Mary and the Crucifix

Reposted from November, 2005. I stumbled on this tonight and realized that when I wrote it my friend Jane was dying and none of us knew it, not even she. And my BIL thought he would live to be 99, just like his mother and father. Things turn on a dime. Thought I’d post this again; it’s good to remember that things can look very different 12 months later – that it is always good to take time to appreciate what we’ve got.

WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, OUTSIDE OF TIME

I have been corresponding with a friend who is enduring the loss of a beloved family member – his grief is still very new. My grief for my brother S is a little older. It was just a bare week or so ago that I noted the passing of one year since he entered hospice. It is older, but not much easier.

I have lost birth-mother, birth-father, one two brothers from my birth family, one brother from my new family (my husband’s family are my family in a way my birth family never could be…) and a brother-in-law who had been “my brother” since I was six years old. In every case, it has been very hard – sometimes surprisingly hard – no matter what sort of relationships we had.

With S, of course, there was great closeness, and so the pain of losing him has been exquisite. But two Novembers ago I lost my brother D. He was 13 years older than I, and had been in bad shape, physically, for 30 years, owing to a massive stroke at age 20, one which had enormous impact on my whole childhood and adolescence. He was “there” but “not there” and could never be cared for at home. You’d think after 30 years, I’d simply be relieved that his long torment was over, but no – I grieved for the life he had and the one he didn’t have and cried for weeks and weeks, until my husband finally took his pictures down and hid them from me.

With my brother J -who was almost 20 years my senior- there was just such regret for his own life of sadness, of which I had little part.

My friend wrote that he was trying not to be angry at God, whom he loves, but that he was finding it difficult, as were other family members.

But anger at God is normal. And God has big shoulders, He can take it.

I have found that when it is too much to think of God, it’s easier to think of Mary, who “never did anything to deserve it,” -who spent her whole life only saying “yes” to Him, and in service to His biggest project, ever- but who still had to stay at the foot of her son’s cross and watch him die a most horrible death, after having endured terrible cruelty.

Even she didn’t know what was going to happen next. A mother grieves the unbearable loss of her son, through Passover, and then goes to anoint his body only to find it gone!

What sort of torment is this? Then he is back (!) but he is no longer hers alone, if he had ever been – and for the rest of her life, as she watches His church take shape and form, and helps where she can, she still has all of those memories – the memories a mother cherishes – of an infant tugging at the collar of her gown, looking to nurse, of her son and his loving six-year-old hugs, the scraped knees, the scampish days, the meals they shared. None of this could have been easy for Mary to remember or to reconcile with her human self, or her maternity. He is God. But he was her son, and always will be. He is her son. Her little lad. Her God.

And this is why we call Mary the “Help of Christians.” When it gets very hard, when we feel a little disconnected from God, whether we want to be disconnected or not, when we feel we have been given an unjust burden, we can look at Mary and realize that yes, she kept the faith, but she knew everything we know about how hard life can be. She’s lived through it, and if we ask her to, she’ll pray for us in our suffering.

The cross. The Mother. The Son. Nothing in the Gospels is extraneous, or there without purpose. It is all meant for us, for our understanding and our consolation, too.

People often ask me why Catholics find it necessary to keep the Crucifix before them. “The victory was in the resurrection, not the death; Catholics focus on the wrong thing – the cross should be empty…”

Well, yes. The victory is the resurrection, but its gotten to through the rest of it.

While the empty cross brings us hope and promise,
we are still humans living human lives with all of the pain and frailty and questions and hurt that implies; when one looks at the Crucifix, one finds not a morbid and bloody corpse, but The God Who Knows, not because he is conveniently all-knowing, but because He actually submitted to life, lived it, endured it, went through it all, just as we do.

Jesus lost his own beloved step-father, Joseph, he knows what we know. When we look at the Crucifix we see that there is no human situation that Jesus did not come to know. Feel betrayed? Feel humiliated? Being mocked and sneered at? Feel abandoned? Feel unjustly hurt? Feel loss? There, on that crucifix is the God who has known every one of those feelings, and has submitted to them – in order to save us, but also in order to draw us near, to gather us into a consolation, a consoling embrace that says…“I know what you’re feeling…I know what you’re thinking…we are actually all in this together, and quite outside of time.”

It’s hard to remember all that. The Crucifix is the reminder.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • SueC

    Thanks A,
    It’s been a long week of trial and frustration (no personal losses)both professionally and personally. You’ve given me a new perspective for my morning rosary walk. =)

  • SueC

    Thanks A,
    It’s been a long week of trial and frustration (no personal losses)both professionally and personally. You’ve given me a new perspective for my morning rosary walk. =)

  • ddzguy

    What a beautiful post. I just have to thank you for your insight and wisdom. You seem to have a knack for perfectly articulating thoughts that have previously just swirling around. I’d like to thank you, God has given you a great gift, and I’m grateful that you share it with the rest of us.

  • ddzguy

    What a beautiful post. I just have to thank you for your insight and wisdom. You seem to have a knack for perfectly articulating thoughts that have previously just swirling around. I’d like to thank you, God has given you a great gift, and I’m grateful that you share it with the rest of us.

