12 – Mary walks with us and our crosses – Mary, meek and tender of heart
Love consists in a mutual sharing of goods, for example, the lover gives and shares with the beloved what he possesses, or something of that which he has or is able to give; and vice versa, the beloved shares with the lover. Hence, if one has knowledge, he shares it with the one who does not possess it; and so also if one has honors, or riches. Thus, one always gives to the other. (Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, #231)
Love is the cross of Christ. It is the ultimate sharing of love to mankind – the son’s life for ours, given to the Father in expiation for sin. True gift.
Christ shared the love he had for his mother with us at the cross. Each of us now have the opportunity to share this love with another; physically mentally, spiritually and emotionally. We cannot not share it – we are relational beings who observe, react and respond to what we see, hear, feel, touch or know in our hearts.
But do we always do this in charity and grace, with meekness and a tender heart? Likely the answer is no. We fall short. We are weak, selfish, self-righteous, narcissistic, manipulative, angry, frustrated, disappointed and a lot more I haven’t listed. Yet we are also loving, giving, strong, God fearing, charitable, ordered, joyful, optimistic and at peace. How can we be both?
By accepting our crosses – sharing what we possess and receiving back love … this is the beauty and ugliness of the cross that God has allowed us to carry – for the salvation of all mankind.
Mary did not walk to the cross without carrying one. She stood in the breach when others couldn’t. She carried one for each of his apostles who weren’t there – she pushed on when they fled – she stood for three long hours as Jesus’ life poured out of him. She carried it for the high priests who were supposed to recognize scripture and everything Jesus taught – but denied and condemned her innocent son to death. She carried it for all those who hailed him as messiah as he came into Jerusalem on the donkey, yet spat on him as he walked to Calvary.
She carries it for you and me in our failings – in the difficulties we have in our roles of family member, friend, neighbor. These difficulties are real that we carry; perhaps found on the outside in how we interact with others or buried deep within our hearts; likely hidden away from where we have to do something with it.
As Mary carries the cross behind her son, she shows us who we are supposed to be. She showed patience when the Romans would not allow her to come close, yet we become frustrated because we are inconvenienced. She stayed in peace when Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus untied the knots of confusion as to where to place Jesus’ body, yet we despair because we have lost control over health, jobs or an injustice. “Offer it up” mom used to say. Oh how we hated to hear that. It meant get over yourself.
The lover gives and shares with the beloved what he possesses, or something of that which he has or is able to give; and vice versa, the beloved shares with the lover. Mary offered up her grief and sorrow as she followed her beloved Son to the cross. She did this because by her fiat she was able to give what she received – the grace and blessing of the Father, who entrusted her with his plan of salvation as the new Eve.
Returning to Mary all our anguish, anxieties, frustrations, confusion, lack of faith, trust and charity blesses her. She knows how to bring it to the Father through her son’s suffering and death. She is our intercessor and will give us and share what we need by the grace she was given. Jesus gave this to her through John, and she gives to us.
My only desire and my one choice should be;
I want and I need what better leads me –
to a deepening of God’s life in me.Principal and Foundation of St. Ignatius of Loyola
Hence, if one has knowledge, he shares it with the one who does not possess it… In the Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, we find the truth that was the bedrock for all of St. Ignatius’ teachings. I mentioned it once before in another post (click here) but I want to bring it back for this last post (stated in my words).
Mary heard and received from the Angel at her Annunciation the knowledge – true facts of what her life was going to be like. Now in heaven she is the Mediatrix of grace – her fiat lived out for you and me to the upmost degree in helping us to live as her son taught – to prepare for our heavenly home and to bring with us as many as we can by our witness to the truth. She calls us to reflect the image of God perhaps in this call to evangelization. Yes, its a challenge – and we are quick to say we’d rather not – can’t I just go to church and pray and then go home? We’d rather write the check than do the work – although the check is needed as well. We’d rather say I’m already doing this or that. We know what is in front of us hasn’t gone away either. But the call of knowledge provides the opportunity to share with those who do not possess it…. and giving it away is a blessing back to the one who shares.
The last part – if one has honors or riches shouldn’t be lost or downplayed. Almsgiving is needed today as much as ever. Even the three kings brought gifts that could be exchanged for real money to help pay for the expenses the holy family needed to cover. Every time we pray the rosary we honor Mary and she honors us with her blessing – every dollar we give to another we are blessed with more back. Honor recognizes the gifts and talents of each of us – in whatever gift given by the holy spirit; we are called to live it to the full and help others to use their gifts as well. Providing for those in need – our own standing in the breach for others – doing the corporal works of mercy – this is stretching towards the challenge Ignatius presents.
So as we end this series of walking with Mary to the cross, we turn and embrace love within the cross – sometimes hidden from view – yes it is hard to look at Jesus’ mutilated body stretched and bleeding – but we acknowledge sin is ugly and you can’t have Easter Sunday without Good Friday.
Look deeper – what he gave up for you and me. Sometimes it easy to look at the cross and say Jesus, I need you. You did it and I can’t. We recognize our weakness and absolute need to receive his strength through the Eucharist to find peace within our hearts. Remember we say “O happy fault” at the Easter vigil. Life is tough and carrying a cross is hard. But we are not alone.
Mary is the authority with great honor and riches of heaven and is here to help us carry our cross. The question is, will you let her? Will you receive her help? Will you ask? She points to her immaculate heart. She faithfully waits for your fiat. She wants to help you pick up your cross and unite it to her sons. She’ll be there as she was for him.
Photo credits: Public Domain: San Damiano cross, EWTN and Author’s photo