When I Met Mary at the Foot of the Cross

The LEnt I met Mary at the Foot of the Cross
Photo Credit: The Joy Filled Catholic ♦ The Grotto – National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother

I have a blog post in the works that I will post after we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord — and I think it will be a great post to kick off the Easter season!

Today is Holy Thursday. This evening will mark the end of Lent and the beginning of the Pascal Triduum. It is during this time that we should pause to reflect on all of those moments leading up to the crucifixion. All the actions, words, betrayals, tears, and the brutal sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.

Even though I grew up Catholic, Holy Week wasn’t really something we took time to pause and reflect on. All of that changed for me several years back.

My husband and I were struggling to conceive, my step-dad, and also a very dear friend and co-worker of mine, were both battling colon cancer. It was through my sadness, disappointment, and grief that I was starting to cling to my Catholic faith – which a few year before, I nearly abandoned. I was praying for the intercession of Saints, praying the Rosary, I went to confession which didn’t turn out as I had hoped (my fault – but that is a story for another day), visited my favorite sanctuary, and started going to Mass more often than I ever had in years.

So, that year, I decided that I would go to Mass on Holy Thursday. I had never been before and I really didn’t understand what was going on. It was long, and there was just a lot happening, and yet sometimes, nothing was happening. It’s even hard to explain that now. I felt like a stranger, somewhere that I typically felt (for the most part) like I knew what was happening and what to expect next. It left me wanting to know more. This was the year I dipped my toe into Holy Week.

Fast forward several years, our twins were almost 6 years old and we were expecting our third son. Two years before, my husband had gone through RCIA, we had our marriage Convalidated, and we became regular Mass attenders. Lent became more and more special each year. However, this Lent was different than any other for me and one which I will always remember. It was the Lent when I met Mary at the foot of the Cross.

I know that may sound a bit strange. Especially, since Holy Week and the Triduum are focused on Jesus, of course. But when I took a moment to look at Mary, I discovered something about Jesus that I hadn’t really thought of before – He is not only our Lord, Son of God. He is not only fully divine — but fully man as well. He is Lord – but he is also Mary’s son.

How often have I seen photographs, painting, or statues of the infant Jesus cradled in His mother’s arms. A tender embrace of love. She fed him, snuggled him, and taught him how to do all those things that faithful, Jewish mothers of her day, taught their sons. There is very little information about Jesus’ childhood – but I can imagine all those moments that they shared together. Many of those things I even share with my own sons.

But Mary had to witness the Passion and death of her only Son. She watched in gut-wrenching, heart-crushing, soul-piercing, horror as her precious baby was dragged through the streets. He was beaten, spit on, ridiculed, and died — all as His mother watched; helpless to save Him.

I don’t know what Mary knew – but I do know she had an unwavering faith. She trusted the Lord with all her heart, soul, and mind. However, that doesn’t make having to witness the brutality against her Son any easier to watch.

That day, I believe that a sword did pierce through her own soul…just as Simeon had foretold. (Luke 2:35) I believe it because if I even let myself think for a second, about how I would feel having to watch that happen to one of my boys – it brings me instantly to tears.

When I think of that moment in Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, where she and Mary Magdalene are taking rags and soaking up Jesus’ blood that was spilled out on the streets, that also brings me to tears.

I can’t begin to imagine what that was like for her. I can only look at her with my mother’s heart and meditate on what transpired that day. When I do I just want to hug her and hold her. I want to put my arms around her and cry with her…at the foot of the cross.

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.    John 16:20


God’s Peace be with you!

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A Reason for the Hope Within Me

The Grotto Portland

 

But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them or be troubled, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong.

1 Peter 3:14-17

For so many years I was afraid of being open about my faith. I was also timid to admit I was Catholic.

Would my beliefs be challenged?

Would I be confronted and have no answers, only to concede that I did not know the faith I professed?

Would one of unbelief have the words to convince me that my faith is in vain?

Would I be ridiculed for the Church’s teachings, many of which seemed to me at the time, to be so out of touch with today’s reality?

I think what I was most afraid of, if I am being completely honest, is that I would not fit in. What I didn’t realize, is that I am not supposed to. I didn’t understand that following Jesus is not supposed to be easy. We are called to seek the narrow gate, even though the way is hard. While others are seeking the easy route; blissfully filing through the wide gate, which unfortunately can lead to destruction. (MT 7:13-14)

I was a coward! I was conforming MYSELF to the world so that the world would love me. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be who the world said I should be and believe what the world professes to be true. I didn’t realize that as Christians, we are set apart. We are called to holiness. We aren’t supposed to do what “they” do, or say what “they” say.

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 15:18

Being a Christian doesn’t mean I will ever be perfect. It doesn’t mean that I have not sinned in big ways – I have! But the Lord is merciful indeed and I am so thankful that I now have eyes to see and ears to hear.

The more I reject the ideals of this world, and instead put my trust and hope in the Lord – the greater my sense of peace and joy.

So, where does my hope come from?

It comes from the LORD and it gives me the peace and blessed assurance that I need to confidentially proclaim His truth. This is something I am working on doing more and more – but fear still creeps in sometimes.

Through my deep desire to know my faith and understand what it means to be a Catholic, I made a remarkable discovery. The Church is so wise. Thanks to solid Catholic resources, along with reading and studying the Bible, I now understand the “whys” behind many of Her teachings. Teachings which I only rejected before, because I didn’t understand them. I love, honor and respect Holy Mother Church.

Joy Filled Catholic

What or who has helped me on this exciting faith journey? All glory goes to God and the work of the Holy Spirit. Through a burning desire to know more, I have discovered some magnificent Catholic resources that I highly encourage you to explore:

EWTN TV and Radio

The Journey Home

Catholic Answers Radio

Tim Staples

Trent Horn

Jimmy Akin

Patrick Madrid

Catholic Answers Website

Relevant Radio (I use the App and listen to so many programs)

Go Ask Your Father

The Coming Home Network

Catholics Come Home

Ascension Presents

Blessed is She

These are just a few of the dynamic resources that I found to help me understand my faith! There are a ton of others. Don’t be overwhelmed by the list, just pick one or two to explore. You’ll soon find yourself looking for others though, so keep this list handy!

Let me just leave you with this:

God desires us all to be part of His one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. He desires us to lead others to Him and build up His Kingdom on earth and He gives us the grace to do this. He desires us to be holy and dwell with Him forever in Heaven. He desires us to be filled with peace and joy.

Brothers and sisters, we are called to much more than what this broken world can offer us, but while we are here, we must be beacons of light and love for others.

 

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

― Saint Teresa of Ávila

 

God’s Peace Be with You!