OTHER AFFLICTIONS OF OUR QUEEN, SOME OF WHICH WERE PERMITTED BY THE LORD THROUGH THE AGENCY OF CREATURES AND OF THE ANCIENT SERPENT.
689.The Most High continued to hide and conceal Himself from the Princess of heaven; and to this affliction, which was the most severe, his Majesty added others in order to increase her merit, her grace and her , thus inflaming more and more the most pure love of the heavenly Lady.
The great dragon and ancient serpent was not unwatchful of the heroic works of the most holy Mary: although he could not attain to the knowledge of her interior acts, since they were hidden from his view, yet he scrutinized the exterior ones which were so high and so perfect as to arouse the pride and indignation of that envious fiend; for the purity and the sanctity of the Child Mary tormented him beyond all calculation.
690. In his restless fury he called a conventicle of the infernal leaders in order to consult about the matter with the higher powers of hell. He addressed them as follows:
“The great triumph which we have until now obtained in the world by the possession of so many souls who are altogether subject to our wills, is, I am afraid and anxious, about to be undone and counteracted by a Woman; we cannot make light of such a danger, for we have been warned since our creation, and afterward heard the sentence confirmed against us, that the Woman shall crush our head (Gen. 3, 15). Therefore we must be watchful and discard all carelessness.
You have already been notified of a Child, which was born of Anne, and is growing in age and is at the same time distinguishing Herself in virtue: I have paid careful attention to all her actions and movements, and I have not been able to discover in Her the effects of the seeds of malice, which usually begin to show themselves at the dawn of reason and at the beginning of the activity of the passions in the rest of the children of Adam.
I have always seen Her composed and most perfect, without being able to incline or induce Her to fall into the slightest human imperfections, which are so natural in the other children.
On this account I fear, lest She be the one chosen as Mother of Him who is to become Man.”
691.“Yet I cannot convince myself of this; for She was born as the rest of women, and subject to the common laws of nature, her parents offered prayers and sacrifices in atonement for Her and their own sins, and brought Her to the temple just like other women.
Even if She is not the one chosen as our enemy, her childhood points to great things and her exquisite virtue and holiness gives promise of still greater things later on; nor can I bear the prudence and discretion with which She acts in all her affairs.
Her wisdom enrages me, her modesty irritates me, her humility annihilates me and oppresses me, and her whole behavior provokes me to unbearable wrath.
I abhor Her more than all the children of Adam.
There is in Her a special power, which often makes it impossible for me to approach Her; if I assail Her with suggestions, She does not admit them, and all my efforts in her regard until this hour have been entirely fruitless.
Hence it is important for us all that we find a remedy; and we must make the greatest exertions, lest our power be ruined.
I desire the destruction of this soul more than that of all the world.
Tell me then, what means and what contrivances must we use in order to overcome Her.
I will certainly offer high and liberal rewards to any one who shall accomplish her downfall.”
692.The matter was ventilated in that confused synagogue, convoked solely for our ruin, and one of the chiefs of the horrible council said: “Our chief and Lord, do not allow thyself to be tormented by such a small matter, for a weak little Maiden cannot be so invincible and powerful as all of us that follow thee.
Thou hast deceived Eve, (Gen. 3, 4), dragging her down from the high position which she held, and through her thou didst also conquer her head Adam; then why shouldst thou not be able to overcome this Woman, her descendant, who was born after the first fall?
Promise thyself even at this moment such a victory; and in order to obtain it we will persist in tempting Her though She resist many times, and, if necessary, we will not stop at yielding some of our greatness and haughtiness, in the hope of finally deceiving Her. If that does not suffice, we will try to destroy her honor or her life.”
693.Other demons added their advice and said to Lucifer: “By experience we know, O powerful chief, that to bring about the downfall of many souls, the most effective way is to make use of other creatures, and by their means we often succeed where we otherwise fail.
