Rosary Crusade Clarion
Devotional bulletin of the Rosary Crusade in Canada

September 2001 Issue #9

Our Lord and our Lady - by Hilaire Belloc

They warned Our Lady for the Child
That was Our Blessed Lord,
And She took Him into the desert wild,
Over the camel's ford.

And a long song She sang to Him
And a short story told:
And She wrapped Him in a woolen cloak
To keep Him from the cold.

But when Our Lord was grown a man
The Rich they dragged Him down,
And they crucified Him in Golgatha,
Out and beyond the Town.

They crucified Him on Calvary,
Upon an April day;
And because He had been her little Son
She followed Him all the way.

Our Lady stood beside the Cross,
A little space apart,
And when She heard Our Lord cry out
A sword went through Her Heart.

They laid Our Lord in a marble tomb,
Dead, in a winding sheet.
But Our Lady stands above the world
With the white Moon at Her feet.


Our Lady of Fatima


The sword smitten heart of Mary, this year celebrated on a Saturday, should move all devout Catholics to pity and devotion. "We must choose, therefore, among all the devotions to the Blessed Virgin, the one which draws us most toward this death to ourselves, inasmuch as it will be the best and the most sanctifying.  For we must not think that all that shines is gold, that all that tastes sweet is honey, or that all that is easy to do and is done by the greatest number is the most sanctifying." -True Devotion to Mary, by St. Louis de Montfort. Meditation on our Lady's sufferings is not an amusement for our pleasure; it is a strengthening of the love of our heart for spiritual treasures, and a means to detach us from the transitory joys of this world.

I wish this blessing on all of us who pray the rosary: May seven swords of sorrow also pierce our hearts, as they once touched the inmost recesses of our Blessed Mother.   So may we be brought to the love and service of God, not for the sake of consolations in this world (which God grants to us only for a time), but in a more perfect manner may we come to love God when He sends us sufferings, as He has granted to His greatest saints.

United to you in devotion to the Blessed Virgin, I am,
Emanuel Herkel
Fr. E. Herkel


Mater Dolorosa

Mary's sorrow attracts our heart and enlists our sympathy. O, indeed if we who "pass by the way attend and see" we will be convinced that there "is not any sorrow like unto hers." There may be natures so stolid and insensible as not to be moved to rejoice at another's happiness, but there are few who are not moved to sadness at sight of it in others. It is a tribute that nature seems to demand of us, even against our will; and what heart is so hard as to refuse a tear or sigh in sympathy when our own sweet Mother is the object of it? Let us, then, accompany her through a few of those dolors of her mortal life, which culminated in that hour when the sad, disconsolate Mother turned away from the sepulcher wherein reposed all that was dearest to a mother's heart.

In speaking of Mary, or of any of her prerogatives, as the object of our devotion, we must never lose sight of the ineffable relation between her and Jesus. For it is only in view of this relation - because Mary is the Mother of God, and Jesus is her Son - that we offer her that homage which we pay her. While reflecting on the present subject, it is especially necessary that we bear in mind this their intimate union. As Christ as God had from all eternity proceeded from the Father alone, so did He, in time, as man, take His human nature from Mary alone. He was literally " flesh of her flesh, and bone of her bone;" no other mortal could claim any part of Him. Aided by the mysterious influence of the Holy Ghost only, Mary gave to Jesus a body out of her pure substance: so that she is called, and is, His Mother, by a title more appropriate than that by which ordinary women are called the mothers of the children whom they bear. Never before were two hearts more perfectly united; never were two pure souls so perfectly in accord as were the soul of Mary and the human soul of her Son. Bearing these facts in mind, we shall the more readily understand how the sorrows of the Man-God must have touched a corresponding chord in His Mother's heart, and how intensely they must have been felt therein.

Holy Church, much as she reveres the memory of her departed and glorified servants, bestows on her saints no empty titles. She designated them only by those virtues and distinguishing characteristics to which, in this life, they had acquired a just and well-founded right. In addressing the Holy Virgin as "Queen of martyrs," she is moved by reasons similar to those by which she addressed her as the "Queen of virgins;" and as Mary is by pre-eminence the virgin, the queen, the type and model of all who aspire to that angelic virtue, so is she by excellence the martyr, the queen, the type and model of all Christians who would testify their love for Him, and for His doctrines, who is the "author and finisher of their faith."

