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Mirror Of The Blessed Virgin Mary by Saint Bonaventure

CHAPTER XVIII

TO WHOM THE RESULTS OF THE FRUIT OF THE WOMB OF MARY ARE NECESSARY, AND OF ITS TWELVE ADVANTAGES

Blessed is the fruit of thy womb. We have seen of what nature and quality 
the blessed fruit of the womb of Mary was; we have also seen to whom it 
rightfully belongs; we must now see to whom and to what effects it is 
needful. For this fruit is a remedy against evil, and it is necessary for 
good. It is necessary in six of its effects as a remedy against evil; and 
it is necessary in six other effects for the attainment of good. For this 
blessed fruit has twelve very useful effects, or remarkable advantages, on 
account of which all men rightly praise its effects, according to what is 
written in the Psalm: "Let all peoples praise thee, O God, let all peoples 
praise thee: the earth has given her fruit" (Ps. LXVII.) The first effect 
of this fruit is the expiation of mortal sin; the second is the 
pacification of the supreme enmity; the third is the healing of the wound 
of original sin; the fourth is the satisfying of the hunger of the mind; 
the fifth is the avoidance of the anger of the Judge; the sixth is 
deliverance from the pains of hell; the seventh is the renunciation of 
temporal goods; the eighth is the enrichment of the rational soul; the 
ninth is the consummation of the spiritual life; the tenth is the 
multiplication of the universal Church; the eleventh is the reintegration 
of the empyreal ruin; the twelfth is the perpetuation of eternal glory.

First, therefore, the blessed fruit of Mary is necessary for the expiation 
of mortal sin. Of this we can understand what is said in Isaias: "This is 
the whole fruit, that sin may be taken away" (Is. XXVII, 9.) By the whole 
fruit we may understand Him of whom St. Bernard says: "On the cross hangs 
all the fruit of life, because the tree of life itself is in the midst of 
Paradise." All the fruit, therefore, is the whole fruit, the whole of Him. 
This Fruit was given, born, and suffered that the sin of man might be taken 
away. For, as the Angel said: "He hath saved His people from their sins." 
He also is the one of whom John spoke: "Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh 
away the sins of the world !" This Lamb truly takes away the sins of the 
world, both mortal and venial. He who by this fruit is purged from mortal 
sins, may also be cleansed from venial sins, according to the word: "Every 
one who beareth fruit, He will purge, that he may bring forth more fruit."

Secondly, the blessed fruit of Mary is necessary for t-he removal of the 
mortal enmity which existed between God and man, between angels and men. 
Isaias says: "I created the fruit of the lips, peace, peace to him that is 
far off, and to him that is near" (Is. LVII, 19.) The fruit of the womb of 
Mary may well be called the fruit of the lips of Mary, because while from 
her lips distilled the honey-flowing words, "Behold the handmaid of the 
Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word," she immediately conceived 
her most sweet Fruit. O truly honeyflowing lips, as it is said in the 
Canticle: "Thy lips are as the dropping honeycomb." It was God the Father 
who created this fruit, which is Our Lord Jesus Christ, or who made (in 
Him) peace; peace, I say, to him who is afar, by guilt, that he may become 
near by grace, and peace to him who is near by grace, lest he should be 
made far by guilt. For He, as the Apostle says, is "our peace, who maketh 
both one." This fruit also was made peace between man, who is far distant 
in this world, and the angel, who in Heaven is near; for Christ made peace 
with both on the gibbet of the Cross, according to the word of the Apostle: 
"Making peace by the blood of his Cross, both those things which are in 
Heaven and those which are on earth." Therefore, this fruit is peace from 
man to man, peace from man to the angel, and peace between God and man. 
What wonder if by this fruit man has peace with God, when He Himself, the 
peace-giving Fruit, is both God and man? Bede gives testimony to this, 
saying: "Our earth will give its fruit, because the Virgin Mary, who had 
her body from the earth, brought forth a Son in divinity indeed, co-equal 
with the Father, but consubstantial with herself in the reality of His 
flesh."

Thirdly, this blessed fruit of Mary is necessary for the healing of the 
wound of original sin; for man, falling among thieves, was wounded with a 
grievous wound, nay, many grievous wounds, while by original sin he became 
so blind to the truth, so infirm in good, so prone to evil. But these 
wounds are healed by this fruit. In this life indeed they are only 
partially healed by grace; but in the future life they will be entirely 
healed in glory. Therefore, well is it said in the Apocalypse: "The Angel 
showed John the tree of life, bearing its fruits every month, and the 
leaves of the tree were for the healing of nations." The tree of life is 
Mary, the Mother of Life; or the tree of life is the tree of the Cross; or 
else the tree is Jesus Christ, the Author of Life, who is also the Fruit of 
Life. Those healing leaves are edifying words and deeds. If even the leaves 
are healing, how much more healing and life-giving is the fruit? Therefore, 
that we may be healed by this fruit, let us approach its tree; let us draw 
near, I say, to Mary. Let us pray with St. Anselm: "Hear me, O Lady! Heal 
the soul of thy servant who is a sinner, by virtue of the blessed Fruit of 
thy womb, who sitteth at the right hand of his Almighty Father."

