The School of Saints “My most holy Son and myself are trying to
find, among those who have arrived at the Way of the Cross, some soul, whom We
can instruct systematically in this Divine Science; and whom We can withdraw
from the worldly and diabolical wisdom, in which the sons of Adam, with blind
stubbornness, are rejecting the salutary discipline of sufferings. If thou
wishest to be our disciple, enter into this school, in which alone is taught the
Doctrine of the Cross and the manner of reaching true peace and veritable
delights. With this wisdom, the earthly love of sensible pleasures and riches
is not compatible; nor the vain ostentation and pomp, which fascinates the
bleary-eyed worldlings, who are so covetous of passing honors, and so full of
ignorant admiration for costly grandeur” (Our Lady to the Venerable Mary of Agreda). The Science of Saints “My daughter, in all that thou art made to understand and write concerning these mysteries, thou drawest upon thyself, and upon mortals, a severe judgment, if thou dost not overcome thy pusillanimity, ingratitude and baseness, by meditating day and night on the Passion and Death of Jesus crucified. This is the great Science of the Saints, so little heeded by the worldly, it is the Bread of Life and the Spiritual Food of the little ones, which gives Wisdom to them and the lack of which starves the lovers of this proud world . In this science I wish thee to be studious and wise, for with it thou canst buy thyself all good things. My Son and Lord taught us this Science when He said: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: no one cometh to My Father except through Me’ (John 14:6). ” (Our Lady to the Venerable Mary of Agreda).
THE FOURTH SORROW OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Mary meets Jesus Carrying His Cross on the Way to Calvary
“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23) “And whosoever doth not carry his cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).
It is a pain and a sorrow for any mother to her children suffer. A mother, having carried her children in her womb and close to her heart, always seems mysteriously or mystically united to her children and their plight. How much more true would this not have been of Mary and her Son, Jesus? If the Acts of the Apostles (4:32) can speak of the early Christians “had but one heart and one soul,” then how much more true would it be of Jesus and Mary! It was once related, in these present days, that there were two twin-sisters who often experienced each other’s pains and emotions, so much so that when one of them severely banged her toe one morning, while getting out of bed, she immediately received a phone call from her twin-sister asking her what on earth she had done! As the one twin-sister had banged her toe, the other twin sister had received excruciating pain in her toe.
We have the saying “I could have died…” that we use in some unbearable situation. Mary would have died, had not God kept her alive during the Passion and Death of her Son. Her prayers were incredibly powerful, and she could have stopped or reduced the atrocities that her Son was undergoing—for we know that just one single drop of Christ’s blood would have been enough to redeem mankind. Yet, she understood the need for what was unfolding and understood her Son’s desire to drink the entire chalice of suffering, proving that “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Love inspires love. So, conversely, we could say “Greater love no sinner has, than that he lay down his life to show his love for God and in reparation for his sins.” As Scripture says: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). We are sinners, and Jesus came to call sinners to penance: “I came not to call the just, but sinners to penance” (Luke 5:32)—and the Cross is a penance and Jesus calls us to carry the Cross, as He did.
Our Lord Himself warns us saying: "Not everyone that saith to Me: ‘Lord! Lord!' shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father. Many will say to Me in that day: ‘Lord! Lord! Have we not prophesied in Thy Name, and cast out devils in Thy Name, and done many miracles in Thy Name?' And then I will profess unto them: ‘I never knew you, depart from Me!' Why do you call me ‘Lord! Lord!' and do not the things which I say?" (Matt. 7:113-23; Lk. 6:46). "If any man will follow Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me" (Lk. 9:23). "He that taketh not up his cross and followeth Me, is not worthy of me!" (Matt.10:38).
As the Imitation of Christ says: "Jesus has many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear His cross. He has many who desire consolation, but few who care for trial. He finds many to share His table, but few to take part in His fasting. All desire to be happy with Him; few wish to suffer anything for Him. Many follow Him to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the chalice of His passion." (Book 2; ch. 11). The road to Heaven is not a "feel-good" road, but the Way of the Cross.
We find the Cross everywhere, whether we like it or not: In childbirth—there are labor pains and the child is born in pain; learning to walk is a pain as we fall repeatedly; we have pains in teething; we learn many things through pain; becoming a team player is painful to the ego; being raised is (should be) painful, as we are disciplined and hurt ourselves through our many mistakes; intellectual learning and the acquiring of skills is often painful—in school and work; others persons are a cross; we are cross to ourselves; our finances can be a cross; our health can be cross; our family life can be a cross; the weather is a cross; nature is a cross, etc., etc..
