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Our Lady of Sorrows
I can’t tell you how deeply sorry I was to hear the news of your mother’s death. Please count on my prayers. It has been said that we can offer no greater prayer than that made of humble tears; I am sure we are both praying especially well right now.
I doubt it’s mere coincidence that today is the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, when the whole Church commemorates the incomparable sufferings of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As you bear your grief, you might want to look to her to learn how to bear it as God would have you. Our Lord did not wish to spare her the deepest sorrows. From the moment of Simeon’s prophecy, when he foretold to Mary that a “sword would pierce your heart,” through the desperate, midnight flight into Egypt when Jesus was just a baby, to the three days when as a boy he inexplicably disappeared, to his walk to Calvary, crucifixion, deposition, and burial, she bore in her heart the indescribable pain of seeing her only son suffer injustice, torture, and rejection. And since her heart was unmarred by selfishness, she loved him more than we can imagine, which only compounded her sorrow when she witnessed his sufferings. Why would Christ have not spared her these pains? The answer to that question lies hidden in the mystery of love and sacrifice, a mystery that no mind can penetrate, but every loving heart can grasp.
My dear niece, bring your sorrow to the feet of the Cross, where Mary accompanied her dying son. Stand there with her, mingle your tears with hers as together you contemplate the wounds of our Lord. You will find, as all the saints have found, that those tears will bring you closer to Christ; they will teach you to recognize his voice more readily. There on Golgotha his love will seep deeper into your soul, and you will emerge better able to bring that love to others.
A week ago we celebrated Mary’s birthday, and today we celebrate her sorrows. It reminds us that we can count on few things in this life, and one of them is suffering. We might as well learn from the experts how to live it well.