Fourthly, the blessed fruit of Mary is necessary for the relief of hunger, 
or the famine of the soul, lest for want of due nourishment the animals of 
God should perish. Therefore it is well said by the Prophet Joel: "Fear 
not, animals of the region, for the beautiful places of the desert have 
blossomed, and the tree has brought forth its fruit." It is a desert or a 
wilderness because it germinates without culture, and brings forth food for 
animals. This desert may signify Mary, who without marital culture brought 
forth a Son, who is the food of all the faithful. Therefore it can be said 
of her: "That earth is uncultivated, it has become as a garden of pleasure" 
(Ezech. XXXVI, 35.) The beautiful blooms of this uncultured earth are the 
flowers of heavenly desires, the grasses of good works, the fair flowers of 
virtues and gifts, the lovely leaves of useful words, and the truly 
beautiful fruit of Mary's womb, which is the food of all the just. Mary is 
this beautiful desert. Mary is also this fruitful tree, of which it is 
said: "And the tree brought forth its fruit" (Joel II, 22.) Oh, truly 
wonderful fruit, by which both the hunger and the thirst of souls is 
relieved, as St. Bernard says: "Good Fruit, which is food and drink to 
hungering and thirsting souls." Do not fear, therefore, animals of God; 
fear not, ye faithful of Christ, that you will perish from want of food, 
because you have full pasture in the desert, full fruit on the tree, full 
food in the manger." For St. Bernard says: "The Child lies in the manger, 
that all the faithful--as it were, the beasts of burden --may find 
refreshment for their flesh." St. Augustine says: "O resplendent manger, in 
which has lain the food of animals, but also the food of angels !"

Fifthly, the blessed fruit of Mary is necessary for the avoidance of the 
anger of the Judge, which every unjust man has to fear, in the same way as 
every just man has by right that by which he may escape the anger of the 
Judge. Therefore it is said in the Psalm: "If indeed there is fruit to the 
just, God indeed judging them on earth," etc. "Them," that is, the unjust, 
for God will judge the unjust upon earth, while at the judgment the just 
will be in the air, but the unjust will remain upon the earth, because they 
preferred to cleave to earthly things instead of God, so that they could 
truly say: "My soul hath cleaved to the pavement." There the Lord will be 
indeed a sweet fruit to the just, but to the unjust and wicked he will be a 
severe judge. Woe, therefore, to them who turn so sweet a fruit into a most 
bitter judgment for themselves, as it is said in Amos: "You have turned 
judgment into bitterness, and the fruit of justice into wormwood", (Amos 
VI, 13.) The fruit of justice is the fruit of the just. Just is the fruit 
of Mary, of whom the Psalmist truly says: "The just has borne fruit. The 
earth is the virgin, because truth has sprung forth from the earth."

Sixthly, the blessed fruit of Mary is necessary for the avoidance of the 
pains of hell, or eternal death, on which we can say that which we find in 
the fourth of Kings: "I will take you away to . . . a fruitful land, and 
plentiful in wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olives, and oil 
and honey, and you shall live, and not die" (4 Kings XVIII, 32.) All those 
who will be converted to her with their whole heart shall be taken away 
into the land of Mary, or the land of the Church. This land is exceedingly 
fertile, bearing fruit of bread, wine, oil, and honey, that is, Our Lord 
Jesus Christ. For He is to us the fruit of bread which strengthens, and 
puts to flight defect or failure; He is to us the fruit of the vine, for 
all perfection; He is to us the fruit of oil, illuminating the intellect; 
and He is moreover to us the fruit of honey, instilling sweetness into our 
affections. By this fruit ye shall truly live, dearly beloved, and ye shall 
not die. Blessed is the earth of this fruit; blessed above all be this 
fruit itself, by whom we are delivered from so many evils, as St. Anselm 
well says: "What praise shall I give that is worthy of the Mother of my 
Lord and God, by whose fecundity I, a captive, have been redeemed, by whose 
Child I am delivered from eternal death, by whose offspring I, a lost one, 
am restored, and led back from exile to my fatherland?" Blessed among 
women, all these things Christ, the blessed fruit of her womb, has given me 
in the regeneration of Baptism. Woe, therefore, to all those who are 
estranged from this fruit, for it is written: "Every tree, that bringeth 
not forth good fruit, shall be cut down and cast into the fire."

