"He said to his mother, Woman, behold, your son. Then he said to the disciple, Behold, your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26)

[Crucifixion]
The Crucifixion
Patrick Pye
Oil on Canvas, 1989

The Mary Page presents the fourth of five Lenten meditations. These meditations take their orientation from the Sunday liturgies for Lent, from the five votive Masses in honor of Mary for the Lenten season, from Sacred Scripture, and from the devotional traditions that have evolved over the centuries which link Mary to the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.


 

Follow Christ
Liturgical Readings of the Season

In this week's Scriptures, Jesus speaks of his hour that has come. Strangers in the land had heard of him and wished to see him. Jesus places things in perspective. It is not human fame that shall draw people to him. Public acclaim and honor is not what is important here. A entirely different motive will draw the people to him. Before this will happen, Jesus must die. In the following passage, he foretells his death and resurrection.

In the following reflection, the gospel passages are interspersed with psalm verses You are invited to hear Jesus and to respond with the psalm prayer.

Jesus speaks:

I tell you, most solemnly,
unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies,
it remains only a single grain;
but if it dies,
it yields a rich harvest. (John 12:24)

My answer:

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness,
in your great tenderness wipe away my faults;
wash me clean of my guilt,
purify me from my sin. Psalm 51:1
[Crucifixion]

The Crucifixion
Manuscript Painting, tenth century 
Former abbey church at 
Gerresheim, Germany

Jesus speaks:

It was for this very reason that I have come to this hour. (John 12:28)

My answer:

For I am well aware of my faults,
I have my sin constantly in mind,
having sinned against none other than you,
having done what you regard as wrong. (Psalm 51:2)

Jesus speaks:

And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw the universe to myself. (John 12:32)

My answer:

Save me from death, God my savior,
and my tongue will acclaim your righteousness;
Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will speak out your praise. (Psalm 51:3)

 
Follow Christ with Mary to the Commending
Liturgical Readings of the Season from the Votive Mass of the Lenten Season:
The Commending of the Blessed Virgin Mary

When Jesus was lifted up there was the small band at the foot of the cross. Scripture records the memory of the moment when Jesus drew to himself two persons who were to be particularly drawn into his redemptive act, Mary and the Beloved Disciple. The preface of the Mass, The Commending, sees the Beloved Disciple as a representative for all of those who follow the Lord.

At the foot of the cross of Jesus,
by his solemn and dying wish,
a deep bond of love is fashioned
between the Blessed Virgin Mary
and his faithful disciples:
the Mother of God is entrusted to the disciple
as their own mother,
and they receive her
as a precious inheritance from their Master.

She is to be for ever
the mother of those who believe,
and they will look to her
with great confidence in her unfailing protection.
She loves her Son in loving her children,
and in heeding what she says
they keep the words of their Master.

[Crucifixion]
The Crucifixion
Evesham Psalter Manuscript, mid-thirteenth century
Great Britain

Mary and the disciple are the first of Christ's followers to be commended and commissioned. As the commentary for the fourth Marian Lenten Mass states: The Church sees the words of Jesus as a "special gift, by which Christ the Lord entrusted to his Virgin Mother all his disciples as her children (Leo XIII, Octobri mense: AAS 24 [1891-1892] 195)." The commentary continues:

It is primarily God who is glorified, for making "a home for the Blessed Virgin in the Church as the joyful mother of children" (Entrance Antiphon, cf to Psalm 113:9).
This act of commending is part of the mystery of Christ's passion and the Virgin's co-suffering; the liturgy therefore refers to the Blessed Virgin as one who "stood by the cross and tenderly looked on the wounds of her Son, whose death she knew would redeem the world" (Gospel Verse), and it places on her lips the words of the apostle: "I endure all for the sake of the elect, so that they too may achieve salvation in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (Communion Antiphon, 2 Timothy 2:10)

Our Lady also was entrusted by Christ to the loving care of the beloved disciple: "To the virgin John, Christ, dying on the cross, entrusted his Virgin mother" (Liturgy of the Hours, 27 Dec, Antiphon 2 at morning prayer). In John Christ made all his disciples living signs of his own love for her.

