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Mirror Of The Blessed Virgin Mary by Saint Bonaventure

CHAPTER XIV

MARY IS BLESSED ON ACCOUNT OF HER FULLNESS OF GRACE, THE

MAJESTY OF HER OFFSPRING, THE MULTITUDE OF HER MERCIES, THE GREATNESS OF HER GLORY

Blessed art thou among women. It has been shown how Mary, because of the 
innocence of her life, is saluted by the Ave: it has also been shown how 
she is rightly called "full of grace," because of the most copious 
affluence of her grace; it has moreover been shown how, because of the 
special presence of Our Lord with her, she is saluted with the words "The 
Lord is with thee." Now we have to show how, because of the most pleasing 
reverence of her person, she is hailed as "Blessed among women." Behold, 
therefore, that the Archangel Gabriel by saluting the glorious Virgin Mary 
with a glorious salutation, most fittingly consummated her blessedness by 
saying, "Blessed art thou among women," that is, more blessed than all 
women. And by this, whatever of malediction was infused into our nature by 
Eve, was taken away by the blessing of Mary. Let Gabriel therefore say: 
"Blessed art thou among women"; blessed, I say, because of the fullness of 
grace to be venerated in thee; blessed, because of the greatness of the 
mercy to be bestowed by thee; blessed, because of the majesty of the Person 
who is to take flesh of thee; blessed, because of the weight of glory which 
is to be accumulated in thee.

First, consider how Mary is truly blessed because of the fullness of grace 
to be venerated in her, as Gabriel shows most aptly when he says: "Hail, 
full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women." 
Blessed art thou, because thou art full of grace. Thou hast found grace 
with God, and therefore thou art blessed with the Lord. St. Bernard well 
says of this blessedness of Mary: "By thee we have access to thy Son, O 
blessed among women, finder of grace, Mother of life, Mother of salvation." 
Blessed art thou, O Mary, because of grace. Blessed, I say, because of the 
grace of the heart, of the lips, of the work. Blessed in heart, because of 
the grace of gifts; blessed in mouth, because of the grace of the lips; 
blessed in work, because of the grace of manners. Truly is Mary blessed 
because of the grace of the heart, for the grace of her gifts in her heart; 
for her heart was as the most delightful paradise of God, so that of this 
blessedness could be understood that word of Ecclesiasticus: "Grace is like 
a paradise in blessing." Here the commentary says: "Bearing fruit in the 
different species of virtues." Of these happy degrees and blessings of 
virtues the Apostle says: "Who hath blessed us in all spiritual blessings 
in the heavenly places in Christ." If, therefore, grace makes the mind of 
man delightful as the paradise of God in the blessings of virtues, how much 
more delightful must the soul of Mary be, that Paradise of God, in the 
blessings of the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Yea, verily, not only was the 
mind of Mary a Paradise of God, but also her bosom, containing within 
itself the tree of life, Jesus Christ. St. Bernard says: "Truly thou art 
the Paradise of God, who hast brought forth to the world the Tree of Life, 
of which he who shall eat shall live forever." Alas, how far from this 
blessedness of Mary is he whose mind is not a paradise of God in the 
blessings of grace, but a sink of the devils in the curse of malice! Of 
such is it said in the Psalm: "He loved cursing, and it shall come unto 
him: and he would not have blessing, and it was removed far from him" (Ps. 
CVIII, 18.)

Again, Mary is blessed, not only because of the gifts of her heart, but 
also because of the grace of her lips, according to that word of the Psalm: 
"Grace is poured abroad in thy lips, therefore hath God blessed thee 
forever." Oh, how great a grace was on the lips of Mary, in devout prayers, 
in useful conversations! Oh, how great a grace was always on the lips of 
Mary, for men, for angels, for the Lord! St. Bernard tells us how pleasing 
to God were the words of her lips, saying: "Him whom thou hast pleased by 
thy silence, thou shalt henceforth please much more by thy words, for He 
cries to thee from Heaven: 'O most beautiful of women, let me hear thy 
voice.' " Oh, how true, how sincere, were the lips of Mary, and therefore 
God truly hath blessed her forever. Oh, how far from the blessedness of 
Mary are they whose lips are so unlike hers, on whose lips grace is not 
poured, but malice; therefore, God hath not blessed, but cursed them 
forever.

