WHEN (SIMEON) TOLD our Lady that the effect of her Son's appearance in Israel would be to reveal the thoughts of many hearts, he gave her this additional piece of information: "Thy own soul a sword shall pierce." Other people's hearts will unfold their goodwill, or their wickedness, to a more or less degree, as they come in contact, to a more or less degree, with this little Son of yours. but you, who have been closer to him, who will always be closer to him than any other, your heart will be torn open as with a sword for all the world too the treasures it contains.
That prophecy, as we know, was verified on Calvary. When we contemplate our Lady in the stable, by the crib, the beauty of her is blinding enough, as she is lit up by the rays of the Child she holds in her arms. The humility which he showed in coming to earth is reflected in the humility with which she adapts herself to those wretched surroundings, the dark cave, and the manger, and the cold. The kindness of God our Saviour which appeared, St. Peter tells us, in his coming down to redeem us from our sins, is reflected in that love which lights up her features; all that love drawn from him and given back to him. But we have not yet really seen the Heart of Mary.
The Heart of Mary is not torn open, exposed fully to our view, until we see her standing beside the Cross; the great fire of charity which burned in the Heart of the Crucified playing on her features as she stands there, and lighting them up with a glow as red as the glow of martyrdom. We have not really seen the Heart of Mary until we learn to recognize the amazing considerateness with which she allowed him, all his life, to take his own course, though she knew where that course would lead, never asking him to hold back from the thought of what it would mean to her; until we learn to guess something of the compassionate love with which she grieved over the outrages done to him; grieved, in doing so, over our sins, and offered her satisfaction for them in union with his. That sword of sorrow opens to us the Heart of our Lady, as the centurion's lance opened for us the Heart of our Lord.
- Ronald A. Knox