“At the Cross, Her station keeping
Stood the mournful Mother, weeping.
Close to Jesus to the last..”
– ‘Stabat Mater’
It’s easier for us to imagine the joys and the glories of the Blessed Virgin Mary, rather than Her immense sorrows. And yet, it was through Her intimate correspondence to and participation in the sufferings of Her Son, that She gained for Herself a never-fading crown of glory in Heaven.
I suppose this should not really surprise us; after all, in the Gospels, Her Son tells us very clearly that if we wish to follow Him, then we must take up our own cross first. In all of human history, no-one picked up their cross and carried it as faithfully as the Mother of the Lord. No-one, then, ever followed Him as perfectly as She.
Having given Her ‘fiat’ at the moment of the Annunciation, She repeated this constantly throughout Her earthly life. In every moment, Her will was so perfectly attuned to the will of God in everything, even to the point of consenting to the death of Her Son upon the Cross – this was, after all, the very reason for His coming into the world. It is near impossible to fathom the intense suffering this must have caused Her, standing there beneath His Cross, constantly repeating in Her sorrowing Heart a silent ‘fiat’ over and over.
And yet, we celebrate the ‘exaltation’ of the Holy Cross; the feast reminds us that terrible though the event of the Crucifixion was, it was – it is – the means of our redemption. The Blessed Virgin knew this, too. This allowed that terrible pain to be bearable – knowing that because of His Death, the gates of Heaven were opened again to all of us, and His Resurrection would shortly follow.
That is why we celebrate the exaltation of the holy Cross – it is not the tree of death, but the Tree of Life; and from it, the possibility of eternal life flowed down abundantly for every one of us.