A smiling Mary holding a lively Christ Child is much more appealing to me than Mary holding her Son’s body at the foot of the cross.
But although I would prefer to stay with the lighter, joyful images, as time goes on I realize the importance of focusing on how our Blessed Mother faced grief and loss.
Because as much as we might like for the greatest challenge in life to be greeting Jesus in a stable, life asks so much more from us. And it is in watching how she faced those moments herself, as we reflect on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows today, that we see her strength, her courage, her love.
A wooden carving of “Virgen de los siete dolores y Madre de todos los que lloran” (Virgin of the Seven Sorrows and Mother of all those who cry) by Spanish artist Francisco Romero Zafra, is displayed in a church in Seville, Spain. (CNS photo/Marc elo del Pozo, Reuters)
Even in those dark days before the Resurrection, we see that she is full of conviction that Jesus is still very much with her—and each of us. If Mary can have faith and hope even before she experiences the glory of our Risen Lord on Easter Sunday, how can anything plunge us into despair?
But as time goes on, I realize that the face of a grieving but faithful Mary may be asking even more of me. Because the Blessed Mother, gazing in peaceful sadness on the face of her dying Son, is not simply offering me strength during difficulty. I believe she is also asking me to consider that I do not know the weight of the burden another person is carrying.
Even as Mary portrays strength even through her loss, I cannot fully understand the pain in her heart. That is true of every person I encounter every day.
Perhaps that more than anything is what I need to keep in mind—not just to think of Mary’s sorrows, but to recognize the sorrows others carry, and to encounter them with peace, grace, and understanding.
I can’t change the world, but I can certainly be gentler and more open to how I interact with others.
“The smallest thing when done for the love of God is priceless,” said St. Teresa of Avila.
Maybe today we can do something small for the love of God.