Our Lady of Sorrows          

            On this day, right after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, we remember and honor Mary under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows. With the sacrifice her Son underwent in Calvary, a sword truly pierced her heart. It should not be difficult for us to picture Mary as someone who is sorrowful, suffering with her Son, and with us, too. As a mother, Mary does not just helplessly watch us in our hardships, doing nothing at all. No. Absolutely not. She is there right beside us, assisting us in our difficulties and pains.

            For our part, we have to learn to accept the fact that such sufferings are ‘givens’ in life. We really just have to face them, take them, and make them work for us. The great Jesuit historian, Fr. Horacio de la Costa, used to say, “If you plan your life on the principle that suffering is to be avoided at all cost, you will fail.” And fail miserably, we may add.

            Indeed, we cannot avoid pain and suffering, hardship and difficulty. We might as well admit this reality, early on, from the very start. As M. Scott Peck writes in his book The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult, and the sooner we acknowledge this and go on living the best we can, the better.”

            Instead of trying to avoid pain and suffering – which, as we have said, we really cannot – we have to discover how to profit by it. We must learn to make pain and suffering, hardship and difficulty fruitful in our lives. In the case of Jesus and Mary, they both had their moment in Calvary. They are, for us, striking examples of suffering made fruitful, sorrows accepted, and consequently, made positive.

            Today’s Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows reminds us that we are always called to unite ourselves with the Lord. There are many reasons for our sorrows and pains; but only those that we suffer on account of our love for Jesus are worth enduring. Those pains and sorrows likewise give us the capacity to suffer for others whom the Lord loves. This is an essential element of Christian discipleship.

            We are not called to suffer only. We are called to suffer ONLY WITH Jesus. Through him, with him and in him, even sorrows become joys.          

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