95
EXEGESIS - CANTICLES.

"Go out for a moment from the prison of the body, and represent to thyself the thought of the future recompense for present sufferings, a recompense such as eye of man hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor heart of man felt anything comparable. What a day, O Eustochium, will that be when the Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Saviour, will come to meet thee with choirs of angels; when the Spouse Himself will come to receive thee with these words: Arise, come, My beloved, My dove, the winter is past, the rains are over, the flowers have appeared in our land."*

"Till the day break and the shadows retire." -- v. 19.

"How are we not in shadow... He came on a light cloud, and being the Power of the Most High, He overshadowed Mary, that so He might transform the body of our humility to become even like to the body of His glory...."+

"For this life is not perfect, but one in shadow. Consequently, that the Man Christ Jesus might be born of the Virgin, the power of the Most High overshadowed His future Mother. For this cause in shadow He came down: from shadow beginning to work out man's salvation, which He was to bring to consummation in the brightness of the eternal sun."++

"Who is she that goeth up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh, and frankincense, and of all the powders of the perfumer?" -- iii. 6.

"As a pillar, he says, of smoke of aromatical spices: meaning thereby that she is replete with many odours of virtues: for the most sweet odour that flowed from her was fragrant even to the angelic spirits. The Mother of God too went up from the desert of the present world, that rod which sprung up of old from the root of Jesse. But the souls of the elect wondered for joy who she was, who by the merits of her virtues could surpass even the dignity of the angels. Of her again the same Holy Spirit says in the Canticles: Who is she that ascends as the rising dawn, beautiful as the moon, elect as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?** Now the Holy Spirit is in wonder of admiration because He makes all to be in wonder of admiration at the ascent of this Virgin, that, as the ruddy dawn of day-break, she is so resplendent in her ascent, supported and guarded by many hosts of angels. Hence she is said to be terrible as an army set in array. Since in truth terrible has she become by her virtues as an army set perfectly in array, on all sides supported by guards of holy angels. Beautiful as the moon, nay more beautiful than the moon, because now, without any waning, she shines in glory, illumined with heavenly splendours. Elect as the sun by the brightness of her virtues, because the Sun of Justice Himself elected her, that He might be born of her."||

"Behold threescore valiant ones of the most valiant of Israel surrounded the bed of Solomon." -- v. 7.

"Gift more excellent than all price, ornament more costly than all goods. Bed of Solomon around which stand the threescore mighty ones, that is, the words of divinely inspired Scripture. Place full of light, whence the rays of salvation have shone forth to the whole world."***


* S. Jerome, Ep. 18, ad Eustochium.

+ Philip. iii. 21. S. Ambrose, in Ps. cxviii. Serm. iii. 19.

++ Ib. Serm. v.

** Cant. vi. 9.

|| De Assumptione, Int. Opp. S. Hieron.

*** S. Ephrem, Orat. in Deip. Opp. Graec. T. iii., p. 530.

 

 

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