Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Mary, our Mother. This morning I struggle with the image of you suffering at the foot of the cross.
Having become more at home and accustomed to your heavenly presence. The gift is that you are here. Present. Mother. Always ready to show us the way. His Way. Your life and light shining as we hold a rosary. To listen, to learn and be changed by the fullness of your story that we will come to know.
Experiencing the ebb and flow, of suffering and Grace, that leads us into the deepest spaces of our own humanity. Our own place in the suffering.
Your courage was grown throughout your life. Your strength. Your confidence. Never reactive. You were one to move within and to ponder. You who bore the Word made flesh inside of you.
If I return again to the story of your teen motherhood, will I find you on this day? So young. Barely a woman. Setting out on the hillsides alone. Moving towards the witness of another miracle so many said was not possible. Elizabeth is pregnant. You are moving towards. Never running away. And that remained true your whole life. As you stood with your baby at the temple hearing Simeon’s words. As you grew in your motherhood always engaged, guiding, witnessing, hoping amid your daily life. Then along the sidelines as He ministered. Never losing sight of your own unwavering “yes” to love. From His conception to His death. From death unto life. And as witness again to the Spirit descending in the fullness of promise alive in the world.
You, as the young woman riding a donkey, trusting your husband’s faith in a dream, nine months pregnant in the darkness of the night. A baby not yet born. After His birth fleeing only for His protection. Three decades later your Son would ride a donkey in His entry into Jerusalem. And you would be called to fully enter the sorrow of the cross. Your mother confidence having been grown through the ongoing conditions of deeply trying times, the work, the hardness of life. But also, in the joys of life. You who invited the opening of His mission at a wedding feast. Who came to intimately know his friends, the men and the women that followed? Who watched in amazement as the crowds surrounded him in need and in awe? Yet also knowing the more who jeered, rejected and scorned Him. In the retelling of the Gospel, you seem to speak so few words. Yet remain striking in the depth and strength of your enduring presence. Even now.
Your heart will be pierced. Showing us, that if we focus too much on the harsher moments of what might lie ahead, we can lose sight of every gift of God in our path. We can lose sight of all we are called to do, to be, of Christ in these times. In ways only possible when we trust in His promises. He promised He would be there. He promised you would be ours. Your fiat. Continuing through time. With your own closeness with God, you did not lose sight of the One entrusted to your care, spilling your heart open to all suffering. Opening the room for Grace to pour forth in Spirit. Showing us Love comes in all forms. Some more painful than others. Yet all leading to the Way.
What did you ponder in these times? As so many times I can unravel in the worry of what might be or happen in life rather than moving towards His abiding Presence which allows me to bear the unfathomable costs of suffering held alongside His promise of Hope. A hard space to trust from our own wounding. But a way that allows our hearts to be carved more deeply with a truer Love. His Redemptive, Transformative Love. In the light of His Mercy. That shares the wonder of those first sightings of Jesus, Risen, outside the tomb. Restoring what had been lost.
Just as Peter sank into the water when he turned His gaze from Christ. We too can fall into the depths of suffering when we lose sight of God’s unwavering Love. The Hope that held you so deeply at the foot of the cross. Having nurtured that truth throughout your life, in all the ways you moved inward to ponder in prayer, the Word and His incarnation. Opening your heart to the One that would teach you never to let go. Showing us on this day maybe, that there is a difference to be found in the tears of one who trusts in God.
M J Walsh. In gratitude for the witness of the Passionist community through each vocation. For the sacred grounds dedicated to Mary’s seven sorrows at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California.