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

[Deposition]
Jesus Is Taken Down from the Cross
ca. 1340
Archdiocesan Cathedral and Diocesan Museum, Vienna

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.
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 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.

[Deposition]
Jesus is taken from the cross
and placed in the arms of His mother.
Library of Kremsmünster
Monastery church at Krems, Germany
ca. 1330

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.

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?

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 ....

[Pietà]
Pietà
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:

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.

[Pietà]
Pietà
Lower Church, Benedictine Monastery of Einsiedeln, Switzerland
after 1330

The liturgy asks us to become persons of reconciliation. The introduction to the Marian liturgy states:
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.

[Pieta]
Paul Gauguin
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts
Bruxelles

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.

[Pieta]
Pietà
Vincent Van Gogh


Prayer

Plaint of the Madonna
Jacopone da Todi (+1306)

O Son, your soul has left you,
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!
[Pietà of South Africa]
The Pietà of South Africa
Malaika Favorite
Oil on canvas, 1991

[Pietà]
Michael Ciry
Etching, 1950
Cincinnati Art Museum
Sloniker Collection

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...

[Pietà]
Roman Turovsky
USA, 1990


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


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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 by Michael P. Duricy . Please send any comments to jroten1@udayton.edu.