Let us then plan and contrive the ruin of this Woman in this way, first finding out the best time and the most favorable opportunity. Above all it is necessary, that we apply all our sagacity and astuteness to make Her lose grace by some sin.
As soon as this mainstay and bulwark of the just is lost to Her, we can persecute and ensnare Her in her forsakeness, and there will be no one to snatch Her from our grasp, and we must exert ourselves to reduce Her to despair of all remedy.”
694.Lucifer expressed his thanks for these encouraging counsels of his followers and co-operators in crime.
He commanded and exhorted the most astute in malice among them to accompany him as leader in this arduous enterprise; for he did not wish to trust it to other hands.
Although the demons assisted him, Lucifer himself in person was always at the fore in tempting Mary and her most holy Son in the desert, as well as during the whole course of their lives, as we shall see later on.
695.In the meanwhile our heavenly Princess continued to sigh and grieve over the absence of her Beloved, and thus the infernal squadron found Her, when they rushed forward to begin their temptations.
But the divine power, which overshadowed Her, hindered the assaults of Lucifer, so that he could not approach very closely to Her, nor could he execute all that he had intended.
By permission of God the hellish host excited in her faculties many suggestions and various thoughts of highest iniquity and malice; for the Lord did not judge it to be alien to the Mother of Grace, that She should be tempted in all things, although She was to be without sin in temptation, as was afterwards her most holy Son.
696.It cannot easily be conceived how much in this new conflict the most pure and innocent heart of Mary suffered, seeing Herself assailed by suggestions so foreign and so distant from the ineffable purity and nobility of her heavenly mind.
When the ancient serpent perceived the affliction and tears of the great Lady, he imagined that he had on this account more power over Her, being blinded by his own pride and not knowing the secrets of heaven.
Therefore, animating his infernal helpers, he said to them: “Let us persecute Her now, let us persecute Her; already it seems we are gaining our end, for She feels sorrowful, which is an opening for discouragement.”
In this mistaken conviction, they suggested new thoughts of dejection and despair, and they assailed Her with terrible imaginations, but in vain; for as this flawless stone was struck by occasions of more exalted virtues, so also it gave forth more generously the sparks and flames of divine love.
Our invincible Queen was so superior to this infernal battery, that her interior showed no signs of change nor even of an understanding of such terrible suggestions, except in so far as to concentrate Herself the more in the exercise of her incomparable virtues and allow the flames of divine love, which burned in her breast, to ascend so much the higher.
697.The dragon, though seeing her courage and constancy, and though feeling the force of the divine assistance, knew nothing of the hidden wisdom and prudence of our sovereign Queen.
Nevertheless he persisted in his pride and besieged the City of God in diverse ways and several kinds of warfare.
The astute enemy during this warfare often changed his engines of war, but his machinery was like the sting of a weak hornet against a diamond, or adamantine wall.
Our Princess was that strong woman (Prov. 31, 11) on whom the heart of her husband confidently relied, without the least anxiety lest his desires should be frustrated in Her.
Her adornments were fortitude (Prov. 31, 25) which filled Her with beauty, and her vestments were purity and charity, which served Her as a helmet.
The unclean and proud serpent could not look upon this Creature without being blinded anew in the fury of his confusion; therefore he resolved to take away her life, and the horde of malignant spirits began to exert their utmost powers toward this end. In this attempt they spent some time, but with just as little success.
698.The knowledge of this hidden mystery caused in me great wonder, especially when I considered the extremes, to which the fury of Lucifer was allowed to proceed against the most holy Mary in her tender years and when I beheld the hidden and vigilant defense and protection of the Most High.
I saw how attentive the Lord was toward his chosen and only One among creatures; and I saw at the same time all hell lashed into fury against Her and exerting against Her in fullest indignation such a wrath as had never till then been exerted against any other creature; and I saw the facility with which God neutralizes the infernal power and astuteness.
