving desire of meeting a response of his love from His Spouse. This was so ordained by the Lord, in order that by the desire for this interchange of affection he might be incited to love and serve Her more faithfully.

376 St. Joseph fulfilled this obligation as a most faithful spouse and as the guardian of the sacrament, which as yet was concealed from him. In proportion as he was solicitous in serving and venerating his Spouse, and loving Her with a most pure, chaste, holy and righteous love, in so far also increased his desire of finding a re­sponse to his affection and service. He never manifested or spoke of this desire, as well on account of the rever­ence elicited by the humble majesty of his Spouse as also because the more than angelic purity, conversation and contact of the Virgin with him had given him no apprehension in this regard. But when he found him­self thus unexpectedly in the face of this disclosure, where the clear evidence of his senses allowed no denial, his soul was torn asunder by sorrowful surprise. Yet, though overwhelmed by the evidence of this change in his Spouse, he gave his thoughts no greater liberty than to admit what his eyes could not fail to perceive. For, being a holy and righteous man (Matt 1:19), although he saw the effect, he withheld his judgment as to the cause. Without doubt, if the Saint had believed that his Spouse had any guilt in causing this condition, he would have died of sorrow.

377 Besides all this was the certainty of his not having any part in this pregnancy, the effects of which were before his eyes; and there was the inevitable dishonor that would follow as soon as it would become public. This thought caused so much the greater anxiety in him, as he was of a most noble and honorable disposition, and in his great foresight he knew how to weigh the dis­grace and shame of himself and his Spouse in each cir­cumstances. The third and most intimate cause of his sorrow, and which gave him the deepest pain, was the dread of being obliged to deliver over his Spouse to the authorities to be stoned (Lev 20:10), for this was the punishment of an adulteress convicted of the crime. The heart of St. Joseph, filled with these painful consider­ations, found itself as it were exposed to the thrusts of many sharp-edged swords, without any other refuge than the full confidence that he had in his Spouse. But as all outward signs confirmed the correctness of his ob­servations, there was no escape from these tormenting thoughts, and as he did not dare to communicate about his grievous affliction with anyone, he found himself surrounded by the sorrows of death (Ps 17:5), and he experienced in himself the saying of the Scriptures, that: "Jealousy is hard as hell" (Song 8:6).

378 When he attempted to follow out these thoughts in solitude, grief suspended his faculties. If his thoughts touched upon the wrong, which his senses led him to sus­pect, they melted away as the ice before the sun, or van­ished like the dust before the wind, as soon as he remem­bered the well-tried holiness of his modest and circum­spect Spouse. If he tried to suspend the workings of his chaste love, he could not; for She continued to present Herself to his thoughts as the most worthy object of his love, and the hidden truth of Her fidelity had more power of attracting his love than the deceitful appearances of infidelity to destroy it. The strong and sure bond which truth, reason and justice had woven about Her fidelity could not be broken. He found no suitable occasion of opening his mind to his heavenly Spouse, nor did Her serene and heavenly equanimity seem to invite him to such an explanation. Although he could not but admit the change in Her shape, yet he could not conceive how Her purity and holiness could be compatible with any failing such as this change might indicate. For it seemed impossible to him to connect such a sin with one who manifested such chastity, tranquility and holy discretion, and such united harmony of all graces and virtues in Her daily life.

379 In the midst of these tormenting anxieties the holy Spouse Joseph appealed to the tribunal of the Lord in prayer and placing himself in His Divine Presence, he said: "Most High Lord and God, my desires and sighs are not unknown to You. I find myself cast about by the vio­lent waves of sorrow (Ps 31:10) that through my senses have come to afflict my heart. I have given my­self over with entire confidence to the Spouse whom You have given me. I have confided entirely in Her holiness; and the signs of this unexpected change in Her are giving rise to tormenting and fearful doubts lest my con­fidence be misplaced. Nothing have I until now seen in Her, which could give occasion for any doubt in Her modesty and Her extraordinary virtue; yet at the same time I cannot deny that She is pregnant. To think that She has been unfaithful to me, and has offended You, would be temerity in view of such rare purity and holi­ness; to deny what my own eyes perceive is impossible. But it is not impossible that I die of grief, unless there is some mystery hidden beneath it, which I cannot yet fathom. Reason proclaims Her as blameless, while the senses accuse Her. She conceals from me the cause of Her pregnancy, while I have it before my eyes. What shall I do? We both have come to an agreement con­cerning our vows of chastity, and we have both prom­ised to keep them for Your glory; if it could be possible that She has violated Her fidelity toward You and toward me, I would defend Your honor and would forget mine for love of You. Yet how could She preserve such purity and holiness in all other things if She had committed so grave a crime in this? And on the other hand, why does She, who is so holy and prudent, conceal this matter from me? I withhold and defer my judgment. Not be­ing able to penetrate to the cause of what I see, I pour out in Your Presence my afflicted soul (Ps. 143:3), God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Receive my tears as an acceptable sacrifice; and if my sins merit Your indig­nation, let Your own clemency and kindness move You not to despise my excruciating sorrow. I do not believe that Mary has offended You. Yet much less can I pre­sume that there is a mystery of which I, as Her Spouse, am not to be informed.  Govern my mind and heart by Your Divine light, in order that I may know and fulfill that which is most pleasing to You."

380 Saint Joseph persevered in this kind of prayer, adding many more affectionate petitions; for even though he conjectured that there must be some mystery in the pregnancy of the most Holy Mary hidden from him, he could not find assurance therein. This thought had no greater force to exonerate most Holy Mary than the other reasons founded upon Her holiness; and therefore the idea that the most holy Queen might be the Mother of the Messiah did not come to his mind. If at times he drove away his conjectures, they would return in greater number and with more urgent force of evidence. Thus he was cast about on the turbulent waves of doubt. From sheer exhaustion he would at times fall into a con­dition of mind wherein he could find neither an anchor of certainty for his doubts, nor tranquility for his heart, nor any standard by which he could direct his course. Yet his forbearance under this torment was so great that it is an evident proof of his great discretion and holiness, and that it made him worthy of the singular blessing that awaited him.

381 All that passed in the heart of St. Joseph was known to the Princess of heaven, who penetrated into its interior by the light of Her heavenly science. Although Her soul was full of tenderness and compassion for the suffer­ings of Her spouse, She said not a word in the matter; but She continued to serve him with all devotion and solicitude. The man of God watched Her without out­ward demonstration, yet with a greater anxiety than that of any man that ever lived. The pregnancy of most Holy Mary was not burdensome or painful to Her; but as the great Lady in serving him at table or any other domestic occupations, necessarily disclosed Her state more and more openly, St. Joseph noticed all these actions and movements and with deep affliction of soul verified all his observations. Notwithstanding his being a holy and righteous man, he permitted himself to be respected and served by the most Holy Virgin after their espousal, claiming in all things the position of head and husband of the family, though with rare humility and prudence. As long as he was ignorant of the Mystery of his Spouse he judged it right, within befitting limits, to show his authority in imitation of the ancient Fathers and Patri­archs. For he knew that they demanded subjection and prompt obedience of their wives, and he did not wish to recede from their example. He would have been right in this course if most Holy Mary had been no more than other women. Yet although there was such a great difference, no woman ever existed or will exist who was or will be so obedient, humble and de­voted to Her husband as the most exalted Queen was toward Her spouse. She served him with incomparable respect and promptitude. Although She knew his troubled thoughts and observations concerning Her pregnancy, She omitted no service due to him, nor did She try to conceal or palliate Her state. For such evasion or duplicity would not have consorted with the angelic truthfulness and openness, or with the nobility and magnanimity of Her generous heart.

382 The great Lady could easily have asserted Her entire innocence and referred to the testimony of Sts. Elisabeth and Zechariah; for, if St. Joseph had any sus­picion of guilt in Her, he could naturally have supposed it to have been incurred during Her stay with them. Hence, through them and by other references, She could have justified Herself and quieted the anxieties of St. Joseph without disclosing the Mystery. The Queen of prudence and humility did nothing of the kind; for these virtues did not allow Her to think of Herself, nor to trust the justification of Her Mysterious condition to Her own explanation. With great wisdom She resigned the whole matter into the Hands of Divine Providence. Although Her compassion for Her spouse and Her love for him made Her anxious to console and comfort him, She would not do it by clearing Herself or by concealing Her pregnancy, but rather by serving him with more devoted demonstrations of love, and by trying to cheer him up, asking him what She could do for him and lovingly show­ing Her devoted and submissive affection. Many times She served him on Her knees, and although this somewhat consoled St. Joseph, yet on the other hand, it was also a cause for new grief. For thus he only saw the motives of love and esteem multiplied and still remained uncer­tain whether She had been untrue or not. The Heavenly Lady offered up continual prayers for him and besought the Most High to look upon him and console him; as for the rest She submitted all to the Will of His Majesty.

383 Saint Joseph could not entirely conceal his cruel sorrow, and therefore he often appeared to be in doubt and sad suspense. Sometimes, carried away by his grief, he spoke to his Heavenly Spouse with some degree of severity, such as he had not shown before. This was the natural effect of the affliction of his heart, not of anger or vengeful feelings; for these never entered his thoughts, as we shall see later. The most prudent Lady, however, never lost the sweetness of Her countenance, nor showed any feeling; but merely redoubled Her efforts to relieve Her husband. She served at table, offered him a seat, administered food and drink, and if, after all these services, which She performed with incomparable grace, St. Joseph urged Her to sit down, he could convince himself more and more of Her pregnancy. There is no doubt that all this was one of the greatest trials not only of St. Joseph, but also of the Princess of Heaven, and that it greatly manifested the most profound humility and wisdom of Her most holy soul. The Lord thereby gave Her an opportunity of exercising and proving all Her virtues; for He had not only not commanded Her to conceal the Sacrament of Her pregnancy, but contrary to His usual manner of proceeding, He had not even mani­fested to Her His Pleasure in any way. It seemed as if God had left this whole matter in Her hands and en­trusted it all to the wisdom and virtue of His chosen Spouse, without giving Her special enlightenment of help. The Divine Providence afforded the most Holy Mary and Her most faithful Spouse an opportunity to exercise in a Heroic manner the gifts and graces which He had infused into them, and delighted, (according to our way of speaking), in the faith, hope and love, in the humility, patience, peace and tranquility of these 2 hearts in the midst of their grievous affliction. In order to increase their glory and furnish to the world an ex­ample of holiness and prudence, and in order to hear the sweet cries of His most Holy Mother and of Her most chaste spouse, He became as it were deaf to their pro­longed invocations and delayed answering them until His own opportune and fitting time.

INSTRUCTION OF OUR MOST HOLY QUEEN AND LADY

384 My dear daughter, most exalted are the thoughts and intentions of the Lord; His Providence with souls is sweet and powerful and He is admirable in the administration of them all, especially of His friends and chosen ones. If men would strive to know the loving care for their direction and advancement, as shown by this Father of Mercies (Matt 6:5), they would be relieved and would not be involved in such irksome, useless and dangerous anxieties, living in perpetual toils and vain trust in the help of creatures. For they would resign them­selves without hesitation to the Infinite Wisdom and Love, Which, with paternal sweetness and gentleness would watch over all their thoughts, words and actions and all things necessary for them. I do not wish you to be ignorant of this truth, but to understand how the Lord from all eternity bears in His Mind all the predestined of the different times and ages; and that by the Invincible Force of His Infinite Wisdom and Goodness He continually disposes and prepares all the blessings useful to them, so that the end desired for them may be attained.

385 Hence it is very important for the rational crea­ture to allow itself to be led by the Hand of the Lord and leave all to Divine Wisdom; for mortal men are ignorant of their ways and of the goal to which they lead. In their ignorance they should not presume to choose, lest they make themselves guilty of great temerity and incur the danger of damnation. But if they resign themselves with all their heart to the Divine Providence of God, acknowledging Him as their Father and them­selves as His children and creatures, His Majesty will con­stitute Himself as their Protector, Helper and Director; and He will assume these offices with such love that He wishes to call heaven and earth to witness how much He considers it His affair to govern His own and direct those who trust and resign themselves into His Hands. If God were capable of grief, or of jealousy like men, it would be aroused in Him at seeing creatures claiming a part in the providing for the welfare of souls and that souls should seek to supply their necessities from other quar­ters independently of Him (Wis 12:13). Men would not be so ignorant of this truth if they would study what happens between a father and his children, a hus­band and his wife, one friend and another, a prince and his well-loved and honored subject. All that these do is nothing in comparison with the love, which God had for His children, and that which He can do and will do for them.

386 Yet although men in general believe this truth, no one can fully estimate the Love of God and its effects on those souls who resign themselves entirely to His Will.  Nor can you, My daughter, manifest what you know, nor should you; but you must not lose sight of it in the Lord. His Majesty says, that not a hair of His elect shall perish, because He keeps account of them (Lk 21:18). He directs their footsteps toward Eternal Life and keeps them from death. He observes their labors, lovingly corrects their defects, favors their desires, forestalls their anxieties, defends them in anger, rejoices them in peace, strengthens them in battle, and assists them in tribulation. His wisdom is at their service against deceit, His goodness for their sanctification. As He is infinite, Whom none can hinder or resist, He exe­cutes what He wishes, and He wishes to be entirely at the service of the righteous, who are in His Grace and trust themselves wholly to Him. Who could ever measure the number and greatness of the Blessings that He would shower upon a heart prepared to receive them!

387 If you, my dear, wish to attain to gain this good fortune, imitate Me with true solicitude and apply yourself from now on to establish in you a true resigna­tion in Divine Providence. If He sends you tribula­tions, sorrows and labors, accept and embrace them with tranquility of soul, with patience, lively faith and hope in the Goodness of the Most High, Who always provides that which is the most secure and profitable for your salva­tion. Chose nothing for yourself, since God knows your ways; trust yourself to the Heavenly Father and Spouse, Who will shield and assist you with most faithful love. Study also My works, since they are known to you; and remember that, excepting the labors of My Most Holy Son, the greatest suffering of My life was to see the tribu­lations of My spouse St. Joseph, and his grief in the matter that you have described.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 2

CHAPTER 2

THE ANXIETIES OF ST. JOSEPH INCREASE; 

HE RESOLVES TO LEAVE HIS SPOUSE

388 In his tormenting doubts the most upright heart of St. Joseph sometimes prudently tried to find relief and ease for his sorrow by reasoning for himself and per­suading himself that the pregnancy of his Spouse was as yet doubtful. But this self-deception vanished more and more every day on account of the increasing evidence of that state in the most Holy Virgin. As this vain and fleeting consolation failed him more and more and finally changed into complete conviction as Her pregnancy ad­vanced, the glorious Saint found no haven of refuge in his anxieties. In the meanwhile the Heavenly Princess grew in loveliness and in perfect freedom from all bodily failings. Her charming beauty, healthiness and grace­fulness visibly increased before his eyes. All this only nourished the anxieties and the torments of his most chaste love, so that his interior was involved by the turbu­lent waves of his loving sorrow in unutterable confusion and he was finally stranded on the shores of a sea of grief by the overpowering evidence of his senses in regard to the pregnancy of Mary. Although his spirit was always conformed to the Will of God, yet his flesh in his weak­ness felt the excess of his interior trouble, which at last reached such a point that he knew not any more which way to turn. The strength of his body was broken and vanished away, not by a definite disease, but in weakness and emaciation. These effects of his profound sorrow and melancholy became openly visible in his countenance. Moreover, as he suffered all this alone without seeking relief or lessening his sorrow by communication with others, as is customary with the afflicted, his suffering grew to be so much the more serious and incurable.

