This week we celebrate Palm Sunday and begin Holy Week. I invite and encourage all of you to come to participate in our Triduum Services on Holy Thursday at 7 pm, Good Friday at noon or 7 pm and on Holy Saturday at 8 pm. Both today and on Good Friday we will hear the Gospels of the Passion and crucifixion of Christ. A prayer and hymn that is often associated with this, and in particular with the Stations of the Cross, is the Stabat Mater.
First written in the 13th century it is believed to be authored by either a Franciscan named Jacopone da Todi, or Pope Innocent III, or possibly various others. Through the centuries it has been given numerous musical settings by various composers and numerous translations of the Latin text also exist. The first line, “Stabat Mater dolorosa”, translates “the sorrowful mother stood”, is the name and theme of the prayer, of Mary standing at the foot of the cross. As it has been for many for centuries, maybe just reflecting on the prayer will help us realize both Mary and Christ’s love for us, and how we may unite our sorrow and love with theirs.
Mother bowed with grief appalling
must thou watch, with tears slow falling,
on the cross Thy dying son!
Through my heart, thus sorrow riven,
must that cruel sword be driven,
as foretold – O Holy One!
Oh, how mournful and oppressed
was that Mother ever-blessed,
Mother of the Spotless One:
She, whose grieving was perceiving,
all the anguish of her Son!
Is there any, tears withholding,
Christ’s dear Mother thus beholding,
in woe – like no other woe!
Who that would not grief be feeling
for that Holy Mother kneeling
what suffering was ever so?
For the sins of every nation
she beheld his tribulation,
given to scourgers for a prey:
Saw her Jesus foully taken,
languishing, by all forsaken,
when his spirit passed away.
Love’s sweet fountain, Mother tender,
haste this hard heart, soft to render,
make me sharer in Thy pain.
Fire me now with zeal so glowing,
love so rich to Jesus, flowing,
that I favor may obtain.
Holy Mother, I implore Thee,
crucify this heart before Thee,
guilty it is verily!
Hate, misprision, scorn, derision,
thirst assailing, failing vision,
railing, ailing, deal to me.
In Thy keeping, watching, weeping,
by the cross may I unsleeping
live and sorrow for his sake.
Close to Jesus, with Thee kneeling,
all Thy dolours with Thee feeling,
oh grant this – the prayer I make.
Maid immaculate, excelling,
peerless one, in heaven high dwelling,
make me truly mourn with Thee.
Make me sighing hear Him dying,
ever newly vivifying
the anguish He bore for me.
With the same scar lacerated,
by the cross enfired, elated,
wrought by love to ecstasy!
Thus inspired and affected
let me, Virgin, be protected
when sounds forth the call for me!
May his sacred cross defend me,
he who died there so befriend me,
that His pardon shall suffice.
When this earthly frame is riven,
grant that to my soul is given
all the joys of Paradise!