This article was originally published in the Fall 2018 issue of AIM: Liturgy Resources.

Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows is the patroness of my religious community, the  Congregation of Holy Cross. Mary’s journey into the depth of Jesus’ suffering and death leads us all to a greater awareness of our life in Christ. I have grown in my understanding of what this feast means not only to my religious community but to the Church itself. I learn from Mary’s posture of love.

Mary stood next to the suffering of Jesus. We are called and even challenged to stand among people living in sorrow, hatred, and violence. We are to become the living voice of love and freedom to people lost in the fray of homelessness, generational poverty, or the grief that sweeps us all into despair.  Standing among those who suffer is a lifelong lesson in the spiritual life. Standing among the sorrowful in faith shows us the way to love and provides hope for the aches, pains, and anguish of every human life.

We stand among those who suffer and wait for healing, as Mary waited, even at the foot of the cross after a life of many sorrows with Jesus. She even held her dead Son in the end. She longed for meaning and purpose in Jesus’ redemptive suffering. She found love, fidelity, and mercy, the purpose of her waiting and her years of searching. She became part of the redemptive plan for all people.

We stand among those who suffer with the hope that healing will arrive. I learn this from a woman who turned to Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows after thirty years of alcohol and drugs and then burying her only son after he suffered a heroin overdose. I learn to turn to Mary when a young man came to me holding his newborn son. He wanted the best for his son and had entrusted him to Our Lady of Sorrows because the men in his life had abused him. He turned to Mary because he knew that she had not abandoned her own Son.

I learn in my priesthood that so much in life cannot be controlled, changed, or ignored. So many things in our lives leave us feeling helpless and alone. In these moments, through prayer, silence, and a healing community, I entrust even the deepest human sorrow to Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows. She holds our lives with grace and peace, and she waits with us for the healing that comes in her Son, Jesus. She stands next to our human suffering, waiting until the morning light, waiting until the end of the storm, waiting until we all finally realize that our hope comes from full reliance on Jesus, the Christ.

Suggestions for Reflection and Action:
Reflect on your faith community’s mission and outreach to people in need. How can you connect this mission to the life and love of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows? How does your community stand next to those who are suffering?

Rev. Ronald Patrick Raab is a Holy Cross priest who has real experience with diverse populations including the homeless, poor, and many marginalized by society. His resources published by World Library Publications, a division of GIA include Real World, Real Worship and The Work of Our Hands: The Art of Christian Mission.