Mary of AgredaIn his malice and astuteness, the ancient serpent strains all his powers to destroy in the human heart the science of humility, sowed by the Redeemer as a seed of holiness in the human heart; and in its place he seeks to sow the cockle of pride ( Matth. 13, 25). In order to root out these and allow free growth to the blessing of humility, it is necessary that the soul consent and seek to be humiliated by its fellow-creatures and that it ask the Lord incessantly and in all sincerity of heart for this virtue and for the means to attain it. Very scarce are the souls that apply themselves to this science and reach the perfection of this virtue; for it requires entire conquest of one’s whole self to which few at­tain, even among those who profess to be virtuous. This contagion of pride has so deeply penetrated into the human faculties, that it is communicated to nearly all of men’s doings and there is scarcely one among men who is without pride, just as the rose never grows with­out thorns or the grain without husks. On this account the Most High makes so much of the truly humble; and those who entirely triumph over pride, He exalts and places with the princes of his people, esteeming them as his favored children and exempting them from the jurisdiction of the demon. Thus it comes that the devil dares scarcely approach them, because he fears the humble and their victories over him more than the fires of hell.

 

I desire, my dearest, that thou attain the inestim­able treasure of humility in all its fulness, and that thou offer to the Most High a docile and yielding heart, in order that He may impress upon it, like on soft wax, the image of my own most humble activity. As thou hast been informed of such deeply hidden secrets con­cerning this sacrament, thou art under great obligations to correspond to my wishes, not losing the least occa­sion of humiliation and advancing in this virtue. Neg­lect none of them, since thou knowest how much sought after them, who was the Mother of God himself, most pure and full of grace. The greater my preroga­tives, so much the greater was my humility, because in my estimation they far exceeded my merits and only increased my obligations. All you children of Adam (Ps. 50, 7), were conceived in sin, and there is none who has not sinned on his own account. If none can deny this infection of his nature, why should not all humiliate themselves before God and before men? Lowering themselves to the very dust and placing them­selves in the last place is not such a great humiliation for those who have sinned, for even then they will always be more honored than they deserve. The truly humble must tower themselves beneath that which they have deserved. If all the creatures would despise and abhor them, or offend them; if they would consider themselves worthy of hell-fire, they would only fulfill justice, but not the requirement of humility, since that would only be admitting their deserts. But real, deep humility goes to the length of desiring a greater humiliation than that due to one’s self in justice. On this account there is no mortal who can attain to the kind of humility which I practiced, such as thou hast understood and described; but the Most High will be satisfied with and ready to reward the efforts of those who humble them­selves as far as they can and as they deserve in justice.

 

Let then the sinners admit their baseness and understand how they make of themselves monsters of hell by imitating Lucifer in his pride. For pride found him beauteous and endowed with great gifts of grace and nature; and although he dissipated these blessings, he had nevertheless possessed them as his own. But man, who is mere slime, and moreover has sinned and is full of ugliness and baseness, is a monster, if he bloats himself up in vain pride. By such absurdity he surpasses even the demon; since man possesses a nature neither so noble, nor was ever gifted with such grace and beauty as Lucifer. He and his hellish followers despise and laugh over men, who in such inferiority swell up in pride; for they can well understand this vain and contemptible madness and delirium. Mind well therefore, my daughter, this lesson, and humiliate thyself lower than the earth, showing just as little sense of in­jury as the dust, whenever the Lord, either himself or through others, sends thee humiliation. Never judge thyself injured by any one nor consider thyself offended; if thou abhor pretense and lying, remember, that the greatest offense is to aspire after honor or high position. Do not attribute to creatures that which God brings about in order to humiliate thee or others by affliction and tribulations; for this is protesting against mere in­struments, while it is divine mercy which inflicts punish­ment on men for their humiliation. This, if they would only understand, is really what is happening by the disposition of the Lord to the kingdoms of our day. Humiliate thyself in the divine presence for thyself and for all thy fellow-men, in order to placate his wrath, just as if thou alone wert guilty; and as if thou never hadst made any satisfaction; since during mortal life no one can ever know whether he has satisfied for his transgressions. Seek to appease Him as if thou alone hadst offended Him; and in regard to the gifts and favors which thou hast received and dost receive, show thyself grateful as one who deserves much less and owes much more. By these considerations humiliate thyself more than all others, and labor without ceasing to cor­respond to the divine clemency, which has shown itself so liberal toward thee.

