The Seven Sorrows
Volume I/ Issue 6/ September 2016
From the Editorial Desk:
We are always trying to make the Olive Tree News Letter a little more interesting. So this month we added a few more things. Not only do we have our three devotions. But we have an article called "The Pope Speaks". We also have a review on out print Traditional Catholic books that we reprint and sale at our three books stores: Brother Hermenegilds Spiritual Bookshelf, Pope Michaels Books, and Christ the King Library. The review will be called simply, Catholic books in Exile.
Also I have added a Catechism Lesson that you can share with others either in a class you teach or maybe you would like to copy and email to somebody else!
We will continue to keep you up to date News about with trips we will be taking and Prayer Request.
Got questions? We will have a Question and Answer article where people have asked a question and we do our best to give an answer. Plus humor from our Frog Hollow Seminary, and a joke and religious comic strip thrown in here and there.
And last but not least in our "Living Catholic" article each month, we will give you Principles of Life that can help you live out the your Catholic Faith. Articles that are practical, and insightful.
Hope you enjoy it!
Frater Francis Dominic
Questions and Answers
What are these other groups, sedevacantists and SSPX and so on?
Anyone who accepts Vatican 2’s teachings and the conciliar “popes” professes communion with the conciliar church in the Vatican. This includes many churches today one might see who claim to be Catholic, and which were probably actually Catholic if they existed prior to 1958.
There are those in the “indult” groups of “latin mass” communities which accept Francis as “pope” (as of this writing in 2015), including the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) and “latin mass” locations listed on the Ecclesia Dei Commission listings. Then there is the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) which rejects Vatican 2 but accepts the conciliar claimants to the papacy.
There are a few priests who have the same views on who is pope and Vatican 2 and operate in a similar way to the SSPX and call themselves “independent” priests.
Sedeprivationists believe that conciliar claimants to the papacy are “material, but not formal” popes. They believe the conciliar elections had some validity but that the person elected did not totally become pope. Sedevacantists believe that there is currently no pope. Among sedevacantists, some reject sedevacantist clergy and are called “home aloners”, as they stay at home and pray for the situation to be rectified today.
Then there are conclavists, which generally refers to sedevacantists who have held a papal election. Pope Michael’s election is the first serious conclavist election which we can verify. A few elections followed after his, with some resigning or otherwise dying of old age with no successor.
From the above mentioned indult to sedevacantist groups mentioned, we sometimes call these “traditionalism” to refer to in a sense another group of churches distinct from the conciliar church, but which we do not consider to be the Catholic Church.
The Pope Speaks
Plan to Move the Church Forward
Saint Mathias said: “We must wholly subdue the body through mortification, subjecting it to the spirit of the crucified Jesus.”
This is an excellent reminder in the holy season of Lent. Let us look up at the Crucifix and see what Jesus did for us to save us from ourselves. And what does He ask in return. Search the Scriptures for His words and we will see Jesus gives us some specific instructions on how to live our lives. Let us undertake to live a life in conformity to the will of Jesus.
We would also like to ask everyone for prayers for the Church in this holy season of Lent.
"Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, end the Great Apostasy."
The Great Apostasy will end, when God chastises the world. Some are now speculating this may come as soon as October of next year, which sees two anniversaries. On October 13th, we will celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the miracle of the sun at Fatima. How many of us are praying and doing penance as the Blessed Virgin Mary asked us to do? October 31st sees the five hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the Age of Apostasy with the beginning of the Protestant Revolt. On that day, the Church entered the fifth age, the Church of Sardis. The chastisement is the transition to the sixth age, the Church of Philadelphia or brotherly love. Of course, we should already show love for our neighbor now in preparation for moving into the next age of the Church.
Mortification is essential to ending the effects of the Great Apostasy in our own hearts,...
and if we look carefully, we will find it there.
Also We are working on the plan for moving the Church forward. If you are interested in being informed, send Us a message with your email address, and We will keep you informed of the plan.
Tracing Problems to Root Causes
Every one has problems in life. Sometimes they can be over whelming. I have found out that most of my problems are what I call surface problems. And most of those will disappear when I take care of the root problems.