389 In the meanwhile the sorrow, which filled the heart of the most Holy Mary, was equally great. Yet, although Her sorrow exceeded all bounds, the capacity of Her generous and magnanimous soul was much greater and therefore She could conceal Her grief more com­pletely, and occupy Her faculties in the loving care of St. Joseph, Her spouse. Her sorrow therefore only in­cited Her to attend so much the more devotedly to his health and comfort. Nevertheless, as the inviolable rule of the actions of the most prudent Queen was to perform all in the fullness of wisdom and perfection, She con­tinued to conceal the Mystery about the disclosure of which She had received no command. Though She alone could relieve Her spouse by an explanation, She withheld it in reverence and faithfulness due to the Sac­rament of the Heavenly King (Tob 12:7). As far as She Herself was concerned, She exerted Her utmost powers; She spoke to him about his health, She asked what She could do to serve him and afford him help in the weakness that so mastered him. She urged him to take some rest and recreation, since it was a duty to yield to necessity and repair the weakened strength, in order to be able to work for the Lord afterward. St. Joseph observed all the actions of his Heavenly Spouse, and, pondering over such virtue and discretion and feel­ing the effects of Her association and presence, he said: "Is it possible that a Woman of such habits, and in whom such graces of the Lord are manifest, can bring over me such affliction? How can this prudence and holiness agree with these open signs of Her infidelity to God and to me, who love Her so much? If I conclude to send Her away, or to leave Her, I lose Her most loving com­pany, all my comfort, my home and my tranquility. What blessing equal to Her can I find if I withdraw from Her? What consolation, if this one fails? But all this weighs less than the infamy connected with this sad misfortune, and that I should come to be looked upon as Her accom­plice in crime. That this event remain concealed is not possible, since time will reveal all, even if I strive now to hide it. To pass as the author of this pregnancy will be a vile deceit and a blotch on my good name and con­science. I cannot recognize it as caused by me, nor can I ascribe it to any other source known to me. Hence, what am I to do in this dire stress? The least evil will be to absent myself and leave my house before Her de­livery comes upon Her; for then I would be still more confused and afflicted. I would then be obliged to live in my own house with a child not my own, without being able to find any outlet or expedient."

390 The Princess of Heaven, becoming aware of the resolve of Her spouse Saint Joseph to leave Her and ab­sent himself, turned in great sorrow to Her Holy Angels and said to them: "Blessed spirits and ministers of the highest King, who raised you to felicity which you enjoy, and by His kind Providence accompany Me as His faith­ful servants and as My guardians, I entreat you, My friends, to present before God's clemency the afflictions of My spouse Joseph. Plead the Lord to look upon him and console him as a true Father. And you also, who so devotedly obey His words, hear likewise My prayers; in the Name of Him Who is infinite, and to Whom I am to give human shape in My womb, I pray, beg and supplicate you, that without delay you assist and relieve My most faithful spouse in the affliction of his heart and drive from his mind and heart his resolve of leaving Me." The angels which the Queen selected for this purpose obeyed immediately and instilled into the heart of St. Joseph many holy thoughts, persuading him anew that his Spouse Mary was holy and most perfect, and that he could not believe anything wrong of Her; that God was incomprehensible in His works, and most hidden in His judgments (Ps 33:19); that He was al­ways most faithful to those who confide in Him, and that He would never despise or forsake them in tribulation.

391 By these and other holy inspirations the troubled spirit of St. Joseph was somewhat quieted, although he did not know whence they came; but as the cause of his sorrow was not removed, he soon relapsed, not finding anything to assure and soothe his soul, and he returned to his resolve of withdrawing and leaving his Spouse. The Heavenly Queen was aware of this and She con­cluded that it was necessary to avert this danger and to insist in earnest prayer on a remedy. She addressed Herself entirely to Her Most Holy Son in Her womb, and with most ardent affection of Her soul She prayed: "Lord and God of My soul, with Your permission, although I am but dust and ashes (Gen 18:27), I will speak in Your Kingly Presence and manifest to You My sighs, that cannot be hidden from You (Ps 37:10). It is My duty not to be remiss in assisting the spouse whom I have received from Your Hand. I see him overwhelmed by the tribulation, which You have sent him, and it would not be kind in Me to forsake him therein. If I have found grace in Your Eyes, I implore You, Lord and Eternal God, by the love, which obliged You to enter into the womb of Your servant for the salvation of mankind, to be pleased to console Your servant Joseph and dis­pose him to assist Me in the fulfillment of Your great works. It would not be well that I, Your servant, be left without a husband for a protection and guardian. Do not per­mit, My Lord and God, that he execute his resolve and withdraw from Me."

392 The Most High answered Her: "My dear Dove, I shall presently visit My servant Joseph with con­solation; and after I shall have manifested to him by My angel the Sacrament, which is unknown to him, you may speak openly about all that I have done with You, without the necessity of keeping silent thenceforward in these matters. I will fill him with My Spirit and make him apt to perform His share in these Mysteries. He will assist You in them and aid You in all that will hap­pen." With this Promise of the Lord, most Holy Mary was comforted and consoled, and She gave most fervent thanks to the Lord, Who disposes all things in ad­mirable order, measure and weight. For besides the con­solation, which the relief from this anxiety afforded Her, She also knew well how proper it was that the spirit of St. Joseph be tried and dilated by this tribulation be­fore the great Mysteries should be entrusted to his care.

393 In the meanwhile St. Joseph was anxiously de­bating within himself concerning the proper course of action, for he had borne his tribulation already for 2 months; and now, overcome by the greatness of it, he argued with himself: I do not find a better way out of these difficulties than to absent myself. I confess that my Spouse is most perfect and exhibits nothing but what shows Her a Saint; but after all She is pregnant, and of it I cannot fathom the Mystery. I do not wish to injure Her reputation of holiness by involving Her in the pun­ishment of the law; yet at the same time I cannot stand by and witness the consequences of Her pregnancy. I will leave Her now, and commit myself to the Providence of the Lord, Who governs me." He then resolved to de­part during that night, and in order to prepare for his journey he packed some clothes and other trifles into a small bundle. Having also claimed some wages due to him for his work, he retired to rest with the intention of leaving at midnight. But on account of the strangeness of his undertaking, and because he was in the habit of commending his intentions to God in prayer, after he had come to this resolve he spoke to the Lord: "Most High and Eternal God of our Fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, True and Only Refuge of the poor and afflicted, the grief and tribulation of my heart are well known to Your clemency. You know also, O Lord (although I am unworthy) that I am innocent of that which causes my sorrow, and You likewise are aware of the infamy and danger consequent upon the condition of my Spouse. I do not believe Her an adulteress, be­cause I see in Her great virtue and perfection; yet I cer­tainly see Her pregnant. I do not know by whom or how it was caused; and therefore I find no way to restore my peace. In order to choose the least evil I will with­draw from Her and seek a place where no one knows me and, resigning myself to Your Providence, I will pass my life in a desert. Do not forsake me, my Lord and Eternal God, since I desire solely Your honor and service."

394 St. Joseph prostrated himself on the ground and made a vow to go to the Temple of Jerusalem and offer up a part of the small sum of money which he had provided for his journey, in order that God might help and protect Mary his Spouse from the calamities of men and free Her from all misfortune; for great was the uprightness of that man of God, and the esteem in which he held the Heavenly Lady. After this prayer he composed himself for a short sleep with the intention of departing in secret and at midnight from his Spouse. During this sleep, however, happened what I will relate in the next chapter. The great Princess of heaven, (assured by the Divine Promise), observed from Her re­tirement all that St. Joseph was preparing to do; for the Almighty showed it to Her. And hearing the vow, which he made for Her welfare, and seeing the small bundle and the poor provision he prepared for his jour­ney, She was filled with tender compassion and prayed anew for him, giving praise and thanks to the Lord for His Providence in guiding the actions of men beyond all human power of comprehension. His Majesty so or­dained events that both most Holy Mary and St. Jo­seph should be brought to the utmost reach of interior sorrow. For besides the merits of this prolonged martyrdom they would gain the admirable and precious blessing of the Divine Consolation deserved thereby. Although the great Lady persevered in the belief and hope of a seasonable intervention of the Lord, and therefore remained silent in order not to reveal the Sacrament, con­cerning the disclosure of which the King had given Her no command.  Yet She was much afflicted by the resolve of St. Joseph to leave Her; because She reflected upon the great inconvenience of being alone, without a com­panion and a protector, on whom She could rely for con­solation and support in the natural order; for She well knew that She could not expect all to proceed according to the supernatural and miraculous. Yet all Her sighs could not prevent Her from exercising the most Exalted Virtues with a magnanimous spirit, such as Patience in bearing Her afflictions and the suspicions of St. Joseph and its results; Prudence, in withholding the disclosure of the Mystery on account of its greatness; Silence, in signalizing Herself as a woman who knew how to re­frain from speaking about that which so many human reasons urged Her to make known; Forbearance and Hu­mility, in silently submitting to the suspicions of St. Joseph. Many other virtues did She exercise in this trouble in a wonderful manner, by which She taught us to Hope in the Almighty for our Deliverance in the greatest Tribulations.

INSTRUCTION BY MOST HOLY MARY

395 My daughter, the example of my silence, which you have been writing about, should teach you to use it as a guide in your treatment of the favors and sacraments of the Lord, namely that you keep them concealed within your heart. Although it might at times seem use­ful to reveal them for the consolation of some soul, you must not act upon this opinion without having first con­sulted God in prayer, and then your superiors. For these spiritual matters must not be made dependent upon human feeling, which are so much subject to the passions and inclinations of nature. There is always great dan­ger of considering that to be an advantage, which is harmful, and a service to God, what is injurious. It is not given to eyes of the flesh and blood (1 Cor 2:14) to discern the interior movements, so as to decide which of them are divine and caused by grace, or which are human, engendered by the disorderly affections. Although there is great difference between these 2 kinds of affections and their causes, nevertheless, if the creature is not highly enlightened and dead to its passions, it can­not recognize this difference, nor separate the precious from the vile (Jer 15:19).This danger is greater when some temporal or human motive is mixed up with or underlies our actions; for then our natural self love is inclined to creep in and take away discretion and supervi­sion of heavenly and spiritual things, leading on to many sudden and dangerous falls.

396 Let it therefore be to you as a rule always to be followed that you reveal nothing to anyone except to your spiritual director, unless I command otherwise. Since I have constituted Myself your Teacher, I will not fail to give you advice and direction in this and in all other things, lest you stray from the path appointed to you by the Will of My Most Holy Son. Yet I admonish you to appreciate highly all the favors and revelations of the Most High. Preserve them with a magnanimous heart; esteem them, give thanks for them, and put them to prac­tice in preference to anything else, especially in pref­erence to anything originating from your own inclinations. The reverential fear of God bound Me to silence, having (as was proper) such a high regard for the Treasure deposited in Me. Notwithstanding the natural feeling of love and obligation toward My master and spouse St. Joseph, and in disregard of the sorrow and compas­sion for his afflictions, of which I so desired to free him, I hid the secret of My state in silence, preferring the pleasure of the Lord to all these, and leaving to Him the defense of My cause. Learn also from this never to de­fend yourself against accusations, no matter how innocent you may be. Oblige the Lord to do it by confiding in His love. Charge your reputation to His account; and in the meanwhile overcome by patience and humility, by sweet and kind words, those who have offended you. Above all things I admonish you never to judge evil of anyone, even if you see with your own eyes the outward warrants of your judgment; for perfect and sincere charity will teach you to find a prudent evasion and ex­cuse for all faults of your neighbor. God has placed My spouse, St. Joseph, as a shining example for such a course of action, since no one had more evident proofs of evil, and no one was more discreet in deferring his judgment. For in the law of discreet and holy charity it must be held as prudence, not temerity, to suspect higher causes, as yet unseen, rather than to judge and condemn our neighbors for faults in which his guilt is not clearly evident. I do not give you special instruc­tions for those that are in the state of matrimony, since they can derive them manifestly from the whole course of My life. But from the above instruction all can profit, although just now I have in view your own advancement, because I desire it with especial love. Hear Me, daugh­ter, and fulfill My counsels and follow these My words of eternal life.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 2

CHAPTER 3

THE ANGEL OF THE LORD MAKES KNOWN TO ST. JOSEPH 

THE MYSTERY OF THE INCARNATION

397 The sorrow of jealousy keeps such vigilant watch in those that are beset by it, that very often it not only awakens them from sleep, but also drives away altogether the refreshment of slumber. No one ever suffered this sor­row in the same degree as St. Joseph, although, if he had known the truth, no one ever had fewer occasions. He was endowed with exalted light and knowledge, so that he could penetrate to the abyss of the incalculable sanc­tity and perfection of his Heavenly Spouse. As the rea­sons that urged him to resign the possession of such great blessing were inexorable, it naturally followed that the knowledge of what he was to lose should add to the sorrow of parting therefrom. Hence, what St. Joseph suffered in this regard exceeds all that ever was endured by any man; for no one ever equaled him in the loss, and no one could so value and estimate it. Besides, there was a great difference in the zeal and jealousy of this faithful servant of God and the jealousies of others in like trou­bles. For jealousies create in the vehement and ardent lover a great anxiety to preserve and prevent loss of the loved object.  And to this anxiety is naturally added the pain caused by the fear lest others alienate the loved one. This kind of feeling or sorrow is commonly called jealousy. In those who have disorderly passions, and who, for want of prudence or other virtues, yield to them, it usually causes the different feelings of wrath, fury, envy toward the person loved, or against the rival who impedes the return of love, be it a well-ordered love or not. Then arise the storms of suspicion and conjec­ture in the imagination, engendered by these passions; the tempests of alternate desire and abhorrence; of lov­ing affection and vain regret. Thus the irascible and concupiscent faculties are in perpetual strife, without any regard for the demands of reason or prudence.  For this kind of sorrow confounds the understanding, perverts reason, and rejects prudence.

398 In St. Joseph this disorder was not infected with all these faults, nor could they find room in him, on account both of his own exalted holiness and that of his Spouse; for in Her he could find no fault to exasperate him, nor had he any suspicion that Her love had been captured by anyone else, against whom or toward whom his envy might be aroused in defense. The jealousy of St. Joseph was founded entirely in his own great love for Her, in a certain conditional doubt or suspicion lest his Spouse had not entirely responded to his own love; for he found no such strong reasons against, as he did for his mistrust. A greater uncertainty was not neces­sary in his case in order to cause such vehement sorrows; for in the possession of a spouse, no rival can be toler­ated. Hence, the chaste marital love of our Saint, which filled his whole heart, was sufficient to cause in him the most vehement grief at the least appearance of infidelity, or danger of losing this most perfect, most beautiful and delightful object of all his desires and thoughts. For if love is in possession of such just motives, strong and unbreakable are the bonds and chains with which it cap­tivates the heart and most powerful is the dominion which it exercises; especially when there are no imperfections to weaken it. Our Queen exhibited nothing which either in the spiritual or in the natural order was calculated to diminish or moderate this love in Her holy spouse, but only what tended to blow it into greater flame on many occasions and for many reasons.

399 Full of this sorrow, which had now become an intolerable pain, St. Joseph, after saying the prayer above mentioned, composed himself for a short sleep, assured that he would wake up at the right time to leave his home at midnight, and, as he thought, without the knowledge of his Spouse. The Heavenly Lady awaited the intervention of God, asking it of Him in most humble prayer. For She knew that the tribulation of Her troubled spouse had reached such a high point, that the time of God's merciful assistance must have arrived. The Most High sent His Archangel Gabriel, in order to reveal to him during his sleep the Mystery of the Incarna­tion and Redemption in the words recorded in the Gospel. It might cause some wonder, (and such was caused in me), why the Archangel spoke to Saint Joseph in his sleep and not while awake; since the mystery was so high, and so difficult to comprehend, especially in the present afflicted and troubled state of his mind; while this same mystery was made known to others, not while they were asleep, but awake.

400 In these operations of course, the last reason is always the Divine Will Itself, just, holy and perfect. However, as far as I have understood, I will partly men­tion some other reasons in explanation. The first reason is, that St. Joseph was so prudent, filled with such heavenly light, and had such high conception of our most holy Lady, the Blessed Mary, that it was not neces­sary to convince him by strong evidence, in order to assure him of Her dignity and of the Mysteries of the Incarnation; for in hearts well-disposed, Divine In­spirations find easy entrance. The second reason is, because his trouble had its beginning in the senses, namely in seeing with his eyes the pregnancy of his Spouse; hence it was a just retribution, that they, having given occa­sion for deception or suspicion, should as it were be dead­ened or repressed by the privation of the angelic vision. The third reason is as it were a sequence of this last one: St. Joseph, although he was guilty of no fault, was under the influence of his affliction and his senses were so to say deadened and incapacitated for the sensi­ble perception and contact of the angel. Therefore it was befitting, that the angel deliver this message to him at a time, when the senses, which had been scandal­ized, were inactive and suspended in their operations. Thus the holy man might afterwards, regaining their full use, purify and dispose himself by many acts of virtue for entertaining the operation of the Holy Spirit, Which had been entirely interrupted by his troubles.

