Mary in the Epistles by Thomas Stiverd Livius. Comments on the Epistles part 15


4 Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up ;

5 Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil;

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth;

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Charity never falleth away.

" Charity is kind. God our Saviour showed Himself so kind to us, that He gave to us all that He had, and prayed for His crucifiers. His Mother imitated Him. The gold pre sented to her by the Magi, she soon generously bestowed upon the poor. The Apostle says, Charity is kind, and the greater the charity, the greater is the kindness. Hence, as Mary's charity exceeds that of all others, so too does her kindness." [S. Antoninus, p. v., tit. xv., c. 26, 4.]

Think of Mary from what is said, and also from what is not said of her in the Gospels. Look then into your own thoughts about her : gather thence the necessary, inevitable idea of her impressed on the believing mind : compare with all this each clause of the Apostle's description of charity. Does not the idea perfectly harmonise with the description, and do not both tally the one with the other ; bringing out distinctly to view that sweet character of the Blessed Virgin, which has been ever indelibly stamped on the mind of the Catholic Church, which has been uniformly expressed by the Saints, and been the consoling devotion of all the faithful in every age 1 0 clemens, 0 pia, 0 dulcis Virgo Maria ! Thou assuredly wert that living ideal whence the Apostle has drawn this picture of charity.


22 And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.

It is an unquestionable truth that the Blessed Virgin is the second Eve as our Lord Jesus Christ is the second Adam.

And since the certainty of this truth is established by other reasons, we may regard it as implicitly contained in these words of the Apostle although they do not formally express it. As, that is to say, in the same manner as the first man Adam wrought death, so did Christ the last Adam bring life (v. 45). But we know that the way by which the first Adam brought about our death was in direct co-operation with the first woman, Eve. So, in the same manner, with the co-operation of a woman, that is to say, Mary, the second Eve, did Christ the second Adam restore us to life. We may give the same extension to that other expression of S. Paul, viz., that the first Adam is the figure or form of the second : Adam, qui est forma futuri ; ["After the similitude of the transgression of Adam, who is a figure of him who was to come "Rom. v. 14.] and conclude that Eve is the figure or form of Mary the second Eve ; and that as the one woman co-operated in our fall, so the other co-operated in our redemption. [See The Co-operation of the Blessed Virgin, etc. Jeanjacquot, S. J.]

" Since by the female sex," says S. Augustine, " man fell, by the same sex is man restored. ... By a woman death, by a woman life." [Serm. 232, 2.] And S. Epiphanius: "Eve brought ruin on God's creatures by means of the transgression ; allured as she was by the serpent's speech and promise, led astray from the commandment, and perverted in mind. For this cause the Lord and Saviour of all, wishing to heal the sore, build up what was fallen to ruin, and redress what was gone wrong, of a Virgin woman Himself was born, that He might banish death, supply what was wanting, and perfect what was impaired." [Haeres. 69, 9.]

23 But every one in his own order: the first-fruits Christ, then they that are of Christ, who have believed in his coming.

Who should be the next in order after Christ the first-fruits? What should be her place and order, who not only was of Christ, and was so signally blessed in believing in His first coming, [Luke i. 45.] but " of whom was born Jesus " the first-fruits of the Resurrection ?

41 One is the glory of the sun, another the glory of the moon, and another the glory of the stars. For star differeth from star in glory.

Among the bodies celestial there is one that holds pre-eminence before all others, the Sun of Justice, our Lord Jesus Christ. Who is signified by that other orb, reflecting the sun, next in dignity and splendour, one and alone, differing utterly from, and excelling far, all stars in shining, formosa ut luna ? Who but Mary ? Another is the glory of the moon, and another the glory of the stars (the Saints of God), for star differeth from star in glory. The glory, then, of Mary not only surpasses far in degree, but is of a different kind from that of all the Saints. On this account the Church pays to the Blessed Virgin vene ration and honour of a different order from what she gives to the other Saints. " I keep silence," writes S. Jerome, " on Anna and Elisabeth, and the rest of the holy women, whose, so to say, tiny sparks of stars the bright, shining light of Mary eclipses." [Comment, in Sophon. Prol.] An ancient author writes : " Such was the splendour of Mary's life, as, in a manner, to obscure the lives of all others; for as in comparison with God no one is good, so in comparison with the Lord's Mother, no creature is found perfect, even though it be shewn to excel in virtues. One is our Father in heaven, one is our Mother on earth, one form of virtues Mary." [Ep. ad Eustoch. et Paul, de Assump. int. opera S. Hieron.] " One is the glory of the sun, that is, the glory of Christ; another the glory of the moon, that is, of the Virgin Mary ; and another the glory of the stars, that is, of the other Saints. Because according to their different merits, they will partake in various degrees of the light of glory, it is added, for star differeth from star in glory." [Lyra, ap. Morales, lib. iii., tr. 2.] " Of the Blessed Virgin, after Christ, is especially said : ' She is the brightness of eternal life, and an unspotted mirror,' on account of the exceeding beauty of her soul and body ; and again, * She is more beautiful than the sun, and above all the order of the stars : being compared with the light, she is found more pure.' [Sap. vii. 26, 27.] S. Bonaventure, explaining this passage of the Blessed Virgin, says as follows : ' Some read here prior, others purior ; but both are applicable to our Star : for Mary is before, that is, more excellent or worthy: and Mary is also more pure than the sun, the stars, and light, because, as well in dignity and purity, she surpasses the sun, and stars, and all material light; nay, even all spiritual light, that is, all angelic creation' Whence S. Anselm exclaims : ' O Blessed above women who excellest the Angels in purity, and the Saints in piety.' " [Morales ii. 10.]

" Christ," says Cardinal Hugo, " is the greater light to rule the day, that is, the just: Mary the lesser light to rule sinners." [In Gen. i.]

47 The first man was of the earth, earthly ; the second man, from heaven, heavenly.

See infra (Heb. viii. 26) the passage from S. Ambrose allud ing to these words, quoted by S. Alphonsus. " Not," says Rupert, " that Jesus Christ who was born of Mary came with flesh from heaven, and passed through the Blessed Virgin— quasi per fistulam—as some heretics have asserted ; but that the life of these two spouses, Joseph and Mary—or their union—was all heavenly, and the Holy Spirit was the conjugal love of both, since their conversation was entirely in heaven."