Thursday, September 15, 2016

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

On this day we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, or the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

File:The Madonna in Sorrow.jpg
The Madonna in Sorrow by Il Sassoferrato (+1685AD)

It was she, the Mother of God, that Simeon foretold would have her soul pierced by a sword, as we read in the Gospel according to St. Luke: "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. 35 And your own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed." (St. Luke 2:34-35).

Traditionally, Christians recall, in particular, Seven Sorrows associated with St. Mary:

  • at the prophecy of Simeon;
  • at the flight into Egypt;
  • having lost the Holy Child at Jerusalem;
  • meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary;
  • standing at the foot of the Cross;
  • Jesus being taken from the Cross;
  • at the burial of Christ.

  • The history of the feast, and the source of that list can be found here: Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Feast of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady

    Surely, however we might suffer, the Blessed Mother has endured so much more, and can thus, sympathize with our plight, and intercede for us!

    The great hymn associated with the Sorrows of Our Lady is the Stabat Mater, which I present here:
    STABAT Mater dolorosa
    iuxta Crucem lacrimosa,
    dum pendebat Filius.
    AT, the Cross her station keeping,
    stood the mournful Mother weeping,
    close to Jesus to the last.
    Cuius animam gementem,
    contristatam et dolentem
    pertransivit gladius.
    Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
    all His bitter anguish bearing,
    now at length the sword has passed.
    O quam tristis et afflicta
    fuit illa benedicta,
    mater Unigeniti!
    O how sad and sore distressed
    was that Mother, highly blest,
    of the sole-begotten One.
    Quae maerebat et dolebat,
    pia Mater, dum videbat
    nati poenas inclyti.
    Christ above in torment hangs,
    she beneath beholds the pangs
    of her dying glorious Son.
    Quis est homo qui non fleret,
    matrem Christi si videret
    in tanto supplicio?
    Is there one who would not weep,
    whelmed in miseries so deep,
    Christ's dear Mother to behold?
    Quis non posset contristari
    Christi Matrem contemplari
    dolentem cum Filio?
    Can the human heart refrain
    from partaking in her pain,
    in that Mother's pain untold?
    Pro peccatis suae gentis
    vidit Iesum in tormentis,
    et flagellis subditum.
    Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
    she beheld her tender Child
    All with scourges rent:
    Vidit suum dulcem Natum
    moriendo desolatum,
    dum emisit spiritum.
    For the sins of His own nation,
    saw Him hang in desolation,
    Till His spirit forth He sent.
    Eia, Mater, fons amoris
    me sentire vim doloris
    fac, ut tecum lugeam.
    O thou Mother! fount of love!
    Touch my spirit from above,
    make my heart with thine accord:
    Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
    in amando Christum Deum
    ut sibi complaceam.
    Make me feel as thou hast felt;
    make my soul to glow and melt
    with the love of Christ my Lord.
    Sancta Mater, istud agas,
    crucifixi fige plagas
    cordi meo valide.
    Holy Mother! pierce me through,
    in my heart each wound renew
    of my Savior crucified:
    Tui Nati vulnerati,
    tam dignati pro me pati,
    poenas mecum divide.
    Let me share with thee His pain,
    who for all my sins was slain,
    who for me in torments died.
    Fac me tecum pie flere,
    crucifixo condolere,
    donec ego vixero.
    Let me mingle tears with thee,
    mourning Him who mourned for me,
    all the days that I may live:
    Iuxta Crucem tecum stare,
    et me tibi sociare
    in planctu desidero.
    By the Cross with thee to stay,
    there with thee to weep and pray,
    is all I ask of thee to give.
    Virgo virginum praeclara,
    mihi iam non sis amara,
    fac me tecum plangere.
    Virgin of all virgins blest!,
    Listen to my fond request:
    let me share thy grief divine;
    Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
    passionis fac consortem,
    et plagas recolere.
    Let me, to my latest breath,
    in my body bear the death
    of that dying Son of thine.
    Fac me plagis vulnerari,
    fac me Cruce inebriari,
    et cruore Filii.
    Wounded with His every wound,
    steep my soul till it hath swooned,
    in His very Blood away;
    Flammis ne urar succensus,
    per te, Virgo, sim defensus
    in die iudicii.
    Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
    lest in flames I burn and die,
    in His awful Judgment Day.
    Christe, cum sit hinc exire,
    da per Matrem me venire
    ad palmam victoriae.
    Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
    by Thy Mother my defense,
    by Thy Cross my victory;
    Quando corpus morietur,
    fac, ut animae donetur
    paradisi gloria. Amen.
    While my body here decays,
    may my soul Thy goodness praise,
    safe in paradise with Thee. Amen.

    From the Liturgia Horarum. Translation by Fr. Edward Caswall (1814-1878)

    Here is that great hymn chanted:

    Finally, here is that hymn, the Stabat Mater, in a setting by Claudio Casciolini (+1760AD):

    UPDATED: The New Liturgical Movement post this article for the feast on a newly discovered aspect of the history of the sequence: New Liturgical Movement: Recent Discoveries on the Origins of the Stabat Mater

    Live well!

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