Sermon of Archbishop Lefebvre on the Feast of Our Lady of Compassion

Source: District of Great Britain

Econe Switzerland, 10 April 1981

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Our Lady at the Foot of the Cross

It is written in the Holy Gospel that a sword shall pierce the Heart of the Virgin. This Heart, pierced by a sword, of course, means nothing else than her association with the Passion of her Divine Son. The Gospel also says that the Blessed Virgin Mary was standing beside Our Lord Jesus Christ during His Passion and at the moment of His death: "Stabat Mater iuxta Crucem."

Therefore we must not deny that Divine Providence wanted to associate the Blessed Virgin Mary not only with His birth, to His coming on earth and to His infancy, to His hidden life and to His public life, but above all to His Passion. Indeed, if the most important moment — "the hour" of Our Lord Jesus Christ — was the moment of His death on the cross, the hour of His Passion, that of the Blessed Virgin Mary was that of her Compassion, of her intimate union with the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Devotion to the Sorrows of Our Lady

This devotion is very old in the Church. We do not know exactly when the feasts of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady and of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin began. However, in the Church, some religious societies were founded through the direct intervention of the Virgin Mary herself, in order to meditate on her sorrows and especially on her compassion. The Servites of Mary are a good example, established by the Seven Founders upon a request of the Blessed Virgin Mary herself; they are particularly dedicated to meditation on her sufferings, to union with the Sorrowful Virgin.

Another society dedicated to this contemplation is that of the Passionists of St Paul of the Cross. The Passionists have had many saints in their congregation. It was a most fervent congregation. One of their saints, St Gabriel of the Addolorata, took the name of "Addolorata" precisely because he wanted to spend his life meditating on the sufferings of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

To Associate Ourselves with Jesus Suffering

Why this meditation? Why this union with the Blessed Virgin Mary in her Compassion, in her suffering, in her transfixion? In order to associate ourselves more intimately with the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ!

Indeed, if there were ever a Heart, which suffered with the Heart of Jesus pierced on the cross, if ever there were a soul whose thoughts were united with those of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, it was the Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary! She had never sinned, and like Our Lord, she did not need to make reparation for herself. Yet both wanted to suffer, to suffer horribly, to suffer deeply, to suffer in their bodies.

Two Hearts Burning with Charity

Let us then try to penetrate the sentiments of these two Hearts, the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. It is obvious that both the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin Mary were profoundly motivated by Charity.

Their Hearts were devoured by charity, burning with love of the Holy Ghost. Our Lord, Word of God, one substance with the Holy Ghost, was devoured by the love of the Holy Ghost, by this Holy Spirit who set on fire all His Being. The person of the Word but also His Soul, His Body, His Heart of flesh, were inflamed by the Holy Ghost. The Virgin Mary imitated her Divine Son and she too tried to model her sentiments on those of her Divine Son. She too was filled with the Holy Ghost. This was so for her whole life but without any doubt, in a very particular way during the Passion.

To Restore the Honor of the Father

We must never forget that the first and main goal of these two Hearts inflamed by the Holy Ghost was the love of the Father.

Indeed, love of the Holy Ghost, this "Consuming Fire," leads to the Father. It is none other than the love of God: "God is Charity." Therefore, the Holy Ghost can do nothing other than lead us to God, to lead us to the Father. Thus Jesus was suffering first of all in order to restore the honor of God the Father. The Virgin Mary, too, was united with the sufferings of her Divine Son in order to restore the honor of the Father.

The Father receives infinite glory, really infinite, from His Divine Son. And He also receives the greatest created glory from a privileged creature. This creature was the Blessed Virgin Mary, united with her Divine Son. She was the first to be truly redeemed. She was perfectly redeemed, in the sense that she has not even known sin. It was in consideration of the Incarnation of Our Lord that she was Immaculate in her Conception and thus has never known sin.

At the foot of the Cross, she sang the glory of the Father in suffering; in sorrow she sang the glory of God; she wanted to restore the honor and the glory of God upon earth.

