FROM MARY MAGNIFYING GOD. BY WILLIAM HUMPHREY, OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE OBLATES OF ST. CHARLES. AD 1873
If, then, it became Christ to suffer, so does it also become all the members of His mystical Body, all who are one with Him in the oneness of its one mystical life; nay! and to suffer all the more in proportion as their life is hid with Christ in God.'
And this was the reason why it became Mary to suffer. Suffering has a threefold end. It may be vindictive, it may be remedial, and it may be simply unitive. In her case, it could be neither vindictive nor remedial. It could not be vindictive, for in her there was no offence to punish. It could not be remedial, for in her there was no disease to remedy, and no stain to cleanse. Mary's sufferings were therefore unitive. God permitted and inflicted them in order to conform her to the image of her suffering Son, that in all things she might be made like unto Him. She was taken up into the oneness of His life more fully and more closely than any other created being; but suffering was a mode identified with that life; and therefore Mary's life was necessarily a life of suffering. It became Mary to suffer, and so to enter into her glory.
It is of supreme importance that we should adequately apprehend the reality of the sufferings of our Divine Lord. He really suffered the privations and hardships of Bethlehem and Nazareth and the Nile. He really suffered the sickening pangs of hunger and the burning fever of unslaked thirst, after the forty days fast in the wilderness of Quarentana. He was really fatigued and footsore when He rested from His journey on the parapet of Jacob's well, by the city of Sichar in Samaria. He was really weary when He slept in the stem of Peters boat on the Sea of Galilee. He shed real tears of real human sorrow at the grave of Lazarus of Bethania, His friend and the brother of His friends; and again on the slope of Olivet, as He beheld across the valley the beloved but doomed city—His own Jerusalem in her stately beauty, and with all her sacred associations—and thought of the coming day of her visitation which she knew not. He really feared, and was amazed and very heavy, as He really agonised in the Garden of Gethsemani. His—Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me'—was nature's assertion of its repugnance to suffering. Those words expressed what in His lower soul He really felt—the recoil of His lower sensitive nature from pain and shame, from suffering and sorrow, from agony and death. He really felt the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter and the ungenerous flight of the Apostles. He really suffered as from the Cross He looked down upon the steadfast sor row of the virginal Disciple, on the wild passionate grief of the Magdalen, and on the broken heart of Mary. He really felt the bodily pain, the physical torture, of the stripes at the pillar, of the blows in the guard-house, and of the nailing and suspension on the Cross. He felt as really as and all that an ordinary man would have felt; and this suffering, in its almost unbearable reality, was only the foundation of His Passion; for that Passion is to be measured in its intensity, not by the three hours of its continuance, but to be multiplied by the number of the entire human race; beginning with the soul of Adam, and including the last soul created on the last day of time. Nay! it is to be multiplied again by the number of mortal sins which every individual of that race should perpetrate. In a word. His sufferings were not single. They were manifold as the number of men to be redeemed, and of mortal sins to expiate.
Hence the mournful words of Jeremias, in the Lamentation which the Church makes her own, as she contemplates the mysteries of the Passion: O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow !
And now,—with the same reality wherewith the sorrows and the sufferings of Jesus were real, were the sufferings and sorrows of Mary also real. As His Humanity, and the feelings connatural to that Humanity, were not consumed in the furnace of His Divinity, so neither were hers in the furnace of her unparalleled graces.
But this Divinity and those graces — those created participations of that Divine nature—were the sources and fountains of spiritual joy to both Jesus and Mary. In the midst of their tribulations, amid the acutest agonies of their most overwhelming sorrows, in the depths of their unconceived and unutterable woe, Jesus and Mary could both say, and say with truth, Exultat spiritus meus —My spirit doth rejoice.' Not even in the moment of His greatest trial, during the dereliction of the Eternal Father, and that darkness of His soul which accompanied the noon-day darkness of the eclipse on Calvary, the desolation that wrung from Him the exceeding bitter cry, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me —not even then was the human soul of Jesus deprived of its spiritual joy.
From the first moment of His conception, His created human soul enjoyed the Beatific Vision of the Triune God. Once bestowed, this vision never left Him; for the gifts of God are without repentance. Even death, which, severing the union between soul and body, deprived Him of His human life, did not deprive Him of that Vision But its effects might be restrained; and they were restrained during the days of His earthly sojourn and this that He might be passible and mortal, that He might be able to suffer and die, and so merit and redeem, propitiate and atone. The ordinary, the norm, effect of the Beatific Vision would have been to extend that glory which it bestowed upon His soul to the body which that soul inhabited and informed. But this normal effect was restrained; and for that unselfish reason, for the sake of us men and for our salvation.' Once only do we read that He allowed the glory of His soul to have its natural course; and that was on the day of His Transfiguration on the summit of Thabor, that transfiguration which was the prelude of His humiliation on the hill-top of Calvary. Then He manifested forth His glory that His Disciples might believe in Him.
Now just as He restrained His Beatific Glory from extending itself to His Sacred Body, so could He also restrain His Beatific Joy from extending itself to and permeating those emotions, affections, feelings, and sensitive appetites which together form what we have called the lower soul;' and this in order that in and through them He might suffer whatever they are capable of suffering.
But His higher soul, His intellective faculties, His mind and will, that Beatific Vision, its glory and its joy, never for a moment deserted. That soul with those faculties was in His darkest hour inundated and inebriated by the unseen, unheard of, and unconceived delights and joys and satisfactions of the Beatific Vision.
And as it was with Jesus, so also was it with Mary in her measure. There was not one of her sorrowful mysteries that was not also a mystery of joy, and of which she could not say, 'Exultavit Spiritus meus —My spirit hath rejoiced.'