“Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Sorrowful Mother at the Cross through the words of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

For this week, I want to suspend my Mary in the Old Testament series I have been writing on over the past few weeks in order to provide you with two important reflections on Mary and her connection with Christ at the Cross. I am doing this since I don’t think I will get another chance before Lent ends since I am focusing on the aforementioned series. Next week, we will return to that series and focus on Marian symbols.

I have written on this week’s topic numerous times before over the years, most especially during the Season of Lent, when we focus on our own sufferings, crosses, and penitential offerings. Today’s two reflections come from the great mind of the 20th century United States Archbishop –  Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. These two excerpts are from a book compiled by Henry Dieterich, titled, Through the Year with Fulton Sheen.

I hope that you enjoy them and will reflect on them this week and in the weeks to come as we approach the High Holy Days of Lent, otherwise known a the Triduum.

The first reflection is titled – Mary and Christ’s Suffering

“Mary’s participation in Christ’s suffering began with the annunciation, when she was asked to give God a human body, more properly, a human nature. In other words, will you make God capable of suffering? God though he was, he learned obedience in the school of suffering. God could know experimentally what suffering was only by taking a body. So the Blessed Mother is asked, ‘Will you make it possible for your creator to suffer?’ Think of a mother, for example, who give to a young son or daughter an automobile at the age of nineteen, which a short time afterwards is the cause of a wreck and permanent injury. Would the mother ever forgive herself? And here Mary has to say yes, I will let him suffer.”

Our Lady of Sorrows by Carlo Dolci

The second reflection is titled – Mary and John

“On the cross we no longer have Christ and his mother, or Jesus and Mary. I know we speak of the sorrowful mother at the foot of the cross, but I don’t think she was sorrowful, I think she was suffering. I cannot imagine the mother of the Maccabees as being sorrowful when she sent her seven sons to death. There must have been a certain joy in the mother’s heart as she gives her son. But there’s something different here. At this moment on the cross we no longer have Jesus and Mary. We have the new Adam and the new Eve. Our Lord on the cross is the new Adam, the Blessed Mother at the foot of the cross is the new Eve. And we’re going to have the consummation of a marriage, and out of the consummated marriage of the new Adam and new Eve is going to begin the new church of which John will be the symbol. And so the new Adam looking down to the woman, says: ‘Woman, your son.’ And to the son, he did not say ‘John’ (he would have then been only the son of Zebedee), but ‘Son, your mother.’ Here is the beginning of a new life. The Blessed Mother becomes the symbol of the church. And as Eve was the mother of the living, so Mary becomes the mother of the new living in the order of grace.”

To read more about this topic, I would suggest reading my other articles –

“Mondays with Mary” – The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Mary at the Foot of the Cross  

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary, Our Guide Through Lent

“Mondays with Mary” – The Method of Praying the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa 

“Mondays with Mary” – The Suffering of Mother Mary 

“Mondays with Mary” – Pope St. John Paul II on the Suffering of Mary 

O Blessed Mother, Sorrowful and Suffering…Pray for Us.

“Mondays with Mary” – Jesus, Mary, and the Cross

In his book written with Adrienne Von Speyr, To the Heart of the Mystery of Redemption, the great Swiss theologian, Hans Urs Von Balthasar, says the following in relation to Mary and the Cross of Christ,

“If Christ, in Luke, commands us to carry our cross every day, he implies very precisely that this dull, ordinary cross consists in perseverance at every moment in the Marian Yes, which transforms everyday mishaps as much as possible into situations that are fruitful in Christian terms…It is always Christ who gives a share in his Cross, but the form of this participation always remains ecclesial and, thus, Marian, in priests and religious no less than in the ordinary faithful…”

“If it is true that the grace of Mary’s preredemption derives from the Cross and that Mary has, in a certain sense, collaborated in the Cross through her Yes, it is nevertheless absolutely impossible for Mary to have collaborated in her own redemption. The Marian and ecclesial Yes is always response, consent, never the first action…Likewise, the Yes of Mary, even if it was prior to the Incarnation, was a response subsequent to a divine word, which in itself contained the entire redemption plan, including the Cross, and all that it encompassed.”

Now that we have entered Holy Week, I wanted today’s “Mondays with Mary” to focus on the important relationship between, Jesus and Mary, as Our Lord along with his Mother, makes his way to cross at Calvary. If you remember, the walk to the Calvary began with the first miracle of Jesus at the Wedding Feast of Cana. Just as Mary is present there; so too is she present at the foot of the Cross.

Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Since I have written on this topic in past, that is Mary’s role in the Cross of Christ, I want to share with your 5 blog posts that will help you understand a little more how important the Blessed Mother is in the redemption, passion, and death of Jesus Christ –

“Mondays with Mary” – Six Words of Pope John Paul II on Mary at the Cross

“Mondays with Mary” – The Encounter of Jesus with His Blessed Mother as He Carries the Cross

“Mondays with Mary” – The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Mary at the Foot of the Cross

“Mondays with Mary”: The Descent from the Cross, and Jesus in the Arms of His Most Blessed Mother

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary Under the Cross

Our Lady of Sorrows…Pray For Us.

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary Under the Cross

With today being the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, in both the East and West, I found it fitting to provide you with the previous “Mondays with Mary” that I have written regarding Mary at the Foot of the Cross, her suffering at the Cross, and her role as Our Lady of Sorrows, which is celebrated by the Latin Church on September 15. However, before we get to the previous posts, I want to share with you the words from Pope Benedict XVI. This is from his Angelus following the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross and the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 17, 2006.

“Now, before the Marian prayer, I would like to reflect on two recent and important liturgical events: the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, celebrated on 14 September, and the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, celebrated the following day.

These two liturgical celebrations can be summed up visually in the traditional image of the Crucifixion, which portrays the Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross, according to the description of the Evangelist John, the only one of the Apostles who stayed by the dying Jesus.

But what does exalting the Cross mean? Is it not maybe scandalous to venerate a shameful form of execution? The Apostle Paul says: “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (I Cor 1: 23). Christians, however, do not exalt just any cross but the Cross which Jesus sanctified with his sacrifice, the fruit and testimony of immense love. Christ on the Cross pours out his Blood to set humanity free from the slavery of sin and death.

Therefore, from being a sign of malediction, the Cross was transformed into a sign of blessing, from a symbol of death into a symbol par excellence of the Love that overcomes hatred and violence and generates immortal life. “O Crux, ave spes unica! O Cross, our only hope!”. Thus sings the liturgy.

The Evangelist recounts: Mary was standing by the Cross (cf. Jn 19: 25-27). Her sorrow is united with that of her Son. It is a sorrow full of faith and love. The Virgin on Calvary participates in the saving power of the suffering of Christ, joining her “fiat”, her “yes”, to that of her Son.

Dear brothers and sisters, spiritually united to Our Lady of Sorrows, let us also renew our “yes” to God who chose the Way of the Cross in order to save us. This is a great mystery which continues and will continue to take place until the end of the world, and which also asks for our collaboration.

May Mary help us to take up our cross every day and follow Jesus faithfully on the path of obedience, sacrifice and love.”

The Crucifixion - Matthias Grünewald

The Crucifixion – Matthias Grünewald

Now that we have read the beautiful words from Papa Benedict, let us turn towards some of my previous blog posts –

“Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of Sorrows

“Mondays with Mary” – Blessed John Paul II on the Suffering of Mary

“Mondays with Mary” – 7 Quotes by Pope St. John Paul II on Our Lady of Sorrows

“Mondays with Mary” – Six Words of Pope John Paul II on Mary at the Cross

“Mondays with Mary” – The Method of Praying the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa

“Mondays with Mary” – The Encounter of Jesus with His Blessed Mother as He Carries the Cross

“Mondays with Mary” – The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Mary at the Foot of the Cross

“Mondays with Mary” – The Descent from the Cross, and Jesus in the Arms of His Most Blessed Mother

Today, as we remember the suffering Our Lord endured on the Cross, let us also be reminded of the pain and anguish the Blessed Virgin Mary also endured, and pray that we can embrace our own suffering that comes from carrying our daily crosses as followers of Jesus Christ.

In case you haven’t heard, my first book was published last week – Understanding Catholic Teaching on the Blessed Virgin Mary. I hope you can purchase it and share with others.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Mary at the Foot of the Cross

Continuing with our examination of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, which are meditated in the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa, today we discuss The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Mary at the Foot of the Cross.

The place where our Lord was crucified is known as Calvary or “the place of the skull” (Aramaic – Golgotha). It was on the outskirts of Jerusalem and was a disused rock query shaped like a skull. It was the primary location for criminal executions performed by the Romans as well as the sanitation dump for the city at the time.

