Fr. Scott Haynes
How did Mary, the Immaculate Conception, become 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.
Accordingly 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 and 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, such must be the place where they are found. That is to say, since 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 Spirit, 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 palace 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 espousal 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 Incarnate Son of God. This was the outcome of the Immaculate Conception.
Mary is perfect in her sweetness and her beautifulness. And when the angel Gabriel came to her he found her "full of grace." 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. Every grace you have ever received has come to you through Mary whether you realize it or not. St. Bernard teaches us that. And so the graces of our spiritual life are like beautiful flowers rising up in our souls 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.
St Louis de Montfort teaches us in his book called True Devotion to Mary (Part 1, chapter 1, article 2) that: “When Mary has implanted her roots in a soul, she produces…wonders of grace which she alone can produce, because she alone is the fruitful Virgin who never has had, nor ever shall have, her equal in purity…”
Dear friends of Mary Immaculate, let us spend time in the garden of prayer with the Immaculata so that Mary may implant her roots in our souls, and produce wonders of grace which she alone can produce and that her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, may fly to us and fill us with his presence.