Mary's Heart, The Hill of Calvary
St. John Eudes | Admirable Heart of Mary
LAST in my series of symbolic pictures of the holy Heart of the spotless Virgin I show you Calvary, as it reveals the Sorrows of the crucified Heart of Mary at the time of her Son's Passion.
What is Calvary? It is a mountain, the most important and notable mountain of the Holy Land. What is the Heart of the Mother of God? Is it not also a mountain, the most illustrious mountain of that blessed land referred to in these words of Sacred Scripture: "Lord, thou has blessed the land." (1)
This land is the Blessed Virgin Mary, and her Heart is the noblest and highest peak of her body and of her soul. What is Calvary? It is Mount Moriah on which God commanded Abraham to slay his son, Isaac. The Hebrew rendition of the twenty second chapter of Genesis reads: "Go into the land of Moriah," instead of the usual version: "Go into the land of vision." (2)
It is the place where King David raised an altar and offered Sacrifice that God might stop the plague that ravaged his people, and also the site on which Solomon erected the Temple of Jerusalem, for Mount Sion is the same as Mount Moriah, and Calvary is part of the same chain of hills. We have already seen that Christ, the true Solomon, established His foremost temple and holiest altar in the Heart of the most worthy daughter of Abraham and of David. In this temple, on this altar she immolated, not merely in desire like Abraham, but in very truth, Her dearest and most adorable Son, her Isaac.
What is Calvary? It is the place where the Cross of Jesus was raised. And was the Cross of Salvation not raised first of all in Mary's holy Heart? What is Calvary? It is the place stained with the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ. But Mary's Heart was bathed with It through love and compassion and the Precious Blood of her beloved Son penetrated and impregnated His Mother far more than it snaked the soil of Calvary. On Calvary, we behold the thorns that wounded the adorable head of our Saviour, the nails that pierced His hands and feet, the lance that opened His Heart, the ropes that bound Him, the gall and vinegar He was given to drink, and the wounds which covered His body from head to foot. We can see the same wounds in the maternal Heart of His saintly Mother. "The Cross and the nails which crucified the Son's body, crucified the Mother's Heart as well." (3)
St. Jerome quotes St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, as saying: "All the wounds which covered the body of Jesus, had their counterpart in Mary's Heart. The whips, the thorns, the nails which pierced and tore the Saviour's body, ran through His holy Mother's Heart and shattered it. Every blow rending the body of the Son had its cruel echo in the Heart of His Mother." (4)
"0 my Queen," exclaims St. Bonaventure, "Thou art not only standing near the Cross, but thou art with Thy Son on the Cross; Thou dost suffer, thou art crucified with Him, the only difference being that while He suffers in His body, thou dost suffer in thy loving Heart. All the wounds scattered over His body are united in thy Heart, because the sword of sorrow has pierced thy very soul. Thy virginal Heart, 0 my sovereign Lady, is wounded by the lance, pierced by the nails and thorns, heaped with opprobrium, ignominy and imprecations, saturated with vinegar and gall. Why wouldst thou, most honored Lady, be immolated for us? Is not our Saviour's Passion sufficient for our salvation? Must the mother also be crucified with her Son? 0 sweetest Heart, so full of love, must thou then be changed into bitter sorrow? I seek to behold thy loving Heart, my dearest Mistress, but it seems to have vanished and in its place I find only the bitterness of gall, myrrh and absinth. I seek the Mother of God and I find only thorns, nails, a lance, a sponge and vinegar. I look for Mary on the Cross, and I see only spittle, insults, lashes and wounds, so truly has she been overwhelmed by outrages." (5)
I see my Redeemer crucified, suffering, agonizing, dying and finally dead on Calvary. I also behold His sorrows, suffering, agony and death in His Blessed Mother's Heart. "She had lived of her Son's life, and when He died on the Cross, she died with Him," says a holy Premonstratensian Abbot.(6) "Both Mother and Son were nailed to the Cross, the Son in the body, the Mother in her Heart," exclaims St. Lawrence Justinian,(7) the sainted Patriarch of Venice. "Could not Mary die in her Heart, as Jesus died in His body?" asks St. Bernard.(8)
Among the great miracles wrought by Our Saviour on Calvary the most remarkable, according to St. Augustine, was the miracle of goodness and charity on behalf of His executioners, when He besought His Heavenly Father to forgive them. At the same time, living in His holy Mother's heart, He communicated to her the charity which filled Himself, inducing her to imitate His sublime example of mercy. We hear His kind voice pleading with the all-just Father, and then we seem to hear the echo of His words in the Heart of His holy Mother repeating: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."(9)
On Calvary, the only Son of Mary gave us an inestimable gift, when in the excess of His incomprehensible goodness He addressed Himself to each one of us in the person of St. John and speaking of His holy Mother, said to us: "Behold thy Mother:(10) And from Calvary, the Mother of Jesus, whose sentiments and will are one with those of her beloved Son, gives herself to us to be our Mother with the same Heart and with an equal love. Having enshrined the words of her Son in her maternal Heart, she echoes them again, and adopts each one of us in particular. Thus. both Jesus and Mary my to us: "Behold thy Mother."
