“The Violence of Sorrow” –St. Bernard of Clairvaux

THE VIOLENCE OF SORROW  — 9/1/16

“The violence of sorrow has cut through your heart.”  St. Bernard of Clairvaux.sorrowswtheotokos (460x600)

St. Bernard is, of course, addressing our Mother of Sorrows.  In our PATH TO UNION, p. 141 we read further: “ Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your heart, and we rightly call you more than martyr, since the effect of compassion in you has gone beyond the endurance of physical suffering.”

Mary was united to the Word of the Cross ever since she carried Him in her womb. Through her ordinary hidden life she lived united as one to Christ; and in this way, she possessed, with her Son, the power of God and the wisdom of God. She lived her daily trials, challenges and sufferings abandoned completely to God.”

Because she was one heart, one mind, one will with her beloved Son, Mary entered the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus through compassionCompassion means “to suffer with.”  Although through her overwhelming compassion, her heart was pierced with the violence of sorrow, Mary’s compassion is only a small replica of the compassion of Jesus Himself.

How can we begin to understand the violence of sorrow that pierced the Sacred Heart of Christ?  Jesus enters intimately in the suffering of every member of His Body—there is no sorrow so little or so great that He does not feel with us, undertake with us.  As we are pierced, so is His Heart.

The saints of God are filled with compassion—they suffer with Christ and with His Body.  For example, today I read an article by Father Alexander Sherbrooke about St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta—about her premonitions about the deterioration of the Middle East:

“In 1991, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and the military action being proposed by the Americans and British seemed inevitable. I spent that winter in Calcutta and can testify to Mother’s absolute preoccupation with the consequences of the proposed Allied military action. She knew it would mean children orphaned, homes destroyed, limbs lost and the poor becoming poorer. I was set the task, as a newly ordained priest, of helping her to write letters to President Bush and Saddam Hussein. For hours we laboured over them, the draft pressed against the tabernacle by her immense hands and the final copy put on the altar. The letters were delivered.

           “In a strange way, I feel I was given an interior vision of Mother’s heart. She understood the immediate urgency of the present situation, but she also had a dreadful fear, and a premonition about how the Middle East was to unravel over the next 25 years and fall into chaos. I would venture that God was crying over our catastrophic manoeuvrings in the Middle East and the mayhem we were to cause.

       “The precious and fragile neighbourly cooperation between Christian, Muslim and Jew – which had somehow allowed those ancient and faith-filled communities to survive – has now disintegrated. The suffering cries of persecuted Christians are like the cries of Rachel’s children. “               [http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/issues/september-2nd-2016/mother-teresas-terrifying-premonition/]

We need to delve more deeply into this Heart so pierced with the violence of sorrow.  Several years ago I was blessed to do precisely that.  As a consequence I wrote SOUL FOOD TALK # 18:  The Sacred Heart of Christ.  I want to share a small excerpt of that talk here [par. 31-35]:

What sends us reeling here is the dimension of pain.  We have all meditated on the Passion of Christ, but we tend to see it as horrible, primarily physical sufferings which He endured 2000 years ago.  We should not forget that the drama of the Redemption is ongoing.  When will it end?  Only the Father knows.  We do know this, the vicious spiritual warfare is even more intense today than it has been throughout the last 2000 years.  Sin is more grievous and torrid than it has ever been. Abortion alone is unspeakable.  And we know this too, the Heart of Christ is living, pulsing in our Tabernacles, contending with the hearts of all the men alive today.  And will be till this whole drama is over once and for all. 

        “9/2/14–  Today the Lord let me enter the sorrow of His Sacred Heart… Then He gave me a vision of what He has held in His Heart since the Incarnation:  the face of every child since the beginning of time, the innocent child of His Heart, every one, till assaulted by personal sin or the assaults of other sinners—what a barrage of pain, His sense of loss and suffering for each little one, for the aborted, for those lost to Satan. Not only is the sinner a victim of his own sin, but his sin victimizes other souls, like a Ponzi scheme, like ripples on a lake which spread indefinitely when a pebble is tossed in….

