What is better than an image from a troubled soul like Van Gogh to begin contemplating the darkness of Holy Thursday and Our Lord’s torment in the garden?
Although this post will discuss Our Blessed Mother’s fourth sorrow, since it is Holy Thursday, I want to speak first of her participation in the Agony in the Garden. Father Faber suggests that even though Mary was not physically present in the garden, that she experienced a corresponding agony.
This is not really hard to surmise since we know Our Lady was present at the Last Supper. She would have heard Jesus dropping the bomb that one of the Twelve would betray Him and it is not much of a reach to assume that in some way, she knew exactly who He was calling out. Father Faber reminds of us of “her intense prayers for that unhappy soul.” Also, it would have been nearly impossible for Judas to not display some evident physical reaction on his face as this news reverberates through the apostles.
Can you imagine the pain Our Lady felt that one of His inner circle would bring Him down? Is there anything more painful than betrayal by family? We all need to remember that when we sin egregiously. We are His family so our sins cause more pain.
But as we continue to contemplate that night of darkness, imagine also that every minute after Our Lord leaves the Upper Room would have been a horrible strain for Our Lady. As Father Faber put it, “she is left for awhile to the anguish of uncertainty.” She accepts what is going to happen, but it is still “a distressing anticipation” as Father calls it in the Sixth Sorrow. For some of us, knowing what is happening concretely is better than being left to this uncertainty. The many hours of separation and darkness would have been a crushing weight for many of us.
The supernatural connection between Jesus and Mary is what amplifies all the pain for both of them. One of the most edifying scenes in Mel Gibson’s. The Passion, is when our Lady is on her knees with towels after the Scourging trying to retrieve His Precious Blood. And if that isn’t enough, she then begins to slide her hand around the stone because she senses her Son’s Presence beneath her in the dungeon. This is such an amazing illustration of her willingness to fully participate in the Passion,
It is this willingness that gets me to the Fourth Sorrow and the Fourth Station of the Cross. At my church, the Fourth Station looks similar to the image below and it got me thinking. There is something amiss in this depiction. Can you guess what it is?
For me, Mary is portrayed all wrong. As I have prayed the Seven Sorrows, studied the Seven Sorrows, contemplated the Seven Sorrows, the Mary I know, the Mother I know, would never have looked away! Father Faber talks about her being “His executioner” because seeing her increased His suffering. But I still believe that she was determined to fully embrace His every painful step, every blow, every insult, every last moment of His trial. She would not have looked away because it was the paradox of her presence – it increased His suffering while at the same time it consoled Him!
For me, the image below portrays the Mother of God the way I have come to know her.
May you have a very holy Triduum. Mater dolorosa, pray for us!