401 Hence will be also understood, why God spoke to the ancient Fathers oftener during sleep than happens to the faithful ones of the evangelical law.  For in the new law revelation in sleep is less frequent than direct contact with angels, which affords a more efficient mode of communication. The explanation of this fact is this: since God foreordained that the greatest impediment and obstacle of a more familiar communication and converse of souls with Him and His angels is the commission of sins, even venial sins or even only imperfections, it follows, that, after the Divine Word became man and conversed with men, the senses and all our faculties are purified day by day by the sanctify­ing use of sensible Sacraments, by which men in some degree are spiritualized and elevated, their torpid facul­ties aroused and made apt for participation in divine influences. This blessing we owe in a greater degree to the Blood of Christ our Lord than the ancients; for by its efficacy we are made partakers of His holiness through the Sacraments, wherein we receive the effects of special graces, and in some of them even a spiritual character, which destines and prepares us for most high ends. But whenever the Lord in our times spoke or speaks in sleep, He excludes the operations of the senses, as being unfit and unprepared to enter into the spiritual nuptials of His communications and divine influences.

402 It will also appear from this doctrine, that, in order to receive the hidden favor of the Lord, men must not only be free from guilt and possess merits and grace, but that they be also in peace and tranquility of spirit; for if the condition of the faculties is in disturbance (as it was in St. Joseph), the soul is not in a fit condition to receive such exalted and delicate influences as are im­plied by the visits and the caresses of the Lord. It is not at all uncommon, that, no matter how much tribula­tions and afflictions increase the merits of the soul (as were those of St. Joseph, the spouse of the Queen), they nevertheless hinder Divine operations. For in suffering them the soul is involved in a conflict with the powers of darkness, while this kind of blessing consists in the possession of light. And therefore the vision of darkness, even if only in order to ward it off, is not in harmony with the vision of God or the angels. But in the midst of the conflict and the battle of temptations, which may be compared to a dream in the night, the Voice of the Lord is nevertheless prone to be heard and perceived through the ministry of the angels, just as it happened to St. Joseph. He heard and understood all that St. Gabriel said: that he should not be afraid to remain with his Spouse Mary (Matt 1:20,21), because what She bore in Her womb, was the work of the Holy Spirit; that She would give birth to a Son, Who should be called Jesus and Who was to be the Savior of His people; that in all this should be fulfilled the Prophecy of Isaiah, who said (Is 7:14): A Virgin shall conceive and shall bring forth a Son, Who was to be called Emmanuel, God with us. Saint Joseph did not see the angel by imaginary image, he heard only the interior voice and he understood the Mystery. The words of the angel imply, that St. Joseph had in his mind already resolved to sever his connection with most Holy Mary; for he was told to receive Her again without fear.

403 St. Joseph awoke with the full consciousness, that his Spouse was the true Mother of God. Full of joy on account of his good fortune and of his inconceiva­ble happiness, and at the same time deeply moved by sud­den sorrow for what he had done, he prostrated himself to the earth and with many other humble, reverential and joyful tokens of his feelings, he performed heroic acts of humiliation and of thanksgiving. He gave thanks to the Lord for having revealed to him this Mystery and for having made him the husband of Her, whom God had chosen for His Mother, notwithstanding that he was not worthy to be even Her slave. Amid these recogni­tions and these acts of virtue, the spirit of St. Joseph remained tranquil and apt for the reception of new in­fluences of the Holy Spirit. His doubts and anxieties of the past few months had laid in him those deep founda­tions of humility, which were necessary for one who should be entrusted with the Highest Mysteries of the Lord; and the remembrance of His experiences was to him a lesson, which lasted all His life. The holy man began to blame himself alone for all that had happened and broke forth in the following prayer: "O my Heavenly Spouse and meekest Dove, chosen by the Most High for His dwelling-place and for His Mother: how could Your unworthy slave have dared to doubt Your fidelity? How could dust and ashes ever permit itself to be served by Her, who is the Queen of Heaven and earth and the Empress of the universe? How is it, that I have not kissed the ground that was touched by Your feet? Why have I not made it my most solicitous care to serve You on my knees? How will I ever raise my eyes in Your presence and dare to remain in Your com­pany or open my lips to speak to You? O my Lord and God, give me grace and strength to ask Her forgiveness; and move Her heart to mercy, that She does not despise Her sorrowful servant according to his guilt. Ah woe is me! Since She is full of light and grace and She bears within Herself the Author of light, all my thoughts were open to Her sight, also that I had in my mind actually to leave Her. Hence it will be temerity on my part to appear in Her presence. I now recognize my rude behavior and my gross error, since even with such great holiness be­fore my eyes I gave way to unworthy thoughts and doubts concerning Her fidelity, which I did not deserve. And if in punishment Your justice had permitted me to execute my presumptuous resolve, what would now be my misfortune? Eternally be thanked, Most High Lord for such great blessing! Assist me, most powerful King, to make some kind of reparation. I will go to my Spouse and Lady, confiding in Her sweetness and clemency; prostrate at Her feet I will ask Her pardon, so that for Her sake, You, my Eternal Lord and God, may look upon me with the Eyes of a Father and may pardon my gross error."

404 The holy spouse now left his little room, finding himself so happily changed in sentiments since the time he had composed himself for sleep. As the Queen of Heaven always had kept Herself in retirement, he did not wish to disturb Her sweet contemplation, until She Her­self desired. In the meantime the man of God un­wrapped the small bundle, which he had prepared, shed­ding many tears with feelings quite different from those with which he had made it up. Weeping, he began to show his reverence for His heavenly Spouse, by setting the rooms in order, scrubbing the floors, which were to be touched by the sacred feet of most Holy Mary. He also performed other chores, which he had been accus­tomed to leave to the Heavenly Lady before he knew Her dignity. He resolved to change entirely his relation toward Her, assume for himself the position of servant and leave to Her the dignity of Queen. From that day on arose a wonderful contention between the 2, which of them should be allowed to show most eagerness to serve and most humility. All that happened with St. Joseph the Queen of Heaven saw, and not a thought or movement escaped Her attention. When the time arrived, the Saint approached the oratory of Her High­ness, and She awaited him with sweetest kindness and mildness, as I will describe in the following chapter.

INSTRUCTION WHICH THE HEAVENLY LADY GAVE ME

405 In what you have understood of this chapter, you have a sweet motive for praising the wonderful ways of God's Wisdom in afflicting and again consoling His servants and chosen ones. From the one and the other, He most wisely and kindly draws for them increase of merit and glory. Besides this doctrine, I wish that you receive another one, most important for your direction, and for the narrow pathway, which the Most High has assigned to you. It is this, that you strive with all your might to preserve yourself in tranquility and interior peace, without allowing yourself to be deprived of it by any troublesome event of this life what­ever, and by always keeping in mind the example and instruction contained in this part of the life of My spouse St. Joseph. The Most High does not wish to see creatures disturbed by afflictions, but that they gain merit; not that they lose courage, but that they test their own power when aided by grace. The more violent temptations however are liable to close the haven of exalted peace and knowledge of God, although they ground the creature more firmly in the knowledge of its own lowliness. Yet if the soul loses its interior tranquility and equilibrium, it will make itself unfit for the Visit of the Lord, for hearing His Voice, and for being raised up to His embraces. The Majesty of God does not come in a storm cloud (1 Kg 19:12), nor will the rays of this Supreme Sun of Justice shine, when calm is not reigning in the soul.

406 If then the want of this tranquility so hinders the pure communication of the Most High, it is clear that sins are a still greater hindrance to this great blessing. I desire that you be very attentive to this doctrine and that you do not presume to allow any disregard of it in any operation of your faculties. Since you have so often offended the Lord, call upon His Mercy, weep and wash yourself from your sins with copious tears; remember that, under pain of being condemned as unfaithful, you are obliged to watch over your soul and preserve it for an eternal resting-place of the Almighty, pure, clean and undisturbed; so that your God may possess it and find in it a worthy habitation (1 Cor 2:16). The harmony of your faculties and feelings is to be like that of the music of soft and delicate instruments; in which the more delicate the harmony, so much the greater is the danger of discord and so much the greater must be the care to preserve the instruments from all gross contact. For even the atmosphere infected by earthly tendencies is sufficient to disturb and spoil the powers of the soul thus consecrated to God. Labor therefore to live a careful life and to keep full command over your faculties and opera­tions. If at any time you are disturbed or disconcerted in maintaining this order, strive to attend the divine light, making use of it without fear or hesitation and working with it whatever is most perfect and pure. In this I point out to you the example of My spouse St. Joseph, who believed the angel without a moment's hesita­tion and immediately with prompt obedience executed his commands; and thereby he merited to be raised to great reward and dignity. If he humiliated himself so deeply after having had such great, though only apparent rea­sons for anxiety and without even having sinned in what he did, how must you, a mere worm of the earth, acknowledge your littleness and humble yourself to the dust, weeping over your negligences and sins, in order that the Most High may look upon You as a Father and as a Spouse.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 2

CHAPTER 4

ST. JOSEPH ASKS FOR THE PARDON OF OUR LADY WHO CONSOLES HIM

407 The husband of Mary, St. Joseph, now better informed, waited until His most holy Spouse had finished Her contemplation, and at the hour known to him he opened the door of the humble apartment which the Mother of the Heavenly King occupied. Immediately upon entering the holy man threw himself on His knees, say­ing with the deepest reverence and veneration: "My Lady and Spouse, true Mother of the Eternal Word, Here am I Your servant prostrate at the feet of Your clemency. For the sake of Your God and Lord, Whom You bear in Your virginal womb, I implore You to pardon my audacity. I am certain, O Lady, that none of my thoughts is hidden to Your wisdom and to Your heavenly insight. Great was my presumption in resolving to leave You and not less great was my rudeness in treating You until now as my inferior, instead of serving You as the Mother of my Lord and God. But You also know that I have done all in ignorance, because I knew not the Sacrament of the Heavenly King and the great­ness of Your dignity, although I revered in You other gifts of the Most High. Do not reflect, my Lady, upon the ignorance of such a lowly creature, who, now better instructed, consecrates His heart and His whole life to Your service and attendance. I will not rise from my knees, before being assured of Your favor, nor until I have obtained Your pardon, Your good will and Your blessing."

408 The most Holy Mary, hearing the humble words of St. Joseph, experienced diverse feelings. For with tender joy in the Lord She saw how apt he was to be entrusted with the Sacraments of the Lord, since he acknowledged and venerated them with such deep faith and humility. But She was somewhat troubled by his resolve of treating Her henceforth with the respect and self abasement alluded to in his words; for the humble Lady feared by this innovation to lose the occasions of obeying and humiliating Herself as a servant of Her spouse. Like one, who suddenly finds Herself in danger of being deprived of some jewel or treasure highly valued, most Holy Mary was saddened by the thought that St. Joseph would no longer treat Her as an inferior and as subject to him in all things, having now recog­nized in Her the Mother of the Lord. She raised Her holy spouse from His knees and threw Herself at His feet (although he tried to hinder it), and said: "I My­self, My master and spouse, should ask you to forgive Me and you are the one who must pardon Me the sorrows and the bitterness, which I have caused You; and therefore I ask this forgiveness of You on My knees, and that you forget your anxieties, since the Most High has looked upon My desires and afflictions in Divine Pleasure."

409 It seemed good to the Heavenly Lady to console Her spouse, and therefore, not in order to excuse Herself, She added: "As much as I desired, I could not on My own account give you any information regarding the Sacrament hidden within Me by the Power of the Almighty; since, as His servant, it was My duty to await the manifestation of His Holy and Perfect Will. Not be­cause I failed to esteem you as My lord and spouse did I remain silent: for I was and always will be your faith­ful servant, eager to correspond to your holy wishes and affection. From My inmost heart and in the Name of the Lord, Whom I bear within Me, I implore you not to change the manner of your conversation and association with me. The Lord has not made Me His Mother in order to be served and to command in this life, but in order to be the servant of all and your servant, obeying your will in all things. This is My duty, My master, and out­side of it I would lead a life without joy and full of sorrow. It is just that you afford Me the opportunity of fulfilling it, since so the Most High ordained it. He has furnished Me with your protection and devoted assistance, in order that I may live securely in the shade of your provident solicitude and with your aid rear the Fruit of My womb, My God and My Lord." With these words and others most sweet and persuasive most Holy Mary consoled and quieted St. Joseph, and he raised Her from Her knees in order to confer with Her upon all that would be necessary for this purpose. Since on this occasion the Heavenly Lady was full of the Holy Spirit and moreover bore within Her, as His Mother, the Divine Word, Who proceeds from the Father and the Holy Spirit, St. Joseph received special enlightenment and the plenitude of Divine graces. Altogether renewed in fervor of spirit he said:

410 "Blessed are You, Lady, among all women, fortunate and preferred before all nations and genera­tions. May the Creator of heaven and earth be extolled with eternal praise, since from His exalted Kingly Throne He has looked upon You and chosen You for His Dwell­ing-Place and in You alone has fulfilled the ancient promises made to the Patriarchs and Prophets. Let all generations bless Him: for in no one has He magnified His Name as He has done in Your humility; and me, the most insignificant of the living, He has in His Divine Con­descension selected for Your servant." In these words of praise and benediction the Holy Spirit, enlightened St. Joseph in the same manner as St. Elisabeth, when she responded to the salutation of our Queen. The light and inspiration, received by the most holy spouse was wonderfully adapted to His dignity and office. The Heavenly Lady, upon hearing the words of the holy man, answered in the words of the Magnificat, as She had done on Her visit to St. Elisabeth, and She added other Canticles. She was all aflame in ecstasy and was raised from the earth in a globe of light, which sur­rounded Her and transfigured Her with the gifts of glory.

411 At this heavenly vision Saint Joseph was filled with admiration and unspeakable delight; for never had he seen His most blessed Spouse in such eminence of glory and perfection. Now he beheld Her with a full and clear understanding, since all the integrity and purity of the Princess of heaven and Mystery of Her dignity manifested themselves to him. He saw and recognized in Her virginal womb the Humanity of the Infant God and the Union of the 2 Natures of the Word. With pro­found humility and reverence he adored Him and recog­nized Him as His Redeemer, offering himself to His Majesty. The Lord looked upon him in benevolence and kindness as upon no other man, for He accepted him as His foster-Father and conferred upon him that title. In accordance with this dignity, He gifted him with that plenitude of science and heavenly gifts that Christian piety can and must acknowledge. I do not dilate upon this vast excellence of St. Joseph made known to me, because I would extend this History beyond the pre­scribed bounds.

412 However, if it was a proof of the magnanimity of the glorious St. Joseph and a clear evidence of His great sanctity, that he did not wear away and die of the grief sustained at the thought of the loss of His beloved Spouse, it is yet more astonishing, that he was not over­whelmed by the unexpected joy of this revelation of the true Mystery connected with His Spouse. In the former he proved His high sanctity; but in the latter he showed himself worthy of gifts, such which, if the Lord had not expanded his heart, he could neither have been capable of receiving nor could he have outlived to bear in the joy of his spirit. In all things he was renewed and elevated, so as to be able to treat worthily Her, who was the Mother of God Himself and his Spouse, and to co-operate with Her in the Mystery of the Incarnation and in tak­ing care of the Word made Man, as I shall relate farther on. In order that he might be still more apt and so much the more recognize his obligation to serve his Heavenly Spouse, it was also made known to him, that all the gifts and blessings came to him because of Her: those before His espousal, because he had been selected for Her hus­band, and those afterward, because he had won and merited this distinction. He also perceived with what prudence the great Lady had acted toward him, not only in serving him with such inviolate obedience and pro­found humility, but also in consoling him in his affliction, soliciting for him the grace and assistance of the Holy Spirit, hiding Her feelings with such discretion, tran­quilizing and soothing his sorrow, thus fittingly dispos­ing him for the influence of the Divine Spirit. Just as the Princess of Heaven had been the instrument for the sanc­tification of St. John the Baptist and his mother, so She also was instrumental in procuring for St. Joseph the plenitude of graces in still greater abundance. All this the most faithful and fortunate man understood and for it, as a most faithful servant, was proportionately thank­ful.