          “We are constantly praying for souls, intensely, sometimes very emotionally when the objects of our prayer are loved ones, living or deceased; but it is the vision of all these little faces which struck me with such power because for just a short time He made me see all of these souls, every human being who has ever lived or will live, as He sees them.  The innocence and potential purity of each one.  Remember Bishop Martinez’ remark:  “…this love is a singular love, because each soul is for God ‘one beyond compare’…No two loves are the same, for each soul has its own special character…God created each soul precisely that way in order that each soul might love Him with a love which is never duplicated.” [194]

             “For the Heart of Jesus, that little face, “one beyond compare”  is His whole focus, the infinite delight of His Heart or the unmitigated sorrow of His Heart.  It is as though that one little face is the only one that has ever existed or will ever exist and the fullness of His Heart rests on that little one.  Now reflect on all the people who have died.  So many have been lost to perdition.  Can you imagine His grief?  His sorrow both in the Garden of Gethsemane and right now as He looks at our century, our country, our family?

        “Don’t just reflect on the lost souls, but on the barrage of pain inflicted on victim souls, on the abused, for example.  His Heart has felt every pain of every hurt or frightened child—and it is His child’s face that Jesus sees in every confused, broken adult.  The loss of innocence and purity everywhere drowned, killed, mutilated, in the clutches of the evil one. The Sacred Heart of Jesus takes personally every hurt to every child of His Heart.   Can we ever again “pray for souls” without seeing with Him all those innocent faces in harm’s way? “

         One of the central pleas of Love Crucified Covenant Community, a community of victims of love, is this one:  “Suffer all with Me, no longer two but one in my sacrifice of love.”  I pray constantly:  “Let me suffer all with You, no longer two but one in Your sacrifice of love.”  Today I see something new in this prayer.  It no longer applies to me alone suffering with Christ, but to me and to all others who are suffering.  So I pray, “Let me suffer ALL, my suffering and yours,  with you—all my suffering brothers and sisters—for we are the suffering Body of Christ.  One Body, one Heart, one Mind, one Will.  The violence of sorrow pierces all,  All.”

Compassion means to suffer with.  If we, with our weakened wills, our calloused hearts, our innate selfishness, feel pain at the suffering of our brothers and sisters, imagine the violence of sorrow in the sensitive, Sacred Heart for each of His little ones, each little face in the core of His Heart, Mind, and Will.  “Let me suffer all with you…”  Enter the violence of sorrow of His Sacred Heart.  When you see the refugees fleeing Somalia and Syria, the face of the persecuted whose homes and lives are in ashes, the flood victims whose lives are smashed into floating debris,  the shredded lives—open your heart and suffer all—“Let me suffer all with you, all with Your Body, all with You…  Let me be one with Your living Mass, Your sacrifice of love.”  This is what it means to be a victim of love for Christ.

Like Mary, then, “Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your heart, and we rightly call you more than martyr, since the effect of compassion in you has gone beyond the endurance of physical suffering.”

         ***

A couple of weeks ago, Lourdes, Mother of the Cross and our spiritual mother, spoke to us about the “violence of sorrow.”  She entreated us to “enter into the violence of your sorrows.”  We cannot suffer with Christ or one another, if we do not enter the sorrow.  In our human weakness, we try to dodge pain, turn away, avoid by varied means.  These are three reasons we do not enter our “violence of sorrows”:

1) We minimize them. Do not constantly tell yourself,  “I have no sufferings to speak of.”  You suffer exactly the crosses which Christ gives you—however little or great, you suffer them—and in entering your sorrows you live the Mass.

2) We distract ourselves from them.  You know how that works:  busy, busy, television, telephone, and insufficient quiet time to reflect on your life with Christ.

3) We complain. The smallest complaints neutralize the sacrifice of love.  We comfort ourselves in these insipid ways and refuse to enter the pain of our sorrow.

[AUDIOS –  LOURDES PINTO –Violence of Love, part 1:  http://lovecrucified.com/audio_subsite/violence-of-sorrow-72816.mp3

Violence of Love, part 2:  http://lovecrucified.com/audio_subsite/violence-of-sorrows-part.mp3 ]

AUDIO – FATHER JORDI RIVERO:  “Suffer With”

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