Our Lady of Sorrows: Drawing Strength from the Word

Author: Br. Stephen Binoy Gomes, C.S.C.

Our Lady of Holy Cross in the Chapel at the Generalate

We need to understand the effect produced in the heart of Mary by this sevenfold sword. To express it we would need to comprehend the tremendous love that Mary had for her Son, and her passionate desire and burning zeal for our salvation. No one could ever probe the depths of the love of the Mother of God for her Son as well as the no less incomprehensible love she has for us. -- Christian Meditations by Blessed Basile Moreau

Blessed Basile Moreau gave us Our Lady of Sorrows as Our Lady of Holy Cross, because she loved us tremendously and has a “passionate desire and burning zeal for our salvation.” He gave her to us as the Patroness of the Congregation of Holy Cross. We call her Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows. Did she really have only seven sorrows? Certainly not! She was a wife of a poor carpenter. She must have gone through a lot of financial hardships. She went through many sufferings, but the Church summed up all her sufferings into seven, which are the major events in the life of Christ. They are: the Prophecy of Simeon, the Flight into Egypt, the Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple, Meeting Jesus Carrying the Cross, Standing at the Foot of the Cross, Mary Receiving the body of Jesus in Her arms, and the Burial of Jesus.

Blessed Moreau must have thought that his daughters and sons would go through a lot of trials, hardships, and sufferings as he himself was going through at the time of the foundation the Congregation. He must have thought that by looking and reflecting on the sufferings of our Sorrowful Mother his daughters and sons would gain strength and encouragement to go ahead with their lives and ministries. So he gave us the Sorrowful Mother Mary as the Patroness of the whole Congregation.

“While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowed raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts at which you nursed.’ But He said, ‘On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it’” (Luke 11:27-28). Our Blessed mother listened to the Word of God, pondered over it, and put it into practice in her life; this helped her to bear all the sorrows in her life. This is why she is blessed. Jesus advises us all to listen to the Word of God and to observe it then like his mother.

“Whether it be unfair treatment, fatigue or frustration at work, a lapse of health, tasks beyond talents, seasons of loneliness,  bleakness in prayer, the aloofness of friends; or whether it be the sadness of having inflicted any of this on other ... there will be dying to do on our way to the Father” (Constitution 8:117). This Constitution reminds us that we will find so many hardships, trials, and sorrows in our day-to-day life. Reading, reflecting, and practicing the word of God will give us the strength and courage to face and deal with the different sorrows and suffering in our lives. “It is not merely we who pray, but His Spirit who prays in us. And we who busy ourselves in announcing the Lord’s kingdom need to come back often enough and sit at his feet and listen still more closely” (Constitution 3:31).

Read the Holy Cross Constitution on the Cross

In 1992 I was the director of Holy Cross Aspirancy, Narinda. The construction of the four-storied aspirant building was in progress. Our neighbors were creating a problem and campaigning in the area against the construction of the building. Their main goal was to stop the construction. They used different strategies:  They spread rumors that the Brothers of Holy Cross were constructing a twenty-two-storied hostel building, where hundreds of young people would live, and which would destroy the environment of the area.  One neighbor forcefully claimed our boundary wall on the east side of our property and stopped the construction of the building on that side. Another neighbor filed a false case against me in order to stop the construction of the building. This was the first case ever filed against me. I was very frightened by this. After discussing the matter in the local mosque after Friday prayer they filed a complaint with the Dhaka City Corporation, the Dhaka City Water Supply Department, the Dhaka City Electricity Supply Department, the City Development Authority, and even with the highest government official in the country. 

Eight Bangladeshi Brothers Celebrate Their Final Vows

People from different departments came to the Aspirancy at various times in order to determine whether we were using unfair means in construction. Tense, fearful, and in panic, I was wondering whether I would be able to complete the building on time. If not, the Aspirancy program would be hampered tremendously. 

One group of aspirants was staying at the site of the construction; another group was staying at St. Joseph High School, Mohammedpur, and a new group was about to arrive. The construction time was very limited. Every time the doorbell rang, the thought came to my mind that someone else must be coming from some other department to inspect something regarding the construction. I was living in constant tension and anxiety.

Personal prayer, praying with the aspirants, prayers of the members of the local communities, and support from community members helped me to overcome my tension and fear, and to complete the building. Br. Daniel Rozario, C.S.C., and Br. Marcel Duchesne, C.S.C., and Br. Bijoy Rodrigues, C.S.C., were my special support. Br. Daniel went with me to different families of the area to dispel the rumor regarding the building. Br. Marcel was in St. Gregory’s High School at that time. He came to visit the construction site from time to time. His presence was a great support for me. Bro. Rodrigues was the Principal of St. Joseph Technical School and was supervising the construction. I shared my painful feelings with him. Without the prayers and support of community members it would have been very difficult for me to complete the building for the Aspirancy in time.

We see in all the sorrowful events how Blessed Mary patiently accompanied her suffering Son Jesus. She was present up to the very end. She was present when Jesus was suffering and dying on the cross. It was the most painful moment for her Son. Her presence was very valuable, and it gave encouragement and support to Jesus, and it must have reduced his pain a bit.

Many people in our community as well as those outside are experiencing trials, sufferings, and hardships in their day-to-day life. The cause of suffering can be their relationships, work, health, family, education, etc. Our Patroness, the Sorrow Mother Mary encourages us to be present and to accompany them especially in their most painful moments. We should try to feel their pain as they do. We should try to understand them.

Br Stephen Binoy Gomes, CSC

This reflection was written for the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows by Br. Stephen Binoy Gomes, C.S.C., the Assistant Director of Holy Cross Scholasticate in Rampura, Dhaka, in Bangladesh. He is a member of the St. Joseph Province (Dhaka, Bangladesh).

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