!doctype html public "-//w3c//dtd html 4.0 transitional//en"> Livius -- The Blessed Virgin in the Fathers of the First Sixth Centuries: Ch. II  

 
101
EXEGESIS - CANTICLES.

"When thou, most holy one, didst as brightest day shine forth upon the world and bring forth that Sun of Justice, the hateful horror of darkness was dispelled, the power of the tyrant was brought to nought, death was destroyed, hell swallowed up, all enmity done away before the sight of peace; noxious diseases, on the breaking forth of the blessing of health, were bidden to depart far away, and the whole wide world perfused with the light of the clearest and most pure truth. To all which things Solomon alluding in the Canticles thus begins: My beloved to me, and I to Him, till the day dawn again, and the shadows return.*

"Scatter our enemies visible and invisible; be thou a tower of strength, an armament of war, a strong battle set in array, a leader and invincible defender, to us, unworthy though we be, from the face of our foes."+

"How beautiful are thy steps in shoes, O prince's daughter! The joints of thy thighs are like jewels, that are made by the hand of a skilful workman. Thy navel is like a round bowl never wanting cups. Thy belly is like a heap of wheat, set about with lilies." -- vii. 1, 2.

"Imitate Mary to whom admirably applies what was prophesied of the Church: Beautiful are seen thy steps in shoes, O daughter of Aminadab (or of the Prince). Because with beauty did the Church go forth in the preaching of the Gospel. Beautifully, too, goes forth the soul, that uses the body as though a shoe, so that whither it will, it may bear about its step without let or hindrance. In this shoe with beauty went forth Mary, who with chastity inviolate, a Virgin most pure, gave birth to the Author of salvation. Hence well says John: I am not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoes, that is, I am not worthy to comprehend the mystery of the Incarnation within the narrow bounds of human intelligence, nor to compass it in the meanness of poor speech. Hence too Isaias saith: Who shall declare His generation? Beautiful, therefore, are the steps, whether of Mary or of the Church, since beautiful are the steps of the Evangelists.

"How beautiful also are those things that were prophesied of Mary under the figure of the Church -- if however we keep before our minds not the members of the body, but the mysteries of Christ's generation. For to Mary is it said: The joints of thy thighs are like jewels, that are made by the hands of a skilful workman. Thy navel is like a round bowl never wanting cups.++ Thy belly is like a heap of wheat set about with lilies.** Whereby is shown how excellently ordered and self-sufficing in all things was the birth of Christ from the Virgin, and that as conquerors in earthly battles are wont to adorn the necks of the combatants with gifts of chains and collars in reward for their bravery, so Christ has taken off our yoke, in order to crown His faithful ones with marks of distinction in recompense for their virtue. The round bowl, too, really signifies the womb of Mary, wherein was Divine Wisdom, who mingled in this bowl His own wine, ministering withal, by the plenitude of His Divinity, unfailing grace of pious understanding and knowledge.


* Cant. vi. 2, ii. 16, iv. 6; S. Methodius, De Sim. et Anna. v.

+ S. Ephrem, Orat. ad Deip. Opp. Gr. T. iii. p. 551.

++ i.e., wine; Crater tornatilis non deficiens mixto. S. Amb.

** Acervus tritici muniti inter lilia. S. Ambr.

 

 

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