413 These great sacraments and many others con­nected with our Queen and Her spouse St. Joseph, the Evangelists passed over in silence, not only because they wished to treasure them in their hearts, but also be­cause neither the humble Lady nor St. Joseph had spoken of them to anyone. Nor was it necessary to men­tion these wonders in the Life of Christ our Lord, which they wrote in order to establish our belief in the New Church and the Law of Grace; for such things might give rise to many inconveniences among the heathens in their first conversion. The admirable Providence of God, in His hidden and inscrutable judgments, reserved these secrets for a more suitable time foreseen by Divine Wis­dom. He wished that, after the Church had been al­ready established and the Catholic Faith well grounded, the faithful, standing in need of the intercession, the as­sistance and protection of their great Queen and Lady, should draw, from the knowledge of these Mysteries, new and old treasures of grace and consolation (Matt 13:52). Perceiving by new enlightenment what a loving Mother and powerful Advocate they had in heaven with Her Most Holy Son, to Whom the Father has given the power to judge (John 5:52), let them flee to Her for help as to the sacred refuge of sinners. Let the tribulations and the tears of the Church themselves give witness, whether such times of affliction have not come upon us in our days; for never were Her trials greater than now, when Her own sons, reared at Her breast, afflict Her, seek to destroy Her, and dissipate the Treasures of the Blood of Her Spouse with a greater cruelty than was done by Her most embittered enemies.  In this crying need, when the blood, shed by Her chil­dren calls heavenward, and much more loudly, the Blood of our High Priest Christ (Heb 12:24) trodden under foot and polluted under pretext of justice, re­sounds in anguish. What are the most faithful children of the Church doing? Why are they so speechless? Why do they not call upon most Holy Mary? Why do they not invoke Her aid and urge Her to help? What wonder if help is delayed, since we postpone seeking Her and acknowledging Her as the true Mother of God? I give witness, that great Mysteries are enclosed in this City of God and that in lively faith we should confess and extol them. They are so great, that the deeper insight into them is reserved for the time after the general resur­rection, when all the Saints will know them in the Most High. But in the meanwhile let the pious and faithful souls acknowledge the condescension of this their most loving Queen and Lady in revealing some of the great and hidden sacraments through me, a most unworthy instrument; for I, in my weakness and insignificance, could be induced to attempt this work only by the repeated command and encouragement of the Mother of piety, as was stated several times.

INSTRUCTION OF THE HEAVENLY QUEEN AND LADY

414 My daughter, My object in revealing to you in this History so many sacraments and secrets, both those which you have written and many others, which you are unable to manifest, is, that you use them as a mirror of My life and as an inviolable rule of action for your own. All of them should be engraved in the tablets of your heart and I recall to your mind the teachings of eternal life, thereby complying with My duty as your Teacher. Be ready to obey and fulfill all commands as a willing and careful pupil; let the humble care and watchfulness of My spouse St. Joseph, his submission to Divine direc­tion and his esteem for heavenly enlightenment, serve you as an example. For only because his heart had been well disposed and prepared for the execution of the Divine Will, was he entirely changed and remodeled by the pleni­tude of grace for the ministry assigned to him by the Most High. Let therefore the consciousness of your faults serve you as a motive to submit in all humility to the work of God, not as a pretext to withdraw from the performance of that which the Lord desires of you.

415 However, I wish on this occasion to reveal to you the just reproach and indignation of the Most High against men; so that, comparing the conduct of other men with the humility and meekness, which I exercised toward My spouse St. Joseph, you may understand it better in divine enlightenment. The cause of this reproach, which the Lord and I have to make against men, is the inhuman perversity of men in persisting to treat each other with so much lack of humility and love. In this they commit 3 faults, which displease the Most High very much and which cause the Almighty and Me to withhold many mercies. The first is, that men, knowing that they are all children of the same Father in heaven (Is 64:8), works of His Hands, formed of the same nature, graciously nourished and kept alive by His Providence, reared at the same table of Divine Mysteries and Sacraments, especially of His own Body and Blood, nevertheless forget and despise all these advantages, con­centrating all their interest upon earthly and trivial affairs, exciting themselves without reason, swelling with indignation, creating discords, quarrels, indulging in detractions and harsh words, sometimes rising up to most wicked and inhuman vengeance or mortal hate of one another. The second is, that, when through human frailty and lack of mortification, incited by the tempta­tion of the devil, they happen to fall into one of these faults, they do not at once seek to rid themselves of it nor strive to be again reconciled, as should be done by brothers in the Presence of a Righteous Judge. Thus they deny Him as their Merciful Father and force Him to become the severe and rigid Judge of their sins; for no faults excite Him sooner to exercise His severity than the sins of revenge and hate. The third offense, which causes His great indignation, is, that sometimes, when a brother comes in order to be reconciled, he who deems himself offended will not receive him and asks a greater satisfaction than that which he knows would be accepted by the Lord, and which he himself offers as satisfaction to God's Majesty. For all of them wish that God, Who is most grievously offended, should receive and pardon them, whenever they approach Him with humility and contrition; while those who are but dust and ashes, ask to be revenged upon their brothers and will not content themselves with the satisfaction, which the Most High Himself readily accepts for their own sins.

416 Of all the sins, which the sons of the Church commit, none is more horrible than these in the Eyes of the Most High. This you will readily understand by the Divine light and in the vigor of God's Law, which commands men to pardon their brethren, although they may have offended 70 times 7. And if a brother offend many times every day, as soon as he says that he is sorry for it, the Lord commands us to forgive the offending brother as many times without counting the number. And those that are not willing to forgive, He threatens with severest punishment on account of the scandal, which they cause. This can be gathered from the threatening words of God Himself: Woe to him from whom scandal comes and through whom scandal is caused! It were better for him, if he fell into the depths of the sea with a heavy millstone around His neck. This was said in order to indicate the danger of this sin and the difficulty of obtaining deliverance there from, which must be compared to that of a man dropping into the sea with a grinding-stone around His neck. It also points out that the punishment is the abyss of eternal pains (Matt 18:9). Therefore the command of My Most Holy Son is good advice to the faithful, that they rather per­mit their eyes to be torn out and their hands chopped off, than allow themselves to fall into this crime of scandaliz­ing the little ones.

417 O My dear daughter! How you must bewail the wickedness and evils of this sin with tears of blood! That is the sin, which grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30), affords proud triumphs to devils, makes mon­sters of rational creatures, and wipes out in them the image of the Eternal Father! What thing more unbecom­ing, or hateful and monstrous, than to see creatures of the earth, the food of worms and corruption, rise up against one another in pride and arrogance? You will not find words strong enough to describe this wicked­ness, in order to persuade men to fear it and guard against the Wrath of the Lord (Matt 3:7). But preserve your heart from this contagion, stamp and engrave in it the most useful doctrine for your guidance. Never think for a moment, that in offending your neighbor or scandalizing him in this way, the guilt can be small, for all these sins are weighty in the Sight of God. Place a damper on all your faculties and feelings in order to observe most strictly the rules of charity toward all creatures of the Most High. To Me also afford this pleasure, since I wish you to be most per­fect in this virtue. I impose upon you as My most vigorous precept, that you give offense neither in thought, word or deed to any of your neighbors; and that you prevent any of your subjects, and, as far as you can, any other person in your presence from injuring their neighbor. Meditate well on this, as I ask it of you, My dear, for it is a doctrine most divine and least understood by men. Serve yourself with the only remedy against these passions; namely, with the compell­ing example of My humility and meekness, the effect of the sincere love not only toward My spouse, but toward all the children of the Heavenly Father; for I esteemed them and looked upon them as redeemed and bought for a great price (1 Pet 1:18). With true fidelity and in­genious charity watch over your religious. The Divine Majesty is offended grievously by any one who does not fulfill this command expressly inculcated and called a new one by My Son (John 15:12); but He is roused to incomparably greater indignation against religious, who offend against it. Among these there are many, who should distinguish themselves as perfect children of the Father and Teacher of this virtue; never­theless they cast it aside and thereby become more odious and detestable in His Sight than the worldly.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 2

CHAPTER 5

ST. JOSEPH RESOLVES TO DEVOTE HIMSELF ENTIRELY TO THE SERVICE OF OUR LADY

418 The most faithful Joseph, after being informed of the Mystery and Sacrament of the Incarnation, was filled with such high and befitting sentiments concerning his Spouse, that, although he had always been holy and perfect, he was changed into a new man. He resolved to act toward the Heavenly Lady according to a new rule and with much greater reverence, as I will relate farther on. This was conformable to the wisdom of the Saint and due to the excellence of his Spouse, for St. Joseph by heavenly enlightenment saw well, that he was the servant and She the Queen of Heaven and earth. In order to satisfy his desire for honoring and reverencing Her as the Mother of God, whenever he passed Her or spoke to Her alone, he did it with great external venera­tion and on bended knees. He would not allow Her to serve him, or wait upon him, or perform any other humble services, such as cleaning the house or washing the dishes and the like. All these things the most happy spouse wished to do himself, in order not to derogate from the dignity of the Queen.

419 But the Heavenly Lady, who among the humble was the most humble and whom no one could surpass in humility, so managed all these things that the palm of victory in all these virtues always remained with Her.  She besought Saint Joseph not to bend the knees to Her, for though this worship was due to the Lord Whom She carried in Her womb, yet as long as He was within unseen by anyone no distinction was externally manifest between His and Her own person. The Saint therefore allowed himself to be persuaded and conformed to the wishes of the Queen of Heaven; only at times, when She was not looking, he continued to give this worship to the Lord whom She bore in Her womb, and veneration to Her as His Mother, intending thereby to honor both according to the excellence of Each. In regard to the other works and services, a humble contention arose between them. For St. Joseph could not overcome his conviction as to the impropriety of allowing the great Queen and Lady to perform them, and therefore he sought to be before­hand with such household duties. His Heavenly Spouse was filled with the same eagerness to seize upon occasions in advance of St. Joseph. As however he busied him­self in these duties during the time that She spent in contemplation, he frustrated Her continual desire of serv­ing him and of performing all the duties of the house­hold, which She considered as belonging to Her as a servant. In Her affliction on this account, the Heavenly Lady turned to the Lord with humble complaints, and besought Him to oblige St. Joseph not to hinder Her in the exercise of humility, as She desired. As this virtue is so powerful before the Divine Tribunal and has free access, no prayer accompanied by it is small. Humility makes all prayers effective and inclines the im­mutable Being of God to clemency. He heard Her peti­tion and He ordered the angel guardian of the blessed husband to instruct him as follows: "Do not frustrate the humble desires of Her who is supreme over all the creatures of heaven and earth. Exteriorly allow Her to serve You and interiorly treat Her with highest rever­ence, and at all times and in all places worship the In­carnate Word. It is His Will, equally with that of the Heavenly Mother, to serve and not to be served, in order to teach the world the knowledge of life and the excel­lence of humility. In some of the work you can assist Her, but always reverence in Her the Lord of all creation."

420 Instructed by this command of the Most High, Saint Joseph permitted the Heavenly Princess to exercise Her humility and so both of them were enabled to make an offering of their will to God; most Holy Mary, by exercising the deepest humility and obedience toward Her spouse in all Her acts of virtue which She performed without failing in the least point of perfection; and St. Joseph by obeying the Almighty with a holy and prudent embarrassment, which was occasioned by seeing himself waited upon and served by Her, whom he had recognized as his Queen and that of the world, and as the Mother of his God and Creator. In this manner the prudent Saint made up for the humility, which he could not prac­tice in the works now consigned to his Spouse. This arrangement seemed to humiliate him more and filled him with a greater reverential fear. In this fear he observed most Holy Mary, always bearing in mind the Treasure of Her virginal womb and adoring, magnifying and praising the Lord. A few times, in reward of his holiness and reverence, or for the increase of both, the Infant God manifested Himself to him in a wonderful manner: he saw Him in the womb of His purest Mother enclosed as it were in the clearest crystal. The sovereign Queen conversed with the glorious Saint concerning the Incarnation; because She did not need to be so reserved in Her heavenly words since he had been enlightened and instructed in the Sublime Sacraments of the Hypostatic Union of the Divine and Human Natures in the virginal chamber of his Spouse.

421 No human tongue can reproduce the celestial words and conversations of the most Holy Mary and blessed Joseph. I will adduce some of them in the fol­lowing chapters, as far as I know how. Yet, who can declare the effects wrought in the sweet and devout heart of this Saint in seeing himself not only constituted the husband of Her who was the true Mother of His Creator, but in finding himself also served by Her as if She was the humblest slave, while at the same time he beheld Her raised in sanctity and dignity above the highest Seraphim and inferior only to God? If the Divine Right Hand en­riched with blessings the house of Obededom for having sheltered for a few months the figurative Ark of the Old Testament (1 Chr 13:14), what blessings did He not shower upon St. Joseph, to whom He entrusted the True Ark and the Lawgiver Himself enshrined in Her? Incomparable was the good fortune and happiness of this Saint! Not only because he had with him in His house the living and True Ark of the New Testament, the Altar, the Sacrifice, and the Temple, all left in His charge; but also because he cared for them worthily and as a faithful servant (Matt 24:45), constituted by the Lord Himself over his family to provide for all their necessities in the right time as a most faithful dispenser. Let all generations and peoples acknowledge and bless him, let them extol his merits; since the Most High has favored none other in the same degree. I, an unworthy and poor worm, in the light of such venerable sacraments, exalt and magnify the Lord God, confessing Him as holy, just, merciful, wise and admirable in the disposi­tion of all His great works.

422 The humble but blessed house of Joseph con­tained 3 rooms, which occupied nearly all its space and formed the exclusive dwelling place of the 2 spouses; for they did not have a servant. In one of the rooms St. Joseph slept, in another he worked and kept the tools of His trade of carpentering; the third was ordinarily occupied by the Queen of Heaven and was also Her sleeping room. It contained a couch made by the hands of St. Joseph. This arrangement they had observed since their espousal and from the day on which they had come to this, their dwelling. Before knowing the dignity of his Spouse and Lady, St. Joseph rarely went to see Her; for while She kept Her retire­ment he was engaged in his work, unless some affair made it absolutely necessary to consult Her. But after he was informed of his good fortune, the holy man was more solicitous for Her welfare, and in order to renew the joy of his heart he began to come often to the retreat of the sovereign Lady, visiting Her and receiving Her commands. But he always approached Her with extreme humility and reverential fear, and before he spoke to Her, he was careful to note in what She was engaged. Many times he saw Her in ecstasy raised from the earth and resplendent with most brilliant light; at other times in the company of Her angels holding heavenly communication with them; and at other times, he found Her prostrate upon the earth in the form of a cross, speaking to the Lord. Her most fortunate spouse was a participator in these favors. But whenever he found the great Lady in these occupations and postures, he would presume no farther than to look upon Her with profound reverence; and thereby he merited sometimes to hear the sweetest harmony of the heavenly music, with which the angels regaled their Queen, and perceived a wonderful fragrance which comforted him and filled him entirely with jubila­tion and joy of spirit.

423 The 2 holy spouses lived alone in their house, for as I have said, they had no servants, not only on account of their humility, but in order more fittingly to hide from any witnesses the wonders, which passed between them and which were not to be communi­cated to outsiders. Likewise the Princess of heaven did not leave Her dwelling, except for very urgent causes in the service of God or Her fellow men. Whenever any­thing was necessary She asked that fortunate neighbor, who as I have said had served St. Joseph during the absence of Mary in the house of Zechariah. This woman received such a good return from Mary, that not only she herself became most holy and perfect, but her whole household and family was blessed by the help of the Queen of the world. She was visited by most Holy Mary in some of her sicknesses and with her family was copiously enriched by the blessings of heaven.

