HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 









Mirror Of The Blessed Virgin Mary by Saint Bonaventure

PROLOGUE

There is no doubt, as St. Jerome remarks, that whatever is worthily said of 
Our Blessed Mother redounds wholly to the praise and glory of God. 
Therefore, for the honor and glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and ardently 
desiring to produce a work which will tend to the praise of His most 
glorious Mother, I have judged it fitting to take for the subject-matter of 
my treatise the most sweet Salutation of this Blessed Mother. But I 
acknowledge my utter insufficiency for such an undertaking. First, because 
of the sublimity of the subject; secondly, because of the slenderness of my 
knowledge; thirdly, because of the aridity of my speech, and, finally, 
because of the unworthiness of my life, and the supreme glory and 
praiseworthiness of the person whose praises I wish to sing.

For who is there who would not deem that subject incomprehensible of which 
St. Jerome does not hesitate to speak as follows: "That which nature 
possesseth not, which custom useth not, which eclipseth reason, which the 
mind of man is unable to compass, which maketh the heavens tremble, and 
striketh dumb the earth, which amazeth every inhabitant of Heaven, all this 
was divinely announced by Gabriel to Mary, and was fulfilled in Christ." 
Therefore I confess myself unworthy to speak of such and so great a 
heroine. Again I say, how could my slender knowledge and my dull mind 
suffice to conceive praises worthy of Mary, when the illuminated mind of an 
Anselm faileth in presence of the task? For he saith: "My tongue faileth, 
Lady, for my mind is insufficient. Lady, all that is within me burns that I 
may render thee thanks for thy so great benefits. But I am unable to 
conceive worthy praise, and am ashamed to put forth that which is 
unworthy."

St. Augustine, addressing Mary, says: "What shall I, so poor in talent, say 
of thee, when whatever I may say of thee is less praise than thy dignity 
deserves ?"

Again, how can my untrained tongue, my arid powers of interpretation not 
fail in the praises of Mary, when Augustine, that most eloquent of men, 
says: "What shall we, so little, so feeble, say in praise of Mary, when, if 
all our members were turned into tongues, no one of us would suffice to 
praise her?"[1]

Again, if praise in the mouth of a sinner is unbecoming (Eccli. XV, 9), how 
shall I, a miserable sinner, a man of most unworthy life--how shall I dare 
to proclaim the praises of Mary, when I hear Jerome, a man of such great 
worth, hesitate ? For he saith: "I fear and tremble, all the while that I 
long to fulfill your expectations, lest I should prove to be an unworthy 
panegyrist. For there is in me neither sanctity nor eloquence, worthily to 
praise the Blessed and glorious Virgin."[2]

And again: "Why should I add to the sea a small cup of water? Why a stone 
to a mountain? And as Mary has already been so adequately praised by the 
tongues of men and angels, what can our puny efforts, and especially my 
own, add to these ?"

Finally, St. Jerome, speaking of Mary, says: "If I am to speak the truth, 
whatever can be expressed in human words is less than the praise given by 
Heaven; for Mary has been excellently preached and praised by divine and 
angelic heralds, foretold by prophets, fore-shadowed by patriarchs, in 
types and figures, set forth and described by Evangelists, worthily and 
officially saluted by Angels."[3]

Having diligently weighed all these things, pious reader, I must beg your 
forgiveness for whatever insufficiency, whatever want of skill appears in 
this writing of mine. How shall I, so inefficient, succeed in a task before 
which Mary's unique and zealous panegyrist, St. Bernard, quailed ? For he 
saith: "There is nothing which gives me greater delight than to preach on 
the glory of the Virgin Mother." And giving his reasons for this delight, 
he continues: "For all men honor, embrace, and receive her with the great 
affection and devotion that is fitting, yet whatever is said of one so 
unspeakably sublime, by the very fact of its being put into words, is less 
worthy, less pleasing, less acceptable."[4]

Yet St. Jerome encourages and consoles me, saying: "Although none can be 
found who is worthy to praise her, yet let not even the sinner desist from 
glorifying her with all his might."[5]

And St. Augustine, speaking of the manner in which the Son of God bestowed 
upon His Mother the gift of fecundity, yet took not away her integrity by 
being born of her, among other things says: "We who are so insignificant, 
cannot suffice to speak of so great a gift of God; and yet we are compelled 
to utter her praises, lest, by being silent, we should appear ungrateful. 
And certainly, that poor widow who made an offering so pleasing to God with 
her two brass mites, should not have withheld that offering because she 
could not give more; yea, rather by giving what she could, she pleased God 
exceedingly."

Hence it is that I, so poor in talent, and equally devoid of knowledge and 
eloquence, have presumed to offer to so great a Queen this poor script of 
mine, that in it, so to speak, as in a dim mirror, the simpler lovers of 
this great Queen should in some imperfect manner perceive who and how great 
she is. And because this treatise is, as it were, a kind of mirror which 
reflects the life, grace, and glory of Mary, it is not unfittingly termed 
the Mirror of Mary. Oh, do thou, therefore, my most kind Lady and Mother, 
graciously accept this small gift offered to thee by thy poor lover! For 
with this puny gift, with this small work on thine own Salutation, I salute 
thee. On bended knee, with bowed head, with heart and lips, I salute thee, 
I wish thee blessing. Hail Mary, etc.

1. St. Augustine, "De Sanctis," CCVIII, n. 5.
2. St. Jerome, "Epist. ad Paulam et Eustoch."
3. "Epist. cit."
4. "Serm. de Assumpt. B. Mar.," IV.
5. St. Jerome I. c.








Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com