Women on the way to the Cross: Mary
“A little piece of heaven.”
by Melicia Antonio | Source:
There’s something heavenly about a fervent and tranquil religious house. Something divine and uplifting about seeing ordinary men or women leave behind the secular din to coexist peacefully in an atmosphere of love, prayer, and work for the salvation of souls. Lay people feel rejuvenated after visits to convents, monasteries and seminaries; “It was a little piece of heaven”, they go away saying. One of the objectives of consecrated life is exactly that: “to signify and proclaim in the Church the glory of the world to come.” (CCC 916)
The runners along life’s grinding road need pit stops like these to remind them of the final goal. To fight the good fight is the most arduous task we can take upon ourselves. Consequently, the good fight is no solo act: we need angels, messengers, who meet us along the way and unveil to us a little more of the heavenly glory, who whisper quietly to us, “It’s worth it…keep going!”
Mary meant more for Christ in his earthly lifetime than she perhaps ever realized. Every time he looked into her eyes, he saw the Immaculate new Eve pre-redeemed by the merits of his sufferings yet to come. If at any moment he was tempted to doubt the efficacy of his blood poured out in ransom for sin, he had only to look at his Mother to know that the holiness of the human race was possible. She was his prize, his beloved, purchased on a credit card, and his closest collaborator and confidant in the Father’s plan to open heaven to all souls.
On Good Friday, Christ fought the fight that freed us all, despite enduring our own insults and disbelief directed to this “King of the Jews”. As he fell for the first time under crushing load of the cross, his eyes searched the jeering crowd for Mary. Where was his little piece of heaven?
She came right away, as she always had. She was the fourth station, the first friend to meet him on the torturous road. The meeting was brief, but that was all that was necessary. He simply needed to know that she was there, and he could go on.
Many saints have dreamed of standing at the foot of Christ’s cross, to stand there as testimony to the enduring worth of the Savior’s blood and silently prove every naysayer wrong. For the billions of us who were born after the physical passion, Mary stood in our place. Jesus looked into her eyes as he hung in racking pain, and saw the entire sanctified Mystical Body. “Woman, behold your Son. Behold, your mother.” He was up in hell, gazing down at heaven.
Today, we can be this little piece of heaven for each other. We can be another Mary for every crucified Christ we meet upon our way. Every assent to the Father’s will makes his Kingdom come. Every selfless act of love united to the Redeemer’s suffering inspires more love and creates a little piece of heaven. It is no coincidence that after the fourth station, two more saints, Simon and Veronica, are stirred to help Christ fulfill his mission. Mary’s “yes” will bear this same fruit in every Christian who takes her as “Mother”.
“Only love has been able to overcome all obstacles,
only love has persevered until the end,
only love generates love in others.
And there, at the foot of the cross, a new community is born,
there, in the place of death, emerges a new space of life.
Mary receives the disciple as a son,
the beloved disciple receives Mary as a mother.
He took into his own home (Jn 19:27),
an inalienable treasure of which he has become the guardian.
Only love can guard love,
only love is stronger than death (Song 8:6).”
– From The Way of Cross, 2002, Coliseum, Rome