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This Page Last Updated:

November 26, 2003


Vol. 42, Issue No. 120

Mater Dolorosa Devotion to St. Joseph Back to Previous Issues


Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother on the Way to Calvary   Can we, as children of Mary, ever forget the sorrows of our Mother? Should not our hearts ever be filled with tender compassion for the Queen of Martyrs? Let us sometimes reflect that it is we who have been the cause of Her long and cruel martyrdom, and when we have crosses to bear, let us unite them to Hers, and thus tread courageously in the footsteps of the Son and the Mother. Let us remember that "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:21)

        Alas, how little do we resemble this perfect model. A single interior trial, a single affliction, the slightest suffering, is sufficient to dishearten us and to cause us to murmur and complain. Unfortunately, we thus lose all the fruits and much of the merit of our trials and sufferings. O Dolorous Mother, teach us to think often of the sufferings of our Crucified God. At thy side, let the Cross be our support in trials, and instead of indulging in self pity, let us pray with thee: "Father, Thy Will be done!"

        Truly precious are the lessons of patience and resignation which we may learn from the contemplation of Our Lady's Dolors. Though sorrow constantly flooded Her soul, She performed all Her daily tasks sweetly and patiently, neglecting not the smallest duty, living always in perfect conformity to the Divine Will. How often do we not grow peevish and petulant in suffering! How readily do we not complain that we are made to suffer innocently and unjustly! Ah, let us raise our eyes to Mary, the sinless Mother of God, and behold in what a sea of sorrow She was immersed. Her sufferings should close the mouth of complaint forever.

        And do we not learn, when we look at Mary, that suffering is the means of producing in the soul a grand similitude to Christ? Ah, may we learn from our dear Heavenly Mother, not only to bear our sufferings silently, but to bear them with gentleness, and perhaps, in time, She may even teach us to love suffering, and to look upon it as the golden coin with which our love can repay the excessive love of Her Divine Son for us.

        Let us, then, cultivate a tender devotion to Our Blessed Lady's Dolors. We are assured that this devotion is most pleasing to Our Lord Himself, and most profitable for our own salvation. It shows us the unreality of earthly joys; it communicates to us the spirit of the Cross. And in that hour when we shall need them most – the hour of death – this devotion will prove for us a source of very special graces.

Mother Most Sorrowful, Pray for us!Mater Dolorosa
Lessons from the Queen of Martyrs

        Suffering is a general law that applies to all men without exception. The child needs no one to teach him how to cry and weep. His subsequent life will also be spent between mourning and weeping. We cannot escape suffering. It awaits where we least expect it--perhaps when we are surrounded by the greatest joys of life. Indeed, these are often just a prelude to tears. When you receive some very great joy, think that soon, perhaps, some severe shock, either physical or moral, of the body or of the soul, from within or without, will eventually strike you. It is sheer madness to want to enjoy life by merely escaping suffering. The thorns are least painful when we meet them generously. Welcome them and, above all, sanctify them and raise every sorrow or suffering to the supernatural order.

        Jesus wanted to be called the Man of Sorrows and His Mother the Queen of Martyrs. These are your models. They are the only ones who through their example can comfort you and teach you how to sanctify your trials. "Blessed be suffering", Christ has said: Blessed are those who weep; those who mourn; those who suffer. We should feel more pity for the one who does not know how to suffer, than for the one who suffers much. Our Lord made His Mother sharer of His glory, and on that account He made her also the companion of all His sufferings. The more God loves a soul, the more suffering He sends it in order to raise it to a greater glory, just as He did with His own Mother. How much did Our Lady suffer at the foot of the Cross! But how great is Mary at the foot of the Cross! What a pearl would be missing from her crown if she did not possess the pearl of suffering! It was necessary, since she was a Queen, that she should also be Queen of Suffering and of Martyrdom. And if she is Queen of Sorrows, she must have suffered more than anyone else a martyrdom that lasted a lifetime.