Again, Mary is blessed not only because of the gifts of her heart and of 
her lips, but also because of the grace of her life and conversation. Of 
this blessedness can be understood what is said in Jeremias: "May the Lord 
bless thee, beauty of justice, holy mountain." The holy mountain is Mary, 
who is fitly called a mountain because of the loftiness of her life and 
manners. This is the mountain of which we read in Daniel: "A stone was cut 
out without hands" (Dan. II, 45.) This was when Christ was born of Mary 
without male co-operation. The beauty of this mountain is the beauty of 
justice. So great was the beauty of the life and manners of Mary that it 
could justly be said of her as in the Canticle: "Thou art all fair, O my 
beloved." She was beautiful indeed, in her life; beautiful in the 
discipline of her manners; and all beautiful. Without doubt all in her was 
beautiful. How all? Hear St. Jerome: "Whatever was in Mary, was all purity 
and simplicity, all grace and truth, all mercy and justice, which looked 
down from Heaven." Rightly did the Lord bless such beauty in Mary. Alas, 
how far are they from this blessing of Mary of whom it may be said, not 
what was said to Mary, "May the Lord bless thee, thou beauty of justice," 
but, "May the Lord curse thee, thou vileness of injustice!" Oh, what a 
malediction that will be when it will be said: "Depart from Me, ye cursed, 
into everlasting fire!" Behold, we have seen, O most dear Mary, that thou 
art truly blessed because of thy fullness of grace. Blessed, I say, because 
of the grace of conscience and of gifts; blessed, because of the grace of 
the tongue and of the lips; blessed, because of the grace of thy life and 
thy manners.

Secondly, consider how truly Mary is blessed because of the majesty of her 
heavenly Child, because of the blessed fruit of her womb. Rightly is that 
land blessed which produces so blessed a fruit. The Psalmist says: "Thou 
hast blessed, O Lord, thy land." That land is Mary, of whom it is said in 
the same Psalm: "Truth has sprung up from the earth." The Truth is Christ, 
who said: "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life." Blessed, therefore, 
is this earth, because of its blessed fruit; blessed is Mary, because of 
her blessed Son. Therefore St. Bernard says: "Not because thou art blessed, 
is the fruit of thy womb blessed; but because He hath prevented thee in the 
blessings of sweetness, therefore art thou blessed." Mary is blessed 
because of her Divine Child. Blessed, I say, by the Lord, by the Angel, by 
man. Because of her Child she is indeed blessed by the Lord, who is Himself 
her blessing; blessed by the Angel, who announces her blessing; blessed by 
man, who prophesies her blessing. Truly is Mary blessed by the Lord because 
of her Child, who Himself is and gives her blessing. This is well signified 
in the second Book of Kings, where we read: "The Lord blessed Obededom 
because of the Ark." Obededom is interpreted "Servant of blood."

Well doth he signify Christ, who, having become our servant, serves us 
miserable sinners even unto blood. For our sake He became a slave, and shed 
His blood--the blood of His back by the scourge; the blood of His head by 
the thorns; the blood of His side by the lance; the blood of His hands and 
feet by the nails. The house of this servant is Mary, of whom it is said in 
the Psalm: "We shall be filled with the good things of His house." The ark 
placed in that house signifies Christ, for Christ is our servant and our 
life. In the ark was the golden urn and the manna. The holy ark is the 
sacred flesh; the golden urn is the precious soul of Christ; and the manna 
signifies His divinity. Because of this ark, because of Jesus Christ, the 
Son of Mary, the Lord blessed the house of Mary. O truly blessed house, 
from whence the life of all hath come forth! St. Augustine says: "Blessed 
art thou among women, who hast brought forth life to men and women."

