15 September, Thursday — A mother’s sorrow

Sep 15 – Memorial for Our Lady of Sorrows

Different sorrows of Mary have been honoured in the Church’s history, but since the 14th century, these seven have come to be regarded as the seven ‘dolors’ (sorrows) of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

1. The Prophecy of Simeon
2. The Flight into Egypt
3. The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days
4. Meeting Jesus on the Way to Calvary
5. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
6. Jesus Taken Down from the Cross
7. Jesus Laid in the Tomb

By commemorating Our Lady of Sorrows, we call to mind the sufferings that Mary endured as part of her vocation as the Mother of the Redeemer. No one is closer to Christ than Mary, consequently no one has participated more intimately in the redemptive suffering of Christ than His Mother Mary.

1 Cor 15:1-11

Jn 19:25-27 

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother 

For anyone who’s a parent, especially a mother, you may experience a certain inexplicable pain when seeing your child disappointed or hurt. I have. When my daughter was younger, she’d come to me crying after receiving her results, telling me how she had tried so hard and yet still failed. My heart felt torn and broken. Seeing other kids achieving good grades and receiving awards had often made it seem so unfair that my child was a late bloomer, who struggled throughout most of her academic life. Just thinking about that bring tears to my eyes.

I now realise that those years of failures (and emotional suffering) must have done something good and right for my daughter in helping her become who she is today – a humble, kind and compassionate soul, who enjoys spending her weekends helping the less privileged children.

Back to Mary and her role as a mother. I can never ever imagine all the worry and pain that Mary had to endure. From the time that Jesus was born, life had been difficult. First, she had to deliver a baby in an uncomfortable (and probably smelly) barn. Then she had to flee Egypt with her infant in tow when Herod gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity, who were two years old and under (Matthew 2:13-23). Then she received more bad news when Simeon prophesied that the child Jesus was “destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him… and a sword will pierce (her) very soul” (Luke 2:35) This sounds like the kind of bad news no parent would ever want to receive — that their child has a terminal illness. For Mary, it is much worse, not only because it was not so clear what all that prophesy meant, and to finally witnessed her son’s passion and crucifixion must have been the ultimate torture any mother (or parent) could endure. So, to me, that scene of her standing beneath the cross of Jesus, watching her son bleed to death shows how extremely strong her heart is. A heart that’s specially created to endure the worst suffering and pain, and love, all at the same time. Any other mother would have fainted, been utterly destroyed or died of a broken heart.

It is most comforting to know that should any woe, pain or suffering ails us, our dear Mother will be the best person to go to. Try praying the Seven Sorrows Rosary, which is said to help us learn to understand how to turn our own sufferings to love and joy in the Lord. We are often told to look at suffering as something negative. It is only in Jesus that I slowly began to understand how we can turn suffering to good, when we are able to see beyond the physical aspect, as it teaches us to be more forgiving, compassionate and empathetic. As Jesus was hanging on the cross, despite all that he’d been put through, he prayed for us and presented us with the gift of his mother. “Behold, your mother” (John 19:27) How much more self-giving can one be?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Cynthia Chew)

Prayer: Dear Abba Father, you have chosen this special woman, Mary, to be the Mother of God, and to be our spiritual mother. Help us to have a heart as strong yet gentle, and as compassionate as Mary’s.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for giving your mother to us. Thank you, mama Mary, for enduring all the sorrows for the love of God, for hearing all our woes and for always interceding ceaselessly on our behalf — you know just what we need.        

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