Yes, Mary was in the truest sense a martyr, and one whose sufferings equaled the pain of all the martyrs combined. This seems like exaggeration. But let us reflect. We know well what effect sin has in hardening the heart, and rendering it insensible to the ordinary pains of life. In fact, suffering is in a direct ratio to the mode of life, according as it has been good or bad. Have we not seen people rendered by their dissolute, sinful habits, impervious and indifferent to hardships, which, if they had not fallen from their high estate of purity and innocence, would have crushed them beneath their weight of disgrace and shame? In the Holy Virgin's case - her supremely delicate sensibilities were never weakened or blunted by sin; her tender compassion for the miseries, the sorrows, and even the inconveniences of others, as shown at the marriage feast in Cana, was never impaired by contact with the world of sin. She was conceived without stain; the days of her girlhood -spent in the quiet seclusion of the temple - were scarce passed when she became the legal wife of Joseph, the mystic spouse of the Holy Ghost, and the Virgin Mother of the Incarnate Word. From the moment that the angelic choirs, surrounding the crib in the rock-hewn stable, intoned their "Gloria in excelsis," until the Easter morning thirty-three years after, she suffered, in every moment of her life, a new martyrdom. She had an intimate knowledge of all the trying ordeals her Child should have to pass through in His self-imposed task of redeeming man; and just as the entire weight of a ball or globe is concentrated at that point where it touches or rests on a plane, so did the thirty-three long years in her Son's life concentrate themselves in each successive moment of His Mother's existence. What marvel, then, that whether asleep or awake, whether in contemplation or engaged in her ordinary household duties, whether in the society of her few friends or pouring forth her soul in prayer, those terrible scenes which beset her loved One's path were ever present to her? But when she presented Him in the temple, and when the holy old Simeon, taking his infant God in his arms, pronounced that remarkable prophecy: "And thine own soul a sword shall pierce," then indeed, and in earnest, her life-long martyrdom began. Again, if we follow her from the temple, we find her on her way to Egypt, a fugitive and exile by the command of God Himself, From behind her the wailing, of the mothers of Bethlehem, over the wholesale massacre of their innocents, is borne to her ears on the cold breeze of night; while before her lie the trackless desert wastes, where so many of her ancestors found a tomb during their wanderings after they had escaped from bondage in that hostile land in which she is now about to seek a shelter and an asylum from the jealousy of one of her own country's rulers.

Who is not touched with sympathy for the holy Mother, on reading that when in His twelfth year, on their return from Jerusalem, she found she had lost her boy, "His father and she sought Him for three days sorrowing?" But who may tell the pangs of that maternal heart during the remaining eighteen years of great seclusion in Nazareth? Everything pointed to the future. Even the humble artisan trade, in which her husband and her Son employed themselves to earn a support - even it, with its hammer and nails, and rough unhewn wood - was terribly suggestive of scenes to be enacted at a future day. If from her humble home she looks towards the "city of David," those three, crosses with their victims loom up before her. At length, when her Son went forth from her a wanderer, not "having whereon to rest His head," and when His earthly career was drawing to a close, then did her sorrows increase in intensity. Knowing well that He merits them as never did man before, her mother's heart draws some little consolation from the applause, with which the people receive Him, and from the praise bestowed on Himself and His teaching; but again her cup is dashed with bitterness when she reflects that those same people will one day make the air resound with quite different acclamations. Soon she hears He has been betrayed by one of His own disciples, that He is held a prisoner in the hands of His enemies, and that His followers have abandoned Him. How her heart yearns to fly to Him, to console Him; yet she knows He is again "about His Father's business," and she is resigned.

We pass over the indignities to which she beheld Him subjected, as we do the meeting during the procession up the hill of Calvary, the stripping, the fastening to the cross, and those other preparations for the execution, which few mothers could look upon without emotion. What mother could listen to the sounds of the hammer driving the long rough nails through the feet and hands of her Son, without having her very heart torn with anguish? If ordinary sinful mothers are carried away in a state of frenzy or insensibility from the final interview with their criminal sons, before expiating the crimes and excesses of a life which was a disgrace to the mothers who bore them, what must we suppose to have been the anguish of Mary when she beheld her Son, after three hours of unutterable agony, expire on the cross? A pagan writer has said that "to have the same desires and the same aversions is indeed the finest bond of friendship;" - never, however, could this have been more fully realized than in the case of Jesus and Mary. He loved and honored His Mother as the dutiful son ought to love and honor his parents; with all a mother's deep abiding affection, she loved Him as her only Son she worshipped Him as her God. This Son, then, the very perfection of manly beauty and human comeliness, "in whom the plenitude of the divinity dwelt corporally," this Son the sad Mother beholds, - for no other crime than that "He loved the world " - wrestling in the agony and throes of His death-struggle. She beholds, too, the very people for whom His life's blood is fast ebbing on the cross, and whom, all His life-long, He yearned to save, revile and reproach Him whom she knows to be the very perfection of innocence and gentleness and love. All this was hard and cruel and afflicting - but the sacrifice was not yet complete. When the soldier, snatching the spear, inhumanly plunged it into the now pulseless heart of her beloved Son, the sudden pang that caused her very nerve to quiver proved that Simeon's prophecy was now at length fulfilled: the sword of sorrow had indeed pierced her inmost core, and nothing but a miracle prevented her pure spirit from winging its way in company with His to whom in death as in life she had been intimately united. After this, the receiving Him from the cross and the subsequent interment - agonizing though they were, could add but little of pain to a heart already seared with so great sorrow.

All those dolors of Mary were natural, but voluntary, -just as the sufferings of Jesus were natural, but voluntarily undertaken. She was as yet perhaps the only one who knew with what designs God permitted wicked men to persecute His Christ. She knew that His sacrifice was necessary in order to restore peace between God and man. Therefore, as much out of love for us as out of obedience to the will and commands of God - who had given her the "Son of the promise" - she was prepared - like Abraham of old - freely to devote her Son as a sacrifice to God on the altar of the cross. Not only did she offer Him to God in expiation of the sins of the world, but she sacrificed herself with Him mystically, thus adding her immense though finite merits to the immeasurable, infinite merits of Jesus.

Need we any further proof of that trite saying: "Whom God loveth He chastiseth"? That, with thy example before us "suffering with Christ, we may be also glorified with Him" - "Queen of martyrs, pray for us."

- from Ave Maria, May 22,1869