Likewise, Mary is blessed because of her Child, not only by the Lord 
Himself being her blessing, but also by the Angel announcing her blessing. 
Gabriel says: "The Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women." How 
"with thee"? St. Augustine explains: "With thee in heart, in the womb." 
Therefore, blessed art thou together with Him, because He is in thee and 
with thee. With thee, not only as the Creator is with His creature, but 
also as the Child is with her who is to bring Him forth. Because of thy 
Child, thou art blessed before thy delivery; because of thy Child, thou art 
blessed in bringing forth; because of thy Child, thou art blessed after 
bringing forth. Truly blessed art thou, who hast so brought forth thy Child 
that before His birth, and in His birth, and after His birth, thou hast 
remained a virgin; and therefore thou hast deserved to be called blessed, 
because thou hast brought forth not a mere man, not an angel, but the Lord 
of men and angels. Therefore St. Bede well says: "Truly art thou blessed 
among women, who without example in womankind rejoicest in the honor of a 
mother and the beauty of virginity, and as becomes a virginmother, thou 
hast given life to the Son of God."

Again, Mary is blessed because of her Child, not only by the Lord Himself 
being her blessing, not only by the Angel announcing her blessing, but by 
man prophesying her blessing. Elizabeth, when the infant in her womb 
exulted, cried out and said: "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is 
the fruit of thy womb." Therefore, thou art blessed indeed, because the 
fruit of thy womb is blessed; as a field is blessed because the fruit of it 
is blessed. Mary is that blessed field of which it is said: "Behold the 
smell of my son is as the smell of a plentiful field, which the Lord hath 
blessed" (Gen. XXVII, 27.) St. Jerome says: "Well is Mary called a full 
field, because she is said to be full of grace, from whose womb the Fruit 
of life came forth to all believers." O field truly blessed above all 
fields because of its fruit! O Mother truly blessed above all mothers 
because of thy Son! St. Augustine exclaims: "O Woman blessed above all 
women, who knew not man, yet encompassed a Man in her womb!" Behold we have 
seen, O most sweet Mary, that thou, because of the blessed Son of thy womb, 
art truly blessed with a divine blessing, an angelic blessing, and a human 
blessing ! Alas, how far from this blessing of Mary are those who, because 
of the accursed fruit of their work, have incurred the divine malediction, 
the curse of angels and of men; for all eternity they will be cursed by 
God, cursed by angels, cursed by men.

Thirdly, think how truly Mary is blessed because of the multitude of her 
mercy. She is signified by Ruth, of whom it is said: "Blessed art thou by 
the Lord, because thy former mercy hath surpassed the latter." The former 
mercy of Mary was that which she showed while she still lived in this 
world; the latter mercy is that which she has now shown for centuries from 
Heaven. The latter blessing has surpassed the former, because she has 
exceeded it by an innumerable multitude of blessings. Who can reckon how 
inestimably Mary is blessed because of her mercy, when her mercy in itself 
is inestimable? And who can reckon how inestimable is the mercy of Mary, on 
account of which she herself is so inestimably blessed? St. Bernard says: 
"Blessed, therefore, is Mary for the manifold mercy which man received 
through her; blessed indeed, because by her, God was induced to be 
favorable to man; blessed is she also, because by her, man was made 
acceptable to God; blessed, moreover, is she, because by her, the devil was 
overcome." I say that Mary is blessed because by her, God was induced to be 
favorable to man, as is signified in the example of Abigail, of whom we 
read, that when David, being angry, wanted to kill the fool Nabal, Abigail, 
meeting him half-way, appeased him; who being appeased, said: "Blessed be 
thy speech, and blessed be thou, who hast kept me to-day from coming to 
blood, and revenging me with my own hand" (I Kings XXV, 32 f.) The fool 
Nabal signifies the sinner; for every sinner is a fool. But, alas, as it is 
said in Ecclesiasticus: "The number of fools is infinite" (I, 15). Abigail 
signifies Mary, for the name is interpreted, "joy of the father." Oh, how 
great was the joy of the heavenly Father in Mary, and that of Mary in the 
heavenly Father, when she herself said: "My spirit hath rejoiced in God my 
Savior." As Abigail typifies Our Lady, so David typifies Our Lord. For 
David was offended by the fool Nabal, when the Lord was offended by guilty 
man. David was appeased by the fool Nabal, when the Lord was appeased and 
reconciled to guilty man by Mary. Abigail appeased David by words and 
gifts; Mary appeased the Lord by her prayers and merits. Abigail turned 
away temporal vengeance, but Mary turned away that which was eternal; the 
former averted the sword of man, the latter, that of God. Therefore St. 
Bernard well says: "No one was so fitting, Lady, to turn away the sword of 
the Lord by their own hand, as thou, the most beloved of God, through whom 
we first received mercy from the hand of the Lord, our God." Likewise, Mary 
is blessed not only because by her God's wrath with man was appeased, but 
also because by her man was made acceptable to God, inasmuch as man was 
blessed because of her blessing. Therefore, is it well said in Isaias: 
"Israel will be a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of 
hosts hath blessed, saying, 'Blessed be my people,' " etc. The middle of 
the earth which the Lord blessed can be said to be the Blessed Virgin, in 
whom was begun the blessing of our salvation, according to that word of the 
Psalmist: "But God our King hath wrought salvation in the middle of the 
earth." Of this middle of the earth, St. Bernard says: "With wonderful 
fitness is Mary called the middle of the earth; for towards her, as to the 
center, as to the ark of God, as to the cause of things, as to the business 
of the world, look all those who dwell in Heaven and in hell, and those who 
have gone before us, and those who follow us. Those who are in Heaven, that 
they may be repaired; those who are in hell, that they may be delivered; 
those who went before, that prophets may be found trustworthy; those who 
follow, that they may be glorified." In this blessed middle of the earth, 
therefore, blessed is Israel, blessed is the people of God, since by the 
blessed Mother of God, it is acceptable to God. What wonder if by the 
blessed Mary every rational creature is blessed and acceptable to God, 
since by her is blessed every creature? Therefore St. Anselm exclaims: "O 
Virgin blessed, and more than blessed, by whose blessing every creature is 
blessed, not only the creature by the Creator, but the Creator by the 
creature."

