When it seems madness would consume our world, we must seek refuge at the feet of the Crucified Christ.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. John 19:25-27
These are dark times. Modernity looms as our skyscrapers and our sins cast long shadows that enshroud us in cynicism and obscure the light of faith. In these shadows, the spirit of the world lurks, whispering to us through its forked tongue, tempting each of us into the dark alleyways of iniquity and death.
Our first mother, Eve, succumbed and so we suffer, but ever before our eyes during this Holy Week is Our Blessed Lord on the Cross.
Who stands at the foot of the Cross? Not our fallen first mother, but the Mother of God. While all others abandon him, she is suffering there with him. She suffers because her son suffers – agonies from head to foot, down to his bones, and in his sacred heart. The mother suffers with her child; her crucified heart bleeds.
Mary is not alone at Calvary. John, the beloved apostle, is with her. This faithful man stands for each of us at the Crucifixion. He is there at the end, ready to love Christ, while all others flee from the Cross. John did not succumb to avarice as Judas did, nor to fear as Peter did, nor to distraction as we often do. John did not follow the serpent into the darkness, but stayed in the light of Christ. During this Lent, when it seems madness would consume our world, we must seek refuge at the feet of the Crucified Christ. John knows this and for his faith on Good Friday, Jesus rewards him.
Jesus, with some of his final words, extends perfect filial love; he provides for his mother. He honors her by entrusting her to the beloved apostle, and him to her. John, who forsook the world to follow Christ, now has Mary as a mother. He has gained everything. Where John has gained, we have gained also. Christ has given Mary to us to be our mother and we are now her children.
How are we to act in the face of this sublime mystery? The Immaculate Virgin and the Mother of God is now our mother? Are we not too stained by the filth of our times? Are we not too harried by rabid demons? The solution is as simple as Mary’s love is pure. What would any child do when darkness closes in and nightmares chase him from his bed? He runs to his mother, and her radiance and love smite the demons.
Despite the evils of our fetid times we have the opportunity to take part in what Saint Louis de Montfort calls a “glorious transformation … from dust into light, uncleanness into purity, sinfulness into holiness.” Christ is instructing us to love our mother, for she is the “Mother of Grace,” and, by her intercession, grace may be added unto us.
As it says in Proverbs 1:7-9:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: That grace may be added to thy head, and a chain of gold to thy neck.
Christ teaches us to turn to Mary in order to receive the Catena Aurea, the golden chain of grace; for de Montfort explains, “God chose her to be the treasurer, the administrator and the dispenser of all his graces, so that all his graces and gifts pass through her hands.”
We ought to despise the world because the Passion and the Resurrection shine forth and cast the shades of all lesser loves away. In Lent, by our mortifications and prayers, we acquire a healthy disdain for the world and seek, instead, the shining and golden promise of God’s love.
This Holy Week, let us make haste to our mother Mary at the foot of the Cross, so that by her love and care we might attain eternal life.
Read all 7 reflections on each of the last words here.