Merciful Love

This love, which devoured both of them, made them full of mercy. Indeed, the immediate consequence of a great love, of a great charity, is mercy. For this love these Hearts possessed wants to be spread about, wants to be communicated to those who do not have it, to all those who are lacking it.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, seeing all sinful mankind since Adam and Eve, all men who were to be born in this world — Our Lord Jesus Christ had a clear vision and full knowledge of this by His Divinity because He is the Creator and Redeemer of mankind — He knew all this misery, all these men far from God who don't think of the Father, of their Creator and Redeemer. Our Lord saw all this and His Heart was filled with mercy. This mercy leads to sacrifice. Mercy is a source of sacrifice. It leads all the way to sacrifice because it is ready to give itself totally so that charity be re-established in the hearts of men.

Thus Our Lord suffered; He suffered in His Body — in the Garden of the Agony drops of blood were dripping from His forehead. Our Lord was filled with mercy. And the Blessed Virgin wanted to share the sufferings of Our Lord precisely for the same reason. She too thought of all these souls. Both of them suffered together and wanted to suffer, even unto death, unto martyrdom.

And if Our Lord Jesus Christ truly gave His last breath for the glory of His Father and for the redemption of souls so that the Holy Ghost may inflame all hearts and all souls with the love of the Most Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary did not die herself at that moment, but she offered her life and she suffered martyrdom. She is truly called the Queen of Martyrs. She too gave herself, all her blood, all her life, all that she had and, in particular, her Divine Son. She gave all to the Good Lord for the redemption of souls. Mother of Mercy, Mater Misericordiae. Such are the origins of the Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Suffering with Peace and Joy

Far from us to think that in the Passion there is sadness leading to despair and that this sadness would have put Jesus and Mary's souls in a certain kind of despair. No, not at all! Since it was precisely charity which was the origin of these sufferings, charity produced in their Hearts peace and joy: Though it might seem unbelievable to unite passion, suffering and mercy with a profound joy, yet the Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ was filled with joy indeed; and so was the Heart of the Virgin Mary, united with that of Our Lord.

They were filled with the joy of the Most Holy Trinity, the joy given by a great Charity; the peace, which Charity produces in souls, is an ineffable peace. Jesus and Mary were not in a torture like many souls who suffer in their bodies, and who have feelings of deep sorrow and despair. No, Jesus and Mary did not suffer in this way. They suffered, but their Hearts were truly in serenity, in peace, which allowed the Blessed Virgin to remain standing at the foot of the Cross. If she had not had this peace, if she had not had this Charity, if she had not had this intimate and profound joy of associating herself with the sufferings of her Divine Son, of associating herself with His Charity, of being filled with the Holy Ghost, she could not have remained standing and the Gospel would not have said “Stabat Mater." The persons who surrounded the Blessed Virgin most likely showed more than the Blessed Virgin their exterior suffering — through tears and exterior feelings. The Virgin remained calm, in peace.

Patroness of the Oblates of the Society of St Pius X

Here you have your patroness, my most dear Sisters. And you chose to come here to unite yourselves with us, you chose to come here particularly to this house of Econe where almost all the Oblates, have come or with which they are at least all united; you came to associate yourself with the priests, because the priest is another Christ. The priest must associate himself with the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ particularly through the Sacrifice that he offers; he must thereby espouse the feelings of the Heart of Jesus, and also the feelings of Mary; he must ask the Virgin to make him understand these feelings in order to feel them more and to espouse them better.

Thus be helpers of the priests, not only helping them with your hands, but with your soul and with your spirit, helping in the Priesthood, in the spirit of sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His Cross for the extension of His reign, for the extension of His love.

In this way you will unite yourselves in a very special way with the Blessed Virgin Mary as she was united with her Divine Son, and you will share His sufferings. You shall contribute in a very powerful way to the redemption of souls, according to the measure in which you are able, to the measure, which Divine Providence shall give to you. You will associate yourselves in a more profound way to the priesthood, praying for the priests, for the seminarians whom you serve, that they may become true priests, that they may become truly other Christs, that they may associate themselves in an even more profound and more perfect way to the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

You will ask the Blessed Virgin Mary for this grace. Then offer your sufferings, offer your sacrifices for this intention, so that the Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ may be extended.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.