This afternoon at the Chapter Room, I had the privilege of offering the following meditation and prayer on the thirteenth Station of the Cross for our monastic community here at Saint Meinrad Archabbey:
The Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
V: We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You.
R: Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.
They have taken Him down from the cross and laid His corpse in the arms of His mother.
It has been years since she has cradled her Child like that in her embrace. Back then, she would sing Him a soft tune to lull Him to sleep. Now she cannot rouse Him from His slumber. He would not listen to her anguished cries. He would not respond to her pleas to wake up. He would not stir from His sleep.
As she stares at her Son’s silent and swollen face, she remembers Nain (cf. Lk. 7:11-15). She remembers how, in that tiny town, He cancels a procession to the grave. It is there that He raises a young man from the dead (cf. Lk. 7:13-14). It is there that He restores a son to the arms of his widowed mother (cf. Lk. 7:15). How lucky is that mother to have her son back! The crowd gushes over this miracle (cf. Lk. 7:16) and tells Mary how lucky she is to have a Son who can work such wonders as to raise the dead back to life. Blessed is her womb, cries a woman from the crowd. (Perhaps, that woman is the widow of Nain. Who knows?) Blessed, she adds, are her breasts that nursed Him as a babe (cf. Lk. 11:27).
No one calls her blessed now. No one thinks that she is lucky. The crowd here at Calvary looks at her with pity. Poor woman, they whisper. She has lost her only Son through a most cruel death. And this time, there is no wandering wonderworker to bring Him back.
It is John the evangelist who reports that she, His mother, is there at the foot of the cross (cf. Jn. 19:25). But he dares not describe Her anguish. He cannot find the words. Only Jeremiah the prophet gives us a glimpse of her grief, when, centuries before, he laments for her: “Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow” (Lam. 1:12).
Let us pray.
Hear, O Lord, the anguished cries of Your most sorrowful Mother. See the tears that she sheds for our suffering. Grant us her gift of tears, that we who also receive Your sacred Body in our hands, may have sorrow for our sins and the sins of the whole world. May we who share in her sorrow be made worthy to share in her joy and glory. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.