Walking with Mary to the Cross Series-8

8 – Mary walking with Jesus to Calvary Mary, model of strength

The Stations of the Cross are the most often thought of the “walk with Mary” to the Cross. Every Lent we gather together in the church to remember the passion and crucifixion of our Lord – and that Mary is present with her son. Much has been said about Mary’s walk – the sorrow in watching Jesus fall three times – the women he encounters – the help he gets. In this post I want to speak with you about Mary’s motherhood – the intense pain she must have felt being the mother of the one who is to be crucified – innocent and humiliated – surrendering to the will of the Father to be killed on a cross for our sakes and, of my own pain in motherhood.

You’ve had a miscarriage” they told me at the hospital. How could that be, I wondered. I didn’t know I was pregnant – I was just late in my cycle, I thought. But here I was, a married woman of three months, and it could be. “We’ll have to take you into surgery to be sure that all the parts are removed.” Parts? What kind of parts could he be talking about? Everyone knew that it was only cells and tissues – I couldn’t have been more than 6 weeks along. Dread came over me as they wheeled me down the hall to my room and then helped me into the bed. My bleeding had subsided somewhat but I was still so uncomfortable and afraid. I was pregnant? I lost this child? Where are you God, I asked. Where are you? Have you abandoned me again?

After the flogging they gave Jesus the coat of purple and the crowning of thorns. They put a reed in his hands and called him the King of the Jews. They pulled him out into the crowd and forced the heavy beams of a cross upon his back. His back – torn into a thousand pieces from the flogging would rip open and bleed more. What agonizing pain he must have felt. Close by Mary would have stood watching her son being terrorized. She could not run over and push them off of him – although I am sure she wanted to and perhaps John had to hold her back. Seeing him in this state she would hardly be able to breath.

I think of so many mothers I know who lost their children – in pregnancy – at birth – in their young childhood years and even as adults. How could God have allowed this tragedy? A child? They are innocent! They didn’t do anything wrong and were just starting out in life. How do we bear the pain? We would rather give our life for theirs. But God allows it. Love knows no limits and neither does suffering. We are given only the choice to say not my will, but yours be done. Mary again – Mary our model of strength points us to the will of the Father – the will her son took up when he said Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?

Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into His glory? Luke writes this for us – that we too must suffer with our own crosses. He remembered when Jesus said “Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” It was clear he meant for us to know that crosses will come into our life – in the midst of happiness or in daily trials. How we react to them will either glorify the Father or leave us with hardened hearts. Mary went out into the street to comfort Jesus in his walk and their eyes met. That deep look into each other’s souls was united in love only because they both knew God had a greater plan and it would carry them past this moment in time. Still, Mary would have wanted it to stop. Greater pain yet had to come before he could be released from this world – from his humanity and enter fully into divinity once again. He would look at his mother and his eyes would say “I am not abandoning you…. I will be with you always.” How could she believe this? She only had to look at what she had already been told. God never left her. He provided. She didn’t always understand, but she knew how to surrender to his will.

Have you abandoned me again? I asked. Yes, I did feel God abandoned me a second time. You see, the first time I was pregnant, I knew it. I was way late in my cycle. I went to a clinic and they confirmed it. I was 17, in high school and not married, and the father did not want anything to do with me. It is only cells and tissues they told me. Just a blob right now, so get it done and get on with your life. No one will need to know. But God knew. Mary and all the saints in heaven would know. I would know. But if what she said was true – then there was no harm, right? That was the evil one whispering loud in my ears. I could only hear him. I turned away from the God who was supposed to save me. I walked away from him. I had an abortion and until that next pregnancy, pushed it far back into my mind and chose to forget it. Then came that day in the hospital, and the Doctor tells me there are parts. No longer do I believe about the cells and tissue, but realize a real live child was within my womb and I allowed her death. O Jesus. O Mary. Punish me forever and a day for I cannot stand what I have done to you, to her, to all of us. But I cannot take back time. I cannot undo what was done.

At the wedding in Cana, did Mary wish she did not ask for the first miracle? Did she wish she could take back her request to Jesus to begin his ministry? Yet something would have come if not this to start her son’s walk towards the passion. It was just a matter of time – she would know that it could start anywhere and would get worse – she would come to suffer more and want it to end. But her obedience to the Father to love this son, to unite herself to every thing he felt – knowing deep within her the extreme suffering – had to happen. How many things do we wish we could take back – a word, action or thought, before that person we loved passed away? How do we live with never being able to take back or state what we were too afraid to say or do at that last moment?

Perhaps God allows this suffering – like that of my innocent child – for our salvation. So sad to say this but her life given for mine? Could I have come back to him with such a strength of love that I have without the allowance of what occurred? Why? Why such a tragedy? If I had only known, I would have chose differently. But in truth, I feel more strongly that if I had trusted – chosen God to figure this out instead of relying on myself – if I had shared with my parents or siblings or friends – it could have been different. God allowed me this cross – a cross for life – and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my child – my children – Mary Elizabeth and Stephen – who are my advocates in heaven. Thy will be done Lord. Mary’s heart would break for me on the day of their deaths. But she would hold them – as she does with all our children who leave earth before their parents. She would bring them into her mantle and tell them all the good about us. Mary would cry with us both for the loss and grief we would feel. She would then take up the cross of righteousness to show the children her son’s mercy to forgive and pray for us. And prayer is what finally reunited us through a Rachel’s vineyard retreat where I found the healing power of Jesus’ mercy and love. Even for a wretched sinner like me. Because no sin is greater than his mercy.

That’s the walk of the way of the cross – life’s battles in which some we win by the power of God and some we lose to the great influencer. But we know in the long run that victory has been won. Good Friday does come before Easter Sunday – and it has to be in that order. His plan will always be greater than ours – if we surrender to his will. Just look to Mary who is our model of strength, sorrow and see her cross. She’ll help you carry yours too.

If you know someone hurting from a past abortion, help them find healing through a Rachel’s vineyard retreat. They are located across the country and the world and can be found here: www.rachelsvineyard.org

Photo credit: Public Domain. File:5 Andrea di Bartolo. Way to Calvary. c. 1400, Thissen-Bornhemisza coll. Madrid.jpg

About Cathy Trowbridge

A faith-led people-person, daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, great- grandmother and friend, I am a Catholic Christian striving to union with our Lord. I hope to bring you encouragement to live a closer relationship with Christ, discerning direction in the path to Him, with Him and in Him.
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