The,Crucifixion,,By,Pietro,Lorenzetti,,1340s,,Italian,Renaissance,Painting,,Tempera,

The Words of Christ from the Cross

Saint Anselm had for a long time prayed earnestly to the glorious Virgin Mary that she would reveal to him the mysteries of her divine Son’s suffering and death.  His prayers were accompanied with ardent weeping and prolonged fasting.

At last, the Blessed Virgin appeared before the saint.  She spoke to him the following words, “My beloved Son suffered such terrible things that no one could possibly describe them without a profuse outpouring of tears!  Nevertheless, because I have now been glorified with all the glory of heaven and rejoice in the Lord’s resurrection, I am no longer able to weep; all my former pain and bitter sorrow has been transformed into exultant and inexpressible joy!  Therefore I myself shall speak to you of my Son’s passion, narrating its events in due order.”

St. Anselm therefore proceeded to address questions to Mary, and she answered each one in turn.  Part of the dialogue which ensued is recorded in the following excerpt.

Anselm: O Mother of God, how did your divine Son respond to this heartless derision?

Mary: My beloved Child prayed for them. He implored God, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” But the crowds stood around, waiting to see what would happen next. And they, too, insulted Him.

It was then as if He spoke to me in my heart, saying, “Hear, My daughter, and see!” Hear the voices of those who are so viciously mocking your Son, and see the grim anguish which I now undergo. You well know that it was by God’s Holy Spirit that you conceived Me and that it was as a virgin that you bore Me into this world. You remember also how you nursed Me with tender care and love when I was but a small infant in your arms. Although all of this crowd refuses to believe in Me, I know that you have always believed in Me and that you now share with Me fully in all the agony of My sufferings.” And as these words resounded in my heart, it was as if the sword of sorrow which Simeon foretold again passed through my soul.

When the thief, who had been crucified at His left side, heard the mockery of the crowd, he also insulted Him. He said, “If you are the Christ, save Yourself and us also!” But the other thief, who was at the right side of Jesus, reproofed him saying, “Do you have no fear of God? For we are all receiving the same punishment, but we both have deserved it, but this man has committed no crime.” And he said to Jesus, “Remember me, Lord, when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “I tell you solemnly, this day you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Anselm: “What did you do next, my Lady?

Mary: I stood by the cross, with my heart filled with such abject sorrow that I sought no consolation. And with me stood my sisters and Mary Magdalene.

And when my Son saw me and John, the disciple whom He loved, He said to me, “Woman, behold your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “ Behold, your mother.”

This was around the sixth hour of the day. And at that time heavy darkness fell upon the whole earth, until around the ninth hour. And then Jesus cried out in a loud voice full of anguish, “Eli, Eli lamma sabbachani?” That is, “My God, my God, why have You abandoned Me?”  Upon hearing this, some of the crowd called out, “Look, He is crying out! Let us see if Elisha comes to set Him free.”

When Jesus realized that all had been accomplished, He said, “I thirst!”  For what, O Lord, did You thirst?  You thirsted, indeed, for nothing but the salvation of sinners!  But there was a vessel filled with vinegar nearby. One of the crowd rushed forth and filled a sponge with this vinegar and, placing it upon a spear, raised it to His mouth for Him to drink.  He did this [not out of compassion] but only so that He would hasten on His death.  And when He had tasted it, he said, “It is consummated.” 

This article is taken from a chapter in The Passion of Christ Through the Eyes of Mary by St. Anselm of Canterbury which is available from TAN Books.

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