(Feast of the Purification and Presentation, Feb. 2)
“AND THY OWN SOUL A SWORD SHALL PIERCE.”
Mary already knew all the torments that her Son was to endure, but in the words addressed to her by Simeon, And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, all the minute circumstances of the sufferings, internal and external, that were to torment Jesus in His Passion, were made known to her. Mary consented, saying: Eternal Father, since Thou willest that it should be so, not my will, but Thine be done!
Already the most Blessed Virgin was enlightened by the Sacred Scriptures, and knew the sufferings that the Redeemer was to endure in His life, and still more at the time of His death. But in the words of Simeon, And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, all the minute circumstances of the sufferings, internal and external, that were to torment her Jesus in His Passion, were made known to her, as our Lord revealed to St. Teresa. She consented to all with a constancy which filled even the Angels with astonishment; she pronounced the sentence that her Son should die, and die by so ignominious and painful a death, saying: “Eternal Father, since Thou willest that it should be so, not my will, but thine be done (Luke, xxii. 42). I unite my will to Thy most holy will, and I sacrifice this, my Son to Thee. I am satisfied that He should lose His life for Thy glory and the salvation of the world. At the same time I sacrifice my heart to Thee, that it may be transpierced with sorrow, and this as much as Thou pleasest: it suffices me, my God, that Thou art glorified and satisfied with my offering: Not my will, but Thine be done! O charity without measure! O constancy without parallel! O victory which deserves the eternal admiration of Heaven and earth!
Hence it was that Mary was silent during the Passion of Jesus, when He was unjustly accused. She said not a word to Pilate who was somewhat inclined to set her Son at liberty, knowing, as he did, His innocence. She only appeared in public to assist at the great Sacrifice, which was to be accomplished on Calvary; she accompanied her beloved Son to the place of execution; she was with Him from the first moment, when He was nailed on the Cross: There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother (Jo. xix. 25), until she saw Him expire, and the Sacrifice was consummated. And all this she did to complete the offering which she had made of Him to God in the Temple.
O holy Mother of God, and my Mother Mary, thou wast so deeply interested in my salvation as to offer to death the dearest object of thy heart, thy beloved Jesus! Since, then, thou didst so much desire to see me saved, it is right that, after God, I should place all my hopes in thee. O yes, most Blessed Virgin, I do, indeed, entirely confide in thee. Ah, by the merits of the great sacrifice which thou didst offer this day to God, the sacrifice of the life of thy Son, entreat Him to have pity on my poor soul for which this Immaculate Lamb did not refuse to die on the Cross.
To understand the violence Mary had to offer herself in this Sacrifice it would be necessary to understand the love that this Mother bore to Jesus. Generally speaking, the love of mothers is so tender towards their children, that, when these are at the point of death, and there is fear of losing them, it causes them to forget all their faults and defects, and even the injuries that they may have received from them, and makes them suffer an inexpressible grief. And yet the love of these mothers is a love divided amongst other children, or at least amongst other creatures. Mary had an only Son, and He was the most beautiful of all the sons of Adam — most amiable, for He had everything to make Him so: He was obedient, virtuous, innocent, holy; suffice it to say, He was God! Again, this Mother’s love was not divided amongst other objects; she had concentrated all her love in this only Son; nor did she fear to exceed in loving Him; for this Son was God Who merits infinite love. And this Son was the Victim that she of her own free-will had to sacrifice to death!
Let each one, then, consider how much it must have cost Mary, and what strength of mind she had to exercise in this act, by which she sacrificed the life of so amiable a Son to the Cross. Behold, therefore, the most fortunate of mothers, because the Mother of a God, but who was at the same time, of all mothers, the most worthy of compassion, being the most afflicted, inasmuch as she saw her Son destined to die on the Cross from the day on which He was given to her. What mother would accept of a child, knowing that she would afterwards miserably lose him by an ignominious death, and that moreover she herself would be present and see him thus die? Mary willingly accepts this Son on so hard a condition; and not only does she accept Him, but she herself on this day offers Him with her own hand to death, sacrificing Him to divine Justice.
I desire, O my Queen, to offer my poor heart to God on this day, in imitation of thee; but I fear that seeing it so sordid and loathsome, He may refuse it. But if thou offerest it to Him, He will not reject it. He is always pleased with and accepts the offerings presented to Him by thy most pure hands. To thee, then, O Mary, do I this day present myself, miserable as I am; to Thee do I give myself without reserve. Do thou offer me as thy servant, together with Jesus to the Eternal Father, and beseech Him, by the merits of thy Son and for thy sake, to accept me and take me as His own. Ah, my sweetest Mother, for the love of thy sacrificed Son, help me always and at all times, and abandon me not. Never permit me to lose by my sins this most amiable Redeemer, Whom on this day thou didst offer with bitter grief to the cruel death of the Cross. Remind Him that I am thy servant, that in thee I have placed all my hope; say, in fine, that thou willest my salvation, and He will graciously hear thee.