Again, Mary is not only blessed because by her the Lord has been appeased 
towards man, but also because by her the devil has been rendered subject to 
man. She is, therefore, signified by Judith, of whom it is said: "The Lord 
hath blessed thee in his power, who by thee has reduced our enemies to 
nought." Our enemies are the demons, whom the Blessed Virgin reduced to 
nought when, in herself and in many others, she brought his wiles to 
nought, as St. Bernard says: "Thou formidable warrior"; and again: "The 
entire militia of evil spirits has been put to flight before thee." Let us, 
therefore, fly, and fly all together to the protection of the Mother of the 
Lord, in all the attacks and vexations of the devil. For she is terrible to 
the enemies of our souls, as an army in battle array. Alas, how manifold is 
our misery, for which we need the blessing and mercy of Mary. Let us, 
therefore, invoke this mercy and this blessing with St. Bernard, who speaks 
thus: "Let it be thine, O blessed Virgin, that grace which thou hast 
merited from God, to show to the world pardon to the guilty, healing to the 
sick, strength to the faint-hearted, help and deliverance to pilgrims, by 
obtaining all these favors by thy prayers."

We have seen, O most sweet Mary, that thou art truly blessed because of thy 
manifold mercy. Blessed, I say, because by thee God is appeased towards 
man.; Blessed art thou, because by thee man is made pleasing to God; 
blessed art thou, because by thee the devil is overcome by man. Alas, how 
far from this blessing of Mary is one who is not pleasing to God, one 
towards whom God's wrath is not appeased, one who is willingly subject to 
the devil. And therefore such a one is accursed of God; Fourthly, consider 
how truly Mary is blessed because of the greatness of her glory, according 
to that word of Ezechiel: "Blessed is the glory of the Lord from its 
place." The glory of the Lord is the glorious Mother of God, who is truly 
blessed because of the glory which she possesses from her twofold place. 
She is blessed from the place wherein she rests with her Son in Heaven; and 
she is blessed from the place wherein her Son rested within her. Both these 
places are most worthy, as St. Bernard proves, saying: "There was not in 
the world a more venerable place than the virginal bride-chamber into which 
Mary received the Son of God; nor in Heaven, than the regal throne to which 
the Son of Mary elevated Mary." Blessed is Mary, therefore, because of her 
glory; blessed indeed because of her most sublime, most copious, most 
enduring glory. Blessed, I say, because of her glory most sublime in 
dignity; blessed because of her glory most copious in immensity; blessed 
because of her glory most enduring in stability. I say that Mary is blessed 
because of her glory most excellent in dignity. Of this blessing can be 
understood that word of the Psalmist: "Thou shalt bless the crown of the 
year of thy kindness." Note that there is a year of equanimity, a year of 
severity, and a year of benignity. The first year is that of those still 
fighting in this world; the second is that of those weeping in hell; and 
the third is that of those rejoicing in Heaven. The first year has days and 
nights; the second has nights, but no days; the third has days, but no 
nights. I say that the first year has days and nights, that is, the good 
and the bad, who are still in this world. There are as many days and nights 
in this year as there are good and evil people in the world. The second 
year has nights only, that is, only sinners who are darker than night. For 
there are as many nights in this year as there are sinners in hell. The 
third year has only days, that is, the good, who are more resplendent than 
the day. There are as many days in this year as there are just souls in 
Heaven. In the first year, that of equanimity, the good and the evil are 
