Today, Good Friday, we mediated on Christ’s scourging at the pillar, His crowning with thorns, His scourging at the pillar, His carrying of the cross, and His crucifixion and death on the cross.
I have said so often before that as a mother I have a particular love for the hauntingly beautiful words of Stabat Mater (“The mother was standing”/At the Cross her Station Keepeing) – a meditation on the suffering of a mother that awful day as she stood helplessly at the foot of the cross and watched her Son suffer and die. This is an English translation of that beautiful 13th century Latin hymn:
At the cross her station keeping
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.
Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing
now at length the sword had passed.
Oh, how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother highly blessed,
of the sole-begotten One!
Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying, glorious Son.
Is there one who would not weep,
‘whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?
Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s pain untold?
Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
she beheld her tender Child
All with scourges rent.
For the sins of His own nation,
saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.
O sweet Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord.
Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ, my Lord.
Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified.
Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all our sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.
Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live.
By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.
Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;
Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.
Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;
Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.
Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
by Thy Mother my defense,
by Thy Cross my victory;
While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
safe in paradise with Thee. Amen.
And here’s a link to Palestrina’s lovely rendition of the Sabat Mater with Latin text.