ON THE THIRD DOLOUR OF MARY.
Mary loses Jesus for Three Days.
It has been said by many learned and pious writers that the third Dolour of the Blessed Virgin surpassed in intensity all her preceding sorrows; and no doubt they had great reasons for maintaining such an opinion. For, in her other Dolours Mary was not deprived of the sight, company, and heavenly conversation of her Divine Son ; whereas in this she was entirely separated from Him, and at the same time she was perfectly ignorant of the cause of his absence, as well as the place of his stay. The heartrending pain which our Blessed Lady felt on occasion of this third Dolour, will be the subject of this meditation.
The Jews were wont three times in the year to go from all parts of Israel to visit at Jerusalem the Temple of the Lord. There they offered their gifts of doves, pigeons, goats, lambs, and oxen
.There they presented to the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, their homage of love, praise, adoration, and thanksgiving. There they joyously and piously sang hymns and celebrated their solemn feasts. The chief of these solemnities, which the Levitical Law ordered to be strictly observed, was the Paschal Festival or Passover—a feast to commemorate the happy deliverance of Jacob’s posterity from the hands of Pharao and from the Egyptian slavery.
Now, St. Joseph was accustomed every year to go to the Temple at the appointed times. When, therefore, our dear Lord was about twelve years of age, it being the Pasch, this holy man went as usual to Jerusalem, accompanied by Jesus and his Mother. When they arrived at the place of their destination, it is commonly believed that they separated, and that each one joined a different party. St. Joseph went with the men ; Mary joined the women, and our Saviour accompanied his Mother.
Neither Jesus nor Mary was bound on this occasion to visit the Temple.
The law obliged only men to go; still our Blessed Lady went, as well as St. Joseph, devoutly to celebrate the Paschal solemnity. Why then does she visit the Temple? and why does she take her beloved Son? The learned Cornelius a Lapide answers, that “Mary accompanied her saintly spouse to Jerusalem, and went to tne Tabernacle of the Lord through devotion, but that she took Jesus with her in order to teach mothers how very careful they ought to be to make their children, whilst still young, eagerly seek the Temple and affectionately love the God who therein resides.
St. Alphonsus and Venerable Bede make the same comment. Alas ! how extremely negligent mothers are in this very important duty. As soon as their children are able to run about, they are suffered to wander from home without necessity, to amuse themselves in public streets, to play in bye-ways and roads, in a word, to do just as their whims suggest.
It is not uncommon now-a-days to hear children call each other fool—deride their parents and use against them opprobrious epithets—to hear them declare most positively that they will not do what they are told. And whose fault is it ? It is assuredly the mother’s.
It is her duty to watch over her children, to keep them from bad company and from the occasion of sin. She is strictly bound to teach them their prayers, to send them to school early, to take them to church, and to instill into their tender hearts great love for God and his sacred worship. But if she neglect these duties, her children will be to her a scourge ; they will be a reproach. When they grow up they will shorten her days, and, perhaps, God knows ! perhaps they will be the occasion of her eternal ruin. This, however, is certain, that the mother will have to answer at the dread tribunal of the Lord, for the misdeeds of her neglected offspring, and woe to her if she has unhappily forgotten her duty in their regard. Woe to her if she has thoughtlessly suffered them to play indiscriminately with other children, woe to her if she has not deeply imprinted on their minds great love for God, and an especial esteem for his house ! For, if she has thus been neglectful of the fruit of her womb, the Omnipotent Judge will condemn her as one highly culpable, as a cruel tyrant to her children ; yea, and which is still more deplorable, He will punish her as their murderer and as the cause of their eternal condemnation. Oh ! if you be a parent, who now read these lines, earnestly attend to this admonition : it is of most vital importance ; it is the voice of the Lord speaking to your heart.
” Harden not your hearts, but listen awfully to the words of God your Saviour.” Imitate the example of the Blessed Virgin; she, like a prudent and virtuous parent, took to the Temple whilst very young her Divine Son Jesus; she did so, as you have seen, for your particular instruction. Profit, therefore, by so useful a lesson, and resolve to be more vigilant over your offspring, and bring them up in the love and fear of their Creator. If you do this your family will be your joy, your honour, your crown. Your sons and daughters will grow up round you, like stately cedars of Libanus.
They will condole with you in your sorrows; they will minister to your wants ; they will assist you in sickness and infirmity; and will be your staff and delight in old age and your companions in Heaven. “A wise son maketh his father joyful.”
Beg pardon, therefore, now for your past want of care, and daily beseech Mary to teach you to educate your children properly and to preserve them from all evil. Finally, never forget the inspired words of David, the Royal Psalmist, which may be more especially applied to the young. ” With the holy thou wilt be holy ; and with the innocent thou wilt be innocent ; and with the alert thou wilt be alert ; and with the perverse thou wilt be perverted.”
If you bear this truth always in mind, and keep the example of Mary always before your eyes, there will be no danger of your neglecting the welfare of your family ; but as a good parent you will strive to the best of your power not only to save your own soul, but you will endeavour to save the souls of your dear children, too, that so you may have the unspeakable happiness of reigning eternally with them in Paradise.