Ecclesiasticus 24

Extracts from The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori

(Ecclus. 24:5) “I came out of the mouth of the most High, the first-born before all creatures.”

“This text is applied to Mary by sacred interpreters, the holy Fathers, and by the Church on the solemnity of her Conception. For be she the first-born inasmuch as she was predestined in the Divine decrees, together with the Son, before all creatures, according to the Scotists; or be she the first-born of grace as the predestined Mother of the Redeemer, after the prevision of sin, according to the Thomists; nevertheless all agree in calling her the first-born of God.”

(Ecclus. 24:6) “I made that in the heavens there should rise light that never faileth.”

“Cardinal Hugo, in his commentary on the above text of Ecclesiasticus, says, in the name of Mary, ‘I have caused as many lights to shine eternally in heaven as I have clients;’ and then he adds, ‘There are many saints in heaven through her intercession, who would never have been there but through her.’ ”

(Ecclus. 24:8) “I alone have compassed the circuit of heaven, and have penetrated into the bottom of the deep, and have walked in the waves of the sea.”

“Father Segneri, in his Devout Client of Mary, applying with the Catholic Church the words of Ecclesiasticus to her, ‘I alone have compassed the circuit of heaven,’ says, that ‘as the first sphere by its motion sets all the others in motion, so it is when Mary prays for a soul; immediately the whole heavenly court begins to pray with her.’ ‘Nay, more,’ says Saint Bonaventure, ‘whenever the Most sacred Virgin goes to God to intercede for us, she, as Queen, commands all the Angels and Saints to accompany her, and unite their prayers with hers.’ ”

“The Divine Mother once addressed these words to Saint Bridget: ‘I am the Mother of all souls in purgatory; for all the pains that they have deserved for their sins are every hour, as long as they remain there, in some way mitigated by my prayers.’ The compassionate Mother even condescends to go herself occasionally into that holy prison, to visit and comfort her suffering children. Saint Bonaventure, applying to Mary the words of Ecclesiasticus, ‘I have penetrated into the bottom of the deep,’ says, ‘the deep, that is, purgatory, to relieve by my presence the holy souls detained there.’ ”

“Saint Bernardine of Sienna says, ‘that in that prison, where souls which are spouses of Jesus Christ are detained, Mary has a certain dominion and plenitude of power, not only to relieve them, but even to deliver them from their pains.’ And, first, with respect to the relief she gives. The same Saint, in applying those words of Ecclesiasticus, ‘I have walked in the waves of the sea,’ adds, ‘that it is by visiting and relieving the necessities and torments of her clients, who are her children.’ He then says, ‘that the pains of purgatory are called waves, because they are transitory, unlike the pains of hell, which never end; and they are called waves of the sea, because they are so bitter. The clients of Mary, thus suffering, are often visited and relieved by her.’ ”

(Ecclus. 24:11) “In all these I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord.”

“The holy Church, for the consolation of her clients, puts into her mouth the words of Ecclesiasticus, ‘In all these I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord.’ Cardinal Hugo explains these words, and says, ‘Blessed is he in whose house the most Holy Virgin finds repose.’ Mary, out of the love she bears to all, endeavours to excite in all devotion towards herself; many either do not admit it into their souls, or do not preserve it. But blessed is he that receives and preserves it. ‘And I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord.’ ‘That is,’ adds the Cardinal, ‘in those who are the inheritance of our Lord.’ Devotion towards the Blessed Virgin remains in all who are the inheritance of our Lord; that is to say, in all who will praise Him eternally in heaven.”

(Ecclus. 24:12-13) “He that made me, rested in my tabernacle, And he said to me: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in my elect.”

“That is, my Creator has condescended to come and repose in my bosom, and His will is, that I should dwell in the hearts of all the elect (of whom Jacob was a figure, and who are the inheritance of the Blessed Virgin), and that devotion and confidence in me should take root in all the predestined.”

(Ecclus. 24:14) “And unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before him.”

“That is, as Cardinal Hugo explains, ‘I will never cease until the end of the world relieving the miseries of men, and praying for sinners, that they may be delivered from eternal misery, and be saved.’ ”

(Ecclus. 24:16) “And I took root in an honourable people, and in the portion of my God his inheritance, and my abode is in the full assembly of saints.”

“Saint Bonaventure also, in his commentary on the words of Ecclesiasticus, frequently used in the office of Mary, ‘My abode is in the full assembly of saints,’ says that Mary not only has her abode in the full assembly of saints, but also preserves them from falling, keeps a constant watch over their virtue, that it may not fail, and restrains the evil spirits from injuring them.”

(Ecclus. 24:17) “I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus.”

“Not only because Mary was untainted by sin, as the cedar is incorruptible, but also, as Cardinal Hugo remarks on the above text, because, ‘like the cedar, which by its odour keeps off worms, so also does Mary by her sanctity drive away the devils.’ ”

(Ecclus. 24:18) “I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades.”

“It is well known that the palm is a sign of victory; and therefore our Queen is placed on a high throne, in sight of all the powers, as a palm, for a sign of the certain victory that all may promise themselves who place themselves under her protection.”