        To us, God sends sufferings one by one. And He keeps our future sufferings from our knowledge. We only suffer the present. But to Mary from the beginning He revealed all that she had to suffer, in order not to spare her sorrow, but that the sword of suffering should remain in her Heart her whole life through. Think of her sufferings. How deeply was she wounded by the ingratitude, by the betrayal, by the abandonment, by the indifference of which her Son was made the object. Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth, the Crib and Calvary, the Temple, the palaces of Herod and Pilate – in all those places her Heart was horribly lacerated. She even went through the loss of Jesus in order to teach us how to suffer and how to seek Him whenever we lose Him by sin. Stop and ponder over the sufferings of your Mother.

        In all those sufferings of Mary consider also their natural and human side. The measure of suffering is the intensity of love. We are pained to quit or lose what we love. The greater the love, the greater the sorrow. With this measuring rod try to gauge the sorrows of Mary. Hers was the suffering of a Mother, and that should tell you all. A mother’s love is the most pure, the most noble, the most selfless on earth. That is why God wanted us to have only one Mother. She alone suffices to fill the whole of our life with an ineffable fondness, with a cherished warmth, with the fulfilling love that sets our heart at peace. How great is the love of a mother, and then how would Our Lady love her Son! God had placed in her Heart the plenitude of the tenderness of all mothers so that she should worthily love His Only-begotten Son. Nothing else was worthy of the Son of God Who wanted to be called the Son of Man par excellence. What then would be her sorrow and desolation on the occasion of the loss of her Son!

        Think also that the Son she had lost was her only Son. She had no other with whom to console herself. And that only Son was the best of all, the most loving, as no other man ever loved. On the other hand He was also the most innocent. And yet she was losing Him as though He were a criminal. It was not a sickness, a chance accident that snatched Him away from her. It was a betrayal and ingratitude; it was a horrible injustice that cut off His young life in the midst of the most excruciating tortures, and even in her very presence!

        Think how intimate was the union which prevailed between Jesus and Mary. Her Son was verily her life, her all. This will help you to realize the enormous sorrow of the Mother.

        Moreover, it is true that sensibility has different degrees, that it varies from man to man, and that the greater the sensibility, the more fierce is the suffering. The Immaculate Mary, having such a perfect human nature, and therefore so extraordinarily sensitive, was of such an exquisite sensibility. How great, then would her sorrow be when confronted with such ingratitude, with such injustice! Ponder over these thoughts and you will see how fitting are those words of Jeremias when applied to Our Lady: "Look and see whether there is a suffering – a sorrow – comparable to mine!" Henceforth, then, enough ingratitude — cease making your Mother suffer through your sins! Love her at the cost of any sacrifice, even at the cost of your life.

Devotion to Saint Joseph

Good St. Joseph, Foster-Father of the Incarnate Word        "The holy example of Jesus Christ Who, while upon earth, honored St. Joseph so highly and was obedient to Him during His life should be sufficient to inflame the hearts of all with devotion to this Saint.

        "Since we all must die, we should cherish a special devotion to St. Joseph that he may obtain for us a happy and holy death. All Christians regard him as the advocate of the dying who assists at the hour of death those who honored him during their life, and that for three reasons:

        "First, because Jesus Christ loved him, not only as a friend, but especially as a father, and on this account his mediation is far more efficacious than that of any other saint.

        "Second, because St. Joseph has obtained special power against the evil spirits, who tempt us with redoubled vigor at the hour of death.

        "Third, the assistance given St. Joseph at his death by Jesus and Mary obtained for him the right to secure a holy and peaceful death for his servants. Hence, if they invoke him at the hour of death, he will not only help them, but he will also obtain for them the assistance of Jesus and Mary."

St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori

        "If you compare St. Joseph to the whole Church of Christ, is he not the special and chosen being of whom, and under whom, the Lord was introduced into the world with becoming dignity? If all the faithful are debtors to the Virgin Mother for being made worthy through her to receive the Redeemer, there can be no doubt that next to the Mother of God we owe to St. Joseph our special homage and veneration."

St. Bernardine of Siena

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