I have three children. For each one of them, a distinct moment has pierced my mama’s heart.
Number one: an elementary school conference room. My heart stopped beating at the word “autism.”
Number two: the emergency department at the local children’s hospital. My baby screamed; eight scrub-clad tormentors inserted all manner of needles and IVs into minuscule veins.
Number three: the back of an ambulance. My hands flexed outward in autonomic shock; my toddler moaned, strapped to a stretcher dwarfing his tiny frame.
The diagnosis was wrong; the heart problem healed; the concussion dissipated. The holes in my heart remain, though, a reminder of my share in the sufferings of Mary’s motherhood.
Mary, Mother of Sorrows
Shortly after Jesus’s birth, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple for his presentation, a Jewish custom for all first born males. It is there that they meet the prophet Simeon, who taking the child Jesus into his arms, says,
“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Luke 2: 34-35
This is the first of seven sorrows, moments in which Mary’s human experience as a mother intersects with her divine calling as the mother of God. From the beginning, Mary knows that her life as Jesus’s mother will be fraught with pain and suffering. Yet she does not ask for relief. Instead of running from the effects of her Fiat (her yes to God), Mary embraces them “so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” In other words, Mary opens herself up to sorrow so that her son might fulfill God’s promises and open wide the doors to mercy.
Mary stands beside us in our own maternal sorrows. She is there when we cry in secret, aching for the pain in our children’s lives. She is there when we fall to our knees in desperation, reeling from the situations or circumstances our children must endure. Mary is there when the pain of our children’s struggles is magnified by a mother’s heart. She knows the desire to take a child’s sufferings; she knows the anguish of realizing we cannot.
We can turn to Mary, Mother of Sorrows, in all our struggles. She will intercede on our behalf, asking God to grant us the grace to endure the challenges of motherhood. Like her son’s sacrifice on the cross, she knows the cup may not pass us by. But she will hold our hand and dry our tears while we face it, keeping us secure in the knowledge of God’s eternal love for his children.
- Pray the Sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary
- Place your written intentions at the feet of a statue of Mary
- Learn to say the Memorare
Prayer to Mary, Mother of Sorrows
Mary, the prophecy of Simeon quieted your joy. Be with us when our happiness is strained.
Mary, you fled to Egypt to protect your son. Be with us when we flee from danger.
Mary, you knew great anxiety when Jesus was lost in the temple. Be with us when we are afraid.
Mary, you met your son on his way to the cross. Be with us when we are discouraged.
Mary, you watched your son suffer in the crucifixion. Be with us when we feel helpless.
Mary, you were present when they pierced Jesus’s side. Be with us when it seems all hope is lost.
Mary, you watched your son be placed in his tomb. Be with us in our grief.
O Mary, Mother of Sorrows, you know great pain and joy. Intercede for us, oh mother, and lead us ever closer to your son.
This post is part of the Write31 Days challenge. To read the other posts in the series, click here.