Lenten Lamentations (Gorzkie Żale)

(Bitter or Lenten Lamentations) is traditional Polish devotion during the Lent. It originates in early 18th century in the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw, Poland. Primarily it was a collection of popular songs and melodies used by people in villages around Warsaw to reflect on Passion of Christ.
In 1707 Fr. Lawrence Benik CM published in print a booklet titled in Polish “Snopek Myrry z Ogroda Gethsemańskiego albo żałosne Gorzkiey Męki Syna Bożego […] rospamiętywanie” (A bunch of Myrrh from Garden of Gethsemane or sorrowful crying over Bitter Passion of Son of God). Myrrh was one of the gifts the Three Wise Men brought to newborn Jesus as he announcement of the passion and the redemptive death of Christ. This publishing is considered as beginning of Gorzkie Zale devotion. For years this baroque multi-word phrase was used as title of the devotion. Then, with passing time, a title derived from first words of the initial song (Gorzkie Żale przybywajcie, serca nasze przenikajcie) was used more and more frequent. However the original old-Polish language is preserved until now.

With the grace of God, let us awaken in our hearts a profound sorrow for our sins. In the spirit of reparation, let us offer to our Heavenly Father, this meditation on the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us be mindful of God’s immense love far us, His unworthy creatures. Out of pure love for man, God sent His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, who assumed our human nature, so that He might satisfy Divine Justice by suffering cruel torments and by dying on the Cross. Let us also offer this contemplation as an act of veneration to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother most sorrowful, and to all the Saints but especially to those who distinguished themselves by their devotion to the passion of Christ.

1 part
In this first part of our contemplation, let us recall our Lord’s sufferings, beginning with His prayer and bloody sweet in the Garden of Gethsemane end ending with His unjust accusation before the tribunal of Sanhedrin. These insults and indignities which Our Lord suffered, let us offer for the exaltation of the Church, for all clergy and religious, for the people of God, for the enemies of His Cross and for all unbelievers so that all may become the one true fold of Christ.

2 part
In the second part of our Lamentations, let us meditate on the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ from the time He was accused before the Sanhedrin until the moment when He was crowned with thorns.
Let as offer to God the Father the wounds, indignities, and insults of our Lore Jesus in the hope that all nations may live in peace and harmony with one another, that Christian charity may rule in the hearts of men, and that true unity and lasting peace may reign in the world.
Let us also offer our Lord’s passion for ourselves to obtain the remission of our sins and of our punishment for them, and to secure protection against pestilence, famine, war, and all calamity.

3 part
In the last part of our Lamentations,
let us contemplate the sufferings of Jesus from the time He was nailed to the cross until the moment when He breathed His last on that infamous cross. All these sufferings, blasphemies, insults, and indignities heaped upon our innocent Savior, let us offer to our heavenly Father for the founders and benefactors of our parish, for all the faithful living and dead, and for all the hardened sinners, particularly those persisting in the habit of impurity, drugs, and drunkenness. May our Savior move their hearts and minds to sincere repentance and amendment of their living. Let us also offer our Lord’s passion for the souls in purgatory that the merciful Jesus alleviate and shorten their suffering. Finally, let us entreat Jesus to intercede for us with His most merciful Father that at the hour of our death we may obtain the grace of sincere sorrow for our sins and a reward of eternal happiness with Him.

S.M. Consuela, CSSF
S.M. Lucentia, CSSF
melody revised by
S.M. Evangeline, CSSF

Copyright 1986 by SS.Ciril and Methodius Seminary, St. Mary’s College
and St. Mary’s Preparatory, Orchard Lake, Michigan