Yet among all these crosses, standing quietly in the background, is the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother. Can she remove the cross? Of course she can! However, just as she did not remove the cross of her Son by her intercession with God, so, too, does she rarely remove our crosses—for through them we begin to resemble her Son. She will however, intercede for us so that we may be given the grace to carry our cross in the correct way, in a way that will pay for our sins and lead us to Heaven.
St. Augustine says that the same sufferings (crosses) lead some souls to Heaven and other souls to Hell. How so? Because of the disposition of the one carrying the cross. Some carry it humbly and patiently, acknowledging that they deserve whatever cross Divine Providence had lain upon their backs; others curse and are bitter and angry at what is happening to them. It is just like the two thieves crucified with Christ—one goes to Heaven through his cross, the other goes to Hell. Our Lady will always be there to try to help us carry it well and holily—but she cannot and will not twist our arm, she will obtain the grace, but we must cooperate with it and use it.
Below you will find an account of the meeting between Jesus and Mary as He carried His Cross on the road to Calvary, as related by Our Lady to the Venerable Mary of Agreda, taken from the book, The Mystical City of God.
THE MYSTICAL CITY OF GOD : Volume 3 : The Transfixion Book 2: an abridgement of Chapter 21 "The Meeting of Mary with Jesus on the Road to Calvary"
The sentence of Pilate against our Savior having been published in a loud voice before all the people, the executioners loaded the heavy Cross, on which He was to be crucified, upon His tender and wounded shoulders. In order that He might carry it, they loosened the bonds holding His hands, but not the others, since they wished to drag Him along by the loose ends of the ropes that bound His body. In order to torment Him the more, they drew two loops around His throat. The Cross was fifteen feet long, of thick and heavy timbers. The herald began to proclaim the sentence and the whole confused and turbulent multitude of the people, the executioners and soldiers, with great noise, uproar and disorder began to move from the house of Pilate to Mount Calvary through the streets of Jerusalem. The Master and Redeemer of the world, Jesus, before receiving the Cross, looked upon it with a countenance full of extreme joy and exultation, such as would be shown by a bridegroom looking at the rich adornments of his bride, and on receiving it, He addressed it as follows:
"O Cross, beloved of My soul, now prepared and ready to still My longings, come to Me, that I may be received in thy arms, and that, attached to them as on an altar, I may be accepted by the eternal Father as the sacrifice of His everlasting reconciliation with the human race. In order to die upon thee, I have descended from Heaven and assumed mortal and passible flesh; for thou art to be the sceptre with which I shall triumph over all My enemies, the key with which I shall open the gates of Heaven for all the predestined (Isaias 22:22), the sanctuary in which the guilty sons of Adam shall find mercy, and the treasure-house for the enrichment of their poverty. Upon thee I desire to exalt and recommend dishonor and reproach among men, in order that My friends may embrace them with joy, seek them with anxious longings, and follow Me on the path which I, through thee, shall open up before them. My Father and eternal God, I confess Thee as the Lord of Heaven and earth (Matthew 11:25), subjecting Myself to thy power and to thy divine wishes, I take, upon My shoulders, the wood for the sacrifice of My innocent and passible humanity and I accept it willingly, for the salvation of men. Receive Thou, eternal Father, this sacrifice as acceptable to Thy justice, in order that, from today on, they may not any more be servants, but sons and heirs of Thy kingdom together with Me" (Romans 8:17).
None of these sacred mysteries and happenings were hidden from the great Lady of the world, Mary; for she had a most intimate knowledge and understanding of them, far beyond that of all the angels. The events, which she could not see with the eyes of her body, she perceived by her intelligence and revealed science, which manifested to her the interior operation of her most holy Son. By this divine light, she recognized the infinite value of the wood of the Cross, once it had come in contact with the deified humanity of Jesus our Redeemer. Immediately she venerated and adored it in a manner befitting it.
