Today we commemorate the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, and we should not forget the sorrows of His holy Mother. Here are some photos from Jerusalem and a chapter on the sufferings of Mary.
On the sufferings of the Most Blessed Virgin
“The adorable Jesus being the man of sorrows, holy Mary was united with Him too much not to suffer. But her sorrows were incomparable in their greatness, in such a way, says St. Bernardine, that if the sorrow of the Blessed Virgin was divided and distributed to all creatures which can suffer, it would cause them all to die. The reason, say some theologians explaining the opinion of this Saint, is that sorrow is proportioned to the knowledge of the greatness of the evil which afflicts us, and that it increases as the light which we have of it increases. Now the Most Blessed Virgin knowing more than all the Saints the infinite dignity of her Son Who was crucified on Calvary, endured more than all the Saints, because her crucified Son was the subject of her sorrow. The material of the sufferings of St. Lawrence was his grill; that of St. Stephen, the stones with which he was stoned; that of St. Bartholomew, his own skin which was flayed: but that of Mary was Jesus suffering; it was the cross of Jesus and all His pains.
“But what supports more the thought of St. Bernardine is that the knowledge of the Blessed Virgin was followed by love: her love was equal to her lights: she had feelings which cannot be expressed about the greatness of Jesus crucified, Who made the subject of her pains, and she had for Him an incomparable love. As she loved more than all the rest of creatures, an Ancient writer remarks, it is indubitable that she also suffered more, sorrow, says St. Augustine, having love for its foundation. Let us add to these thoughts that Mary was a mother who suffered, and a mother of an only Son, of Whom she was a mother without a father. She was a Virgin Mother, and Mother of God. Her sorrow was not divided: she suffered alone what a good father and a tender mother can suffer. That is why St. Joseph, who was only the foster father of Jesus Christ, was no longer in the world. Her precious heart was the place in which were formed as an echo, in which were heard and felt the lashes, the insults and the mockeries with which her Son and her God was overwhelmed. And St. Bernard assures us that the soul of Jesus Christ being separated from the body, the soul of this blessed Mother was so to speak put in Its place by compassion, to feel the blow of the lance which was given to It.
“St. Lawrence Justinian teaches that at this time of the Passion, the divine heart of the Blessed Virgin was quite similar to a glass mirror; but it was a mirror animated by Jesus dying. Nails, ropes, thorns, pains, death itself, all this appeared in this lovable heart, and all this was as in an animated mirror. She revealed to St. Bridget, that when Jesus’s body was in the grave, it was as if two bodies had been in the same sepulcher.
The image above is the tabernacle in the church built where Jesus was scourged.
“But the sorrows of this holy Mother did not end at the time of the Passion of her dearly-beloved Son; they began with the grace of the divine maternity, and finished only with her life, that is to say, that they lasted during the space of fifty-six years, the Word having become incarnate in her pure womb, when she was only about fifteen or sixteen years old, and her precious death having taken place only in the seventy-second year of her most holy life, not to mention the other pains which she bore since the use of reason of which she had complete use from the first moment of her immaculate conception, up to the happy moment when she was made Mother of God.
“St. Bridget teaches us that she knew, by a prophetic light, all the particular details of the Passion of her only Son: that is why, while she gave Him the virginal milk of her sacred breasts, she thought of the gall and the vinegar of which some day He had to drink; when she carried Him on her breast, she considered that His delicate hands must be pierced by nails and attached to a cross. Among the chaste kisses which she gave Him, she imagined the kiss of the traitor Judas. If she saw Him sleeping, she thought of the death which had to happen to Him some day. Thus did this Mother of sorrow spend her most pure life; and in this, says St. Epiphanius, she was at the same time both Priest and the Altar on which the victim was sacrificed, not once as on the cross, but as often as she thought of this sacrifice.
“A learned man considering that Our Lord had only tasted a little of the portion of the wine mixed with myrrh which had been presented to Him: This is not without mystery, he says, it is because He wanted His holy Mother to drink the rest of this chalice. Her love, as is declared in the Canticles, is strong as death in the extreme desires that she has to suffer the pains of it. But it is deaf and merciless as hell, putting no borders to it, wishing to suffer forever, wanting her martyrdom always to last. Her sufferings, which St. Augustine calls immense, only caused her desires to suffer to increase. She is compared with much justice to a sea; because as all the drops of water of the sea cannot be counted, because the sea surpasses in the multitude of its waters all the waters of streams and rivers; likewise the sufferings of the Mother of God surpass those of all the Saints. As all rivers pass into the sea, we also find in the holy heart of our glorious Mistress all sorts of crosses. As the bottom of the sea cannot be found, it is also not possible to know the greatness of her pains. I do not believe, says the devout St. Bernard, that the sorrows of the Most Blessed Virgin can ever be either explained or known.
“But let us remember that the one who suffers thus is our sweet Mother, and that we were made her children at the foot of the Cross: that it is for us that she is a Mother of sorrow, a Mother of pity and compassion; and that this is what gives us a very strict obligation to sympathize with her, to honor her sorrows, and to keep her company in her sufferings. She once complained to St. Bridget of the few persons who loved her, because there were indeed few who had compassion on her sorrows. But in order to sympathize with them, it is necessary to think of them, and it is necessary to consider them. It is good to set some day of the week to apply oneself to it particularly, to honor her seven principal sorrows, as we noted above, to enter Confraternities set up under this title, and to visit altars dedicated to God in their honor.
“As St. Bridget, about whom we have just spoken, was praying for a high-ranking man who was dying, Our Lord ordered her to send to this sick man his confessor, who having been able to gain nothing over the heart of this hardened man, at the end after several prayers was touched, confessing that he had given himself to the devil who had appeared visibly to him. And Our Lord made known that He had given him contrition for his crimes, by reason of the devotion which he had had to the sufferings of His blessed Mother. But Our Lord not only delivers from hell, He also honors with privileges those who have devotion to the pains of His holy Mother. A good religious of St. Francis having often asked the Most Blessed Virgin for purity of heart by the merit of her sorrows, this Mother of mercy appeared to him, and putting her virginal hand on his breast, says to him: Here is the purity of heart that you ask for, here your wishes are fulfilled.
“It is a sweet consolation for persons crucified to remember the crosses of holy Mary, by turning their attention away from the things which can them make suffer. We have the example, said a grave author, in the adorable Jesus, Who, having a head pierced on all sides, and a body all covered with great and deep wounds, and being about to give up the ghost in the midst of an infinity of pains, forgetting Himself, fixed His glances on His most loving Mother, and spoke to her with the care of an indescribable love.”
This chapter was taken from The Holy Slavery of the Admirable Mother of God, the book which made St. Louis-Marie de Montfort’s Marian devotion ‘go viral’.