On the Sorrow of Mary at the Sight of Her Beloved and Suffering Son
Let us now consider Mary, the profoundly afflicted Mother of Our Lord. We read in the Revelations of St. Bridget (Book I, chapter 10), that the eyes of the Blessed Virgin were continually filled with tears as the time of the bitter Passion of her divine Son drew near, and that the thought of the approaching death of her beloved Jesus forced a cold sweat from her pores.
1. And how did She behold Him? Ah, the loving, and once so beautiful form of Her beloved Son could hardly be recognized, so terribly and horribly had it been disfigured by the inhuman ill-treatment of the furious soldiers. Mary saw before Her a young Man, covered with wounds from head to foot. A heavy cross rested upon His shoulders. A cruel crown of thorns encircled His sacred brow, and wounded Him so unmercifully that the blood continually flowed down over his sacred countenance.
According to the Revelations of St. Bridget, Jesus had to wipe off the blood from His eyes in order to be able to see His Blessed Mother. Thus did She behold Jesus approaching. She could well say with the Prophet Isaias: “We have seen Him, and there was no sightliness in Him; we have thought Him as it were a leper; His look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed Him not.” (Isaias 53) Gladly would Mary have embraced Her Divine Son, but, as St. Anselm asserts, “the soldiers rudely drove Her away.
2. Who shall open to us the innermost depths of the sacred Heart of Mary! Ah, beloved Mother, why dost Thou conceal from us the inexpressible sorrow which then filled Thy Heart? Thy beloved children would gladly participate in Thy profound sorrow.
Thou art silent, no doubt, because Thy grief is beyond measure. “Great as the sea is Thy sorrow.” (Lament. 1) Who could fathom such a sea? And if it could be fathomed, who could in spirit behold such sorrow and not die? Even our beloved Mother Mary was able to endure this sea of sorrows only through a special strengthening of divine grace.
You see, therefore, Christian soul, we are, as it were, standing at the shore of the immense sea of the sorrows of Mary. Just as one standing at the shore of the ocean can indeed see a small part, but cannot see the whole of its vastness and depth, so it is with us when we consider the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin. Here holds good what was said in the first part of this Meditation: “Who can comprehend the love of Jesus and Mary?”
We know only this, that Mary took the sufferings of her divine Son deeply to heart. The towel of Veronica is, as it were, a symbol of the Heart of the Blessed Virgin. If that cloth, which was clean, took so faithful an impression of the sorrowful countenance of Jesus, how much more must the pure Heart of Mary have received and preserved the most true and most perfect representation of the bitter sufferings of Jesus!
She alone among all men knew how to value fully the greatness of the sacrifice of Jesus. She knew the greatness and the meaning of every sorrow that Jesus endured. Her enlightened mind perceived also all the circumstances which contributed to each sorrow its peculiar keenness and bitterness. She saw the furious hatred in the hearts of all those who caused Her Divine Son to be condemned to death, and now led Him forth to execution. To behold Her only, most beloved, and divine Son so hated, despised, and ill-treated, this was a sorrow to the loving Heart of Mary that cannot be described by angels or by men.
O sorrowful Mother Mary, thou art great and sublime in Thy deep sorrow; for it has its source in the holy and ardent love of Thy Heart which knew no other love than the love of God. Ah, my beloved Mother, this love is so wanting in me. I would so gladly be attached with the most perfect love to Thy Divine Son, our Supreme Good.
I thank thee sincerely for the exalted example of the love of God which Thou hast given me in Thy unutterable sorrow; but the mere example will not be sufficient for me to attain a high degree of the love of God. For this I stand in need of a very great grace. What will heal the coldness of my heart and the dullness of my spirit, if grace does not do it? And who can more effectively pray for grace for me than Thou?
Remember, O most loving Mother, that Holy Church calls Thee the Mother of mercy. This mercy, however, becomes most glorified when thou dost apply it to poor sinners, who stand in great need of it. Trusting in thy goodness, thy clemency, and thy power, I cry to thee from the depth of my misery: have pity on me, O Mother of mercy, and do not grow weary of praying for me, until I shall have entered into the kingdom of eternal happiness. Amen.