Mirror Of The Blessed Virgin Mary by Saint Bonaventure. CHAPTER VI.


Ave Maria, gratia plena. We have still some things to say of the grace of
the most sweet Mary. We will now consider the fourfold grace of her gifts,
her speech, her privileges, and her rewards.

First, consider in Mary the grace of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost. To this
grace Mary, giving thanks, could apply the word of Ecclesiasticus: "In me
is all grace of the way and the truth." What wonder if she herself is the
grace full of life and truth, who is the Mother of Him who was "full of
grace and truth"? And what wonder if in that rod is so great an affluence
of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, in whose flower the Holy Spirit rested with
such an abundance of His gifts? Mary is that rod, and the Son of Mary is
that flower, of whom it is said in Isaias: "There shall come forth a rod
from the root of Jesse, and a flower shall ascend from that root, and there
shall rest upon Him the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit
of counsel and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and of piety, and he
shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord." On this flower
was a great abundance of the Holy Spirit, which has overflowed into the
whole Church, so that the Evangelist John says: "Of His fullness we have
all received, and grace for grace." Now that such an abundance of grace has
overflowed from this flower into the whole garden, how much more will it
abound in the rod or stem of the flower, in Mary herself? Let Mary,
therefore, say in all security, "In me is all grace of the way and the
truth." Certainly the grace of the way and the truth consists in the
aforesaid seven gifts of the Holy Ghost; it was by the aforesaid seven
gifts that the grace of the way and the truth was in Mary. The grace of the
truth set Mary in order in the truth above herself, below herself, in
herself, and without herself. The grace, I say, of the truth set Mary in
order above herself by the gift of Wisdom; below herself, by the gift of
counsel; in herself, by the gift of understanding; without herself, by the
gift of knowledge. The grace of the truth set in order the soul of Mary in
truth above herself, in the most wise contemplation of things to be
enjoyed; below herself, in fleeing foresight of things that were to be
shunned; in herself, in her sure knowledge of what to believe; without
herself, in a most reasonable discretion concerning all she had to do. The
grace of her life set Mary in order in a good life with regard to the
devil, with regard to her neighbor, and with regard to God. The grace, I
say, of life set Mary in order in a good life; towards the devil, by
fortitude; towards her neighbor, by the gift of piety; towards God, by the
gift of fear. The grace of life set Mary in order in a most strong
resistance to the devil; in a most loving kindness to her neighbor; in a
most devout reverence towards God. This was signified by the Holy Ghost in
a most fitting manner by the house which Wisdom built for Himself, having
seven columns, which were the seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost. Whoever,
therefore, feels within himself the beginning of a desire for the Gifts of
the Holy Ghost, can find the shape of these pillars in this house, and he
ought to desire these seven pillars with great ardor and much prayer.
Likewise, he who desires the sevenfold grace of the Holy Spirit must look
for the flower of the Holy Spirit in the rod. By the rod or stem we attain
to the flower, and so to the Spirit that rests upon the flower. By Mary we
approach to Christ, and by the grace of Christ we find the Holy Spirit.
Therefore St. Bernard well says, addressing Mary: "By thee we have access
to thy Son, O blessed finder of grace, mother of life, mother of salvation,
that by thee He may receive us, who by thee was given to us."

