The prayer of today’s liturgy sees Mary at the foot of the Cross as the model for the Church in her search to become more united with Christ in the paschal mystery of his death and resurrection. A mother standing close to a dying child is a potent human symbol. Even for Christ, suffering was a mystery and a dark valley he entered. Surely it was the same for Our Lady as she stood at the foot of the Cross.
It’s been a longstanding tradition for some people to carry or to wear a medal of Our Lady of Sorrows. Catholics have been wearing this particular sacramental for many years, and they would never be parted from it. When they experience difficulties, they look at Our Lady’s sorrowful image on the medal, and almost instinctively, they know that she will understand their predicament, help them, and give them peace. Many Catholics will testify that it’s never a waste to ask Our Lady’s protection, implore her help, or seek her intercession.
As Catholics we know all too well that we are not immune to sorrow and that we can always look to Our Lady for help. There are so many problems that trouble us, I could spend a couple of days just listing them. So many things can make us feel sad, betrayed, or hurt. But Our Lady shows us that the real question is not how often, or how much, we suffer. The real question is how we should respond when we are visited by suffering. And this is where Our Lady of Sorrows can help us the most.
Our Lady was well acquainted with sorrow – a cursory reading of the gospels will tell us that. And this is why so many of us turn to Our Lady when we suffer or are in sorrow, because she knows exactly what we are going through. And she can help us and teach us how to react to trying and painful situations. She can teach us to ponder and to pray and to persevere. She can teach us to trust in God’s providence and in his ability to work wonders in our life.
Former Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “The Virgin Mary, who believed in the word of the Lord, did not lose her faith in God when she saw her Son rejected, abused and crucified. Rather she remained beside Jesus, suffering and praying until the end. And she saw the radiant dawn of his resurrection. Let us learn from her to witness to our faith with a life of humble service, ready to pay the price of staying faithful to the gospel of love and truth, certain that nothing that we do will be lost.”