equally tolerated; in the second year, that of severity, the evil are most 
severely tortured; in the third year, that of kindness, the good are most 
benignantly crowned. The crown of this blessed year is the Virgin Mary. She 
is without doubt the crown of all the days of this year, for she is the 
crown of all the Saints in Heaven. A crown is put on the head; so Mary is, 
as it were, placed over the heads of all the Saints, as St. Jerome says: 
"She deserved to be placed above the choirs of the angels; and she went 
beyond what is of the nature of our lowliness." Without doubt the Son of 
Mary is the highest crown of the Saints; but Mary is a crown below a crown. 
It is manifest, therefore, how sublimely blessed is our crown, our Mother 
Mary. Let us all, therefore, follow her who is so sublimely blessed, 
blessed indeed, of whom St. Bernard says: "We have not here a lasting city, 
but we seek that to which Mary has blessedly attained."

Again, Mary is blessed, not only because of the most excellent glory of her 
dignity, but because of the most abundant glory in immensity; its fullness 
is such that it is blessed by all men, and reaches to all, and, therefore, 
rightly is it blessed by men, according to what is said of it by figure in 
the Book of Judith: "They blessed her with one voice, saying: 'Thou art the 
glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel, thou art the honor of our 
people."' They all blessed her indeed. Note that they say all. For this 
there should be at least three. And there are three who bless Mary: God, 
the Angel, and man. God the Father indeed blessed Mary; the Son blessed His 
Mother; the Holy Ghost blessed her; all three Persons blessed her. The 
Angels also blessed Mary; the first hierarchy blessed her, the second also, 
and the third, all blessed her. Man also has blessed Mary; the married have 
blessed her; widows blessed her; virgins blessed her; all have blessed her. 
They have blessed her, saying: "Thou art the glory of the triumphant 
Jerusalem, the glory, I say, of all the Saints; thou art the joy of Israel, 
contemplating God; thou art the joy, I say, of all the angels; thou art the 
honor of our people who are still pilgrims, that is, thou art the honor of 
all the just who are in this world. Blessed, therefore, be thy most sweet 
Son, O Mary, who by thy abundant blessing bestows such good things on 
Heaven and on earth, so that the angels as well as men can rejoice with 
Anselm, and praise thee, saying: "These great gifts came through the 
blessed Fruit of the blessed womb of the blessed Mary."

Again, Mary is blessed not only because of her glory most sublime in 
dignity, not only because of her glory most abundant in immensity, but also 
because of her glory most enduring in stability. That is signified by the 
house, spoken of in the First Book of Paralipomenon: "Thou, O Lord, giving 
the blessing, it shall be blessed for ever." Truly forever, as it is said 
in the Psalm: "Therefore hath God blessed thee forever" (Ps. XLIV.) Thus, 
therefore, O sweet Virgin Mary, thou art truly blessed among women, and 
above women, yea also above men, nay, even above the angels. Blessed, I 
say, because of the fullness of grace which thou hast found; blessed, 
because of the majesty of the Person whom thou hast given birth to; 
blessed, because of the multitude of the mercies which thou hast shown; 
blessed, because of the greatness of the glory which thou hast received. 
Thee, therefore, O Blessed One, we invoke, we implore, we pray to thee with 
St. Bernard: "Grant, O blessed one, by the grace which thou hast found, by 
the prerogatives which thou hast merited, by the mercy which thou hast 
brought forth, that He who through thee deigned to become a partaker of our 
weakness and misery, may, by thy intercession, make us sharers of His 
heavenly glory. Amen."








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