Behold Your Mother By Matthew Russell S.J. Part 14. Mother and Martyr.

I DO not remember that any spiritual writer has dwelt on a certain similarity existing between two of the glorious functions fulfilled by the Blessed Virgin Mary with regard to the work of the world's redemption. This similarity is indicated in two consecrated phrases which the Church makes use of to describe Our Lady's two-fold dignity of Mother of God and Queen of Martyrs— Mater et Martyr.

The first of these phrases occurs in the Gradual of one of the votive Masses of the Blessed Virgin, perhaps borrowed from some saint: Beata ac venerabilis es, Virgo Maria, quæ sine tactu pudoris inventa es, Mater Salvatoris —" Blessed and venerable art thou, O Virgin Mary, who without the touch of shame wast found to be the Mother of the Redeemer." That " wast found " points to the inventa est of St. Matthew i. i8 ; and this expression renders more natural, and therefore more wonderful, the ingenious anagram which transposes the letters of the Archangel's greeting— Ave, Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum — into these curiously kindred words, letter for letter, neither more nor less : Deipara inventa sum, ergo Immaculata —" I am the Mother of God, therefore Immaculate.''

The other parallel phrase forms the Communion of the Mass of the Seven Dolours : Felices sensus Beatæ Mariæ Virginis, qui sine morte meruerunt martyrii palmam sub Cruce Domini —" Happy were the Blessed Virgin Mary's senses, which without death merited the palm of martyrdom under the Cross of the Lord." Her senses and feelings—sights hearings touchy and all the other avenues by which physical pain rushes in upon the soul; all that she who stood beside the Cross saw to distress her; all that she heard, all that she felt, not merely in her hearty but by sympathy in every fibre of her sensitive frame—all these went to form the Blessed Virgin's share in the Passion of her Divine Son. She sought relief from no anaesthetic, even such as the strong soul can discover for itself; but rather, like Jesus in the Garden, she willed to suffer in her soul all that He endured in soul and body. It was the most painful of deaths, without the exhaustion, the passing away, the insensibility, the repose of death. Mary would have suffered far less if she could have died with Jesus.

Thus was the Mother of God a martyr—which means a witness unto death—and yet sine morte, just as she had become a mother sine tactu pudoris: a mother without the tribulation of the flesh and other penalties that attend maternity for all the daughters of Eve except her, the sole Virgin Mother ; a martyr without the physical horrors from which her Crucified Son would keep her virginal body safe, though He spared not His own.

Pray for us, O Mother of God, O Queen of Martyrs!