Surface Problems: surface problems are the visible results of inward conflict.
(James 4:1) From whence are wars and contentions among you? Are they not hence, from your concupiscences (a desire of the lower appetite contrary to reason), which war in your members?
Some results of this inner conflict are Illnesses, wrong priorities,financial problems, lying, stealing, cheating, arguing.
Surface Causes: surface causes are the inward results of building our live and affections around that which is only temporal.
( I Timothy 6:9) For they that will become rich, fall into temptation, and into the snare of the devil, and into many unprofitable and hurtful desires, which drown men into destruction and perdition.
Some examples of surface causes are Insecurity, worry, anger, envy, jealousy, tension.
Surface problems are just that....surface. They are only signs of a Root problem.
Root Problems: These problems are actually at the source of multitudes of surface problems and surface causes. When these are solved many surface problems and causes are also resolved.
An illustration of a Root problem is greed for money and possessions. Believing that a man's life consists in the things which he possesses. You dont have to have possessions or money to have a greed for them. Just see what happens when you don't have any money or you don't have a possession you think you need.
(I Timothy 6:10) For the desire of money is the root of all evils; which some coveting have erred from the faith, and have entangled themselves in many sorrows.
(Proverbs 28:22) A man, that maketh haste to be rich, and envieth others, is ignorant that poverty shall come upon him.
Root Causes: The root problems are a result of a root cause.
And that cause is resisting God's grace. Grace is that which God gives us to follow His principle of life, (which we find from Scripture and the Church), principle that are both temporal and eternal.
We can see the root causes when we refuse to dedicate our personal rights and possessions, or the lack there of, to God. We get the ideal that these rights and possessions belong to us, and that we have the final right to use them as we choose.
These surface and root problems show a lack of maturity as Catholics and as men and women.
Catechism Catch Up!
Who made the world?
God made the world.
(Genesis 1:1) In the beginning God created heaven, and earth.
(Hebrews 11:3a) By faith we understand that the world was framed by the word of God;
(Colossians 1:6) For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and in him.
Who is God?
God is the creator of heaven and earth and all things.
In Genesis 1:1 we see God created everything in the heavens and in the earth.
The very first verse of the Bible reads: ‘In the beginning God (plural) created (singular) the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 1:1). Moses, the author of Genesis under the direction of the Holy Spirit, chose to use the Hebrew plural term elohim for God, rather than the singular el or the singular poetic form eloah. But he does use the singular form of the verb ‘created’!
Besides elohim, Moses also used other plural forms with reference to God in Genesis. Genesis 1:26 reads, ‘Then God said, “Let us make [plural] man in our [plural] image.”’ Here Moses uses the singular verb ‘said’, but quotes God as using a plural verb and a plural pronoun with reference to Himself.
How do we explain God being plural and yet a singular?
- God the Father- Genesis 1:1
- God the Son- John 1:1-3
- God the Holy Ghost- Genesis 1:2
(II Corinthians 13:13) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the charity of God, and the communication of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.
(Matthew 28:19) Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
* a imperfect illustration is the egg.*
What is man?
Man is a creature composed of a body and soul, and made to the image and likeness of God.
(Genesis 1:26,27) And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him:
If God is “us” in Gen. 1:26-27, and “us” is the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, then man is created in the image of all three.
(I Thessalonians 5:23) And may the God of peace himself sanctify you in all things; that your whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Somehow, the soul, spirit, are connected and interrelated. And yet can be separated.
(Hebrews 4:12) For the word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Our Body's are the temple of the Holy Ghost
(I Corinthians 6:19) Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own?
The Jewish Temple had two rooms the outer court and the inner court. Within the inner court is the Holy of Holys. So we have a picture of outer court (The body) the inner court (The soul) and within the inner court the Holy of Holys (spirit).
How is the soul like God?
- It is a spirit. You can't see your soul.
(John 4:24) God is a spirit; and they that adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth.
( I John 4:12) No man hath seen God at any time.
- My soul will never die.
- My soul has understanding it has the gift of reasoning.
