In the second and third chapters of Genesis is one of the most expressive figures drawn by the omnipotent and all-wise hand of God to represent the Heart of His beloved Daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary. His infinite goodness has given us an excellent picture of her immaculate Heart. The earthly paradise of Scripture is the perfect representation of another paradise; it is the paradise of the first man, Adam, excellently portraying the paradise of the second man, Jesus Christ, Our Redeemer.
To view this picture in its true light, we must consider many aspects of it.
Let us begin with the name. If we consult Sacred Scripture, we shall learn that the first paradise was called “a paradise of pleasure,” (Gen 2:8) “a place of pleasure” (Gen 2:10). The name of the garden of delights can very properly be applied to the admirable Heart of the Mother of God, true paradise of the new man, Jesus Christ. It is a garden of the Beloved, a garden sealed and doubly barred, a garden of delights. The Divine Spirit gives three names to the Heart of His holy bride, and they contain many profound meanings.
In the first place, Mary’s Heart is the Garden of the Beloved. Do we not hear the Holy Spirit inspiring her to say: “Let my beloved come into his garden” (Cant 5:1). Who is the beloved of whom she speaks? Is it not her Son Jesus, the single and only object of her love? Into what garden does she invite Him to come, if it be not her virginal Heart, into which He was attracted, as we have said, by her humility and her love? Such is the explanation of the learned Balingham. (1) The Garden of the Beloved, therefore, is the Heart of the Beloved Bride; the Heart of Mary is the Garden of Jesus.
In the second place, the Admirable Heart of the Mother of God is a sealed garden. Her heavenly Spouse says of her: “My sister, my spouse, is a garden enclosed, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up” (Cant 4:12). But why does He twice repeat that it is an enclosed garden? He thereby means to teach us that the Heart of His Beloved Bride is absolutely shut against two things: it is shut against sin, which together with the serpent, the author of sin, never entered there: and it is shut against the world and all things of the world, against everything that is not God. He alone has always occupied this garden entirely, and there never existed place in it for anything else.
The third name given by the Holy Spirit has reference to the prophetic figure, the first Paradise, and He calls it a garden of delights, locus voluptatis (Gen 2:8, 10) paradisus voluptatis (Gen 3:23, 24). Mary’s spotless heart is indeed a garden of rapture for the Son of God, a garden where He experienced joys which were His greatest delights after those enjoyed from all eternity in the heart and bosom of His Eternal Father.
If Thou dost assure us, O Jesus, that Thy delight is to be with the children of men, (Prov. 8:31) even though they are full of sin, ingratitude and infidelities, what must not have been Thy delight in the most amiable Heart of Thy Blessed Mother, where Thou didst never meet anything displeasing to Thee, but found Thyself always praised, glorified and loved more perfectly than in the Paradise of the Cherubim and Seraphim? One can easily say that, after the adorable Bosom of the Eternal Father, no place ever was or will be so holy, so worthy of Thy majesty, so filled with glory and contentment for Thy delectation as the virginal Heart of Thy most amiable Mother.
Hence it is, O Savior, that after hearing the invitation to come into her garden, that is, her Heart, expressed in the words: “Let my beloved come into his garden,” (Cant 5:1) thou dost answer her: “I am come into my garden, O my sister, my spouse, I have gathered my myrrh, with my aromatical spices: I have eaten the honeycomb with my honey, I have drunk my wine with my milk” (Cant 5:1). The myrrh represents the mortifications and anguish of thy loving Heart which I have gathered as well as all acts of virtue thou hast practiced for love of Me, and I shall keep them in my Heart forever to be eternal joy and glory. I have also eaten honey, and drunk my wine and milk, that is, I find so many delights in this paradise given to me by my Heavenly Father, that I seem to be constantly feasting therein on honey.
These inspired words certainly define for us the name of “paradise.”