Yesterday we celebrated the feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross. Today, we have its companion celebration in the prayer life of the Church—the commemoration of Our Lady of Sorrows. There is a very close connection, since all of the joys of her divine Son were Mary’s joys, too, and all his sufferings were hers as well.
It might strike us as somewhat contradictory that Our Lady says in her Magnificat, “From now on, all generations will call me blessed (a word which means ‘happy’)” but yet we have a great devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady as we often refer to them. How can these both be true? They can both be true when we look at her entire life taken together. She suffered greatly, yes, but she also played a very important role in the salvation of millions of human beings by suffering with her Divine Son in his redemptive sufferings.
Our friend Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, as always, has beautiful things to say about Our Lady in referring to her as Our Sorrowful Mother. He says, meditating upon her sufferings on Calvary at the foot of the cross, “Were those words, ‘Woman, behold your son’ not more than a sword to you, truly piercing your heart . . . ? What an exchange! John is given to you in place of Jesus, the servant in place of the Lord, the disciple in place of the Master, the son of Zebedee replaces the Son of God, a mere man replaces God himself!” Later in that same passage which the Church offers us in the Liturgy of the Hours for today, Saint Bernard asks rhetorically “Had she not known before that he would die? Undoubtedly. Did she not expect him to rise again at once? Surely. And still she grieved over her crucified Son? Intensely!” And finally Saint Bernard concludes by saying: He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his.
She stood at the foot of his cross for what must have seemed an eternity of immense pain. But then, after his terribly tortured body had lain in the tomb for about forty hours, he rose from that tomb, and now her joy will truly NEVER end, and we will call her blessed in all our generations and ages to come. Thus she is our Sorrowful Mother for a time, but our Joyful Mother forever. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.