Tag Archive: suffering


The Meaning of Man

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Love is bitter passion,

a crucifixion is love.

No benefice to man arrives without suffering.

Elixirs, useless should not the sweat of doctors fall into them.

Gold, dross should not the fire of a smith sear it.

Verses, naught without the poet’s tears.

Gardens, barren without the winter’s frost.

How is there a wedding without the bridegroom?

How is there a Mass without the Christ?

Oh, it is of blood and Christ that all love sings!

 

Let me sing of the bridegroom and the priest.

One wraps a bed of roses round his heart,

the other round his feet.

One requires an ass to bear his tokens of love,

the other rides an ass unto his love.

The young groom cries: “I shall be one with her!”

The acolyte says: “I shall be one with all!”

The sons of a groom are honor,

sons of a priest are woe

for the Good Lord deigned one to give life

that the other may sanctify it.

 

Adam was a sinner and so are his children.

The groom needs law and the priest, mercy.

Abraham was a patriarch and so, his children.

The groom’s seed yields flesh and the priest lends spirit.

David was king and so will be his children.

The bridegroom rules his house and the priest, his flock.

Zadok was a priest and so are his children.

The bridegroom offers his blood and the priest, his cross.

Isaiah was a prophet and so, his children.

Both bridegroom and priest foreswear vows.

Eve comforted the stricken Adam and so the wife, her husband.

Mary endured the crucified Christ and so the mother of a priest.

How the wife’s marriage-bed is veiled in purpled silk,

the holy altar swaddled in gold.

 

Hear the story of the pelican.

Who, in winter lost, suffers not her children to starve.

Whose breast is pierced that they may drink her blood,

her death-throes giving life.

 

The father is a warrior, bearing the standard of sacrifice.

He is the pelican with bleeding heart.

 

The husband bleeds in his heart,

the priest, from his hands,

The husband suffers old age,

the priest lost souls.

A marriage unconsummated mourns virginity,

the priest consummates and rejoices in virginity.

For Holy Church is a woman of women

while an earthly wife shall never satisfy.

 

The lyre sings sweetly for a lover.

Chant rings out while asleep.

The marriage bed must be left for toil and work,

whereas the altar bears testimony forever.

Death dissolves husband and wife

but the love of Christ for Church is eternal.

 

A husband bleeds in his heart,

the priest, from his hands.

The husband’s cup flows with wine,

it inflames his lust.

The priest’s chalice holds blood,

it destroys his self-will.

This is the way of man, why for God made him.

Unhappy is the man who lives for himself.

Gracious a man who gives his life in sacrifice.

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Sooner or later, every Catholic “goth” chick will pick up devotion to the Mother of Sorrows. Perfect right? While I wrote some poetry about Our Lady at Calvary, weeping over the crucified Christ, early on in my spiritual journey, it wasn’t until recently that a true devotion emerged. If you venture to read my earlier post “The Mother of a Priest” (June/17/2013), you will learn how a friend’s crisis urged me to cling closely to Our Lady, especially in her sufferings. Now, my love can do nothing but continue and grow for Our Lord’s dear mother as she stood by His side- even at the hour of His bloody execution. How tearful and resolute, she watched her priestly son offer sacrifice!

I am not a mother, nor have I ever been, so it wouldn’t be accurate to say I know the feeling of losing a child. Nor can I imagine the torment of it. However, I have seen things and people that I deeply loved be destroyed, get violently taken from me. I have seen close friends and family suffer. I know that feeling, watching, just wishing you could do something…anything- to take their pain away. I know well this powerlessness, this bleeding compassion, such grave heart-ache.  And if there isn’t some kind of suffering right before me, I can imagine it.

I can’t decide which was more agonizing for our Blessed Mother, seeing the cruel torments inflicted on her son or knowing He so passionately loved these tormentors. That same mankind who, blind to grace, lacking love for God and utterly ungrateful, actually took enjoyment at the victim’s suffering. “He has come to save you, to give you eternal life, to heal you, to deliver you from your demons,” she must have thought, “and here you spit and mock him!” Certainly she may have cried unto the crowd: “Yes, your hatred crushes me- yet even moreso His love!”

