for Holy Saturday
Mary Present on Calvary at the Death of Jesus
There stood by the cross of Jesus His Mother. We observe in this the Queen of Martyrs, a sort of martyrdom more cruel than any other martyrdom, - that of a mother so placed as to behold an innocent Son executed upon a gibbet of infamy: “she stood.” Ever since Jesus was apprehended in the garden, He has been abandoned by His disciples; but Mary abandons Him not. She stays with Him till she sees Him expire before her eyes: “she stood close by.”
Mothers, in general, flee away from the presence of their sons when they see them suffer, and cannot render them any assistance; content enough would they be themselves to endure their sons’ sufferings; and, therefore, when they see them suffering without the power of succoring them, they have not the strength to endure so great a pain, and consequently flee away, and go to a distance. Not so Mary. She sees her Son in torments; she see that the pains are taking His life away; but she flees not, nor moves to a distance. On the contrary, she draws near to the cross whereon her Son is dying.
O sorrowing Mary! Disdain me not for a companion to assist at the death of thy Jesus and mine.
She stood near the cross. The cross, then, is the bed whereon Jesus leaves His life; a bed of suffering, where this afflicted Mother is watching Jesus, all wounded as He is with scourges and with thorns. Mary observes how this her poor Son, suspended from those three iron nails, finds neither a position nor repose. She would wish to give Him some relief; she would wish, at least, since He has to die, to have Him die in her arms. But nothing of all this is allowed her.
Ah, cross! She says, give me back my Son! Thou art a malefactor’s gibbet; whereas my Son is innocent.
But grieve not thyself, O Mother. It is the will of the Eternal Father that the cross should not give Jesus back to thee until after He has died and breathed His last. O Queen of Sorrows! Obtain for me sorrow for my sins.
There stood by the cross His Mother. Meditate, my soul, upon Mary, as she stands at the foot of the cross watching her Son. Her Son! But, O God, what a Son! A Son Who was, at one and the same time, her Son and her God! A son Who had from all eternity chosen her to be His Mother, and had given her a preference in His love before all mankind and all the angels! A Son so beautiful, so holy, and so lovely; A Son Who had been ever obedient unto her; a Son Who was her one and only love, being as He was both her Son and God. And this Mother had to see such a Son die of pain before her very eyes!
O Mary, O Mother, most afflicted of all mothers! I compassionate thy heart, more especially when thou didst behold Jesus surrender Himself up upon the cross, open His mouth , and expire; and, for love of this thy Son, now dead for my salvation, do thou recommend unto Him my soul.
And do Thou, my Jesus, for the sake of the merits of Mary’s sorrows, have mercy upon me, and grant me the grace of dying for Thee, as Thou hast died for me: “May I die, O my Lord” (will I say unto Thee, with St. Francis of Assisi), “for love of the love of Thee, Who hast vouchsafed to die for love of the love of me.”
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
The Ascetical Works : The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ
Meditations for Holy Week