The Church has long pondered the suffering and joys of the Blessed Virgin Mary as she accompanied her Son and shared in his redeeming work. There has long been devotion to her “Seven Sorrows”: The prophecy of Simeon, when he announced not only that Jesus would be a sign of contradiction pointing to the ruin and resurrection of many but that her own heart would be pierced with a sword; the flight into Egypt after Herod’s henchmen were trying to assassinate her and God’s little boy; the loss of Jesus for three days at the age of 12; meeting Jesus on the Way to Calvary; seeing Jesus suffer and die on the Cross; receiving Jesus’ body into her arms at the foot of the Cross; and placing Jesus’ body in the tomb.
Today is a day, first on which we ponder Mary’s suffering for her Son, what it must have felt like to have her heart and soul pierced in these ways. As we prayed in the Stabat Mater Sequence before the Gospel, “Is there one who would not weep, ‘whelmed in miseries so deep, Christ’s dear Mother to behold?” But our meditation is not supposed to stop there. By God’s grace it’s meant to lead us to compassion, to suffering with Mary. We pray in that Sequence words we should take seriously: O sweet Mother! font of love, touch my spirit from above, make my heart with yours accord. Make me feel as you have felt; make my soul to glow and melt with the love of Christ, my Lord. Holy Mother, pierce me through, in my heart each wound renew of my Savior crucified. Let me share with you his pain, who for all our sins was slain, who for me in torments died. Let me mingle tears with thee, mourning him who mourned for me, all the days that I may live. By the cross with you to stay, there with you to weep and pray, is all I ask of you to give. Virgin of all virgins blest! Listen to my fond request: let me share your grief divine. Let me to my latest breath, in my body bear the death of that dying Son of yours.” Today we ask her for the grace to share her grief divine, to join our tears to hers, to bear in our body the death of Jesus so that we might in turn share his life.
But Mary’s heart is pierced not only by the sufferings of her divine Son Jesus, but also all her spiritual sons and daughters given to her in the Annunciation carried out by her Son hanging upon the Cross, when he, seeing Mary and his beloved disciple, St. John, at the foot of the Cross said, respectively, “Woman, behold your son” and “Behold your mother.” And like any Mother, this “Holy Mother” mourns and weeps and suffers whenever she sees any of her children suffer. A couple of weeks ago we pondered the example of St. Monica who wept for 32 years for the conversion of her husband, mother-in-law and son, St. Augustine. If she wept that much, how much more will the sinless Virgin Mary weep for the conversion of all God’s prodigal sons and daughters? How much will she weep for us when we choose against her Son? How much will she weep for those who don’t know him and his love or wander far from him, lost in life?
- Fr. Roger J. Landry