Our Gentle Mother: Our Lady of Sorrows

In our daily life there are many sorrows, many tribulations we can go through. We all have a cross that we bear. I, of course, am no exception and sometimes I feel as if I am buried underneath its weight. The issue, however, is how we carry that cross--how we carry our sorrows. Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Mother, models for us what it means to carry our sorrows, for she carried hers with gentleness and courage.

 

The anguish of the Blessed Virgin as she stood at the cross of her son must have been devastating. It is devastating for any mother to see her child suffering and in pain. She even witnesses the suffering of her son in the life of the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ. One can only imagine what she was thinking at the foot of the cross. Perhaps, every scene from Christ's birth until that moment was flowing through her mind. I don't doubt as she caressed Our Lord after he was removed from the cross, that she held him with the all gentleness of a mother, every pain and sorrow permeating her. As her son was pierced with nails and a spear, so too was she pierced, receiving the grace of sharing in her son's cross by her agony, yet she bore this with gentleness and compassion, and she still bears her sorrows for us now. Throughout history Mary has appeared in visions, and these visions tell a story of the Blessed Virgin's gentleness in the midst of suffering. In many apparitions, Blessed Mary appears to those who are most in need of comfort, who are dwelling in the abyss of despair and distress. Several apparitions come to mind. The first is our Lady of Guadalupe. The vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe came during a time in Mexico's history when the indigenous people were suffering at the hands of their conquerors. The second vision that comes to mind is Our Lady of Knock, and I'm sure many of you Irish Catholics have heard of this apparition. In this vision, Our Lady appeared in County Mayo, Ireland during a period of famine and economic upheaval. Our Mother Mary is drawn to to the suffering of her children, and she comes with gentleness to give us comfort, and also to give us hope in her son.

 

Now, why do we honor a feast of Our Blessed Mother in which she is sorrowing? Feast days are supposed to be a celebration. The truth is we are joyful, and rightfully so. And the reason for this memorial feast? We have a mother, who suffers with us in our sufferings, who is compassionate when we are in the midst of our distress, and who is gentle in the midst of our pain, always leading us to share in the love of the Lord. She is always leading us to share in the bond of love between her and her son, between a mother and her child. This is a bond of love in which we have become participants because we are Christ's Body, and this bond of love will forever reveal the depth of Mary's love for Our Lord and his love for her, a bond of love so deep that she too suffers. This bond of love will reveal to us how to love Our Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of his Body and will teach us to carry our sorrows with gentleness and courage.

 

We live in a world now that has many pains and sorrows. We live with many wars going on around the world, and the Body of Christ is suffering terribly from persecution, especially in Iraq and in Africa. What can any of us do, but suffer with and pray for those around the world? Only by showing the love of Christ and our love for Christ can this world truly be transformed. Mary shows us how to love gently with courage even in the midst of sorrows and sufferings. She reveals to us the bond of love that she has for her suffering son, so that we may be sharers of that same bond of love and tend to the needs of the members of Christ's Body in the Church who are suffering, just as we too are suffering with them.