- My soul has free will.
Why did God make me?
- To know him-
(John 17:3) Now this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
What does it mean to know God? To get to know how he thinks, what his desires for us are etc
- To love him-
(John 14:21) He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
- To serve him-
When you serve your brethren you serve God.
(Matthew 25:31-40) And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.
(I Corinthians 12:27) Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member.
Of which should we take care of more our soul or our body?
(I Timothy 4:8) For bodily exercise is profitable to little: but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
(I Corinthians 6:19-20) Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own? For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body.
Why must we take care of our soul more then our body?
(see I Timothy 4:8)
Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.
What must we do to save our souls?
Salvation is not a one time experience. It is on going. In other words, there is a Past a Present and a Future in the salvation of a Christian.
(Romans 5:10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled (Past) to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled (Present), shall we (Future) be saved by his life.
- Realize we are a sinner.
(Romans 5:12) Wherefore as by one man (Adam) sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.
- Believe on Jesus as the one who bore your sin, died in your place, was buried, and whom God resurrected.
(John 1:12) but as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.
(Acts 3:19) Be penitent, (repent) therefore, and be converted (turn back or change your mind), that your sins may be blotted out.
- You must desire and seek to be baptized
(Acts 2:38) Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins:and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
- You must be subject to Jesus' holy Church
(I Corinthians 12:27-28)
"Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member. And God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors; after that miracles; then the graces of healing, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches."
- Keep the Commandments of God
(John 14:15) "If you love me, keep my commandments."
- Keep Holy the Lord's Day
(Exodus 31:15) "Six days shall you do work: in the seventh day is the sabbath, the rest holy to the Lord. Every one that shall do any work on this day, shall die."
(Acts 20:7) "And on the first day of the week, when we were assembled to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, being to depart on the morrow: and he continued his speech until midnight."
- Hear the Word of God
(Luke 11:27-28) "And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it. "
How shall we know the things we are to believe?
HOW GOD SPEAKS TO US
As from the first, God speaks to his Church through the Sacred Scripture and through Sacred Tradition. To make sure we understand him, he guides the Church’s teaching authority—the magisterium—so it always interprets the Bible and Tradition accurately. This is the gift of infallibility.
Like the three legs on a stool, the Bible, Tradition, and the magisterium are all necessary for the stability of the Church and to guarantee sound doctrine.
- Sacred Tradition
Sacred Tradition should not be confused with mere traditions of men, which are more commonly called customs or disciplines. Jesus sometimes condemned customs or disciplines, but only if they were contrary to God’s commands
(Mark 7:6-9) But he answering, said to them: Well did Isaias prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and precepts of men. For leaving the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, the washing of pots and of cups: and many other things you do like to these. And he said to them: Well do you make void the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition.
He never condemned Sacred Tradition, and he didn’t even condemn all human tradition.
Sacred Tradition and the Bible are not different or competing revelations. They are two ways that the Church hands on the gospel. Apostolic teachings such as the Trinity, infant baptism, the inerrancy of the Bible, purgatory, and Mary’s perpetual virginity have been most clearly taught through Tradition, although they are also implicitly present in (and not contrary to) the Bible.
(2 Thess. 2:14) Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.
(1 Cor. 11:2) Now I praise you, brethren, that in all things you are mindful of me: and keep my ordinances as I have delivered them to you.
Sacred Tradition should not be confused with customs and disciplines, such as the rosary, priestly celibacy, and not eating meat on Fridays in Lent. These are good and helpful things, but they are not doctrines. Sacred Tradition preserves doctrines first taught by Jesus to the apostles and later passed down to us through the apostles’ successors, the bishops.
Scripture, by which we mean the Old and New Testaments, was inspired by God
(2 Tim. 3:16) All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice,
The Holy Ghost guided the biblical authors to write what he wanted and how he wanted them to write. For example, God wanted a Gospel that was written with a doctors point of view, so the Holy Ghost guided Luke to be the author of the Gospel of Luke as well as the book of Acts of the Apostles. Since God is the principal author of the Bible, and since God is truth itself (John 14:6) and cannot teach anything untrue, the Bible is free from all error in everything it asserts to be true.
