Friday 12 May 2023

The Passion of Christ Through the Eyes of Mary - Anselm of Canterbury and Others

The Passion of Christ Through the Eyes of Mary
Anselm of Canterbury and Others
ISBN 9781505127973
eISBN 9781505127997

This is one of a trio of books highlighted for Lent by TAN Books. They were marketed as a collection. The three volumes are:

The Seven Last Words of Christ - St. Bonaventure & Arnold of Bonneval

It is the second I have finished. It is an excellent volume. The description of this volume is:

“"As I stood at the foot of the cross, this pure white garment became saturated with the streams of crimson blood which gushed from His precious body!"
--Our Lady to Saint Anselm

There is no human person who loved Christ more than Mary. And there is no greater act of love than Christ's sacrifice on the cross.

In these pages, you will find two of the most stirring revelations of Christ's passion and death ever recorded by Doctors of the Church--Saint Anselm, the Magnificent Doctor, along with writings attributed to Saint Bernard, the Mellifluous Doctor. These private revelations given by Our Lady will enhance one's prayer life while drawing one deeper into the passion narratives of the Gospels. But what makes this book unique is the heartfelt dialogue between Our Lady and her spiritual sons. Those who read this book will be profoundly moved to not only weep for their sins but to weep for Him whose blood was completely emptied for our salvation.

The Mother of Sorrows is the woman of the interior life who leads us to the Master of the interior life, the Man of Sorrows. There is no better way to contemplate the passion of Christ than through the eyes of Mary, she who loved Him above everything, she who loved Him with a mother's heart, and she who stood firmly when everyone else fled.”

The chapters and sections in this volume are:

Translator’s Note
Dialogue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Anselm on the Passion of Our Lord
     1. The Betrayal of Christ and His Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane
     2. The Arrest of Christ
     3. Christ is Led Before Ananias, and Peter Denies Him Three Times
     4. Christ is Led to Caiaphas
     5. Christ Appears Before Pilate
     6. Jesus is Brought before Herod, then Returned to Pilate
     7. The Scourging and the Crowning with Thorns
     8. Jesus is Sentenced to Death and Carries His Cross
     9. The Sorrowful Meeting of Christ and His Mother
    10. The Crucifixion and Raising Up of the Cross
    11. The Insults Which Christ Suffered on the Cross
    12. The Words of Christ from the Cross
    13. The Death of Christ and the Miraculous Signs which Followed
    14. The Lamentation of the Mother for Her Son
    15. The Descent of the Soul of Christ into Limbo
    16. Christ’s Body is Removed from the Cross and Placed in the Tomb

The Book of the Passion of Our Lord
 (Latin text traditionally attributed to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux)
     Chapters 1-9

Our Lady’s Lament

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary
     Septet of the First Sorrow: 
          The Circumcision of Christ and Simeon’s Prophecy
     Septet of the Second Sorrow: 
          The Flight into Egypt
     Septet of the Third Sorrow: 
          When the Boy Jesus Was Lost for Three Days
     Septet of the Fourth Sorrow: 
          Jesus Carries His Cross to Calvary
     Septet of the Fifth Sorrow: 
          The Death of Jesus upon the Cross
     Septet of the Sixth Sorrow: 
          The Lifeless Body of Christ is Placed in the Arms of His Mother
     Septet of the Seventh and Final Sorrow: 
          Christ is Placed in His Tomb
     Closing Prayers

I highlighted but a few passages my first time through this book. Some of them are:

“This volume presents English translations of three extremely significant medieval works, meditating on the passion of Christ through the eyes of His glorious Mother. The first is the Dialogue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Anselm on the Passion of Our Lord. This remarkable piece of devotional literature presents a touching colloquy between the Mother of God and Saint Anselm (1033– 1109) in which the passion and death of Christ is described with great beauty and poignancy. This work is best appreciated as an example of “devotional creative writing” in which the author uses his imagination to paint a vivid image of the events surrounding Our Lord’s death. Naturally, a synthesis of the narratives of the various Gospel accounts are the basis of the dialogue, but other striking details are added as well to provide a more complete picture. Of course, whether these additional details are understood as elements of private revelation or simply devotional imagination, they should not be interpreted as making any claims to objective historicity. Rather, they serve to assist in prayer and meditation on these most awesome and heartrending events. 

The second work is entitled the Liber de Passione Christi (Book of the Passion of Christ). Like Saint Anselm’s dialogue, it is also presented in the form of a colloquy with Mary on the passion of Jesus, but the interlocutor in this instance is Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090– 1153). Indeed, the work is traditionally attributed to that great saint. For various philological and stylistic reasons, this attribution seems unlikely, although it is by no means impossible. Regardless of the authorship, the work was an extremely popular and widely circulated devotional text throughout the second half of the Middle Ages, and many manuscript copies of it survive. 

The third text is Our Lady’s Lament. Unlike the other works included here, this tract was originally composed in Middle English. While the author cannot be determined with certainty, it is considered most likely to have been written by John Lydgate (1370– 1451), an English Benedictine monk and poet. The version of it offered here translates the text into comprehensible Modern English, but a few easily understood verbal anachronisms have been deliberately retained for the sake of emulating the tone and character of the original.”

“Finally, the traditional method of praying the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary is also included in the form of a translation of the booklet entitled Corona dolorosa, seu modus pie meditandi dolores praecipuos B. V. Mariae, 1 published in 1738. This wonderful and highly efficacious method of praying the Rosary, which is especially associated with the Servite Order, involves meditation upon each of the traditional seven sorrows of Our Lady. It consists of the Hail Mary prayed in seven groups of seven, with the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each group. Short aspirations or intentions are attached to each prayer.”

“[Thirdly,] because, being God Himself, He knew perfectly in advance everything which He was to suffer and undergo. This included the contemptuous showering of Him with spittle, the blasphemies and insults of the soldiers and the crowds, the bloody scourging, the cruel crucifixion, and all the innumerable other torments He was to endure.”

“Then they blindfolded His eyes as if He were a common thief. This act of degradation is something normally done to no one, unless they have already been judged and found guilty! And, for the whole night, they did not cease from mocking and humiliating Him, spitting in His face and striking Him. They said to Him with scornful derision, “Prophesy to us, O Prophet! Who is it that is striking you?””

I hope those quotes give you a feel for this volume. This was an excellent volume to read over Lent, and it is one that would benefit a reader at any time of the year. It is a book that will inspire, encourage and challenge. It is a short volume. But one that is packed full of faith and devotion. 

This was another excellent read from TAN. It is a book any Catholic would benefit from reading. It is a fantastic resource for spiritual growth. It is great by itself or in the collection with the other two. It is a volume I can easily recommend.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

No comments: