SOLANUS CASEY'S GREAT LOVE OF MARY OF AGREDA
I used to be dubious about the mystical writings of Mary of Agreda: I just didn't know if they were genuine. A Spanish mystic, Venerable Mary was born in 1602 and she entered a Franciscan convent when she was 17. Then in her 20s, Mary received divine revelations about the precise details of the Virgin Mary's life.
Venerable Mary of Agreda was like the Virgin Mary's personal biographer, and most notably she transcribed with her quill and ink onto parchment the intimate details of the Blessed Virgin's Immaculate Conception.
She wrote 400 pages of the first volume in merely 20 days, and it is a sublimely rich text that sings with a note of authentic mysticism. Frankly, I doubt that she could have made that much up that fast.
But that which prompted me to hold her work as truth was when I learned that Blessed Solanus Casey, the gentle friar forever associated with Detroit, held Venerable Mary in highest esteem and was utterly devoted to her writings, even when he was mildly persecuted - by Catholic church officials and his own friars - for promoting them.
Solanus read The Mystical City of God for the first time in 1924, when he was a 54 year-old priest based in Detroit. Over the years that followed, Solanus highly recommended the volumes to his many followers who came to the friary to seek his enlightened advice. By the 1940s, a subset from the sea of souls that sought out Solanus came together and formed an informal Mary of Agreda Society. They met regularly to discuss the 4 volumes of Mystical City, but were not highbound by rules that other clergy tried to set out for them. One pastor commanded them to meet only when Solanus could attend their meetings, but they ignored this, and met when they wanted. The most zealous of the group was a man by the name of Ray Garland who proved too pushy for his own good.
In time, complaints were made to the Detroit chancery about the overly-obsessive Agredans and also about Mystical City, that it was thousands of pages long and very expensive.
Solanus's superiors insisted he break from the Agredan group and cut ties with Ray Garland. But Garland was not easily discouraged and he obsessively pursued Solanus until it was thought best to move Solanus to New York.
When Solanus was settled into life in Brooklyn, Garland pestered him with many letters even though Solanus was under pressure to resist contact with Garland. To put an end to things, Solanus wrote a letter to Ray Garland and implied that the devil had a hand in the curtailment of the Agredan Society, "The arch-enemy of Our Blessed Mother and of immortal souls must have received an extra length of rope these days".
Mr. Garland was also chided gently by Solanus who told him that his pressure campaign to continue enlisting his support for the Mary of Agreda group was causing, "offense if not scandal".
What I find telling is that Solanus considered that the devil used his power to impede study of Mystical City.
A few of us are following Solanus's example and as prep for reading the 4 volumes, we are listening to the popular abridgment audio-book of The Mystical City of God on Audible. We bought it with our monthly credit and so it was free with our membership. And then we message each other and have virtual meetings with our responses to this epic work. This is us Millennials doing what Ray Garland and his group did in 1940s Detroit. So far no one has complained us to the Church officials...
Here I am with Odell's EXCELLENT biography of Solanus, where I learned of his love of The Mystical City of God.