The crucifixion is the total summary of the life and death of Jesus Christ –

The seamless tunic that Our Lord worn and was stripped of him before he willingly lay upon the cross represents the unity of the Church. It’s the same unity that Jesus asked for in John 17:20-26. The Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John the Apostle, the gushing of blood and water from the side of Jesus reconnects us with the Wedding Feast at Cana. The blood and water represent the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Eucharist. It is through these two sacraments that individuals become members of the Church.

When Jesus thirsts on the cross it harkens us back to John 4 – The Samaritan Woman at the Well. It is here that we see Jesus isn’t only interesting in saving the Jews, but he is looking to save all souls. Those very last words of Jesus (vs. 30) on the cross display for us that he is truly dying. He will eventually send the Holy Spirit to the Church, a promise he made numerous times in the scriptures.

Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Lastly, we see that before his death Jesus gives the Blessed Mother to St. John. The famous words of Jesus while suffering on the Cross-to Mary and John establish for all of humanity the relationship that we would have with Her for all time. At the point when Jesus says, “Woman, behold your son…Behold, your mother”, symbolically through the disciple John, Mary becomes the Spiritual Mother for all humanity. She is the spiritual gift personally given by Jesus Christ himself to every human person – believer or non-believer. The “beloved disciple” from that moment on takes Mary into his home and treats her as his own mother.

We too must invite Mary into our “homes” and allow her to be our mother. The devotion the Catholic Church has to the Blessed Virgin Mary developed from the households of Saint John.

The display or “title” over the head of Jesus proclaims that he is the Universal King and Christ. Written in multiple languages (Latin, Hebrew, and Greek), it signifies that the universal world that made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem could read it. It affirms that words of Jesus to Pontius Pilate from John 18:37 – “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.”

Although Mary does not endure a physical suffering in the way our Lord does, she does suffer spiritually with him as he makes his way to the Cross. She is the Sorrowful Mother walking and standing with her Son. Pope St. John Paul II says in Salvifici Doloris,

“…It was on Calvary that Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view but which mysteriously and supernaturally fruitful for the Redemption of the world. Her ascent of Calvary and her standing at the foot of the cross together with the beloved disciple were a special sort of sharing in the redeeming of her Son. And the words which she heard from His lips were a kind of solemn handing-over of this Gospel of suffering so that it could be proclaimed to the whole community of believers.”

For more on the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus Christ and Mary at the Foot of the Cross, please read the following blog posts –

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

“Mondays with Mary” – Six Words of Pope John Paul II on Mary at the Cross

“Mondays with Mary” – 7 Quotes by Pope St. John Paul II on Our Lady of Sorrows

“Mondays with Mary” – ‘Leads Us To Jesus’ (Pope Benedict XVI Homily at Altötting)

Sources:

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament. Ignatius Press, 2010.

The Navarre Bible – The New Testament Expanded Edition. Four Courts/Scepter, 2008.

“Mondays with Mary” – Six Words of Pope John Paul II on Mary at the Cross

In the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I believe there are three important biblical events that define her mission and role in Salvation History – the Annunciation, the Wedding Feast at Cana, and Jesus’ Crucifixion. Mary plays a major role in each of these revealed events, first, because she is the Immaculate Virgin and Mother of God, and second, because these events help define her actions in the life of the Church after the Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Each of these events run in conjunction with one another and continue to provide for us Mary’s important role in the life of Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church.

Being that this is my 100th “Mondays with Mary”, I would like to present to you not only my love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, but also for the only Pope to have the letter “M” on his papal shield, the soon-to-be Pope St. John Paul II. The reason I write this blog and work as the Director of Adult Evangelization and Catechesis at Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church is because of the great influence John Paul II has had on my life.

Below are six quotes from Pope St. John Paul II focusing on the three events in the life of Mary I mentioned above. Since we are in Holy Week and looking towards Good Friday, each of the quotes corresponds to Mary’s presence at the foot of the cross. It is at the foot of the cross that Mary’s maternal mediation, her universal care for all Christians and all humanity takes effect.