Secondly, consider in Mary the grace of the lips, or of speech, of which it
is said in the Psalm: "Grace is shed abroad on thy lips." Such was the
grace of the lips in Mary that she could excellently be prefigured by
Judith, of whom it is said: "There is not such another woman upon earth in
look, in beauty, and in sense of words" (Judith XI, 19.) Truly there is
not, nor ever was, nor ever will be, such another woman upon earth, as Mary
was, in her glorious life, in the beauty of a pure conscience, and in the
sense of words of a most skilled tongue. We shall clearly see the grace of
the lips in Mary if we diligently gather and meditate the words of her lips
as recorded in the Gospel. We find in the Gospel seven sentences, sweeter
than honey, dropping from the lips of Mary, and indicating excellently the
honey-flowing grace of her lips, as it is said in the Canticle: "Thy lips
are as a dropping honeycomb" (IV, 11.) The seven words of Mary, spoken to
the Angel, to God, and to men, are as seven wells of honey. To the Angel,
Mary spoke the word of chastity and the word of humility. Mary had on her
lips the word of chastity when she said in answer to the Angel: "How shall
this be done, for I know not man?" This is a lesson to the unchaste, who
have on their lips not chaste, but base and carnal words. Mary spoke to the
Angel the words of humility when she said: "Behold the handmaid of the
Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word." This is a lesson to the
proud and arrogant, who neither think nor speak humbly of themselves, but
have words of boasting and elation on their lips. Again Mary spoke to men
the word of charity and the word of truth: the word of charity in greeting,
the word of truth in instruction. Mary spoke the word of charity when she
so affectionately saluted the mother of the Precursor that even the infant
in that mother's womb exulted. This is a lesson to the rancorous, who will
not only not speak charitably to their neighbors, but disdain to speak to
them at all. Mary spoke the word of truth when, the wine failing, she said
to the servants at the marriage feast: "Whatsoever He shall say to you, do
ye." This is a lesson to those who will not only not speak good words to
their neighbors, but urge them to evil deeds. Again, Mary spoke three times
to the Lord. She spoke more to God than to angels or to men, for she spoke
twice to the angels and twice to men, but three times to God. To God she
spoke a word of praise, of loving complaint, and of compassion. Of praise
for the benefits bestowed on herself; of loving complaint for the loss of
her Son; of compassion for the failing of the wine. Mary had the word of
praise to God on her lips, when in thanksgiving for that God had looked
upon her lowliness, she said: "My soul doth magnify the Lord." This is a
lesson to the ungrateful, who, alas, give such scant thanks to God for His
benefits, and at times grow puffed up against God by these very benefits.
Mary had the word of loving complaint to God upon her lips, when she said
to her Son, after the three days' loss: "Son, why hast thou done so to us?
Behold thy Father and I have sought Thee sorrowing." Here is a lesson for
the undevout, who do not seek Jesus sorrowing, when by the withdrawal of
devotion they have lost him for many days. Mary spoke the word of
compassion to God when at the marriage feast she said to her Son: "They
have no wine." Here is a lesson to the unmerciful, who are not moved to
compassion by the needs of others, and who neither help their neighbors,
nor draw them to God. Behold now, O Mary, our advocate, it is still needful
to us that thou shouldst speak to thy Son for us, that many of us have no
wine; we lack the wine of the Holy Spirit, the wine of compunction, the
wine of devotion and spiritual consolation. Of which St. Bernard thus
speaks: "How often is it necessary for me, O my brethren, after your
tearful complaints to beseech the Mother of Mercy to say to her Son that
you have no wine! And she, I say, beloved, if she is piously besought by
you, will not be lacking to your need, for she is merciful, she is the
Mother of Mercy. For if she had compassion for the shame of those whose
guest she was, much more will she have compassion on you if you call upon
her earnestly." Consider well, from what we have said, what power Mary hath
with the King of kings, because of the grace of her lips, for it is written
in the Book of Proverbs: "He who loveth cleanness of heart, for the grace
of his lips shall have the king for a friend" (Prov. XXII, 11.)

Thirdly, consider in Mary the grace of privileges. Of this grace it is
said: "Thou hast found grace with the Lord, behold thou shalt conceive in
the womb, and shalt bear a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He
shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High." See how
Gabriel, asserting that Mary had found grace, immediately specifies what
that grace is, saying: "Behold thou shalt conceive in the womb." Oh, how
great and how unheard-of in all the world that a virgin should conceive and
bring forth the Son of the Most High. We can perceive in Mary seven
privileges, privileges full of immense graces, granted to Mary alone by

The first privilege of Mary was that she was, above all men, free from sin
and most pure. For she was so abundantly sanctified by grace in her
mother's womb that it is believed she was never in the least degree
inclined to the slightest venial sin. Therefore St. Bernard saith: "It
behoved the Queen of Virgins, by a singular privilege of sanctity, to lead
a life free from every sin, so that, while she brought forth the slayer of
sin and death, she should obtain for all the gift of life and justice."

The second privilege of Mary is that, above all men, she was full of grace.
St. Jerome saith: "On others grace was bestowed in measure; but the whole
fullness of grace was poured into Mary." And, therefore, well doth this
same Blessed Doctor, comparing the grace of Mary with that of the angels
and preferring it, say: "It is to be believed that the glorious Virgin Mary
merited greater privileges of virtue, and received grace praised by the

The third privilege of Mary was that she alone was a mother and at the same
time an inviolate virgin. St. Bernard, praising this privilege, says: "Mary
chose for herself the better part. Clearly the better, because conjugal
fecundity is good, but virginal chastity is better, but the best is
virginal fecundity, or fecund virginity. The privilege of Mary will not be
given to another, because it will not be taken away from her."

