Our Lady of Sorrows

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I woke at around five or so. Anthony was hungry, squirmy, fussy. After he finished nursing I couldn’t get back to sleep. I went to the bathroom and when I came out Ben was standing in his doorway, blankets in his arms, whimpering. I sat and cuddled with him for a while but he couldn’t get comfortable. He was coughing and sniffling and whimpering. Eventually I took him into the living room and laid him on the couch and went to get him some tylenol. He told me his ears were hurting. At that point I realized it was 5:30 and there was no way I was going back to sleep. Resigned to calling it an early morning, I went to get my iPhone so I could say the morning office.

Then Sophie popped out of her room, blankies in her arms. She started to complain about her ears as well. Oh dear.

I was tired and cranky and not at all happy to be awake before the sun. I opened the iBreviary app and began to pray. The antiphons and readings for today’s feast were exactly what I needed this morning to call me out of myself, to remind me of another mother of a suffering child, who endured much more than an early morning and a little lost sleep:

Let us adore Christ, the Savior of the world, who called his mother to share in his passion.

My soul clings to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us rejoice that we have been made sharers in Christ’s passion.

It has pleased the Father to reconcile all creation in himself through the blood of Christ.

Even now I find my joy in the suffering I endure for you. In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, the church. I became a minister of this church through the commission God gave me to preach among you his word in its fullness.

Rejoice, O sorrowful Mother; after your great sufferings, you shine forth as Queen, enthroned beside your Son.

Last night during family prayers we venerated the cross. How much harder it was this morning to forsake my cozy bed to shoulder this cross! I certainly did not feel joy to share in this little passion for my children’s sake. But thinking of being able to stand with Mary as I began my morning routine helped me to face the day with a little better cheer.

Daria at Coffee and Canticles offers further reflections on the meaning of the feast that so perfectly complement my thoughts and say it so much better than I could do:

So why is it appropriate to “celebrate” this feast with rejoicing? We’re not happy that Mary had so much to be sad about. But maybe it will help to remember that each Marian feast celebrates some gift Mary received, and that each of these was a “first fruits” situation, heralding the fact that we also receive that gift, even if not in the exact manner that Our Lady did.  The feast of the Immaculate Conception anticipates or heralds our baptism, when we too will begin a new life without original sin and filled with grace. The Assumption holds out hope of the Resurrection of the Body. 

This feast is about Our Lady’s privilege of being the first human being for whom suffering, joined to Christ’s perfect sacrifice, could have meaning. Could have redemptive value. Our suffering is not just something to be experienced and endured. Thanks to Jesus, is something that can be offered and consecrated.

Father Longenecker also offers some beautiful thoughts about Mary’s sorrows and motherhood.

Also, this morning I had a nice chat with Bella about the meaning of the feast and we read about the Seven Sorrows of Mary here. It’s sometimes hit or miss as far as celebrating the liturgical year. So much depends on my mood or on happenstance since I’m so bad about planning ahead, but it was nice that our family was able to commemorate these two beautiful feasts of yesterday and today.

At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s pain untold?

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with scourges rent:

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

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