The Burial of Jesus
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
When a Mother is by the side-of her Suffering and Dying Child,
she undoubtedly Feels and Suffers all his Pains,
but after he is actually-Dead, when, before the Body is
carried-to the Grave, the Afflicted Mother must bid her Child
a Last Farewell; then, indeed, the Thought that she is to see him no-more, is a Grief which Exceeds all other
Griefs. Behold the Last Sword-of
Mary's Sorrow, which we have now to-consider; for after Witnessing the
Death-of her Son
on the Cross, and Embracing for a Last Time,
His Lifeless Body, this
Blessed Mother had to leave Him in the
Sepulcher, never-more to enjoy His Beloved Presence, on-Earth.
That we may better Understand this Last Dolor, we will
Return-to Calvary and consider the Afflicted
Mother, who still holds the
Lifeless Body of her Son,
Clasped-in her arms. O my
Son, she seemed to-Say in the Words-of Job, "my Son, Thou art
Changed, to be Cruel towards me". Yes, for all Thy Noble Qualities,
Thy Beauty, Grace, and
Virtues, Thy Engaging Manners, all the Marks-of Special
Love which Thou hast Bestowed-upon me,
the Peculiar Favors Thou hast Granted
me, -- all are now Changed-into Grief, and as so-many
Arrows, Pierce my
Heart, and the more they have Excited me to Love
Thee, so much the more Cruelly, do they now make
me feel Thy Loss.
Ah, my own Beloved Son, in
Losing Thee, I have Lost
all. Thus does Saint Bernard speak in her name: "O Truly-Begotten of God,
Thou wast to me a Father, a Son, a Spouse: Thou wast my very Soul! Now I am Deprived of my Father, Widowed of my Spouse, a Desolate, Childless Mother;
having Lost my only Son, I have Lost all".
Lamentation at the Tomb, over the Dead Body of Christ - by BOTTICELLI, Sandro - from Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Thus was Mary, with her
Son Locked-in her arms, Absorbed-in Grief.
The Holy Disciples, Fearful that the Poor
Mother might Die-of Grief, 'Approached'
her, to-take the Body-of
her Son, from her arms, to Bear-it-Away
for-Burial. This they did with Gentle and Respectful Violence; and having 'Embalmed' it, they 'Wrapped'
it in a Linen Cloth, which was already 'Prepared'.
[On this Cloth, which is still Preserved-at Turin, Our Lord
was Pleased to Leave-to the World, an Impression-of His Sacred
Body.] The Disciples then 'Bore' Him to the Tomb.
To do this, they First-of-all 'Raised' the Sacred Body on their Shoulders, and
then the Mournful Train set-forth; Choirs-of-Angels from
Heaven, accompanied it; the Holy Women followed, and with-them, the
Afflicted Mother also followed her
Son to the Place-of Burial. When they had reached the Appointed
Place, "O, how Willingly would Mary have there Buried herself Alive, with her Son, had such been His Will"; for this
she herself Revealed-to Saint Bridget. But such, not being the Divine
Will, there are many Authors who say that she Accompanied the
Sacred Body of Jesus into the Sepulcher,
where, according to Baronius, the Disciples also Deposited the Nails and the
Crown-of-Thorns. In 'Raising' the Stone to Close-up the Entrance, the Holy Disciples of the Savior
had to Approach our Blessed Lady, and say: "Now, O Lady, we must Close the Sepulcher:
Forgive us, look once more at thy Son, and bid Him a Last Farewell". Then my
Beloved Son (for thus must the Afflicted Mother
have spoken); then I shall see Thee no more? Receive, therefore,
on this Last Occasion that I Behold Thee, Receive
my Last Farewell, the Farewell-of Thy Dear
Mother, and Receive also my
Heart, which I leave Buried-with
Thee. "The Blessed Virgin", writes Saint Fulgentius,
"would Ardently have Desired to have Buried her Soul with the Body of Christ". And this
Mary herself Revealed-to Saint Bridget, saying: "I can Truly say, that at the Burial of my Son, One (1) Tomb
contained as-it-were, Two (2) Hearts".
Finally, the Disciples 'Raised' the Stone, and 'Closed-up' the Holy Sepulcher, and in it the
Body-of Jesus, that Great
Treasure - a Treasure so-Great that neither Earth nor
Heaven had a Greater.
Here I may be permitted-to make a short-Digression, and remark that Mary's
Heart was Buried-with Jesus, because
Jesus was all her
Treasure: "Where your Treasure is, there will your Heart be also". And where, may we ask, are our
Hearts Buried? In 'Creatures' - perchance in 'Mire'. And why not in
Jesus, Who, although He has Ascended-to
Heaven, is still pleased to Remain-on Earth, not Dead
indeed, but Living-in the Most Holy-Sacrament-of-the-Altar, precisely-that our
Hearts may be with-Him, and that He may
But let us Return-to Mary. Before leaving the Sepulcher,
according to Saint Bonaventure, she Blessed the Sacred Stone
which closed it, saying, "O Happy Stone, that doth now Enclose that Sacred Body, which for Nine Months was contained-in my Womb;
I Bless thee and Envy thee; I Leave thee the Guardian-of my Son, of that Son Who is all my Treasure and all my Love". Then, 'Raising'
her Heart to the Eternal
Father, she said, "O Father, to Thee do I Recommend Him - Him Who
is Thy Son at the same Time that He is mine". Thus, bidding her Last Farewell to
her Beloved Jesus and to the
Sepulcher, she left it and returned-to her
own House. "This Mother", says Saint Bernard, "went away so Afflicted and Sad, that she
moved many to-Tears, in-spite-of themselves; and wherever she Passed, all who met her Wept, and could not Restrain their Tears". And he adds
that the Holy Disciples and Women, who accompanied her "Mourned even more for her,
than for their Lord".
