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Stabat Mater Dolorosa, The Sorrowful Mother Stood

I just returned from Church, from our Good Friday service this evening.   The crucifixion was bloody, messy, ugly…a fitting punishment for humanity which deserved the scourge, the crown and the nails that were born by sinless perfection.  For me, tonight and when I saw Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ, the most difficult thing to deal with is looking into the face of our Blessed Mother.  As my friend Katherine most precisely described it tonight as her status on Facebook, “We cannot even begin to try to imagine and trying not to feel how she felt watching her Son be abused, humiliated, bullied, whipped half to death, beaten, kicked, dragged, forced to carry His own cross, and then put to death before her very eyes. How helpless she must have felt. How awful to watch and not be able to comfort the Son she bore, nursed, tended, taught, cuddled, and played with. What mother could ever just stand by and be able to watch knowing that there was NOTHING she could do, yet knowing it was all for the greater good?”

Truly, O blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart. For only by passing through your heart could the sword enter the flesh of your Son. Indeed, after your Jesus – who belongs to everyone, but is especially yours – gave up his life, the cruel spear, which was not withheld from his lifeless body, tore open his side. Clearly it did not touch his soul and could not harm him, but it did pierce your heart. For surely his soul was no longer there, but yours could not be torn away. Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your heart, and we rightly call you more than martyr, since the effect of compassion in you has gone beyond the endurance of physical suffering.” ~ St. Bernard of Clairvaux

I leave you with the scenes from The Passion of the Christ that I love most, those that depicted Our Lord’s Passion as well as Our Blessed Mother’s Sorrows.

Sorrowful Mother, you are there at the foot of the Cross of your Son…firm, standing like a queen next to your Son, offering yourself as a sacrifice of consolation. And you see how a solider pierces the Heart of your Son with a sword…and your heart, Mary, is pierced spiritually at that exact moment by the same sword…The indissoluble union of your heart with the Heart of Jesus is revealed for all eternity. Your heart mystically receives the effects of the physical piercing of the heart of your Son. Oh, Mother, your Son has died and you feel the pain, the emptiness, the loneliness, but also you rest in knowing that the world, with its hostility, can no longer hurt Him. How great are you Mary! You, just as your Son Jesus, have reached the end. It is at the peak of Mount Calvary, on that cross where your Son is elevated to His throne as King, where you become queen. Your reign, Mary, is obtained by your great love and fidelity during such sorrow and pain. Everything seems to be complete… and all this you kept silently in your heart… You did all this because you trusted in the love of the Father! (Way of the Cross of Our Sorrowful Mother)

If you have never seen, or had the stomach to watch, The Passion of the Christ, I invite you to watch just this scene of the Crucifixion.

Meditation

The Dolorosa hymn, one of the most powerful and immediate of extant medieval poems, meditates on the suffering of Mary, Jesus Christ’s mother, during his crucifixion. It is sung at the liturgy on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

The following translation by Edward Caswall is not word-for-word. Instead it has been adapted so as to represent the meter (trochaic tetrameter), rhyme scheme, and sense of the original text.

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 moerebat et dolebat,
pia Mater, dum videbat
nati poenas 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 suae 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,
poenas 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 praeclara,
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 victoriae.

Quando corpus morietur,
fac, ut animae 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.

Translation by Edward Caswall
Lyra Catholica (1849)

Our Lady of Sorrows, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus

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About Alessandra

Though I am a cradle Catholic, I was a little lost sheep for sometime. Thankfully, I found my way in December of my Junior year of High school. I now write from the NE USA, where I live with my husband, a convert, and five young children. I have a Master of Science in Reading Education. In 2008, after more than fifteen years in the education field, I “retired” to begin a new career as full time mommy and home educator--a world I felt so foreign to--but now have embraced it as a total lifestyle for my clan.

  • Erika - The scenes of Mary’s suffering throughout the Passion are among the hardest for me to take. The sense of loss is so profound that my heart breaks with hers. Even Jesus saw her suffering & gave her to John & us to comfort and care for.April 3, 2013 – 2:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Michelle - Knowing our Mother had gone through this helped me through our greatest loss and how my own son was treated through it all. Had I not known how terribly she suffered and yet still kept her faith I know I would not have been able to get through what we went through. Thank you for posting this. Our beautiful Mother is such an inspiration, even in her sorrow, maybe especially so.April 4, 2013 – 10:48 pmReplyCancel

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