  • http://hangrightpolitics.com Jeanette

    It is a beautiful post. As a Baptist I wear a cross that is empty, but I know the meaning of the Crucifix also.
    .
    It’s hard to imagine that Jesus left all the glory of Heaven to come to earth and live such a humble life.
    .
    He did it to save us from our own sins but I think also to show us the kind of life God wants us to live.
    .
    I marvel that God has blessed me with the wonderful country in which I was born and live, I have food, shelter, clothing, medical care and extras. I am burdened for those in the world who are not this fortunate and contribute to causes that would help them, whether they be here in the US or somewhere in a third world country.
    .
    In some ways I suppose my conservative friends, of which I am one, would think I’m a bleeding heart liberal, but I have to do what God calls me to do. Any wealth I have is because God blessed me and gave it to me and not because I was so great as to deserve it. With that wealth, however small, comes the responsibility to share it with those less fortunate.
    .
    From this Baptist I thank you for this post, A. I knew I loved you but each day I see why and I love you even more, my sister. One day I’ll see you face to face and we can enjoy all Glory has in store for us. God bless you and yours.

  • http://hangrightpolitics.com Jeanette

    It is a beautiful post. As a Baptist I wear a cross that is empty, but I know the meaning of the Crucifix also.
    .
    It’s hard to imagine that Jesus left all the glory of Heaven to come to earth and live such a humble life.
    .
    He did it to save us from our own sins but I think also to show us the kind of life God wants us to live.
    .
    I marvel that God has blessed me with the wonderful country in which I was born and live, I have food, shelter, clothing, medical care and extras. I am burdened for those in the world who are not this fortunate and contribute to causes that would help them, whether they be here in the US or somewhere in a third world country.
    .
    In some ways I suppose my conservative friends, of which I am one, would think I’m a bleeding heart liberal, but I have to do what God calls me to do. Any wealth I have is because God blessed me and gave it to me and not because I was so great as to deserve it. With that wealth, however small, comes the responsibility to share it with those less fortunate.
    .
    From this Baptist I thank you for this post, A. I knew I loved you but each day I see why and I love you even more, my sister. One day I’ll see you face to face and we can enjoy all Glory has in store for us. God bless you and yours.

  • http://www.drmelissaclouthier.blogspot.com mclouthier

    Thank you for this post.

  • http://www.drmelissaclouthier.blogspot.com mclouthier

    Thank you for this post.

  • Viola

    This is a beautiful post! Thank you, dear Anchoress for sharing with such honesty and clarity. Thank you even share about your own losses and pain.
    I too grew up without my parents. Growing up in an orphanage has brought a perpective into my life that has been full of challenges and blessings. I too feel my pains at times but the loss of so much, has, I believe, brought me much closer to God. He in a very real way has become both my mother and father. For that I am deeply greatful.

    There are no mistakes, only opportunities to grow spiritually while on this earth. Thank you for this reminder!

  • Viola

    This is a beautiful post! Thank you, dear Anchoress for sharing with such honesty and clarity. Thank you even share about your own losses and pain.
    I too grew up without my parents. Growing up in an orphanage has brought a perpective into my life that has been full of challenges and blessings. I too feel my pains at times but the loss of so much, has, I believe, brought me much closer to God. He in a very real way has become both my mother and father. For that I am deeply greatful.

    There are no mistakes, only opportunities to grow spiritually while on this earth. Thank you for this reminder!

  • Viola

    P.S. I have started a very small blog for my own musing about spiritual topics. I would feel honored if you would come visit me there. If you ever want to write an article on my blog about a spiritual topic near and dear to your heart, as a guest, I would be thrilled. http://www.spiritualthingsmatter.blogspot.com

  • Viola

    P.S. I have started a very small blog for my own musing about spiritual topics. I would feel honored if you would come visit me there. If you ever want to write an article on my blog about a spiritual topic near and dear to your heart, as a guest, I would be thrilled. http://www.spiritualthingsmatter.blogspot.com

  • http://carnalreason.org pwyll

    Almost thirty years ago I read a book whose author and title I have long forgotten. In the book, an angel came to earth, and took a human on a tour of the world. Everywhere the angel found humanity wanting, badly. It seemed to despise us.

    I came away from the book with a sense of revulsion, but not the revulsion the author intended. Who was this creature, this glorious thing, to pass judgement on men? What did this perfect immortal intellect know about the pain, the difficulty of being human?

    I long ago realized that I do not believe in god. But if I did, I could not believe in a god who had never been incarnate. Your beautiful post reminded me of this.

  • http://carnalreason.org pwyll

    Almost thirty years ago I read a book whose author and title I have long forgotten. In the book, an angel came to earth, and took a human on a tour of the world. Everywhere the angel found humanity wanting, badly. It seemed to despise us.

    I came away from the book with a sense of revulsion, but not the revulsion the author intended. Who was this creature, this glorious thing, to pass judgement on men? What did this perfect immortal intellect know about the pain, the difficulty of being human?

    I long ago realized that I do not believe in god. But if I did, I could not believe in a god who had never been incarnate. Your beautiful post reminded me of this.

  • http://manchmedic.blogspot.com manchmedic

    Anchoress,

    May I repost this? With your permission (and credit) of course….. Thank you for reminding me that as I go forward on my own walk that it’s okay to stumble on the stones in the path.

    MM

  • http://manchmedic.blogspot.com manchmedic

    Anchoress,

    May I repost this? With your permission (and credit) of course….. Thank you for reminding me that as I go forward on my own walk that it’s okay to stumble on the stones in the path.

    MM

  • BenK

    What a beautiful post. Thank you, Anchoress.

  • BenK

    What a beautiful post. Thank you, Anchoress.

  • Pingback: The Anchoress » Blog Archive » Tagged for Jesus on an uninspired day

  • Pingback: The Anchoress » Blog Archive » Tagged for Jesus on an uninspired day


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X