Friday, September 15, 2006

A Mother Standing At the cross her station keeping, Stood the mournful Mother weeping, Close to Jesus to the last. Through her heart, His sorrow sharing, All His bitter anguish bearing, Now at length the sword had pass'd. These are the first two stanzas of the "Stabat Mater," a powerful hymn written in the Middle Ages and sung in a mournful chant on today's Feast, Our Lady of Sorrows. It reflects upon the suffering of Mary as she stood by the Cross of her Son. The Latin phrase stabat mater means "mother standing." In the wake of the awful anniversary of 9/11 and countless other global tragedies, today brings before our eyes the place of ultimate suffering; Golgotha, Calvary, the Cross. Here, Love itself was crucified. But at that very place where we so often fear to go, or are tempted to flee, the place of suffering, pain, and injustice, a Mother is standing. I think about the many images taken from recent news stories, where the young are slain through meaningless acts of violence, or natural disasters strike, taking little ones away. I think of the strength of mothers. Strong for their families, for their young ones. But in this awful place of suffering, what do we do? When tragedy falls upon us, like structures of steel and stone, and we feel we cannot bear them, what is our position? So often we ask the question "Where was God?" Where was He in my pain? Why did it come to me at all, or to those innocent little ones? In the gap left by that question of questions, "Where was God?"... a Mother stands. At the contradicting crossroads, where life and death meet, in the tension of that suffering that wants us to give up or give in, to despair or to hope, a Mother stands. I heard it said once that suffering is "continued receptivity before God." Mary was and is the star of our race because she was always receptive to God. Therefore, she always suffered. She always knew there would be the Cross. She lived in its shadow. She stood in that contradiction; she lived in that mystery of mysteries. The legacy of sin, suffering, and death were hers by choice, not by nature. She laid down her life by standing with Jesus. How can this be done, humanly speaking? The secret, I believe, is trust. How do we live through the great stripping of our humanity, the loss of dreams, the fires of sorrow? Trust. For us, trust in that we are not alone. A Mother stands by, who stood there by that dear rugged Cross "where the dear Savior gave His all." There is something in this woman, and I believe in the heart of every woman because of her, that enables them to stand in the gap of sorrow. It's the feminine genius; the receptive heart, the womb of contemplation that can hold life and death in its tension of opposites, and trust. It is the waiting heart, that waits for man. That watches him and waits for him, that allows him to make the gift of himself, to be the victim, to take the bullet, battle the dragon, perhaps even die in doing so. Mary is our model, not because of a pious sweetness, a gilded glory surrounded by chubby angels, but because of her rugged, weary, wind-swept stand at the Door of Death, and her faith that held the courage to look beyond it. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us...
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The Sacramental Vision

With Christians, a poetical view of things is a duty. We are bid to color all things with hues of faith, to see a divine meaning in every ...