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CHAPTER XVI. On The Worthy Praise of The Pure Queen of Heaven.
The Servant.—Oh, the great riches of the Divine knowledge and wisdom! how very inscrutable are Thy judgments, and how unknown Thy ways. How many a strange way hast thou of bringing poor souls back to Thee! What were Thy thoughts, or how glad at heart must Thou not have been in Thy eternal immutability, when Thou didst so nobly create the pure, tender, illustrious creature above all pure creatures! Lord, then couldst Thou indeed say: I think the thoughts of peace. 88 Jeremias xxix. 11 Lord, Thou hast, out of the abyss of Thy essential goodness, reflected Thy glory interiorly to Thyself again, inasmuch as Thou hast led back to their origin all beings gone astray in their divine emanation. Yes, Heavenly Father, how should a sinful creature dare to approach Thee, unless Thou hadst given him Thy own elected child, Eternal Wisdom, for a guide? Yes, Eternal Wisdom, how should a sinful creature dare at all times to discover his uncleanness before such purity, unless indeed he took the mother of all compassion for his protectress? Eternal Wisdom! if Thou art my brother, Thou art also my Lord; if Thou art truly man, woe is me! so art Thou also truly God, and a very severe judge of evil deeds. For this reason, when our poor souls are in the narrow prison-house of fathomless sorrow of heart, and we can neither stir here nor there, nothing remains for us except to lift up our miserable eyes to thee, O chosen Queen of Heaven. Therefore, thou mirror reflecting the brightness of the eternal sun, thou hidden treasure of infinite compassion, this day do I and all penitent hearts salute thee! O ye exalted spirits, ye pure souls, stand forth, extol and praise, commend and exult in the ravishing paradise of all delight, the sublime Queen! for I am not worthy to do so, unless in her goodness she vouchsafe to allow me. O thou chosen bosom friend of God, thou fair golden crown of Eternal Wisdom, permit me, a poor sinner, even me in my weakness, to speak to thee a little in confidence. With a trembling heart, with a countenance of shame, with dejected eyes, my soul falls down before thee. O thou mother of all graces, methinks neither my soul nor any other sinful soul requires permission or a passport to repair to thee. Art thou not the immediate mediatrix of all sinners? The more sinful a soul is, the more reasonable it seems to her that she should have free access to thee; the deeper she is in wickedness, the more reason she has to press forwards to thee. Therefore, my soul, step joyfully forth! If thy great crimes drive thee away, her unfathomable goodness invites thee to draw near. O, therefore, thou only consolation of all sinful hearts, thou only refuge of guilty mortals, to whom so many a wet eye, so many a wounded, miserable heart is raised up, be a gracious mediatrix and channel of reconciliation between me and the Eternal Wisdom. O think, think, thou mild Queen elect, that thou derivest all thy merits from us poor sinners. What was it made thee God’s mother, made thee a casket in which the Eternal Wisdom reposed? O Lady, it was the sins of us poor mortals! How couldst thou be called a mother of graces and compassion, except through our wretchedness, which has need of grace and compassion. Our poverty has made thee rich, our crimes have ennobled thee above all pure creatures. O turn hither then the eyes of thy compassion, which thy gentle heart never turned from a sinner, from a forlorn mortal! Take me under thy protection, for my consolation and confidence are in thee. How many a guilty soul, after having bid farewell to God and all the heavenly host, by denying God and despairing of Him, and being lamentably separated from Him, has, by still clinging to thee, been sweetly detained, till at length, through thy intercession, it has again attained to grace. Who is the sinner, how great soever his crimes, to whom thy overflowing goodness has denied assistance? Lo, when my soul seriously reflects within herself, methinks it were only right, if it were possible, that while my eyes wept for joy, my heart should leap out of my mouth; so does thy name dissolve in my mouth like honey from the comb. Even thou art called the mother, the Queen of Compassion, yes, tender mother, yes, gentle mother of compassion! O what a name! O how unfathomable is the being whose name is so rich in grace! Did ever the melody of song resound as soothingly in an agitated heart as thy pure name in our penitent hearts? At this exalted name all heads in reason ought to incline, all knees to bend. How often hast thou not put to flight the hostile powers of wicked spirits, how often hast thou not allayed the angry justice of the severe judge! How often hast thou not obtained from Him grace and consolation! Yes, poor sinful mortals as we are, what have we to say to it? How shall we ever acknowledge such great goodness? If all angelic tongues, all pure spirits and souls, if heaven and earth and all that is contained in them cannot properly praise her merits, her ravishing beauty, her