MHS_Ukrzyzowanie_XVI_w_Kostarowce_p

“…How poor she was on Bethlehem night and how poor on Calvary! How obedient she was at the moment of the Annunciation, and then – at the foot of the cross – obedient  even to the point of assenting to the death of her Son, who became obedient ‘unto death’! How dedicated she was in all her earthly life to the cause of the kingdom of heaven through most chaste love.” – Redemptoris Donum, 17

“…The handmaid of the Lord in the poverty of the anawim, the Mother of Fair love from Bethlehem to Calvary and beyond, the obedient virgin whose “yes” to God changed our history, the contemplative who kept all of these things in her heart, the missionary hurrying to Hebron, the one who was sensitive to the needs at Cana, the steadfast witness at the foot of the cross, the center of unity which held the young Church together in its expectation of the Holy Spirit – Mary showed throughout her life all those values to which religious consecration is directed…” – Essential Elements in the Church’s Teaching on the Religious Life…, 53

“The words uttered by Jesus from the cross signifying the motherhood of her who bore Christ finds a “new” continuation in the Church and through the Church, symbolized and represented by John. In this way, she who as the one “full of grace” was brought into the mystery of Christ in order to be his Mother and the Holy Mother of God…” – Redemptoris Mater, 24

“On the cross Christ said: ‘Woman, behold your son!’ With these words he opened in a new way his Mother’s heart. A little later, the Roman soldier’s spear pierced the side of the Crucified one. That pierced heart became a sign of the Redemption achieved through the death of the Lamb of God.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary – opened with the words ‘Woman, behold your son!’ – is spiritually united with the heart of her Son, opened by the soldiers spear. Mary’s heart was opened by the same love for man and for the world with which Christ loved man and the world, offering himself for them on the cross, until the soldier’s spear struck that blow.

Consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means drawing near, through the Mother’s intercession, to the very Fountain of Life that sprang fourth from Golgotha. This Fountain pours fourth unceasingly redemption and grace. In it reparation is made consensually for the sins of the world. It is the ceaseless source of new life and holiness.” – Address, Fatima, May 13, 1982

“…Later, all the generations of disciples, of those who confess and love Christ, like the Apostle John, spiritually took this Mother to their own homes, and she was thus included in the history of salvation and in the Church’s mission from the very beginning, that is, from the moment of the Annunciation. Accordingly, we who form today’s generation of disciples of Christ all wish to unite ourselves with her in a special way. We do so with all our attachment to our ancient tradition and also with full respect and love for the members of all the Christian communities.” – Redemptoris Hominis, 22

“…Standing by the cross’ (Jn. 19:25), Mary shares in the gift which the Son makes of himself: she offers Jesus, gives him over, and begets him to the end for our sake. The ‘yes’ spoken on the day of the Annunciation reaches full maturity on the day of the cross, when the time comes for Mary to receive the beget as her children all those who become disciples, pouring out upon them the saving love of her Son: ‘When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple who he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold you son!’ (Jn 19:26). – Evangelium Vitae, 103

During this Holiest of All Weeks, let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to walk with us as she walked with Christ to Calvary. Let us petition her to assist in the carrying of our crosses and that the grace poured out upon Calvary on Good Friday will be made readily available to us through the sacramental life of the Church – most especially in the sacrifice of the Holy Mass and through the Mediatrix of all Graces.

All Praise and Thanksgiving to Jesus Christ! This is my 100th “Mondays with Mary”. To read the other 99 blog posts, check out the “Mondays with Mary” page. Thank you to everyone who reads these posts and have shared them with others over nearly two years. We honor our Our Lord by loving and honoring His Holy Mother, our Mother, the Theotokos.

“Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the New Testament, Part 2

Continuing with last week’s theme, Mary in the New Testament, this week we will focus on the Mary in the Redemption of Jesus Christ and her role in the life of the Church. For a recap of last week, I would suggest reading, “Mondays with Mary” – Mary in the New Testament, Part 1.

For this blog post, you will need your Bibles, so make sure you have it next to you.

1. The Wedding Feast of Cana (Read John 2:1-10)

The Wedding Feast of Cana has a dual meaning. First, we clearly see the maternal mediation of the Blessed Mother and her relationship with Jesus Christ. As you know, the wedding that Jesus, Mary, and some of the Apostles attend happens to run out of wine. The Mother of Jesus, Mary, intercedes for the couple giving the grace of Jesus Christ (her role as Mediatrix begins to develop here) through the miracle of turning water into wine. She is the Maternal Mediator at the wedding, and during the Crucifixion of Jesus, she will become the Maternal Mediator for all of humanity.

