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EXEGESIS - CANTICLES.

"The tongue of Mary is sweet as honey, and her lips as the dropping honey-comb. Beautiful in her steps, more beautiful is she in her ways."* See infra, vii. 1.

"My sister, my spouse, is a garden enclosed, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up." -- v. 12.

"In being closed and sealed, it is like the Mother of the Lord, Mother and Virgin. Hence too in the Saviour's new sepulchre which was hewn in the hardest (some read, purest) rock, no one else was laid before or after. And yet this perpetual Virgin is Mother of many virgins; for we next read: Thy plants are a paradise of pomegranates with the fruit of apples (v. 13). By pomegranates and apples, is meant the assemblage of all virtues in virginity. My beloved is white and ruddy (v. 10). White by virginity, ruddy by martyrdom. And because white and ruddy, is quickly added: His throat most sweet, and he is all lovely (v. 16). The Virgin Bridegroom, after having been praised by the Virgin bride, praises in turn the Virgin bride, and says to her: Beautiful are thy steps in shoes, daughter of Aminadab (vii. 1), or, as it is interpreted, Of the people that offers itself freely: since virginity is voluntary: and for this cause, the steps of the Church are commended."+

"Mary was the garden enclosed, the fountain sealed, to whom no guile could find entrance, against whom no fraud of the enemy could prevail, but who was ever holy in mind and body."++

"Christ is a Virgin, and the Mother of this one Virgin is herself a perpetual Virgin, Mother and Virgin. For the doors being shut, Jesus entered in; and also in her sepulchre, which was new, and hewn in most hard rock, was no one either before or afterwards laid. She is a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed; that same fountain, whence, says Joel,** flows the river which waters the torrent, whether it be one of cords or thorns -- cords of sinners wherewith they were before bound, or thorns that were choking the householder's crops. She is the Eastern gate, whereof Ezechiel speaks, always shut and full of light, which closing on itself, lets pass the Holy of Holies; whereby the Sun of Justice, even our High Priest, according to the order of Melchizedech, enters in and goes out. Let them tell me how it was that Jesus entered in, the doors being shut; when He showed His hands for His disciples to feel, His side to see, together with His bones and flesh, that they might not suppose His body was phantastic, but real, and I will tell them, how the holy Mary is both Mother and Virgin, Virgin after childbirth, and Mother before she was married. Thus, then, as we had begun to say, the Virgin Christ and the Virgin Mary, consecrated in themselves for both sexes the first-fruits of virginity (virginitatis principia). The Apostles were either virgins, or continent after their marriage. Bishops, priests, and deacons, are, when chosen, either virgins or widowers, or at any rate remain always chaste after the priesthood."||


* Theodotus of Ancyra, Hom. vi. In S. Deip. et in Nat. Dom. Patr. Gr. Tom. 77, p. 1427.

+ S. Jerome, Adv. Jovinian. L. i. 31.

++ Serm. de Assump. Int. Opp. S. Hieron.

** Joel iii. 18.

|| S. Jerome, Epist. 48, n. 21. Ad Pammach. Patr. Lat. Tom. 22, p. 510.

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