This Friday of Passion-week is consecrated in a special manner, to the sufferings which the holy Mother of God endured at the foot of the Cross. […] That we may clearly understand the object of this feast, and spend it, as the Church would have us do, in paying due honour to the Mother of God and of men, we must recall to our minds this great truth: that God, in the designs of His infinite wisdom, has willed that Mary should have a share in the work of the world’s redemption. The mystery of the present feast is one of the applications of this divine law, a law which reveals to us the whole magnificence of God’s plan; it is, also, one of the many realizations of the prophecy, that Satan’s pride was to be crushed by a woman.
In the work of our redemption there are three interventions of Mary; that is, she was thrice called upon to take part in what God Himself did. The first of these was in the Incarnation of the Word, who would not take flesh in her virginal womb until she had given her consent to become His Mother; and this she gave by that solemn FIAT which blessed the world with a Saviour. The second was in the sacrifice which Jesus consummated on Calvary, where she was present that she might take part in the expiatory offering. The third was on the day of Pentecost, when she received the Holy Ghost, as did the apostles, in order that she might effectively labour in the establishment of the Church. “We have already explained, on the feast of the Annunciation, the share Mary had in that wonderful mystery of the Incarnation, which God wrought for His own glory and for man’s redemption and sanctification. On the feast of Pentecost we shall speak of the Church commencing and progressing under the active influence of the Mother of God. […]
Why would God have her assist in person at such a scene as this of Calvary? Why was not she, as well as Joseph, taken out of this world before this terrible day of Jesus’ death? Because God had assigned her a great office for that day, and it was to be under the tree of the cross that she, the second Eve, was to discharge her office. As the heavenly Father had waited for her consent before He sent His Son into the world: so, likewise, He called for her obedience and devotedness, when the hour came for that Son to be offered up in sacrifice for the world’s redemption. Was not Jesus hers? her Child? her own and dearest treasure? And yet, God gave Him not to her, until she had consented to become His Mother; in like manner, He would not take Him from her, unless she gave Him back…Mary no sooner hears that Jesus is condemned to death, than she rises, hastens to Him, and follows Him to the place where He is to die. And what is her attitude at the foot of His cross? Does her matchless grief overpower her? Does she swoon? or fall? No: the Evangelist says: ‘ There stood by the cross of Jesus, His Mother.’ [St. John xix. 25.] The sacrificing priest stands, when offering at the altar; Mary stood for such a sacrifice as hers was to be. St. Ambrose, whose affectionate heart and profound appreciation of the mysteries of religion have revealed to us so many precious traits of Mary’s character, thus speaks of her position at the foot of the cross: ‘She stood opposite the cross, gazing with maternal love on the wounds of her Son; and thus she stood, not waiting for her Jesus to die, but for the world to be saved.’ [In Lucam cap. xxiii.]
Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year