Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, Painting by: Ronald Raab, CSC, 2018
September 15, 2019
Dear Followers of the Crucified,
Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, offers us a tender image of faith. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, stood next to the cross of Jesus. Zachariah foreshadowed such a death after Jesus’ birth. Mary spent her entire life lifting up the suffering of Jesus. She was unable to change the course of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. She beheld for the rest of us that pain and suffering leads us to Kingdom love. Her motherhood gives hope even today.
I have lived my priesthood deepening this image of Mary in prayer. She speaks to me. She consoles me. This image offers me a healing balm when my own life is unsteady and unsure. She speaks loudly across the generations. All mothers seem to understand such a place and posture in their lives with their children.
I remember as a child my own mother coming to the bathroom in the middle of night when I was sick. She held my forehead. I still hold such a gesture in my heart. This was truly a mother’s place in the course of raising a child. I can still feel her hand on me when I am ill today.
Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, is the Patroness of the Congregation of Holy Cross. She gives us consolation and helps us witness to the suffering of people. At Sacred Heart Church, there are several images of pierced heart of Mary with seven swords. The Seven Sorrows in the gospel reveals the many times Mary witnessed the suffering of her son.
I cling to the image that Mary stood next to suffering. This has become one of my sure foundations for ministry. I claim this posture in my priesthood when I anoint a child who is dying or steady my thumb to anoint a dying parishioner who I know has given his or her entire life to raising children and believing in Jesus.
I remember my twenty years of ministry among people with HIV/AIDS. In those early years, it was the mothers who would reach out me to pray with their child. The mothers wanted the best for their child who was suffering, especially when they felt so powerless because there was no remedy or cure. I have walked with many mothers to the graves of their children. They not only rely on Mary for help but also have become such witnesses in our world.
I pray for our children sleeping on concrete at our boarders, perhaps we can go beyond the political and see them as Mary views them. Perhaps we can see again our children being trafficked around the world. We can really see the mothers and daughters who survive the violence of war or the starvation from poverty.
Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, is not a pietistic notion of faith, but she is a real model for how to live our lives in Christ Jesus. She becomes a radical mother bringing mercy and tenderness to lives when suffering cannot be changed. She could not fix Jesus. She could not take his pain away. However, she gives us the joy of putting our faith into practice among the vulnerable and lonely.
Lean into the mystery of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows,