Mary’s Compassion

Mary had neither original nor actual sin to expiate. She had not, like Jesus, been charged by God with the weight of our iniquities. How was it, then, that all her life she suffered so much; first, from the foreseen death of her Son, which was incessantly before her; and secondly, from His actual sufferings on Calvary itself?

It was because suffering is the law of love. It was Mary’s love that made her a martyr; and because she loved more than any creature, she suffered an incomparable martyrdom. It was, again, because suffering is the actual glorification of Jesus Christ in us. By suffering, we continue and finish His sacrifice. Again and above all, it is because maternity is purchased by suffering. In bringing into the world her spotless Son, Mary escaped that law; but when she was to become our Mother, to bring us forth to grace, she felt all its rigor.

She shared in His prayer, His sadness, His agony, for there was so much sympathy of life and love between those two Hearts!

She afterward saw Him betrayed by Judas, abandoned by all, denied by Peter, alone before His judges, without a defender, ignominiously buffeted, treated as a fool!

When St. John recounted to her the scenes in Pilate’s judgment-hall, the iniquitous condemnation to death, her heart must have burst with grief. When she arrived at the pretorium, she heard the strokes of the scourging, she saw Jesus exposed with Barabbas and presented to the populace as the equal of that malefactor; she heard the Ecce Homo, and the ferocious cries of the impious multitude: “Let Him be crucified! Let Him be crucified!”

She followed Him to Calvary. She met Him upon that dolorous journey which He was moistening with His Blood. Their eyes, their heart, their sorrow united in one same sacrifice, and in one same perfect resignation.

Behold Jesus on Calvary! Mary gazed on Him as they inhumanly and cruelly despoil Him of His garments. She beheld Him extended on the cross, and she heard the blows of the hammer that fastened to it His hands and His feet. What a spectacle for a mother! She, too, was crucified. The blows rebound, and inflict wounds on her.

Hardly was the cross planted firmly in the ground, before that brave Mother, spurning all obstacles, hastened to the feet of her beloved Son. There, abyssed in an ocean of sorrow, she contemplated Him. She felt every one of His pains. Her soul was fastened to His wounds. She was stronger than death, but more crucified by her union with Jesus than by all deaths and all martyrdoms.

She listened to every word her Son uttered, and she laid it up in her memory in order to repeat it. . . . She agonized in sorrow and love. She received His sacred Body in her arms, she embraced it with the tenderness of a mother, she adored It with the faith of a Christian, she entombed It as the desolate widow her only son.

As Mary had suffered in union with her Son dying upon the Cross, so did she live of His happiness and joy after His resurrection.

Text from Father Eymard’s Month of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (New York: Sentinel Press, 1903).

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