Crucified, dead and buried  Cristo-de-la-Clemencia


Oh, how exceedingly tender, loving, and constraining was that declaration of our Blessed Redeemer concerning his coming into the world, when he said that he had come to kindle in souls the fire of divine love, and that his only desire was that this holy flame should be enkindled in the hearts of men: I am come to cast fire upon the earth; and what will I but that it should be kindled.  He continued immediately to say that he was expecting to be baptized with the baptism of his own blood — not, indeed, to wash out his own sins, since he was incapable of sinning, but to wash out our sins, which he had come to satisfy by his sufferings: “The Passion of Christ is called baptism, because we are purified in his blood.”‘ And therefore our loving Jesus, in order to make us understand how ardent was his desire to die for us, added, with sweetest expression of his love, that he felt an immense longing for the time of his Passion, so great was his desire to suffer for our sake. These are his loving words: I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized; and how am I straitened until it be accomplished? O God, the lover of men, what more couldst Thou have said or done in order to put me under the necessity of loving Thee? And what good could my love ever do Thee, that Thou didst choose to die, and didst so much desire death in order to obtain it? If a servant of mine had only desired to die for me, he would have attracted my love; and can I then live without loving Thee with all my heart, my king and God, who didst die for me, and who hadst such a longing for death in order to acquire to Thyself my love?

sorrowful mother 1

Our Lady of Sorrows


In other Martyrs, says Richard of St. Victor, the greatness of their love soothed the pains of their Martyrdom, but in the case of the Blessed Virgin, the greater her love was, the greater were her sufferings, and the more cruel was her Martyrdom. Where there is the greatest love there also is the greatest grief.

As other Martyrs, as Diez remarks, are all represented with the instrument of their sufferings–a St. Paul with a sword, a St. Andrew with a cross, a St. Laurence with a gridiron–Mary is represented with her dead Son in her arms; for Jesus Himself, and He alone, was the instrument of her Martyrdom, by reason of the love she bore Him. Richard of St. Victor confirms in a few words all that I have now said: “In other Martyrs, the greatness of their love soothed the pains of their Martyrdom; but in the Blessed Virgin, the greater was her love, the greater were her sufferings, the more cruel was her Martyrdom.”

It is certain that the more we love a thing, the greater is the pain we feel in losing it. We are more afflicted at the loss of a brother than at the loss of a beast of burden; one is more grieved at the loss of a son than at the loss of a friend. Now, Cornelius a Lapide says that “to understand the greatness of Mary’s grief at the death of her Son, we must understand the greatness of the love she bore Him.” But who can ever measure that love? Blessed Amadeus says that “in the heart of Mary were united two kinds of love for Jesus–supernatural love, by which she loved Him as her God, and natural love by which she loved Him as her Son.” So that these two loves became one; but so immense a love, that William of Paris even says that the Blessed Virgin “loved Him as much as it was possible for a pure creature to love Him.” Hence Richard of St. Victor affirms that “as there was no love like her love, so there was no sorrow like her sorrow.” And if the love of Mary towards her Son was immense, immense also must have been her grief in losing Him by death. “Where there is the greatest love,” says Blessed Albert the Great, “there also is the greatest grief.”

Sorrows of Mother of God

Let us now imagine to ourselves the Divine Mother standing near her Son expiring on the Cross, and justly applying to herself the words of Jeremias, thus addressing us: O all ye that pass by the way, attend and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow. (Lam. i. 12). O you who spend your lives upon earth, and pity me not, stop a while to look upon me, now that I behold my beloved Son dying before my eyes; and then see if, amongst all those who are afflicted and tormented, a sorrow is to be found like unto my sorrow. “No, O most suffering of all mothers,” replies St. Bonaventure, “no more bitter grief than thine can be found; for no son more dear than thine can be found.” Ah, “there never was a more amiable son in the world than Jesus,” says Richard of St. Laurence; nor has has there ever been a mother who more tenderly loved her son than Mary! But since there never has been in the world a love like unto Mary’s love, how can any sorrow be found like unto Mary’s sorrow?”

Therefore, St. Ildephonsus did not hesitate to assert, “To say that Mary’s sorrows were greater than all the torments of the Martyrs united, was to say too little.” And St. Anselm adds, that “the most cruel tortures inflicted on the holy Martyrs were trifling, or as nothing in comparison with the Martyrdom of Mary.” St. Basil of Seleucia also writes, “That as the sun exceeds all the other planets in splendor, so did Mary’s sufferings exceed those of all the other Martyrs.” The learned Father Pinamonti concludes with a beautiful sentiment. He says that so great was the sorrow of this tender Mother in the Passion of Jesus, that she alone could compassionate adequately the death of a God made Man.    –  St. Alphonsus de Liguori 

Christ Crucified with the Virgin, Saint John and Mary Magdalene - Van Dyck, Sir Anthony

Christ Crucified with the Virgin, Saint John and Mary Magdalene               Van Dyck, Sir Anthony

Stabat Mater

Stabat mater dolorosa
juxta Crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius.

Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius.

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta,
mater Unigeniti!

Quae mœrebat et dolebat,
pia Mater, dum videbat
nati pœnas inclyti.

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio?

Quis non posset contristari
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?

Pro peccatis suæ gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis,
et flagellis subditum.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriendo desolatum,
dum emisit spiritum.

Eia, Mater, fons amoris
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam.

Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum
ut sibi complaceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide.

Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
pœnas mecum divide.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.

Juxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero.

Virgo virginum præclara,
mihi iam non sis amara,
fac me tecum plangere.

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passionis fac consortem,
et plagas recolere.

Fac me plagis vulnerari,
fac me Cruce inebriari,
et cruore Filii.

Flammis ne urar succensus,
per te, Virgo, sim defensus
in die iudicii.

Christe, cum sit hinc exire,
da per Matrem me venire
ad palmam victoriæ.

Quando corpus morietur,
fac, ut animæ donetur
paradisi gloria. Amen.

At the Cross her station keeping,

stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her Son 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 blest,
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?

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with scourges rent:

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast 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 thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath 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 Thou shalt call me hence,
be Thy Mother my defense,
be Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.


Third Week In Lent – Saturday


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