Tuesday, September 28, 2004

On September 28, 1851
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., preached a sermon, of which the following notes survive:

On the M. Addolorata—the Seven Dolours

1. INTROD.—The usual representation which painters make of our Lord and His mother is that of virgin and child. Describe the peaceful virgin, secure because she has Him, and He the Life and Light. Hence she the Seat of Wisdom, etc., etc.

2. But let thirty years pass, and there is a great change come over the picture. It melts into something different. He is taken up from her soft arms. He is lifted aloft. Something else embraces Him. He is in the arms of the cross. There He lies not easily, etc. He has grown to man's estate. He has been scourged, etc. And she is standing still, but it is at His feet. She can be of no use to Him; she can only lament. How the group is changed! He is covered with wounds; she is almost killed with grief.

Such is the picture which the Church puts before us today, and that because, we may suppose, Easter is so long past.

3. Well, as to the sufferings of the Son of God, they are awful mysteries; but they need not surprise us, for He comes to suffer. He indeed might have saved us without suffering, but it was in fact bound up in His coming. He was a combatant—combatants suffer. He was prophesied as a warrior and man of blood. He fought with the devil. He fought with sin, not indeed His own, but sin was imputed to Him. He came in the place and character of a sinner: no wonder He should suffer.

4. But there was one who neither sinned nor took on her the character of a sinner. What had she to do with blood, or wounds, or grief? She had ever lived in private; she bore Him without pain; she had never come forward. She had on the whole been sheltered from the world, yet she suffered. This makes Mary's suffering so peculiar. She is the queen of martyrs.

5. Yet she too was to suffer. She is innocent, so harmless, not provoking the devil, etc. She was to suffer, and be the queen of martyrs. Joseph was taken away; she remained.

6. It is true she was not to undergo that bodily pain and violent death which literally makes a martyr. He alone suffered all who died for all. He alone suffered bodily and mentally. Her tender flesh was not scourged, but His was; her virginal form was not rudely exposed, but His was. All this would have been unseemly and unnecessary. He was to save us by that body and blood which she furnished; not she. He was to be made a sacrament for us as well as a sacrifice.

7. Yet she was privileged to share the acutest part of His sufferings, the mental, once she came into the midst, at His crucifixion.

8. Mental pain all in a moment, like a spear; despondency, sinking of nerves; no support.

9. Yet she stood.

10. Surely it quite changed her outward appearance to the end of her life.


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