I learned a good lesson one year from an African Marianist in the scholasticate. We would have a Marianist studies class every Friday evening. One night, we were talking about this Calvary scene. He made the observation that, for him, this experience of Mary at the foot of the cross was a far greater act of faith than was the Annunciation. At that point, for Mary, it must have all looked so futile and so definitive. Was she wrong? Had she been duped? Was this what God’s promises lead to? It was shortly after that night when I had my experience at the Guelph retreat house, experiencing Mary’s “waterfall of grace and gratitude.”
The power of this scene can touch us deeply as we reflect upon our relationship with Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother. This is an important dimension of our vow of stability, but it also says something to us about our vow of chastity. Our religious lives must be passionate, far more passionate than we often allow them to be. That can only happen if we are engaged in a love that is so great, so overwhelming, so captivating that the powers of our mind and heart and body and psyche get focused on the one thing necessary. Over the portal at the Abbey of Gethsemane are two words carved in stone: “God Alone.” Christ must be the center, and Mary helps us to keep him there.
[Editor’s Note: Father Martin Solma, SM, the Provincial for the Society of Mary’s Province of the United States, delivered the following talk as part of the 2011 summer retreat series for the Province.]