424 Never did Saint Joseph see his Heavenly Spouse asleep, nor did he of his own experience know whether She ever slept, although he besought Her to take some rest, especially during the time of Her sacred pregnancy. The resting-place of the Princess was the low couch, which I said had been constructed by St. Joseph; and on it were the coverings that served Her during Her brief and holy sleep. Her undergarment was a sort of tunic made of cotton, but softer than the ordinary or common cloth. This tunic She never changed from the time since She left the Temple, nor did it wear out or grow old or soiled, and no person ever saw it, nor did St. Joseph know that She wore that kind of a gar­ment; for he never saw any other part of Her clothing except the outside garments, which were open to the view of other persons. Those were of a gray color, and these only and Her head-coverings were the garments, which the Queen changed now and then; not because they were soiled, but because, being visible to all, She wished to avoid notice by such strange sameness of outward appearance. Nothing that She wore upon Her most pure and virginal body became soiled or worn; for She neither perspired, nor was She subject to the punishments, which are laid upon the sin-impregnated bodies of the children of Adam. She was in all respects most pure and the works of Her hands were like crystal ornaments; and with the same purity She cared for the clothes and other necessities of St. Joseph. The food of which She partook, was most limited in kind and quantity; but She partook of some every day and in company of Her spouse; She never ate meat, although he did, and She prepared it for him. Her sustenance was fruit, fishes, and ordinary bread and cooked vegetables; but of all these She partook in exact measure and weight, only so much as was necessary for the nourishment of the body and the maintaining of the natural warmth without any superfluities that could pass over into excess of harmful corruption; the same rule She observed in regard to drink, although Her fervent acts of love often caused a superabundance of preternatural ardor. This rule, as to the quantity of Her nourishment, She followed during Her whole life, although as to the kind of food She adapted Herself to the various circum­stances demanding a change, as I shall relate further on.

425 In all things the most pure Mary exhibited con­summate perfection, without any fault or lack of grace; and all Her actions both in the natural and the super­natural order reached the pinnacle of excellence. But words fail me in describing it: for I am never satisfied, seeing how far short these words fall of that which I perceive and how much more excellence this sublime Creature possesses than I can express. Continually I am grieved by my insufficiency and dissatisfied with my limited terms and descriptions, fearing lest I presume more than I should in striving to do that which so far exceeds my powers. But the force of obedience inspires me with I do not know what sweet strength, which dispels my hesitancy and impels my backwardness, en­couraging me to face the greatness of my undertaking and the smallness of my ability. I work under obedience, and through it I hope to make great gains. It will also serve me as an excuse.

INSTRUCTION BY THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN

426 My daughter, in the School of Humility, which My whole life affords you, I wish that you be studious and diligent; and this should be your first and principal care, if you wish to enjoy the sweet embraces of the Lord, assure yourself of His favor and possess the treas­ures of light, which are hidden to the proud (Matt 11:25). For without the trusty foundation of humility such treasures cannot be confided to any man. Let all your ambition be to humble yourself in your own estimation and thought, so that in your exterior actions you may truly exhibit this humility of your interior. It must be a sub­ject of confusion and a spur of humility for you and for all souls to have the Lord as their Father and Spouse, to see, that presumption and pride of worldly wisdom is more powerful in its devotees, than humility and true self-knowledge is in the children of light. Consider the watchfulness, the untiring study and care of ambitious and aspiring men. Look upon their struggle to be esteemed in the world, their strivings never at rest, though so vain and worthless; how they conduct them­selves outwardly according to the false notions which they have of themselves; how they pretend to be what they are not, and how they exert themselves to obtain through these false pretenses the treasures, which, though only earthly, they do not deserve. Hence it should be a cause of confusion and shame to the good, that deceit should urge on the sons of perdition with greater force than truth urges the elect; that the number of those, who in the world are anxious to strive in the service of their God and Creator, should be so small in comparison with the number of those who serve vanity; that there should be so few of the elect, though all are called (Matt 20:16).

427 Seek therefore, to make progress in this science of humility and to gain for yourself the palm of victory in this virtue in the midst of the children of darkness; in opposition to their pride, study what I did in order to overcome darkness in this world by the pursuit of humility. In this the Lord and I desire you to be very wise and proficient. Never miss an occasion of exercising humility and allow no one to deprive you of such works; and if occasions of humility fail you and are scarce, seek after them and ask God to send them to you; for it pleases His Majesty to see such kind of anxiety and ambition in what He desires so much. For the sake of this divine complacency alone, you, as a daughter of His house, as His domestic and as His spouse, should be solicitous and anxious for acts of humility; for in this, human ambition itself will teach you not to be negligent. Observe how a woman in her house and family conducts herself in order to benefit and advance her family, and how she loses no chance of advancing it; nothing seems too much for her, and if anything, no matter how small it is, goes to loss (Lk 15:8) she becomes much excited. All this is the effect of worldly covetousness, and there is certainly no reason, that the wisdom of heaven be less fruitful or less careful in the gifts received. Therefore I desire you to allow no care­lessness or forgetfulness concerning what so much con­cerns you, and to lose no occasion of practicing humility and laboring for the glory of the Lord; but seek and strive after His gifts and draw merits from them as a faithful daughter and spouse. Then will you find grace in the Eyes of the Lord and in Mine, according to your desire.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 2

CHAPTER 6.

SPIRITUAL CONVERSATIONS OF OUR LADY AND ST. JOSEPH, AND OTHER EVENTS.

428 Before St. Joseph had been instructed in the Mystery of the Incarnation, the Princess of Heaven made use of opportune occasions for reading to him some of the passages of Holy Scriptures, especially from the Prophets and from the Psalms. As a most wise Teacher She also explained them to him, and Her holy spouse who was indeed capable of the exalted truths contained therein, asked Her many questions, wondering at and consoling himself with the heavenly answers of His Spouse; and thus both of them alternately praised and blessed the Lord. But after he had himself become instructed in the Great Sacrament, he conversed with our Queen, as with one, who was Herself to be the Coadjutor of the Admira­ble Works and Mysteries of our Redemption. For now they could more openly and clearly discuss the divine prophecies and oracles concerning the Conception of the Word through a Virgin-Mother, of His birth, His upbring­ing, and His most holy life. All these things Her Highness discussed and explained, delineating beforehand the course of action, which they were to pursue, when the longed-for day of the Birth of the Child should have arrived, when She should hold Him in Her arms, nourish Him at Her breast with virginal milk, and when the holy spouse himself should share in this greatest of mortal blessedness. Only of His Passion and Death, and of the sayings of Isaiah and Jeremiah, the most prudent Queen spoke more rarely; for as Her spouse was of a most kind and tender heart, She thought it best not to dilate upon or anticipate that which he himself remembered of the sayings of the ancient writers concerning the Coming and the Sufferings of the Messiah. The most prudent Virgin also waited until the Lord should grant more particular revelation of what was to happen, or until She Herself would know better the Divine Will in this respect.

429 Her most faithful and blessed husband was wholly inflamed by Her sweet words and conversations, and with tears of joy he said to the Heavenly Spouse: "Is it possible, that in Your most chaste arms I shall see my God and Redeemer? That I shall hear Him speak, and touch Him, and that my eyes shall look upon His Divine Face, and that the sweat of my brow shall be so blessed as to be poured out in His service and for His sustenance? That He shall live with us, and that we shall eat with Him at the same table, and that we shall speak and con­verse with Him? How is it that this good fortune which nobody can ever deserve, should come to me? O how much do I regret that I am so poor! Would I possessed the richest palaces for His entertainment and many treasures to offer Him!" And the sovereign Queen answered: "My mas­ter and spouse, there is abundant reason that your desires extend to all things possible for the reception of your Creator; but this great God and Lord does not wish to enter into the world in the pomp of ostentatious riches and royal majesty. He has need of none of these, nor does He come from heaven for such vanities. He comes to redeem the world and to guide men on the path of eternal life (Jn 10:10);and this is to be done by means of humility and poverty; in these He wishes to be born, live and die, in order to destroy in the hearts of men the fetters of covetousness and pride, which keep them from blessedness. On this account He chose our poor and humble house, and desired us not to be rich in apparent, deceitful and transitory goods, which are but vanity of vanities and affliction of spirit (Eccle 1:14) and which oppress and obscure the understanding."

430 At other times the Saint asked the most pure Lady to teach him the nature and essence of virtues, especially of the love of God, in order that he might know how to behave toward the Most High become man and in order that he might not be rejected as a useless and incapable servant. The Queen and Teacher of vir­tues complied with these requests and explained to him the nature of true virtues and the manner of exercising them in all perfection. But in these discourses She pro­ceeded with so much humility and discretion that She did not appear as the Teacher of Her spouse, though such She was; but She managed to give Her information under the guise of conversation or in addressing the Lord, or at other times asking questions of St. Joseph, which of themselves suggested the information. In all circumstances She knew how to preserve Her most pro­found humility, without permitting even the least gesture not in accordance with it. These alternate discourses or readings from the Holy Scriptures they interrupted by manual labor as occasion required. Not only was the hard and tiresome labor of St. Joseph lightened by the admirable words of sympathy of our Lady, but in Her rare discretion She also knew how to add instruction, so that His manual labor became more an exercise of virtue than a work of the hands. The mildest Dove, with the prudence of a most wise virgin, administered Her conso­lations by pointing out the most blessed fruits of labor. In Her estimation She held Herself unworthy of being supported by Her spouse, and She felt Herself in con­tinual debt to the sweat of St. Joseph, as one who is receiving a great alms and most generous gift. All these considerations caused in Her sentiments of deepest obligation, as if She were the most useless creature on earth. Therefore, though She could not assist the Saint in his trade, since that was above the strength of women and unbecoming the modesty and retirement of the Heavenly Queen; yet in all that was befitting Her, She served Him as an humble handmaid, since Her discreet humility and thankfulness would not suffer any less re­turn for the faithful services of St. Joseph.

431 Among other wonderful happenings in connec­tion with his contact with most Holy Mary during these days of Her pregnancy, St, Joseph one day saw many birds flocking around Her in order to pay their respect to the Queen of all creatures. They surrounded Her as if to form a choir and raised up their voices in songs of sweet harmony not less wonderful than their visit to the Heavenly Lady. St. Joseph had never seen this wonder until that day and, full of admiration and joy, he said to his sovereign Spouse: "Is it possible, my Queen, that these simple birds and irrational crea­tures should understand and fulfill their obligations better than I? Surely it is reasonable, that if they recognize, serve and reverence You according to their powers, that You allow me to perform that which in duty I am bound to do." The most pure Virgin answered him: "My master, in the behavior of these little birds the Creator offers us a powerful motive worthily to employ all our strength and faculties in His praise, just as they recognize and acknowledge their Creator in My womb. I, how­ever, am but a creature and therefore I deserve no vener­ation, nor is it right that I accept it; it is My duty to induce all creatures to praise the Most High, since He has looked upon Me, His handmaid, and has enriched Me with the Treasures of the Divinity" (Luke 1:48).

432 It happened also not a few times that the Heavenly Lady and Her spouse found themselves so poor and desti­tute of means that they were lacking the necessaries of life; for they were most liberal in their gifts to the poor, and they were never anxious to store up beforehand food or clothing, as the children of this world in their faint-hearted covetousness are so often inclined (Matt 6:25). The Lord so disposed things that the faith and patience of His most Holy Mother and of St. Joseph should not be vain, for this indigence was a source of incomparable consolation to our Lady, not only because of Her love of poverty, but also on account of Her astonishing humility. She con­sidered Herself unworthy of the sustenance of life, and that She above all others should suffer the lack of it. Therefore She blessed the Lord for this poverty as far as it affected Her, while She asked the Most High to supply the needs of St. Joseph, as being a righteous and holy man and well worthy of this favor of the Almighty. The Lord did not forget His poor entirely (Ps 74:19), for while He permitted them to exercise virtues and gain merits, He also gave them nourishment in opportune time (Ps 145:15). This His Providence provided in various ways. Sometimes He moved the hearts of their neighbors and acquaintances to bring some gratuitous gift or pay some debt. At other times, and more ordi­narily, St. Elisabeth sent them assistance from Her home; for ever since She had harbored in Her house the Queen of Heaven this devoted matron insisted on sending them a gift from time to time, which the humble Princess always acknowledged by sending in return some work of Her hands. On some occasions, for the greater glory of the Most High, the Blessed Lady availed Herself of the power given to Her as the Queen of all creation; then She would command the birds of the air to bring some fishes from the sea, or fruits of the field, and they would fulfill Her commands to the point; sometimes they would bring also bread in their beaks, which the Lord had fur­nished them. Many times the most fortunate spouse St. Joseph was a witness to all these happenings.

433 Also in other necessities they were on some occa­sions relieved by the Holy Angels in an admirable manner. In order properly to understand some of the great mira­cles which happened through the ministry of the angels to most Holy Mary and Joseph, it is necessary to take into account the magnanimity and generous faith of the Saint, for these virtues were so great in him that not even the shadow of covetousness, or greediness, could find en­trance into his soul. Although he labored for others, as did also his Heavenly Spouse, yet never did they ask for any wages, or set a price on their work, asking payment therefore; they performed all their work not for gain, but in obedience to a request or for charity, leaving the pay­ment of wages entirely in the hands of their employers and accepting it not as a just return for their labors, but as a freely given alms. This is the perfection of sanctity, which St. Joseph learnt from the heavenly example given to him in his house by the most Holy Virgin. Owing to this circumstance, that he was not paid for his work, it happened sometimes that they were in total lack of food and sustenance until the Lord would provide for them. One day it came to pass that the hour set for their meal passed without their having anything in the house to eat. They persevered in prayer until very late, giving thanks to the Lord for this privation, and hoping that He would open His all-powerful Hand (Ps 145:16). In the mean­while the Holy Angels prepared the meal and placed upon the table some fruit, bread and fishes, also especially a sort of preserve or jelly of wonderful and nourishing sweetness. Then some of the angels went to call their Queen, and others called St. Joseph Her spouse. Each came forth from their separate retirement and, per­ceiving the regalement provided by heaven, they thanked the Most High in tears of fervent gratitude and partook of the food; and afterwards they broke out in exalted songs of praise of the Almighty.

434 Many other similar events came to pass almost daily in the house of most Holy Mary and Her spouse; for as they were alone and as there was no need of hiding these wonders from witnesses, the Lord did not hesitate to perform them for His beloved, who were entrusted with co-operation in the most wonderful of all the works of His Powerful Arm, I wish merely to remark, that when I say Mary sang Canticles of Praise, either She by Her­self or in company with St. Joseph or the Holy Angels, new songs are meant, such as St. Hannah sang, the mother of Samuel, or Moses, Ezekiel and other Prophets, when they were visited by great blessings of the Lord. If all the Canticles (Kings 2:1; Deut 32:1, etc.) which the Queen of heaven composed and sang would have been recorded, there would be a large volume of them, the contents of which would excite unheard of wonder in this world.

TEACHING BY OUR QUEEN AND LADY

435 Much-beloved daughter, I wish that the Science of the Lord be many times renewed in you, and that you acquire the knowledge of the Voice (Wis 1:7), so that you may know, (and let others also know), the dangerous deceit and perverse estimation in which they, as lovers of falsehood, hold temporal and visible goods (Ps 4). How many men are not fascinated by their unbounded greed? All of them ordinarily stake their hopes on gold and material riches; and in order to increase them, they exert all the forces of their natural being. Thus they spend all the time of their life, which was given them in order to gain eternal rest and happi­ness, in these vanities. They lose themselves in these dark labyrinths and mazes, as if they knew nothing of God and of His Providence; for they do not think of ask­ing Him for that which they desire, and do not moderate their desires in such a way as will dispose them to ask and hope for what they desire at His Hands. Thus they lose all, because they confide in the lying and deceitful prospects of their own efforts. This blind greed is the root of all evils (1 Tim 6:10); for the Lord, incensed at such great perversity, permits mortals to be en­tangled in the vile slavery of avarice, in which their understanding is darkened and their will hardened. Soon the Most High, for greater punishment, withdraws His kindly care as from creatures so detestable and denies them His paternal protection, thus letting them fall into what is the deepest misfortune that can befall man in this life.

436 Although it is true that no one can hide from the Eyes of the Lord (Ps 139:6), yet when the transgressors and enemies of His Law offend Him, they forfeit the kind attention and care of His Providence and are left to their own desires (Ps 81:12). They cease to experience the paternal foresight shown toward those who trust in the Lord. Those that confide in their own efforts and in the gold, which they can touch and feel, will reap the fruit of their hopes. But just as far as the Divine Essence and Power is distant from the lowliness and limitation of mortals, so far also the results of human covetousness are distant from the help and protection of Eternal Providence shown to the humble who trust in it (Ps 18:30). Upon these His Majesty looks with kindest love, delights in them, nourishes, and attends to their wishes and needs. My holy spouse Joseph and I were poor, and at times we suffered great needs; but none of them were powerful enough to engender within our hearts the contagion of avarice. We concerned ourselves entirely with the glory of the Most High, relying wholly on His most faithful and tender care. This was what pleased Him so much, as you have under­stood and written, since He supplied our desires in various manners, even commanding the Holy Angels to help us and pre­pare for us our nourishment.

