Canticles viii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Mother. The synagogue continues to pray for Christ’s coming. (Worthington) — Her request has been heard, and He has assumed our nature; so that we may receive from him all the marks of tenderness, and none but the carnal will shew any signs of contempt. The spouse wishes to manifest her love without restraint, and to be delivered from the shame of sterility, (Calmet) or the Church desires to see Christ in heaven, and to praise him. (Menochius)

Ver. 2. Teach me economy, on which subject Xenophon represents the newly married entertaining themselves. — Wine. Mark xv. 23., and Osee xiv. 8. Nectar was of this description, (Calmet) being composed of wine, honey, and odoriferous flowers. The best was made at Babylon. (Athen. i. 25., and ii. 2.) — These liquors intimate all the virtues, which Christ has taught; the practice of which affords him the greatest satisfaction, John xiv. 23. They are best learnt in retirement, (Calmet) and from our great teacher, Micheas iv. 2. (Menochius)

Ver. 4. Jerusalem. Septuagint add, “by the armies and powers of the field,” as [in] chap. ii. 7., and iii. 5. (Haydock) — The spouse presently awakes after the sixth night, and goes out. (Calmet) — Christ admonishes all not to disturb those who would serve him. (Worthington)

Ver. 5. Flowing. Thus speak the companions of the spouse; and the bridegroom, turning to her alone, reminds her of an adventure. The Jews would put this in the mouth of the spouse. (Calmet) — Corrupted. Hebrew and Septuagint, “fell in labour, there she was delivered who bore thee.” (Haydock) — Christ redeemed Eve, who had been seduced to eat the forbidden fruit, and by his sacred blood on the cross, awoke and healed our fallen nature. (Calmet) — The court of heaven admires the Church of the Gentiles, and every pious soul ascending from this world, particularly the blessed Virgin [Mary]. The synagogue was corrupt, when she called for the death of the Son of God, and said, His blood be upon us, &c. [Matthew xxvii. 25.] We have no king but Cæsar. [John xix. 15.] (Worthington) — Grace must go before, that our free-will may also walk forward. (Menochius)

Ver. 6. Arm. Working by charity, Galatians v. 6. (Haydock) — Women in the east imprint what they like most on their bosom and arms, or carry bracelets and gems on those parts, with similar inscriptions, Osee ii. 2., and Isaias iii. 20. (St. Clement, Pæd. ii. 11.) — Christ must live in us. (Calmet) — Tota ejus species exprimatur in nobis. (St. Ambrose, Isaac viii.) — Jealousy. That is, zealous and burning love. (Challoner) — Hell. Or the grave, which subdues all. Love is a violent passion. (Calmet) — Nullus liber erit, si quis amare velit. (Prop. ii.) — Christ gave his life to redeem mankind, and the martyrs have joyfully endured torments and death, to evince their love. (Calmet) — Flames. Hebrew, “a flame of God,” or most vehement. (Haydock)

Ver. 7. Drown it. As other fires may be extinguished. He who sinks under persecution, has not real charity. Temptation does not weaken a person, but shews what he is, Ecclesiasticus xxxiv. 9. (Calmet) — He shall. Worldlings will ridicule his parting with temporal delights, for those which do not appear: but the true lover will make no account of the former. (Calmet)

Ver. 8. Our sister. Christ styles the Church his own and the synagogue’s sister, promising her many benefits. (Worthington) — The relations of the spouse wish to have her married, though she seemed young, Ezechiel xvi. 7. — Spoken to, concerning marriage, or its consummation, Genesis xxxiv. 6., and Daniel xiii. 57. (Calmet) — The synagogue had but few to give her proper instructions. (Menochius) — But Christ would provide for her, if she were not wanting to herself. (Haydock)

Ver. 9. Cedar. Procuring for her a rich and steady husband to protect her. These are the words of the bridegroom. The Christian Church seemed weak at first. But her pastors and martyrs caused her to triumph over all the powers of hell. (Calmet) — Those who correspond with the first grace, are furnished with others. (Menochius)

Ver. 11. The. The bridegroom, in the character of a countryman, asserts that he would not give his vineyard or spouse (Calmet) for all the king’s riches.

Ver. 12. Before me. I am satisfied with my spouse. — The peaceable. Hebrew and Septuagint, “Solomon.” (Haydock) — Retain them, and also pay the keepers their wages. I envy not all the treasures of the world; nor would put them in competition with my vineyard, or spouse. The synagogue of Moses and Solomon degenerated, while the Church of Christ has continued faithful, and has always some good workmen. (St. Gregory; Ven. Bede, &c.) (Calmet)

Ver. 13. Hearken. The seventh morning is come, and I must depart to the mountains, chap. ii. 17., and iv. 6. Christ, before his ascension, exhorts his Church to present her petitions. He is always ready to hear her, and to grant her aid, in every emergency. See St. Ambrose, de Virg. xvi. 99. — The virtuous pray that her requests may be granted, (Haydock) and are eager to know what they are. (Menochius)

Ver. 14. Flee. The Church consents that her beloved should ascend to heaven, as he still remains with her. (Ven. Bede; St. Bernard, ser. ix.) Qui habitat. (Calmet) — The whole Church militant requests that he would ascend thither, for the good of all his servants, begging for an abundant supply of grace, that we may ascend the high mountains of perfect charity, and zeal for God’s honour; and that he would make our souls such hills and gardens, adorned with all the flowers and fruits of virtue, in which he may vouchsafe to dwell. Amen. (Worthington) — Flee to heaven, and draw me with thee, chap. i. 4. (Menochius)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The love of the Church to Christ: his love to her.

1 Who shall give thee to me for my brother, sucking the breasts of my mother, that I may find thee without, and kiss thee, and now no man may despise me?

2 I will take hold of thee, and bring thee Into my mother’s house: there thou shalt teach me, and I will give thee a cup of spiced wine, and new wine of my pomegranates.

3 His left hand under my head, and his right hand shall embrace me.

4 I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you stir not up, nor awake my love till she please.

5 Who is this that cometh up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved? Under the apple-tree I raised thee up: there thy mother was corrupted, there she was deflowered that bore thee.

6 Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm: for love is strong as death: jealousy as hard as hell, the lamps thereof are lamps of fire and flames.

7 Many waters cannot quench charity, neither can the floods drown it: if a man should give all the substance of his house for love, he shall despise it as nothing.

8 Our sister is little, and hath no breasts. What shall we do to our sister in the day when she is to be spoken to?

9 If she be a wall, let us build upon it bulwarks of silver: if she be a door, let us join it together with boards of cedar.

10 I am a wall: and my breasts are as a tower, since I am become in his presence as one finding peace.

11 The peaceable had a vineyard, in that which hath people: he let out the same to keepers, every man bringeth for the fruit thereof a thousand pieces of silver.

12 My vineyard is before me. A thousand are for thee, the peaceable, and two hundred for them that keep the fruit thereof.

13 Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the friends hearken: make me hear thy voice.

14 Flee away, O my beloved, and be like to the roe, and to the young hart upon the mountains of aromatical spices.