The Descent from the Cross
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
"O, all ye that Pass-by the Way, 'Attend', and see if there be any Sorrow like to my Sorrow".
Devout Souls, listen-to what the Sorrowful
Mary says this Day:
"My Beloved Children, I do not Wish you to Console me; no, for my Soul is no-longer Susceptible-of Consolation in this
World, after the Death-of my Dear Jesus. If you Wish to Please me, this is what I ask of you; Behold me, and see if there ever has been in the World,
a Grief like mine, in seeing Him Who was all my Love, Torn-from me, with such Cruelty".
But, my Sovereign Lady, since thou wilt not be Consoled,
and hast so-Great a Thirst for-Sufferings, I must tell thee
that, even with the Death of thy
Son, thy Sorrows have not Ended. On this
Day, thou wilt be Wounded by another
Sword-of-Sorrow, a Cruel Lance will Pierce the
Side-of thy Son, already
Dead, and thou hast to-Receive Him in
thine Arms, after He is Taken-down from the
Cross. And now we are to consider the Sixth Dolor
which Afflicted this Poor Mother. Attend and
Weep. Hitherto, the Dolors of Mary
Tortured her One-by-One;
on this Day they are all, as-it-were, United-to Assail her.
Mary before the Trinity - by CRANACH, Lucas the Elder -
from Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig
Mary (the New Eve), presents her Son (the New Adam) to the Holy Trinity,
while the Old Adam and Eve, lie Lifeless in Sin. The Eternal Father
accepts the Body of His Dead Son, as Infinite Payment for our Salvation.
The Gates of Heaven will soon be Reopened-to Mankind.
It is enough to tell a Mother that her Son is Dead, to 'Excite' all her Love.
Some Persons, that they may 'Lessen' a Mother's Grief, remind her of the
Displeasure at One (1) Time, caused-by her Departed
Child. But I, my Queen, did I thus Wish-to 'Lighten' thy
Grief for the Death-of
Jesus, of what Displeasure that He ever Caused
thee, could I Remind thee? No, indeed.
He always Loved thee, always
Obeyed thee, and always
Respected thee. Now thou hast
Lost Him, who can ever tell thy
Grief? Do thou Explain it, thou
who hast Eperienced it. A Devout Author says, that when our Beloved
Redeemer was Dead, the First (1st) Care-of the Great
Mother, was to-accompany in-Spirit, the most
Holy Soul of her Son,
and Present it to the Eternal Father. "I present Thee, O my God",
Mary must then have said, "the Immaculate Soul of Thine and my Son; He has now
Obeyed Thee unto Death; do Thou, then, Receive it in Thine Arms. Thy Justice is now Satisfied, Thy Will is Accomplished; behold, the Great Sacrifice to
Thy Eternal Glory, is Consummated". Then, turning-towards the Lifeless Members-of
her Jesus, "O Wounds",
she said, "O Wounds of Love, I Adore you, and in you do I Rejoice; for by Your Means, Salvation is
given-to the World. You will remain open in the Body of my Son, and be the Refuge-of those who have Recourse-to you. O, how many, through you, will Receive
the Pardon-of their Sins, and by you, be Inflamed-with Love-for the Supreme Good".
That the Joy of the following Paschal Sabbath, might not be Disturbed,
the Jews Desired-that the Body-of Jesus should be taken-down
from the Cross; but as this could not be done, unless the
Criminals were Dead, Men came-with Iron Bars, to-Break Our Lord's
Legs, as they had already done those-of the Two (2) Thieves who were
Mary was still Weeping over the Death-of
her Son, when she
saw these Armed Men, advancing-towards her Jesus. At this Sight,
she First Trembled-with Fear, and then 'Exclaimed':
"Ah, my Son is already Dead; cease to Outrage Him; Torment me no-more, who am His Poor Mother".
She Implored them, writes Saint Bonaventure, "not to Break His Legs". But while
she thus Spoke, O God!
She saw a Soldier (Longinus), Brandish a Lance (in Mercy-to
Her), and Pierce the Side-of Jesus:
"One of the Soldiers with a Spear, opened His Side, and immediately there came-out Blood and Water". At the Stroke-of
the Spear, the Cross 'Shook', and, as it was afterwards Revealed-to Saint Bridget, the
Heart-of-Jesus was Divided-in Two (2). There came-out Blood and Water; for only those few
Drops-of Blood remained, and even those our Savior was Pleased-to Shed, that we might Understand that
He had no more Blood to-give us. The Injury of that
Stroke was Inflicted-on
Jesus, but Mary Suffered its
"Christ", says the Devout Lanspergius, "shared this Wound with His Mother; He Received the
Insult, His Mother endured its Agony". The Holy Fathers maintain that this was 'Literally', the
Sword foretold-to the Blessed Virgin, by Saint Simeon: a
Sword, not a Material One, but One-of Grief, which Transpierced
her Blessed Soul in the
Heart-of Jesus, where it always Dwelt. Thus, amongst others, Saint Bernard says:
"The Lance which opened His Side, passed-through the Soul of the Blessed Virgin, which could never leave her Son's Heart".
