The Passion Through Mary’s Eyes
Walking and Witnessing the Via Dolorosa With the Blessed Mother
It was early Friday morning when I saw my son.
That was the first glimpse I had of him since they took him away.
His bruised and bleeding skin
sent a sword of pain deep into my heart and tears down my cheeks…
All around me they shouted, “Crucify him!”
I wanted to plead with them to stop, but I knew this had to be.
So I stood by and cried silently.
So begins the First Station in Mary’s Way of the Cross, written by Redemptorist Father Richard Furey in the early 1980s, following the Blessed Mother along the Via Dolorosa.
“The first time I read it, I choked up,” explained Carol Sniezyk, a lifelong parishioner of Sweetest Heart of Mary Church in Detroit. The parish has been praying this particular Way of the Cross every Friday except Good Friday for more than 10 years. “I am the mother of a son, and they make you stop and think,” she said of the reflections. “They put you in Mary’s position. How would you feel if it were your son going through all of this? How devastated she must have been even knowing what his goal was.”
At Immaculate Conception Church in Union City, Tennessee, young mother Isabel Avalos finds that when praying Mary’s Way of the Cross, it feels “more personal. I can feel it more. I was almost crying when I was reading it. I have a child. Every time Mary said, ‘I knew this had to be,’ I cry when I hear this.”
Another young mother in the parish, Lillie Vallee, agrees: “I like the different point of view from the mother’s standpoint and the female perspective.”
The parish rotates this Way of the Cross with St. John Paul II’s version, which parishioners also like, as well as another standard version, in both English and Spanish.
Father Carl Gregorich, the pastor, says this rendition of the Stations “puts it in the perspective of the Blessed Mother watching her Son going through these trials and tribulations. In my mind, it enhances and brings to the surface a little different perspective than we get with the others. It brings a lot more compassion, from at least a mother’s perspective. They are truly heart-wrenching.”
“People are really moved. Some have not heard of it, and they were equally touched and actually cried during it,” recalled Lynda Holler, parish director of discipleship at St. Lawrence O’Toole Church in Brewster, New York, sharing what happened during a recent Friday night Way of the Cross through Mary’s eyes.
“As a mother myself, I and other women could look at this and have experienced something that would hit a chord for them, whether our child is being rejected or hurt,” she said. “All these things will strike a chord. It draws everyone into a deeper understanding of Mary’s sacrifice and her accompaniment through it all.”
Holler is especially drawn to one of the concluding stations. “For myself,” Holler explained, “it is the 12th station, when Jesus dies on the cross. What greater pain for a mother! That is any mother’s nightmare.” She shared a thought-provoking quote she had just read in Peter Kreeft’s book Doors in the Walls of the World, connecting it with this Way of the Cross:
“On a human level, Mary may have suffered more than Jesus did, because love suffers more in the beloved’s suffering than in its own, since love multiplies both joys and sufferings by the quantity of its love, and love (agape) loves the beloved more than itself.”
St. Lawrence parishioner Joe Massimo described Mary’s Way of the Cross as “a beautiful portrayal.”
Massimo also noticed the reactions of his fellow parishioners: “I could tell when we were done it really touched the folks there. It’s so powerful.”
Tina McCue at St. William parish in Champion, Ohio, said, “As a mother of five, putting myself in Mary’s shoes is quite moving. [Father] Richard Furey has captured the heart of a grieving mother, ‘We brought Jesus’ body to a tomb and I arranged it there myself, silently weeping, silently rejoicing. I took one more look at my loving son, and then walked out. They closed the tomb and before I left, I thought, I knew this had to be ... it had to be for you! I would wait in faith silently.’ Mary’s courage and deep faith in God’s plan helps me to look at life’s troubles through the eyes of faith, for I know that I am deeply loved by God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
As St. William’s youth minister, McCue worked with teenagers involved in the St. William Parish Youth Ministry in leading Mary’s Way of the Cross.
Although due to COVID restrictions the church had no in-person stations last year, the teens made an audio-video version to share with parishioners via the internet that includes the introduction by Redemptorist Father Andrew Costello.
After teenager Lauren took part, she shared, “It gave me the opportunity to begin to understand what happened through Mary’s perspective. I think that we all learned something valuable from the experience.”
Mary’s Way of the Cross booklet is available free online, at places such as https://bit.ly/3Jvtfp3.
These stations are also available in 32-page booklet form ($1.95) from BayardFaithResources.com and Amazon.
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