Standing With Mary at the Foot of the Cross

We're drawing towards the close of Lent. I don't know how the past forty days of preparing for Our Lord's passion and death has been for you, but for me, these days have passed peacefully. In some ways, I think the Lord is giving me a break after last year's heart-wrenching Lent, when we lost our son Marion in a miscarriage. 

After we lost our son, Eucharist adoration was the one place I felt that I could be completely honest and authentic. And believe me when I say I let God have it that Lent. I spent time staring at the crucifix that hangs on the wall of our adoration chapel and just thinking about Christ's suffering. I thought about the suffering that Mary, His mother, must have gone through. And I was all too aware of the suffering that I, a mother with a son also in Heaven, was going through. My heart felt like it had been shredded in a blender. How were Joseph and I supposed to enter Easter with joy when everything we'd had planned was falling down around us?

It took me a few visits to the adoration chapel to realize that the Lord offered me a unique place that Lent - at His feet. But I wasn't alone. I was leaning into the Blessed Mother. We were grieving the loss of our children. Yet we both grieved with a hope, knowing that there was beauty to come from the brokenness our hearts were feeling. Last Lent, I learned how to suffer alongside the Blessed Mother at the foot of the cross.

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.
— John 19:25

Reflecting on Lent last year, Mary taught me so many beautiful lessons while we shared our sorrow at the foot of the cross. Here are a few things I learned from her during that season of sacrifice


Mary never stops trusting God's plan

From the very beginning of her story, Mary was a constant yes to the Lord. Beautifully receptive to His plan for her life (and for the world!), Mary offered an unconditional yes.

From the moment of the conception of Christ within her womb, throughout the hidden years of Our Lord, and all the way up the hill to Calvary, every breath Mary took echoed her yes to the Lord. 

Mary said "yes" to the joyful mysteries of her life, but offered the Lord the same "yes" for the sorrowful mysteries He invited her into as well. As Christians, we're called to the same. Like Mary, we're offered opportunities to trust the Lord in the good times and the bad.

We're invited to believe that He's a good, good Father. That He's going to show up. That He's going to keep His promises.

The ‘yes’ spoken on the day of the Annunciation reaches full maturity on the day of the cross, when the time comes for Mary to receive and beget as her children all those who become disciples, pouring out upon them the saving love of her Son.
— Saint Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 103

Mary unites her pierced heart to Christ's pierced heart

If there is one comfort I have found in Catholicism, it is in the fact that the cross makes sense of suffering. Christ Himself walked before us, enduring a horrific passion and death. He suffered first, then turns back to those of us here on earth and invites us to suffer for and with Him. 

"I saw the Lord Jesus nailed upon the cross amidst great torments. A soft moan issued from His heart," Saint Faustina wrote in her diary. "After some time He said 'I thirst. I thirst for the salvation of souls. Help Me, My daughter, to save souls. Join your sufferings to My Passion and offer them to the heavenly Father for sinners.'"

God doesn't ask us to heal our own wounds, or to ignore them. Instead, the Lord offers us a chance to unite our wounds to the wounds of Christ.

Mary offers us the perfect example of this as she unites her heart, pierced with seven swords, to the heart of her son, pierced by the lance. 


Mary suffers courageously

Pope Pius IX meditated on the courage Our Lady demonstrated during the death of Christ. He wrote: "A courageous woman…ascended the summit of Golgotha….Therefore Mary most holy was standing with head raised at the foot of the Cross… while she heard the blasphemies of the soldiers, the ugly jokes of the Pharisees, the insults of the priests, standing and with her eyes turned to her Divine Son, she felt her courage redoubling, even in the fullness of her sorrows. Standing!…she remained a motionless onlooker…as a woman meditating, suffering and hoping," 

It's so beautiful that Mary stands at the foot of the cross. Can you imagine the emotions and thoughts running through her mind? Her son hangs above her, struggling for breath. Yet she doesn't collapse in a heap. Instead, she stands courageously beneath the shadow of the cross. 

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the day that Marion entered into Heaven. One year later, sitting at the feet of Our Lord during adoration is still one of my favorite places. I'm still leaning on, and learning from, Mary. 

Mary, our mother, lead us to the feet of your Son. Lead us to the foot of the cross. Give us the courage to stand with you. 

Want to learn more about Lent through the eyes of Mary? Check out this episode of The Catholic Podcast