An extract from 'Mirror of the Blessed Virgin by St. Bonaventure'
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Hail Mary, full of grace. Let us all utter this good and sweet word Ave, by which our redemption from eternal woe was begun. Let each one of us, I say, utter it; let all utter it most devoutly, saying: Ave Maria, Ave, Ave, and again a thousand times, Ave! Behold, Ave is said to the most holy Virgin Mary because of her absolute immunity from any fault; because of her perfect innocence and purity of life; rightly is Ave said to her in the very beginning of her salutation, Ave indeed and without woe ("a" or "absque vae").
We must consider that the "vae" or woe, from which she is entirely immune, is threefold. There is the woe of guilt, misery, and hell. There is the woe of actual sin, of original misery, and the woe of the punishment or pain of hell. Of these three woes we may not unfitly understand what we read in the Apocalypse. "I heard," says John, "the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven, and saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth!" Behold how each of these woes is multiplied by three, so that all together we have nine woes, against which Ave is rightly said to Mary. For there are three faults, three miseries, three hells in this woe, for the absence of which Mary is rightly saluted by the Ave.
First, the woe of guilt is threefold, i. e., the woe of the guilt of the heart, of the guilt of the lips, and of the guilt of deeds. On account of these three woes it may be said: "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth!" Woe, therefore, to sinners because of the guilt of the heart, as it is said in Isaias: "Woe to you who are of a deep heart, that ye hide counsel from the Lord." Woe, indeed, to those who are of a deep heart unto evil, for the deep hearts of evil-doers are haunts of the devils, and sepulchers full of the filth of vice. Woe, therefore, to them, as is said in St. Matthew: "Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, who are like to whited sepulchers, which appear outwardly to men fair, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all abominations." Oh, how far from this woe was the most innocent heart of Mary, as St. Bernard says: "Mary had no fault of her own, and far from her most innocent heart was repentance." Of what could the heart of Mary repent when she had never admitted into it anything worthy of penance? Therefore, her pure heart was not the haunt of the devil, nor the sepulcher of vice. Rather, it was a garden and a paradise of the Holy Ghost, according to that word of the Canticle of Canticles: "A garden enclosed is my Sister, my Spouse." -- "A garden," says St. Jerome, "a garden of delights, in which were planted the seeds of all virtues, and the perfume of virtue." Because Mary was far from this woe of guilt, therefore it is rightly said to her: Ave.