We are uncomfortable with sorrow. Most of us avoid being with people who are sad. Death is still taboo in our society. Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, formerly the seven sorrows: the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the loss of the child Jesus in the temple, the meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross, the Crucifixion, taking down the body, and the burial.
I write this as the horrific news that an amber alert for a missing child has ended in tragedy with the discovery of her remains. Her father had been found dead and a suspect arrested apparently. I feel the anxiety and sadness in the updates. I suspect a multitude of prayers are being lifted to Heaven for closure. The sorrow must be immense for those who know her and her father.
The Church is given an option of either the prophecy of Simeon or Jesus giving Mary into John’s care and he into hers. As I read this second option, I realized that Jesus was taking care of his people in his dying moments. I had not really thought about this before–he was concerned right to the end about the details of the lives of the ones he loved. This was comforting to me in a new way. Since my sister passed away almost 23 years ago, I have had a sense that God is in the details of the dying, but this was a reminder of what I knew too but had not remembered–God is also in the details of those who sit at the bedside–or in front of the cross in this case–of those who linger between this life and the next.
Our lives have sorrow in them. We cannot avoid it if we live well and engage fully. Our Lady shows us the way as she meets each of the seven sorrows head on, even if she does not comprehend or is vexed. She She models strength and trust. Most of us may struggle to go through suffering with such grace so there is an invitation here to try to lean into the pain and be there for others. May we find courage for the hard road.
What is your reaction to the pain and sorrow of others?
How do you face your own inner struggles?
Our Lady who knew great sorrows
Teach us how to carry on
Pray for us that we might be
worthy of the promises of Christ
and be able to trust that we will survive
the testing in the fire.