Mary’s Garden, art by Sieger Köder
How did Mary become the Rosa Mystica, the choice, delicate, perfect flower of God’s spiritual creation? It was by being born, nurtured, and sheltered in the mystical garden or Paradise of God. Scripture makes use of the figure of a garden when it would speak of heaven and its blessed inhabitants. A garden is a spot of ground set apart for trees and plants, all good, all various, for things that are sweet to the taste, or fragrant in scent, or beautiful to look upon, or useful for nourishment. According in its spiritual sense it means the home of blessed spirits and holy souls dwelling there together, souls with both the flowers and the fruits upon them, which by the careful husbandry of God they have come to bear, flowers and fruits of grace, flowers more beautiful an more fragrant than those of any garden, fruits more delicious and exquisite than can be matured by earthly husbandman.
All that God has made speaks of its Maker; the mountains speak of his eternity, the sun of his immensity, and the winds of his almightiness. In like manner flowers and fruits speak of his sanctity, his love, and his providence; and such as are flowers and fruits, they are found in a garden, therefore a garden has also excellences which speak of God, because it is their home. For instance, it would be out of place if we found beautiful flowers on the mountain crag, or rich fruit in the sandy desert. As then by flowers and fruits are meant, in a mystical sense, the gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost, so by a garden is meant mystically a place of spiritual repose, stillness, peace, refreshment, and delight.
Our first parents were placed in “a garden of pleasure” shaded by trees, “fair to behold and pleasant to eat of,” with the Tree of Life in the midst and a river to water the ground. Thus our Lord, speaking from the cross to the penitent robber, calls the blessed place, the heaven to which he was taking him, “paradise,” or a garden of pleasure. Therefore, St. John, in the Book of Revelation, speaks of heaven, the place of God, as a garden or paradise in which was the Tree of Life giving forth its fruits every month.
Such was the garden in which the Mystical Rose, the Immaculate Mary, was sheltered and nursed to be the mother of the All Holy God, from her birth to her spousal to St. Joseph, a term of thirteen years. For three years of it she was in the arms of her holy mother, St. Anne, and then for ten years she lived in the Temple of God. In those blessed gardens, as they may be called, she lived by herself, continually visited by the dew of God’s grace, and growing up a more and more heavenly flower, till at the end of that period she was suitable for the inhabitation in her of the Most Holy. This was the outcome of the Immaculate Conception. Excepting her, the fairest rose in the paradise of God has had upon it blight and has had the risk of canker-worm and locust. All but Mary; she from the first was perfect in her sweetness and her beautifulness, and at length when the angel Gabriel came to her he found her “full of grace,” which had, from her good use of it, accumulated in her from the first moment of her being.
Mary is the most beautiful flower that ever was seen in the spiritual world. It is by the power of God’s grace that from this barren and desolate earth there have ever sprung up at all flowers of holiness and glory. And Mary is the queen of them. She is the queen of spiritual flowers; and therefore she is called the rose, for the rose is fitly called of all flowers the most beautiful.
~ A Meditation by John Henry Newman
Mystical Rose, art by Bradi Barth
THERE is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bear Jesu:
For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space:
By that rose we may well see
There be one God in Persons Three:
The angels sang, the shepherds too:
Gloria in Excelsis Deo:
Leave we all this worldly mirth
And follow we this joyful birth:
~ A Poem by an unknown Medieval Author
Res Miranda, thing to be marvelled at. Pares forma, equal in nature. Gaudeamus, let us rejoice. Transeamus, let us go hence.
Mystical Rose, Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, I venerate thee that I might honor thy Divine Son and thereby win His mercy. I ask for thy help in the clemency of thy Maternal Heart in all confidence that I will be heard.
Poem and Prayer Source: http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/mystical-rose.htm