Saturday, April 01, 2006

Saturday - Day of Our lady

Fourth Week of Lent. "The Glories of Mary" by St. Alphonsus of Liquori

'Sermon on the Dolours of Mary - Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother'

Behold we are about to consider a new kind of martydrom; we have to consider a Mother condemned to see her innocent Son die as malefactor on an infamous gibbet. This Mother is Mary, who indeed, with too great reason, is called by the Church the Queen of Martyrs; yes, for Mary in the death of Jesus Christ suffered a more cruel martydrom than all others martyrs; for

i. Her Martydrom was ever equalled.
ii Her Martydrom was without relief.

FIRST POINT. her martydrom was never equalled
I. the words of the prophet Jeremias explain my meaning in this point: "To what shall I compare thee? or to what shall I like thee, O daughter of Jerusalem?....for great as the sea is thy destruction; who shall heal thee?" No, the acuteness of the suffering of Mary are not to be compared, even with those of all martyrs united. 'The martydrom of Mary,' says Saint Bernard, 'was not caused by the executioner's sword, but proceeded from bitter sorrow of heart. In other martyrs torments were inflicted on the body; but Mary's sorrow was in her heart and soul, verifying in her the prophecy of Saint Simeon, "Thy own soul a sword shall pierce".
II. Arnold of Chartres writes, that 'whoever had been on Mount Calvary, to witness the great sacrifice of the Immaculate Lamb, would there have beheld two great altars, the one in the body of Jesus, the other in the heart of Mary; for on that mount, when the Son sacrificed His body by death, Mary sacrificed her soul by compassion. So much so, says St. Antoninus, that, whereas other martyrs sacrifice their own life, the Blessed Virgin consummated her martydrom by sacrificing the life of her Son a life which she loved far more than her own, and which caused her to endure a torment which exceeded all other torments ever endured by any mortal on earth.
III. As a general rule, the suffering of children are also sufferings of their mothers who are present at and witness their torments. This Saint Augustine declares, when speaking of the mothers who are present at and witness their torments. This St. Augustine declares, when speaking of the mother of the Machabees, who witnessed the execution of her children, martyred by order of the cruel Antiochus: he says, that 'love caused her to endure in her soul all the torments inflicted on each of her children. Erasmus adds, that 'mothers suffer more at the sight of the suffering of their children than if the torments were inflicted on themselves.' This, however, is not always true; but in Mary it was verified; for she certainly suffered more in witnessing the sufferings of her Son than she would have done had she endured all His torments in her own person. 'All the wounds,' says Saint Bonaventure, 'which were scattered over the body of Jesus were united in the heart of Mary, to torment her in the Passion of her Son; so that, as Saint Lawrence Justinian writes, 'the heart of Mary, by compassion for her Son, become a mirror of His torments, in which might be seen faithfully reflected the spittings, the blows, the wounds, and all that Jesus suffered'. We can therefore say that Mary, on account of the love she bore Him, was in heart, during the Passion of her Son, struck, scourged, crowned with thorns, and nailed to the very cross of her Son.
IV. The same St. Lawrence considers Jesus, on His road to Calvary, with the cross on His shoulders, turning to Mary, and saying to her, 'Alas, my own dear Mother, whither goest thou? what a scene wilt thou witness? Thou wilt be agonised by My suffering, and I by thine. But the loving Mother would follow Him all the same, though she knew that, by being present at His death, she would have to endure a torment greater than any death. She saw that her Son carried the cross to be crucified upon it; and she also took up the cross of her sorrows, and followed her Son carried the cross to be crucified with Him. Hence Saint Bonaventura considers Mary standing by the cross of her dying Son, and asks her, saying , 'O Lady, tell me where didst thou then stand - was it near the cross? No, thou wast on the cross itself, crucified with thy Son.' On the words of the Redeemer foretold by the prophet Isaias, "I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the Gentiles there is not a men with me." Richard of Saint Lawrence says, 'It is true, O Lord, that in the work of human redemption Thou didst suffer alone, and that there was not a man who suficiently pitied Thee; but there was a woman with Thee, and she was Thine own Mother; she suffered in her heart all that Thou didst endure in Thy body.
V. To show the sufferings endured by other martyrs, they are represented with the instruments of their torture; St Andrew with a cross, St Paul with a sword, St Lawrence with the gridiron; Mary is represented with her dead Son in her arms; for He alone was the instrument of her martydrom and compassion, and compassion for Him made her the Queen of Martyrs....