437 I do not wish to say that men should yield to laziness and negligence; on the contrary it is just that all should labor and doing nothing is also a great and very reprehensible fault. Neither leisure nor solicitude must be disorderly; nor should the creature trust in his own strength; nor should he smother the Divine Love in anxiety; nor seek more than is necessary for a temperate life. Neither should he fear that Divine Providence will fail to supply what is necessary, nor should he be troubled or lose hope when the Creator seems to delay His assistance. In the same way he who is in abundance should not (Sir 31:8) lay aside all exertion and forget that he is a man subject to labor and travail. Thus riches as well as poverty must be attributed to God and made use of in a holy and legitimate way for the glory of the Creator and Ruler of all things. If men would observe this rule of action, no one would be without the assistance of the Lord, Who is a true Father, and neither would the poor be led into sin by poverty, nor the rich by prosperity. Of you, My daughter, I require the practice of these rules, and through you I wish to incul­cate them on others. You must especially im­press this doctrine upon all your subjects, telling them not to be troubled or faint-hearted because of the shortage they suffer, nor inordinately solicitous about their eating or clothing (Matt 6:25), but that they confide in the Most High and in His Providence. For if they corre­spond to His Love, I assure them that they shall never suffer from the lack of what is necessary. Exhort them also to let their words and conversations continually turn about Holy and Divine things, engaging in the praise and exaltation of the Lord according to the teachings of the Bible and Holy Writings. Let their conversations be in heaven (Phil 3:20) with the Most High, and with Me, their Mother and Superior, and let it be with the angels, imitating them in holy love.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 2

CHAPTER 7

OUR LADY PREPARES THE SWADDLING CLOTHES WITH ARDENT LONGING TO SEE HIM BORN.

438 The Divine pregnancy of the Mother of the Eternal Word had already far advanced. Although She knew that the necessary coverings and linens for the time of Her parturition must be provided, She wished to proceed in all things with the fullness of heavenly prudence. Therefore, fulfilling all requirements of an obedient and faithful handmaid, She presumed to arrange nothing without the permission and consent of the Lord and of Her holy spouse. Although She could have acted for Herself in such matters as pertained to Her office of chosen Mother and of Her Most Holy Son, She would not undertake anything without speaking to St. Joseph. Therefore She said to him: "My master, it is time that we prepare the things necessary for the Birth of My Most Holy Son. Although His Majesty wishes to be treated as one of the children of men, humiliating Himself and suffering with them, yet it is just that we acknowledge Him as our God and as our true King and Lord by rendering Him our devoted service, and by making careful provision for His needs as an Infant. If you give Me permission I will begin to prepare the cov­erings and linens for His protection and shelter. I have already woven a piece of linen which may serve as His first swaddling-clothes; and you, My master, seek to procure some woolen cloth of a soft texture and an humble color from which I may pre­pare other coverings; and later on I will weave a seam­less tunic appropriate for Him. In order to avoid any mistake, let us offer special prayers asking His Highness to govern and direct us in the right way, so that we may know His Will and fulfill His Pleasure."

439 "My Spouse and Lady," answered St. Joseph, "if it were possible to serve with my own heart-blood my Lord and God and thus fulfill Your commands, I would be willing to shed it amid most atrocious torments; and as I cannot do this, would that I had great riches to buy the most costly textures in order to offer them to You on this occasion. Give Your orders as You see fit, for I will serve You as Your servant." Both of them took themselves to prayer, and each separately heard the answer of the Lord, repeating what the sovereign Queen had already heard many times, and, which now was said in Her hearing and that of St. Joseph: "I have come from heaven to the earth in order to exalt humility and discredit pride, to honor poverty and contemn riches, to destroy vanity and estab­lish truth, and in order to enhance worthily the value of labor. Therefore it is My Will that exteriorly You treat Me according to the humble position which I have as­sumed, as if I were the natural child of both of You, and that interiorly You acknowledge Me as the Son of My Eternal Father, and bestow the reverence and love due to Me as the Man-God."

440 Encouraged by this Divine Voice to seek the wisest course in the rearing of the Infant God, most Holy Mary and Joseph conferred with each other in what way they might conceal the most noble and perfect worship which was ever given to the true God by His creatures, beneath the treatment which in the eyes of the world was due to a natural child of them both; for this was to be the opinion of the world, and such a conduct the Lord Himself had enjoined upon them. Having therefore come to an agreement they lived up to this command of the Lord in such perfection that they were the admira­tion of all heaven; and further on I will say more of this (Nos. 506, 508, 536, 545). They both concluded that according to the limited means allowed them by their poverty they were to expend whatever they could afford in the service of the Infant God without going into excess or failing in anything; for the Sacrament of the King was to be concealed in humble poverty, though at the same time they wished to exercise their burning love as far as was possible. St. Joseph, in exchange for some of His work, accepted 2 pieces of woolen cloth such as His heavenly Spouse had described; the one white, the other mulberry-colored mixed with gray, both of them of the best quality he could find. Of these the Heavenly Queen made the first little tunics of Her Most Holy Son, while She prepared the swaddling clothes and shirts from the piece of linen that She had spun and woven. Being woven by such hands, it was a most delicate piece of cloth. She had commenced work upon it from the day of Her entrance into their house at Nazareth, for She had intended it for the Temple as a present. Although it could now serve for another much higher purpose, nevertheless, She offered whatever re­mained of it after She had completed the furnishings of the Infant God as a gift to the Temple of Jerusalem, ac­cording to Her original intention. All the articles and coverings necessary for Her Divine Infant the great Lady prepared with Her own hands, and while She sewed and trimmed them She shed tears of ineffable devotion remaining continually on Her knees. St. Joseph gathered such flowers and Herbs as he could find from which, together with other aromatic materials, the zealous Mother extracted fragrant essences. With these She sprinkled the sacred vestments of the Victim of Sacrifice that She awaited; then She folded and laid them away in a chest, in which She afterwards took them along with Her, as I shall relate farther on.

441 All these undertakings of the Princess of Heaven are to be thought of and estimated not as being without life and harsh as I here represent them, but of incom­parable grace and loveliness, full of sanctity and ex­alted merit, of a greater perfection than human intel­lect can comprehend; because She performed all these works as the Mother of Wisdom, and as the Queen of all virtues. In preparing for the appearance of the Most Holy Humanity of Her Son in this world, She celebrated the dedication of the Living Temple of God. The sov­ereign Queen understood better than all the rest of cre­ation the ineffable greatness of the Mystery of the Incar­nation of God and of His Coming into the world. Not in a spirit of doubt, but inflamed by love and veneration, She repeated many times the words of Solomon when he built the Temple: "How is it possible that God should dwell with men on earth? If all the heavens, and the heaven of heavens cannot comprehend You, how can this Human Body contain You, Which is formed in My womb?" But if the Temple of Solomon, which served only as a place in which God should hear the prayers within it, was built and dedicated with such lavish ex­penditure of gold, silver, treasures and sacrifices, what should not the Mother of the true Solomon do for the building up and the dedication of the Living Temple (Col 2:9) Where was to dwell the Plenitude of the True Divinity, the Eternal and Incomprehensible God?  All these innumerable sacrifices and treasures of the figurative Temple, most Holy Mary duplicated not in gold, silver, or rich texture, since God sought no such riches in the Living Temple, but in heroic virtues and in Canticles of Praise, by which She fructified and extolled the graces and gifts of the Most High. She offered up the sacrifice of Her burning love, and ransacked all the Holy Writings for Hymns, Canticles and Psalms to praise and magnify this Mystery, adding thereto the expression of Her own exalted sentiments. In a mystical and yet altogether real manner She fulfilled the ancient figures and types by Her virtues and by Her interior and Her exterior acts. She called upon and invited all creatures to praise their God, to give honor and glory to their Creator, and place the hope of their sanctification in His Coming into the world. In many of these exercises the most fortunate and blessed Joseph, Her spouse, took part.

442 No human tongue can describe, and no created understanding can reach the sublime height of merit, which the Princess of Heaven attained, and the degree of pleasure and complacency that they afforded the Most High. If the least degree of grace, which any creature merits by an act of virtue, is more valuable than all the created universe, what treasures of grace did She not gain, whose acts exceeded in value not only all the sacri­fices, offerings and holocausts of the Old Law and all the merits of the entire human race, but far excelled also those of the highest Seraphim? The loving extremes of the Heavenly Lady in hoping to look upon Her Son and true God, to receive Him in Her arms, nourish Him at Her breast, tend Him with Her own hands, converse with Him and serve Him, and adore Him made Man from Her own flesh, reached such a pass that in the ardors of love She would have breathed forth Her spirit and have been consumed if She had not been preserved from dissolution, assisted and strengthened by the miraculous intervention of God. Yes, many times would She have lost Her life, if it had not been preserved by Her Most Holy Son; for many times She saw Him in Her virginal womb and with divine clearness She saw His Humanity united to His Divinity, observed the interior acts of that Most Holy Soul, the conditions and postures of His Body, the prayers offered up by Him for Her, for St. Joseph, for all the human race and especially for the predestined. All these and other Mysteries were open to Her, and in perceiving them She was altogether inflamed with the desire of imitating and exalting Him, since She bore within Her the devouring fires that illumine yet do not consume (Ex 3:2).

443 Amidst this conflagration of Divine Love She spoke sometimes to Her Most Holy Son: "My sweetest Love, Creator of the universe, when shall My eyes enjoy the Light of Your Divine Countenance? When shall My arms be consecrated as the Altar of the Victim, Which is awaited by the Eternal Father? When shall I kiss the earth trodden by Your Divine Feet, and when shall I as Your Mother gain the coveted kiss of My Beloved (Song 1:1) so that I may inhale Your own Spirit from the flow of Your Breath? When shall You, the inaccessible light, the true God of the true God, Light of the Light (John 1:9), manifest Yourself to us, after so many ages of concealment from our view? When shall the children of Adam, laden with the guilt of their sins, know their Redeemer (Baruch 3:38), see their salvation, welcome in their midst their Teacher, their Brother and their true Father? O Light of My soul, My Strength, My Beloved, for Whom dying I live! Son of My womb, how can I fulfill the office of a Mother, since I do not know  how to fulfill the duties, nor merit the name of even a slave? How shall I be able to treat You worthily, who am a vile and insignificant, poor worm? How can I serve and administer to You, since You are Sanctity Itself and Infinite Goodness, and I only dust and ashes? How can I dare to speak before You, or stand in Your Divine Presence? O Master of My being, Who has chosen Me, the little one among the other daughters of Adam, govern My conduct, direct My desires and inflame My affections, in order that I may please You with all My powers! And what shall I do, My only Delight, since You are to issue from My womb into the world in order to suffer affronts and death for the human race, if at the same time I shall not be allowed to die with You and accompany You in Your Sacrifice? Since You are My Life and My Being, let the same cause and motive that brings about Your Death bring about also mine, for they are united as if they were one and the same. Less than Your Death will suffice to save the world, yes thousands of worlds; let Me die instead of You, and let Me suffer Your ignominies, while You, by Your love and light, sanctify the world and enlighten the darkness of men, and if it is not pos­sible to revoke the Decree of the Eternal Father, which requires that Redemption be abundant (Eph 2:4) and Your excessive charity be satisfied, look graciously upon My desires and let Me take part in all the labors of Your life, since You are My Son and Lord."

444 The variety of these and other sweetest senti­ments of love uttered by the Queen made Her most beau­tiful in the Eyes (Est 2:9) of the Prince of the Eterni­ties, Who was enshrined in the virginal chamber of Her womb. All Her interior movements were conformable to the actions of that Most Sacred and Deified Humanity, for as a worthy Mother of such a Son She closely observed them as models for Her imitation. Sometimes the Infant God would place Himself on His knees in order to pray to the Father or assume the position of one cru­cified, as if in order to exercise Himself therein before­hand. From that retirement (as even now from the highest throne in heaven) He looked upon and compre­hended, by the science of His Most Holy Soul, all that He knows even at this day, and no creatures of the present, past, or future, with all their thoughts and actions, was hidden from His view. To all things He attended as the Lord and Redeemer. Since these mysteries were manifest also to His Heavenly Mother and since She was also endowed with all the graces and gifts necessary for acting in concert with Him, She brought forth such great fruits of sanctity, that no human words could ever describe them. But if we were not perverted in our judgments, and if we were not hardened as stone, we would find it impossible, at the sight and experience of these vast and admirable works, to remain untouched by loving sorrow and thankful acknowledgment.

INSTRUCTION OF MARY, THE MOST HOLY QUEEN

445 The lesson of this chapter, My daughter, should be, that you bear in mind with what reverence you must handle all the things consecrated and devoted to divine service; and at the same time estimate how repre­hensible is the irreverence with which the ministers of the Lord offend in their disregard for the sacred objects. They should not forget or slight the indignation of His Majesty against them for the gross discourtesy and in­gratitude, which they ordinarily show by handling the sacred ornaments and objects of worship without attention and respect. And much greater is the anger of the Lord against those who possess the incomes or stipends of His Most Sacred Blood, if they waste and squander them in vile vanities and indecent profanities. They seek for their sustenance and convenience what is most costly and valuable; while for the honor and worship of the Lord they are satisfied with what is most cheap, common and ordinary. When this happens, especially in regard to the linens, which touch the Body and Blood of My Most Holy Son, such as corporals and purificators, I wish You to understand that the Holy Angels, who assist at the most exalted and sublime sacrifice, are as it were struck with horror and cover their eyes at the sight, full of astonish­ment that the Most High bears with them and suffers such boldness and presumption. Although not all offend in this, yet there are many; and few distinguish them­selves in outward respect and care at the Divine Liturgy or treat the sacred objects with due reverence; they are the smaller number and even they do not all have the pure intention, not observing this due respect out of reverence, but out of vanity and for other human ends. Thus they who adore and worship their Creator in the spirit of truth and with a pure and upright intention have become very scarce.

446 Consider, My dear, what should be our senti­ments when, on the one hand, we reflect on the Incom­prehensible Being of God, Who in His goodness has cre­ated us for His honor and worship, establishing this as the very law of our nature and of all the created universe, and when, on the other hand, we see with what ingrati­tude men correspond to the gifts of the most liberal Creator by withholding from His service the very things intended for it, reserving for their own vanities the most costly and valuable and applying for their Creator only the most valueless and despicable of this world. This fault is little thought of and recognized, and therefore I wish not only that you deplore it with true sorrow, but also that you make reparation for it as far as possible during the time in which you are superior. Give to the Lord of the best, and instruct your religious that they attend with a sincere and devout heart to the keeping in order and the cleaning of the sacred articles; and this not only for their own convent, but also by seeking to furnish other poor churches with the corporals and vest­ments of which they stand in need. Let them be con­vinced that the Lord will repay their holy zeal for His worship, and that He will relieve their poverty and the necessities of their convent like a Father, and that thereby it will never become poorer. This is the most appro­priate occupation and legitimate business of the spouses of Christ, and in this they ought to consume their time that may remain after fulfilling the obligations of the choir and other duties of obedience. If all the religious would busy themselves purposely in these honorable, praiseworthy and agreeable occupations they would never suffer any need and they would maintain an angelic ex­istence in this life. Because they do not attend to this Service of the Lord, many of them, forsaken by the Hand of the God, turn toward the dangerous levities and dis­tractions, which on account of their vileness, I do not wish you to describe or consider except to deplore them from your heart and to avert such displeasure and offense against God.

447 But because I have especial reason to look with favor upon the religious of your convent, I wish that, in My name and by My authority, you admonish and lovingly urge them always to live retired and dead to the world, with unbroken forgetfulness of all that passes within it; that among themselves their conversation be of heaven, and that above all they preserve intact the mutual peace and love, to which I have exhorted you so often (Phil 3:20). If they obey Me in this I offer them My protection, and I will constitute Myself their Mother, their help and defense in the same way as I am yours, and I will also promise them My continual and efficacious inter­cession with My Most Holy Son, if they do not displease Me. For this purpose you should exhort them to con­tinual love and devotion toward Me, engrafting it in their hearts; in being thus faithful they will attain all that you wish for them, and much more, for I will obtain it for them. In order that they may occupy themselves with joy and alacrity in preparing things for the Divine Wor­ship, and gladly undertake all that pertains to it, remind them of all that I did in the service of My Most Holy Son and of the Temple. I desire you to understand that the Holy Angels were full of admiration at the zeal, careful attention and neatness with which I took charge of all that belonged to the service of My Son and Lord. This loving and reverent anxiety caused Me to prepare all that was necessary for His rearing up beforehand, so that I was never in need of anything necessary for clothing Him and administering to His comfort (as some have thought); for My prudence and love would not permit any negligence or inadvertence in this regard.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 2

CHAPTER 8

ALL SUBJECTS OF THE EMPIRE ARE COMMANDED TO REGISTER.