O more than unhappy Lucifer! How much greater is thy pride and arrogance than thy strength! (Isaias 16, 6.) Very weak and helpless art thou in spite of thy high-flown pretentions; begin to confide less in thyself and expect no such great triumphs; for a tender Child crushes thy head and sends thee back conquered in all things and altogether vanquished.
Acknowledge now that thou canst do and knowest but little, since thou wast even ignorant of the sacrament of the King.
Acknowledge that his power has humiliated thee by the instrument thou hadst despised, by a feeble Woman, by a Child in its natural weakness.
O how evident would thy ignorance also become in regard to men, if they would avail themselves of the protection of the Most High, and of the example, the imitation and the intercession of that victorious and triumphant Mistress of angels and men!
699.During these varying temptations and combats the fervent prayers of most holy Mary never ceased, and She spoke to the Lord: “Now, O my most high God, while I am in tribulation, be with me (Psalm 90, 15); now that I call to Thee with my whole heart and seek thy justifications, (Psalm 118, 14) let my prayers come to thy ears; now that I suffer such violence, wilt Thou answer for me (Isaias 38, 14).
［经文〈圣咏 91:15〉：他若呼求我，我必应允他，他若有困苦，我必偕同他，我必拯救他，也必光荣他。经文〈圣咏 119:14〉：我喜爱你约法的道路，就如喜爱一切的财富。 经文〈圣咏 118:14〉：上主是我的力量与勇敢，他也始终作了我的救援。经文〈依撒意亚 38:14〉：我呢喃好似燕子，我哀鸣有如斑鸠；我痛哭的眼睛向上仰视：「上主！我实在痛苦，求你扶持我！ 」 ］
Thou, my Lord and Father, be my strength and my refuge (Psalm 30, 4), and because of thy holy name Thou wilt deliver me from danger; thou wilt lead me the sure way and nourish me as thy Daughter.”
She repeated also many mysteries of the holy Scriptures, especially passages from the Psalms, to invoke his aid against the invisible enemies. With these invincible arms, losing not an atom of interior peace, equanimity and resignation, but rather confirming Herself more therein, She raised her spirit on high, battled with, resisted, and conquered satan to the inexpressible delight of the Lord and for her greater merit.
700.After the most holy Virgin had successfully fought these secret temptations and battles, the serpent instituted a new conflict by means of creatures.
For this purpose he secretly kindled the sparks of envy and emulation against the most holy Mary in the hearts of her maiden companions of the temple.
This contagion was much the harder to counteract, as it arose from the punctuality with which our heavenly Princess distinguished Herself in the practice of all virtues, growing in wisdom and grace before God and man.
For where the prodding of ambition is, the very light of virtue darkens and blinds the judgment, and at last enkindles the flames of envy.
The dragon through his secret suggestions persuaded these simple maidens, that the light of this sun, most holy Mary, would obscure them and cause them to be little noticed; that on her account their own negligences were more clearly apparent to the priests and their teacher; and that Mary alone was preferred in the estimation and judgment of all.
701.The companions of our Queen allowed the devil to sow this bad seed in their bosoms; for they were heedless and little experienced in spiritual ways.
They allowed it to increase until it grew into a sort of interior abhorrence of the most pure Mary, and this into anger.
Filled with this anger, they began to look upon and treat Her with hatred, not being able to endure the modesty of that most innocent Dove.
For the dragon had incited them and had already imbued the incautious girls with some of his own wrath.
The temptation continuing, its effects became manifest and the temple maidens began to plot among themselves, ignorant of the spirit that moved them.
They agreed among themselves to molest and persecute the unknown Princess of the world, until She should be forced to leave the temple. Accordingly they called Her aside and spoke to Her very sharp words, treating Her at the same time very haughtily.
They called Her a hypocrite and reproached Her with scheming to obtain the favor of the priests and of their teacher, while seeking to discredit all the other girls by her complaints and her exaggerations of their faults, whereas She was the most useless of them all and therefore deserved their hatred as an enemy.
