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Mirror Of The Blessed Virgin Mary by Saint Bonaventure

CHAPTER X

MARY THE DAUGHTER, MOTHER, SPOUSE, AND HANDMAID OF THE LORD

We must now consider that this Lord, of whom it is said, "The Lord is with 
thee," is not alone in a general sense the Lord of every creature, not 
alone the Lord of the rational creature, but also in a most special sense 
the Lord of the virginal court of His most Holy Mother. Mary is singularly, 
both in body and in soul, the court of the Lord, the most holy house of 
God, of whom it is said in the Psalm: "Sanctity behooveth Thy house, O 
Lord." O singularly blessed House, who alone hast merited so singularly to 
have the Lord. St. Bernard saith: "Thou alone hast been found worthy that 
in thy virginal court the King of kings and the Lord of lords, coming from 
His royal throne, chose thee for His first dwelling among the sons of men." 
This singular Lord of Mary was with her in so special a way that He made 
her Lady, so that there never was one like her either before or after her. 
For she became in a wonderful and singular manner the daughter of the Lord, 
the mother of the Lord, the spouse of the Lord, and the handmaid of  the 
Lord. If we wish to describe her relation to each Divine Person, we can say 
that the Lord who is with Mary is the Lord and Father, the Lord and Son, 
the Lord and Holy Ghost, the Lord who is triune and one. He is the Father 
and Lord, of whom Mary is the most noble daughter. He is the Son and Lord, 
of whom Mary is the most worthy Mother; He is the Holy Ghost and Lord, of 
whom Mary is the most just spouse; He is the Lord Triune and One, of whom 
Mary is the most submissive handmaid. Mary certainly is the Daughter of the 
Most High Eternity, the Mother of the Most High Truth, the Spouse of the 
Most High Goodness, the Handmaid of the Most High Trinity.

First, therefore, note, that this Lord, who is so singularly with Mary, is 
the Lord of whom Mary is the most noble daughter. Of this Lord and of this 
daughter can be understood that which Booz said: "Blessed art thou of the 
Lord, my daughter, and thy latter kindness has surpassed the former" (Ruth 
iii, 10.) Therefore Mary is the daughter blessed by the Lord; by the Most 
High Lord, I say, whose daughter she is. O truly noble daughter of the most 
noble King, who hast been so abundantly adorned interiorly with manifold 
glory, that truly it can be said of thee: "All the glory of the King's 
daughter is from within" (Ps. XLIV.) Therefore Mary, as the most true 
daughter of the King, was most abundantly drawn to the kingdom, as St. 
Bernard testifies, saying: "Thou, a delicate daughter, and full of all 
grace, dearly beloved in thy delights, art drawn to the glory of thy 
beauty, and as a sign of love." This blessed daughter surpassed her former 
kindness by the latter; for great as the mercy of Mary was while she was 
still an exile in this world, much greater is her mercy now that she reigns 
in Heaven. Now by her innumerable benefits she shows men a greater mercy, 
for she now sees more clearly the untold miseries of mankind. For the 
splendor of her former mercy Mary was fair as the moon; but for the 
splendor of her latter mercy she resembles the sun. For as the sun 
surpasses the moon in the greatness of his splendor, so the latter mercy of 
Mary surpasses in greatness her former mercy. Who is there upon whom the 
sun and the moon do not shine ? Who is there upon whom the mercy of Mary 
does not shine? Hear what St. Bernard thinks of this: "As the sun shines 
indifferently upon the good and the bad, so when Mary is petitioned, she 
does not discuss the merits of the petitioners, but shows herself ready to 
hear them, is most merciful to all, and in fine she compassionates the 
misery of all with most abundant affection." The Lord is with thee, 
therefore, O Mary, as a father with a most noble daughter.

Secondly, note that the Lord who is so singularly with Mary, is the Lord 
whose most worthy mother she is. Of this Lord and of this mother Elizabeth 
said: "Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" 
The Mother of the Lord, the Virgin and Mother, is a most worthy mother. She 
is the Mother who is most becoming to such a Son. She is the Mother to whom 
such a Son is most becoming. She is the one, than whom God could make no 
greater. God could make a greater world, God could make a greater Heaven, 
but a greater mother than the Mother of God He could not make. St. Bernard 
saith: "No other mother was becoming to God than a virgin; nor was any 
other son becoming to a virgin than God." A greater among mothers than Mary 
and a greater among sons than Jesus could not be born. This mother is, 
therefore, the flower of mercy, the mother of the Sun of justice, the 
mother of the Fountain of wisdom, the mother of the King of glory. She is 
the mother of Him, I say, whose mercy leads us to love, whose justice to 
fear, whose wisdom to know, whose glory to hope. Mary is, therefore, the 
mother of Him who is in fact our love by mercy, our fear by justice, our 
knowledge by wisdom, our hope by glory, so that she can truly say: "I am 
the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope" 
(Ecclus. XXIV, 24.) But is Mary the Mother of Christ only? Nay, what is 
most joyful, she is not only the Mother of Christ, but also the Mother of 
all the faithful. St. Ambrose saith: "If Christ is the brother of all 
believers, is not she, who brought forth Christ, the mother of all 
believers?" Oh, dearly beloved, let us all rejoice, and exclaim: "Blessed 
is the Brother, by whom Mary is our Mother; and blessed is the Mother, by 
whom Christ is our Brother." St. Anselm says: "Lady and Mother, by whom we 
have such a Brother, what thanks, what praise shall we pay to thee?" God 
is, therefore, with thee, O Mary, as a son with a most worthy mother.

