In writing to the Church in Galatia, Saint Paul said, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). Saint Paul had clearly come to a profound realization that the Cross of Christ must be the single focus of his life.
From a purely earthly perspective, the Cross doesn’t make sense. What is the value of suffering and death? What is the value of the brutal treatment of the Son of God? How could such a horrific incident ever be seen as something good, let alone the single boast of one’s life?
These are difficult questions, and from an earthly perspective alone, they are impossible to answer. But from the point of view of grace and truth, from the perspective of God Himself, the answer is that in the Cross all goodness is contained. The Cross is the throne of all grace and mercy and from it alone new life is poured forth. There is no other source of the transforming power of God than the Cross.
The mystery of the Cross is just that: a mystery. In fact, it is the most profound mystery. In the Cross we see the greatest horror transformed into the greatest good. We see death become the source of life. Suffering becomes the source of healing. Bondage becomes the source of freedom.
Only God, in His perfect wisdom and power, is capable of transforming such evil into pure grace. Only God can do what no human mind could ever fathom to save humanity, dying a cruel death.
This book, 40 Days at the Foot of the Cross, was written as a daily devotional by which the reader is invited to prayerfully ponder this most profound mystery of our faith. You are invited to stand at the foot of the Cross and gaze at our crucified Lord in openness to the mystery of His death. As you do, be assured that Jesus has much to teach you and reveal to you about your own suffering. His lessons will be ones taught by His own witness and saving act of love. You will be invited to enter into this act of sacrificial love and unite yourself more deeply with its power and truth.
The meditations in this book are presented from the perspective of the greatest disciple of our Lord: His own dear mother. Mother Mary was one who faced the Cross of her Son with perfect openness, faith, love and devotion. Her fidelity to her Son throughout His life was unwavering. As she stood before the Cross during those long three hours, her fidelity never ceased.
This devotional attempts to ponder what our Blessed Mother would have pondered during those three hours. What was she thinking as she stood there gazing at her own Child dying? What memories went through her mind? What emotions and feelings filled her heart as she watched this final act of love?
The Scriptures do not reveal much about the interior ponderings of our Blessed Mother during those three hours, but the Scriptures do reveal to us many encounters between this mother and Son. Since the Cross was the culmination of the life of both mother and Son, it’s beautiful to bring to this moment of the Cross all the many experiences that these two shared throughout their earthly lives. It’s inspiring to unite all that they did and said to this moment, since all was a preparation for this moment.
As you read through these meditations, try to do so in a prayerful setting. Allow yourself to be drawn into the mind and heart of our Blessed Mother and try to understand how she viewed her Son’s Cross. As you do, bring also your own crosses in life and look at them from the perspective of this loving mother. Allow her gaze to penetrate your crosses and to reveal to you the importance of their complete embrace. Enter into this mystery with faith and allow that faith to unite you more fully with the Cross of Christ, so that, with Saint Paul, the Lord’s Cross will become your central and single “boast” in life.
To our Blessed Mother who stood at the foot of the Cross of our crucified Lord. Her love and devotion toward her Son is an icon of perfect love, a window into the greatest of virtues and an invitation to holiness. Our Blessed Mother invites us to share in her motherly gaze upon her Son. She also invites us to allow her to gaze upon the crosses of our own lives.
Dearest Mother Mary, we thank you for your tender care. Teach us to imitate the love in your heart which was poured out upon your Son on Calvary.
This book is also dedicated to my sister Ann and to my parents. Ann suffered greatly for many years before passing away in 2006. Her suffering taught me much about the Cross of Christ. My parents were also shining examples of love and devotion toward Ann and in many ways reflected the love that our Blessed Mother had for her suffering Son.