Our Lady of Sorrows: Suffering with Others to Give Hope

Author: Rev. Alexander Susai, C.S.C.

Our Lady of Sorrows Icon, Copyright Anthony Stachowksi, CSC

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” These are the words of Archangel Gabriel to our Blessed Virgin Mary at the moment of the Annunciation. The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows might make us wonder how a lady full of God’s grace and who is blessed with the Lord Himself becomes a lady of sorrows!

As we deeply ponder upon the life of our blessed mother, we will certainly discover that she is more intimately united with the Lord Jesus than any other human person in history. From the moment of Annunciation until today, she is very close to Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, in fulfilling God’s plan of salvation. In a unique manner she participates in both the sorrows and glories of our Lord Jesus Christ because of her full collaboration and total involvement in the divine plan of God. That is why we celebrate that closeness in every liturgical year.

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Like her son Jesus, she too bore much suffering.  According to Tradition, Mary suffered seven sorrows in her life: 1) the prophecy of Simeon, 2) the flight into Egypt, 3) the loss of the child Jesus in the Temple, 4) the encounter with Jesus carrying the Cross, 5) the standing at the foot of the Cross and the crucifixion, 6) the reception of the body of Jesus in her arms, and 7) the burial of Jesus.

The word “compassion” comes from Latin, com-passion meaning “to suffer together with” (cum = with, passion = to suffer). Mary suffers for Jesus, and she also suffers with Jesus, for the passion of Christ is a full participation of all the sufferings of human beings. The passion of Christ deeply wounded her immaculate heart, because she loved her son more than herself. She not only bore the pain of her son but also united with him in accepting the will of His Father, to give new life to human beings. This really reveals how profound her compassion is for her son Jesus and for each one of us her children. Her compassion (to suffer with) is filled with faith, love, and hope in God.

As Christians, we are called to share in the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, so let us draw strength and courage from our Blessed Lady of Sorrows, to embrace our daily crosses with hope and to witness our true love of God and our neighbors in bringing God’s kingdom of love, peace, joy, justice, and fellowship amidst hatred, conflicts, violence, depression, sadness, injustice, and self-centeredness.

Our blessed Mary with her glorious intercession is helping us to understand the mystery of the cross and the hope it brings. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us, your children, to be compassionate like you.

This reflection was written for the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows by Rev. Alexander Susai, C.S.C., the Novice Master at the Congregation's Novitiate in India.

Read other reflections by Holy Cross brothers and priests