A few years ago I realized that after Lenten decades of singing the Stabat Mater Dolorosa, the sequence for Our Lady of Sorrows (Sept. 15), its meaning was not clear to me. I thought I would try to translate it and for me, at least, the result was enlightening. According to the text of the sequence, Mary’s steadfast presence, and her contemplative spirit, form a quiet, integral part of the terrible crucifixion. We who sing about her presence there plead with her to help us join with her in bearing the cross of Christ, as it brings us to salvation.
After all, we are there. The Mass re-presents the selfsame sacrifice, daily, on the altar. And she is with us, always in prayer with the apostles, always interceding for us, always ready to bring us into closer communion with Him.
On the Cross her Son was dying.
Mary stood beneath Him crying,
Sharing in His saving cross.
As He hangs, her soul is grieving,
and a sword her heart is cleaving
and she weeps the bitter loss.
O, the sad, afflicted Mother
of the Son beyond all others:
only Son of God most high.
Full of grief, her heart is aching;
watching Him, her body, quaking,
trembles as her offspring dies.
Who would see Christ’s mother crying
at the bitter crucifying
without tears of sympathy?
Who could see her depth of feeling—
thoughts of many hearts revealing—
and not share her agony?
Pardon for our sins entreating,
She saw Him endure the beating.
All our guilt on Him was cast.
She stood by in contemplation
When her Son, in desolation
Breathed His spirit forth at last.
Font of love, O Blessed Mother,
lend me tears to mourn my Brother.
Never let my ardor dim.
Let my heart be burning freely,
Christ my God be pleased to see me
all on fire with love for Him.
This I ask, O Holy Mary,
that His wounds I too may carry:
fix them deeply in my heart.
Mine the burden He was bearing;
let me in His pain be sharing;
of His suffering take a part.
Let me join in your lamenting,
through my life weep unrelenting
tears for Jesus Crucified.
Let me stand and share your weeping,
all the day death’s vigil keeping,
glad to stand close by your side.
Queen of all the virgin choir,
judge me not when I aspire
your pure tears to emulate.
Let me share in Christ’s affliction—
death by bitter crucifixion—
and His wounds commemorate.
Let me taste the pains He offered,
drunk with love for Him who suffered.
May His wounds become my own.
On the day of Christ’s returning
may my heart be lit and burning.
Virgin, aid me at His throne.
May His Cross be interceding
and His death my vict’ry pleading.
May He hold me in His grace.
When my flesh by death is taken,
may my soul to glory waken
and in heaven take a place. Amen.