It is right and logical that after remembering the holy Cross we also remember in a special way the sorrows of the Blessed, ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, who stood faithfully at the side of her beloved Son, Jesus Christ, as He hung on the Cross and died for the salvation of the entire world.
How agonizing the sight of the Mother and the crucified Son! The Mother who weeps and the Son Who suffers for her; the Mother who is humbled by sorrow and the Son Who speaks to her; the Mother who stands beneath the Cross and the Son Who hangs on the Cross; the Mother who sighs and the Son Who breathes His last. What an abyss of immense love that ought never to be forgotten but always deeply imprinted in the hearts of the faithful!
On the board attached to the Cross, Pilate ordered written: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” (John 19:19). You, too, must write the same on your heart in letters of gold, so that you may resist the mockery of men and the terror caused by the demons.
This is Jesus Christ, King of heaven, and He will deliver you from every persecution by the wicked. But Mary, the Mother of Jesus, will do the same: she too will stand by you with her prayers, that you may not lose hope in trials and in the final moments of your life.
No mother has felt as great a joy and consolation at the birth of her child as this Blessed Mother did when God made her worthy of conceiving and bearing His own Son. So too no mother has suffered and endured such distress and agonizing pain at the death of her child as this most loving Mother did during the Passion of her beloved Son, when she shared in His suffering.
She remained steadfast near His Cross and, pierced by the sword of sorrow, wept most bitterly.
As Mary looked upon the great sufferings of her Son, Whom she loved in so special a way and above everything else, it was truly miraculous that she could continue living in the body. For her soul was being pierced by the sword of sorrow overtime she saw or heard her Son’s agony while He was subjected to torture and derision.
Truly this was a unique martyrdom for the desolate Mother and for the loving Virgin, tormented as she was in her heart and, with her Son, suffering more terribly than any martyr stretched on the rack of torment.
Brothers, if you love our Lady and desire her help in all trials, remain with her by the Cross of Jesus. Share with you your whole heart in the sufferings of both, in order that at the hour of your death she may pray earnestly for the forgiveness of your sins and failures.
Indeed, those who now remember, and meditate devoutly and often on, the Lord’s Passion and the tears of His most sorrowful Mother can have a well-founded hope that God’s mercy and the kindness of Mother and Son will be present to them in their need and strengthen them at the hour of death.
How blessed the soul who loved Jesus and Mary during the present life and meditated daily on her sorrowing presence by the Cross of Jesus! Happy the religious who scorn all worldly pleasures and choose our Lady as consoling Mother and guardian and protector of their lives!
No one can doubt that this good and merciful Mother, consoler of the poor and helper of orphans, will gladly put in a good and kindly word for a faithful servant who is about to leave this world. With her holy prayers she will placate her beloved Son and our Redeemer, saying:
“My loving Son, take pity on Your servant who loves and praises me, as You Yourself have seen and know. The holy Angels have told me of the frequent devout greetings that sprang from his lips as he remembered my joys; how his custom was to urge many brothers to join him in praising Your holy Name.
He is our secretary and writes books of devotion. As he journeyed and saw a Cross far off, he remembered Your Passion and did You homage by bowing before it. Whenever he saw, in a church or elsewhere, an image showing You lying on my breast and dead in my arms, he immediately saddened, he wept and lamented, he knelt and prayed, he adored You.
He has never left us without a loving kiss; every day and every night he kept alive in his heart compassion for Your holy wounds and my tears, zealously trying to suffer with me. Be mindful of all this, my Son, and grant that he may find mercy from you. In union with all Your Saints and Angels I pray earnestly for him.”
Act in this way, sisters and brothers, while you are well and still have time to change your ways. Win for yourselves this kind of friends, and advocates who can put into a good word, one that pleases God, for your offenses and debts and who can welcome you into their everlasting dwellings after the dangers and wearisome struggle of this world. For you cannot find friends more faithful and powerful in heaven or on earth than Jesus, King of the Angels, and Mary, our Lady and Queen of heaven.
If you love Christ, take up His Cross, follow His Cross, remain beside His Cross, embrace it and do not abandon it until you reach Jesus, the true Light, Who says: “Whoever follows Me does not walk in darkness” (John 8:12).
If you want to be strengthened in every trial, draw near to Mary, Mother of Jesus, as she stands by the Cross, sorrowful and weeping; then everything that weighs you down will disappear or become tolerable. Before you die, choose this kind Mother of Jesus as your Mother and Advocate, rather than any of your relatives and friends. Greet her often with “Hail, Mary,” which is very pleasing to her.
If the malicious enemy tempts you and hinders you from calling upon God and Mary, do not be concerned and do not cease praying them and praying to them. Rather, be more fervent in calling upon Mary, greeting Mary, naming Mary, honoring Mary, bowing before Mary, and commending yourself to Mary.
Remain at home with Mary; keep silence with Mary; rejoice with Mary; suffer with Mary; labor with Mary; keep watch with Mary; pray with Mary; walk with Mary; sit with Mary; with Mary seek Jesus; with Mary hold Jesus in your arms.
Dwell in Nazareth with Jesus and Mary; go up to Jerusalem with Mary; stand by the Cross with Mary; mourn with Mary; with Mary bury Jesus; rise with Jesus and with Mary; go up to heaven with Jesus and Mary; desire to live with Jesus and with Mary.
Brothers, meditate carefully on these matters and, if you think to put them into practice, the devil will flee from you and you will advance in the spiritual life. Mary in her mercy will gladly pray for you, and Jesus will gladly hear His Mother because of His respect for her.
Whatever we do is very little. Yet if we approach the Father through Mary and her Son Jesus, we will obtain mercy and grace here on earth, as well as everlasting glory with them in heaven. Amen.
Happy the devout soul who in the present life has Jesus and Mary as close friends: as companions at table and fellow travelers on the journey, attentive to us in our need, comforters in our sufferings, advisers in our uncertainties, helpers in our dangers and at the hour of our death.
Blessed they who think of themselves as pilgrims on this earth and consider it their greatest joy to have Jesus and Mary as guests in the depths of their hearts.
(The Imitation of Mary, Thomas a` Kempis, Chapter 3)