"And thy own soul a sword shall pierce." St. Luke, 2:35
Today, the Friday after Passion Sunday (old calendar), Holy Mother Church asks us to recall the principle sorrows of Mary, our Sorrowful Mother. Rightly is our Blessed Mother called the Sorrowful Mother. She is indeed the Mother of Sorrows. She is the Queen of Martyrs. In fact, Her whole life was a martyrdom. The sufferings of the poor, for instance, She had to bear all through Her life. Mary was poor, as poor, perhaps poorer, than the poorest of us.
A thread of sorrow ran through all Her years in that She could see ahead to the time when Her only Son, now an Infant, now a little curly-headed Boy, now an obedient and respectful young Man, would have to die a most painful and disgraceful death.
And oh, Her sufferings during the Passion of Jesus, Her anguish as He carried His cruel cross, Her agony as She stood beneath that cross watching Him die. Who could ever measure Her grief or count Her tears?
It was most fitting that the woman whom God gave us for our heavenly Mother should be a Mother of Sorrows, a woman who had to suffer. As we all know, suffering is the lot of every human being. There is not, nor was there ever, a man, a woman, or a child but had to suffer. No person ever living that had not at least one sword in his or her heart, at least one sorrow, at least one affliction.
Sometimes we judge other people saying, "But so and so has no trials in his or her life?" How do we know that? Can we see into their interior? Most often we only see one side of the story. The fact is: Every human being has some sort of sorrow. Is it not consoling then that we children of Mary have for a Mother one who has borne a many-sworded sorrow? As children of Mary, we are all glad that we have such a Mother who suffered too; because only one who has suffered can rightly console, can satisfactorily comfort the sufferings of others. As Scripture says, '[God] comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation we have received from Him. As we have shared much in the sufferings of Christ, so through Christ do we share abundantly in His consolation.' (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). Certainly Mother Mary shared in Christ's sufferings!
Yes, everyone has a cross. Bitter indeed are some of our crosses--death of dear ones, sickness, poverty, misunderstanding, difficulties in our home and in our work.
What is your cross? Thank God for it. Ask Our Lady to show you how to carry it. Our Blessed and Sorrowful Mother, She who sits at the side of Her divine Son, with whom She suffered here on earth, Mary is now in Heaven waiting to help you, waiting to console you, waiting to be a sympathetic Mother to you.
Next Friday (Good Friday) we will recall Her principle sorrows. She had many more, but Mother Church centers our attention on the seven swords that pierced Her tender Heart:
1. The prophecy of Simeon that a sword of sorrow would pierce Her Heart, was a bitter pain.
2. The flight into Egypt made Her experience the sadness of exile and the loss of Her home.
3. The three-day loss of Jesus made Her Heart ache with anxiety.
4. What anguish when She met Jesus on the way of the cross.
5. One would think Her Heart would break as She stood beneath the cross at Christ's death.
6. Only a mother who holds a dead child in her arms can know anything of Mary's grief as She held Jesus taken down from the cross.
7. Only a mother who puts a child to bed in a grave can understand at all how Mary felt at the burial of Jesus.
Mary, our Sorrowful Queen, reaches out Her sympathy and help to everyone who suffers. She, more than any other woman, knew the pang and pain of sorrow. We can go to Her and take others to Her also. We can then be Our Lady's consolers!
Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
[Adapted from a homily by Rev. Arthur Tonne, O.F.M.]
As we approach Holy Week and the Easter Triduum, we provide this classic hymn to the Mother Co-redemptrix, one of the most beautiful ever written, for your Lenten meditation.
At the Cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.
Through her Heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword has passed.
O how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole-begotten One!
Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son.
Is there one who would not weep,
'Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ's dear Mother to behold?
Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother's pain untold?
Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.
For the sins of His own nation
Saw Him hang in desolation
Till His spirit forth He sent.
O sweet Mother! Font of love,
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with yours accord.
Make me feel as you have felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.
Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.
Let me share with you His pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.
Let me mingle tears with you,
Mourning Him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.
By the Cross with you to stay,
There with you to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of you to give.
Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine.
Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of yours.
Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it has swooned
In His very Blood away.
Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful judgment day.
Christ, when you shall call me hence,
Be your Mother my defense,
Be your cross my victory.
While my body here decays,
May my soul your goodness praise,
Safe in heaven eternally.