But she is always like a Mother, watchful ‘so that the crosses which she gives to those who belong to her are more like dainties or crosses steeped in sugar than bitter ones.’
Mary treats us as children, but as divine children, and her system of spiritual training is copied from that of a human mother. When a mother wants to make her child swallow a bitter draught, she sweetens it and the medicine goes down more easily with a smile on both sides. So does Mary. She wraps up the crosses which she apportions to us in tenderness, encouragement and consolation, and we taste the gall and the bitterness less.
‘Or if they feel for a time the bitterness of the cup which must be drunk of we would be the friends of God, the consolation and the joy which this good Mother sends after the sadness, encourage them infinitely to bear crosses yet heavier and more bitter.’
Blessed de Montfort in one little phrase points out in passing the purpose of suffering. He says: ‘To be the friends of God we must of necessity imitate and follow Jesus Christ. This is the law which the Master Himself has laid down in a famous saying: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”’
On the night of His death when abandoned by His Father Himself, Jesus is about to die, He is alone; and yet No, His Mother is there; and it is she who consoles Him, sustains Him with her presence, with her looks, with her love, and Jesus joyfully accepts His redeeming death which is to reconcile Heaven to earth, God to men, and to kindle in souls the supernatural life.
In our sufferings, our struggles and our deaths, it is Mary who is our consoling angel and our Mother of succor. Even in the midst of the night of trial and desolation, in the blackest storms, her rainbow sheds its ray of hope and consolation into our souls and reminds us certainly that after the storm, the bright sun will shine in the cloudless sky.
Montfort writing to his sister Louise on August 17, 1713, says: ‘My dear Sister, bless God with me, for I am happy and content in the midst of all my sufferings and I do not think that there is anything in the world sweeter to me than the most bitter cross, when steeped in the blood of Christ crucified and in the milk of the Divine Mother.’
Is not this a magnificent counterpart to the sublime cry of the Apostle of the Gentiles: ‘I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulations’?
(To be continued.)