On the Sorrows of Mary When Mount Calvary Was Reached.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Sorrows of Mary When Mount Calvary Was Reached.
Whilst making your meditation on this day, whereon the Church commemorates the seven dolors of the sorrowful Mother of God, fix your eyes upon Mary. See how the sword foretold by Simeon pierced her heart with grief at the circumcision and the flight into Egypt; how it was plunged more deeply into the soul at the loss of Jesus when He was twelve years old; and at the mournful meeting on the way to Calvary. And now that she has come to Calvary, that sword transfixes afresh her sinless soul. Pale as death she stands there, a faint cry of pain now and again escaping her lips. Who can describe the horror that thrilled through her when she perceived Jesus undergoing the painful process of being stript of His garments, when she saw the terrible nails, the heavy hammer, and caught sight of the cross lying on the ground. Realize to yourself, my soul, what the Blessed Virgin felt at that moment, when Jesus stretched Himself upon the cross for the cruel nails to be driven in, and consider:
1st. The grief wherewith the Mother stood beside the dying-bed of her Son, a grief all the greater in proportion to the magnitude of her love for her dying Son on the one hand, and to the more painful nature of His death on the other. If any earthly mother is dissolved in tears, if her heart is wrung with unspeakable anguish when she sees her son expire, even though perchance in his lifetime that son caused her no slight anxiety and distress, what must the immaculate Mother have experienced when she beheld her Son, her joy and delight, extend Himself on the bed of death, and such a bed! Can we conceive a dying-couch more ignominious, more awful, than that on which Mary now looked?
O Mother of Dolors! the sun cannot bear to gaze upon the death of thy Son; it veils its face in token of mourning, whilst thou, His Mother, art compelled to witness this awful spectacle. And were she to close her eyes, consider:
2d. How the strokes of the merciless hammer would sound in her ears. Each blow that she heard of that hammer opened a fresh wound in her heart. Imagine, my soul, the feelings of a mother whose son has to undergo the amputation of an arm or a foot, though it be as the means of saving his life. She cannot look on at the operation, and every cry of pain that reaches her ear from a distance is like a thorn thrust into her heart. Or picture to yourself the overwhelming affliction of a father when he hears the coffin nailed down which contains the lifeless body of his only son, and then reflect what the Mother of Jesus must have felt when she heard the groans of her tortured Son, and the strokes of the terrible hammer which fixed Him to the cross whereon He was to suffer an agonizing death. Yes, Mary, thou art indeed a Mother of Dolors; and alas! do you, my soul, remember that you too helped to make her such, for every sin you commit is a blow of that hammer that sounds so sadly in her ears.
3d. Consider how the Son of God, when nailed to the cross, was aware of the profound grief of His afflicted Mother, and although He kept silence outwardly, yet in His heart He spoke to her in this wise: “O My dearest Mother, all the joys thou didst experience on My account are now changed into tribulation, mourning, and woe. I was, it is true, born of thee in poverty and nakedness, in a stable, yet it was granted thee to wrap My tender limbs in swaddling-clothes and thy soul was rejoiced by the angels’ song. But now thou beholdest Me naked upon the cross, and mayst not clothe My nakedness, and instead of the angels’ song thou nearest nothing but the mockery and blasphemies of My enemies. My seamless robe, fashioned by thy chaste hands, is appropriated by the rude soldiery; My hands, that once clasped thee in the fond embrace of a child, are now transfixed by nails; My countenance, which formerly thou didst cover with kisses, is now defiled with blood, with sweat and spittle. How happily thou didst once live at Nazareth! now on Calvary thou art become indeed a Mother of Sorrows.” Ponder upon these words, my soul, and during this day, whenever the hour strikes, call to mind with contrition of spirit the blows of the hammer that struck Jesus limbs and Mary’s heart, inflicting such bitter pain, and make a special resolution to-day to nail to the cross one of the corrupt inclinations of your heart, and thus alleviate the anguish Mary endured for your sake on the Friday of her compassion.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
April Devotion: The Holy Ghost
Virtue to practice: Patience
Vexilla Regis prodeunt
The royal banners forward go;
The Cross shines forth in mystic glow,
Where Life for sinners death endured,
And life by death for man procured.
Where deep for us the spear was dyed,
Life’s torrent rushing from His side,
To wash us in that precious flood
Where mingled, Water flowed, and Blood.
Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song of old;
‘Amidst the nations, God,’ saith he,
‘Hath reigned and triumphed from the Tree.’
O Tree of beauty! Tree of light!
O Tree with royal purple dight!
Elect on whose triumphal breast
Those holy Limbs should find their rest.
On whose dear arms, so widely flung,
The weight of this world’s ransom hung:
The price of humankind to pay
And spoil the spoiler of his prey.
O Cross, our one reliance, hail,
Thou glory of the saved, avail*
To give fresh merit to the Saint,
And pardon to the penitent.
To Thee, Eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done;
Whom by the Cross Thou dost restore,
Preserve and govern evermore. Amen.
Vexilla Regis pródeunt,
Fulget Crucis mystérium,
Qua vita mortem pértulit,
Et morte vitam prótulit.
Quæ vulneráta lánceæ
Mucróne diro, críminum
Ut nos laváret sórdibus,
Manávit unda et sánguine.
Impléta sunt quæ cóncinit
David fidéli cármine,
Regnávit a ligno Deus.
Arbor decóra et fúlgida,
Ornáta regis púrpura,
Elécta digno stípite
Tam sancta membra tángere.
Beáta, cuius bráchiis
Prétium pepéndit sæculi,
Statéra facta córporis,
Tulítque prædam tártari.
O Crux, ave, spes única,
Gentis redémptæ glória!*
Piis adáuge grátiam,
Reísque dele crímina.
Te, fons salútis, Trínitas,
Colláudet omnis spíritus:
Quibus Cricis victóriam
Largíris, adde præmium. Amen.
(ex. Breviario Romano)
*Instead of: ‘Thou Glory of the saved,’ during Passiontide, say: ‘This Holy Passiontide‘, during the Paschal Season: ‘Thou joy of Eastertide‘, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: ‘On this triumphant day.‘
An indulgence of 5 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this hymn throughout an entire month (S.C. Ind., Jan. 16, 1886; S.P.Ap., April 29, 1934).
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