As most of this readership still sleeps, we are wrapping up our time in Rome.  One more session this early afternoon, then the American Bishops will go to the North Amercian College for a welcome from the priests and seminarians there.  Most of us will depart Rome to return to our respective dioceses in the morning.

One final image from the week, which has been with me much of this week.  As you all know, we celebrated this week the feast of the Exultation of the Cross, followed the very next day by the feast of Our Sorrowful Mother.  Liturgically, I never made the connection between the two quite as closely as I did this year.

Certainly, on the Exultation of the Cross, we celebrate the power of Christ´s redeeming love; the power of the gift of His giving Himself completely for our salvation.  We celebrate the fullness of the Paschal Mystery, of Christ´s death and resurrection, and our call to participate in that Mystery.

The very next day, the Church in Her wisdom directs our attention to the Blessed Mother, ¨who remained at the foot of the cross¨during the crucifixion of her Son.  It is from the cross that Christ entrusts His mother to the beloved disciple, John.  It is from the cross that Christ entrusts John (the Church) to His mother. 

We are all called to realize that we are called to nurture our relationship not only with Christ, but also with His mother, Mary.  As John was given Mary, and Mary was entrusted to John, we as members of Christ´s mystical body are called to cultivate our life in Christ through Mary.  Mary is a great model for us in how we are to remain with Christ through all circumstances of life.

Mary is a great teacher of how we are to keep our eyes on Christ during our own sufferings, which are a part of our following Jesus.  She teaches us how to ¨simply remain with Him¨ in all the vicissitudes of life.  When we carry the cross, we do so with the knowledge that Christ is Risen!, and that is our hope!

Mary at the foot of the cross is an icon of the Church, who is also called to remain at teh foot of the cross.  Mary at the foot of the cross represents all those who suffer in the Church; of all of suffering humanity.  She is with us in all our moments of suffering and pain to sustain us and to hold us before the redeeming love of her Son.

Jesus, when He called His disciples asked them to do nothing concrete, other than to follow Him.  Jesus calls each of us by name.  May we continue to give appropriate attention to this foundational relationship in our life.  May we strengthen our efforts to follow only Him, that our concrete actions may have meaning and purpose, and help to Spread the Good News that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

Mary, Queen of Peace, Pray for us.