Today the Church celebrates the Sorrows of Our Lady, or as it used to be called in our Dominican calendar, the Compassion of Our Lady. I like the notion of compassion better; it means, from the Latin “patior cum”: I suffer with . . . Our Blessed Mother suffers with her divine son, whose destiny and vocation were to suffer in atonement for the sins of the world, to shed his blood, to become the paschal lamb of the new covenant whose blood would keep the angel of death from striking where the blood was present. To become the mother of the Savior, Our Lady had to take upon herself the role of a compassionate mother—a mother who suffers with her son. Did she understand clearly what was being asked of her at the time of the annunciation? Much ink has been spilled over this question in the history of spirituality. We will not know for sure until we get to heaven. But if she did not know it then, she surely knew it at the moment of our Lord’s presentation in the temple. When he was forty days old, she and Saint Joseph brought him to the temple to fulfill the ritual requirements of Judaism. The old prophet Simeon took the baby into his arms, rejoicing that he had seen the promised Savior, and he said in ominous prediction: this child will be the cause of the rise and fall of many in Israel, and then to Our Lady, he said, And a sword will pierce your soul. The shadow of those terrible words were always before her. It was not until Easter morning that that burden was removed from the heart of Our Blessed Mother. Let us remember that love can be a cause of suffering. Certainly one of the causes of Jesus’s sufferings on the cross was the sight of his mother suffering below him. And of course, she knew that. Each of them becomes for the other a source of pain; it belongs to the nature of love to grieve over the pain of the beloved. Our Lord tells us in the gospel, If you want to be a follower of mine, take up your cross and follow me. We do that the best we can, and we meet Our Lady on the Via Crucis, the way of the cross. He gives her to us as our mother and our model in carrying our crosses as she carried the immense cross of Our Lord’s sufferings and death. But, all that will end with the eternal Easter to which we are destined. So let us take up our crosses, follow Our Lord in company with his mother, and use our sufferings as they used theirs, for the salvation of souls. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This Message was composed some years ago.