The Divine Mother herself, Revealed the same-thing to Saint Bridget: "When the
Spear was drawn-out, the Point appeared Red with-Blood: then, seeing the Heart of my most-Dear Son Pierced, it seemed to me as if my own Heart was also
Pierced". An Angel told the same Saint, "that such were the Sufferings-of
Mary, that it was only by a Miraculous Interposition on the Part-of God, that she did not Die". In her
other Dolors, she at least had
her Son to Compassionate
her; but now, she has not even
Him, to Pity her.
The Afflicted Mother,
Fearing that other Injuries might still be Inflicted-on
her Son, 'Entreated' Joseph-of-Arimathea, to obtain the
Body of her Jesus
from Pilate, that at least in Death she might Guard and Protect
it from further Outrage. Joseph went, and Represented-to Pilate, the
Grief and Desires-of this Afflicted Mother.
Saint Anselm believes that Compassion-for the Mother, 'Softened'
the Heart-of Pilate, and 'Moved' him to-Grant her the
Body-of the Savior.
Descent from the Cross - by REGNAULT, Jean-Baptiste -
from Musée du Louvre, Paris
Jesus was then taken-down from the Cross. O most
Sacred Virgin, after
thou hast given thy Son to the World,
with so-Great Love, for our Salvation, behold the World now
Restores Him to thee; but, O
God, in what State dost thou Receive
"O World", said Mary, "how dost thou
Return Him to me? My Son was White and Ruddy; but thou Returnest Him to me Blackened with Bruises, and Red - yes! But with the Wounds which thou hast
Inflicted-upon Him. He was all Fair and Beautiful; but now there is no-more Beauty in Him; He is all Disfigured. His aspect Enamored all; now, He Excites
Horror in all who behold Him".
"O, how many Swords", says Saint Bonaventure, "Pierced the Poor Mother's Soul",
when she Received the Body of
her Son, from the Cross! Let us only
Consider the Anguish it would cause any Mother to receive-into her Arms, the
Body-of her Lifeless Son. It was revealed-to Saint Bridget, that Three
(3) Ladders were placed against the Cross, to take-down the
Sacred Body; the Holy Disciples First (1st) drew-out the Nails,
from the Hands and Feet, and, according-to Metaphrastes, gave
them to Mary. Then, One supported the Upper-part of the
Body-of Jesus, and the Other, the Lower; and thus 'Descended'
it from the Cross. Bernardine-de-Bustis describes the Afflicted
Mother as Standing, and Extending her Arms to meet
her Dear Son;
she 'Embraced' Him, and then Sat-at the Foot-of the
Cross. His Mouth was Open,
His Eyes were dim; she then
'Examined' His Mangled Flesh and
Uncovered Bones; she took-off the Crown, and saw the
Sad Injuries which the Thorns had
Inflicted-on that Sacred Head;
she saw the Holes in His
Hands and Feet, and thus addressed Him:
Instruments of Christ's Torture
"Ah, Son, to what has Thy Love for Men brought Thee; and what Evil hadst Thou done them, that they should thus Cruelly
have Tormented Thee"? "Thou wast my Father" (continues Bernardine-de-Bustis, in
Mary's Name), "Thou wast my Brother, my Spouse, my Delight, my Glory; Thou wast my
All. My Son, see my Afliction, look at me, Console me; but no, Thou no-longer lookest at me. Speak, say but a Word, and Console me; but Thou speakest
no-more, for Thou art Dead". Then, turning to those Barbarous Instruments of Torture,
she said, "O Cruel Thorns, O Cruel Nails, O Merciless Spear, how, how could you
thus Torture your Creator? But why do I speak of Thorns or Nails"? "Alas! Sinners",
she 'Exclaimed', "it is you who have thus Cruelly Treated my Son".
Thus did Mary Speak and Complain of us. But what would she
now say, were she still Susceptible-of Suffering? What would be
her Grief, to see that Men, notwithstanding that
her Son has Died
for them, still continue-to Torment and Crucify
Him, by their Sins! Let us, at least, Cease-to
Torment this Afflicted
Mother; and if we have hitherto Grieved her,
by our Sins, let us now do all that she Desires.
