The Long Walk Home

Happy Holy Saturday!

Today, after the intensity of Good Friday, I wanted to take a quiet moment and take a look at this scene, which honestly is one of the most beautifully done, yet heartbreaking moments immediately after the Passion.

There is a lot of fear and chaos going on in the immediate aftermath of the Crucifixion. Judas has taken his life in despair, the Twelve have been scattered and are in hiding, and things look bleak.

But one disciple, the Beloved Disciple, John, was at the foot of the Cross with Jesus, and Jesus speaks to him.

NABRE

John 19

25 Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. 26When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” 27Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

So here is John bringing the Virgin Mary to his home:

St. John Leading Home his Adopted Mother, by William Dyce, c. 1842-60. Tate Museum, London, United Kingdom. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
St. John Leading Home his Adopted Mother, by William Dyce, c. 1842-60. Tate Museum, London, United Kingdom.

Mary holds the crown of thorns in her left hand, while John holds her right hand and leads her away from the tomb in which they have just laid Jesus in. She looks defeated and John looks concerned for her — as he should be, since she’s his adopted mother now!

In the background to the right, two men, probably Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, head home for the Sabbath after wrapping Jesus’s body for burial according to Jewish custom, as was written in the gospel. Two women linger, praying at the tomb, presumably Mary Magdalene and Mary, the wife of Clopas.

In the background to the left, Jerusalem lingers under a heavy cloud, dark and ominous looking, especially in contrast to this garden scene.

It’s a quiet scene of them leaving the tomb to attend to the Sabbath and contemplate the enormity of everything that just happened. And, in many ways, it is a bittersweet scene. Mary has just been given the motherhood of all that follow Christ — an enormous honor! — that John immediately recognizes and acts upon by taking her into his home as his own mother. The sweetness of being the mother of not only God but now of the church would be palpable. And yet, she has just watched her son be humiliated, tortured, and executed in a particularly horrifying way.

And so it is fitting that she is carrying both reminders of her children in both her hands — in her left hand, the crown of thorns, as she is the Mother of God. In her right hand, the hand of John, the Beloved Disciple, who is one of the first Christians — and the only one who was at the cross. So, she is the Mother of the Church as well.

But, oh! What a bitter title to earn!

 

Stabat mater dolorósa
juxta Crucem lacrimósa,
dum pendébat Fílius.

Cuius ánimam geméntem,
contristátam et doléntem
pertransívit gládius.

O quam tristis et afflícta
fuit illa benedícta,
mater Unigéniti!

Quae mœrébat et dolébat,
pia Mater, dum vidébat
nati pœnas ínclyti.

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si vidéret
in tanto supplício?

Quis non posset contristári
Christi Matrem contemplári
doléntem cum Fílio?

Pro peccátis suæ gentis
vidit Iésum in torméntis,
et flagéllis súbditum.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriéndo desolátum,
dum emísit spíritum.

Eia, Mater, fons amóris
me sentíre vim dolóris
fac, ut tecum lúgeam.

Fac, ut árdeat cor meum
in amándo Christum Deum
ut sibi compláceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifíxi fige plagas
cordi meo válide.

Tui Nati vulneráti,
tam dignáti pro me pati,
pœnas mecum dívide.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifíxo condolére,
donec ego víxero.

Juxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociáre
in planctu desídero.

Virgo vírginum præclára,
mihi iam non sis amára,
fac me tecum plángere.

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passiónis fac consórtem,
et plagas recólere.

Fac me plagis vulnerári,
fac me Cruce inebriári,
et cruóre Fílii.

Flammis ne urar succénsus,
per te, Virgo, sim defénsus
in die iudícii.

Christe, cum sit hinc exíre,
da per Matrem me veníre
ad palmam victóriæ.

Quando corpus moriétur,
fac, ut ánimæ donétur
paradísi glória.

Amen.

At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her Son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s pain untold?

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with scourges rent:

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:

Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
be Thy Mother my defense,
be Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.

 

One thought on “The Long Walk Home

  • April 2, 2018 at 9:00 am
    Permalink

    I love this post with the Stabat Mater.William Duce is a favourite painter of mine.Sadly he is ignored here in Scotland, which has become in many respects, a rather nasty secularist little country.

    Reply

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