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Mary of AgreadMy daughter, weep with bitterest sorrow over the stubbornness and blindness of mortals in not understanding and acknowledging the loving protection, which they have in my divine Son and in me as a relief from all their troubles and necessities. My Lord spared Himself no exertion and left no means unemployed in order to gain for them inestimable treasures of heaven. He garnered up his infinite merits in the holy Church, the most important fruit of his Passion and Death; He left the secure pledges of his glorious love; and procured for them most easy and efficacious means in order that all of them might enjoy and apply them for their use and for their eternal salvation. He offers them moreover his protection and mine; He loves them as children; He cherishes them as his chosen friends; He calls them by his inspirations; He invites them by his blessings and graces; He awaits them as a most kind Father; He seeks them as their Pastor; He helps them as the most Powerful; He rewards them as One possessing infinite riches, and governs them as a mighty King. All these and innumerable other favors, which are pointed out by faith, offered by the Church and presented before their very eyes, men forget and despise; as if blind, they love the darkness and deliver themselves up to the fury and rage of those cruel enemies. They listen to his lies, obey his wicked suggestions and confide in his snares ; they trust and give themselves up to the unquenchable fire of his wrath. He seeks to destroy them and consign them to eternal death, only because they are creatures of the Most High, who vanquished and crushed this most cruel foe.

Guard thyself, therefore, my dearest, against this deplorable error of the children of men and disengage thy faculties in order that thou mayest clearly see the difference between the service of Christ and that of Belial. Greater is that difference than the distance between heaven and earth. Christ is eternal life, the true light and the pathway to eternal life; those who follow Him He loves with imperishable love, and He offers them his life and his company ; with it, an eternal happiness, such as neither eyes have seen, nor ears have heard, nor ever can enter into the mind of man ( John 14, 6). Lucifer is darkness itself, error, deceit, unhappiness and death ; he hates his followers and forces them into evil as far as possible, and at the end inflicts upon them eternal fire and horrid torments. Let mortals give testimony, whether they are ignorant of these truths, since the holy Church propounds them and calls them to their minds every day. If men believe these truths, where is their good sense? Who has made them insane? Who drives from their remembrance the love, which they ought to have for themselves? Who makes them so cruel to themselves? 0 insanity never sufficiently to be bewailed and so little considered by the children of Adam! All their life they labor and exert themselves to become more and more entangled in the snares of their passions, to be consumed in deceitful vanities and to deliver themselves over to an inextinguishable fire, death and everlasting perdition, as if all were a mere joke and as if Christ had not come down from heaven to die on a Cross for their rescue! Let them but look upon the price, and consider how much God himself paid for this happiness, who knew the full value of it.

The idolaters and heathens are much less to blame for falling into this error; nor does the wrath of the Most High enkindle so much against them as against the faithful of his Church, who have such a clear knowledge of this truth. If the minds of men, in our present age, have grown forgetful of it, let them understand that this happened by their own fault, because they have given a free hand to their enemy Lucifer. He with tireless malice labors to overthrow the barriers of restraint, so that, forgetful of the last things and of eternal torment, men may give themselves over, like brute beasts, to sensual pleasures, and unmindful of themselves consume their lives in the pursuit of apparent good, until, as Job says ( Job 21, 13), they suddenly fall a prey to eternal perdition. Such is in reality the fate of innumerable foolish men, who abhor the restraint imposed upon them by this truth. Do thou, my daughter, allow me to instruct thee, and keep thyself free from such harmful deceit and from this forgetfulness of the worldly people. Let the despairing groans of the damned, which begin at the end of their lives and at the beginning of their eternal damnation, ever resound in thy ears: 0 we fools, who esteemed the life of the just as madness! 0 how are they counted among the sons of God, and their lot is among the saints! We have erred then from the path of truth and of justice. The sun has not arisen for us. We have wearied our-selves in the ways of iniquity and destruction, we have sought difficult paths and erred by our own fault from the way of the Lord. What has pride profited us? What advantage has the boasting of riches brought us? All has passed away from us like a shadow. 0 had we but never been born! This, my daughter, thou must fear and ponder in thy heart, so that, before thou goest to that land of darkness and of eternal dungeons from whence there is no return, thou mayest provide against evil and avoid it by doing the good. During thy mortal life and out of love do thou now perform that of which the damned in their despair are forced to warn thee by the excess of their punishment.

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