DURING the whole course of His life, Jesus had in an especial manner respected and obeyed His blessed Mother, and had never in the slightest degree been wanting in filial duty; it is, therefore, natural to suppose that, before delivering Himself up to death, He should give a last proof of His love, by taking leave of so tender a Mother.
1. Consider the indescribable sorrow experienced by Jesus and Mary at the mournful moment of separation.
Jesus, the most affectionate of the sons of men, takes a last farewell of His beloved Mother, before parting from her to go, not to live in a distant land, but to die amidst unspeakable sufferings. What bitter sorrow do they both experience! Mary knows that she is soon to behold her Son agonizing on a Cross, His sacred Body mangled, bleeding, and covered with wounds. O how her maternal heart throbs with anguish! "My beloved Mother," saith Jesus to her, "thou must submit to my delivering Myself up unto death. Such is the Will of My Father; and the redemption of mankind can be accomplished only at the expense of every drop of the Blood of Thy Son." At these painful tidings, what tongue can describe the martyrdom suffered by the Virginal heart of Mary! She would fain have made some answer to these words of her beloved Son, but the intensity of her grief deprives her of the power. Jesus sighs, and the sorrow He inflicts on Mary's heart is a source of the deepest anguish to His own. Mary laments, and the necessity of parting from Jesus is the sword that inflicts the deepest wound on her soul. David wept at being separated from his beloved friend Jonathan, and oh, what tears of bitter anguish and lively sorrow must Mary have shed on embracing for the last time her only and innocent Son about to deliver Himself up to death! What affliction must Jesus have felt on parting from, and bidding a last farewell to, the tenderest of Mothers! O Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary! I dare not ask to fathom the depth of your sorrow at this separation, but I presume to implore grace to compassionate and love you, and to weep over my sins by which I have so many times expelled Jesus from my heart, renounced His love, and rejected His graces.
2. Consider the generous offering which Mary makes of her Son to suffer death, and of herself to participate in His sufferings:
Mary is a mother, and the heart of a mother cannot naturally nerve itself to dismiss a son to death amidst a thousand tortures for the salvation of guilty man. But the heart of Mary is a generous heart---a heart ready to make the most painful sacrifices for the love of God, and for the benefit of us, her children. She feels her soul pierced through with a sharp sword of grief at being under the necessity of consenting that her beloved Son should deliver Himself up to death. She sees that in losing Jesus she loses a Son who is at once her Father, her God, her All. She comprehends how deep is the sea of sorrow into which her maternal heart is to be plunged at the sight of the innumerable wounds and the barbarous death which await her Son, and of which she is to be a mournful witness. And yet Mary, filled with love for me, and a desire for my salvation, and burning with charity toward God, who requires this painful sacrifice from her, rises superior to herself, offers generously to suffer everything; and although the Passion and Death of Jesus will be to her a source of infinite grief, she willingly, and with her whole heart, gives her consent, and, with more than a martyr's strength of mind, makes the sacrifice of her beloved Son. "Go, my Son!" she says, "Go, to suffer on the Cross; go, even to death; such is the Will of Thy Heavenly Father; and such, also, is mine. Would only that I were permitted to die with Thee!"
What charity is displayed toward me by this tender Mother in her submission to the loss of her innocent Son, that I may be saved from eternal death! What strength of mind does she show in willingly offering to endure the most painful martyrdom that I may be saved! Oh, how greatly am I indebted to thy love, my dear Mother! But, oh, how widely does my conduct differ from thine, as regards the acceptation of sufferings, and the sacrifice of anything for the love of my God and for the eternal salvation of my soul! I know well that to be a Christian and a follower of Jesus implies an obligation to suffer. I know that unless I make an offering of my heart and of my affections I shall not save my soul; and yet there is nothing I am more anxious to avoid than the occasions of suffering with Jesus, and of sacrificing my corrupt inclinations for the love of them. O, my dear Mother, obtain for me a share in the strength and generosity of thy most holy heart on all those occasions when I may have to do or suffer anything to please God, and to obtain eternal happiness.
3. Consider the resignation of Jesus and Mary to the Divine Will:
When a son is about to die, the mournful news is communicated to the mother by her friends and relations; but here, the Son who is about to endure death---the death of the Cross---Himself makes the painful fact known to Mary, and requires, moreover, that Mary herself should give consent and permission. Maternal affection suggests that she should dissuade Jesus from taking such a step, but resignation to the Will of the Eternal Father prevails in her suffering heart, and causes her to exclaim, with heroic submission, though tears are flowing fast from her eyes, "I submit to the Divine Will; I consent that Jesus should suffer death." Mary consents to be deprived of her beloved Son, and to pass the remainder of her days overwhelmed with affliction, because it is the Will of God that she should cooperate, by her tears, and by the pangs of her sorrowing heart, in the great work of our redemption. When shall we also learn to sacrifice everything to the Will of God?
Jesus now leaves Mary, and departs to deliver Himself up to His bitter Passion and ignominious Death. But He goes willingly; because it is the Will of His Father that he should suffer and die for our salvation. Oh, how great is the love of Jesus for me! and in what manner do I resign myself to the Divine Will for the love of Jesus? How many are my complaints, and how frequent my bursts of impatience, in being forced to submit and resign myself to the dispositions of Providence? Mary parts from the dearest object of her affections---her beloved Son---with the most heroic resignation, and you have not yet detached your heart from the world! You are desirous, perhaps, of taking leave of it, as Jesus did of Mary; but there is no similarity between your position and His, and the world will continue forever answering that you must delay a little longer and enjoy a few more of its pleasures. If you once seek to come to terms with the world, you will never detach yourself from it. God calls you to Himself. God makes known to you His Will. It is not His will that you should love the world, but that you should detach yourself from it; make, then, a firm resolution to do so, and---in imitation of Jesus and Mary---hasten to execute the Will of God.
Compassionate Jesus and Mary in their painful trials. Weep over your sins, which were the cause of so much sorrow to their sacred Hearts! Imitate the generous sacrifice of Mary by sacrificing your whole self to Jesus---ready to suffer whatever He may require of you, for love of Him and in expiation of your sins. In every trial be conformed to the Will of God, like Jesus and Mary---often exclaiming to Our Lord, in submission and humility of heart, Fiat voluntas tua!---Thy Will be done!
ExampleThe lovers of Jesus Christ Crucified manifest their devotion and reverence for Him by tenderly kissing the Crucifix, willingly hearing discourses on His sufferings, and attentively reading about them. Sister Mary Minima, of Jesus of Nazareth, a Carmelite nun, who died in the odor of sanctity, at Vetralla, about the year 1831, was accustomed, while yet a child, frequently to spend some little time in reading accounts of the Passion of Jesus Christ; and so great, even then, was her compassion for her suffering Lord, that she would shed tears in abundance over what she read. After she became a nun, she could not even look at a book upon the Passion, or at any picture or image of Jesus Crucified, without being touched to the heart, and bursting into a flood of tears. She would most tenderly kiss the Crucifix, and was in the habit of spending much time with great compunction of heart in beholding and embracing her Redeemer nailed to the Cross. I exhort you also to begin and imitate her, and perform similar devout practices in honor of Christ Crucified, and by degrees you will find your love and devotion towards them sensibly increase.