This is my article published today in FaithND, an online gospel reflection from the University of Notre Dame. Our Lady of Sorrows is the patroness of the Congregation of Holy Cross. READ THE ONLINE VERSION: CLICK HERE
September 15, 2016
Our Lady of Sorrows
Patroness of the Congregation of Holy Cross
Ronald Patrick Raab, CSC, ’78, ‘82M.Div, ‘90MA
Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Mary under the title Our Lady of Sorrows is the patroness of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the founding order of the University of Notre Dame. Mary’s faithfulness forms our religious community of brothers, sisters, and priests so that we, too, may stand next to human suffering. Mary models for believers how to befriend the sorrow that we simply cannot change or control in our world.
Simeon prayed a lifetime in the temple waiting to rest his eyes on Jesus. Simeon’s proclamation pierced Mary and Joseph’s parental expectations of Jesus. This encounter is Mary’s first of seven sorrows. Mary would watch her Son heal sick people and embrace the marginalized with tenderness. Mary would also trace the path to her Son’s death on the cross.
Mary still stands with us next to the cross of injustice and turmoil. I learn this posture of hope in Jesus’ redemptive love from people with little power, money, privilege, or education. As a Holy Cross priest, I continue to learn how to stand among people who face anguish with patience. I remain with Mary among the fragile and broken, waiting for the mercy of Jesus.
Mary’s first sorrow must have hurt the most. Simeon’s piercing words shocked Mary severely. I learned this insight a few years ago from a stranger who started drinking as a teenager. Her 30 years of consuming alcohol and drugs were not her first sorrow. She thought her addiction would hide her childhood sexual abuse even from herself. She turned to Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows for a compassionate response toward a lifetime of inconsolable suffering. She listens to Simeon today realizing even Mary’s first sorrow and her own are redeemed in Jesus the Christ.
O God of ancient and abundant mercy, help us listen to the voices of the weary and isolated with courage and hope. Through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, keep us vigilant in our efforts to serve all people most in need of forgiveness and peace. Receive the many sorrows of your people and help us stand patiently next to all human suffering with heartfelt hope in your Son, Jesus the Christ, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.