“Monotropa uniflora, also known as the ghost plant, Indian pipe, or corpse plant, is a herbaceous perennial plant native to temperate regions of Udmurtiya in European Russia, Asia, North America and northern South America, but with large gaps between areas. It was formerly classified in the family Monotropaceae; however, it has now been included within the Ericaceae.”
That’s just in case you had to know that.
I took these pictures close to the hermitage some years ago, not that far from the parish. These guys need no chlorophyll. The rain-forest canopy where these guys sprout up in abundance year after year blocks out pretty much all sunshine just at that point on the high ridges some thousands of feet up. I’m not sure what the following is, but I’m guessing they’re a mutation of the same thing.
The appropriateness of giving such a “flower” to our Blessed Mother is debatable I suppose, but I think it has merit on Holy Saturday when our Lord’s corpse lay in the tomb. While His soul had departed, His divinity was always with both His soul and His body, as the Common Doctor says.
Islam rejects that Jesus died. The “prophet” couldn’t love us that much! Only God could do that, and we reject that Jesus could be God, because God is toooooo hoooolyyyyy to do such a thing as to come into this world to stand in our stead so as to pay the price in His own justice to have mercy on us! No! He can’t! That’s tooooo loving, tooooo good, tooooo kind. No! (And then they proceed to cut off kids’ heads, burn kids alive, crucify people, on and on with all their hatred.
That gives us just a hint about what Satan was up to in having Jesus tortured to the point of death, but not wanting Jesus to die. Because then, what would happen? We would say and do say that the lifeless body of the Word of God speaks resoundingly of love that is stronger than death. He’s dead! He made it! Yes! He redeemed us! He’s taken our place! He has the right in justice to have mercy on us! His corpse keeps on speaking, “Father, forgive them!” And we: “For the sake of His sorrowful passion (justice), have mercy on us and on the whole world (mercy).”
The last thing that Satan wanted is that Jesus actually die. Satan wanted Jesus to give up, to come down from the cross. But He stayed. He is now the victor over death with His love that is stronger than death. Good Friday isn’t about gore and torture and death. It’s about the enthusiasm of Jesus’ love that disdains such pain and dying so that He might see us finally assent to the magnitude of His love for us.
A corpse flower? Sure! His death was already a victory even before the resurrection. Mary knew that He was making all things new. But holding an ever so fragile corpse flower in her hands, what might her thoughts be? Would her grief be terrible? Yes. Would she feel sorry for herself? Not on your life. Would she remember the first three days of darkness when Jesus was only found three days later teaching in the temple as a young Bar Mitzvah? Yes, and she would therefore be wondering what work it is that Jesus would be doing before He would rise from the dead. I’m sure that that work was evident to her. She would have been cheering Him on, repeating quietly: “Go get ’em, Jesus! Go get ’em.”
Here’s the deal: after Jesus died on the Cross, he descended into hell, just as we profess in the Creed every Sunday and major solemnity, every time we recite the creed for plenary indulgences, every time we say the rosary. What was He doing there? He was preaching to the damned spirits, the fallen angels and their minions. He was telling them the truth of the matter, and they had to listen to His words, which do now and will forever smash them into terrible frustration. Their infused knowledge is turned in on itself. Jesus’ words would produce an eternity of intense frustration. There’s simply no other word for it.
And Mary, surely, repeating quietly: “Go get ’em, Jesus! Go get ’em,” ever so proudly holding a corpse flower in her hands.
And, yes, Jesus, her Son, will rise from the dead, and will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.
And she is filled with wonder, and her enthusiasm builds as she waits for her soon to be risen Son to visit her. She has faith that He will rise from the dead as He said. She doesn’t go to the tomb with spices to pack the body round about for proper burial. It doesn’t have to be done. The Magdalene will not find Mary the Mother of Jesus at the tomb. Jesus will instead find His mother alone, still twirling the corpse flower in her hands, He then taking it ever so very gently from her, and then tossing it aside…
What a meeting!