She says, "Return, ye Transgressors, to the Heart".
Sinners, Return-to the Wounded
Heart-of my Jesus; return-as
Penitents, and He will Welcome you. "Flee from Him,
to Him", she continues to-say with the Abbot Guarric; "from the Judge,
to the Redeemer; from the Tribunal, to the Cross".
Our Blessed Lady herself, revealed-to Saint Bridget, that "she closed the Eyes-of
her Son, when He was taken-down from the Cross, but she could not close His Arms"; Jesus Christ,
giving us thereby to-understand that He Desired-to Remain-with His Arms
'Extended' to-'Receive' All Penitent Sinners,
who return-to Him. "O World", continues
Mary, "Behold, then, thy Time is the Time-of Lovers".
"Now that my Son has Died to-Save thee, it is no-longer for thee a Time-of Fear, but One of Love - a Time to Love Him, Who to
show thee the Love He Bore thee, was Pleased-to Suffer so-much".
"The Heart-of Jesus", says Saint Bernard, "was Wounded, that through the Visible Wound,
the Invisible Wound of Love, might be Seen". "If then", concludes
Mary, in the Words-of Blessed-Raymond-Jordano, "my Son, by Excess-of Love, was Pleased that His Side should
be-Opened, that He might give thee His Heart, it is Right, O may, that thou in-Return, shouldst also give Him thine". And if you Desire, O
Children-of Mary, to find a Place, in the Heart-of
Jesus, without Fear-of being Rejected,
"go" says Ubertino-da-Casale, "go with Mary; for she will Obtain the Grace for you".
Of this you have a Proof, in the following Beautiful Example.
- End of Liguori Sermon -
The Disciple relates, that there was a Poor Sinner who, among other
Crimes which he had Committed, had Killed his Father and a Brother, and therefore was a
Fugitive. One day in Lent, hearing a Sermon on the
Mercy, he went to Confess his Sins to the Preacher himself. The Confessor, on hearing the Enormous
Crimes which he had Committed, sent him to an Altar-of
Mary, in Sorrow, that
she might Obtain him Contrition, and the Pardon of his
Sins. The Sinner Obeyed, and began-to
Pray; when, behold, he suddenly Dropped-down Dead, from Excess-of
Grief. On the following day, when the Priest 'Recommended' the Deceased to the
Prayers-of the People, a White Dove appeared-in the Church, and let a
Card drop-at his feet. The Priest took it up, and found the following-Words, written-upon it:
"The Soul of the Deceased, on Leaving his Body, went
Straight-to Heaven. Continue thou to Preach the Infinite Mercy of God".
O Afflicted Virgin! O Soul, Great in Virtue, but Great also in Sorrow, for the One and the Other took their
Rise, in that Immense Love with which thy Heart was Inflamed towards God, for thou couldst Love Him alone; ah, Mother, Pity me, for instead of Loving
God, I have Greatly Offended Him.
Thy Sorrows encourage me to Hope for Pardon. But this is not enough; I Wish to Love my Lord; and who can
better Obtain me this Love, than thou, who art the Mother of Fair Love? Ah, Mary, thou Comfortest all; Console me also.
"We Love Jesus Christ in His Church, because She is His Immaculate Spouse, Who came out of His Opened Side
on the Cross, just as Eve came out of the first Adam"
Saint Eugene de Mazenod
Pentecost is Traditionally considered to be the Birthday-of the
Church, which is Christ's One
(1) and only Bride. However, the above Quote by Saint Eugene-de-Mazenod sheds
additional Light on the Subject. Actually, the Birth of the Church
Commenced on Good Friday, when the Side (Heart)
of Jesus was Pierced with a Lance, and Water and Blood Flowed-Forth for the
Salvation of all Mankind. This Concept is Eloquently Explained below by the Great Doctor-of-the-Church, Saint John
Chrysostom. The Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Soul of the
Church, Fifty (50) days after
Easter, on the Feast-of Pentecost, Concluded the
Birth (Fashioning) of Christ's Immaculate Spouse, the
Birth of Eve,
the Bride of Adam,
from Adam's side
Birth of the Church,
the Bride of Christ,
from Christ's Side
"Water and Blood Symbolized Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. From these Two (2) Sacraments the Church is
Born: from Baptism, the Cleansing Water that gives Rebirth and Renewal from the Holy Spirit, and from the Holy Eucharist.
Since the Symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist flowed from His Side, it was from His Side that Christ 'Fashioned' the Church,
as He had 'Fashioned' Eve from the side of Adam".
Saint John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church