The Loss of Jesus in the Temple

Reflections on Each of the Seven Dolors of Mary
On the Third Dolor: Of the Loss of Jesus in the Temple

Some writers assert, and not without reason, that this dolor was not only one of the greatest, but that it was the greatest and most painful of all. For in the first place, Mary in Her other dolors had Jesus with Her; She suffered when St. Simeon uttered the prophecy in the temple; She suffered in the flight to Egypt, but always with Jesus; but in this dolor She suffered at a distance from Jesus, without knowing where He was.

Mary well understood the cause and end of the other dolors, namely, the redemption of the world, the divine will; but in this She did not know the cause of the absence of Her Son. . . . She may have Thought within Herself, I have not served Him as I ought. Perhaps I have been guilty of some neglect, and therefore He has left me.

Certainly there is no greater grief for a soul that loves God than the fear of having displeased Him. And therefore Mary never complained in any other sorrow but this, lovingly expostulating with Jesus after She found Him: “Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing.” By these words She did not wish to reprove Jesus, as the Heretics blasphemously assert, but only to make known to Him the grief She had experienced during his absence from Her, on account of the love She bore Him.

This sorrow of Mary ought, in the first place, to serve as a comfort to those souls who are desolate and do not enjoy the sweet presence they once enjoyed of their Lord. They may weep, but let them weep in peace, as Mary wept in the absence of Her Son. Let them take courage, and not fear that on this account they have lost the divine favor, for God Himself said to St. Theresa: “No one is lost without knowing it; and no one is deceived without wishing to be deceived.” If the Lord departs from the sight of that soul who loves Him, He does not therefore depart from the Heart. He often hides Himself that She may seek Him with greater desire and love. But those who would find Jesus must seek Him, not amid the delights and pleasures of the world, but amid crosses and mortifications, as Mary sought Him.

Moreover, in this world we should seek no other good than Jesus. Job was not unhappy when He lost all that He possessed on earth; riches, children, Health, and honors, and even de scended from a throne to a dunghill; but because He had God with Him, even then He was happy.

Unhappy and truly wretched are those souls who have lost God. If Mary wept for the absence of Her Son for three days, how ought sinners to weep who have lost divine grace

Text from St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1888).

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