Some Christians claim, "The Bible is all I need," but this notion is not taught in the Bible itself. In fact, the Bible teaches the contrary idea.
(2 Pet. 1:20–21) Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation.
- The Magisterium
Together the pope and the bishops form the teaching authority of the Church, which is called the magisterium (from the Latin for "teacher"). The magisterium, guided and protected from error by the Holy Spirit, gives us certainty in matters of doctrine. The Church is the custodian of the Bible and faithfully and accurately proclaims its message, a task which God has empowered it to do.
Keep in mind that the Church came before the New Testament, not the New Testament before the Church.
Divinely-inspired members of the Church wrote the books of the New Testament, just as divinely-inspired writers had written the Old Testament, and the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit to guard and interpret the entire Bible, both Old and New Testaments.
Such an official interpreter is absolutely necessary if we are to understand the Bible properly. (We all know what the Constitution says, but we still need a Supreme Court to interpret what it means.)
The magisterium is infallible when it teaches officially because Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles and their successors "into all truth".
I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now. But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you.
The Apostles Creed chiefly sums up the teachings of the Church.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen. (see explanation in Baltimore Catechism 3 pg 18-26)
Your Soul's Salvation
“NOT long ago a devout Catholic girl asked us to write something for the guidance of those who, as she expressed it, were called to the third vocation, that is, to a life of virginity and of service in the world. There are, she explained, so many Catholic girls nowadays who have no mind or no opportunity to enter the religious life, and who, on the other hand, wish to strive bravely for perfection and to do something more than ordinary for God and their neighbor. Many of the spiritual books that they read speak as though the vows of religion and matrimony exhausted the possible vocations for women, and so they are puzzled sometimes to know whether their own state is one that enters into the plans of Providence, or whether the only state they can aspire to is that which the world in the spirit of ridicule has called the life of an "old maid." “To begin with, it is quite clear that women are no more bound than men to enter the state either of religion or of matrimony. Possibly the reason that the old-time writers sometimes seemed to teach a contrary doctrine was that in the circumstances of their time there appeared to be little place for women save in the cloister or the home.” How many consider the single state as a true vocation for some people? Let us consider this also on the morning exercise: “Besides the Morning Offering, there is another most blessed and fruitful practice which we should all resolve upon and which begins at the waking hour. It is called by spiritual writers the exam en of conscience, and it is practised in this way: After we have offered our thoughts and words and acts to God, we cast a glance over the coming day and make a strong and earnest purpose to serve God faithfully all during the hours.”-Rev Edward F Garesche SJ
In this little volume.....
the author informs us that it is one of a group of little books designed to provide for Catholics a book that will help them in not only their own spiritual advancement, but also the spiritual advancement of their sisters and brothers in Christ and for the the defense and spread of the Church.
Rev Edward F Garesche SJ also says that an informal direct and chatty discussion between the writer and the reader is aimed at rather than any lofty or obscure and insincere words.
The short instructions on personal holiness which are contained in Your Soul's Salvation have for the most part appeared in the author's magazine The Queen's Work under the heading "The Month's Thought" It may be said about the book, that it is thought provoking.
Each chapter is so short that it may be read in a few moments but it is so meaty that it furnishes nourishing food for the mind and normal healthy growth. As one reviewer said, "This is better than to store up matter for the exercise of the memory only which may come into our possession for a time and then pass out again without becoming really our own or leaving any permanent trace behind."
Go to Christ The King Library for more information on this book.
Mary's Sorrows- The prophecy of Simeon, The flight into Egypt, The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple
Sorrow either softens our heart or hardens it. In the Blessed Virgin Mary sorrow softened her heart, making her the compassionate Mother of Mercy. And so let us contemplate the first three of Mary's sorrows, those which came before the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. And let us ask Mary to intercede with God to soften our own hearts.
And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; and thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed. (Luke 2:34-5)
In a devotion to the Seven Sorrows we read: “I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the affliction of thy tender heart at the prophecy of the holy and aged Simeon. Dear Mother, by thy heart so afflicted, obtain for me the virtue of humility and the gift of the holy fear of God.”
First of all, notice that Mary has a tender heart, which is contrasted to a hard heart.
Let us consider well whether we have a tender heart.
And I will give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you a heart of flesh. (Ezechiel 36:26)
Notice that God gives us a heart of flesh or a tender heart. It is not something we can do ourselves. So let us pray that God will do this heart transplant on us!
And after they were departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him. Who arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod: That it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called my son. (Matthew 2:13-15)
Consider the difficulty of this journey. It was over four hundred miles. Today we can cross such terrain in less than a day, but they had to walk. This journey with a small child would have taken months. Consider the tender heart of this mother, who desired to give her Divine Son all that she could in the way of comfort. Now she was deprived of this. Herod sought His life.
And notice that God calls His Son out of Egypt. We are also called out of Egypt, which represents the world and into the Promised Land, that is to Heaven. And the Promised Land here on earth is Christ's Church.
Let us return to the devotion: “I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the anguish of thy most affectionate heart during the flight into Egypt and thy sojourn there. Dear Mother, by thy heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of generosity, especially towards the poor, and the gift of piety.” Let us also grieve, when we find ourselves in Egypt, and long to return home to Almighty God.
And his parents went every year to Jerusalem, at the solemn day of the pasch, and when he was twelve years old, they going up into Jerusalem, according to the custom of the feast, and having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and his parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day's journey, and sought him among their kinsfolks and acquaintance. And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers. And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business? And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. (Luke 2:41-51)
Imagine losing track of God!
As parents, Mary and Joseph had responsibility from Almighty God for His Divine Son, and now they have lost Him! Consider what they must have wondered. Had His Passion already begun, because of their carelessness?
How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business?
Mary kept these words in her heart and pondered them. And this is what we are called to do.
They have laid it waste, and it hath mourned for me. With desolation is all the land made desolate; because there is none that considereth in the heart. (Jeremias 12:11)
The land becomes desolate, when we do not consider in the heart, that is take to heart the teachings of the Gospels as Mary did. This is how we transform ourselves from carnal to spiritual. Only when we open our hearts to the voice of God as Mary did, can we become spiritual. And let us also follow Mary in doing God's will, for our salvation depends not only on taking these things to heart, but then in performing God's will in our lives.
When we have a decision to make, our only questions should be: What is God's will for me in this case?
And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. (Luke 1:38)
This was Mary's Rule of Life, and it should also be ours, even if it brings us to sorrows, as it did for Mary. Let us learn from Mary how we should handle sorrow in total conformity to God's most holy will.
The Sorrows of Mary: Meeting on the Via Dolorosa and the Crucifixion
"En dilectus meus loquitur mihi: Surge, propera amica mea, columba mea, formosa mea, et veni."
"Behold my beloved speaketh to me: Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come." - Canticle of Canticles 2:10
The words directed to the beloved in Solomon's Canticle of Canticles have been lifted up by the voice of the Church since time immemorial in her Liturgy, most especially in those Liturgies celebrated on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Church gives us an example that just as the beloved is called in the Canticle of Canticles to make haste to follow her love, so also our Lady was called to follow her Divine Son.
In the following of Christ in this vale of tears, one will inevitable find sorrow.
Our Lord Himself, by whom all things were made, tells us when his hour had come, "Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death. Stay you here and watch with me." (St. Matthew 26:38) So also our Blessed Lady, in her following of her Divine Son, was to encounter sorrow upon sorrow. This was foretold by the holy Prophet Simeon, "And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed." (St. Luke 2:35)
Note that this sorrow is not a vain suffering, though. For as Saint Paul assures us, "For the sorrow which is according to God, worketh lasting penance unto salvation: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." (2 Corinthians 7:10)
It is therefore quite useful as we work out our salvation "with fear and trembling," (Philippians 2:12), that we consider, meditate upon, and unite ourselves with the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin, given to us as a Mother by our Blessed Lord Himself upon the Cross, so that we might avail ourselves of that "lasting penance unto salvation" in the form which was prophesied unto our Lady, so that out of our own hearts, and "thoughts may be revealed."
