OUR BLESSED MOTHER’S SEVENTH DOLOR: THE BURIAL OF THE BODY OF JESUS
St. Alphonsus / The Glories of Mary
It is so fitting that the Double of the Second Class Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Immaculate Heart immediately follows the Double Major Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross as we reflect on those seven swords that pierced Blessed Virgin Mary’s loving Heart who felt what her divine Son Jesus Christ felt and suffered. We cannot help but realize the immensity of pain and sorrow our Blessed Mother endured, for love of all mankind.
WHEN a mother is by the side of a suffering and dying child, she no doubt then feels and suffers all his pains; but when the afflicted child is really dead and about to be buried, and the sorrowful mother takes her last leave of him, oh God! The thought that she is to see him no more is a sorrow that exceeds all other sorrows. Behold, the last sword of sorrow which we are to consider, when Mary, after being present at the death of her Son upon the cross, after having embraced his lifeless body, was finally to leave him in the sepulchre, never more to enjoy his beloved Presence. But that we may better understand this last dolor, let us return to Calvary, again to look upon the afflicted mother, who still holds, clasped in her arms, the lifeless body of her Son. Ah, my beloved Son, in losing thee I have lost all. Thus St. Bernard speaks in her name: Oh truly begotten of God, thou wast to me a father, a son, a spouse; thou wast my life! Now I am deprived of my father, my spouse, and my Son, for with my Son whom I have lost, I lose all things. Thus Mary, clinging to her Son, was dissolved in grief; but those holy disciples, fearing lest this poor mother would expire there through agony, went to take the body of her Son from her arms, to bear it away for burial. Therefore, with reverential force they took him from her arms, and having embalmed him, wrapped him in a linen cloth already prepared, upon which our Lord wished to leave to the world his image impressed, as may be seen at the present day in Turin. And now they bear him to the sepulchre. The sorrowful funeral train sets forth; the disciples place him on their shoulders; hosts of angels from heaven accompany him; those holy women follow him; and the afflicted mother follows in their company her Son to the grave. When they had reached the appointed place, how gladly would Mary have buried her self there alive with her Son! Oh how willingly, said the Virgin to St. Bridget, would I have remained there alive with my Son, if it had been his will! But since this was not the divine will, the authors relate that she herself accompanied the sacred body of Jesus into the sepulchre, where, as Baronius narrates, they deposited the nails and the crown of thorns. In raising the stone to close the sepulchre, the disciples of the Savior had to turn to the Virgin, and say to her: Now, oh Lady, we must close the sepulchre; have patience, forgive us and look upon thy Son, and bid him a last farewell. Then, oh my beloved Son, must the afflicted mother have said, then I shall see thee no more?
The Virgin, says St. Fulgentius, earnestly desired that her soul should be buried with the body of Christ. And Mary herself made this revelation to St, Bridget: I can truly say, that at the burial of my Son, one sepulchre contained as it were two hearts. Finally, they take the stone and close up in the holy sepulchre the body of Jesus, that great treasure, greater than any in heaven and on earth. And here let us remark, that Mary left her heart buried with Jesus, because Jesus was all her treasure: Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Before leaving the sepulchre, according to St. Bonaventure, she blessed that sacred stone, saying: Oh happy stone, that doth now enclose that body which was contained nine months in my womb, I bless thee, and envy thee; I leave thee to guard my Son for me, who is my only good, my only love. And then turning to the eternal Father, she said: Oh Father, to thee I recommend him, who is thy Son and mine; and thus bidding a last farewell to her Son, and to the sepulchre, she returned to her own house. This poor mother went away so afflicted and sad, according to St. Bernard, that she moved many to tears even against their will: so that wherever she passed, all wept who met her and could not restrain their tears. And he adds, that those holy disciples, and the women who accompanied her, mourned for her even more than for their Lord St. Bonaventure says, that her two sisters covered her with a mourning cloak: The sisters of our Lady wrapped her in a veil as a widow, covering as it were her whole countenance.
And he also says, that passing, on her return, before the cross, still wet with the blood of her Jesus, she was the first to adore it : Oh holy cross, she exclaimed, I kiss thee and adore thee; for thou art no longer an infamous wood, but a throne of love, and an altar of mercy, consecrated by the blood of the divine Lamb, who has been sacrificed upon thee, for the salvation of the world. She then leaves the cross and returns to her house; there the afflicted mother casts her eyes around, and no longer sees her Jesus; but instead the presence of her dear Son, all the memorials of his holy life and cruel death are before her. There she is reminded of the embraces she gave her Son in the stable of Bethlehem, of the conversations held with him for so many years in the shop of Nazareth: she is reminded of their mutual affection, of his loving looks, of the words of eternal life that came forth from that divine mouth. And then comes before her the fatal scene of that very day; she sees those nails, those thorns, that lacerated flesh of her Son, those deep wounds, those uncovered bones, that open mouth, those closed eyes. Alas ! What a night of sorrow was that night for Mary!
She weeps for love, and thou dost weep through sorrow for thy sins. And thus weeping, thou mayest have the happy lot of him of whom we read in the following example.
Father Engelgrave relates, that a certain religious was so tormented by scruples, that sometimes he was almost driven to despair, but having great devotion to Mary, the mother of sorrows, he had recourse to her in the agony of his spirit, and was much comforted by contemplating her dolors. Death came, and the devil tormented him more than ever with scruples, and tempted him to despair. When, behold our merciful mother, seeing her poor son so afflicted, appeared to him, and said to him: And why, oh my son, art thou so overcome with sorrow, thou who hast so often consoled me by thy compassion for my sorrows ? Be comforted she said to him; Jesus sends me to thee to console thee; be comforted, rejoice, and come with me to paradise. And at these words the devout religious tranquilly expired, full of consolation and confidence.
