Whatever sorrows life brings, there is someone who can empathize with you. Through her Seven Sorrows (Catholics celebrate this feast today), Our Blessed Mother reveals herself as a model of faith whom you can always confide in, the one who can stand with you at the foot of whatever cross you’re bearing and say, “I’ve been there.”
The Prophecy of Simeon
As Mary and Joseph offer their Son to the service of the God, their hearts are filled with joy. But in an instant Mary’s happiness is lost in sadness as Simeon foretells the pain for herself, her Son, and his followers.
The Presentation reveals motherhood’s inextricable double helix of love and heartache. Mary knows she and her son are going to suffer. And so will we. But as our Mother of Sorrows understands, sometimes God asks us to look beyond our immediate pain and to accept suffering for a greater purpose.
The Flight into Egypt
What are you running away from? An addiction? A sinful past? Mary and Joseph have good reason to run: To spare their Son the wrath of King Herod.
Certainly, Mary was frightened as her ears were filled with the mournful cries of the Innocents of Bethlehem. And yet, through her anguish Mary has the Christ-Child in her arms. When we feel abandoned or fearful of what lies ahead, we, too, must keep Jesus close and put our trust in him.
The Loss of Jesus in the Temple
We lose many things in life – jobs, friends, loved ones, and hope. Mary doesn’t understand Jesus’ answer when she asks, “Why have you done this to us?” Nonetheless, she accepts it. We should do the same.
We also must remember there’s one thing we can never lose. Even when we feel Christ has vanished from our lives, he’s there in the Eucharist, here in our hearts. All we have to do is look for him.
The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross
Mothers hate to see their kids suffer and want to protect them with a fierceness only a mother can understand. Yet, there’s only so much we can do. They’re going to have to endure insults, scourges, and humiliation. They’ll have crosses to carry. Sometimes we might be able to lighten their load, to share the pains of their thorns, to put Band-Aids on their hurts. Other times all we can do is to take a step back, to helplessly watch as Mary did, and to pray that through their suffering they will come to know Jesus with a deeper and more intimate love.
Mary watched her son die on the cross and in doing so, she took maternal empathy to new heights. But her thoughts went out to all those who suffer, not just mothers who have lost a child. She also showed us what it means to forgive. Her son endured great agony and died on the cross to save us all. Yet, there are so many who don’t appreciate his sacrifice. We continue to crucify him with our sins. It would so easy for Mary to hate all of us who betray Christ with our actions. Instead, Mary and Jesus choose to forgive and to love us all despite our weaknesses. May we learn to do the same.
Jesus is taken down from the Cross
Joseph of Arimathaea took the body of Jesus down from the cross, and His Mother received Him into her arms. With the lifeless, bruised body of her son in her arms, all Mary has left is faith in God’s eternal promise. When all seems lost, when in our arms we hold our deep sorrow, we must turn our eyes to the Most Blessed of Believers and trust that we do not suffer in vain.
Jesus is laid in the Tomb
Our Lady faced insurmountable agony; yet, she never lost hope. And for good reason. On the third day, he rose again. Like Mary, we have to bury our pain, believe in the mystery of the cross, and wait with hopeful hearts for the fruits of our suffering to be revealed.
*This article was originally published in Canticle.