Seventhly, the blessed fruit of Mary is necessary for the renunciation or 
contempt of earthly goods. Therefore, it is said in the Canticle: "A man 
shall give for this fruit a thousand silver pieces," namely, leave all 
things. For, as the Gloss says, a thousand means perfection, and silver 
means all worldly substance. Therefore, anyone who perfectly renounces all 
earthly riches for Christ's sake, gives as it were a thousand silver pieces 
for this fruit, and rightly does he despise for the sake of this fruit all 
temporal things whoever diligently marks how exceedingly precious is this 
fruit, saying that word of the Proverbs: "My fruit is better than gold and 
precious stones, and my jewels than chosen gold" (Prov. XVIII, 20.) He is 
truly a man who has such virility as this; and this man ought manfully, for 
the sake of this fruit, to contemn not only possessions and riches, but 
also honors and dignities, saying: "Can I leave my sweetness, and my 
delicious fruits, and go to be promoted among the other trees ?" (Judges 
IX, 11. ) Most sweet are the fruits of Christ, and charity. The trees of 
the wood, says the Gloss, are barren men, prepared for the eternal fire.

Therefore, for the sake of these most sweet fruits he manfully contemns 
most dangerous honors which promote him above the trees of the wood; he 
manfully contemns all things for the sake of this blessed fruit, which is 
blessed above all, God forever.

Eighthly, the blessed fruit of Mary is necessary for the enrichment of the 
rational soul. It is said in Proverbs: "Each one shall be filled with the 
fruits of his mouth" (Prov. XVIII, 20.) We confess that the Lord Jesus is 
truly not only the fruit of the womb, but also the fruit of the lips, 
because we obtain Him by the preaching of the mouth or lips, by the praise 
of the lips, and by the prayer of the lips. With the external mouth we 
receive Him sacramentally, with the inward mouth we receive Him 
spiritually. Therefore St. Jerome says: "The Flower of Mary became fruit, 
that we might eat of it." With this fruit of the lips each one shall be 
filled with the goods of spiritual riches, the goods, I say, of virtues and 
graces. Of such goods the Apostle says: "May the God of hope fill you with 
all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope and in the 
power of the Holy Ghost." O truly blessed fullness of this fruit, with 
which was filled not only the field of the Virgin which produced it, but 
also the soul of every faithful Christian who contains it, as is manifest 
by what St. Jerome says: "Truly is she called a full field, for the Virgin 
Mary is said to be full, from whose womb the Fruit of life came forth to 
believers, and all of us of His fullness have received grace for grace."

Ninthly, the blessed fruit of Mary is necessary for the perfection of the 
spiritual life. Therefore it is well said in the Psalm of the perfect man: 
"And he shall be like a tree planted by the running waters," etc. What 
should we understand by the running waters but the streams of grace, by 
which man gives or produces his fruit, the Lord Jesus Christ. Three 
conditions of a perfect life are signified which accompany the man who has 
this fruit. It belongs to the perfect not to waste their time, therefore it 
is well said: "It will give its fruit in its time." It is also a sign of 
perfection nor to overflow in useless words, which we understand to be 
signified in the words, "and his leaf shall not fall off." It is also a 
characteristic of perfection not to omit those things which are profitable 
to the soul; hence we find, "and all that he shall do shall prosper." Truly 
anyone who shall bear this fruit by charity, shall find all things 
prosperous, for all things will work together unto good for him, as it is 
written: "We know that for those who love God, all things work together 
unto good." Blessed is the man who shall have borne this fruit so perfectly 
that he shall not pass his time uselessly, that he shall utter no idle 
word, that he shall let no opportunity of virtue pass, and so he shall be 
like the tree bearing fruit spiritually, as Mary did corporeally, of whom 
St. Bernard says: "O truly the tree of life, which alone was worthy to bear 
the fruit of salvation!"

