The Third Dolor of Mary,
The Loss of Jesus in the Temple

Christ teaching-among the Scribes - by SERODINE, Giovanni - from Musée du Louvre, Paris

Christ's 'Gesticulating' Fingers are being used to 'Authoritatively' Instruct the Attentive Jewish Scribes. To the Right, Saint Joseph and the Sorrowful Virgin Mary, enter-upon the Scene taking-place in the Temple-of-Jerusalem. The Sorrowful Mother was filled-with Anxiety, and Greatly Grieved-at the Absence-of Jesus, because, in her Humility, she considered herself Unworthy-to Remain longer-with, or to Attend-upon Him on Earth, and have the Charge-of so-Great a Treasure. "I learn then from Mary", says Origen, "to Seek Jesus". But whoever Wishes to-find Jesus, must 'Seek' Him, not amidst Delights and the Pleasures-of the World, but amidst Crosses and Mortifications, as Mary sought Him.



Of the Loss of Jesus in the Temple

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

angelbar.gif (3645 bytes)


* Patience


The Apostle Saint James, says that our Perfection consists-in the Virtue of Patience. "And Patience hath a Perfect Work, that you may be Perfect and Entire, Failing in-nothing". Our Lord having, then, given us the Blessed Virgin Mary, as a Model-of Perfection, it was Necessary that she should be Laden-with Sorrows, that in her, we might-Admire Heroic Patience, and Endeavor-to Imitate it. The Sorrow which we have this-Day to-consider, was One-of the Greatest that Mary had to Endure-in her Life, the Loss-of her Son, in the Temple. He who is Born Blind, feels but little, the Privation-of the Light-of Day; but he who has Once Enjoyed it, and Loses it by becoming-Blind, indeed Suffers-much. Thus it is also, with those Unhappy Souls, who, Blinded-by the Mire-of this World, have but little Knowledge-of God, they Suffer but-little, at not finding Him; but, on the other-hand, he who, Illumined-by Celestial Light, has become Worthy to-find by-Love, the Sweet Presence-of the Supreme Good, O God, how Bitterly does he Grieve, when he finds himself Deprived-of it! Hence, let us see how-much Mary must have Suffered from this Third (3rd) Sword-of-Sorrow which Pierced her Heart, when, having Lost her Jesus in-Jerusalem, for Three (3) Days, she was Deprived-of His Most-Sweet Presence, accustomed-as she was, constantly to-Enjoy it.

Saint Luke relates, in the Second (2nd) Chapter of his Gospel, that the Blessed Virgin, with her Spouse Saint Joseph, and Jesus, was accustomed every-Year, at the Paschal Solemnity, to-Visit the Temple. When her Son was Twelve (12) Years of Age, she went as-usual, and Jesus remained-in Jerusalem. Mary did not at-once Perceive it, thinking He was in-company-with Others. When she reached Nazareth, she Inquired-for her Son; but not-finding Him, she immediately Returned-to Jerusalem, to seek-for Him, and only found Him after Three (3) Days. Now let us Imagine, what Anxiety this Afflicted Mother must have Experienced in those Three (3) Days, during which she was Seeking everywhere-for her Son, and Inquiring-for Him with the Spouse-in the Canticles: "Have you seen Him, Whom my Soul Loveth"? But she could have no Tidings-of Him. O, with how far-Greater Tenderness must Mary, overcome-by Fatigue, and having not-yet found her Beloved Son, have repeated those Words-of Ruben, concerning his Brother Joseph: "The Boy doth not Appear; and whither shall I go"? "My Jesus doth not Appear, and I no-longer Know what to-do to-find Him; but where shall I go without my Treasure"? Weeping continually, with how much Truth did she repeat-with David, during those Three (3) Days, "My Tears have been my Bread, Day and Night, whilst it is said to me Daily: Where is thy God"? Wherefore Pelbart, with Reason, says, that "during those Nights, the Afflicted Mary did not Sleep; she was constantly Weeping, and Entreating God, that He would Enable her to-Find her Son". Frequently, during that Time, according to Saint Bernard, she Addressed her Son in the Words-of the 'Spouse', in the Canticles: "Show me where Thou Feedest, where Thou Liest in the mid-Day, lest I begin to Wander". My Son, tell me where Thou art, that I may no-longer Wander, Seeking Thee in Vain.

