By Fr. Roy Cimagala
WHAT does the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, celebrated on September 15, remind us of? I would say that among other things, it reminds us of how our Lady can teach us how to handle our unavoidable sufferings and sorrows in our life.
She is the best person to teach us this, since, being perfectly united with her Son in all his life and especially in his passion, death and resurrection, she knew exactly the meaning of suffering and sorrows and how to convert them into the very means of our own salvation.
On the cross, Christ entrusted his Mother to St. John, and through St. John, to us. (cfr. Jn 19,25-27) That gesture can be interpreted in many ways, and one of them can certainly be that of Christ reassuring us that with his and our Mother, the phenomenon of suffering and sorrows in this life can be properly handled.
It’s always a good piece of advice to go to Our Lady whenever we experience these sufferings and sorrows. Accompanied by her, we can always expect instant relief and peace of mind, even if the pain continues to linger. Like her who simply stood in silence at the foot of the cross, we too can manage to bear the sufferings and sorrows well.
Especially when we pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, it would do us well if we meditate the passion and death of Christ with Our Lady. Doing so would lead us to have a theological understanding and appreciation of our sufferings and sorrows.
Our predicament today is that our attitude towards this unavoidable element in our life is taken out of its fundamental context of faith and religion. We just look at it in a purely human and natural way. We just look for the human and natural causes as well as for their human and natural solutions or remedies.
I think this is wrong, or at least, is quite handicapped. We would not be fathoming enough the enormity and richness of the nature and purpose of our sorrows in life if we fail to bring in the pertinent basic inputs of our Christian faith.
Thus, we often exaggerate or worsen our sufferings, as we fail to know their ultimate whys and wherefores. Thus, we often would not know how to suffer them, since we would merely rely on our physical, emotional or psychological stamina, or some external material resources like drugs. The spiritual and supernatural way is not resorted to.
Worse, we often don’t realize that our pains and sorrows in life, irrespective of their causes and effects, are a rich material for our final redemption. In fact, many people’s idea of redemption is strictly earth-and-time-bound. Nothing spiritual or supernatural about it! Hardly any reference to our sin is done.
It would be good if we adapt the attitude of our Lady of Sorrows towards our problems in life. Certainly, meditating on the passion and death of Christ in a regular way would help a lot in developing that attitude.
That attitude brings our understanding and experience of sorrow to another level—deeper, more comprehensive, more integrated. For example, it helps us mediate the complicated interplay of the requirements of truth and freedom, and of charity, patience, mercy on the one hand, and as strict a justice on the other, etc.