“Virgin of all virgins best!
Listen to my fond request
Let me share thy grief divine.”
“Make me feel as though has felt,
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.”
- From the Way of the Cross
On the day after Our Lord’s Passion, the Virgin Mary, St. John and the other Apostles, the Holy Women, and Christ’s other followers, including Nicodemus and Cleophas, were prostrate with sorrow.
Imagine their unspeakable grief at the death of the beloved Jesus! The terrible events of the previous day, Good Friday, must have repeated themselves to the anguished souls present at the Crucifixion. They saw again the most grievous Passion, and they heard the mocking words that insulted and blasphemed Our Lord in all of His many dignities.
“He was mocked as a prophet who said that he would destroy the temple and build it up again, mocked in His quality of Son of God, mocked as a miracle-worker who healed others but could not help Himself, mocked for His sanctity and confidence in God, mocked as Messiah and King of Israel.” (Meditation on the Passion)
It was not enough for the Priests of the Temple to see Him crucified; they, too, joined the pebble in mocking, insulting, and abusing Our Most Blessed Lord. Even the Roman soldiers joined in, casting lots for the Seamless Garment of Our Lord, and giving Him vinegar to drink. “Thus there was nothing that they did not do to deride Him.” (Meditation on the Passion)
And Our Lady and those who had been with her at the Foot of the Cross heard once more Our Lord’s last words:
To God the Father: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23: 34)
To the Good Thief: “Amen, I say to thee: This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23: 43)
To His Virgin Mother and St. John: “Woman, behold thy son… son, behold thy Mother.” (John 19: 26 -27)
Through parched lips: “I thirst.” (John 19: 28)
To Heaven: “Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? That is, My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27: 46)
For all to hear: “It is consummated.” (John 19: 30)
To His Father once more: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost.” (Luke 23: 46)
As if these memories were not enough to endure, they saw again Our Lord’s Sacred Heart laid bare, gushing forth blood and water, when it was deeply pierced by the lance of a Roman soldier. They beheld once more His Sacred Body removed from the Cross, the withdrawing of the cruel nails and the Crown of Thorns, His Holy Form, torn to shreds and lying limp in the arms of His Virgin Mother. How they must have wept at the sight of His beautiful Face, now so pale and swollen. They relived the rushed, sorrowful burial in a borrowed tomb.
Above all the deep grief of the Apostles and the Holy Women, Our Lady’s Immaculate Soul was crucified when Her Son was crucified - transforming the Immaculate Heart into the Sorrowful Heart of the Virgin Mother! Yet Our Lady, full of grace, rose to the supreme and most terrible Sacrifice. Her prayer then were the same words which she spoke when the Angel Gabriel came to her: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to Thy word.” (Luke 1: 38)
Think of all that must have transpired in the Heart of the Virgin Mother as she remembered those most grievous hours at the Foot of the Cross. Even the thought of a beloved child, enduring such suffering and abuse, would bring to the heart of any other human mother a deep pang of grief. Imagine the Heart of the Mother of God!
How much Our Lady endured – for us!
“With what unutterable pain Mary contemplated this Holy Body hanging on the Cross – now robbed of all form and beauty, even of Its soul - torn and shattered, borne down by Its own dead weight on the Cross. She could not take Him down, and had no grave for Him. Any request from her might result in grosser execration. The Holy Mother feared every moment that the soldiers would come back and drag away her dear Son’s Body also the burial-place of criminals. It was considered a disgrace among the Jews not to be buried in their own family sepulcher.” The Virgin Mother of Our Lord had always been poor. “She was poor in Bethlehem, poor in Egypt, poor in Nazareth – but never had she felt her poverty so bitterly as here in the sight of her Jesus’ dead Body.” (Meditation on the Passion)
Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart teaches us how to commemorate the death of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Our Lady was the first Tabernacle of Our Lord’s. At the Crucifixion, Her Heart became “the living altar on which the Lamb offered Himself for the sins of the world.” (Meditation on the Passion)
The Passion and Death of Our Lord was the means by which Our Lord offered us Redemption and by which Our Lady became our Mother –and Mother of the Church. It was on Holy Saturday that Our Lady comforted the hierarchy of the Church, which was founded by her Divine Son.
It was to the Virgin that the Apostles turned, flying to the Refuge of Sinners, the Mother of Mercy, the Mother of God. In her own bitter grief, Our Lady consoled the Apostles and comforted the Holy Women. When Our Lady retired on the night of the Jewish Sabbath, she did so “to occupy herself solely with the thought of her Divine Son.”
On Holy Saturday, and throughout the year, let us follow the holy example of our Virgin Mother, and do the same.