Dear Father Angelo,
I wanted to ask you the following question: Can I say that at the foot of the cross Mary renounced Her mother’s rights for the salvation of mankind, gaining special merit for having endured such a pain that goes beyond reason for a mother?
Warm greetings, and I pray for you too.
The Priest’s reply
1. It is necessary to remember that Our Lady felt such love for God that She longed for Christ to suffer on the cross in order to atone for the sins of mankind so that all men could deserve to enjoy the supernatural communion with God.
Saint Catherine, in a passage that I cannot find right now, says that Our Lady felt such deep love for God and for mankind that if Christ had come down from the cross, She would have put him back on it.
2. But here is in bold and in other words what Saint Catherine said using her fourteenth-century Italian in letter 30: “Now, hatred and love is so multiplied in the Mother and in the Son, that the Son runs to death for the great love to give us life that he has“.
That is to say that Jesus hated sin so much, namely both as an implicit or explicit rejection of God, and so did Mary Who fully conformed Herself to Her Son’s will. At the same time, both Christ and His Mother felt such a deep love for God and for humankind as being created in His own image.
3. “Such is the hunger and great desire of the Father’s holy obedience, that he has lost his own love of himself and runs to the cross.
The same does that sweet and dearest Mother, who voluntarily loses the love of her Son“.
Catherine says that Christ had felt such a strong desire to go to the cross since from the beginning of His existence, when He was still in His Mother’s womb. Such deep love urged Him to run to the cross. This was what Jesus Christ was referring to when he said: “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” (Lk 12:50).
And this was the reason why, shortly after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem he said: “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour” (Jn 12:27).
Our Lady also knew that her vocation is to walk to Calvary with Her Son.
She did not fulfill Her vocation because She felt compelled to do so, in fact She fulfilled Her vocation willingly as Her Heart was full of love.
4. “That she acted not so much like a mother, pulling him away from death, but that she wants to make herself ladder and wants him to die“.
Here is what Saint Catherine said and that no one has ever dared to say: Mary was so eager for Redemption that she wanted to become a ladder herself so that Christ could have climbed the cross.
She also was elated at the prospect of Redemption of mankind as Christ was.
5. You say that Mary renounced Her mother’s rights. I could reply by saying that Mary knew very well that She did not renounce Her maternal rights at all.
Her faith never failed even at the foot of the cross and after the deposition of Jesus in the sepulcher. She was sure that Christ would rise and that He would belong to Her again as He would belong to everyone forever. And it was for this good reason that she gladly accepted to drink from the chalice of Her Son’s Passion. The reason by which Christ was supported to endure the sufferings of His Passion during which – according to St. Thomas – he suffered more than all men put together – was the same reason by which Mary was supported too.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain the doctrine of St. Catherine of Siena.
I remind you in my prayers and I bless you.