The fourth privilege of Mary is that she alone is the ineffable Mother of
the Son, the Mother of that Son of whom alone God is the Father; wonderful
above measure that so great a privilege should be granted to a creature. Of
this privilege St. Bernard saith: "This is the singular glory of our
Virgin, and the excellent prerogative of Mary, that she merited to have her
Son in common with God the Father."

The fifth privilege of Mary is that she alone above all creatures was in
the body most familiar with God. For, what was never granted to any other
creature, nor will ever be granted again in eternity --she bore God for
nine months in her womb, she nourished God from her breasts full of heaven,
for many years she sweetly brought up our Lord, she had God subject to her,
she handled and embraced her God in pure embraces and kisses with tender
familiarity, as St. Augustine says: "No wonder, Mary, that God reigning in
Heaven deigns to rejoice with thee, whom, when He was a little child born
of thee, thou didst so often kiss on earth." (Serm. de Sanct., XXV, CCVIII,
n. II, appendix.)

The sixth privilege of Mary was that she alone, above all creatures, is
most powerful with God. St. Augustine says: "She merited to be the mother
of the Redeemer." He also says: "Beg for what we ask, excuse what we fear,
because we shall never find one more powerful in merit than thee, who hast
merited to be the Mother of the Redeemer and of the Judge. It is a great
privilege that she is more powerful with God than all the Saints, as St.
Augustine declares: "There is no doubt that she who brought forth the price
by which all were freed, can above all others pay the suffrage of holy
liberty." But what would it avail us for Mary to have such great power if
she cared nothing for us ? Therefore, brethren, we must hold it for
certain, and incessantly give thanks for this, that, as she has more power
with God than all the Saints, so is she also more solicitous for us before
God than all the Saints. It is the same Augustine who teaches us this,
saying: "We know, O Mary, that thou above all the saints art solicitous for
the holy Church--thou who obtainest for sinners time to repent, that they
may renounce their errors."

The seventh privilege of Mary is that she, above all the Saints, is most
excellent in glory. St. Jerome says: "Everywhere the holy Church of God
sings, what it is unlawful to believe of any other of the saints, that the
merits (of Mary) transcend those of all angels and archangels. This
privilege not, as it were, of nature, but of grace--belongs to the Virgin
Mary." Behold how glorious is the privilege of Mary's glory that she, after
God, is most exalted in glory. The glorious privilege of the glory of Mary
is, that whatever after God is most beautiful, whatever is sweetest,
whatever is pleasanter in glory, that is Mary's, that is in Mary, that is
by Mary. It is entirely the glorious privilege of Mary, that, after God,
our greatest glory and our greatest joy is because of her. St. Bernard
says: "After God, it is our greatest glory, O Mary, to behold thee, to
adhere to thee, to abide in the defense of thy protection."

These, therefore, are the seven privileges of Mary by which we obtain the
life of grace. And therefore, we may implore Mary, as Abraham implored
Sara: "Say, I beseech thee, that thou art my sister, that it may be well
with me because of thee, and that my soul may live by thy grace" (Gen. XII,
13.) 0 Mary, our Sara, say that thou art our sister, that because of thee
it may be well for us with God, and that our souls may live in God because
of thy grace. Say, O our most beloved Sara, that thou art our sister, that,
for the sake of such a sister, the Egyptians, that is, the evil spirits,
may reverence us, that, because of such a sister, the angels may fight for
us, and that above all, for the sake of such a sister, the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Ghost may have mercy on us.

