For the last fourteen days of Lent, I’m posting one Station of the Cross per day, taken from Pope John Paul II’s 2003 Good Friday meditations, and Pope Benedict’s 2005 Good Friday meditations, both delivered at the Colosseum.
V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi. [We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee.]
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum. [Because by Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.]
From the Gospel according to Luke. 2:34-35, 51
Simeon said to Mary, his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign of contradiction, that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed. And a sword will pierce through your own soul also”… His mother kept all these things in her heart.
|Fourth Station of the Cross, Church of Notre-Dame-des-Champs|
The Mother. Mary meets her Son along the way of the Cross. His Cross becomes her Cross, his humiliation is her humiliation, the public scorn is on her shoulders. This is the way things are. So it must seem to the people around her, and this is how her own heart reacts: “And a sword will pierce through your soul also” (Lk 2:35). The words spoken when Jesus was forty days old are now fulfilled. They are now completely fulfilled. And so, pierced by that invisible sword, Mary sets out towards her Son’s Calvary, her own Calvary. Christian devotion represents her with this sword penetrating her heart, in paintings and sculpture. Mother of sorrows!
”You who shared his suffering!”, say the faithful, who know in their hearts that the mystery of this suffering can be expressed in no other way. Although this pain is hers, striking deep in her maternal heart, the full truth of this suffering can be expressed only in terms of a shared suffering – ‘com-passion’. That word is part of the mystery; it expresses in some way her unity with the suffering of her Son.
Holy Mary, our Mother and Sister in the journey of faith, with you we call upon your Son Jesus. R. Kyrie, eleison.
Holy Mary, you did not hesitate along the way to Calvary, with you we call upon your Son Jesus. R. Kyrie eleison.
From the Gospel according to Luke. 2:34-35,51
Simon blessed them and said to Mary his mother: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed”. And his mother kept all these things in her heart.
|J. Niklaus-Bochaert, Rosary Benediction Chapel (1909)|
On Jesus’ Way of the Cross, we also find Mary, his Mother. During his public life she had to step aside, to make place for the birth of Jesus’ new family, the family of his disciples. She also had to hear the words: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?… Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is brother, and sister and mother” (Mt 12:48-50). Now we see her as the Mother of Jesus, not only physically, but also in her heart.
Even before she conceived him bodily, through her obedience she conceived him in her heart. It was said to Mary: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son. He will be great and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David” (Lk 1:31ff.). And she would hear from the mouth of the elderly Simeon: “A sword will pierce through your own soul” (Lk 2:35). She would then recall the words of the prophets, words like these: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he was like a lamb that is led to slaughter” (Is 54:7). Now it all takes place. In her heart she had kept the words of the angel, spoken to her in the beginning: “Do not be afraid, Mary” (Lk 1:30). The disciples fled, yet she did not flee. She stayed there, with a Mother’s courage, a Mother’s fidelity, a Mother’s goodness, and a faith which did not waver in the hour of darkness: “Blessed is she who believed” (Lk 1:45). “Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8). Yes, in this moment Jesus knows: he will find faith. In this hour, this is his great consolation.
Holy Mary, Mother of the Lord, you remained faithful when the disciples fled. Just as you believed the angels incredible message – that you would become the Mother of the Most High, so too you believed at the hour of his greatest abasement. In this way, at the hour of the Cross, at the hour of the world’s darkest night, you became the Mother of all believers, the Mother of the Church. We beg you: teach us to believe, and grant that our faith may bear fruit in courageous service and be the sign of a love ever ready to share suffering and to offer assistance.
|Fourth Station of the Cross, (detail) Pfettisheim Saint Symphorian|
Pater noster, …
Quæ mærebat et dolebat
pia mater, cum videbat
Nati pœnas incliti.
Hallowed by Thy Name
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,
on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our Daily Bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.