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From “Let it be” to “Stabat Mater”

by Daniel Nørgaard

A few days ago we celebrated the feast of the Annunciation (25 March), which reminds us of Mary’s “yes” to God’s plan, making her body available to give life to Jesus. In a few days we celebrate Good Friday, when Mary stands silently by the cross and watches her son die in a cruel way.

Mary’s faithful attitude is beautifully expressed in two very different pieces of music.

The Beatles’ “Let it be”, which can be interpreted as a Marian song, begins with “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom: Let it be”. ‘Let it be’ can be understood as ‘let go of it’ and ‘let it happen’. Although the text recalls a dream of Paul McCarthy, who saw his mother Mary saying “let it be”, it makes me think of the Virgin Mary’s response to the angel’s announcement: “let it be – let it happen to me as you have said” (Lk 1:38).

Mary accepted God’s will before the birth of Jesus, but her docility is even stronger under the cross. How difficult it must have been to say “let it be” in front of her son’s suffering! Yet in the Gospel we do not see Mary taking action to stop the Passion of her son. The Gospel says that Mary and the other women “stood near his cross”. The word “stand” strikes me very much. It is a passive attitude, which does not seem to demand much, but how difficult it can be. In fact, Jesus’ apostles did not manage to stand with Jesus under the cross.

That is why the title of the medieval sequence by Jacopone da Todi strikes me so much: “Stabat Mater” – “The Mother stood”. She does nothing else, but she manages to stay. Those who have accompanied people in great suffering know that what matters then is not to solve problems and do many things for them, but simply to be with them.

How difficult it is to stand or remain in suffering! It is difficult to watch the news reporting the suffering of various peoples, it is difficult to be with those who are sick, it is difficult to bear the feelings of loneliness. Mary was part of an oppressed people who hoped for liberation, her son was tortured and she seemed destined for a lonely life. Yet she stood.

In the “Stabat Mater” there is a beautiful verse that expresses a request for grace that I ask for myself and for you in this time of the Passion: “Iuxta crucem tecum stare, et me tibi sociáre” – “To be able to stand by the Cross with you, and to be in your Society”. Mary teaches us this.

2021-03-31 Daniel Nørgaard – Second year novice

 

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