graciousness and immeasurable dignity, alas! what shall we sinful hearts be able to do? Let us do our best, and express to her our acknowledgements, our thanks; for indeed her great kindness does not look at the smallness of the gift, it looks at the purity of intention. Ah, sweet Queen, with what justice may not thy sex rejoice in thy sweet name; for cursed was the first Eve that she ever eat of the bitter fruit of the tree of knowledge; blessed be the second Eve that she brought us again the sweet fruit of heaven! Let no one lament over Paradise; one paradise we lost, and have won two others. For is she not a paradise in whom grew the fruit of the living tree? in whom all delight and joy are contained together? And is not that also a paradise above every paradise in whom the dead again live, if they only taste His fruit from whose hands, feet, and side the living fountains which irrigate all the earth flow,99 Gen. ii. 10 the fountains of inexhaustible mercy, fathomless wisdom, overflowing sweetness, ardent love, the fountains of eternal life? Truly, Lord, whoever tastes of this fruit, whoever has drunk of this fountain, knows that these two gardens of paradise far surpass the earthly paradise. But thou, O Queen elect, art the gate of all grace, the door of compassion, that never yet was shut. Heaven and earth may pass away, ere thou wilt permit anyone who earnestly seeks thy assistance to depart from thee without obtaining it. Behold, for this very reason art thou the first object my soul sees when I awake, the last when I lie down to sleep. How should anything which thy pure hands present before God and commend unto Him, how small soever in itself, be rejected? Take, O take, therefore, the smallness of my works and present it, so that, in thy hands it may appear something before the eyes of God Almighty. Even thou art the pure vessel of red gold, melted down with graces, inlaid with precious emeralds, and sapphires, and all virtues, whose single aspect, in the sight of the heavenly King, surpasses that of all other creatures. O, thou lovely divine spouse elect, if King Ahasuerus was captivated by the beauty of Esther, if she was found pleasing in his eyes above all women, if she found favour above them all, so that he did for her whatever she desired, O thou, all red roses and lilies, surpassing beauty, how justly may the King of Heaven be captivated by thy spotless purity, thy meek humility, by the sweet smelling nosegay of all thy virtues and graces! Or, who has ever caught the wild and noble unicorn, if not thou?1010 According to a legend of the Middle Ages, the unicorn loves chastity so much that it can only be caught by a virgin, who in consequence lies in wait at a place where the unicorn is accustomed to seek its food, and which is no is no sooner conscious of the virgin’s presence than it approaches her softly, and lays its head in her lap and falls asleep. Then she makes a sign, and the concealed hunters rush upon their prey. How infinitely pleasing, above all mortals, in His eyes is thy delicate and love-inspiring beauty, before which all other beauty fades like a glow-worm before the brightness of the sun. What overflowing grace hast thou not found before Him for thyself and us mortals who are without grace! How should, how can, then, the Heavenly King deny thee anything? Truly mayest thou say, My Beloved is mine, and I am His. Ah! thou art God’s, and God is thine, and ye two have an eternal and unfathomable reciprocation of love which no duality can divide. Think of us poor needy ones, who continue to wander so wretchedly in sorrowful affliction. Yes, exalted Lady of heaven and earth, arise now and be to us a mediatrix, and an obtainer of grace with thy tender Child, the Eternal Wisdom. Ah, Eternal Wisdom, wilt Thou deny me anything? Even as I present Thee before Thy heavenly Father, so do I present Thy pure tender mother before Thee. Look at her mild eyes which so often looked kindly on Thee; behold Those fair cheeks which she so often affectionately pressed to Thy infant face. O look at her sweet mouth which used to kiss Thee so fondly and tenderly again and again. Look at her pure hands which so often ministered to Thee. O Thou goodness above all goodness, how canst thou deny anything to her who suckled Thee so affectionately and bore Thee in her arms; who laid Thee to rest, wakened Thee and tenderly reared Thee! O Lord, let me remind Thee of all the love Thou ever didst experience from her in Thy childhood’s days, when Thou didst sit in her motherly lap, and with Thy playful eyes didst laugh so pleasantly and tenderly in her face with that fathomless love Thou hadst for her above all other creatures! Think, too, of the heart-rending woe which her maternal heart endured with Thee under the gibbet of Thy miserable cross, where she saw Thee in the agony of death, and when her heart and soul so often died away in sorrow and distress with Thee. Lord, I entreat Thee, for her sake, to grant me every means of shaking off my sins, of acquiring Thy grace, and never losing it again.
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