Our Lady of Sorrows: fifth sorrow – the Crucifixtion

Crucifixion by Anthony van Dyck, 1630 (Louvre, Paris)

On this Friday before Good Friday the Church celebrates “Our Lady of Sorrows”. We contemplate Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, standing at the foot of the Cross, with her Immaculate Heart pierced by a sword, as she looks upon her Crucified Son. In her own agony, she bears in a mystical way, each of the wounds of Christ in her own flesh. From the very moment she uttered the words: “Be it done unto me according to Thy word”, Mary understood that her life as Mother of God was to be united in a very special way to the suffering of her Divine Son.

Blessed John Paul II drew so beautifully on this mystery of Mary’s Motherhood in his Redemptoris Mater (1987), “On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the Pilgrim Church”.


In a homily given at Fatima he spoke about Our Lady at the foot of the Cross:

“On the Cross Christ said: “Woman, behold, your son!” With these words he opened in a new way his Mother’s heart. A little later, the Roman soldier’s spear pierced the side of the Crucified One. That pierced heart became a sign of the redemption achieved through the death of the Lamb of God.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary, opened with the words “Woman, behold, your son!”, is spiritually united with the heart of her Son opened by the soldier’s spear. Mary’s Heart was opened by the same love for man and for the world with which Christ loved man and the world, offering himself for them on the Cross, until the soldier’s spear struck that blow.

Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means drawing near, through the Mother’s intercession, to the very Fountain of life that sprang from Golgotha. This Fountain pours forth unceasingly redemption and grace. In it reparation is made continually for the sins of the world. It is a ceaseless source of new life and holiness.

Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother means returning beneath the Cross of the Son. It means consecrating this world to the pierced Heart of the Saviour, bringing it beck ‘to the very source of its Redemption. Redemption is always greater than man’s sin and the “sin of the world.” The power of the Redemption is infinitely superior to the whole range of evil in man and the world.

The Heart of the Mother is aware of this, more than any other heart in the whole universe, visible and invisible.

And so she calls us.

She not only calls us to be converted: she calls us to accept her motherly help to return to the source of Redemption.

Consecrating ourselves to Mary means accepting her help to offer ourselves and the whole of mankind to Him who is Holy, infinitely Holy; it means accepting her help by having recourse to her motherly Heart, which beneath the Cross was opened to love for every human being, for the whole world in order to offer the: world, the individual human being, mankind as a whole, and all the nations to Him who is infinitely Holy. God’s holiness showed itself in the redemption of man, of the world, of the whole of mankind, and of the nations: a redemption brought about through the Sacrifice of the Cross. “For their sake I consecrate myself”, Jesus had said (Jn 17:19).

By the power of the redemption the world and man have been consecrated. They have been consecrated to Him who is infinitely Holy. They have been offered and entrusted to Love itself, merciful Love.

The Mother of Christ calls us, invites us to join with the Church of the living God in the consecration of the world, in this act of confiding by which the world, mankind as a whole, the nations, and each individual person are presented to the Eternal Father with the power of the Redemption won by Christ. They are offered in the Heart of the Redeemer which was pierced on the Cross.”

The piercing open of the Heart of Jesus by a spear, as Bl. John Paul II says, opens Our Lady’s Heart to us. If we accept Our Lady as our mother, she will lead us to the foot of the Cross and use us in helping to redeem the world by our co-operation in her sufferings, through her sufferings in co-operation with Jesus. What better way to show our love for Christ than to say we want to offer ourselves in His Mother to Him in making reparation for our sins, and the sins of the whole world!

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