Our Lady of Sorrows: Mary and Suffering

Author: Fr. Jacquy Dagobert, C.S.C.

Stained Glass Of Our Lady Of Sorrows In The Generalate Chapel In Rome

In its teaching and its way of proposing to us models to follow in order to grow and mature in the faith, the Church today gives us the opportunity to contemplate and reflect on Mary, on her importance in the history of the revelation of God and the salvation of humanity as Our Lady of Sorrows. This dimension of suffering in the life of Mary permits us to see and understand her capacity and openness to surrender herself ever more to the plan of God. Taking a brief look at the attitude of Mary in these seven moments of sorrow that she lived, we can perceive that there is a hope in a plan that goes beyond her own will and that gives her a sense of serenity, calmness, and perseverance.

In the prophecy of Simeon—“and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:35)—the second part of the verse reminds us why the sword perceived the soul of Mary. Every time the suffering became more acute in each of these moments, the firmer the hope and faith of Mary became; likewise, the purpose and mission that accompanied the suffering of the Mother of our Savior manifested itself with greater clarity.

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To speak of Our Lady of Sorrows in today’s society is to speak of the swords that are perceiving the hearts of the mothers whose children have died in wars, who children have drowned at sea, whose children have died of hunger, whose children are now homeless, without home or family, whose children have been abused. These sufferings ought to call our attention not only to have the same hope and firmness of faith of Mary that conquers our will in the plan of God, but also to act from what is most human within us—getting our hands a little dirty in order to provide little lights of love, justice, and peace. We hope that after each sorrow we can say, “May your will be done, in heaven and on earth.”

The attitude of Mary in the face of the suffering of her son was not passive. She accompanied him in the silence and simplicity of her heart, in humility, in meditation, in contemplation, in the prayer, above all, of the love of a mother for a son. I would like to underscore in this brief reflection: Suffering is part of the reality of being human. In whatever moment, it can touch us—perhaps more harshly, more strongly for some of us than for others. What is essential above all is the ability to act like Mary within our human capacities, our sensibilities, and our mercy.

School Children in Haiti

As we celebrate Our Lady of Sorrows, we have our Mother Mary as a model to follow when we are struck by the more painful and sorrowful moments of life. We do not need to let ourselves be paralyzed or disoriented by them. We must trust in the plan of God, looking always for his will in every moment of our lives. May the Lord, through Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, continue to strengthen us not to fall in the face of suffering.

This reflection for the Solemnity of Our Lady of Sorrows, the Patronal Fest of the Family of Holy Cross, was written by Fr. Jacquy Dagobert, C.S.C. He is a member of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Province in Haiti, where he serves as the Director of Postulants.