Thirdly, note that this Lord who is so singularly with Mary is the Lord 
whose most beautiful spouse Mary is. To this Lord, as to this spouse, we 
can apply the word of Osee: "I will espouse thee to myself in justice, and 
in judgment, and in mercy, and in commiserations, and I will espouse thee 
to me in faith; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord" (Osee II, 19-20.) 
Behold a beautiful spouse, beautiful in justice, and in the judgment of her 
looks, beautiful in compassion and in mercy in the regard of her neighbors, 
and beautiful in faith in the sight of God. Beautiful indeed in the justice 
of her life, and in the judgment of her conscience, beautiful in mercy, in 
affection, and in compassion in her deeds. Beautiful in faith, whereby she 
believed all that was to be believed above herself, and whereby she 
believed all that was to be done in her, according to that word: "Blessed 
art thou who hast believed, because all shall be fulfilled in thee, which 
has been said to thee by the; Lord" (Luke I, 45.) But behold Mary, the 
Spouse of the Holy Spirit, as she is and was most beautiful in 
conversation, so also is she most sweet in her address, as it is said in 
the Canticle of Canticles: "As a dropping honeycomb," etc. Oh, what honey-
flowing words have those sweet lips of Mary often distilled! Had she not 
indeed milk and honey under her tongue in those two sweet words which she 
addressed to Gabriel? Had not Mary milk upon her tongue when she said: "How 
shall this be done, for I know not man?" (Luke I, 34.) Had she not honey on 
her tongue when she uttered that honey-sweet word: "Behold the handmaid of 
the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word" ? From the sweetness of 
this word, throughout the whole world, the Heavens have dropped honey. Mary 
had honey on her tongue in her eloquent words to God; she had milk on her 
tongue in her agreeable speech to her neighbor. Of how great sweetness and 
beauty is that Spouse of the Supreme Consoler ! Because, as St. Augustine 
says, "Who is this virgin, so holy that the Holy Spirit deigns to come to 
her ? So beautiful, that God chooses her for His Spouse?" The Lord is, 
therefore, with thee, O Mary, as a bridegroom with his beloved spouse.

Fourthly, note that this Lord, who is so singularly with Mary, is the Lord 
whose most devout handmaid she is, as she herself testifies: "Behold the 
handmaid of the Lord." Mary is the handmaid of God the Father, of God the 
Son, and of God the Holy Ghost. What wonder if she is the handmaid of that 
Lord, when her son is the servant of this Lord, according to the human 
nature assumed from His mother? He Himself confesses it in the Psalm, where 
He says: "O Lord, because I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid." O 
what a good handmaid, and what a good son of the handmaid ! Alas, how many 
are bad handmaids, and bad sons of the handmaids. But what saith the 
Scripture? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son." We read in Genesis of the 
handmaid of Sara that, seeing that she herself had conceived, she despised 
her mistress. Therefore, the evil handmaid Agar is puffed up by her 
fecundity; but the good handmaid Mary is made fecund by her humility. That 
proud handmaid despised her mistress; the Lord looked on this humble 
handmaid, as she herself says: "He hath regarded the humility of his 
handmaid." O Christian soul, handmaid of the Lord, with Mary cultivate 
fecundity in such a manner that you may not be wanting in humility; that, 
therefore, you may not be puffed up by your fecundity in good works, notice 
the humble handmaid, look upon the humble Mary. "Behold," she says, "the 
handmaid of the Lord." St. Ambrose says: "See her humility, see her 
devotion. She calls herself the handmaid of the Lord, she who is chosen to 
be His Mother; nor is she elated by the promise. O truly admirable humility 
! Behold in what manner Mary designs not only to be the handmaid of the 
Lord, but also the handmaid of the servants of the Lord. For it is she who 
is signified by Abigail, who sent messengers that she might be brought to 
David, saying: "Behold, let thy servant be a handmaid, that: she may wash 
the feet of the servants of my Lord" (I Kings XXV, 41.) By the blessed 
handmaid Mary, how many servants of the Lord have been washed, how many 
faithful by her prayers have been cleansed from their sins ! For she, as it 
were, offered water for their feet when she obtained for them tears of 
compunction for their sins. The Lord is with thee, therefore, O Mary, as 
with a most devout handmaid. The Father is with thee; the Son is with thee; 
the Holy Ghost is with thee. St. Bernard says: "The Father is with thee, 
because He made His Son thine; the Son is with thee, who, in order to work 
in thee an admirable secret, in a wonderful manner unlocked the secret room 
of generation, and kept for thee the seal of virginity; the Holy Spirit is 
with thee, who together with the Father sanctified thy womb. The Lord is, 
therefore, with thee," the Lord, whose daughter thou art, than whom none is 
more noble; the Lord, whose mother thou art, than whom none is more 
wonderful; the Lord, whose spouse thou art, than whom none is more lovable; 
the Lord, whose handmaid thou art, than whom none is more humble, nor ever 
was, nor ever will be. Therefore, O Lady, because so great a Lord is in 
such a manner and so much with thee, grant that by grace He may also be 
with us.








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