“Woman, behold Your Son” (Jn.19:26)
Suffering troubles us greatly. It can seem difficult to give suffering meaning – and without it, what purpose can it have? And yet, as Christians, we know that suffering is part of our faith as much as it is a part of every single human life.
For the Lord, His glorious Resurrection came about precisely through the suffering of His Passion and death on the Cross. Every Saint who has ever followed in the footsteps of the Master suffered in one way or another – all well aware that faith gives meaning and purpose to suffering, when borne well in union with the Crucified.
And for the Mother of the Lord, there was to be no exception; indeed, Her sufferings were greater than those of all the Saints. Not only did She endure watching the Passion of Her Son and His slow ascent to the Cross on Golgotha, but She was required to consent to this, because of the unending ‘fiat’ She offered God freely at the moment of the Annunciation. Not so long after this, the holy man, Simeon, prophesied that this ‘fiat’ would cause a sword to pierce Her Heart. And how true his words.
Standing on the Via Crucis, She watched Her Son approach, stop, and look upon Her, Their eyes meeting in silence – what words would be sufficient to fill a moment such as this? And soon after, standing on the hill, She watched the soldiers nail Her Son to the Cross and then raise it high – all the while, mindful that this is the reason He came, and that in doing so, He would “draw all men to Myself” (cf. Jn.12:32). She remained there as He breathed His last, watched as His Heart was pierced by the lance and the Blood and Water flowed, and then received His dead Body upon Her motherly lap when it was taken down from the Cross.
The reverse of the Miraculous Medal encapsulates all of this succinctly by the entwined Cross and letter ‘M’ – the Passion and Death of Christ was lived out by the Mother in grace, as much as by the Son in nature. The extent of Her mystical participation in the Passion is something we will never fully understand.
But it tells us truthfully that there is no suffering upon earth which this most beautiful Mother does not understand – our hearts will never be pierced in the way that Her Heart was pierced. But when suffering comes our way, and in whatever form it may take, She will be there to help and support us, to obtain for us grace to bear our suffering well, and to make it redemptive when offered in union with the Passion of Her Son.
Let us never fail to run swiftly to this dearest Mother, who keeps close to us when we endure our own trials in life, and to ask Her motherly intercession before the Lord.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.