448 It had been decreed by the Immutable Will of Providence that the Only Begotten of the Father should be born in the town of Bethlehem (Mic 5:2), and ac­cordingly it had been foretold by the Saints and Prophets of foregone ages (Jer 10:9); for the Decrees of the Absolute Will of God are Infallible, and since nothing can resist them (Est 13: 9), sooner would heaven and earth pass away than that they fail of accomplishment (Matt 24:35). The fulfillment of this immutable de­cree the Lord secured by means of an edict of Caesar Augustus for the whole Roman Empire, ordering the registration or enumeration of the entire world, as St. Luke says (Lk 2:1). The Roman Empire at that time embraced the greater part of what was then known of the earth and therefore they called themselves masters of the world, ignoring all the other nations. The object of this census was to make all the inhabitants acknowl­edge themselves as vassals of the emperor, and to pay a certain tax to their temporal lord; for this registration every one was to go to His native city in order to be inscribed. This edict was also proclaimed in Nazareth and came to the hearing of St. Joseph while he was on some errand. He returned to His house in sorrowful consternation and informed his Heavenly Spouse of the news that had spread about concerning the edict. The most prudent Virgin answered: "Let not this edict of our temporal ruler cause you any concern, My master and spouse, for all that happens to us is ordained by the Lord and King of Heaven and earth; and in all events His Providence will assist and direct us. Let us resign ourselves into His Hands and We shall not be disappointed."

449 Most Holy Mary was capable of being entrusted with all the Mysteries of Her Most Holy Son and She knew of the prophecies and their fulfillment; hence, also, that the Only Begotten of the Father and Her own was to be born in Bethlehem, a stranger and an unknown. But She said nothing of this to St. Joseph; for without being commissioned by the Lord She would reveal none of His Secrets. All that She was not commanded to re­veal She concealed with admirable prudence, notwith­standing Her desire of consoling Her most faithful and holy spouse. She wished to entrust Herself to His direc­tion and arrangement without acting the part of those who are wise in their own conceit, as Wisdom warns us (Prov 3:7). They therefore conferred with each other about the course to be pursued, for already the pregnancy of the Heavenly Lady was far advanced and Her parturi­tion was approaching. St. Joseph said: "Queen of Heaven and earth and my Mother, if You have no order to the contrary from the Almighty, it seems to me nec­essary that I go alone. Yet, although this order refers only to the heads of families, I dare not leave You without assistance, nor could I live without You, nor would I have a moment's peace away from You; for my heart could not come to any rest without seeing You. Your heavenly delivery is too imminent to ask You to go with me to Bethlehem, where this edict calls us; and I fear to place You in any risk, as well on account of Your con­dition as also on account of my poverty. If Your delivery should happen on the way, amid inconveniences, which I could not alleviate, I would be heartbroken. These are the anxious thoughts that trouble me. I pray You, Lady, present them before the Most High and implore Him to grant me my desire of not being separated from You."

450 His humble Spouse obeyed St. Joseph and although She was not ignorant of the Divine Will, yet She would not omit this act of obedience as a most sub­missive Spouse. She presented to the Lord the fervent wishes of St. Joseph and received the following answer: "My Dear Dove, yield to the wishes of My servant Joseph in what he proposes. Accompany him on the journey. I shall be with You and I shall assist You with paternal love in the tribulations which You shall suffer for My Sake; although they shall be very great, My Powerful Arms will make You come forth glorious from all of them. Your footsteps will be beautiful in My Sight (Song 7:1). Do not fear, since this is My Will." Then the Lord gave to the Holy Guardian Angels, in the presence of the Heavenly Mary, a new and special com­mand and precept, that they serve Her during this jour­ney with particular care and solicitude, as befitted the Magnificent Mysteries that should be transacted. Beside the 1,000 angels that served ordinarily as Her guard, the Lord commanded another 9,000 to attend on their Queen, and serve as a guard of honor 10,000 strong from the first day of Her journey. This they did as most faithful servants of the Lord, as I shall say later on (Nos. 456, 489, 616, 622, 631, 634). The great Queen was renewed and strengthened with new enlightenment for the troubles and tribulations which would be occasioned by the persecution of Herod and other happenings at the Birth of the Infant God (Matt 2:16). Her invincible heart being thus pre­pared, She offered Herself to the Lord without any dis­quietude and gave thanks for all that He should choose to do and arrange in regard to these future events.

451 She returned from this heavenly interview to St. Joseph, and announced to him the Will of the Most High, that She accede to his wishes and accompany him on his journey to Bethlehem. Joseph was filled with new consolation and delight; acknowledging the great favor conferred upon him by the Right Hand of the Most High, he gave thanks with fervent acts of gratitude and humility; and, addressing the Heavenly Spouse, he an­swered: "My Lady, source of my happiness and good fortune, the only cause of grief in this journey will now be the hardships which You must undergo because I have no riches to procure You the conveniences which I would like to furnish for your pilgrimage. But we shall find relations, acquaintances and friends of our family in Bethlehem; I hope they will receive us hospitably, and there you can rest from the exertions of the journey, if the Lord will dispose as I your servant would wish." Thus the holy spouse St. Joseph lovingly planned; but the Lord had already pre-arranged all things in a way unknown to him; and therefore he experienced so much the greater bitterness of disappointment when all his loving expectations failed, as we shall see. Most Holy Mary said nothing to St. Joseph of what She knew the Lord had decreed concerning the Heavenly Birth, although She well knew that it would be different from what he expected. She rather encouraged him, saying: "My spouse and My master, I accompany you with much pleasure, and we will make this journey as poor people in the Name of the Lord: for the Most High will not despise poverty, which He came to seek with so much love. Relying on His protection and assistance in our necessities and labors, we will proceed with confidence. My master, place to His account all your difficul­ties."

452 They at the same time resolved upon the day of their departure, and Joseph diligently searched in the town of Nazareth for some beast of burden to bear the Queen of the World. He could not easily find one because so many people were going to different towns in order to fulfill the requirements of the edict of the emperor. But after much anxious inquiry St. Joseph found an unpretentious little beast which, if we can call such creatures fortunate, was the most fortunate of all the irrational animals; since it was privileged not only to bear the Queen of all Creation and the Blessed Fruit of Her womb, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, but afterwards to be present at His Birth (Isaiah 1:3); and since it gave to its Creator the homage denied to Him by men, as I shall relate (No. 485). They provided the articles for the journey, which would last 5 days. The outfit of the heavenly travelers was the same as that which they had provided for their previous journey to the house of Zechariah on their visit to Elisabeth. They carried with them bread, fruit and some fishes, which ordinarily composed their nourishment. As the most prudent Virgin was enlightened regarding their pro­tracted absence, She made use of prudent concealment in taking along the linens and clothes necessary for Her heavenly delivery, for She wished to dispose all things according to the exalted intents of the Lord and in prepa­ration for the events which She expected. Their house they left in charge of some neighbor until they should return.

453 The day and hour for their departure for Beth­lehem arrived and, because of the reverence with which the most faithful and fortunate Joseph had begun to treat his sovereign Spouse, he diligently and anxiously sought to do all in his power to please Her; he besought Her with great affection to make known to him all Her wishes and to call his attention to all that he might forget in regard to Her pleasure, convenience and comfort, or that might please the Lord Whom She bore in Her womb. The humble Queen thanked him for his loving attention, and referring it to all the glory and service of Her Most Holy Son, She consoled and animated him to meet cour­ageously the hardships of the journey, assuring him anew that the Almighty was pleased with his affectionate solici­tude. She also informed him of the Will of His Majesty that they meet with patience and joy of heart the hard­ships of poverty on their way. In order to begin Her journey the Empress of heaven knelt at the feet of St. Joseph and asked him for his blessing. Although the man of God shrunk from such a request and strenuously ob­jected on account of the dignity of his Spouse, She never­theless remained victorious in Her humility and prevailed upon him to give Her his blessing. St. Joseph complied with great timidity and reverence, and imme­diately cast himself at Her feet in a flood of tears, asking Her to present him anew to Her Most Holy Son, and obtain for him Divine Pardon and Grace. Thus prepared they started from Nazareth for Bethlehem in midwinter, which made the journey more painful and difficult. But the Mother of God, who bore Eternal Life within Her, at­tended solely to the Divine Activities and Colloquies of the Lord, observing Him in the virginal chamber of Her womb, imitating Him in His works, and giving Him more delight and honor than all the rest of creatures taken together.

INSTRUCTION FROM THE QUEEN

454 My daughter, in all your discourse on My life, and in each of the chapters and mysteries so far rehearsed, you will find the admirable Providence of the Most High and His Fatherly love toward Me, His humble servant. Although human capacity cannot fully penetrate and estimate the admirable works of such high wisdom, yet it must venerate it with all its powers, and must seek to participate in the favors which the Lord showed Me, by striving to imitate Me. For men must not think that only for My sake and in Me God wished to show Him­self as holy, powerful and infinitely good. It is certain that if any or all souls would entrust themselves to the direction and government of this Lord, they would soon experience that same fidelity, punctuality and most sweet efficacy with which His Majesty arranged all things that touched upon His honor and service in My life. They would likewise taste those delightful and heavenly emotions that I felt in relying upon His Most Holy Will; nor would they fail to receive the abundance of His gifts, which are enclosed as in an infinite ocean within His Divinity. And just as the waters of the ocean rush forth wherever they find a suitable opening, so the graces and blessings of the Lord overflow upon rational creatures, when they are well-disposed and do not hinder their course. This truth is hidden to men because they do not stop to ponder and consider the works of the Almighty.

455 I desire you to study this truth, to write it within your heart, and to learn from My own actions the secret workings of your own interior so that you understand what goes on within you; also that you practice ready obedience and subjection to others, always preferring the good counsels of others to your own insight and judg­ment. You must carry this to such a point that, in order to obey your superiors and your spiritual directors, you take no notice of what you foresee will happen contrary to their expectations; just as I, when I knew that what My holy spouse Joseph expected would not happen on our journey to Bethlehem. And even when some equal or inferior command you such things, be silent and hide your better foreknowledge; perform all that is not sinful or imperfect. Listen to all with attention and silence so that you may learn. In speaking be very slow and reserved, for in this, consists prudent and care­ful dealings. Always bear in mind that you ask the Blessing of the Lord for all that you wish to under­take, in order that you may not wander from what is pleasing to Him. Whenever you have an opportunity, ask also the permission and blessing of your spiritual Father and director, so that you may not fall short of the greatest merits and perfections in your works, and in order that you may also give Me the pleasure, which I desire of you.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 2

CHAPTER 9

ST. JOSEPH AND OUR LADY TRAVEL FROM NAZARETH TO BETHLEHEM.

456 The most pure Mary and the glorious St. Joseph departed from Nazareth for Bethlehem alone, poor and humble in the eyes of the world. No one thought more of them than what was warranted by their poverty and humility. But O the wonderful Sacraments of the Most High, hidden to the proud, and unpenetrated by the wisdom of the flesh! They did not walk alone, poor or despised, but prosperous, rich and in magnificence. They were most worthy of the immense love of the Eternal Father and most estimable in His Eyes. They carried with them the Treasure of Heaven, God Himself. The whole court of the celestial ministers ven­erated them. All the inanimate beings recognized the living and true Ark of the Testament (Joshua 3:16) more readily than the waters of the Jordan recognized its type and shadow, when they courteously laid open and free the path for its passage and for those that followed it. They were accompanied by 10,000 angels, which as mentioned (No. 450), were appointed by God Himself as the servants of Her Majesty during that whole journey. These heavenly squadrons marched along as their retinue in human forms visible to the Heavenly Lady, more refulgent than so many suns. She Herself walked in their midst better guarded and defended than the bed of Solomon, surrounded by the 60 valiant ones of Israel, girded with their swords (Song 3:7). Besides these 10,000 angels there were many others, who descended from heaven as messengers of the Eternal Father to His Only Begotten made Man in His most Holy Mother, and who ascended from earth as their ambassa­dors with messages and treaties from them to the Heavenly Father.

457 In the midst of this royal retinue, hidden from the gaze of men, most Holy Mary and Joseph proceeded on their way secure that their feet would not be bruised by the stone of tribulation (Ps 91:12), since the Lord had commanded His Angels to be their defense and watch­fulness. This command the most faithful ministers, as vassals of their great Queen, fulfilled with wonder and delight, seeing centered in a mere Creature such great Sacraments, such perfections, and Immense Treasures of the Divinity, and seeing in Her all this distinction united to dignity and grace far exceeding their own angelic capacity. They composed new songs in honor of the Lord, Whom they saw reclining as the Highest King of Glory, on His throne of gold (Song 3:9); and in honor of the Heavenly Mother, who was like His living and incorruptible chariot, or like the fertile ear of corn of the promised land, enclosing the living grain (Lev 23:10); or like the rich merchant ship, which brings the grain to the House of Bread, in order that dying in the earth it might be multiplied for heaven (John 12:24). Their journey lasted 5 days, for on account of the pregnancy of His Spouse; St. Joseph shortened each day's journey. The sovereign Queen experienced no darkness of night on the way; for a few times, when their travel extended beyond nightfall the Holy Angels spread about such effulgence as not all the lights of heaven in their noontide splendor would have thrown forth in the clearest heavens.  This light and vision of the Angels also St. Joseph enjoyed at those times; then all of them together would form celestial choirs, in which they and the 2 holy travelers alternated in singing wonderful hymns and Canticles of Praise, converting the fields into new heavens. During this whole journey the Queen was rejoiced by the sight of Her resplendent ministers and vassals and by the sweet interior conversation held with them.

458 With these wonderful favors and delights, how­ever, the Lord joined some hardships and inconveniences, which the Heavenly Mother encountered on the way. For the concourse of people in the inns, occasioned by the imperial edict, was very disagreeable and annoying to the modest and retiring Virgin-Mother and Her spouse. On account of their poverty and timid retirement they were treated with less hospitality and consideration than others, especially the well to do; for the world judges and usually confers its favors according to outward appearance and according to personal influence. Our holy pilgrims were obliged repeatedly to listen to sharp reprimands in the inns, at which they arrived tired out by their journey, and in some of them they were refused admittance as worthless and despicable people. Several times they as­signed to the Queen of Heaven and earth some corner of the hallway, while at others She did not fare even so well, being obliged to retire with Her husband to places still more humble and unbecoming in the estimation of the world. But in whatever places She tarried, how con­temptible so ever it might be considered, the courtiers of heaven established their court around their Supreme King and sovereign Queen. Immediately they surrounded and enclosed them like an impenetrable wall, securing the bridal chamber of Solomon against the terrors of the night. Her most faithful spouse Joseph, seeing the Queen of Heaven so well guarded by the angelic hosts, peacefully slept; for to this She urged him on account of the hardships of travel. She, how­ever, continued Her celestial colloquies with the 10,000 angels of Her retinue.

459 Solomon, in the Song of Songs, describes in diverse metaphors and similitudes many great mysteries of the Queen of Heaven, but in Chapter 3 he refers more particularly to what happened to the Heavenly Mother in Her pregnancy and during this journey. During this time was fulfilled to the letter all that is said of the couch of Solomon (Song 3:7), of His chariot and of His golden bed, of the guard, which was stationed around it enjoying the heavenly vision; also all the other sayings, which are contained in those prophecies. What I have pointed out will suffice to make them understood, and they should excite our admiration of the wonderful sacraments of God's activity for the good of man. Who is there among men whose heart is not softened? Or who is so proud as not to be abashed? Or so careless as not to be filled with wonder at such miraculous extremes? The Infinite and True God hidden and concealed in the virginal womb of a tender Maiden, Full of Grace and beauty, inno­cent, pure, sweet, pleasing and amiable in the Eyes of God and of men, surpassing all that the Lord God has ever or shall ever create! To see this great Lady, bearing the treasure of the Divinity, despised, persecuted, neglected, and cast out by the blind ignorance and pride of the world! And on the other hand, while She is thus pushed aside into the last places, to see Her loved and esteemed by the Triune God, regaled by His caresses, served by His Holy Angels, revered, defended and assisted with the greatest anxiety and watchfulness! O children of men, slow and hard of hearts! (Ps 4:3). How deceitful are your ways and how erroneous is your judgment in esteeming the rich and despising the poor (Jacob 2:2), exalting the proud and humiliating the lowly, applauding the braggarts and casting out the righteous! Blind is your choice and full of error your judgment, and you will find yourselves frus­trated in all your desires. Ambitiously you seek riches and treasures, and you find yourself in poverty beating the air; if you had received the true Ark of God, you would have been blessed by the Hand of the Almighty, like Obededom (2 Sam 6:11); but because you have treated it unworthily, many of you have experienced the punishment of Uza.