702.These contumelies and many other accusations the most prudent Virgin bore without disturbance and with equable humility.
She answered: “My friends and my mistresses, you are right no doubt in saying, that I am the least and the most imperfect among you; but then you, my sisters, being better informed, must pardon me my faults and must teach me in my ignorance.
Direct me therefore, that I may succeed in doing better and act according to your pleasure.
I beseech you, my friends, not to deny me your good will, which, though I am so imperfect, I sincerely wish to merit; for I love you and reverence you as a servant, and I will obey you in all things, in which you desire to make a trial of my good will. Command me then, and tell me what you wish of me.”
703.These humble and sweet reasonings of the most humble Mary did not soften the hardened hearts of her associates and companions, for they were infected by the poisonous fury of the dragon against Her.
Precisely on account of her sweet humility he became so much the more infuriated, and thus turned this sweet antidote against the poisonous bite into a means of inflaming them with open wrath against Her who was the great sign in heaven (Apoc. 12, 15).
For many days this persecution continued, during which the heavenly Lady sought in vain to appease the hate of her companions by her humility, patience, modesty and tolerance.
On the contrary the demon was emboldened to inspire them with many thoughts full of temerity, urging them to lay violent hands on the most humble lamb and maltreat Her, even so far as to take away her life.
But the Lord did not permit the execution of such sacrilegious suggestions; and the farthest which they were allowed to proceed, was to insult Her by words or to inflict some blows.
This quarreling remained concealed from the teacher of the maidens and from the priests, and during this time most holy Mary gained incomparable merits in the sight of the Almighty, because She took occasion to exercise all the virtues, as well in regard to God as also in regard to the creatures, which were persecuting and hating Her.
She performed heroic acts of charity and humility, yielding good for evil, blessings for curses, prayers for blasphemies (I Cor. 4, 13), fulfilling in all things the most perfect and the highest requirements of the divine law.
Before the Lord She exercised the most exalted virtues, by praying for his creatures who were persecuting Her; and She excited the admiration of the angels, by humiliating Herself as if She were the vilest of mortals deservedly treated in that way. In all these things She surpassed the conceptions of men and the highest merits of the seraphim.
704.It happened one day, that, impelled by the diabolical suggestions, these girls brought Mary to a retired room, where they could act with more safety.
Here they began to heap unmeasured injuries and insults upon Her, in order to excite Her to weakness or anger and to entrap Her imperturbable modesty into some hasty action.
But as the Queen of virtues could not even for a moment be subject to vice, She showed Herself immovable, and She answered them with great kindness and sweetness.
Being enraged beyond bounds on account of not succeeding in their purpose, her companions raised their voices in discordant strife, so that they were heard in the temple and by such unwonted noise caused great astonishment and confusion.
The priests and the teacher hastened to the place whence the noise proceeded, and the Lord permitted a new humiliation of his Spouse, for they asked with severity, what was the cause of this strife.
While the most meek Dove remained silent, the other maidens angrily answered and said: “Mary of Nazareth brings us all into strife and quarreling by her horrid conduct: for in your absence, She irritates and provokes us in such a manner, that if She does not leave the temple, it will be impossible to keep any peace with Her.
When we allow Her her own way, She becomes overbearing; if we reprehend Her, She makes fun of all of us by prostrating Herself at our feet with feigned humility, and afterwards She quarrels anew and throws all into uproar.”
705.The priests and the instructress brought the Mistress of the world into another room, and there they severely reprehended Her, giving full credit at that time to all the accusations of her companions, and, having exhorted Her to reform and behave as one living in the house of God, they threatened to expel Her from the temple, if She would not mend Her conduct.
This threat was the most severe punishment, which they could have given Her, even if She had been guilty; so much the more severe was it, when She was altogether innocent of any of the faults imputed to Her.
