The Mary Page presents the fifth 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.
Brothers and Sisters:
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation ...
And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the
ministry of reconciliation. I Corinthians 5:17-18
Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross
Archdiocesan Cathedral and Diocesan Museum, Vienna
Follow Christ to Conversion and Reconciliation
Liturgical Readings of the Season
The Palm Sunday readings for the Roman Catholic Church draw us into the suffering of Christ.
The Old Testament reading is taken from the songs of the suffering servant in Isaiah 50:4-7 and placed
on the lips of Jesus, the suffering servant of his people:
The Messiah must suffer. He must assume into Himself all human suffering to transform it and
make sense out of it for an everlasting purpose. We live in the light of Resurrection. Our reading
of the Scriptures is always on the backdrop of knowing that Jesus will overcome. Could it be that
this knowledge makes us passive participants in the unfolding of an ancient drama? In our
TV-violent age, are we immune to the real pain?
The servant speaks:
The Lord Yahweh has given me
a disciple's tongue.
So that I may know how to reply to the wearied
he provides me with speech.
Each morning he wakes me to hear,
to listen like a disciple.
The Lord Yahweh has opened my ear.
Jesus is taken from the cross
and placed in the arms of His mother.
Library of Kremsmünster
Monastery church at Krems, Germany
For my part, I made no resistance,
neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those who tore at my beard;
I did not cover my face
against insult and spittle.
The Lord Yahweh comes to my help,
so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint;
I know I shall not be shamed.
Perhaps we need to remember that real people suffered these events, not as actors on a stage, but
as sons and mothers and relatives and friends. Jesus Christ alone suffered, died and redeemed us.
He alone! He was truly alone yet not alone. Each person is ultimately alone in death. The words
of Psalm 22, an ancient hymn of the sufferings and hope of the virtuous person, expresses the
loneliness of the dying Christ:
My God, my God, why have you deserted me?
How far from saving me, the words I groan!
I call all day, my God, but you never answer,
all night long I call and cannot rest.
Yet, Holy One, you
who make your home in the praises of Israel,
in you our fathers put their trust,
they trusted and you rescued them ....
Book illumination on vellum from a
Books of Hours
French, ca. 1450
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Yet here am I, now more worm than man,
scorn of mankind, jest of the people,
all who see me jeer at me,
they toss their heads and sneer,
"He relied on Yahweh, let Yahweh save him!
If Yahweh is his friend, let Him rescue him!"
Yet you drew me out of the womb,
you entrusted me to my mother's breasts;
placed on your lap from my birth,
from my mother's womb you have been my God.
Follow Christ with Mary to Conversion and Reconciliation
Liturgical Readings of the Season from the Votive Mass of the Lenten Season:
The Blessed Virgin Mary: Mother of Reconciliation
Jesus was infinitely alone yet not alone. Mary, his mother was there and the small community of
the beloved disciple and some women. (cf. John 19:25-27) This was the moment
when Tradition holds it that the Church was born of the open wound of Christ on the cross.
But why all this? Clearly, to be reconciled with God! (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:20)
In contemplating the utter misery of the God-man's suffering, we are invited to remember that we
are to be washed clean and to share in the suffering. No one is spared the decision-making and the
journey. No one is exempt from sin, sorrow, and misery, from the things that isolate and divide.
In Christ, the old things are to pass away, these things of sin. Saint Paul tell the Corinthians:
The liturgy asks us to become persons of reconciliation. The introduction to the Marian liturgy states:
Brother and sisters:
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation, ...
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake God made Christ to be sin who did not know sin, so that in Christ we might become the righteousness of God.
Lower Church, Benedictine Monastery of Einsiedeln, Switzerland
The Church has with ever greater clarity acknowledged the role of our Lady in
reconciling sinners with God. The Fathers of the Church in the early centuries, in discussing the
mystery of the incarnation of the Word, speak frequently of the virginal womb of the mother of
the Lord as the place where 'peace' between God and the human race came to be.
Popular devotion has long remembered this 'peace' of Mary, the woman who gave birth to the
Redeemer. She held him in her arms at his birth; tradition has it that he was placed in her arms at
his death. She is reconciled to the Father's will. As time went on, Mary was called a refuge where
the miserable could find consolation. Not only is she called Mother of Reconciliation. She is also
called Refuge of Sinners. The sinner and the miserable find refuge in her peace.
Devotions Draw Us into Participation in Christ's Suffering
As early as the eleventh and twelfth century, we reference to Mary compassion toward the sinner. Saint
Anselm of Canterbury (+1109) composed prayers and meditations which include the
consideration of Mary's compassion. Legends abound which show Mary's love for those in
trouble, especially for sinners in trouble. As shown in the images on this webpage, the earliest
painting to express Mary's compassion were those where Jesus is taken from the cross and placed
in the tomb. The placing in the tomb became the most important image. A later development of
this theme is known to us as the Pietà.
In the fourteenth century an illuminated manuscript about the fall and redemption was written in Latin
prosaic rhyme. It consists of one hundred lines and four miniature paintings. The manuscript bears the title,
Speculum Humanae Salvationis (Mirror of Humanity's Salvation). Over time, the
Speculum was extended to forty-five chapters, 4924 lines, and 192 miniatures. It contained
three hundred quotes from Scripture and ancient writings. The last part dealt with the seven sufferings of
Christ and the seven joys and seven sorrows of Mary. Mary is portrayed as a
helper in the work of redemption. It is Jesus, however, who is central. This
work received a great reception in writing, architecture and art between the
fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. It is also in some of these manuscripts
that the Pietà became a favored devotional image.
Musées Royaux des
The theme continues today. Many artists, well known to the
contemporary world, have tried to represent this moment of exquisite sorrow, abandonment, and
at the same time intimacy of Son and mother.
Vincent Van Gogh
Plaint of the Madonna
O Son, your soul has left you,
Jacopone da Todi (+1306)
O Son of discouragement,
O Son of disappearance,
O Son who was poisoned!
O Son bathed in red and white,
O Son without compare,
O Son, to whom shall I turn?
O Son, you have left me!
The Pietà of South Africa
Oil on canvas, 1991
Cincinnati Art Museum
Lord our God, through the precious blood of Your Son You
reconciled the world to Yourself and at the foot of his cross you chose the Blessed Virgin Mary to
be the mother of reconciliation for sinners;
grant through her intercession that we may obtain pardon for our sins.
We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ...
Written by Sister 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 14:48:10 EDT
Michael P. Duricy
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