The fourth letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague
To the other half of her soul and repository of the special love of her deepest heart, illustrious queen, spouse of the Lamb of the eternal King, the Lady Agnes, her own dearest mother and, among all the others, her special daughter, Clare, unworthy servant of Christ and useless handmaid of his handmaids who live in the Monastery of San Damiano in Assisi, sends greetings and her prayer that Agnes, together with the other most holy virgins, will sing a new song before the throne of God and of the Lamb, and will follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
O mother and daughter, spouse of the King and all ages, even if I have not written to you as frequently as both your soul and mine would have desired and longed for, do not for a moment wonder or believe in any way that the fire of my love for you burns any less sweetly in the deepest heart of your mother. The truth is that a shortage of messengers and the obvious perils of travel have hindered me. But now, as I write to your love, I rejoice and exult for you in the joy of the Spirit, spouse of Christ, because like that other most holy virgin, Saint Agnes, you have been in an astonishing way espoused to the immaculate Lamb, who, having assumed responsibility for all the vanities of this world, takes away the sins of the world. Happy, indeed, is the one permitted to share in this sacred banquet so as to be joined with all the feelings of her heart to him -
Whose beauty all the blessed hosts
of the heavens unceasingly admire,
Whose affection moves,
whose contemplation invigorates,
Whose generosity fills,
Whose sweetness replenishes,
Whose remembrance pleasantly brings light,
Whose fragrance will revive the dead,
And whose glorious vision will bless
All the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem,
Because the vision of him is the
splendor of everlasting glory,
The radiance of everlasting light,
and a mirror without tarnish.
Look into this mirror every day,
O queen, spouse of Jesus Christ,
And continually examine your face in it,
So that in this way you may adorn yourself
completely, Inwardly and outwardly,
Clothed and covered in multicoloured apparel,
Adorned in the same manner with
flowers and garments
Made of all the virtues as is proper,
Dearest daughter and spouse of the most high King.
Moreover, in this mirror shine blessed poverty, holy humility, and charity beyond words, as you will be able, with God's grace, to contemplate throughout the entire mirror. Look closely, I say, to the beginning of the life of this admired one, indeed at the poverty of him who was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger.
O marvellous humility!
O astonishing poverty!
The King of the angels,
The Lord of heaven and earth is
Laid to rest in a manger!
Consider also the midst of his life, his humility, or at least his blessed poverty, the countless hardships, and the punishments that he endured for the redemption of the human race. Indeed, ponder the final days of this mirrored one, contemplate the ineffable love with which he was willing to suffer on the tree of the cross and to die there a kind of death that is more shameful than any other. That mirror suspended upon the wood of the cross from there kept urging those passing by of what must be considered, saying: O all you who pass by this way, look and see if there is any suffering like my suffering. In response let us with one voice and in one spirit answer him who is crying out and lamenting: I will remember this over and over and my soul will sink within me. Therefore, seeing this, O queen of the heavenly King, you must burn ever more strongly with the fervour of charity! Furthermore, as you contemplate his indescribable delights, riches, and everlasting honours, and heaving a sigh because of your heart's immeasurable desire and love may you exclaim:
Draw me after you, Heavenly Spouse, we shall run in the fragrance of your perfumes! I shall run and not grow weary until you bring me into the wine cellar, until your left hand is under my head and your right arm blissfully embraces me; and you kiss me with the most blissful kiss of your mouth.
As you are placed in this contemplation, may you remember your poor little mother, (knowing that I have inseparably inscribed the happy memory of you on the tablets of my heart, for I regard you as dearer than all others. Why say more? Let my physical tongue be silent, as it is said, and let the tongue of the Spirit speak.
O blessed daughter, since in no way at all could my bodily tongue express more fully the love that I have for you, that which I have written is certainly inadequate. I beg you to receive these words with kindness and devotion, seeing in them at least the motherly affection, by which every day I am stirred by the fire of love for you and your daughters; please ask them to pray for me and my daughters in Christ.
Indeed, inasmuch as they are able, my own daughters, and especially the most prudent virgin, Agnes, our sister, beg you and your daughters to pray for them in the Lord.
Farewell, dearest daughter, together with your own daughters, until we meet at the throne of glory of the great God, and pray for us.
I must now commend to your charity, as fully as possible, our dearest bearers of this letter, Brother Amato, beloved by God and human beings, and Brother Bonaugura. Amen.