We remember the sorrows of Mary on September 14th, the day after the church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. St John’s gospel points to Mary standing bravely close to Jesus when so many others fled the dark happenings on Calvary. Standing beneath the cross of her dying Son was certainly Mary’s greatest sorrow.
Her sorrows were not confined to Calvary, however. They began far back in her life, Christian tradition says. Early in Luke’s gospel, the priest Simeon, taking the Child Jesus in his arms in the temple, tells Mary this child will cause a sword to pierce her heart. His words were etched in her mind as she left the temple holding her endangered Child. Fleeing to Egypt, she protected him in her arms. Later, she sought him anxiously when he was lost on a Jerusalem pilgrimage.
Yet surely, these are not all the sorrows she faced. What of her long waiting in Nazareth? What of the years her Son ministered in Galilee? What of the ominous journey to Jerusalem? Those years brought sorrows too.
But her sorrows, like the sorrows of her Son, were transfigured by patience, hope and joy. Mary’s cross, like his, was exalted. “O Lady Mary, thy bright crown is no mere crown of majesty. With the reflect of his own resplendent thorns, Christ circled thee.”
We learn from Mary’s sorrows that our sorrows too reflect the mystery of the Cross. Not crushing us or beat us down, they lift us up to glory.
- Fr. Victor Hoagland, C.P.