Alas, I am once again posting just moments before midnight. For those of you who may be concerned with my lack of shut-eye, don’t be – God supplies the vigor of youth to make up for lost hours of sleep. While it is still Saturday, the day of the week dedicated to the Blessed Mother, please join me in the following reflection.
For the remainder of the Saturdays in Lent, I am going to try to break down a stanza or two of the Stabat Mater – that is unless some other prayer or reflection takes precedence. Now, with my thinking machine running on – oh say, maybe a fourth of a tank of fuel – let’s start at the beginning of this beautiful poem – “a very good place to start.”
“At the cross, her station keeping,
stood the mournful mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.”
“Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword had passed.”
– Stabat Mater Dolorosa, stanzas 1 & 2
The first stanza of the Stabat Mater conveys the profound devotion which our Blessed Mother had for her Son, Jesus Christ. Take note of the strength of the language: “At the cross, her station keeping” and “close to Jesus to the last.” This language, more than subtly, implies the love Mary had for Jesus and her courage to openly manifest it. Notice the word “station.” The Blessed Mother courageously stands her “station” at the foot of the cross as if to say to those who are torturing and mocking Jesus: “Back away, I am His mother and I stand with Him – He may have surrendered His earthly body to you and death, but it is only for your salvation and you have no power over His Divine Person.” At the same time her presence speaks to Christ: “Take courage my Child, I will not abandon you like the rest, my Son pity them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Notice too how she is “close to Jesus to the last.” Its not like after an hour of watching her Son hang on the cross, Mary broke down and, turning to St. John said: “Take me home, this is too painful.” No! Our Blessed Mother is much stronger than that. She stayed with Our Lord until the last drops of His Precious Blood issued forth from His Sacred Body. What a strong, devoted Mother Christ has. What a strong, devoted Mother we have – for remember Christ, from the cross, gave her to us – “Behold, your mother” (John 19: 17).
Also note, in the second stanza, the empathy and long-suffering borne by our Blessed Mother. In her heart, she felt, she enacted her Son’s passion step by step. Mary’s soul was not in any sort of grief-stricken delusion nor in any way did her emotions dull her perception. For Mary to be a co-Redeemer with her Son, she had to participate fully conscious of what both were suffering as well as being fully aware of the war between the forces of God and Satan at play on the Hill of Calvary. Mary indeed bore His bitter anguish fully and consciously and it is for this reason that we venerate her as a co-Redeemer with Christ. Imagine that Mother’s pain, yet her actions beneath the foot of the cross offer us a glimpse of her character, fortitude and compassion.
Thank you for contemplating with me and please do not forget to offer little acts of love to our Blessed Mother on this her special day.