Christ Crucified with the Virgin, Saint John, and Mary Magdalene
by Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641)
This Lent I began a 10 week retreat/bible study with my parish. The retreat is called Consoling the Heart of Jesus, A do it yourself retreat inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. The book was written by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. Having previously done Fr. Gaitley’s, 33 Days to Morning Glory, A Consecration to Jesus through Mary, I knew I would be in for a great deepening of my spiritual life. As I began the book, Fr. Gaitley almost immediately asks you to do a Meditation. He gives you a scenario. You are in front of the cross;
“Behold Jesus in front of you, hanging on the Cross. See his gentle, and sorrowful face. His heart aches because so many for whom he’s dying have rejected his goodness and love. Will you reject him too? Before you answer, listen to his words from the Cross, ‘I thirst.’ He’s speaking to you. He thirsts for you. Do you thirst for him? He thirsts that you might thirst for him. Tell him you thirst for him. Ask him to help you thirst for him more. Beg him for grace.”
I close my eyes for the meditation. I am near the foot of the cross. My Lord is bloodied and beaten hanging up high. I look to my right and I see his Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene and the Beloved Apostle John. Their eyes fixed upon Him. I hear Him say, “I thirst”. I say, “Lord, I thirst for you too.” But I am scared. I see a serpent slithering around in front of me. I know this is the devil who tempts me. I am afraid the serpent will bite me. I long to inch forward to the cross, but the serpent is in the way. Suddenly, Mary appears next to me. She steps on him. She crushes his head. She says nothing, but her eyes tell me to approach her Son. I am no longer afraid. I get to the foot of the cross. He is so high, I still cannot reach him to touch him. Then, as if they all know, the Beloved Apostle, John, lifts me up. Mary Magdalene is praying. I can reach my Lord. He now comes off of the cross lifts me up high and embraces me. He holds me while I cry. For the love I do not deserve. I know in my heart the whole time He Himself could have come down to get me but He wanted them to help me. He wants us to be in communion with Him, all of us together. The Communion of Saints. I am part of it, as are the souls who have gone before. He wants us all to do His will. He tells me go out and bring others to Him just a His Mother, John and Mary brought me to Him. My heart is full. I am at peace.