This was the High Priest of the New Covenant. Mary clad him in the fair vestments of human flesh. Her lullabies were hymns. She offered the first-fruits of her maternity: warmth and milk to His infancy. Patience and wisdom in tender childhood. Rightfully would a priest lament, should his sacred offering be torn from his hands and desecrated or his holy vessel cast upon the ground.  Would he not rend his garments at seeing the temple destroyed? How much more did Mary lament seeing the immaculate Lamb of God stripped, broken, abused and rejected! How sharply she mourned, seeing the precious temple, born from her womb, destroyed! That men crucified His Only Son was such blasphemy that God Almighty rent the skies in two, snuffed out the sun and draped Calvary in darkness.

Mary spent her whole life preparing that offering, dressing him in garments of virtue, perfuming him with goodly faithfulness. Yet surely, did she know?

Yes, she reckoned the words of Simeon: “This child is set for the fall, as a sign of contradiction and a sword your own heart shall pierce.” She knew it, expected the day, the hour when her dearest son would appear as Messiah- and subsequently fall to dismay. Yet nothing could prepare for the flowing blood, the wounds and tears more bitter than gall. Her pondering heart could not bear the sentence, the scourging, the crown of spines pressed down, the rough, wooden cross and the cold nails. Thus, like Abel, she surrendered her choicest lamb to the cruel altar. Here, commenced the world’s most heart-wrenching liturgy. When Jesus cried out “My God, why hast thou forsaken,” Mary remembered the angel’s greeting “The Lord is with thee.” When her precious son, at last, bowed His head and said “Consummatum est”, she raised her arms, having given everything, and answered: “Fiat.”

But the most beautiful thing about Mary’s sorrow was that it came with true victory. No temporary grief over some earthly loss, her tears conquered evil; they erased the sinful pride of Eve and consecrated womanhood forever. They also consecrated manhood- for at Calvary, Mary showed herself mother to all who would call themselves disciples of Christ. Given the good water of such perfect tears, the bloody cross became a tree of life. At this altar, John the Beloved, made the first act of ministerial priesthood. Taking Jesus’s dead, broken body from the gruesome wood, he laid it like a precious host in Mary’s hands.  There, she also showed herself the mother of all priests.

Words cannot describe what an epic mother Mary was. It is with good reason that Scripture describes in few words her espousal to God. Her betrothal sealed in tears and blood; she emerges as the joyful daughter of Zion, the desired beauty of ages. Christ wore a ring of thorns and she, the wedding-band of blackest sorrow. In a heavenly place no longer sorrowful, Mary still desires we recall and venerate her sorrow, offered alongside the Savior’s passion. The poor, virgin-girl from Nazareth has left us with a resounding declaration that all human weakness can be sanctified, united to His suffering. Her example gives strength to Christians everywhere.

By her great pain, Mary stood as advocate of those in pain, bringing forth her Son’s healing balm. By wretchedness, Mary became a refuge of sinners; ever-beseeching executioners lay down their wicked instruments and turn to God. She cleansed Calvary’s hill with tears, saying to the dust: “From this garden, man will be created again.”

A warrior in her feminine way, Mary Most-Sorrowful drew that sword from her own heart and handed it to Christ so He may at last slay the Serpent! How the black rosebud, bowing her head, bloomed forth the white lily! Weeping, did Mother Mary bury her most-precious wheat and rejoicing, she carried back the Easter sheave.

 

So heartily, I end:

Virgin Most-Sorrowful,

Remove from us the dark veil of sin

so we may greet your Son’s dawning light.

O Widow Un-widowed,

Keep vigil when we lack strength.

Mother of Mercy,

Hold your silver lamp against the night.

O Moon,

Shine upon our graves, guide in death’s grim hour

and hush the avenging angel.

Mother Most-Sorrowful,

Black Rose of Calvary,

pray for us.