The same was also done by the heavenly spirits, attending upon the Queen. She imitated her divine Son in the tokens of affections, with which He received the Cross, addressing it in the words suited to her office as Coadjutrix of the Redeemer. By her prayers to the eternal Father, she followed Him in His exalted sentiments as the living original and exemplar, without failing in the least point. When she heard the voice of the herald publishing and rehearsing the sentence through the streets, the heavenly Mother, in protest against the accusations contained in the sentence and in the form of comments on the glory and honor of the Lord, composed a canticle of praise and worship of the innocence and sinlessness of her all-holy Son and God.
The most loving Mother was so admirably faithful in her sufferings and in imitating the example of Christ our God, that she never permitted herself any easement either of her bodily pains, such as rest, or nourishment, or sleep; nor any relaxation of the spirit, such as any consoling thoughts or considerations, except when she was visited from on high by divine influence. Then only would she humbly and thankfully accept relief, in order that she might recover strength to attend, still more fervently, to the object of her sorrows and to the cause of His sufferings. The same wise consideration she applied to the malicious behavior of the Jews and their servants, to the needs of the human race, to their threatening ruin, and to the ingratitude of men, for whom He suffered. Thus she perfectly and intimately knew of all these things and felt it more deeply than all the creatures.
Another hidden and astonishing miracle was wrought by the right hand of God through the instrumentality of the blessed Mary against Lucifer and his infernal spirits. It took place in the following manner: The dragon and his associates, though they could not understand the humiliation of the Lord, were most attentive to all that happened in the Passion of the Lord.
Now, when He took upon Himself the Cross, all these enemies felt a new and mysterious tremor and weakness, which caused in them great consternation and confused distress. Conscious of these unwanted and invincible feelings the prince of darkness feared that, in the Passion and Death of Christ our Lord, some dire and irreparable destruction of his reign was imminent. In order not to be overtaken by it, in the presence of Christ our God, the dragon resolved to retire and fly with all his followers to the caverns of Hell. But when he sought to execute this resolve, he was prevented by the great Queen and Mistress of all creation; for the Most High, enlightening her and intimating to her what she was to do, at the same time invested her with His power. The heavenly Mother, turning toward Lucifer and his squadrons, by her imperial command hindered them from flying; ordering them to await and witness the Passion to the end on Mount Calvary. The demons could not resist the command of the mighty Queen; for they recognized and felt the divine power operating in her. Subject to her sway they followed Christ, like prisoners dragged along in chains to Calvary, where the eternal Wisdom had decreed to triumph over them from the throne of the Cross, as we shall see later on. There is nothing which can exemplify the discouragement and dismay, which from that moment began to oppress Lucifer and his demons. According to our way of speaking, they walked along to Calvary like criminals condemned to a terrible death, and seized by the dismay and consternation of an inevitable punishment.
The executioners, bare of all human compassion and kindness, dragged our Savior Jesus along with incredible cruelty and insults. Some of them jerked Him forward by the ropes in order to accelerate His passage, while others pulled from behind in order to retard it. On account of this jerking, and the weight of the Cross, they caused Him to sway to and fro and often to fall to the ground. By the hard knocks He thus received on the rough stones, great wounds were opened, especially on the two knees and they were widened at each repeated fall. The heavy Cross also inflicted a wound on the shoulder on which it was carried. The unsteadiness caused the Cross sometimes to knock against His sacred head, and sometimes the head against the Cross; thus the thorns of His crown penetrated deeper and wounded the parts, which they had not yet reached. To these torments of the body the ministers of evil added many insulting words and execrable affronts, ejecting their impure spittle and throwing the dirt of the pavement into His face so mercilessly, that they blinded the eyes that looked upon them with such divine mercy. Thus, they, of their own account, condemned themselves to the loss of the graces, with which His very looks were fraught. By the haste with which they dragged Him along, in their eagerness to see Him die, they did not allow Him to catch His breath; for His most innocent body, having been in so few hours overwhelmed with such a storm of torments, was so weakened and bruised, that to all appearances He was ready to yield up life under His pains and sorrows.