Whoever will obtain from the Lord some understanding of a part only of the profound humility of the most holy Mary will also understand somewhat of the effects of these mysteries in her most innocent heart; for She judged Herself to be the most vile of the woman born, the most unworthy to live among them and to burden the earth with her presence.
This threat cruelly lacerated the heart of the most prudent Virgin, and in tears She answered and said to the priests: “My masters, I acknowledge the favor, which you do me in correcting and teaching me, the most imperfect and despicable of creatures; but I beseech you, pardon me, you who are the servants of the Most High, and overlooking my defects, direct me in all things so that I may reform and from now on give pleasure to his Majesty and to my sisters and companions. With the grace of the Lord I will resolve this anew and will commence from today.”
706.Our Queen added other words full of sweetest innocence and modesty; and therewith the instructress and the priests dismissed Her, enjoining anew upon Her that doctrine, of which She herself was the most wise Teacher.
Immediately She betook Herself to her companions, and prostrating Herself at their feet, She asked them pardon, as if the faults, with which they had charged Her, could ever have been shared by the Mother of all innocence.
They received Her this time with more good will, because they thought that her tears were the effect of the punishment and the warning of the priests and the instructress, whom they had induced to act thus in pursuance of their badly governed passions.
The dragon, who was secretly contriving this entanglement, urged the incautious hearts of all these girls to still greater haughtiness and presumption, and as they had now made headway in the estimation of the priests themselves, they proceeded to greater audacity in discrediting and lowering the good name of the most pure Virgin.
Accordingly by instigation of the devil, they fabricated new accusations and lies; but the Most High never permitted them to say anything very grave and dishonorable of Her, whom He had chosen as the most holy Mother of his Onlybegotten.
He merely allowed the indignation and deceit of the maidens to go so far as to exaggerate very much some small faults, which were even in themselves altogether fictitious, but which they accused Her of.
Moreover they were, permitted to practice many feminine intrigues, to which their own restlessness drove them. In these different ways and in the reprehensions of her instructress and of the priests our most humble Lady Mary found many occasions of exercising virtues, of increasing the gifts of the Most High, and of exalting Her merit.
707.In all this our Queen acted with the plenitude of perfection in the eyes of the Lord, who regaled Himself with the sweetest odor of that humble spikenard, maltreated and despised by the creatures, who] did not know Her.
She repeated and continued her, clamors and her sighs on account of the absence of her Beloved; and on one of these occasions She said: “My highest Good and Lord of infinite mercies, if Thou who art my Lord and my Maker, hast forsaken me, it is not strange, that all the creatures abhor me and rise up against me.
All this my ingratitude to thy benefits well merits; nevertheless I will always acknowledge and confess Thee as my refuge and my .
Thou alone art my God, my Beloved and my rest: If then Thou art this to me, how can my afflicted heart come to rest? The creatures do only that with me, which they should; but they do not go so far in this as I merit, because Thou, O my Lord and Father, in punishing, art so sparing, and in rewarding art so generous.
Discount, O Lord, my negligences by my sorrow of having lost thy interior presence, and pay back with a liberal hand the benefits, blessings, which thy creatures gain for me in forcing me to acknowledge thy goodness and my meanness.
Raise, O Lord, the needy one from the dust of the earth (I Reg. 2, 8) and renew her, who is poor and the most abject of the creatures, and then may I see thy divine face and be saved.” (Psalm 79, 5).
708.It would not be possible, nor is it necessary, to relate all that happened to our Queen in this test of her virtues.
But leaving Her at present therein, and considering Her behavior, we will have in Her a living example, teaching us to bear with exultation all the troubles, pains and strifes, which are so necessary in order to satisfy for our sins and subject our necks to the yoke of mortification.
There was no sin nor any deceit in our most innocent Dove, yet, in humble silence and patience, She suffered ungrounded hate and persecution.