Tenthly, the blessed fruit of Mary is necessary for the multiplication of 
the universal Church. Therefore is it said: "With the fruit of her hands 
she hath planted a vineyard" (Prov. XXXI, 16.) The Lord Jesus, as He is 
well said to be the fruit of the womb, because He was conceived in the 
womb, and as He is well said to be the fruit of the lips, because He is 
received in the mouth--so also is well said to be the fruit of the hands, 
because He is acquired by the labor of the hands in good works, and is 
ministered to the faithful by the hands of the priest. Therefore, this 
fruit is most fully the fruit of Mary: it is truly the fruit of her womb, 
because He was born in a most singular way from her womb. He is also the 
fruit of her mouth, because by her mouth He was most sweetly communicated. 
He is also the fruit of her hands, because by her hands He was most 
devoutly handled. Of this fruit of her hands, Mary, or the primitive 
Church, planted a vineyard, that is, the universal Church, which is 
diffused throughout the world. Oh, how the branches of this vine, that is, 
the faithful members of the Church, have been multiplied by this fruit, 
while the rulers of the Church have caused this fruit to be spiritually 
born in the hearts of the faithful! Hence it is well said in the Psalm: 
"They yielded fruit of birth, and He blessed them, and they were multiplied 
exceedingly" (Ps. CVI, 37-38.) And because the Church in all ages has been 
multiplied by this fruit, therefore, the Virgin producing this fruit is 
rightly called blessed by all generations. As she herself well says: 
"Behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed." St. Bernard 
explains these words as follows: "Behold I see what is to come to pass in 
me, what fruit shall come forth from me, how great and how many good things 
will come to pass, by means of me, not to me alone, but to all 
generations."

Eleventhly, the blessed fruit of Mary is necessary for the restoration of 
the empyreal ruin, the ruin, I say, brought about in the high Heaven. On 
this we may note what the Lord, wishing to plant of the marrow of a high 
cedar, said: "On the high mountains of Israel I will plant it, and it shall 
shoot forth into branches, and shall bear fruit" (Ezech. XVII, 23) The high 
mountain is that sublime mansion, that sublime society of angels, which is 
well called the high mountain of Israel, because Israel is interpreted "the 
vision of God." And behold the angels always see God, as we find in the 
Gospel of St. Matthew: "Their angels always see the face of My Father, who 
is in heaven." On this high mountain, in this sublime society of angels, 
God planted that which He had chosen from the mass of perdition; He 
planted, I say, the marrow of a cedar, the marrow of the human race, that 
is, all the elect, of whom some, in reality, some in hope, are already 
planted on the angelic mountain. O fruit, truly to be loved above all 
things, on whose account every elect soul is planted on so sublime a 
height! We must joyfully bear this fruit, Our Lord Jesus Christ, for whose 
sake we are already planted in hope among the angels. Let us always give 
thanks to this fruit by whose grace we fill up the number of the angels. 
Therefore Mary, the Mother of this fruit, may well glory, and utter those 
words which St. Bernard, speaking as it were by her lips, says: "The number 
of the generations of the angels is by my Child filled up, restored, and 
the race of men, cursed in Adam, by the blessed fruit of my womb is 
regenerated unto eternal blessedness."

Twelfthly, the blessed fruit of Mary is necessary for the perpetuation of 
eternal glory, which would not be eternal, unless it was preserved by this 
fruit. Therefore, is it said in Proverbs: "The fruit of the just is a tree 
of life." Excellently is this fruit said to be a tree of life, because as 
the tree of life was to preserve the natural life in the terrestrial 
Paradise, so Christ is to preserve eternal life in the heavenly Paradise. 
St. Anselm notes all the good things which we obtain through the blessed 
fruit of Mary, and says: "All these good things came from the blessed fruit 
of the blessed womb of the Blessed Mary."

Thus you have heard how the blessed fruit of Mary is necessary, first, to 
expiate mortal sin; secondly, to placate the supreme enmity between God and 
man; thirdly, to heal the wound of original sin; fourthly, to relieve 
spiritual obstinacy; fifthly, to appease the anger of the Judge; sixthly, 
to escape the pains of hell; seventhly, to obtain the grace to despise 
earthly things; eighthly, to enrich the rational soul; ninthly, to 
consummate the spiritual life; tenthly, to multiply the universal Church; 
eleventhly, to repair the empyreal ruin; twelfthly, to preserve eternal 
glory. And behold, these twelve effects or advantages of this fruit may be 
signified by the twelve fruits of the tree of life, all of which are in the 
fruit of Mary's womb. Of which twelve fruits we read in the Apocalypse, 
that the Angel showed John the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits.

Help us, therefore, O blessed among women, that by the fruit of thy womb we 
may obtain the blessing of these twelve fruits. Help us, O fruitful Virgin, 
that by thy fruit we may be made fruitful in these fruits; that by these 
fruits we may merit to enjoy thy fruit forever! Help us, O sweetest one, 
that Jesus may grant us to enjoy His sweetness, He, the most liberal 
communicator of the blessed fruit of thy womb, who with the Father and the 
Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth world without end. Amen.









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