My afflicted mother, I will not leave thee alone to weep; no, I wish to keep thee company with my tears. This grace I ask of thee today: obtain for me a continual remembrance of the passion of Jesus, and of thine also, and a tender devotion to them, that all the remaining days of my life may be spent in weeping for thy sorrows, For my own sweet mother, and for those of my Redeemer. I hope that these dolors will give me the confidence and strength not to despair at the hour of my death, at the sight of the offenses I have committed against my Lord. They must obtain me pardon, perseverance, paradise, where I hope to rejoice with thee, and sing the infinite mercy of my God through all eternity: thus I hope, thus may it be. Amen, amen. ________________________________________________________
The Burial of her Divine Son
Then came the moment that meant for the Mother of God a physical separation from Her Divine Son as His body was hastily, but reverently placed in the tomb, and with the help of the holy women and St. John, she returned to the House of the Last Supper, to wait and watch in prayerful supplication to the Father, for the moment of her Divine Son’s Resurrection from the Dead. The apostles were dispersed, devastated by the events of that past week when their emotions ebbed and flowed and fear took over. Mary, alone, had to remain steadfast in her faith. She could not and would not waver in her faith even for a moment in total belief that God had a plan and that Jesus would rise as Scripture foretold, giving to the world a triumph over death and sin, which was the fulfillment of the Father’s covenant with mankind.
All around her was a sorrow that was totally human. Her sorrow was totally human, too; but with a different slant. Mary was so committed to the Will of God, that she was able to charitably abide the talk of the apostles and some of the women who believed that Jesus was truly gone forever…and all was lost to them. They mourned then…perhaps not so much for Jesus and Mary, as for themselves. But Mary understood, because she was human. Yet she was able to pray through her deepest sorrow in trust with the Father. Not because she was the Mother of God was Mary able to bear these sorrows so valiantly; rather by pondering in her heart the many things that were prophesied to her in her lifetime. Mary saw things not from a mere human viewpoint, but from the infused viewpoint of God. By the grace of the Holy Ghost, Mary was able to make God’s viewpoint – His Will – Her own. Thus she suffered as no mother has ever suffered, or will ever suffer in this world. In fact, if all the sorrows of every mother that has ever been or will ever be were joined together, they could not equal the sorrow which the Blessed Mother endured on our behalf. For She is truly the Mother of God, and our Mother, too. Were it not for Our Lady, many of the apostles could very well have followed the same course as Judas Iscariot. Gibson captured this so beautifully with Peter who literally ran into Blessed Mary as he was fleeing. She is the Queen of the Apostles for a reason.
Meditation and Prayer for the Seventh Sorrow that pierced Mary’s Immaculate Heart
Hastily the Body is wrapped in a clean linen cloth. Nicodemus has brought myrrh and aloes, and the Body is bound in the Shroud with them. Nearby is a new tomb, belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, and there they lay Jesus. Mary and John and the holy women follow them and watch as the great stone to the sepulchre is rolled. it is the end.
V: O God, come to my assistance;
R: O Lord, make haste to help me
V: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, for the pangs that wrenched thy most loving heart at the burial of Jesus. Dear Mother, by thy heart sunk in the bitterness of desolation, obtain for me the virtue of diligence and the gift of wisdom.
Mary, most holy Virgin and Queen of Martyrs, accept the sincere homage of my childlike love into thy heart, pierced by so many swords, welcome my poor soul. Receive it as the companion of thy sorrows at the foot of the Cross, on which thy Jesus died for the redemption of the world. With thee, sorrowful Virgin, I will gladly suffer all the trials, sufferings, and afflictions which it shall please Our Lord to send me. I offer them all to thee in memory of thy sorrows so that every thought of my mind and every beat of my heart may be an act of compassion and of love for thee. Dearest Mother, have pity on me, reconcile me to thy Divine Son Jesus. Keep me ever in His grace, and assist me in my last agony, so that I may meet thee in Heaven together with thy loving Son.
Final Prayers on Feast of the Seven Sorrows of Our Sorrowful Mother Mary
O sorrowful Virgin, unite me at least to the humiliations and wounds of thy Son, so that both He and thee may find comfort in having someone sharing thy sufferings. Oh, how happy I would be if I could do this! For is there perhaps anything greater, sweeter, or more advantageous for a person? Why dost thou not grant me what I ask? If I have offended thee, be just and pierce my heart. If I have been faithful to thee, leave me not without a reward: give me thy sorrows. (Prayer composed by the holy Doctor of the Church St. Bonaventure)
O afflicted Virgin, O soul great in virtues, as in sorrows, both the one and the other spring from that great fire burning in thy heart for God, the only love of thy heart!
Mother, have pity on me, who has not loved God, and who has so greatly offended Him. Thy sorrows, it is true, assure me of pardon, but that is not sufficient. I wish to love God. Who could obtain for me that grace if not thee, who are the Mother of holy love! O Mary, Thou consoles everyone; favor me also, with thy consolations. Amen. (Prayer composed by St. Alphonsus Liguori)
“O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of Thy mercy.”
“O Jesus, it is for Thy Love, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
My God, I believe, I adore, I trust, and I love Thee and I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust, and do not love Thee. (repeat three times)
Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I adore Thee profoundly, and I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in tabernacles throughout the world in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences by which He is offended, and by the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary I beg the conversion of poor sinners.
My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament. O my Jesus, it is for love of Thee in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and for the conversion of poor sinners.” (Prayers the Guardian Angel of Portugal taught the Fatima children on July 13, 1917)
Most Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.