6. — “WHEN I WAS A LITTLE ONE I PLEASED THE MOST HIGH.”
Let us pass to consider the greatness of the fidelity with which Mary immediately corresponded to Divine grace.
It is not a private opinion only, says a learned author, Father La Colombiere, but it is the opinion of all, that the holy child, when she received sanctifying grace in the womb of St. Anne, received also the perfect use of her reason, and was also divinely enlightened, in a degree corresponding to the grace with which she was enriched. So that we may well believe that from the first moment that her beautiful soul was united to her most pure body, she, by the light she had received from the wisdom of God, knew well the eternal truths, the beauty of virtue, and, above all, the infinite goodness of God; and how much He deserved to be loved by all, and particularly by herself, on account of the singular gifts with which He had adorned and distinguished her above all creatures, by preserving her from the stain of original sin, by bestowing on her so immense graces and destining her to be the Mother of the Eternal Word, and Queen of the universe.
Hence from that first moment Mary, grateful to God, began to do all that she could do, by immediately and faithfully trafficking with that great capital of grace which had been bestowed upon her; and applying herself entirely to please and love the Divine goodness. She from that moment, loved God with all her strength, and continued thus to love Him always, during the whole of the nine months preceding her birth, during which she never ceased for a moment to unite herself more and more closely to God by fervent acts of love.
She was already free from original sin, and hence was exempt from every earthly affection, from every irregular movement, from every distraction from every opposition on the part of the senses, which could in any way have hindered her from always advancing more and more in Divine love: her senses also concurred with her blessed spirit in tending towards God. Hence her beautiful soul, free from every impediment, never lingered, but always flew towards God, always loved Him, and always increased in love towards Him.
It was for this reason that she called herself a plane-tree, planted by flowing waters: As a plane-tree by the waters … was I exalted (Ecclus. xxiv. 19). For she was that noble plant of God which always grew close by the streams of Divine grace. And therefore she also calls herself a vine: As a vine I have brought forth a pleasant odour (Ecclus. xxiv. 23). Not only because she was so humble in the eyes of the world, but because she was like the vine, which, according to the common proverb, “never ceases to grow.” Other trees — the orange-tree, the mulberry, the pear-tree — have a determined height, which they attain; but the vine always grows, and grows to the height of the tree to which it is attached. And thus did the most Blessed Virgin always grow in perfection. “Hail, then, O vine, always growing!” says St. Gregory Thaumaturgus; for she was always united to God, on Whom alone she depended. Hence it was of her that the Holy Ghost spoke, saying, Who is this that cometh up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved? (Cant. viii. 5), which St. Ambroses thus paraphrases: “She it is that cometh up, clinging to the Eternal Word, as a vine to a vine-stock.” Who is this accompanied by the Divine Word, that grows as a vine planted against a great tree?