(excerpted from “The Foot of the Cross: or, The Sorrows of Mary” by Father Frederick William Faber)
Mary is kneeling on the ground. Her fingers are stained with Blood. She stretches the clean linen cloth over her arms and holds them out to receive her Son, her Prodigal come back to her again, and come back thus! And was He not a Prodigal? Had He not willfully gone out from her quiet home into the wildest and rudest of worlds, leagues and leagues distant from the purity and love of her spotless heart? Had He not spent all His substance on companions, worthless and despicable? Was it not a riotous spending, a riot of some eighteen hours duration? Had He not been prodigal of His Precious Blood, of His beauty, His innocence, His life, His grace, His very Divinity? And now He was coming back to her thus!
Can such a sorrow, such an accumulation of concentering sorrows, have any name? Can she bear the weight? Which weight? The sorrow or the Body? It matters not. She can bear them both.
From above, the Body is slowly descending. She remembers the midnight hour when the Holy Ghost overshadowed her at Nazareth. Now it is the Eternal Son Who is so strangely overshadowing His kneeling Mother. Joseph [of Arimathea] trembled under the weight, even while Nicodemus helped him. Perhaps also it was not the weight only which made him tremble. Wonderfully must grace have held him up to do what he did. Now it is low enough for John to touch the sacred Head, and receive it in his arms, that it might not droop in that helpless rigid way, and Magdalen is holding up the Feet. It is her old post. It is her post in heaven now, highest of penitents, most beautiful of pardoned spirits!
For one moment Mary prostrates herself in an agony of speechless adoration, and the next instant she has received the Body on her extended arms. The Babe of Bethlehem is back again in His Mother’s lap. What a meeting! What a restoration! For a while she remains kneeling, while John and Magdalen, Joseph and Nicodemus, and the devout women adore.
Then she passes from the attitude of the priest to the attitude of the mother. She rises from her knees, still bearing the burden as lightly as when she fled with Him into Egypt, and sits down upon the grass, with Jesus extended on her lap….
For three-and-thirty years she had lived upon His life. It had been her atmosphere. There had been a kind of unity of life between them. Her heart had beaten in His Heart. She had seen with His eyes, and had heard with His ears, and had almost spoken with His lips and thought with His thoughts, as she had done when she composed and sang the Magnificat. Mother and son had never before been so fused into each other. Two lives had never seemed so inseparably one life as these two had done.
“Art thou well pleased that I suffered for thee? If thou art pleased, I am pleased: it is a joy, a bliss, an endless satisfying to Me that ever suffered I Passion for thee; and if I might suffer more, I would suffer more.”-Our Lord Jesus, in private revelation given to Julian of Norwich