Sunday, September 15, 2019

Celebrating Our Lady of Sorrows


The week leading up to the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is a special one, as it means I get to celebrate both of my moms. My biological mother's birthday is on September 12th, and my spiritual mother's feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows is celebrated on September 15th.

I suppose "Celebrate" is a rather odd word to combine with the image of Our Lady of Sorrows; that is, Our Lady at the foot of the Cross, or with seven swords piercing her exposed heart, or the Pietá, Mary holding the corpus of her dead Son.


But the beauty of the Christian faith comprises the paradoxical juxtaposition of joy and sorrow.

This is seen especially at Christmas time in the juxtaposition of the celebration of the birth of Our Lord alongside the feast days of martyrs such as St. Stephen, the Holy Innocents, and St. Thomas Becket. (T.S. Eliot eloquently remarks on this holy juxtaposition in a sermon given during his play, Murder in the Cathedral, which depicts the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket).

These moments in the liturgical year serve as a reminder that while tragedy and suffering are a part of this earthly life, we do not walk this difficult road alone. To quote the recent interview with Late Show host, Stephen Colbert, "God does it, too." And so did the Blessed Mother. May we take comfort and even find joy in that knowledge.

"Her eyes were sad withouten art,
And seven swords were in her heart—
But one was in her hand. ...

... The men of the East may spell the stars
And times and triumphs mark,
But the men signed with the Cross of Christ
Go gaily in the dark."

-- G.K. Chesterton, The Ballad of the White Horse.