[Crucifixion]

Christ on the Cross committing Mary to the care of St. John
Full-page illustration from a late seventeenth-century Ethiopic manuscript of Octateuch, Four Gospels and Synodos British Library

Mary and John, then, are entrusted to each other, to love and care for one other. This is their commission. The very bond that binds them is not a bond only between two. It is a bond of the two to Jesus Christ, whose commission they fulfill. It remains Jesus who "draws all the universe to himself." He does this in the liturgy and in life! He draws us and sends us to the daily offering of our own lives, which shall be a magnet drawing all to Christ.
In the Marian liturgy, we pray:

Lord God,
let this sacred table increase our filial love,
for here we are nourished
by the body and blood of Christ,
who when dying on the cross
delivered his spirit into your hands
and entrusted us to his Virgin Mother as her children.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

[Crucifixion]

The Crucifixion
Flemish School, ca. 1490

 


Devotions Draw Us into Participation in Christ's Suffering

How can we let ourselves be drawn and draw? One way is to meditate and assimilate the Crucifixion Icon as it is expressed in this prayer:

Lord Jesus,
we gather in spirit at the foot of the Cross
with your Mother and the disciple whom you loved.
We ask your pardon for our sins
which are the cause of your death.

We thank you for remembering us
in that hour of salvation
and for giving us Mary as our Mother.

Holy Virgin,
take us under your protection
and open us to the action of the Holy Spirit.

Saint John,
obtain for us the grace of taking Mary
into our life, as you did,
and of assisting her in her mission. Amen.

May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
be gloried in all places
through the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Amen

[Crucifixion]

Christ on the Cross
Rubens
1577-1640

In the Calvary event, Mary and the beloved disciple both represent the Church, that is its original cell. Mary is the figure of Mother-Church; John stands for Christian discipleship. Together they personify faithful, loving and persevering commitment to the Church. They are both teachers of authentic ecclesial sensitivity. This Church of ours, at times, looks very human, beaten and broken. It is in dire need of all the friends it can get, dependent on faithful hearts and healing hands. Invited into the company of Mary and John, each part of the Church is called to be another healthy and life-giving cell of the Church. Each one of its members is graced with passionate and compassionate Marian sensitivity for the many needs and calls of Mother-Church.

The Three O'clock Prayer presents us with a whole array of themes. Mary is portrayed as the Mother of Jesus and, at the same time, as our mother, given to us by the very same Jesus hanging in agony on the Cross. Mary is depicted as the strong woman -- the holy virgin -- and lady of the mantle, whose protection we seek and need. She is the gentle mistress and sister, who opens our hearts and minds to the action of the Holy Spirit. Ever the fruitful mother, she forms those who are entrusted to her in the Spirit of her Son. As we take her into our life, she becomes a part of our self. Called into alliance with her, through whom the Holy Trinity shall be glorified in all places, we assist Mary in her mission as the Woman mandated by her Son.

Discipleship is thoroughly Marian, but it has a definite Johannine touch. The beloved disciple was told to take Mary into his home. More important still, he took her into his life and made her deepest memories of her Son his own. His heart was filled with her courage and faith. He shared her pain and loving certitude. He adopted her sense of mission and her total commitment to the spirit and work of her Son, his friend and spiritual master. Thus, the Three O'clock Prayer is a powerful lesson in Christian discipleship. It has its origin in Christ's crucified love, and takes shape and direction in his pressing invitation to take Mary into our life. Discipleship blossoms in the caring and creative company of Mary, the Mother and Woman. The figure of the beloved disciple is forever a reminder that the Church of Jesus Christ does not know members and partisans, but only disciples, daughters and son, and friends.

Excerpts from Johann G. Roten, S.M. Deep Memories: A Marianist Icon Art and Spirituality Series, Marianist Press, Dayton.

 


Written by M. Jean Frisk, The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute

Return to The Mary Page

This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by M. Jean Frisk , was last modified Thursday, 03/31/2011 14:48:09 EDT by Victor Pennekamp . Please send any comments to jroten1@udayton.edu.