In this brief article, dear soul, we are going to consider two of the sorrows of our Lady: our Lady meeting our Blessed Lord on his way to Calvary, and our Lady standing at the foot of the Cross.
Firstly, let us consider that most sorrowful meeting of our Lord and his most blessed Mother as our Lord carried the life-giving Cross towards Calvary.
This meeting between Mother and Son has ever been a source of untold meditation and contemplation, a storehouse for the faithful of graces and treasures untold. Yet it is not without its controversy. This is only to be expected, of course, when dealing with something so sublime and so productive of conversion. So before we get to the business of actual consideration of the sorrowful meeting of Mother and Son, let us very briefly look at the controversy. Further, let us look at how to avoid it in our own devotion.
On the one hand, there are those who will - quite correctly - point out that there is no mention of this meeting within the scriptures. According to this judgment, some have even removed reference to the meeting between Mother and Divine Son from their devotions. So you will find versions of the Way of the Cross which omit the meeting commonly found at the fourth station, or (much more rarely) devotions to the Seven Dolours which give not even a passing mention to the meeting.
There is a danger in this spirit of elision, that is a spirit of omission, which seeks to reject a devotion received and passed through centuries. We should hope to combat that spirit here in a small way, while also rejecting the contrary spirit.
For counter to the spirit of elision, there is another spirit which - in its way - is far more insidious. This is the spirit of rash curiosity. This spirit will cause the faithful soul to receive devotion to the sorrowful meeting of Mother and Son with all speed and willfulness. But merely to receive it is not enough for this soul. No, this soul wants to know more, wants to speculate, wants to go beyond what has been passed down. They seek special "enlightenment", special "revelation," so that they might, in their own opinion, grow deeper in devotion.
When one begins to speculate, when one begins to seek out devotion beyond that which has been passed down, one walks an exceptionally dangerous path.
The devils are ever ready to provide a thousand convincing fantasies to lead us away from that which has been received from the beginning.
Further, one does not even need to involve the devils. An over-active imagination can conjure up any number of seemingly holy scenes and insightful information regarding the sacred. The danger comes then, as one begins to contemplate and meditate upon these imagined scenarios. In doing this, we make the products of our imagination into the very objects of our devotion. We move from contemplating that which is real to contemplating that which we ourselves have made. In our pretense of becoming more devoted, we have succumbed to making our own creations the object of our devotion. Dear, dear soul, beware! A thousand times beware of this trap, which seeks to snare those of devotion.
So, at this point, we might rightly ask: What do we do? We started out here talking about a couple of the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin, then briefly mentioned the sorrowful meeting between our Lady and our Lord, and then went off on a tangent about meditation or something or other. Where does this lead?
It leads us to where we ought to be as we begin consideration of the sorrowful meeting. It is beyond historical doubt that our Lord and our Blessed Lady did meet each other during the way of the Cross. We can know this for the simple fact that we know that our Blessed Lady was at the foot of the Cross. Saint John tells us, as an eyewitness, "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene." (Gospel according to St. John 19:25). Further, our Lord speaks to the Blessed Mother and to Saint John from the Cross. We will be considering this in just a few moments.
So, avoiding both elision and unbridled curiosity, how are we to contemplate the sorrowful meeting? How does one cultivate devotion?
One does this in exactly the same way that the Holy Gospels themselves do so. In silence. There are things even in this world which are beyond description, which are beyond words. Can a father or mother adequately define in words the love they hold for their children? Are there words that precisely and clinically encompass joy? Is it possible to encapsulate sorrow in a paragraph? So much more, are there any created words which could begin to express what one witnesses at the sorrowful meeting of Mother and Son? I would propose that it is beyond expression. Simply be in its presence.
