EXEGESIS - CANTICLES. - ECCLESIASTICUS.
"In the Virgin's womb germinated at the same time the heap of wheat, and the grace of the lily flower, since she was herself putting forth the grain of wheat, and the lily: the grain of wheat, according to what is written: Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat, falling into the ground, die, itself remaineth alone.* But because from one grain of wheat there is made a heap, that prophecy is fulfilled: And the vales shall abound with corn;+ for that grain having died, brought forth very much fruit. And so this grain has satiated all men with a perpetual food of heavenly gifts: and that prophetic word from the mouth of the same David is accomplished: He fed them with the fat of wheat, and filled them with honey out of the rocks.++ That in this grain was also the lily, divine Scripture testifies: for it is written, I am the flower of the field and the lily of the valleys....** From that same womb of Mary, therefore, it was that the heap of wheat fenced among the lilies was poured forth into the world, when of her Christ was born, to whom says the prophet David: Thou shalt bless the crown of the year with Thy goodness,|| etc."
"By the thigh we understand the sign of generation, according to those words: Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O Thou most Mighty,*** whereby is signified that the Son of God when He emptied Himself, girt with the Divinity of the Word, and shod with His human generation, went forth from the Virgin to give salvation to all. And by the joints are meant such precious ornaments as matrons are used to wear on their necks. So great therefore is understood to be the progress of the Church, that it is compared to the most costly ornaments, and to chains and necklaces of conquerors: for such are the decorations of warriors. And hence Symmachus has epitrachelia, that is, what is worn around the neck. Thus then, the generation of Christ from the Virgin, or, if you choose, the propagation of the Church, has, so to speak, figuratively crowned the necks of the faithful with necklaces beautifully wrought by the hand of a skilful workman, but really with spiritual adornment of true virtue."+++
"Who is this that cometh up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved?" -- viii. 5.
"She it is that cometh up, clinging to the Divine Word as a vine to a vine-stock."|||
"Hail full of grace, thou ever-blooming vine."++++
"Love is strong as death... the lamps thereof are fire and flames." -- v. 6.
"Mary was all on fire with divine love. As there was nothing earthly in her to disturb her affections, she was ever burning, and, so to say, inebriated with this love."****
"From the woman came the beginning of sin, and by her we all die." -- xxv. 33.
* John xii. 2.
+ Ps. lxiv. 14.
++ Ps.lxxx. 19.
** Cant. ii. 1.
|| Ps. lxiv. 12-14. S. Ambrose, De Inst. Virg. cap. xiv., xv. n. 94.
*** Ps. xliv. 4.
+++ Id. in Ps. cxviii., Serm. xviii. 18.
||| Id., De Isaac et Anima, cap. v.
++++ Serm. i., In Annunt. B.M.V., Int. Opp. S. Greg. Thaum.
**** De Assump. B.M.V., Int. Opp. S. Hieron.