Fourthly, consider in Mary the grace of rewards, on which we have already
touched in speaking of her seventh privilege. To this grace can be applied
that word of Ecclesiasticus: "Grace upon grace hath a chaste and holy
woman" (XXVI, 19.) The woman chaste above all women is Mary, the woman holy
above all women, in whom is grace above grace, the grace of glory above the
grace of the way, the grace of rewards in Heaven above the grace of merits
in this world. This grace of the beatitude of Mary consists in seven gifts
of body and of soul. Every glorified body has four glorious gifts: the gift
of wonderful clarity, the gift of wonderful subtility, the gift of
wonderful agility, and the gift of wonderful impassability; and if every
glorified body has these gifts, how much more so will the body which
brought forth Him who is the Glorifier of all bodies? What wonder if her
gift of clarity is the brightest in Heaven, who by the gift of holiness was
so resplendent in this world that St. Bernard says of her: "While yet thou
didst live among sinners, thou didst shine before God with such sanctity,
that thou alone didst merit to approximate to the glory of the eternal
King." Again, what wonder if by the gift of subtility she is most subtile,
who by the gift of humility was most subtile in this world? Speaking to
her, Blessed Bernard says: "Thou wouldst never have ascended far above all
the choirs of angels, if on earth thou hadst not lowered thyself by
humility below all men." Again, what wonder if by the gift of agility she
is swiftest in Heaven, who by her gift of loving kindness was so swift upon
earth? For in the offices of charity she went with haste into the hill
country, of the swiftness of whose haste St. Ambrose says: "Whither would
she, who was now full of God, hasten, unless into the hill country with
haste? For the grace of the Holy Spirit knoweth no tardy delays." Again,
what wonder if by the gift of impassability she is impassable in Heaven,
who by the gift of patience and equanimity was so impassable in this world
that she never felt the slightest impatience or hatred when the sword
passed through her own soul? For we neither read nor believe that the least
sign of impatience ever appeared in Mary. St. Bernard says: "Diligently
revolve in thy mind the whole of the Gospel story, and if thou discoverest
in Mary the least sign of rebuke, of hardness, or of indignation, then thou
mayest hesitate to believe in her virtue in other things, and fear to
approach her."

If such is the glory of the body of Mary, what, thinkest thou, is the glory
of her soul ? This blessed soul has three beatific gifts--the gift of
wonderful love, the gift of wonderful knowledge, and the gift of wonderful
fruition, or, to put it in a more modern way, the gifts of vision,
fruition, and experience. But in whatever manner the gifts of Mary are
expressed, it is certain that these gifts surpass those of all other souls.
For if all blessed souls are endowed with these gifts in Heaven, how much
more the soul of her who brought forth in this world the soul of the
Beatifier of all souls? St. Bernard says: "She penetrated the most profound
abyss of divine Wisdom beyond what could be believed, and as far as the
condition of a creature is capable, she was united to that inaccessible
Light." Again, what wonder if the soul of Mary is immersed in fecund love,
what wonder if she is loving above all, who is above all beloved? Truly,
before and above all; for St. Augustine thus addresses her: "The King of
kings, loving thee above all as His true Mother and Spouse, is joined to
thee in the embrace of love." Again, what wonder if in most delightful
fruition is immersed the soul of Mary who was fed by the most blessed Fruit
of her womb? St. Augustine says: "Mary in brightness of soul enjoys Christ,
and His glorious embraces, always present, always beholding Him, always
thirsting to see Him, she is ineffably nourished by Him." Therefore, as the
most glorious Mary exceeds all Saints in the grace of the way and in the
grace of merits, so she exceeds all Saints in the grace of glory and in the
grace of rewards. Therefore, she is well symbolized by Queen Esther, of
whom we read that, being led to the nuptial chamber of King Assuerus, she
found grace and mercy before him above all women, and he placed the diadem
of the kingdom upon her head. This is eminently suited to Mary, of whom St.
Jerome says: "She is raised above the choirs of angels, that she may behold
the beauty and the countenance of the Savior, whom she had loved and
desired with all the desire of her heart." This Queen Esther, the blessed
Virgin Mary, at her Assumption was led into the bridal chamber of the King
Assuerus, the Eternal King, of which incident St. Augustine, addressing
Mary, says: "The Queen Mary, being led into the bridal chamber of
everlasting rest, possesses the favor and grace of the King Assuerus, that
is, the grace of the True King above all women, that is, above all
angelical intelligences, and above all beatified souls, so that in Mary
there should be grace above that of all the blessed. And in very truth the
King of kings placed on her head the diadem of the kingdom, a truly
priceless diadem, so delightful, so wonderful, that no tongue can fitly
speak of it and it is incomprehensible to every intellect.

Now, therefore, beloved, you have seen with how great grace of gifts Mary
is enriched, with how great grace of the lips, with how great privileges,
with how abundant a dower of rewards. Let us, therefore, beseech this
finder of graces that she may let us find grace with God, through Our Lord
Jesus Christ, Amen.