MOTHER MOST DESOLATE
He hath made me desolate, wasted all the day long.
(Lam, i. 13)
Who will give water to my head? And a fountain of tears to my eyes?
(Jeremias, ix. 1)
There is a devotion in connection with our Blessed Lady’s Sorrows which should not be overlooked by those who desire to be her faithful children. It is the devotion to her Desolation. First, from Good Friday night to the dawn of Easter Day, when her beloved Son was hidden from her eyes in the tomb; and secondly, through the years, fifteen or more, that she consented to prolong her exile upon earth, in order that she might be the nursing Mother of the Infant Church, and the guide and support of the Apostles. It is a devotion fully recognized by the Church; and that relating to the period from Friday to Sunday is enriched with indulgences. It is wished that it may attract more general attention for it affords food for profitable meditation.
When the Apostles, standing on the Mount of Olives, saw their beloved Master taken away out of their sight into Heaven, they were still but little experienced in the arduous task before them. On the day of Pentecost the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit were poured forth upon them, and upon her also, who was the Spouse of the Holy Ghost, and already so unspeakably rich in wisdom and in grace. It might appear almost strange that having received so much, and responded so perfectly to all she had received, her pure soul could yet contain deeper draughts of that living water. But Mary was to be the living help of the College of Apostles. She was to remain on earth yet some years to come, as the Instructress, the Counsellor, and the Consoler of the Disciples of her Divine Son. In the old dispensation the Tables of the Law were deposited in the Ark of the Covenant (Deut, x. 3-5); and as the Children of Israel marched onwards, the Ark of the Covenant went before them (Numbers, x. 33). In the new dispensation the wisdom and the grace of the law of Christ were deposited in her, the Fæderis Arca (Ark of the Covenant), of whom the Jewish Ark of the Covenant was the prototype. And she, like her prototype, “went before” in the first years of the Church’s progress upon earth. And no less truly and really does she now go before, and prepare our way, by her powerful intercession in Heaven. Thus it was fitting that she should participate in the grace poured forth on the twelve Apostles, when they were gathered together on that wonderful Whit-Sunday. And with that a new flood of grace Mary entered on her Desolation, and endured her prolonged exile for love of the Church. If we reflect upon how intense must have been Mary’s love for the Church, which could induce her thus to prolong her absence from Jesus, that she might minister to her children upon earth, we shall learn the importance and the sweetness of devotion to Mary’s Desolation. It is an act of gratitude that we owe her, in return for her willing extension of exile from the joys of Heaven.
It is also a devotion specially adapted to the present time, when the progress of infidelity and opposition to the Church make it doubly needful that Mary should manifest her power more and more as the Ark of the Covenant and the Help of Christians. It is to Mary’s advocacy that we look for the triumph of the Church, that triumph so often noticed in the history of the Church, in the long combat between truth and error, between light and darkness. Let us, then, plead with Mary, by her long Desolation, to help her children. The love which caused her, after Crucifixion and the Ascension of her Divine Son, to delay her own departure, has not lessened amidst the glories of her Queenship in Heaven. Let us dwell lovingly on what she sacrificed for the Church then, that we may reap the benefits of it now, remembering always that her Desolation was the mysterious continuation of her sorrows, and that the Mater Addolorata (Mother of Sorrows) is also the Mater Desolata (Mother Desolate).
Source: Manual of Devotions of Our Lady of Sorrows, Edition 1868
Pray for us Oh Mother most Desolate,
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.