Saint Bonaventure says, that her Sisters covered her with a
Mourning Cloak: "The Sisters of Our Lady, Veiled her as a Widow, almost covering
her Whole Face". He also says that, passing, on her return, before the
Cross, still Wet-with the Blood-of her Jesus,
she was the First to 'Adore'
it. "O Holy Cross", she
then said, "I Kiss thee, I Adore thee; for thou art no-longer an Infamous Gibbet, but a Throne-of-Love and an Altar-of-Mercy,
Consecrated-by the Blood-of the Divine Lamb, which on thee has been Sacrificed-for the Salvation-of the World".
She then left the Cross, and returned Home. When there, the
Afflicted Mother cast her Eyes around, and
no-longer saw her Jesus; but, instead-of the Sweet Presence-of
her Dear Son, the Remembrance-of
His Beautiful Life and Cruel Death, Presented
itself before her Eyes. She remembered how
she had Pressed that Son to her Bosom,
in the Crib-of-Bethlehem; the Conversations she had held with Him
during the many Years they had dwelt-in the House-of-Nazareth; she remembered their Mutual Affection, their
Loving looks, the Words-of Eternal Life, which fell-from those Divine Lips; and then the
Sad Scene which she had that Day Witnessed, again 'Presented'
itself before her.
The Crucifixion - by GRÜNEWALD, Matthias - from Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar
The Nails, the Thorns, the
Lacerated Flesh of her Son, those Deep
Wounds, those Uncovered Bones, that Open Mouth, those Dimmed Eyes,
all Presented themselves before her. Ah, what a Night-of Sorrow
was that Night for Mary! The Afflicted
Mother, turning-to Saint John, Mournfully said: "Ah, John,
tell me, where is thy Master?" She then asked the Magdalene: "Daughter,
tell me, where is thy Beloved? O God, who has taken Him from us?" Mary
Wept, and all who were Present, Wept with her.
And thou, my Soul, Weepest not! Ah, turn-to
Mary, and Address her with Saint Bonaventure, saying: "O my own
Sweet Lady, let me Weep; thou art Innocent, I am Guilty". Entreat her at-last, to let thee
Weep with her: "Grant that with thee,
I may Weep". She Weeps-for
Love; do thou Weep through Sorrow-for
thy Sins. Thus Weeping, thou mayest have the
Happy Lot of him, of whom we Read-in the following Example.
- End of Liguori Sermon -
Father Engelgrave relates that a certain Religious, was so Tormented-with
Scruples, that he was sometimes almost driven-to Despair; but as he had the Greatest
Sorrow, he always had Recourse-to her, in his Interior
Agonies, and felt himself Consoled, whilst Meditating-on her
Dolors. Death came, and the Devil then
Tormented him more-than-ever, with-Scruples, and
Tempted him to-Despair. When, behold, the Compassionate
Mother, seeing her Poor 'Son' in such
Anguish, appeared to him, saying: "And thou, my Son, why art thou so Overcome with Sorrow? Why Fearest
thou so much? Thou who hast so-often Consoled me, by Pitying me in my Sorrows. But now", she added, "Jesus sends me
to Console thee; be Comforted, then; Rejoice, and come with me to Heaven". On hearing these Consoling Words,
the Devout Religious, filled-with Joy and Confidence,
My Afflicted Mother, I will not leave thee alone to Weep; no, I will Accompany thee with my Tears.
This Grace, I now ask of thee: obtain that I may always Bear-in Mind, and always have a Tender Devotion towards the Passion of Jesus and thy Sorrows,
that the Remainder-of my Days, may thus be spent in Weeping-over thy Sufferings, my own Sweet Mother, and those of my Redeemer.
These Sorrows, I Trust, will give me the Confidence and Strength, which I shall Require-at the
Hour of Death, that I may not Despair-at the Sight-of the many Sins, by which I have Offended my Lord. They must Obtain me Pardon, Perseverance,
and Heaven, where I Hope to Rejoice with thee, and to Sing the Infinite Mercies of my God, for all Eternity. Thus do I Hope; thus may it be.
Prayer of Saint Bonaventure
Lady, who by thy Sweetness, dost Ravish the Hearts-of Men, hast thou not Ravished mine? O Ravisher-of Hearts,
when wilt thou 'Restore' me mine? Rule and Govern it, like thine own; Preserve it in the Blood-of the Lamb, and place it in thy Son's Side. Then shall
I obtain what I Desire, and Possess what I Hope for; for thou art our Hope.