Jesus preached to the Apostles the sufferings that awaited him in the Passion, to dispose them to this great trial: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” (St. Matthew, XX, 18-19).
If Jesus said this to the Apostles several times, He certainly also said this to His Mother, to whom He hid nothing. Most Holy Mary knew through the Holy Scriptures what the destiny of Her Divine Son would be; but hearing the story of the Passion from the lips of Jesus, Her Heart bled.
The Blessed Virgin revealed to Saint Bridget, that when the time of the Passion of Jesus was approaching, Her maternal eyes were always full of tears and a cold sweat ran through Her limbs, foreseeing that soon to be spectacle of blood.
When the Passion began, Our Lady was in Jerusalem. He did not witness the capture in the Garden of Gethsemane or even the humiliating scenes with the Sanhedrin. All these had happened at night. But when it was day, when Jesus was led by Pilate, Our Lady was surely present and under Her gaze Jesus was flagellated in blood, dressed as a madman, crowned with thorns, spat, slapped and blasphemed, and finally She heard the sentence of death. Which mother could have resisted so much torment? Our Lady did not die for she was endowed with that extraordinary strength and because God reserved Her greater sorrows on Calvary.
When the painful procession moved from the Praetorium going to Calvary, Mary, accompanied by St. John, went ahead and crossed a shorter road, they stopped at a certain point to be able to meet with the afflicted Jesus, who would pass there.
She was known by the Jews and who knows how many injurious words She had heard against Her Divine Son and against Herself!
According to the custom then, the passage of one condemned to death was announced by a sad trumpet sound; they preceded those who carried the instruments of the crucifixion. The Madonna with painful pangs in the Heart heard the sound, gazed and wept. Oh how great was Her pain when She saw Jesus carrying the cross pass by! The bloody face, the head covered with thorns, the faltering step! The wounds and the bruises made Him look like a leper, almost unrecognizable (Isaiah).
Saint Anselm says that Mary wanted to embrace Jesus but was not granted Her to do so; She had to be content to just look at Him. The eyes of the Mother met with those of the Son; but not a word. What could have passed at that moment between the Heart of Jesus and the Heart of the Madonna? It cannot be expressed in words. Feelings of tenderness, compassion, encouragement; the vision of the sins of humanity to be repaired, the adoration of the will of the Divine Father! …
Jesus continued His way with the cross on His shoulders while Mary followed Him with the cross in Her Heart, both of them directed to Calvary to immolate themselves for the good of ungrateful humanity.
“Whoever wants to come after me, Jesus said one day, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me!” (St. Matthew, XVI, 24). Let us repeat the same words to ourselves too! Let us take the cross that God assigns to us in life: either poverty or sickness or misunderstanding; Let us carry it with honor and follow Jesus with the same sentiments with which Our Lady followed Him in the sorrowful way. After the cross there is the glorious resurrection; after the suffering of this life there is the eternal joy.
In suffering, one’s eyes are opened, one see the light, one aims for Heaven. A certain soldier, dedicated to all sorts of pleasures, did not think of God. He felt an emptiness in his heart and tried to fill it with the many leisure that one is allowed in military life. He continued likewise, until a big cross turned up in his life.
Taken by the enemies, he was locked up in a tower. In solitude, devoid of all previous pleasures, he came to himself and realized that life is not a rose garden, but a tangle of thorns, with some roses. The good memories of his childhood came back to him and he began to meditate on the Passion of Jesus and the sorrows of Our Lady. The divine light illuminated that darkened mind.
The young man had a vision of his sins, he felt his weakness to break off from his many sins and so he decided to resort to the Virgin Mary for help. At last the needed strength came to him; not only could he avoid sin, but he gave himself to a life of profound prayer and severe penance. Jesus and Our Lady were so pleased with this great change that they comforted their beloved son with their apparitions and they even once showed him Heaven and the place they had prepared for him.
When he was freed from captivity, he abandoned the life of the world, consecrated himself to God and became the founder of a Religious Order, known as the Somaschi Fathers. He died a holy death and today the Church venerates him on the Altars as Saint Jerome (Girolamo) Emiliani.
If he had not received the cross of captivity, perhaps that military man would not have been sanctified.
A Little Spiritual Flower Offering to our Lady:
– Do not be a burden to anyone and patiently endure bothersome people.
Prayer to Mary:
– Bless, O Mary, those who give me the opportunity to suffer!
Adapted and Translated from:
MARIA REGINA E MADRE DI MISERICORDIA (Mese di Maggio) – by DON GIUSEPPE TOMASELLI