From the house of Pilate the sorrowful and stricken Mother, with the multitudes, followed on the way of her divine Son, accompanied by Saint John and the pious women. As the surging crowds hindered her from getting very near to the Lord, she asked the eternal Father to be permitted to stand at the foot of the Cross of her blessed Son and see Him die with her own eyes. With the divine consent she ordered her holy angels to manage things, in such a way, as to make it possible for her to execute her wishes. The holy angels obeyed her with great reverence; and they speedily led the Queen through some side street, in order that she might meet her Son. Thus it came that both of them met face to face in sweetest recognition of each other and in mutual renewal of each other's interior sorrows. Yet they did not speak to one another, nor would the fierce cruelty of the executioners have permitted such an communication. But the most prudent Mother adored her divine Son and true God, laden with the Cross; and interiorly besought Him, that, since she could not relieve Him of the weight of the Cross and since she was not permitted to command her holy angels to lighten it, He would inspire these ministers of cruelty to procure some one for His assistance. This prayer was heard by the Lord Christ; and so it happened, that Simon of Cyrene was afterwards impressed to carry the Cross with the Lord (Matthew 27:32). The Pharisees and the executioners were moved to this measure, some of them out of natural compassion, others for fear lest Christ, the Author of life, should lose His life by exhaustion before it could be taken from Him on the Cross.
Beyond all human thought and estimation was the sorrow of the most sincere Dove and Virgin Mother, while she thus witnessed, with her own eyes, her Son carrying the Cross to Mount Calvary; for she alone could fittingly know and love Him according to His true worth. It would have been impossible for her to live through this ordeal, if the divine power had not strengthened her and preserved her life. With bitterest sorrow she addressed the Lord and spoke to Him in her heart:
"My Son and eternal God, light of my eyes and life of my soul, receive, O Lord, the sacrifice of my not being able to relieve Thee of the burden of the Cross and carry it myself, who am a daughter of Adam; for it is I who should die upon it in love of Thee, as Thou now wishest to die in most ardent love of the human race. O most loving Mediator between guilt and justice! How dost Thou cherish mercy in the midst of so great injuries and such heinous offenses! O charity without measure or bounds, which permits such torments and affronts in order to afford it a wider scope for its ardor and efficacy! O infinite and sweetest love, would that the hearts and the wills of men were all mine, so that they could give no such thankless return for all that Thou endurest! O who will speak to the hearts of the mortals to teach them what they owe to Thee, since Thou hast paid so dearly for their salvation from ruin!"
INSTRUCTION WHICH THE MOST HOLY QUEEN MARY GAVE ME
I desire that the fruit of the obedience with which thou writest the history of my life shall be, that thou become a true disciple of my most holy Son and of myself. The main purpose of the exalted and venerable mysteries, which are made known to thee, and of the teachings, which I so often repeat to thee, is that thou deny and strip thyself, estranging thy heart from all affection to creatures, neither wishing to possess them, nor accept them for other uses.
Many there are who wish to follow Christ and very few who truly dispose themselves to imitate Him; for as soon as they feel the sufferings of the Cross they cast it aside. Laborious exertions are very painful and averse to human nature according to the flesh; and the fruits of the spirit are more hidden and few guide themselves by the light. On this account, there are so many among mortals, who, forgetful of the eternal truths, seek the flesh and the continual indulgence of its pleasures. They ardently seek honors and fly from injuries: they strive after riches, and contemn poverty; they long after pleasure and dread mortification. All these are enemies of the Cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18), and with dreadful aversion they fly from it, deeming it sheer ignominy, just like those who crucified Christ, the Lord.
Another deceit has spread through the world: many imagine that they are following Christ their Master, though they neither suffer affliction, nor engage in any exertion or labor. They are content with avoiding boldness in committing sins, and place all their perfection in a certain prudence or hollow self-love, which prevents them from denying anything to their will and from practicing any virtues at the cost of their flesh. They would easily escape this deception, if they would consider that my Son was not only the Redeemer, but their Teacher; and that He left in this world the treasures of His Redemption not only as a remedy against its eternal ruin, but as a necessary medicine for the sickness of sin in human nature.
My Son and Lord, although He well could do it, He chose not a life of softness and ease for the flesh, but one full of labors and pains; for He judged His instructions to be incomplete and insufficient to redeem man, if He failed to teach them how to overcome the demon, the flesh and their own self. He wished to inculcate, that this magnificent victory is gained by the Cross, by labors, penances, mortifications and the acceptance of contempt: all of which are the trade-marks and evidences of true love and the special watchwords of the predestined.
Thou, my daughter, knowest the value of the holy Cross and the honor which it confers upon ignominies and tribulations; do thou embrace the Cross and bear it with joy in imitation of my Son and thy Master (Matthew 16:24). In this mortal life let thy glory be in tribulations, persecutions (Rom. 5:3), contempt, infirmities, poverty, humiliation and in whatever is painful and averse to mortal flesh.