My Faith

Praying With the Women of the Triduum

If you stop to really look at it, there are many “hidden” figures in the Bible — the not so obvious people lining the details of our favorite stories in Scripture. These men and women may take on a minor role in the pages of your Bible but they have the power to take on a major role in the pages of your own life.

This Triduum, I want to introduce you to some of those individuals— the lesser known teachers of our faith. Not much about them is recorded in Scripture, but all are beloved by the Church. Their stories have been handed down over the course of centuries and remain as causes for meditation within the context of the story of Christ’s Passion.

We know some by name, we know others simply by their attributes. But each we know by the characteristics they exemplify, the ones that teach us how to love Christ deeper and to share His love with others more profoundly.

These are the Women of the Triduum.

I invite you to take a journey with me through Christ’s death and Resurrection — to the path He walked to Golgotha, to His side as blood and water gushed forth, and eventually to the empty tomb. May these women teach you, this Easter season, more about the depth of God’s love for you.

Veronica: Compassion Toward the Suffering

Although Veronica doesn’t appear in the Gospels, it is believed that she met Jesus along the path to Calvary. According to tradition, she was moved with compassion during His agonizing walk — the cross heavy upon His shoulders — and offered her veil to wipe away the sweat and blood. He accepted her veil, and in doing so, left a miraculous imprint of His face.

This encounter teaches us so much about Christ’s response to our simple acts of charity. Whether or not Veronica believed in Christ’s innocence, she offers this man (guilty or not) something of her own in His time of need. She extends a hand of consolation and how does Christ respond? He offers her Himself in return.

Whenever we reach out to the lowly, the hurt, the marginalized, Christ offers us Himself in response. He says, as Matthew reminds us in his Gospel, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). When we reach out to Him, when we open our heart to Him, He remains with us. He makes a lasting imprint upon us and we are never the same.

The Women of Jerusalem: Authenticity in Suffering

“And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.'”” (Luke 23:27-28)

Jesus meets the Women of Jerusalem on the road to Calvary. He hears their cries and knew intimately the pain and sorrow in their hearts for Him, yet He is quick to challenge them to keep perspective — to remember His cross. What these women likely did not know — as it was only revealed (at the time) through prophecy — was that His death wasn’t the end. The darkness of the cross was to be fulfilled with the light of His Resurrection.

The Women of Jerusalem teach us the power of authenticity. They are authentic in their expression of fear and sorrow, yet Christ calls them on to an ever deeper authenticity in amending their sins and seeking the hope that truth reveals. He weeps with us over our own crosses, but then reminds us of His. His cross has the power to heal our wounds. If only we keep our eyes on Him and rest in His love.

Mary the Mother of God: Trust in the Will of God

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Mag′dalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:25-27).

What a ride it must have been for Mary. She began her journey with Christ by saying “yes” to becoming His mother when an angel appeared. This “yes” propelling her onto a path that twisted and turned through the ups and downs of Christ’s life and ministry. A path that ultimately came to a resounding climax at the cross … And it was there at the cross that the sword Simeon prophesied (Luke 2:35) would become unsheathed and pierce her holy heart.

Mary teaches us an ultimate lesson about our life in Christ: No matter what we see right before us — no matter the pain or the joy — God’s will is the only will that has the power to completely fulfill us. She had every right to come completely undone that dark day in Jerusalem, but she didn’t. Christ gave her a mission: “Woman, behold, your son.” He gave His disciple to Mary and, really, to all of us.

Mary’s presence to the events of the Triduum teaches us that Christ’s will can even be found in our darkest of days — that His plan for our lives is rooted much deeper than the broken or dry ground. Mary’s presence at the cross (along with Mary Magdalene, and Mary the wife of Clopas) shows us the beauty and fierceness of a woman. When all but one of Jesus’ disciples fled, three women remained — steadfast and faithful to the agonizing end. Mary’s presence at the cross is a cause for great meditation on how you and I can stand at the foot of Christ’s cross ourselves and offer our very own crosses to Him for redemption.

Mary Magdalene: Zeal for the Mission of Christ

“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.’ Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?’ Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rab-bo′ni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’

Mary Mag′dalene went and said to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her” (John 20:11-18).

Jesus gave Mary Magdalene an incredible gift. He didn’t have to appear to her. He could’ve appeared to John or Peter or James or even His sinless mother. But, He chose to appear to Mary of Magdalene… the same sinful Mary who Jesus miraculously drives demons out of in Luke chapter 8.

Mary’s presence at the tomb teaches us a few things that should elicit joy in every one of us. First, her presence teaches us that Christ sees us when we call out to Him. Again — He didn’t have to appear to her, but He did. He appeared to her in exactly the way she needed Him to. Second, her zeal for the Lord caused her to share His message. She didn’t fold this experience inside her pocket like a hidden secret. No, she “went.” Mary didn’t stay silent. She acted upon this good news; she went forth and shared the good news of Christ.

Mary’s presence teaches us that we are valued by God — that He has a perfect plan for our lives and desires to share that plan if only we seek Him.

During this holy season, which woman of the Triduum are you most drawn to? I encourage you to pray with her and ask her to draw you into deeper love with your Savior — the Savior who will teach you the ways of compassion, authenticity, trust, and zeal.

About the Author

Rachel Penate

I am a Wisconsin girl at heart who has a slight obsession with the band Switchfoot. When I was little I dreamed of becoming a professional figure skater, but instead found myself studying Education. Currently I reside in the great, yet terribly hot state of Arizona and am neither a figure skater or teacher - I joyfully serve the Church as Assistant to the Executive Vice President of Life Teen. When I'm not typing away at my desk, I'm spending time with my family, working out, or relaxing with my nose buried in a book. Follow me on Twitter @LT_RachelP or on Instagram @bookmamareviews.