Station IV

Our Blessed Lord did not carry His Cross alone; He was accompanied by many. Indeed, all who walked with the procession to the place of execution took part in the carrying of the Cross, each in his own way.


Here we gaze upon our Lord's own Mother, who (as Tradition says) also awaited Him on this painful journey. In the Via Dolorosa, or Way of the Cross, it is believed that there is a memorial of their sorrowful meeting. The new church of "The Lady of the Spasm," which belongs to the Armenian Catholics, stands over the place marked by Tradition as the Fourth Station of the Cross, and in a subterranean chapel belonging to this church the memorial may be seen. In the words of the learned Father Meistermann, O.S.F.: "In the crypt, level with the ancient street, some bits of the pavement of which have been found on the northern side, is a great piece of mosaic, which was discovered in digging the foundations for the new church. A square, framed in a rich border, bears in the centre two little shoes or sandals placed together, with their points turned to the northwest. This mosaic, which is prior to the seventh century, seems to mark the very spot where Tradition states that the Blessed Virgin stood when she exchanged with her Son a look which pierced her maternal heart like a sword." These words will help us in making our composition of place. "In death they were not divided."

Jesus, our dear and Blessed Master, on the way to Calvary must teach us at every turn, for His time is short. His most Blessed Mother, too, the first and most faithful of His disciples, is to serve us for an example on that way. Let us watch the meeting and see the kind of consolation they bring to one another in this hour of bitter anguish for both. What fortitude! What self-forgetfulness! What oblation of the strongest, holiest affection earth has ever seen! Mary's heart beats in perfect unison with the Heart of her Son. Like His, it throws itself into the Divine Will for the redemption of the world with a strength of purpose that sanctifies the instincts of nature. There is no shrinking in their self-immolation at the sight of the anguish of the One dearer to each than life. The Son and the Mother meet, but it is as the Redeemer and the Co-Redemptrix of the world. The sacrifice that their mutual love increases occupies them entirely.

Contemplate the meeting of the Mother and Son. Their eyes meet.----Dimly, through the tears and blood that obscure His sight, Jesus discerns His Mother's face, and His glance carries strength to her soul. He summons her, His well-beloved, to ratify the oblation made at Nazareth in the hour of the Incarnation, when she consented to become the Mother of the Man of Sorrows, the oblation made solemnly in the Temple on the day of His Presentation, and renewed again and again as the time of the Passion drew near: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord." At every stage of His Redemption she has been, and is, His handmaid, waiting upon Him always, His solitary fellow-worker, on whose sympathy and absolute fidelity He can rely.

And now His hour has come, the hour of which He had so often spoken to her at Nazareth, the hour that was the subject of such earnest prayer put up together, as they knelt side by side; the hour for which He had promised to strengthen her, that, first in privilege as in dignity, she might drink deeper than any other of His chalice. His glance recalls all this to her now, and it is met by a response such as that handmaid alone could give. No cry escapes her. To bring Him the only comfort in her power, the assurance that she accepts with Him every jot and tittle of the Father's Will; that she does not grudge one pang, that she is ready for more, for the consummation of the sacrifice, for Calvary----this is her one thought. Mary cannot speak her Ecce Ancilla, her heart would break with a word to Him; but her eyes, her quivering lip, her clasped hands speak for her. [For those unacquainted with Latin, Ecce Ancilla means Behold the Handmaid.----The Web Master]

It is by studying prayerfully this meeting of Jesus and Mary on the road to Calvary that I shall learn how true friendship comports itself in the hour of trial. What kind of consolation do I bring to others in the path of daily life that is for so many of God's servants the Way of the Cross? Is it a help and spiritual support to meet me ? Do I try to take the sting out of wounds, or are they the worse for my handling? Do I, by injudicious sympathy, accentuate vexations or misunderstandings?

 Do I try to put a favourable construction on painful words or acts, and abstain from repeating what would work further mischief? Are others moved by my words and example to bear up bravely and trust in God.

Mary's was the noblest and most sublime participation in our Lord's Cross, because nothing could equal the courage and love of His Mother, and her desire to suffer with her Divine Son. Is not our Blessed Mother here the highest model of all cross-bearing souls?

All have a cross to bear, the cross of sin and passion, the cross of misfortune permitted by God, or the cross of penance or of love. Thus the Way of the Cross is a living type of the Church and the whole human race. Whoever we are, willingly or unwillingly, we must form part of the escort of our Cross-bearing Saviour. All that is left to our choice is, to which division of the company we will belong, and surely the choice is not difficult. "Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth." How glad and proud I shall be on the last day to bear the Cross on my forehead, to hear the congratulations of the holy ones who surround the throne of God: "Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth." Why should I not feel at least the beginning of that gladness now!

COLLOQUY.----Thou wert glad, dear Lord, to suffer for me, not that Thou couldst desire suffering for its own sake, for Thou wert truly man, and Thine exquisitely sensitive nature shrank as none other ever shrank from pain; but, my dear Jesus, my Lord and my God, Thou didst long to go through that pain which was to purchase my happiness, and to prove Thy love to me. If Thou, my Jesus, didst look forward with eagerness to Thy Passion, it was all for my sake. "He loved me, and delivered Himself for me." Ah, dear Lord, so must it be with me. I cannot desire suffering for itself, but, sweet Jesus, with the grace which Thou wilt give to me as to Thy Saints I may come to love what will bring me nearer to Thee----which will forward Thy designs for my sanctification and happiness, which will enable me to glorify Thee more, and be proof to Thee of my gratitude and my love.

Give me grace, dear Jesus, to understand the Mystery of the Cross, to value it, and when Thou dost give me the Cross here, to give me a right to bear its glorious sign on the last day, let me not turn away rebellious or disconsolate. Let me not sorrow as those that have no hope, bitterly, because unwillingly. My dear Master, with Thy Almighty Grace, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou shalt go. "In what place soever Thou shalt be, Lord, my King, either in life or in death, there will Thy servant be." O my Mother, help me to be true to Jesus at any cost.

"Make me feel as Thou halt felt.
Make my heart to glow and melt,
With the love of Christ, my Lord."