On our part, we should unite with Jesus in saying to this supremely good Mother: "Behold thy Son." Yes, 0 Mary, each one of us is thy child, who desires to love, honor and imitate thee as His Mother. Vouchsafe to look upon us, 0 most amiable Mother, and to love, protect, guide and treat us as thy children in spite of our extreme unworthiness.
We also behold on Calvary the author of life grown cold in death and we see the gloom of the sepulchre in the garden of Joseph of Arimathea, a part of Calvary's hill. But we can behold Him buried in the Heart of His loving Mother more truly than in the tomb. Her marvellous Heart is a living and life-giving tomb. Having cooperated in the Incarnation of the Son of God by the ardor of her love, the fervor of her desires and the power of her prayers, Mary's Heart also contributed to His resurrection, as we shall explain further on. Jesus arose in the sepulchre, but left it immediately.
He likewise came back to life in Mary's Heart, but there He remained and will remain forever. Of this living sepulchre, rather than of the inanimate tomb, can we say with good reason: "And his sepulchre shall be glorious," (11) in the sight of angels and men, for time and for all eternity. Finally, it was on Calvary that our Redeem" accomplished and consummated the work of our salvation, in which His Mother's Heart cooperated so faithfully. You see therefore that Calvary is a most excellent picture of the admirable Heart of the Mother of our Crucified Redeemer.
Do you wish your own heart to bear some faint resemblance to the Heart of your heavenly Mother? Then plant in its center the Cross of Christ, her Son: or better still, implore her to obtain for you the grace that Our Lord Himself may fix it there, and engrave on your heart a great love for His Holy Cross. May His love make you embrace, cherish and bear all the crosses that will be sent to you, in a spirit of humility, patience and submission to the Divine Will, and all the holy dispositions with which the Son of Mary and the Mother of Jesus carried their heavy cross.
These symbolic pictures are but twelve of the many figures by which the Eternal Father has illustrated for us the glory of the admirable Heart of Mary. I have chosen them to reveal how unmistakably is the Divine Heart of God the first author and origin of devotion to the virginal Heart of the Mother of His beloved Son. Almighty God enriched the heart of Mary with surpassing beauty and incomparable treasures so that our hearts would be stirred to venerate and love her with fitting devotion. Having begun to study the tributes of the Most High to His immaculate handmaid, how can we possibly refrain from pouring out our admiration and honour of Mary, and our humble praise of God for the countless favours He has heaped upon her Admirable Heart?
0 Divine Painter, grant us the grace to praise and thank Thee for having, in these twelve pictures, portrayed the heart of our glorious Queen and Mother in symbols so colorful, rich and expressive, that even such as we can learn to understand, to love and to imitate her. We implore. Thee now to take our hearts and Make each one of them yet another symbol to depict forever some measure of the love, humility and purity of the other virtues of Thy infinite glory as they are manifested so magnificently in the Heart of Mary, Mother most admirable.
(1). Ps. 84,
(2). Gen. 22, 2.
(3). St. Augustine, Serm. de Passione Dom.
(4). In Epist. ad Paulam et Eustochium, de Assumpt. B.V.
(5). Stimulus amoris, lib. I, cap. 3
(6). Philipp. Abbas Bonae Spei, in Epist. 14 ad Radulphum.
(7). Lib. de triumphanti agone Christi, cap. 21.
(8). Serm. in Signum Magnum.
(9). Luke 23, 34
(10). John 19, 27.
(11). Isa. 11, 10.