There are likewise things which we are not to know. The inner thoughts of our Lord and our Lady at the sorrowful meeting are theirs. They communicate heart to heart. These thoughts are not recorded by the evangelists. They are not communicated to us in mere words. Do not seek them with curiosity. Rather, place yourself there. Be. Receive the grace which is offered through the Immaculate Heart pierced by the sword of sorrow: that your own thoughts may come forth from your heart unto repentance. It is here that we can begin to make a start at sanctification, as we ourselves meet the Lord in his way of the Cross. Here we are adopted, our thoughts are taken and we ourselves are given the grace and strength to follow along to the very foot of the Cross, at the side of the Sorrowful Mother.
As we walk toward Calvary, if we find that we do need any words, if we do need any message from the Blessed Mother, let us hear, then, what she has said: "He hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is his name." (Gospel according to St. Luke 1:48-49) For in the sorrowful meeting, truly the Creator of heaven and earth did regard the humility of his handmaid. In the wordless communication between the hearts of Mother and Son, the Eternal Word has truly done great things. We fly to be present at the sorrowful meeting, taking place with her whom we call Blessed to this day, whose own Immaculate Heart can open our hearts, so that we might have the grace of repentance. If we need words, let us take these with us. Now let us journey onward...
We come to the next sorrow which we are to consider together today. That is the sorrow of our Blessed Lady as she stands at the foot of the life-giving Cross.
Now, this is a scene well known to all who have made a reading of the accounts of the passion of our Lord. Here we have the eyewitness account of Saint John himself, as we have heard. "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus, therefore, saw his mother, and the disciple standing, whom he loved, he saith to his mother; Woman, Behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple; Behold thy mother. And from that hour the disciple took her to his own." (Gospel according to St. John 19:25-27)
Having made ourselves present at the most sorrowful meeting of Mother and Son along the way of the Cross, now we likewise present ourselves upon Calvary. Here, too, words will fail in expressing the import of the presence of the Mother of God at the foot of the Cross, the Creator Himself hanging in bitter agony.
But from the Cross, we hear the words of Christ. "Woman, Behold thy son." With these words, our Lord entrusts his Blessed Mother to the care of his faithful Apostle, Saint John, and through Saint John, unto the entire Church. Even to the present day, when we seek the grace of an open heart, the grace of repentance, the grace which is promised through the work of the Immaculate Heart, we can truly do so only within the care of the Church.
Likewise, our Lord addresses Saint John, and again through him the entire Church, "Behold thy mother." Here we have a truth of the faith, a divine revelation, directly from the mouth of our Saviour, delivered to Apostolic care, which in turn has been delivered to us through the ages. When on Good Friday we hear the Passion according to Saint John being proclaimed at the Mass of the Presanctified, the voice of the Church herself proclaims once again to her children the mystery of the motherhood of the Mother of God herself over all who are members of Christ within the Church. And here we see brought together the great aspects of our meditation and devotion on these two sorrows of the Blessed Mother: our presence, our silence, our hearts being opened, our thoughts proceeding from our opened hearts, our following of Christ even to Calvary, and the final sublime mystery of incorporation into the Church, finding ourselves both under the care of our Lady, but also enjoined to care for her, as well.
We receive grace in being under her care. We exercise our care for her by our presence with her, in every meeting with Christ, in every trial we ourselves face, and in our reception of that faith once delivered to the Apostles by the Lord Himself. In every meditation, in every devotion, and above all in every liturgical action, the call of the beloved becomes our call as well: "Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come."
Come, dear soul! Our Lord calls to you from the Cross!
The Sorrows of Mary: Jesus Taken From the Cross and His Burial
I remember back when I saw Mel Gibson’s “The Passion” when it was released. Like all of you who saw this production, I was moved with sorrow and grief at seeing the visual portrayal of the brutal treatment of Our Lord. Mel Gibson was able, it seems to me, to vividly portray the sorrowful and cruel series of events depicting the Passion of Our Lord. In this sense, this movie presentation helped to portray some of the sorrows that Our Lady was forced to endure in regards to her Son.
Just as throughout His life, Our Lady followed the cruel events leading up to His death. One of the titles that Our Lady has been given is “Our Lady of Sorrows,” or “Sancta Mater Dolorosa.” One of the devotions in regards to Our Lady of Sorrows has to do with the “Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.” These, of course, refer to the Seven Sorrows Our Lady endured in regards to her Son. The final two sorrows in this devotion, the Sixth and Seventh Sorrows, we will deal with in this short essay: “Our Lord’s Descent from the Cross;” and the “Burial of Our Lord.”
