I remember the first time, as a wide-eyed freshman, that I saw the Grotto at the University of Notre Dame, as well as Mary’s statue atop the Golden Dome. Those images of her made me feel right at home because I had grown up valuing devotion to the Mother of God. Yet it was only in the Congregation of Holy Cross that I encountered Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows.
At first I failed to resonate with this image of Mary. But through my ministry in Holy Cross, I have developed a growing appreciation for her under this title. The more I have worked among those who suffer—whether with recent immigrants, people with AIDS, and struggling families in suburbia, or with those in soup kitchens, hospices, nursing homes, and homeless shelters—the more kinship I have felt with Jesus, who suffered and died for us, and with his Mother Mary, who stood with her Son at his Cross.
In God’s wisdom and goodness, Mary bore much sadness that she could not understand—she heard the prophecy of Simeon, escaped from Herod’s jealous rage, lost her Son for three days and found him in the temple, met him on the way to Calvary, watched him die on the cross, held his lifeless body, and ultimately witnessed his burial. And so, in her, our Lord’s first and truest believer, we can find a channel of faith and hope in the midst of the crosses of our lives. For through Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, Christ continually offers his saving grace to all God’s children.
Fr. Michael Belinsky, C.S.C., a member of the United States Province, wrote this reflection for the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, who is the patroness of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Fr. Belinsky currently serves as Associate Pastor at Holy Redeemer Parish in Portland, Oregon. The image of Our Lady of Sorrows was painted by Fr. Ronald Patrick Raab, C.S.C., also a member of the United States Provinces, and currently the Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Colorado Springs, Colorado.