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by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

“Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus His Mother.”–St. John xix. 23.

A month ago Holy Church placed before us for our contemplation the triumphant entry of the Mother of Jesus into heaven, and invited us on the great Feast of the Assumption to glory in our Blessed Lady’s triumph and rejoice in her joy. Today Holy Church places before us for our contemplation the sorrows of the Mother of Jesus, and invites us to mourn over her sufferings and sorrow in her sorrows. One is the feast of hope, the other the feast of faith; one is of heaven, the other is of earth. And our Blessed Lady’s sorrows, being of earth, come close to us and teach us a practical lesson–sojourners as we are in a vale of tears.

Sorrow is in very truth the monarch of this lower world, and sooner or later every soul is sure to feel the touch of his sceptre. There is nothing that men find so difficult to understand and account for as the mighty wail of sorrow that rises up from generation to generation throughout the whole wide sea of mortal life, and extends to its most distant shores. What is the reason of all this suffering that exists in the world around us? is a question that has been asked day after day, and year after year, and century after century, since the first human tear fell upon the unconscious earth. And the attempt to solve this enigma of mankind has founded schools of philosophy and philanthropy, systems of religion, and methods of life, from the dawn of human history and before it to the present hour. Yet the reason of sorrow, though it has escaped the search of mankind, is not far to seek–it is sin, and sin is everywhere. On any other theory than the religious one of the probation and fall of man, this present existence is a dark and hopeless riddle. But even Christians, to whom this explanation is the first lesson of their faith, seem to lose sight of it in their practical views of life. We have not the heart to meet the stern truth face to face, and recognize that our life in this world is not a season of joy, but rather of sorrow; that we are not here to loiter through the light of a long summer day, but to endure and to labor in darkness and storm. And this is the great lesson of the feast of today.

Picture the Mother of Jesus in her early childhood, when, a fair vision of innocence, she rested in the arms of St. Ann; behold her growing up a spotless flower in the Temple of God; contemplate her in the tranquil purity and beauty of her girlhood and the bright hopes it inspired. And then behold her, a Virgin Mother, sword-pierced in the Temple, a fugitive in a foreign land, a distracted pilgrim seeking her lost Son, the mother of a persecuted, betrayed, and convicted Man, the saddest follower in that sad procession to Calvary, meeting her Son face to face on His way to death, standing by His gibbet, the witness of His ignominy, the sharer of His suffering, the partner in His sorrows, the sentinel by His Cross, the mourner over His corpse, the guardian of His tomb, and learn from her that suffering is the portion of all who follow faithfully in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ and secure His salvation. For ” Unless you take up the Cross and follow Me you cannot be My disciple.”

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