“In Judea victories were gained by means of the ark. Thus it was that Moses conquered his enemies, as we learn from the book of Numbers. ‘And when the ark was lifted up, Moses said: Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered.’ (Num. 10:35) Thus was Jericho conquered; thus also the Philistines; ‘for the Ark of God was there.’ (1 Sam. 14:18) It is well known that this ark was a figure of Mary. Cornelius à Lapide says, ‘In time of danger, Christians should fly to the most Blessed Virgin, who contained Christ as manna in the ark of her womb, and brought him forth to be the food and salvation of the world.’ For as manna was in the ark, so is Jesus (of whom manna was a figure) in Mary; and by means of this ark we gain the victory over our earthly and infernal enemies.”

(Ecclus. 24:19) “As a fair olive-tree in the plains, and as a plane-tree by the water in the streets, was I exalted.”

“Mary is also called an olive-tree: ‘As a fair olive-tree on the plains.’ For as from the olive, oil (a symbol of mercy) alone is extracted, so from the hands of Mary graces and mercy alone proceed. Hence the venerable Father Louis de Ponte says, ‘that Mary may properly be called the Mother of oil, since she is the Mother of mercy.’ ”

“The most Blessed Virgin is called a plane-tree in the words of Ecclesiasticus: ‘As a plane-tree by the water in the streets was I exalted.’ Cardinal Hugo explains them, and says that the ‘plane-tree has leaves like shields,’ to show how Mary defends all who take refuge with her. Blessed Amedeus gives another explanation, and says that this holy Virgin is called a plane-tree, because, as the plane shelters travellers under its branches from the heat of the sun and from the rain, so do men find refuge under the mantle of Mary from the ardour of their passions and from the fury of temptations.”

(Ecclus. 24:23) “As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odour: and my flowers are the fruit of honour and riches.”

“ ‘We are told,’ says Saint Bernard on this passage, that ‘all venomous reptiles fly from flowering vines;’ for, as poisonous reptiles fly from flowering vines, so do devils fly from those fortunate souls in whom they perceive the perfume of devotion to Mary.”

(Ecclus. 24:24) “I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope.”

“Mary, by her intercession, obtains for her servants the gifts of Divine love, holy fear, heavenly light, and holy perseverance.”

(Ecclus. 24:25) “In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.”

“ ‘In me is all grace of the way and of the truth.’ ‘Of the way,’ because by Mary all graces are dispensed to wayfarers. ‘Of the truth,’ because the light of truth is imparted by her. ‘In me is all hope of life and of virtue.’ ‘Of life,’ for by Mary we hope to obtain the life of grace in this world, and that of glory in heaven. ‘And of virtue,’ for through her we acquire virtues, and especially the theological virtues, which are the principal virtues of the Saints.”

“Saint Bonaventure, speaking of the field in the gospel, in which a treasure is hidden, and which should be purchased at however great a price, ‘the kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in a field, which a man having found hid it, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath and buyeth that field,’ (Matt. 13:44) says that ‘our Queen Mary is this field, in which Jesus Christ, the treasure of God the Father, is hid,’ and with Jesus Christ the source and flowing fountain of all graces. Saint Bernard affirms that our Lord ‘has deposited the plenitude of every grace in Mary, that we may thus know that if we possess hope, grace, or anything salutary, that it is from her that it came.’ Of this we are also assured by Mary herself, saying, ‘In me is all grace of the way and of the truth;’ in me are all the graces of real blessings that you men can desire in life.”

(Ecclus. 24:26) “Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.”

“Mary's fruits are her virtues.”

(Ecclus. 24:30) “He that hearkeneth to me, shall not be confounded: and they that work by me, shall not sin.”

“Now, if it is true (and I hold it as certain) that all the graces that God dispenses to men pass by the hands of Mary, it will be equally true that it is only through Mary that we can hope for this greatest of all graces,—perseverance. And we shall obtain it most certainly, if we always seek it with confidence through Mary. This grace she herself promises to all who serve her faithfully during life, in the following words of Ecclesiasticus; and which are applied to her by the Church, on the Feast of her Immaculate Conception; ‘They that work by me shall not sin. They that explain me shall have life everlasting.’ ”

(Ecclus. 24:31) “They that explain me shall have life everlasting.”

“St. Bonaventure says, that those who make a point of announcing to others the glories of Mary are certain of heaven; and this opinion is confirmed by Richard of St. Lawrence, who declares, ‘that to honour this Queen of Angels is to gain eternal life;’ and he adds, ‘that this most gracious Lady will honour in the next world those who honour her in this.’ And who is ignorant of the promise made by Mary herself, in the words of Ecclesiasticus, to those who endeavour to make her known and loved here below, ‘they that explain me shall have life everlasting;’ for this passage is applied to her by the Church, in the office of the Immaculate Conception. ‘Rejoice, then,’ exclaims St. Bonaventure (who did so much to make the glories of Mary known), ‘rejoice, my soul, and be glad in her; for many good things are prepared for those who praise her;’ and he says that the whole of the sacred Scriptures speak in praise of Mary: let us therefore always with our hearts and tongues honour this Divine Mother, in order that we may be conducted by her into the kingdom of the blessed.”