Meditation on the Picture of Grace

This is the picture of the Thrice Admirable Mother, Queen, and Victress of Schoenstatt – a picture of grace. It is a print of the original painting done by the Italian artist Luigi Crosio (1835-1915). The original title of this picture was “Refugium Peccatorum” – “Refuge of Sinners.” It is venerated in the shrine at Schoenstatt in Germany since 1915.

In the picture, we see Mary, the Mother of God, with her Child, Jesus. One is struck by the unity between Mother and Child. Mary holds her Child with both hands. Her left hand presses him to herself; her right hand holds his arm, and at the same time offers him upwards. Yet however much her attitude unites her with the Child, she holds him in a completely detached way. Is she waiting for someone to ask for her Child? Her eyes speak of this expectation.

The inner disposition of the Mother towards the Child is also expressed in the abundant folds of her cloak. While it envelops him in a protective and sheltering manner, it still permits us to view the divine Redeemer unhindered. Mary wants to lead all who entrust themselves to her to him.

In the picture, the veil surrounds both Mother and Child. It graphically proclaims that Jesus is the mystery of Mary’s heart. It is a sign of her virginity through which she is uniquely united with Jesus Christ.

Looking at the picture we find a deepened expression of the heartfelt unity between Mother and Child: the tone of the colors becomes deeper towards the center and leads one’s eye to the Mother’s heart. The Child rests there, while her hand rests at his heart. In this way heart is united to heart. Two hearts unite in one beat.

The heart is the innermost center of the spiritual life of a person.

St. Paul VI

The picture of the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen, and Victress of Schoenstatt, speaks of the fact that Mary’s heart is totally Christ-like: he determines her whole being. He is the content of her life. He is the one who possesses her heart, her love. Is it thus surprising that the features of the two are so strikingly similar?

And what about the Child?

The picture makes it quite clear that although the Mother is holding the Child, she is not carrying him. Another power seems to be doing so – what is it?

The clouds in the picture point symbolically to a world and power beyond our own. It is strength from the supernatural world, proceeding from the Eternal Father, which carries the Child. The Father lives in the deepest center of his Son’s being and guides all his actions. Jesus himself acknowledged this when he said to Philip: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself: it is the Father living in me who is doing this work” (Jn 14:10).

So it is that when we contemplate this picture of grace we realize: Our Lady leads all who attach themselves to her, to her Child, and there we find the Eternal Father.

The light surrounding the heads of Mary and Jesus, which can be seen all over the picture, originates from the Child. He is “Light from Light.” Whoever opens himself to Christ’s radiance will become a sign of light for others, as we see expressed perfectly in the image of Our Lady. It is God’s loving plan that Mary leads us out of the darkness in this world home to the Eternal Light.

Prayer

Mary, Mother of God, in your picture of grace you reveal yourself as the Mother Thrice Admirable, Queen, and Victress of Schoenstatt.

As Mother Thrice Admirable you are Mother of God, Mother of the Redeemer, but also our Mother. Deep love unites you with your divine Child, our Redeemer. It urges you to lead all who give themselves to you to him. My heart is the most precious of all the gifts you wish to give him. Therefore, I ask you: accept me, lead me, and all whom I love to your divine Son. I know that if I love you, my poor love is united with your great love for Our Lord. If I love you, my love for Jesus can grow and mature, experience shelter, warmth, and constancy. I ask you, give my heart to your divine Child. Let me find the Heavenly Father and his love in him.

Your eyes are always following me with kindness and love. Yes, they seek me wherever I am, wherever I may go. You see me in my joy and sorrow. You watch me when I follow God’s ways, but also when I stand at crossroads. You see the wrong ways I have followed. You see my struggles and my falls.

You see the people I bear in my heart with love and joy, but also often in distress and tears. You see everything that oppresses me and take it up into your loving heart.

You see it, just as at Cana you saw the needs of the wedding hosts. They had no wine left. And just as then, also today, you turn to your divine Son and say: “Lord, they have no more wine” (Jn. 2, 3) – the “wine” of health, stability, peace, joy, freedom, love, and faith. And at your word, he will work miracles of love and mercy, miracles of grace.

So, as your child and in your heart, I know that I am loved by you like the divine Child in your arms and together with all brothers and sisters of your Child. And so, you are in truth my Mother. I thank you Mother Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt for all your love.

I also look up to you as Thrice Admirable Queen.

The radiance, which surrounds you, flowing out from your Child, points to your queenship. According to the will of the Eternal Father you bore the anguish and death of the cross in loyal love together with your Son. Now you may also share in his royal glory and power in a unique way.

As “Suppliant Omnipotence” at the throne of God, you see to the building up of his kingdom in our world. You wish to do so in a special way from your places of grace.

Your eyes, O Queen, ask for my contributions. You ask for my witness, my prayer, and my sacrifice so that the kingdom of the Father may grow in the hearts of many in our world.

Bind my weakness to your strength. Let a covenant of love be born between you and me.

Then I may trust that you will prove to be the Thrice Admirable Victress!

I ask, be the Victress in my heart. With your love, conquer all that is contrary to God there.

But also, be the Victress in all the battles of God which must be fought in this world. Lead us to Christ and through him in the Holy Spirit into the heart of the Eternal Father, for your honor and for the glory of the Triune God. Amen.