FIRST SORROWFUL MYSTERY
Besides the revealed knowledge Mary possessed, and the light upon it she had gained by pondering all things in her heart, Mary had lived with Jesus thirty years, and doubtless to such as she He would plainly tell His mind. She knew that "His hour was come and the power of darkness;" and when He went out into the moonlight, she knew that what He went forth to suffer was the vision of sin. God would bring before His agonised Humanity the crimes of every kind that cried to heaven for vengeance, the outraged love of the Creator, the horror of all rebellion, misbelief, ingratitude, uncleanness, and brutality. God would discover to the Son of man the boundless expiation needed, and would lay the weight of all the world's iniquity on Him, wringing Him with anguish. And on the other hand, satan would be mocking Him with the inefficacy of His propitiation; that in spite of it such millions would be lost, for whom He would suffer in vain.
Jesus, for love of us consenting to that dread agony, vouchsafe to hear our prayer. . . .
Mary, alone in thy heroic sorrow, bearing the woe of thy Beloved, pray for us.
SECOND SORROWFUL MYSTERY
After receiving at the hand of God the weight He came to bear, never to be lifted off His heart till all was consummated, our Lord gave Himself up to His blinded creatures that they might wreak their malice on Him, not knowing, as He pityingly said, what they did, yet knowing that no harm was found in Him, that He had walked among them blameless and merciful, the wonder-worker. Mary knew that the divine wrath was to be satisfied upon her Son in part by the hands of men, to whom "power had been given from on high." Who but the perfect creature, " the woman," the bruiser of the serpent's head, could have conquered herself as Mary did! Along with her shuddering horror at the shame and torment of her Child, there was in Mary a supernatural submission, a godlike patience, a miraculous love for the wrongdoers, even a certain glory in the mortal agony which a greater tenderness than hers had laid upon her Son and over which His love would triumph; a rapture in the never-sleeping sense that Jesus, her own, the Son of her womb, flesh of her flesh, blood of her blood, whilst the mock of wicked men, and through them suffering the wrath of God, was still, as when He made the worlds. Himself the Beatific Vision.
Jesus, submitting to endure the wrath of God at the hands of creatures, have mercy on us, hear our prayer.
O Mary, by your adoration of Him in His Passion, pray for us.
THIRD SORROWFUL MYSTERY
Besides the mortal weight of agony laid on Him by His Father in the garden, Jesus had taken at the hands of men in His scourging the chastisement of all their sensuality. When they took the reed and smote Him on the head, piercing it deep with the great acacia thorns, He, their Creator, gave them power to exact for God the atonement for all sins of pride, self-love, ambition, vanity, conceit and infidelity. For these the King of Glory wore a crown of thorns.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, our Atonement, grant our prayer. . . .
Mary, most lowly, pray for us.
FOURTH SORROWFUL MYSTERY
Mary knew by the shouts of the mob that her Son was on His way to Calvary. She waited for His passing; not to weep over Him, but to gladden Him. An ordinary woman could have so overcome herself as to be full of the same purpose, but only Mary could have cheered the Redeemer at that moment. He came along, faint, weary, goaded, stumbling; spittle and blood upon His face; bleeding, wounded, staggering under the burden He had come to bear; His heart all crushed and wrung with the weight of the wrath of God, with the horror of sin, and of the damnation of the souls that would not be redeemed. But His eyes fell on Mary; and His heart beat high remembering how spotless He had made and kept her by His present suffering; and that she was not only the perfect work of His redemption, but that now, with all this woe before her, she, by the entire conformity of her will with God's, was pressing to His lips the cup of agony, urging Him to drink it to the dregs; inspiring Him for the joy set before Him in the reconciling of the elect, in the justifying of God's love, to endure the Cross, despising the shame, that having loved His own "unto the end" He might sit down satisfied at the right hand of God.
By Thy weariness and faintness. Almighty Lord, have pity, grant our prayer. ...
Mary, Queen of martyrs, pray for us.
FIFTH SORROWFUL MYSTERY
The crowd closed round Him, yet for her support God had let Mary see in the gleam on the fact of her Son how she had solaced Him. Did she not need that thrill of joy? for she knew the horrors that would go on out of sight before her eyes should again rest on her Beloved, as the awful tree was lifted bearing the Son of God.
Except the Cross, there is no such record of heroic love as the words, "There stood by the cross of Jesus His mother." For Mary was not divine; and, besides all her agony of sympathy and the unutterable strain upon her woman's heart of willing all His torments because they were God's will, was her bitterness "most bitter." She knew that the humanity He had from her, that body of death" so ineffably one with hers," was dying now; that in His resurrection and His glory He would indeed for ever be the Son of man, and she His glorious Mother, but that, for ever, that dear, suffering life in which she had fed and clothed, caressed and waited on Him, would be ended, and that in self-sacrifice and faith, and Godlike love of souls, she must annihilate her heart. She must hear His voice give her up to be the devoted, willing mother of her fellow-creatures. His Beloved. "Woman, behold thy Son."
Be thou the channel of life and strength to the heroic; the nurse, the tender helper of the weak, the sick, the poor, the sorrowful To be made thus for ever to the Church what she had been to Jesus, was indeed a glory, but it came with the heart-break that He Himself would no more need her. Her motherhood had been, throughout, a rapture and an agony. She had accepted it knowingly, at the offer of the Archangel. She had accepted it again when she offered her Son in the temple. She had accepted it when He appealed to her knowledge among the doctors. She had accepted it when He left the unimaginable home at Nazareth and "began to preach." She had accepted it when she knew that the hour of His passion was at hand; and now, beneath His Cross, she stood herself all swallowed up in Him.
Son of man, forsaken by God, of Thy great mercy, hear us.
Mary, most desolate, pray for us.
taken from Three rosaries of our Lady (1880)
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