He who was offended has been the first to send, and has undone the bar which our sin had fastened against heaven. There is now an entrance for us, if thy assent be given. Thou succourest both us and thyself: for alike to us and to thee is the penalty entailed. In thy bridal chamber God has prepared the nuptials for His Son: in the joys of His espousals He has forgiven whatever offense the world had done Him. And do thou too, O Angel, messenger of so great a King, and legate of the divine secret -- who from the palace of imperial majesty hast brought pardon to the guilty, life to the dead, and sacraments of peace to captives -- urge on the Virgin who is not distrustful of God's bounty, but is thinking on the greatness of the bounty: do thou take the side of the world, knowing well, as thou dost, the secrets of heaven. Thy fellows will have joy, if thou furtherest the interests of the world. The sword of our transgression has cut us off from your fellowship; by means of you will our restoration be arranged. Do thou regard the squalid misery of our prison, and haste to say to Mary: How long, O Virgin, wilt thou delay the herald who may not tarry? Behold God who waits for me at heaven's vestibule: give the word of answer, and receive the Son; give faith, and experience the power: open thy roseate bosom, O Virgin perpetual: now is it that thy faith either opens, or closes heaven.

"Behold, she says, the handmaid of the Lord: let the King enter into His chamber: be it done to me according to thy word. Without delay the messenger returns, and Christ enters the nuptial couch. He receives the garment of flesh within the bridechamber of the Virgin, the little bag of flesh, within the treasure-house of Majesty. Man is espoused to Deity; flesh receives the prize. Christ goes forth as a bridegroom from His nuptial chamber: in presage of the nuptials, He went out to the field of the world: He ran as a giant exulting through the way: He arrived at length at the couch of the Cross, and there made the nuptials sure by ascending it; and there, as He perceived His creature gasping in sighs, by a communication of His loving compassion He gave Himself for atonement. He gave also a carbuncle, as jewel of His blood, and united to Himself her who should be for ever by right His wedded spouse. I have joined you, says the Apostle, to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.* Lo now, she who before was foul, is become beautiful; she who before was captive, is made free: Judaea, who had been free, is become a bond-woman, because she saw her Life hanging on the tree, and believed not in her Deliverer.

"Let us then rejoice, brethren, in this commerce of God and man, of the Bridegroom and the bride, of Christ and the Church, of the Saviour and the Virgin. Let us exult in faith, too, at the childbirth of the Virgin, who whilst she was espoused to a carpenter was wedded to heaven's architect...." **

"Mary is the flower of the field, from which has sprung that precious Lily of the valleys, by whose birth all nature is changed, and the guilt of our first parents is done away. In her has been cut off that record of Eve's unhappiness: In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children; since with joy she brought forth the Lord. For whilst Eve mourned, she exulted; and whereas Eve bore tears in her womb, Mary in hers bore gladness.

* 2 Cor. xi. 2.

** Serm. 120 (alias de temp. 21), In Natali Domini iv. Int. Opp. S. Augustini, Appendix.


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