MARY: CHILD, SPOUSE, AND MOTHER
O God, who in this season
give your Church the grace
to imitate devoutly the Blessed Virgin Mary
in contemplating the Passion of Christ,
grant, we pray, through her intercession,
that we may cling more firmly each day
to your Only Begotten Son
and come at last to the fullness of his grace.
(Collect for Friday of the 5th Week of Lent)
Dearest Mother, Mother of Jesus and my Mother too,
as the Church draws near to Holy Week,
preparing to walk again in the footsteps of the Crucified,
and to go to the tomb, mourning and yet desiring,
to encounter—as if the very first time—the dawning Resurrection,
I implore you to draw near to us, to help us walk,
to walk gently with us, enfolding us in your mantle and your love.
For you know, more than any other,
what it is to contemplate the Passion of Christ,
not as a mere spectator—like the crowd,
like the many faces that swam before his eyes
as he walked along that sorrowful path,
and like many members of the Church today,
who treat this mystery with silent contempt.
Of course, they do not willingly spit in his face,
they do not laugh and deride his humiliation,
but they offer him something just as bitter:
indifference and ingratitude.
He thirsts, thirsts, thirsts for our love,
for our tender and compassionate accompaniment—
because only when we are willing to draw near
can he, for his part, satisfy our thirst with his love.
He thirsts, our dear Jesus, to be thirsted for,
he thirsts to give drink of himself: the Thirsty Fountain.
And also, he is a man like other men,
God who has taken human nature to himself,
and so he thirsts also, plain and simple,
for the presence of someone who,
even if they don’t understand,
stands with him in the darkness and loneliness.
For when two are together, however dark it be,
the loneliness of passion, through com-passion,
becomes a meeting-place, a place of communion,
where hearts are knit together inseparably in love.
This you know, Mary, and this you lived,
at the foot of the Cross where the new creation was born.
There you were truly Daughter, truly Spouse, truly Mother,
enfolded in the mysterious love of the eternal Father
whose presence enshrouded Golgotha tenderly,
if hidden from the eyes of all but faith alone;
there you were a spouse to the Bridegroom-Crucified,
in the complete surrender of two in love and trust,
and in the weaving together of their heart-sinews
in the love that is, yes, stronger than sin and death;
there, Mary, you were a mother, not only of Christ,
but of all of those who are born from his side,
from the water that he has given to the Church
and through which all her children pass.
Ah, yes, and you are child, spouse, and mother still,
and in you we see the face of our Mother Church,
the Bride and the Body of Jesus Christ—
but in you we see, we see simply Mary,
this unique woman infinitely loved by God
and living unceasingly in the truth of her belovedness.
You teach us this, Mary, that we are beloved,
that our life, as insignificant as it may appear,
is important, beautiful, and irreplaceable in the eyes of God.
But this is not all, Mary, this is not all:
you also teach us, beloved, what it is to love,
to give your life and your self completely, totally,
to the One whom you love and who loves you.
For Christ, in the love of God, came to you,
he penetrated to the center of your existence, your heart,
and in the light of his radiant love you knew,
you knew all things bathed in his closeness:
yourself, your relations, and the whole of creation.
But the centering of Christ in your inmost self,
this cradling of a Child in your womb,
became also the centering of your life upon Christ,
for you walked in faith beyond your sight and control,
abandoning yourself to the mystery unfolding in him.
At the Cross, at the Cross, and in the Resurrection,
this twofold movement reaches its climax:
for Christ, breaking the boundary of death
and filling all time and space with himself,
lives in you as in his temple, sanctuary, and chalice,
and through you communicates himself to others,
the life-giving seed that continually causes you to give birth,
through grace and the Holy Church, until the end of time.
And you, in turn, surrendering through the darkness
—the movement of faith, hope, and love blossoming fully—
come to live in the realm of his mystery,
encircled in his all-enveloping Love, alive, alert,
dwelling in the One who has made his dwelling in you.
Two hearts flowing fully into one another,
two personal mysteries interpenetrating,
uniting so intimately that they cannot be torn apart,
but rather cross the very chasm of death,
the life of one the life of the other,
and the other, too, living in the beloved.
And then you go, you go to him,
to be always where he is in the Father’s embrace;
but just like him, also, you remain with us,
so that you may dwell in us, a source of life,
and may helps us, always, to dwell in you,
to abide in your mystery and in that of Christ,
in the love that, already, surpasses death’s boundary
and roots us in the life of Father, Son, and Spirit,
where we will live eternally when this short life is passed.