460 The Heavenly Lady observed and knew the secrets of the different souls of those She met, penetrating into the very thoughts and conditions of each, whether of grace or of guilt in their different degrees. Concern­ing many souls She also knew whether they were pre­destined or reprobate, whether they would persevere, fall, or again rise up. All this variety of insight moved Her to the exercise of Heroic virtues as well in regard to the ones as to the others. For many of them She obtained the grace of perseverance, for others efficacious help to rise from their sin to grace; for others again She prayed to the Lord with affectionate tears, feeling intense sorrow for the reprobate, though She did not pray as efficaciously for them. Many times, worn out by these sorrows, much more than by the hardships of travel, the strength of Her body gave way; on such occasions the Holy Angels, full of refulgent light and beauty, bore Her up in their arms, in order that She might rest and recuperate. The sick, afflicted and indigent whom She met on the way, She consoled and assisted by asking Her Most Holy Son to come to their aid in their necessities and adversities. She kept Herself silently aloof from the multitude, preoccupied with the Fruit of Her Divine Preg­nancy, which was already evident to all. Such was the return that the Mother of Mercy made for the inhos­pitality of men.

461 For the greater reproach of human ingratitude, it happened also that once during these wintry days they reached a stopping-place in the midst of a cold rain and snow storm (for the Lord did not spare them this in­convenience), and they were obliged to take shelter in the stables of the animals, because the owners would not furnish better accommodation. The irrational beasts showed them the courtesy and kindness that was re­fused by their human fellow-beings, for they retreated in reverence at the entrance of their Creator and of His Mother, who carried Him in Her virginal womb. It is true the Queen of creation could command the winds, the frost and the snow not to inconvenience Her; but She would not give such a command in order not to deprive Herself of suffering in imitation of Her Most Holy Son, even before He came forth into the world. Therefore the inclemencies of the weather affected Her to a certain extent. The faithful St. Joseph, however, did His utmost to shield Her; and still more did the Holy Angels seek to protect Her, especially the Holy Prince Michael, who remained at the right side of His Queen without leaving Her even for a moment; several times, when She became tired, He led Her by the arm along the way. Whenever the Lord permitted, he also shielded Her against the weather and performed many other services for the Heavenly Queen and the Blessed Fruit of Her womb, Jesus.

462 Thus variously and wonder fully assisted, our travelers arrived at the town of Bethlehem at 4 o'clock of the 5th day, a Saturday. As it was at the time of the winter solstice, the sun was already sinking and the night was falling. They entered the town, and wandered through many streets in search of a lodging-house or inn for staying over night. They knocked at the doors of their acquaintances and nearer family relations; but they were admitted nowhere and in many places they met with harsh words and insults. The most modest Queen fol­lowed Her spouse through the crowds of people, while he went from house to house and from door to door. Although She knew that the hearts and the houses of men were to be closed to them, and although to expose Her state at Her age to the public gaze was more painful to Her modesty than their failure to procure a night-lodging, She nevertheless wished to obey St. Joseph and suffer this indignity and unmerited shame. While wandering through the streets they passed the office of the public registry and they inscribed their names and paid the fiscal tribute in order to comply with the edict and not be obliged to return. They continued their search, going to other houses. But having already applied at more than 50 different places, they found themselves rejected and sent away from them all. The Heavenly Spirits were filled with astonishment at these exalted Mysteries of the Most High, which mani­fested the patience and meekness of His Virgin Mother and the unfeeling hardness of men. At the same time they blessed the Almighty in His works and hidden Sacra­ments, since from that day on He began to exalt and honor poverty and humility among men.

463 It was 9 o'clock at night when the most faithful Joseph, full of bitter and heartrending sorrow, returned to His most prudent Spouse and said: "My sweetest Lady, my heart is broken with sorrow at the thought of not only not being able to shelter You as You deserve and as I desire, but in not being able to offer You even any kind of protection from the weather, or a place of rest, a thing rarely or never denied to the most poor and despised in the world. No doubt heaven, in thus allowing the hearts of men to be so unmoved as to refuse us a night lodging, conceals some mystery. I now remember, Lady, that outside the city walls there is a cave, which serves as a shelter for shepherds and their flocks. Let us seek it out; perhaps it is unoccupied, and we may there expect some assistance from heaven, since we receive none from men on earth." The most prudent Virgin answered: "My spouse and My master, let not your kindest heart be afflicted because the ardent wishes which the love of your Lord excites in you cannot be ful­filled. Since I bear Him in My womb, let us, I implore you, give thanks for having disposed events in this way. The place of which you speak shall be most satisfac­tory to Me. Let your tears of sorrow be turned into tears of joy, and let us lovingly embrace poverty, which is the inestimable and precious treasure of My Most Holy Son. He came from heaven in order to seek it, let us then afford Him an occasion to practice it in the joy of our souls; certainly I cannot be better delighted than to see you procure it for Me. Let us go gladly wherever the Lord shall guide us." The Holy Angels accompanied the heavenly pair, brilliantly lighting up the way, and when they arrived at the city gate they saw that the cave was forsaken and unoccupied. Full of heavenly consolation, they thanked the Lord for this favor, and then happened what I shall relate in the following chapter.

INSTRUCTION OF THE MOST HOLY MARY 

464 My dear daughter, if you are of a meek and docile heart, these mysteries which you have written about and have understood, will stir within you sweet sentiments of love and affection toward the Author of such great wonders. I wish that, bearing them in mind; you from this day on, embrace with new and great esteem the contempt and neglect of the world. And tell Me, if, in exchange for this forgetfulness and scorn of the world, God looks upon you with Eyes of Sweetest Love, why should you not buy so cheaply what is worth an infinite price? What can the world give you, even when it esteems you and exalts you most? And what do you lose, if you despise it? Is its favor not all vanity and deceit (Ps 4:3)? Is it not all a fleeting and momentary shadow, which eludes the grasp of those that haste after it? Hence, if you have all worldly advan­tage in your possession, what great feat would it be to despise it as of no value? Consider how little you do in rejecting all of it for the love of God, for Mine and that of the Holy Angels. And if the world does not neglect you as much as you should desire, you on your own behalf despise it, in order to remain free and unhampered to enjoy to the full extent the highest Good with the plenitude of His most delightful love and association.

465 My Most Holy Son is such a faithful Lover of souls that He has set Me as the teacher and living example of the love of humility and true contempt of worldly vanity and pride. He ordained also for His own glory as well as for My sake that I, His Servant and Mother, should be left without shelter and be turned away by men, in order that afterwards His beloved souls might be so much the more readily induced to offer Him a welcome, thus obliging Him, by an artifice of love, to come and remain with them. He also sought destitu­tion and poverty, not because He had any need of them for bringing the practice of virtues to the highest per­fection, but in order to teach men the shortest and surest way for reaching the heights of Divine Love and Union with God.

466 You know well, My dear, that you have been incessantly instructed and exhorted by Divine en­lightenment to forget the terrestrial and visible and to gird yourself with fortitude (Prov 31:17), to raise your­self to the imitation of Me, copying in yourself, according to your capacity, the works and virtues manifested to you in My life. This is the very first purpose of the knowl­edge which you receive in writing this History; for you have in Me a perfect model, and by it you can arrange the converse and conduct of your life in the same manner as I arranged Mine in imitation of My Sweetest Son. The dread with which this command to imitate Me has inspired you as a being above your strength, you must moderate and you must encourage yourself by the words of My Most Holy Son in the Gospel of Saint Matthew: "Be perfect as My Heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt 5:48). This command of the Most High im­posed upon His Holy Church is not impossible of fulfill­ment, and, if His faithful children on their part dispose themselves properly, He will deny to none of them the grace of attaining this resemblance to the Heavenly Father. All this My Most Holy Son has merited for them. But the degrading forgetfulness and neglect of men hin­der them from maturing within themselves the fruits of His Redemption.

467 Of You particularly I expect this perfection, and I invite You to it by the sweet law of love that accom­panies My instruction. Ponder and scrutinize, by the Divine light, the obligation under which I place you, and labor to correspond with it like a faithful and anxious child. Let no difficulty or hardship disturb you, nor deter you from any virtuous exercise, no matter how hard it may be. Nor be content with striving after the love of God and salvation of yourself alone; if you would be perfect in imitating Me and fulfilling all that the Gospel teaches, you must work for the salvation of other souls and the exaltation of the Holy Name of My Son, making yourself an instrument in His Powerful Hands for the accomplishment of mighty works to advance His pleasure and glory.

CITY OF GOD    THE INCARNATION     BOOK 2

CHAPTER 10.

CHRIST OUR SAVIOR IS BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY IN BETHLEHEM.

468 The palace which the Supreme King of kings and the Lord of lords had chosen for entertaining His Eternal and Incarnate Son in this world was a most poor and insignificant cave, to which most Holy Mary and Joseph set off for after they had been denied all hospitality and the most ordinary kindness by their fellow-men, as I have described in the foregoing chapter. This place was held in such contempt that though the town of Bethlehem was full of strangers in need of night shelter, none would demean or degrade himself so far as to make use of it for a lodging; for there was none who deemed it suitable or desirable for such a purpose, except the Teachers of Humility and Poverty, Christ our Savior and His purest Mother. On this account the Wis­dom of the Eternal Father had reserved it for Them, con­secrating it in all its bareness, loneliness and poverty as the first Temple of Light (Malachi 4:2, Ps. 112:4) and as the House of the true Sun of Righteousness, which was to arise for the upright of heart from the resplendent Aurora Mary, turning the night of sin into the daylight of grace.

469 Most holy Mary and St. Joseph entered the lodging thus provided for them and by the effulgence of the 10,000 angels of their guard they could easily ascertain its poverty and loneliness, which they esteemed as favors and welcomed with tears of consolation and joy. Without delay the 2 holy travelers fell on their knees and praised the Lord, giving Him thanks for His benefit, which they knew had been provided by His wis­dom for His own hidden designs. Of this Mystery the Heavenly Princess Mary had a better insight, for as soon as She sanctified the interior of the cave by Her sacred footsteps She felt a fullness of joy that entirely elevated and vivified Her. She asked the Lord to bless with a liberal hand all the inhabitants of the neighboring city, because by rejecting Her they had given occasion to the vast favors, which She awaited in this neglected cavern. It was formed entirely of the bare and coarse rocks, without any natural beauty or artificial adornment; a place intended merely for the shelter of animals; yet the Eternal Father had selected it for the shelter and dwelling-place of His own Son.

470 The Angelic Spirits, who like a celestial militia guarded their Queen, formed themselves into cohorts in the manner of court guards in a royal palace. They showed themselves in their visible forms also to St. Joseph; for on this occasion it was befitting that he should enjoy such a favor, on the one hand in order to assuage His sorrow by allowing him to behold this poor lodging thus beautified and adorned by their celestial presence, and on the other, in order to enliven and encourage him for the events which the Lord in­tended to bring about during that night, and in this for­saken place. The great Queen and Empress, who was already informed of the Mystery to be transacted here, set about cleaning the cave, which was so soon to serve as a Royal Throne and Sacred Mercy-Seat; for neither did She want to miss this occasion for exercising Her humility, nor would She deprive Her Only-Begotten Son of the worship and reverence implied by this preparation and cleansing of His Temple.

471 Saint Joseph, mindful of the majesty of his Heavenly Spouse (which, it seemed to him, She was for­getting in Her ardent longing for humiliation), asked Her not to deprive him of this work, which he con­sidered as his alone; and he hastened to set about cleaning the floor and the corners of the cave, although the hum­ble Queen continued to assist him therein. As the Holy Angels were then present in visible forms, they were (according to our mode of speaking) abashed at such eagerness for humiliation, and they speedily emulated with each other to join in this work; or rather, in order to say it more succinctly, in the shortest time possible they had cleansed and set in order that cave, filling it with holy fragrance. St. Joseph started a fire with the material that he had brought for that purpose. As it was very cold, they sat at the fire in order to get warm. They partook of the food which they had brought, and they ate this, their frugal supper, with incomparable joy of their souls. The Queen of Heaven was so absorbed and taken up with the thought of the impending Mystery of Her Divine Delivery, that She would not have partaken of food if She had not been urged thereto by obedience to Her spouse.

472 After their supper they gave thanks to the Lord, as was their custom. Having spent a short time in this prayer and conferring about the Mysteries of the Incar­nate Word, the most prudent Virgin felt the approach of the Most Blessed Birth. She requested Her spouse St. Joseph to rest and sleep as the night was already far advanced. The man of God yielded to the request of His Spouse and urged Her to do the same; and for this purpose he arranged and pre­pared a sort of couch with the articles of wear in their possession, making use of a crib or manger, that had been left by the shepherds for their animals. Leaving most Holy Mary in the portion of the cave thus furnished, St. Joseph retired to a corner of the entrance, where he began to pray. He was immediately visited by the Divine Spirit and felt a most sweet and extraordinary influence, by which he was wrapt and elevated into an ecstasy. In it was shown him all that passed during that night in this blessed cave; for he did not return to con­sciousness until his Heavenly Spouse called him. Such was the sleep that St. Joseph enjoyed in that night more exalted and blessed than that of Adam in the Garden of Paradise (Gen 2:21).

473 The Queen of all Creatures was called from Her resting-place by a loud Voice of the Most High, which strongly and sweetly raised Her above all created things and caused Her to feel new effects of Divine power; for this was one of the most singular and admirable ecstasies of Her most holy life. Immediately also She was filled with new enlightenment and Divine influences, such as I have described in other places, until She reached the clear vision of the Divinity. The veil fell and She saw intui­tively God Himself in such glory and plenitude of insight, as all the capacity of men and angels could not describe or fully understand. All the knowledge of the Divinity and Humanity of Her Most Holy Son, which She had ever received in former visions, was renewed and, moreover, other Secrets of the Inexhaustible Archives of the Heart of God were revealed to Her. I have not ideas or words sufficient and adequate for expressing what I have been allowed to see of these Sacraments by the Divine light; and their abundance and multiplicity con­vince me of the poverty and lack of proper expression in created language.

474 The Most High announced to His Virgin Mother, that the time of His Coming into the world had arrived and what would be the manner in which this was now to be fulfilled and executed. The most prudent Lady per­ceived in this vision the purpose and exalted scope of these wonderful Mysteries and Sacraments, as well in so far as related to the Lord Himself as also in so far as they concerned creatures, for whose benefit they had been primarily decreed. She prostrated Herself before the Throne of His Divinity and gave Him Glory, Magnificence, Thanks and Praise for Herself and for all creatures, such as was befitting the Ineffable Mercy and Condescension of His Divine Love. At the same time She asked of the Divine Majesty new light and grace in order to be able worthily to undertake the service and worship and the rearing up of the Word made flesh, Whom She was to bear in Her arms and nourish with Her virginal milk. This petition the Heavenly Mother brought forward with the pro­foundest humility, as one who understood the greatness of this new Sacrament. She held Herself unworthy of the office of rearing up and conversing as a Mother with God Incarnate of which even the highest Seraphim are incapable. Prudently and humbly did the Mother of Wisdom ponder and weigh this matter. And because She humbled Herself to the dust and acknowledged Her noth­ingness in the Presence of the Almighty, therefore His Majesty raised Her up and confirmed anew upon Her the title of Mother of God. He commanded Her to exercise this office and ministry of a legitimate and true Mother of Himself; that She should treat Him as the Son of the Eternal Father and at the same time the Son of Her womb. All this could be easily entrusted to such a Mother, in whom was contained an excellence that words cannot express.

475