Good Friday: Don’t Give Up
At the Cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.
— “Stabat Mater”
Mary was faithful. She journeyed with Jesus during Holy Week. She met Him on the way to Calvary. And there, with John, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene, she stood at the foot of the Cross. The words of the “Stabat Mater” tell us: “At the Cross her station keeping, stood the mournful Mother weeping, close to Jesus to the last.” This stanza of that beautiful hymn reminds us that Mary stayed by Jesus’ side to the bitter end. Imagine her pain as a mother, watching her beloved Son die on the Cross. It might have been easy for Mary to give up and question how this was part of God’s plan for salvation. But her faith was persistent. She didn’t give up. Instead, she united herself to Jesus on the Cross.
We might want to give up on something — maybe a job or a project or a friendship, or even life itself. As a person involved in academia, sometimes I want to give up on papers I am writing. I even thought about dropping a class altogether in the final weeks because I wasn’t sure I could continue and write the requisite research paper. And believe it or not, I abandoned my Lenten book a few days before the deadline.
Discouragement can get the best of us. Mary could have been discouraged. But she held fast to all the teachings of Jesus. She maintained her faith. In those moments when we want to give up, let us remind ourselves of Mary’s example. Remember Good Friday and how she stayed by Jesus. We might want to give up on God, faith, or prayer. And this might be easy to do. Mary’s example encourages us never to give up on God.
It might be a bit difficult to relate to Mary, because she was a perfect human being by virtue of the Immaculate Conception. She had perfect faith. Our discouragement should make us consider what causes us to want to give up. Maybe it is fear, loneliness, abandonment, or a lack of faith. Our struggles can become opportunities to exercise faith in God. We can ask, “Where are You leading me?” “How does this accomplish Your will?” On this Good Friday, as we mourn Jesus’ death, as we stand by Mary at the foot of the Cross, let us draw strength for the struggles we will face in life. Jesus did not give up on the Cross. Mary remained faithful to the end. May God find us always faithful like Mary.
Sorrowful Mother, I want to be like you, faithful to the end.
Attend a Good Friday service, or, if you are unable, pray the Stations of the Cross, or read the Passion narrative in one of the Gospels or online. As you do so, consider the many times it would have been easy for Jesus or Mary to give up on the Way of the Cross.
Remembering Our Beloved Dead
It was toward eleven o’clock at night when the Blessed Virgin, incited by irrepressible feelings of love, arose, wrapped a gray cloak around her, and left the house quite alone. . . . I saw her go first to the house of Caiaphas, and then to the palace of Pilate, which was at a great distance off; I watched her through the whole of her solitary journey along that part which had been trodden by her Son, loaded with His heavy Cross; she stopped at every place where our Savior had suffered.
— Anne Catherine Emmerich, The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Where do you think Mary spent the hours after Jesus’ death? Whom did she spend them with? We don’t know the answer to these questions, but we could speculate. Maybe she stayed at the tomb of Jesus, crying and lamenting His death. Or maybe she stayed in the Upper Room, and later rewalked the path of Jesus’ Passion on that Saturday afternoon, arriving to visit Jesus’ tomb.
What have you done after a loved one has died? How have you grieved? I’m sure that Mary remembered her life with Jesus and treasured all those memories in her heart. She wanted to revisit the places of importance in Jesus’ Passion. I like to believe she walked the Way of the Cross many times.
One day, I picked up two fish plates from a local grocery store and brought them to my mother’s house, and we ate supper together. When I drove by that store after my mother died, I remembered that experience and wanted to relive it.
My mother also loved going to the Wisconsin State Fair, and so, the first year after her death, I decided to go and experience the state fair and try to understand why she loved it so much. I am sure there are many customs that you observe as a way to remember a loved one who has died. Someone I know planned to take her kids fishing on the anniversary of their father’s death, because they had enjoyed fishing with their dad, and it seemed appropriate to remember him in that way. When we relive such experiences to remember our loved ones, we are doing what Mary did. She mourned Jesus’ death and never forgot their many experiences together. Remember your beloved dead by reliving experiences you had with them.
Dear Blessed Mother, help me to mourn the death of Jesus as you did. Please console me as I mourn the death of Jesus and of my loved ones who have died.
Visit a cemetery during the day on Holy Saturday. Pray at the grave of a loved one or a friend. Or do something that will help you to remember a loved one who has died.
This article is adapted from a chapter in Fr. Looney’s A Lenten Journey with Mother Mary. It is available through your local Catholic bookstore or online through Sophia Institute Press.
We also recommend Father’s latest book, Meditations After Holy Communion: Guided Meditations for Every Sunday and Other Holy Days. You can listen to our interview with Fr. Looney about his book below or by finding Catholic Exchange on your favorite podcast app.