"Anyone who had been present then on Mount Calvary would have seen two altars on which two great sacrifices were being offered: the one in the body of Jesus, the other in the heart of Mary" ~ St. John Crystostom
According the St. Augustine: "The cross and nails of the Son were also those of the Mother; crucified with Christ was also his mother." We hear this sentiment also from St. Bernard: "Love inflicted on the heart of Mary the tortures which the nails caused to the body of Jesus." Again from St. Bernardine: "At the very same time that the son was sacrificing his body, Mary was sacrificing her soul."
Mothers in general, when witnessing the death of their children do everything in their power to relieve the child's suffering. She speaks slowly, soothingly, she moves gently, smoothing their childs hair back ~ all touch and speech is directed at the comfort of the child and away from their own breaking heart. As a nurse, who for years worked in pediatrics, I have witnessed this scene several times. Each time is shockingly similar. Near the end, or at times of great distress, mothers (and fathers to a lesser degree) orient themselves totally and completely to the child. They seem to utterly forget their own suffering, which is great - and fly to the aid of the child. O how love begets sacrifice!
Mary was similarly obliged to attend the deathbed of her Son. Mary however could offer Jesus no relief. Mary was indeed a most afflicted mother. Jesus spoke "I thirst" and she could offer Him no drink. Perhaps she said, in the words of St. Vincent Ferrer "My son, I have only the water of my tears." As Jesus hung on a bed of torture by three nails, she could not place Him in a more soothing position. "In vain," says St. Bernard "she stretched forth her arms; they only sank back empty on her breast." She was unable to give Jesus the consolation He sought, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah, "I have trodden the winepress alone...I looked about and there was none to help; I sought, and there was none to give aid" (Isa 63:3, 5).
Who could console Him, who is Our God as He suffered upon His cross? ~ for all were his enemies! This was related by Mary to St. Bridget of Sweden: "I heard some say that my Son was a thief; others, that He was an imposter; others, that no one deserved death more than He did; and every word was a new sword of grief to my heart."
Think on all Mary offered on the altar of sacrifice, in union with The Lamb ~ for us.
O my Mother, keep me near you so that I may weep with you. I have good reason to shed bitter tears for the many times I have committed sins against my Savior. O Mother of mercy, I hope first through the death of my Redeemer, and then through your sorrows, to obtain forgiveness and eternal salvation. Amen+
(Source: The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus de Ligouri)