Meditations given by the Rev, Bede Jarrett, O.P., during the Novena preached in the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in preparation for the celebration of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Apparitions at Lourdes, February 2nd - February 10th, 1933
Mourning and Weeping in This Valley of Tears
OF this prayer that we call the "Salve Regina," or "Hail, Holy Queen,” we should remember that it was written by a man who was a cripple.* Though he was brought up in a family of some wealth and position, life for him was exceedingly hard. It was only by the very greatest possible effort that he succeeded in getting himself taught how to read and write. It was with even greater effort that he succeeded in becoming a monk. That was a thousand years ago. He was a very badly crippled man, with a clever mind, loving mathematics and the study of the stars and music, and he has left behind him a great row of books. But it is not by those great books of his that he will be remembered; it is by this well-used prayer. Perhaps because he was so badly crippled in life, because life was so hard for him, because of that, the Salve Regina is full of a sense of the tears of the human lot. "Mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.” That is how he describes the world in which he lived, a valley of tears; a place of weeping and mourning. To him, life, not for himself only, but for all the world, was (or could be called, at least), a valley of tears. No doubt he was thinking of the cruel reception that everyone meets with in life, thinking of the cruel reception that his Master met with when He came — innocent, just — when He came on the earth; thinking, no doubt, too, of the sorrows of her whom he is hailing in his song as his holy Queen! He is thinking of her as a Queen of Sorrows. For all those that live on earth, for all of them, this seems to him, at least, the very valley of tears.
Now the point of the sufferings of Our Blessed Lord, and the cruel reception that awaited Him, that climax point of the Incarnation is, that His particular way of life was deliberately chosen by Him. Not only did Our Blessed Lord become Man, but Our Blessed Lord chose a way of manhood that was of itself hard and difficult. This was not forced on Him. He deliberately chose it. That is the beauty of the Incarnation. We must never think of Him as forced, compelled to do what He did. He was absolute power, even though He is a Child lying in the manger. He has absolute power, even when He is being dragged through the streets. We must never think of His suffering as though it were something which was put on Him by others against His will. He had all the many ways of human life to choose from. He chose the way of hardship. He need not have gone that way. He could have redeemed mankind by the mere act of His Incarnation. Obedience, love, that is what God’s justice demanded — infinite obedience, infinite love.