There are some who assert, and not without Reason, that this Dolor was not only One-of the Greatest, but the Greatest, and most-Painful of all. For, in the First (1st) Place, Mary, in her other Dolors, had Jesus with her: she Suffered, when Saint Simeon Prophesied-to her, in the Temple; she Suffered, in the Flight-into Egypt; but still in-company-with Jesus; but in this Dolor, she Suffered far-from Jesus, not Knowing where He was: "And the Light of my Eyes Itself, is not with me". Thus Weeping, she then said, "Ah, the Light of my Eyes, my Dear Jesus, is no-longer with me; He is Far-from me, and I Know not Whither, He is Gone".

Origen says that, through the Love which this Holy Mother Bore her Son, "She Suffered more, in this Loss-of Jesus, than any Martyr ever Suffered-in the Separation-of his Soul, from his Body". Ah, too-long indeed were those Three (3) Days for Mary; they seemed Three (3) Ages; they were all Bitterness, for there was None-to Comfort her. And who can ever Comfort me, she said with Jeremiah, who can Console me, since He Who alone could do-so, is far-from me and therefore my Eyes can never Weep enough: "Therefore do I Weep, and my Eyes run-down with Water: because the Comforter . . . is Far-from me". And with Tobias, she repeated, "What manner-of Joy shall be to me, who sit in Darkness, and see not the Light-of-Heaven"?

In the Second (2nd) Place, Mary, in all her other Sorrows, well-Understood their 'Cause', the Redemption-of the World, the Divine Will; but in this, she knew not the 'Cause'-of the Absence-of her Son. "The Sorrowful Mother", says Lanspergius, "was Grieved at the Absence-of Jesus, because, in her Humility, she considered herself Unworthy to Remain longer-with or to Attend-upon Him on Earth, and have the Charge-of so-Great a Treasure". "And who knows", perhaps she Thought-within herself "maybe I have not Served Him as I ought; perhaps I have been Guilty-of some Negligence, for which He has left me". "They sought Him", says Origen, "lest perchance He had Entirely left them". It is certain that, to a Soul which Loves God, there can be no-Greater Pain, than the Fear-of having Displeased Him. Therefore, in this Sorrow-alone, did Mary complain, Lovingly Expostulating-with Jesus, after she had found Him: "Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Thy father and I have sought Thee, Sorrowing". By these Words, she had no Idea-of Reproving Jesus, as Heretics Blasphemously Assert, but only meant-to Express-to Him, the Grief proceeding-from the Great Love she Bore Him, which she had Experienced-during His Absence: "It was not a Rebuke", says Denis the-Carthusian, "but a Loving Complaint". In Fine', this Sword so Cruelly Pierced the Heart-of the Most Holy Virgin, that the Blessed-Benvenuta, desiring One Day to-Share the Holy Mother's Pain in this Dolor, and Entreating her for this Favor, Mary appeared-to her with the Infant Jesus in her Arms; but while Benvenuta was enjoying the Sight-of this Most Beautiful Child, in a Moment, she was Deprived of it. So-Great was her Grief, that she had Recourse-to Mary, Entreating her to-Mitigate it, that it might not Cause her Death. In Three (3) Days, the Holy Virgin again appeared, and said: "Know, my Daughter, that thy Sorrow is only a small Part-of that which I Endured, when I Lost my Son".

Sometimes, Difficult and Extraordinary Measures must be Pursued in 'Seeking' Jesus, as did this Paralytic, in being lowered-through the Roof, to Jesus. The Paralytic did not let his Cross-of-Paralysis stop him, but entreated Four (4) Friends to Assist him, aka Communion-of-Saints.

This Sorrow-of Mary ought, in the First (1st) Place, to-serve-as a Consolation-to those Souls who are Desolate, and no-longer Enjoy, as they once Enjoyed, the Sweet Presence-of their Lord. They may Weep, but they should Weep in Peace, as Mary Wept the Absence-of her Son; and let them take-Courage, and not-Fear that on this Account, they have Lost the Divine Favor; for God Himself assured Saint Teresa, that "no one is Lost, without Knowing it; and that no one is Deceived, without Wishing to be Deceived". If our Lord withdraws-Himself from the Sight-of a Soul which Loves Him, He does not, therefore, Depart-from the Heart; He often 'Conceals' Himself from a Soul, that She may Seek Him with a more-Ardent Desire and Greater Love. But whoever Wishes to-find Jesus, must Seek Him, not amidst Delights and the Pleasures-of the World, but amidst Crosses and Mortifications, as Mary sought Him: "we Sought Thee, Sorrowing", as Mary said to her Son. "I learn then, from Mary", says Origen, "to Seek Jesus".

Moreover, in this World, she would seek no-other Good, than Jesus. Job was not Unhappy when he Lost all that he Possessed on-Earth; Riches, Children, Health, and Honors, and even Descended-from a Throne, to a Dunghill; but because he had God with-him, he was even then, Happy. Saint Augustine says, "he had Lost what God had given him, but he still had God Himself". Truly Miserable and Unhappy are those Souls which have Lost God. If Mary Wept the Absence-of her Son for Three (3) Days, how should Sinners Weep, who have Lost Divine Grace, and to-whom God says: "You are not My People, and I will not be yours". For this is the Effect-of Sin; it Separates the Soul, from God: "Your Iniquities have Divided-between you and your God". Hence, if Sinners Possess all the Riches-of the Earth, but have Lost God, all, even in this-World, becomes Vanity and Affliction to them, as Solomon Confessed: "Behold, all is Vanity and Vexation of Spirit". But the Greatest Misfortune-of these Poor Blind Souls is, as Saint Augustine Observes, that "If they Lose an Ox, they do not Fail-to go in Search-of it; if they Lose a Sheep, they use all Diligence to find it; if they Lose a Beast-of-Burden, they cannot Rest; but when they Lose their God, Who is the Supreme Good, they Eat, Drink, and Repose".


- End of Liguori Sermon -



In the Annual Letters of the Society-of-Jesus, it is related that in India, a Young Man was leaving his Room, with the Intention-of committing a Sin, when he heard a Voice saying: "Stop! where art thou going"? He turned-round, and saw an Image-in-Relief, Representing our Lady of Sorrows, who, Drawing out the Sword which was in her Breast, said: "Take this Dagger and Pierce my Heart, rather than Wound my Son, by committing such a Sin". On hearing these words, the Youth Prostrated himself on the Ground, and Bursting-into Tears, with Deep Sorrow, Asked and Obtained pardon-from God, and our Blessed Lady.



sorrow.jpg (4489 bytes)

O Blessed Virgin, why dost thou Afflict thyself, Seeking-for thy Lost Son? Is it that thou knowest not where He is? Knowest thou not that He is in thy Heart? Art thou Ignorant that He Feeds amongst Lilies? Thou thyself hast said it: "My Beloved to me, and I to Him, Who Feedeth among the Lilies". These, thy Thoughts and Affections, which are all Humble, Pure, and Holy, are all Lilies which Invite thy Divine Spouse to dwell-in thee.

Ah, Mary, dost thou Sigh after Jesus, thou who Lovest none but Jesus? Leave Sighs to me, and to so many Sinners who Love Him not, and who have lost Him by Offending Him. My most Amiable Mother, if through my Fault, thy Son is not yet Returned-to my Soul, do thou Obtain-for me, that I may find Him.

I well know that He is Found-by those who Seek Him: "The Lord is Good to the Soul that Seeketh Him". But do thou make me Seek Him, as I Ought. Thou art the Gate through which all find Jesus; through thee I also Hope to find Him.