Each year the Stations of the Cross take on a new light. Sometimes they are scenes from Calvary, sometimes others. The Passion of Our Lord is an inexhaustible source. The other day I was amused looking at Michelangelo's La Piedad, with a surprisingly young Mother of Jesus; La Dolorosa, by Murillo, and so many Dolorosas and Soledades that have been carried on the shoulders of costaleros throughout Spain. How can one not be moved by the tears of our Mother!
I will now dwell on three stations: Jesus meets his Blessed Mother (Station IV), the Death of Jesus on the Cross (Station XII), and Jesus is unclothed and given to his Mother (Station XIII). We will try to do so with the help of two universal saints, St. Teresa of Jesus and St. Josemaría Escrivá, and an archbishop who recently died as a result of the pandemic, Don Juan del Río, surely one of those saints who died of the pandemic. "saints next door", as Pope Francis calls them.
Moaning in the epidemic of 1580
In 1580, a flu epidemic ravaged Europe, and carried off many people; among them, several friends of Teresa of Avila, such as the knight Don Francisco de Salcedo, the archbishop of Seville Don Cristóbal de Rojas, and Fr. Baltasar Álvarez, her former confessor, whom Teresa mourned greatly. Her brother and spiritual son, Lorenzo de Cepeda, also died that same year.
"The wound was deep and tore moans from him.", writes Marcelle Auclair in her biography of the saint. "I know not what God leaves me for but to see the deaths of God's servants, which is great torment."Teresa of Jesus wrote at the age of 65, almost always ill and yet with astonishing endurance.
She became depressed, without courage, like so many today, and was reluctant to found the monasteries of Palencia and Burgos. Until "One day, after receiving communion, the Lord reproachfully said to him: 'What do you fear, when have I ever failed you? The same as I have been, I am now; do not fail to make these two foundations.' To which the Mother exclaimed: 'Oh, great God, and how your words are different from those of men! Thus I was determined and encouraged, so that the whole world would not suffice to contradict me".
"Teresa of Jesus uttered her favorite word: determination." notes the biographer. "The will has become so strong in her that as soon as she decides a thing can be taken for done." because "the Lord helps you determine how to serve and glorify Him.". These are the words of Teresa of Jesus.
"We don't want to leave her alone."
In these intense days, in which we relive the mysteries of our faith, many of us ask ourselves how to console Jesus and accompany Mary. The encounter of Jesus with his Blessed Mother on the Via Dolorosa, through the streets of Jerusalem, gives us a clue. It is the fourth station.
St. Josemaría refers to this will of God in his book Way of the Cross: "In the dark solitude of the Passion, Our Lady offers her Son a balm of tenderness, of union, of fidelity: a yes to the divine will. From the hand of Mary, you and I want to console Jesus, accepting always and in everything the Will of his Father, of our Father", writes.
On Calvary, how much we would like to have the strength of the young apostle John, to stand at the foot of the Cross with Mary, and receive her as our Mother. Because "the Blessed Virgin is our Mother, and we do not want to and cannot leave her alone", exclaims the founder of Opus Dei in this posthumous work, which came out in 1981, six years after his death.
We want to accompany her during these days, with love, as she is overwhelmed with sorrow and with her Son in her arms.
"Our loneliness, defeated"
On January 1, 2018, Pope Francis said on the Solemnity of the Mother of God: "In his Mother, the God of heaven, the infinite God became small, became matter, not only to be with us, but also to be like us.
Here is the miracle, the novelty: man is no longer alone; he is no longer an orphan, but a son forever. The year opens with this newness. And we proclaim it, saying: Mother of God! It is the joy of knowing that our loneliness has been defeated".These words bring to mind so much loneliness in our world. Don Juan del Rio, the recently deceased Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, referred a few years ago to the drama of loneliness. "Hence the family must be rehabilitated in the primacy of love and unity; also feeling part of that other family, the Church, which accompanies us in all our loneliness and existential emptiness, offering us the company of Someone who never abandons us, even beyond death: Jesus Christ, the Lord." Holy Mary, Sorrowful Mother, Mother of the Church, pray for us.