Our Lord’s Descent from the Cross
After His Crucifixion, we hear in St. Matthew’s Gospel, the taking down from the Cross:
And when it was evening, there came a certain rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate, and asked the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded that the body should be delivered. And Joseph taking the body, wrapped it up in a clean linen cloth. (St. Matthew 27:57-59)
As mentioned earlier, how can any of us ever imagine the intense pain that Our Lady felt for her Son during the events of His Passion? After everything that she had seen . . . after all the pain that she had endured . . . . what emotions must she have felt as she saw her Son taken down from the Cross? Pain. Sorrow. Grief. Agony. And, yes, most certainly even relief. Relief that Her Son’s torture was finished. Relief that His pain was over. Our Lady now wanted most to see her Son taken down from the Cross, taken down from the instrument of His Death. Surely, she did not want to see her Son left up on the Cross to continue the shame and agony He was forced to endure from those who hated Him. As with all mothers who love their children so dearly, she did not want to see her child treated with such contempt and hatred.
What lesson can we learn that Our Lady has taught us?
As Christians, we learn to have compassion for Our Lord in this world. You see, Our Lady had no power over the forces that caused her Son’s death. She could not stop the tragic series of events that led to her Son hanging on that Cross. And yet she could do the one thing that she did His entire life: try to comfort Him as best as she could. Mothers tend to do that, don’t they? So often, our mothers are there to comfort us when we are hurting the most. And so often they do not know what to do to relieve us of our pain other than they do the one thing that they do best: they embrace us and hold us while we are grieving. They hold us to let us know that we have someone with us when we hurt. They embrace us to let us know that we have someone who loves us. This is what Our Lady did when her Son was brought down from the Cross. She did the thing that came naturally to her and to all mothers . . . . she embraced her Son even in His death.
We too should learn to comfort Our Lord when He is offended.
Like Mary, so often we will not have the power to stop those in the world from offending Our Blessed Saviour. But like Mary we can do what comes natural: show love and devotion to Our Blessed Saviour. When we hear of Our Lord being mocked and hated in this world, embrace Our Lord and show Him your love. This is what Our Lady did at the foot of the Cross: she supported her Son when all others had left. Thus, when we see Our Lord so cruelly treated by those around us in the world, embrace Our Lord and hold on to Him. Support Him by showing Him how much you love Him.
The Burial of Christ
From St. John’s Gospel, we hear:
They took therefore the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths, with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now there was in the place where he was crucified, a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein no man yet had been laid. There, therefore, because of the parasceve of the Jews, they laid Jesus, because the sepulchre was nigh at hand. (St. John 19:40-42)
Our Lady and the disciples of Our Lord buried Him with much care and compassion. Keep in mind that surely each one of them that had gathered there must have been dealing with a whole host of emotions: grief, agony, sorrow, confusion, . . . . And yet despite this whole host of emotions present in each one of them, they buried Our Lord with great compassion and love. Despite the varied limitations that were in place, we know that the disciples of Our Blessed Lord prepared a burial place with much love, dignity and respect to their Blessed Saviour. In their grief, they did their best to give Him a special resting place.
As Christians committed to Our Blessed Saviour, we too are called to prepare a special place for Him.
This is the lesson we can learn from the Seventh, and final, Sorrow of Mary: to prepare a place for Our Saviour. Even in the shadows of His Death, Mary and the Disciples prepared a special place for Our Blessed Saviour. We can follow their example by preparing a special place for Him as well. Where will this place be, you ask? The one place He wishes to be: in our hearts, of course. If we each prepare a special place in our heart for Our Lord, imagine how pleased He will be. Mary and the Disciples did their best to prepare a place for Him with as much care and devotion as they could possibly show. They did this to show their respect and love. We too must prepare a place in our heart out of respect and love for Our Blessed Lord.
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