The second meaning behind this miracle (and grace flows from it) is that it’s the first public miracle of Jesus Christ. When Jesus says, “O Woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come”, he is essentially saying two things. First, using the term “Woman” is not meant to be demeaning. He is simply connecting Mary with the “Woman” in Genesis 3:15, the same “Woman” who would be at his side at Calvary in John 19:25 and the “Woman” who would be crowned and glorified in Heaven as the Queen of Heaven and Earth in Revelation.

Second, the question he asks is in reference to Calvary. Jesus is saying that if he performs this public miracle, his public mission and the path to Calvary begins. Mary’s “Do whatever he tells you” is her response and readiness to walk with Jesus Christ to Calvary. This would begin the redemption of mankind and Christ as the “Suffering Servant” prophesied in Isaiah (Is 52:13-53:12).

2. Mary at the Foot of the Cross (Read John 19:25-27)

The famous words of Jesus while suffering on the Cross-to Mary and John establish for all of humanity the relationship that we would have with Her for all time. At the point when Jesus says, “Woman, behold your son…Behold, your mother”, symbolically through the disciple John, Mary becomes the Spiritual Mother for all humanity. She is the spiritual gift personally given by Jesus Christ himself to every human person – believer or non-believer. The “beloved disciple” from that moment on takes Mary into his home and treats her as his own mother. We too must invite Mary into our “homes” and allow her to be our mother. The devotion the Catholic Church has to the Blessed Virgin Mary developed from the households of Saint John.

For a deeper understanding of Mary’s role in the “Wedding Feast of Cana” and “Mary at the Foot of the Cross”, please read, The Queenship of Mary: Advocate, Co-Redemptrix, and Mediatrix and “Mondays with Mary” – ‘Leads Us to Jesus’ (Pope Benedict’s Homily at Altötting).

Pentecost - Eastern Icon

3. The Presence of Mary in the Upper Room (Read Acts 1:13-2:4)

After Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, we see Mary in the Upper Room waiting with the Apostles for the Coming of the Holy Sprit, Mary’s divine spouse. She is the central figure in the Upper Room as well in the life of the infant Church. As she held the infant Jesus in her arms, close to her heart, and feeding him, she holds the infant Church in the same respect. “Mary, the Mother of Jesus” is the nurturer of the early Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. For a more on Mary in the Life of the Church, please read “Mondays with Mary” – Mary is the Church on Pentecost.

4. Pauline Reference of Galatians 4:4 (Read Galatians 4:4)

In Galatians 4:4, Saint Paul tells us the Savior was “born of a woman.” With this statement, the Apostle to the Gentiles gives testimony to Mary’s Divine Motherhood. God the Father sends his only begotten son to redeem all of humanity through Mary. When he says, “born of woman”, St. Paul is stating that Mary is the “Woman” in the Scriptures who works with and under (“co” – not equal to) the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, to obtain “adoptive” sons and daughters through the “Spirit of the Father.” They all cry out, “Abba, Father.” Abba in the Hebrew language means “Daddy.”

5. The Woman Clothed with the Sun (Read Revelation 12:1)

Here we see the “Woman” clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of 12 stars. The “Woman” is in battle with the ancient foe, Satan. The “Woman” refers to Mary because Mary only gives her birth to the male child and he will have the scepter of ruling the people. Mary is the Mother of the Church, but uniquely is Mother of Jesus.

First, being “clothed with sun” means that she is veiled in intimacy with the Son. Second, the “moon under her feet” means that the moon reflects the light of the sun without being its source and without the dulling the rays (Saint Bernard). She is not the source of the light, but its reflection. This is the perfect image of our Lady.

Third, she is crowned with 12 stars. She is the Queen Mother of the male-child who will “rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (scepter). The 12 Tribes of Jacob who were ruled by King David are fulfilled in the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ, the new David and fulfillment of the Davidic Kingdom. Fourth, the battle with Satan is the cosmic battle for souls. Mary is God’s greatest creature and Satan is his most despised creature, just like in Genesis 3:15. There is complete enmity!

Although Mary ‘s role seems to be minimal in the writings of the New Testament, she plays a major role in the salvation and redemption of humanity as Maternal Mediator, Advocate, Co-Redemptrix, and Mediatrix of All Graces. The Blessed Virgin, the spouse of the Holy Spirit is fundamental to our understanding of Jesus Christ. She is our Mother! We must behold her each day in our homes and most especially, in our hearts.