The Passion of Mary
“O thou Mother, fount of Love! Touch my spirit from above, make my heart with thine accord: make me feel as thou has felt; make my soul to glow and melt with the love of Christ my Lord.” -Stabat Mater
Each station of the cross ends with a stanza of the hymn, Stabat Mater, a Medieval hymn often attributed to the great Franciscan theologian, St. Bonaventure. Have you ever invited Mary to lead you along the way of the Cross? Have you ever opened your heart to share in her motherly love for her dying son? Have you prayed for all your senses to experience what she felt in that terrible moment she never thought she’d see: the loss of her son whom she knew to be the Savior of the World, God incarnate, who in His innocence had done nothing wrong? All He did was invite each one of us to be with His Father in Heaven (John 14:2).
There is a tradition in the Church that this moment of Mary’s “pain untold” as the hymn says, was Mary’s Passion as well as Christ’s. That she alone of any present that day was completely open to the pain Jesus experienced on the Cross. That only His Mother was perfectly one with Him in His agony, just as she had been one with Him all along.
In fact, tradition says that Mary experienced no pain at the birth of Jesus, but experienced all the pain of birth at His death. The blood and water that gush forth from Christ’s side on the Cross, symbolic of His outpouring of mercy for us, are the blood and water that gush forth from a Mother as she brings new life into the world. Mary alone is completely one with her son in this tender, motherly moment of new birth. Years before she had given her fiat to bear the Lord into the world; this is Christ’s own self-sacrifice that bears us all into eternal life with His Father in Heaven.
It wasn’t until I stood with Mary at the foot of the Cross in this moment of terrible love and agony that I welcomed new life into my fraught relationship with my mother. Praying through the Way of the Cross with Mary, who is all of our Mother, allowed my heart to forgive and surrender the pain of our relationship. Only then could I enter into the Easter of a new relationship with my mother.
If you’ve experienced pain in your relationship with your mother or as a mother, Mary, Mother of us all, understands your grief. She weeps with you. She beholds you as the beloved disciple of her Son. He has given her to you as your adoptive Mother: “‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26-27). Do not be afraid to follow Jesus’ command and take her into your heart at the foot of your own Cross. Then let her hold you along the way towards the joy, forgiveness, and peace of the Resurrection.
Image citation:https://archbishopetienne.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Our-Lady-of-Sorrows.jpg. Public domain.
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