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Recalling an image in prayer, Allison Auth meditates on Mary’s role in bringing our sufferings to Jesus on the cross.

A few years ago during Lent, I had a vivid prayer experience of being in the crowd at the crucifixion. I was in the back of a loud, chaotic mob that was shouting and cheering at Jesus being nailed to the Cross. I couldn’t see anything due to my short stature, and I was also feeling very uncomfortable about being there. In addition, I felt sadness about my inability to console Jesus in His pain, knowing that I was part of the reason He was suffering. And then, from behind, I was lifted up above the crowd and pushed forward until I was eye level with Jesus on the cross.

Suspended in midair, I recognized that it was Mary who had propelled me and was holding me up so that I could look Jesus in the face, but also so that He could see me too. And I rested in that gaze for a bit, telling Jesus that I loved Him and allowing Him to love me too. Those eyes contained incredible sadness, tenderness, and hope all at the same time. I recognized in that experience the desire of Mary to bring me closer to her Son.   

I had forgotten about that prayer experience until recently when I was gazing at the monstrance in our Adoration chapel.  The monstrance reminded me of Mary’s womb with Christ dwelling inside. Ever since her initial fiat where Christ became present in her, Mary’s biggest desire is to bring every one of her children to her Son. It’s by her maternal closeness to Jesus that she shares in His pain and agony on the road to Calvary. 

This Holy Week, we can journey with Mary to the Cross and she will help us get to Jesus. Her heart has the capacity to hold our sorrows and bring them to the foot of the Cross. I believe it’s one of the reasons she stays until the very end: she comes on behalf of all her spiritual children to bring their misery so Jesus can redeem it. In fact, in the prayer Salve Regina, we call Mary our “Mother of Mercy,” or in Latin “Mater Misericordiae.” Misericordia means having a heart for those in misery, and that is exactly what Mary does. 




As any mother knows, there is no pain like watching your child suffer and be unable to fix it or take the hurt away. One of the most heart-wrenching scenes in The Passion of the Christ is the scourging at the pillar. In the movie, Mary enters after they drag Him away to wipe up His blood. Imagine how many times she has wiped food off His precious face, changed His soiled clothes, or tenderly brushed off dirt and blood from His skinned toddler knees.

But this much blood, this much torture, is different. Mary knows He needs to journey to the Cross, and as she wipes and reverences His blood, she holds these things in her heart. While she holds these things, the capacity of her heart grows immensely to help all of us carry our pain.  

One of the beautiful qualities of Mary is her contemplative receptivity: her ability to humbly trust in God’s plan. We know she was at the foot of the Cross, but she didn’t make a commotion or try to stop it. As a human, she also needed to be saved by Christ’s death. She grieved and she offered it up because of her hope in Jesus’ words to rise again on the third day. Even in her deepest agony, united to her flesh and blood hanging on the cross, Mary still hoped, trusted, and showed us how to do the same with our own maternal hearts.  




This Holy Week, walk with Mary. Whatever sorrows are on your heart, take them to Mary who will bring them to Jesus. And spend some time meditating on these words of the "Stabat Mater": 

At the Cross her station keeping, 
Stood the mournful Mother weeping, 
Close to Jesus to the last: 
Through her heart, his sorrow sharing, 
All his bitter anguish bearing, 
now at length the sword has passed. 
Oh, how sad and sore distressed 
Was that Mother highly blest 
Of the sole-begotten One! 
Christ above in torment hangs; 
She beneath beholds the pangs 
Of her dying glorious Son. 
Can the human heart refrain 
From partaking in her pain, 
In that Mother's pain untold? 

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled, 
She beheld her tender Child 
All with bloody scourges rent; 

O thou Mother! fount of love! 
Touch my spirit from above, 
Make my heart with thine accord: 

Make me feel as thou hast felt; 
Make my soul to glow and melt 
With the love of Christ my Lord. 
Holy Mother! pierce me through; 
In my heart each wound renew 
Of my Saviour crucified: 
Let me share with thee His pain, 
Who for all my sins was slain, 
Who for me in torments died. 

“(And you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:35)  


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Copyright 2024 Allison Auth
Images: Canva