Mary offered up both her own Son and her own Heart

August 15, 2021 • 8 min

From The Glories of Mary, page 459
By St. Alphonsus Liguori

The eternal Father had already determined to save man, who was lost through sin, and free him from eternal death. But because he wished that, at the same time, his divine justice should not be defrauded of a full and due satisfaction, he did not spare the life of his own Son, already made man in order to redeem man; but he required that he should pay, to its most rigorous extent, the penalty merited by men: “He that spared not even his own Son,” says the apostle, “but delivered him up for us all.”

He sent him therefore on the earth to become man, destined for him a mother, and chose the Virgin Mary; but as he did not wish his divine Word to become her Son before she accepted him by her express consent, so he did not wish that Jesus should sacrifice his life for the salvation of men without the concurrence of the consent of Mary, that together with the sacrifice of the life of the Son, the heart of the mother might be sacrificed also.

St. Thomas teaches, that the relation of mother gives an especial right over her children; hence Jesus, being innocent in himself and not deserving any punishment for his own sins, it seemed fitting that he should not be destined to the cross as the victim for the sins of the world without the consent of his mother, by which she should voluntarily offer him to death.

But although Mary, from the moment she was made mother of Jesus, gave her consent to his death, yet the Lord wished her, on this day, to make, in the temple, a solemn sacrifice of herself, by offering solemnly her Son, and sacrificing to the divine justice his precious life.

Hence St. Epiphanius called her a priest. Now we begin to see how much this sacrifice cost her, and what heroic virtue she was obliged to practise when she had herself to sign the sentence of condemnation of her dear Jesus to death.

Now behold Mary actually on her way to Jerusalem to offer her Son; she hastens her steps towards the place of sacrifice, and she herself carries her beloved victim in her arms. She enters the temple, approaches the altar, and there, filled with modesty, humility, and devotion, she presents her Son to the Most High.

At this moment St. Simeon, who had received the promise from God that he should not die before seeing the expected Messias, takes the divine child from the hands of the Virgin, and, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, announces to her how much sorrow this sacrifice must cause her, this sacrifice which she was about to make of her Son, with whom must her blessed soul also be sacrificed.

Here St. Thomas of Villanova contemplates the holy old man, who, when he had come to announce the fatal prophecy to this poor mother, is agitated and silent. Then the saint considers Mary, who asks: Why, oh Simeon, in the time of so great consolation, are you thus disturbed? To whom he answers: Oh, noble and holy Virgin, I wished not to announce to thee such bitter tidings, but since the Lord wishes it thus, for thy greater merit, hear what I say to thee.

This infant who now causes thee, and with reason, so much joy, oh God, shall one day bring thee the most cruel suffering that any creature has ever experienced in the world; and this will be when thou shalt see him persecuted by men of every sort, and placed on earth as the mark of their sneers and derision, even until he is put to death before thy eyes.

Know that after his death there will be many martyrs who, for love of this thy Son, will be tormented and slain; but if their martyrdom will be of the body, thy martyrdom, oh divine mother, will be of the heart.

Yes, of the heart, for nothing but compassion for the sufferings of this Son so dear could be meant by the sword of sorrow that St. Simeon predicted was to pierce the heart of the mother: “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce.”

Already the most holy Virgin, as St. Jerome says, had been enlightened through the divine Scriptures to know the sufferings which the Redeemer was to endure in his life, and still more at the time of his death.

She well understood from the prophets, that he was to be betrayed by one of his friends: “Who ate my bread hath greatly supplanted me;” as David predicted.

Abandoned by his disciples: Strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.

Well did she know the insults, spitting, blows, and derision that he was to suffer from the people; “I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them; I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me and spit upon me.”

She knew that he was to be come the scandal of men, and the outcast of the lowest of the people: “But I am a worm and no man, the reproach of men and the outcast of the people,” even to be laden with insults and outrages: “He shall be filled with reproaches.”

She knew that at the end of his life his sacred flesh would be torn and bruised by scourges: “He was wounded from our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins,” so that his body would be wholly disfigured by them, become as a leper, all sores; “There is no beauty in him, nor comeliness, and we have thought him, as it were, a leper,” even till the bones were uncovered: “They have numbered all my bones.”

She knew that he was to be pierced by nails. That he was to be reputed with the wicked. And that finally he was to die, hanging on the cross, slain for the salvation of men: “And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced.”

Mary, I repeat, already knew all the sufferings that her Son was to endure, but in the above quoted words of St. Simon: “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce,” as the Lord revealed to St. Theresa, all the minute circumstances of the external as well as internal sufferings which her Lord Jesus was to endure in his passion, were made known to her.

She consented to all with a firmness which made the angels wonder, and pronounced the sentence that her Son should die, and die by a death so ignominious and painful, in these words: Eternal Father, since thou dost will it, not my will, but thine be done. I unite mine to thy holy will, and sacrifice to thee this my Son; I am satisfied that he should lose his life for thy glory, and for the salvation of the world.

And I also sacrifice to thee my heart; let grief pierce it as much as pleases thee; it suffices to me that thou, oh my God, art glorified and satisfied; not my will, but thine be done.

Oh, charity without measure! oh, constancy without example! oh, victory, that merits the eternal admiration of heaven and of earth!

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