From the Meditations of Guigo II, Prior of the Grande Chartreuse
O Mary, house of ivory, royal palace stoutly built with cedar panels, with widest prospect; what riches are contained in you! Truly, you are that great ivory throne of Solomon, of workmanship the like of which was not found in any kingdom. You are adorned with fine gold of purest wisdom, and as wellfashioned in your unspotted virginity as Solomon’s throne. You have mounted the six steps of the active life, and upon the seventh, the quiet of contemplation, you enthrone the king of peace. Upon the steps on either side there stand twelve lion cubs, the prophets and apostles, the mighty fathers of both Testaments, supported by your merits, gazing up in wonderment, like little children, to the heights to which you have ascended. Who is she, they say, who goes before us like the rising dawn, lovely as the moon, glorious as the sun, terrible as an army in battle array?
The whole court of heaven gazes aloft and wonders at you, consummation of all the works of God’s hand. You who are filled with grace, what is this which you bear in your bosom? It is the Lord, and you say, I am his handmaiden. He who is mighty has made me great. Well may you wonder at me, for I am great,but it is he who made me great who is mighty. He is the Lord and I his handmaiden: he is dew and I the earth whence the wheat grows: he is the manna, I the vessel, out of which came the scarlet dye, made from the worm. I am a worm and no man. For man is like the grass, but this man was wheat. This wheat grew from the dew of heaven and from virgin soil. The earth and the dew are great, but he who made them is mighty. One grain of wheat was born of me, and of the abundance of that wheat it is said: But if it shall die, it will produce great fruit; and dying, it gave an abundance of wine, rising again andascending; and it poured out oil, which, the Apostle says, it pours out abundantly upon us. This is the abundance of wheat and wine and oil which isproduced from the dew of heaven and the richness of the earth.
O you, earth’s richness, filled with grace: as the flesh fit for sacrifice is separated from the carcass, so you are separated from the sinful mass of humanity, you who are filled with oil, filled and overflowing with every gift of the Holy Spirit. The Lord is with you: with you in the inner room of your heart, with you in the bridal chamber of your womb, remaining with you, persisting in you, never leaving you. The Lord is with you; but what does with you mean? It means that the Lord is one with you in the nature which is to be raised high above the angels. God dwells in his angels but not with them; God dwells in you and with you. God is seated above his angels, seated above thrones, seated above the cherubim and seraphim; he is seated and he reigns in all of these, butin all the kingdoms of the earth there is no work like you, his great ivory throne.
You are blessed among women. The fullness of grace which you possess overflows upon the earth and saturates it, in showers which make its fruits abound, and all generations will call you blessed. You are blessed among women. It is a poor thing to be blessed above men, for it is women who give birth in anguish, men who eat their bread by the sweat of their brow. You give birth without anguish, you are fed without toiling, and still it is little enough that you are more blessed than the angels; for they are fed by God, but they do not feed him. But you, blessed one, feed him who feeds both you and the angels. And blessed is the fruit of your womb, in whom women and men and angels are blessed; and you are blessed above them all, because many of his daughters have amassed riches, but you have excelled them all. For God has anointed with the oil of rejoicing the fruit of your womb before all your companions, and we all have received a share of his fullness, but you have received more abundantly than us all.
Source: Cistercian Studies Series, vol. 48. In: Lectionary for Matins – Sanctoral C – 15 August – Readings 9 to 12 (Saint Hugh’s Charterhouse 2021)