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.
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
Cuius animam gementem,
O quam tristis et afflicta
Quae moerebat et dolebat,
Quis est homo qui non fleret,
Quis non posset contristari
Pro peccatis suae gentis
Vidit suum dulcem Natum
Eia, Mater, fons amoris
Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
Sancta Mater, istud agas,
Tui Nati vulnerati,
Fac me tecum pie flere,
Juxta Crucem tecum stare,
Virgo virginum praeclara,
Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
Fac me plagis vulnerari,
Flammis ne urar succensus,
Christe, cum sit hinc exire,
Quando corpus morietur,
At the Cross her station keeping,
Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
O how sad and sore distressed
Christ above in torment hangs,
Is there one who would not weep,
Can the human heart refrain
For the sins of His own nation,
She beheld her tender Child,
O thou Mother! fount of love!
Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Holy Mother! pierce me through,
Let me share with thee His pain,
Let me mingle tears with thee,
By the Cross with thee to stay,
Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Let me, to my latest breath,
Wounded with His every wound,
Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
While my body here decays,
Translation by Edward Caswall
Our Lady of Sorrows, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus
2 Replies to “Stabat Mater Dolorosa, The Sorrowful Mother Stood”
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.
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.
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