To start Mary’s month off right, we offer the following from Father Thaddeus with thanks to KIC’s Kindle Edition.
THE SPOUSE OF THE CANTICLE
“I will espouse thee to me in faith, and I will espouse thee to me for ever.” —Osee 2:20.
Solomon’s Canticle of Canticles, is said to be the greatest love story of all times, for it is the story of the Love of God for His Spouse. Of this, Cornelius a Lapide says that the word “Spouse” may be taken in four different senses:
- The humanity of Christ,
- The Church,
- The Blessed Virgin Mary
- The just soul.
As regards its application to our Blessed Lady, he gives the following explanation: “This Canticle may be properly understood of Christ, and of the Blessed Virgin, who shines among the just, as the moon among the stars. The Incarnation of the Word, moreover, and consequently the Espousals of the Church, were performed in her and through her… Let us consider some of the characteristic traits of the Spouse, as found in passages applied to our Blessed Lady by the Church in her Offices. “Thou art all fair, 0 my love, and there is not a spot in thee” (Canticles 4:7). Mary is all fair, yea, the fairest, not only of all human creatures, but even if compared to the Angels. And there is in her no spot of either guilt or pain of sin, whether original, mortal, or venial. This is the sentiment of the whole Church, expressed by the Council of Trent.
Long before that time, St. Augustine, having said that all mankind, even the just, are subject to venial sin, adds: “Except the Blessed Virgin Mary, of whom there can be no question when we speak of sin, for the sake of the honour due to the Lord.” Hence the words: “Thou art all fair, and there is not a spot in thee,” are applied to Mary alone, by Rupertus, St. Ildefonse, and many others. “I am black but beautiful, 0 ye daughters of Jerusalem” (Canticles 1:4). Our Blessed Lady is a daughter of Adam, who sinned, and by his sin contaminated his whole posterity. Mary did not contract this general infection but, being a child of our common father, she appeared exteriorly black, meaning as the daughter of a sinner.
In herself, however, she was beautiful by the fullness of grace. The Blessed Virgin was black through her humility, which made her wish to appear like other women. She came to the Temple to be purified like other mothers. But interiorly she was most pure and clean, and her humility made her the more acceptable and beautiful in the eyes of God. This text may also be very aptly applied to our Blessed Lady at the time of the Passion of her Divine Son. She was then the Mother of Sorrows and, the Sun of Justice being darkened, so did Mary, the heavenly moon, also grow dim by the martyrdom of her soul.
In these words: “I am black,” we may thus see the Blessed Virgin depicted attired in mourning, contemplating the sufferings of Jesus Christ When our dear Saviour suffered and died, Mary suffered and, in a certain manner, died with Him, through the greatness of her love. She could then truly say, “I am black, I am darkened; my beloved Son suffers and is despised: I must suffer and be despised with Him.” “How beautiful art thou, and how comely, my dearest, in delights!” (Canticles 7:6)
There is in the whole creation nothing so beautiful, so comely, or so delightful as the Blessed Virgin Mary. Hence the Church sings in our Lady’s Office the following antiphon taken from this text: “Thou art all beautiful and sweet in thy delights, O holy Mother of God!” At the consideration of these words, Hailgrinus exclaims: “How beautiful art thou in thy Maternity, how comely in thy Virginity, how admirable in both united!” How great must have been the delights of the Blessed Virgin, when she embraced Jesus the Son of God; when she fed Him Who feeds the angels, for she was conscious of the Divine mysteries and of her privileges. She knew that she was the Mother of God, our Saviour, and this knowledge filled her soul with ineffable delights.
“When the king was at his repose, my spikenard sent forth the odor thereof” (Canticles 1:11). When the Son of God was yet in the bosom of His eternal Father, He smelt the sweet odor of the spikenard, or balsam of the nardus—plant, that is, of the humility of the Blessed Virgin, and attracted thereby, He descended from heaven. “Humility,” says Rupertus, “is the repose of the mind, and whosoever finds this virtue, finds rest of the soul. I (the Mother of God) sought this rest in all things, and the King, smelling the aromatic odor of this my spikenard, looked, and saw that He could rest in the stillness, that is, in the humility, of my heart. Then He descended from the eternal throne of His repose, and rested in my tabernacle; and, being the Lord of all things, He became the Son of His handmaid.”
The King of Glory took His repose in Mary in the Incarnation. And how often did He rest in her arms when a Child! “Sleep, Holy Babe, upon Thy Mother’s breast! Great Lord of earth, and sea, and sky, How sweet it is to see Thee lie In such a place of rest.” How pleasing must then have been the odor of her purity, her humility, and all her other virtues to the King of humility, the God of the humble! “I sought Him, whom my soul loveth: I sought Him, and found Him not. I will rise, and will go about the city: in the streets and the broad ways I will seek Him whom my soul loveth” (Canticles 3:1).
Rupertus and others apply these words to our Blessed Lady, when she had lost Jesus in Jerusalem. Great indeed, as St. Alphonsus remarks, must have been the grief of this afflicted Mother, who went about in every direction, asking with the Spouse in the Canticle: “Have you seen Him, whom my soul loveth?” (Canticles 3:3) But she could hear no tidings of Him. With how much more tenderness must Mary, oppressed with fatigue and grief in looking for her Son, and unable to find Him, had repeated what Ruben said of his brother Joseph: “‘The boy doth not appear, and whither shall I go?’” (Genesis 37:30) My Jesus doth not appear, and I know not what to do in order to find Him; but where shall I go without my treasure?”
What, asks St. Bonaventure, could avail the comfort which her friends and relations endeavored to give her? Can aught compensate for the loss of Jesus? The Blessed Virgin, finding her search fruitless, addressed herself to God, her constant refuge, and sole consolation, saying, “0 God, my Father, my eternal Lord, Thou didst grant me Thine own beloved Son; I, alas, have lost Him, and do not know where to find Him! O, restore Him to me again! Look on the greatness of my affliction! Return, 0 Jesus, to Thy Mother, or let me know where Thou art! My dearest Son, do not delay to come back to me, for Thou art my joy and all my hope, and without Thee I cannot live.”
Such must have been Mary’s sentiments when she had lost Jesus, and sought Him sorrowing, until at length she found the object of her desires, the Beloved of her soul. “Many waters cannot quench charity, neither can the floods drown it” (Canticles 8:7). By these “many waters,” we may understand the sorrows, tribulations, privations, and all the trials of this life. The Blessed Virgin has suffered more than the martyrs, of whom she is therefore the Queen. She suffered with her Divine Son, and on His account she died, as it were, with Him on the Cross; and the memory of His torments caused her during the remainder of her life the most intense grief. She also felt in her heart the sufferings of the disciples and faithful, of whom she was the most affectionate Mother. But all these afflictions, far from quenching her charity, rather fed and augmented it, to the end of her mortal life.
We also have to suffer, we also must be tried. Let our sufferings never extinguish our charity. Let us rather say with St Paul: “Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? or danger? or persecution? or the sword? But all these things we overcome because of him that hath loved us” (Romans 8:35). If these are our sentiments, our souls shall, in imitation of our Blessed Lady, also be the spouses of our Lord. And if we are faithful to our heavenly Bridegroom now, we shall celebrate with Him an eternal marriage feast in a better life.
Rev. F.. Mary Thaddeus, “Foreshadowed: Considerations on the Types and Figures of Our Blessed Lady in the Old Testament, . KIC. Kindle Edition.
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
† Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
† O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse thee!
† St. Joseph, protect us, protect our families, protect our priests.
† St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Please pray for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
~ by evensong for love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!