Let us then be confounded in her presence, that we should deem slight injuries irreparable offenses which must be avenged; whereas all offenses, of whatever kind, are to be held but slight by those, who have God for their enemy.
The Most High was mighty to preserve Her from all persecution, but then He could not have shown his power in leading Her out of it unharmed, nor would He have given Her such dear pledges of his love, nor would She have reaped the sweet fruit of loving her enemies and her persecutors.
We make ourselves unworthy of such great blessing in raising an outcry against creatures whenever we are injured and our proud heart rises up against God himself, who arranges all things; for it refuses to subject itself to its Creator and Justifier, who knows what is necessary for our salvation.
INSTRUCTION OF THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN, MOST BLESSED MARY.
709.Take notice then, my Daughter, that the example of these events of my life should serve thee for thy instruction and direction.
Treasure up this example lovingly in thy bosom and allow it to dilate thy heart, so as to receive with joy the persecutions and calumnies of creatures, whenever thou art made partaker of such happiness.
The sons of perdition, who serve vanity, are ignorant of the treasure of suffering injuries and of pardoning them, and they make a boast of vengeance, which even according to the requirements of the natural reason is reprehensible and arises from a heart brutal and beastly, rather than from a human.
On the other hand, he who pardons injuries magnanimously and forgets them, although he may not have divine faith nor the light of the Gospel, becomes noble and excellent, and does not pay vile tribute to the fierce and irrational brutality of revenge.
710.And if the vice of revenge is so contrary even to the dictates of nature, consider, my daughter, how much it is opposed to grace and how hateful and abominable the vengeful are in the eyes of my most holy Son, who made Himself man, suffered and died for no other purpose than to forgive and to obtain the pardon of the Almighty for the injuries committed by the human race.
Against this tendency of his whole life and against his whole nature and infinite bounty, vengeance is arrayed; as far as in him lies, the vindictive man destroys entirely, as well God himself as all his works.
And for this attempt he well merits, that God should destroy him with all his might. Between the person who pardons and suffers injuries, and the vindictive, there is the same difference as between the one and only heir and the deadly enemy; this one provokes all the wrath of God and the other merits and obtains all blessings; because in this virtue he exhibits a most perfect image of the celestial Father.
711. I wish thee, O soul, to understand, that to suffer injuries with equanimity and to pardon them entirely for the Lord, will be more acceptable in his eyes, than if thou choose of thy own will to do the most severe penance and shed thy own blood for Him.
Humble thyself before those who persecute thee, love them and pray for them from thy true heart; thereby shalt thou turn toward thee in love the heart of thy God and rise to the perfection of holiness, and thou shalt overcome hell in all things.
That great dragon, who persecutes all men, was confounded many times by my humility and meekness, and his fury could not tolerate the sight of these virtues. From them he fled more swiftly than the sun’s rays.
I gained great victories for my soul and won glorious triumphs for the exaltation of the Divinity. When any creature rose up against me, I conceived no anger toward it, for I knew in reality it was an instrument of the Most High, directed by his Providence for my special good.
This knowledge and the consideration, that it was a creature of my Lord, capable of grace, excited me to love it truly with a greater fervor, and I did not rest until I could reward this benefit of persecution by obtaining for it eternal life, as far as was possible.
712.Strive after, therefore, and labor for the imitation of that, which thou hast understood and written; show thyself most meek, peaceful and agreeable toward those, who molest thee; esteem them truly in thy heart, and do not take vengeance of thy Lord by taking vengeance on his instruments, nor despise the inestimable jewel of injuries.
As far as lies in thee always give good for evil, (Rom. 12, 14) benefits for injuries, love for hate, praise for blame, blessings for malediction.
［经文〈罗马书 12:14〉：迫害你们的，要祝福；只可祝福，不可诅咒。 ］
Then wilt thou be a perfect daughter of thy Father (Matth. 5, 43), the beloved spouse of thy Lord, my friend and my most cherished daughter.