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Of the Compassion of the Virgin Mother for her Son.

O Blessed Mother of God, and ever Virgin Mary, where is the heart that can conceive how heavy must have been the cross and the affliction which thou didst suffer on that sad night, when thy dear Son, the only comfort of thy heart, was given into the hands of wicked men, and was forsaken by His own disciples! We may indeed believe, O sweet Mother, since thou wert full of the Holy Ghost, that thou sawest in spirit all that sorrow and torment which thine only Son underwent on that fearful night. For as for the sake of man’s salvation He would not spare His own fair, and young, and blooming Body, but rather deliver it to death, so He spared not that Mother’s heart of thine, 160but suffered it to be pierced by the sword of sorrow. Hence, also, He foretold thee all His Passion, that He might make thee share in all His merits and afflictions, and that thou mightest cooperate in the work of man’s redemption, so that thy maternal breasts, filled with all merits, might ever have ready the milk of grace, and pour it forth in all abundance on every one who presseth them by devout prayer.

O Mary, Mother most sad, how bitter, how sorrowful was that night to thee, when Simeon’s sword pierced into thy heart! How mournful then was the song of thy matin-prayers! Thy hymn was a hymn of woe; instead of jubilee, thou didst utter groans, and thy spirit was full of anguish. Oh! how sad were the words, how pitiable the sighs, yet how fiery, that thou didst send up to thy Father in heaven! With how fervent and devout a heart didst thou pray to the Father of heaven for thy Son, offering and commending Him wholly unto Him. And although in the body thou wert not near thy Son, yet all that thou knewest Him to suffer, pierced thy heart as much as if thou hadst suffered it in thine own body; and thy very heart burned within thee as in a burning furnace, and melted away, and withered up, for exceeding burning love and the wasting flame of thy affection and thy cross. Who can conceive how fiery were thy words, 161how glowing were the sparks which thy heart of fire sent up all that night long? Peradventure thou didst utter some such words as these: ‘O Jesus, my Son, my sweet Son Jesus, who hath taken Thee from me? Who hath torn a Mother from so dear a pledge of love? Why cannot I see Thee, O longed for light of mine eyes? Who will give to me, O Jesus, my child, that I may suffer for Thee, die for Thee? O Jesus, only comfort of my heart, why did I not go with Thee to death? Why did I not straightway follow Thee, when Thou wentest away? O sweet Jesus, dear Sons where art Thou passing this night? In whose hands art Thou? What art Thou now suffering! Oh! if those raging dogs would only vomit forth their cruelty on me, and let Thee go Thy way unhurt! O Jesus, my hope, my nourishment, my sweet delight, why have I not died for Thee, that I might not now see in Thee all the sorrow of my heart? For sweeter would it have been to die, than to see Thee, my sweet and only Son, in such great distress. O my Jesus, my life, my nourishment, the help of my soul, my sweetness and consolation, where now is the promise of Thine angel, when he said to me, that I should become Thy Mother without woe, full of grace, blessed above the rest of women? Of a truth I seem to be the most unhappy of all 162women, whom the world containeth; a Mother above all mothers that have been ever found, full of most bitter sorrow My affliction is indeed exceeding great, my heart overfloweth with bitterness, my spirit fainteth for anguish, and my sorrow is above woman’s sorrow.

These and such like words did Christ’s blessed Mother pour forth all that night long, and wore herself away in tears, and sighs, and tender complaints, and lamentations. And just as all that night Christ was never without the cross, so was His sweet Mother never for one moment free from fearful sorrow. O Mary, most faithful Mother, with what courage didst thou then follow thy Son? How hath that love, which by its fire had urged thy Son, to hasten of His own accord to the place, where the cup of bitterness was waiting for Him, moved thee too, to hasten where the sword of grief hung ready sharpened to pierce through thy Virgin heart into the inmost recesses of thy soul? O glorious Queen of heaven! how sadly wert thou led along the way by thy friends! How didst thou move them all to tears by that sad voice of thine! Who can conceive how sorrowful was this thy journey? For the nearer thou camest to the city, the deeper wert thou plunged in thy grief. Nor can we doubt, that so long didst thou continue on the way, until thou camest into the presence 163of thy Son, either as He was being led to Herod, or as He was being brought back from Herod to Pilate, or as Pilate was bringing Him forth to the people, saying: “Behold the Man.” Who can understand the sorrow that seized thee, when thou sawest that same only Son of thine, so cruelly bound, so wickedly disfigured by blows, and spittle, and blood, that almost He seemed to have lost the form of man? Indeed, it is wholly probable, that our loving Lord looked at His sweet Mother as calmly as He could, and spoke by loving look what He could not say in words. But, O gentle Mother, how did thy heart then melt away within thee, like wax in the heat of the fire? How wert thou then utterly dissolved in tears? Yet, as these things are not found in the Evangelists, it is not expedient for many to dwell upon them. But the things that here have been written, have been written to excite in us devotion and compassion for the Blessed Virgin. For the rest, each one can and ought to meditate upon them still more thoroughly, and more deeply, in his own heart.

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