On the Feast of the Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary
15 September 2022
Iuxta crucem tecum stare
Et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero.
On this solemn day, on which the Church celebrates the Seven Dolors of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Sorrows, my meditation will consider the Seven Dolors, which in sacred iconography we see symbolized by seven swords that pierce the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Mother. I would like to contemplate them in relation to events taking place in the Church, of which Our Lady is Mother and Queen. And not only this: She is a type of the Church, and all that we say about the Mother of God may also be applied in some way to the Bride of the Lamb. This applies not only to the triumphs and glories of both but also to their sorrows and their participation in the Redeeming Passion of Christ.
I. Our Lady Listens to the Prophecy of Simeon in the Temple
He is here for the ruin and resurrection of many in Israel, a sign of contradiction so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And you also a sword shall transfix your soul (Lk 2:34-35). These are the words of Simeon to the Virgin, in which the Redeeming Passion of the Divine Savior and the Co-Redemption of His Most Holy Mother. But these words apply also to the Church, which is here for the ruin and the resurrection of many, and a sign for a contradiction. The Church too participates in the Mystical Body in “what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ” (Col 1:24), the new Israel, lumen ad revelationem gentium, the city set on a hill, the new Jerusalem.
For this reason we too, the sons of the Church, feel our souls pierced in seeing the Bride of the Lamb, she who is destined to be Domina gentium, ascend her Calvary, rejected like the Eternal Word by those who walk in darkness: et mundus eum non cognovit (Jn 1:10), et sui eum non receperunt (Jn 1:11). And if the Mother of God was spared the outrage which Our Lord did not want to withdraw from, it is nevertheless fitting that the Body would be scourged and humiliated by the new Sanhedrin, just as her Head was.
Quis est homo, qui non fleret,
Matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio?
II. The Flight Into Egypt
Faced with the persecution of Herod, the Virgin and Saint Joseph flee into Egypt, in order to save the Infant Jesus. Abandoning everything, they leave their house and activities, their relatives and friends, in order to protect the Lord and hide Him from the homicidal fury of Herod. Let us imagine the sorrow of the Blessed Mother in seeing the life of her Son threatened. Let us imagine the concern of Saint Joseph, exiled in a foreign land, in the midst of pagans, alone with his wife and the Infant Jesus.
We too, like persecuted Christians, are forced into exile, into flight, and into facing the thousand unknowns of having to leave our homes and our loved ones in order to save the Priesthood and the Holy Mass, the means by which the Lord perpetuates His Sacrifice. We find ourselves even having to flee from the churches, monasteries, and seminaries: because a new Herod seeks to eliminate the sign of contradiction that accuses him, and which he wants to replace with a human religion that is ecumenical, ecological, and pantheist; a Christianity without Christ, a Priesthood without a supernatural soul, a Mass without a sacrifice. This sword that pierces the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary also pierces our hearts. But just as the Flight into Egypt was relatively short, so also will our flight be; we wait for the angel to repeat to us the words he addressed to Saint Joseph: Rise, take the Child and His Mother and go to the land of Israel; because those who threatened the Child’s life are dead (Mt 2:19-20).
Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
pœnas mecum divide
III. The Finding of Our Lord in the Temple
After going to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, the Virgin and Saint Joseph join the caravan to go home, but they realize that Jesus is neither with them nor with their relatives. They search for Him for three days, returning to Jerusalem, and they find Him in the temple, with the doctors of the Law, intent on on unlocking the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament and reveal Himself to them. What torment Mary and Joseph must have felt in their fear at having lost the One of Whom the Archangel Gabriel had said: “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; the Lord God will give Him the throne of David His father, and He will reign forever over the house of Jacob, and His kingdom will have no end.” (Lk 1:32-33). Great must have been their joy in discovering the young Jesus in the temple, but during those three days of anguish without their Son next to them – He Who was always subditus illis (Lk 2:51) – all the most atrocious fears must have consumed them. Faced with these very human and authentic reactions, we ought to ask ourselves what our attitude is when, because of our sin, we also lose Jesus, Who distances Himself from us, not in order to follow His own vocation but because we have soiled the dwelling place of our soul and filled it with filth.
Looking at the present situation in which the Church finds herself, we could ask ourselves – with the words of the “prophecy” of Venerable Pope Pius XII who repeats the words of Mary Magdalene (Jn 20:13) – “Where have they placed Him?” when we enter into a church and we look in vain for a sign of the Real Presence, a red vigil lamp burning near the Tabernacle. We ask ourselves, “Where have they placed Him?” also when, attending the reformed liturgical rites, we see the “presider of the assembly” exalted, the role of the temple zealot who reads the prayer of the faithful, the religious sister without a veil who distributes Communion with ostentation; but we find no space, no centrality, no attention to God Incarnate, to the King of kings, to the Divine Redeemer present under the Eucharistic veils. We ask, “Where have they placed Him” when entering the church in which until yesterday we were guaranteed the liturgical celebration in the ancient rite, we find instead the Protestant table, and the celebrant’s chair placed in front of the empty Tabernacle. “We have been searching for You in anguish” (Lk 2:48).
Where then is the Lord? He is in the temple. In a tiny clandestine church, in a private chapel, on a makeshift altar set up in an attic or in a barn. Where Our Lord loves to remain: with those who open their hearts and their mind to His Word, allowing themselves to be healed by Him, allowing Him to heal us of the blindness of soul that prevents us from seeing Him. “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be concerned with the things of My Father?” (Lk 2:49). When we do not find Our Lord, and we abandon ourselves to anguish and desperation, we must retrace our steps and look for Him where He is waiting for us.
Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum,
ut sibi complaceam.
IV. Our Lady Meets Jesus Carrying the Cross
V. Our Lady Stands at the Foot of the Cross
VI. Our Lady Witnesses the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
Here is another Sorrow of the Virgin and of the Church: seeing Our Lord scourged, crowned with thorns, carrying the Cross, insulted, slapped, and spat upon. The Man of Sorrows on one side, the Mater Dolorosa on the other. A Mother in whom the awareness of the divinity of her Son, jealously guarded since her Fiat, tears her Heart as she contemplated the King of the Jews killed by His own people, stirred up by the High Priests and Scribes, who are the timid accomplices of the imperial authority: “The Lord God will give Him the throne of David His father and He will reign forever over the house of Jacob, and His kingdom will have no end” (Lk 1:32-33). Behold the throne of David; behold the kingdom of the house of Jacob: the Father Who accepts the offering of His Son, in the love of the Holy Spirit, in order to restore the order that was broken by Adam’s sin and expiate the infinite fault of our Progenitor. Regnavit a ligno Deus, we sing in the Vexilla Regis. It is precisely from the Cross that Christ reigns, crowned with thorns.
But if the expiatory scapegoat upon whom the faults and sins of the people were symbolically placed was made the object of contempt and sent to die outside the walls of Jerusalem, what destiny could have possibly awaited the One of whom the scapegoat was only a figure, if not to take upon Himself the sins of the world in order to wash them away in His own Blood, outside the walls of Jerusalem on Calvary? The sorrow of the Mother of God in seeing her own Son outraged and led to death earned her the title of Co-Redemptrix: “In this way she suffered and almost died with her suffering and dying Son, in this way for the sake of the salvation of men she renounced her rights as Mother over her Son and immolated Him in order to placate divine justice, so that it can rightly be said that she has redeemed the human race with Christ” (Pope Benedict XV, Inter Sodalicia).
The Church too, beginning right at the foot of the Cross with the Virgin and Saint John, had to suffer enormous sorrows in contemplating the Passion of her Lord. We too, the sons and daughters of the Church in Baptism by the grace of God, have our hearts pierced in seeing Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is treated by His own ministers, how He is considered almost a cumbersome Guest, Who removes visibility from the self-centeredness of actuosa participatio and the fanatics of ecumenical dialogue. We feel our hearts torn when we hear the highest exponents of the Hierarchy deny the divinity of Christ, His Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament, the four purposes of the Holy Sacrifice, and the necessity of the Church for eternal salvation. Because in these errors, in these heresies, in these foolish lies we read not only timidity and sordid obsequiousness towards the enemies of Christ, but the same heartbreaking and hypocritical attitude of the Sanhedrin, ready to have recourse to civil authority even to maintain a usurped administrative power contrary to the purpose for which Christ instituted it. The perversion of ecclesiastical authority is the most atrocious and heartbreaking thing that can exist, as if a son were to witness his mother’s adultery or his father’s betrayal.
Cujus animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
VII. Our Lady Receives The Body of Jesus Taken Down From The Cross in Her Arms
She who had carried the Son of the Most High in her womb and gave birth to Him in the squalor of a manger but surrounded by choirs of Angels, now finds herself having to receive the dead body of the Savior into her arms as guardian of the Immaculate Victim. How great must have been her deep and silent pain in holding the adult body of her Son Whom she had so many times clasped to her Heart as a baby and then as a little boy! The limbs from whom all life has fled will seem even heavier for she who kept Faith even while all the Apostles had fled. Mater intemerata, we say in the invocation of the Litany of Loreto – Mother undefiled – a Mother who is fearless, who is ready to do anything for her Son; a Mother whom the infernal world of the New Order hates with an inextinguishable hatred, seeing in her the invincible force of Charity, ready to immolate herself for the love of God and for the love of neighbor out of love for God. This apostate world seeks to cancel the Mater intemerata by corrupting the very image of motherhood, making the one who ought to protect the life of her child into a ruthless murderer; ruining the Mater purissima with sin, immodesty, and impurity; making femininity ugly and degrading it in order to take away from every woman anything that would remind us of the Mater amabilis.
Today, the Church suffers with Our Lady of Sorrows in being subjugated to the secularized mentality, in exalting a rebellious femininity which abhors virginity, derides conjugal holiness, demolishes the family and claims a distorted right to the equality of the sexes. Today, the Hierarchy is silent about the triumphs of Mary Most Holy and instead worships Mother Earth in the sordid infernal idol of the Pachamama. Because the Virgin and the Church are the greatest enemy of Satan; because the Virgin and the Church are the guardians of the little flock that is gathered in the Upper Room for fear of the Jews.
We offer these sufferings of ours, uniting them to those of the Church and Mary Most Holy, Our Lady of Sorrows, asking the Majesty of God to grant us the privilege of witnessing the triumph of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, just as after three days her Head rose again, even as the guards were sleeping. Then we will see the Virgin of Sorrows put on her royal robes once more, to intone the eternal Magnificat.
Fac me cruce custodiri
morte Christi praemuniri,
+ Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop
September 15, 2022
In festo Septem Dolorum B.M.V.