The celebration of Mary’s sorrows goes a long way back in the Spanish/Hispanic tradition and the rather common name “Dolores” (short for “María de los Dolores”, “Mary of Sorrows”) testifies to that tradition. I doubt, however, that anyone calling a girl or a woman by the name “Dolores” today gives any thought to the source of that name. Yet it is precisely that source that we commemorate today, whether we take the gospel reading from John (climax of her sorrows) or from Luke (foretelling of those sorrows).
At the hospital I find myself almost daily immersed in situations that call for both compassion and solidarity with the patient and with the often more anguished family. Not really a moment for many words (they would only be a flawed attempt at covering my inability to alleviate their grief), but more often an awe-filled silence of respect for their suffering. It is an honest attempt to resonate with their sorrow, with what they are going through at the moment.
In a way this is what we are invited to do today, obviously only in a liturgical way of re-living Mary’s experience. We recall her human grief and anguish, as she helplessly witnessed the death of the One she loved most. As we are invited to make ourselves present to that moment in solidarity, we find ourselves addressed by the dying Lord in the person of the disciple who took Mary under his care from that moment on. Not that Mary need our care for her, but as a gesture of, and desire for, solidarity with her at that crucial moment in her earthly life.
Except liturgically, we do not grieve for Mary today, since her
own sorrow ceased long time ago. But we can try to resonate with
what she went through then and to celebrate this feast with a sense
of gratitude for her having accepted the dying Lord’s invitation
to take all of us under her spiritual care. Experiencing sorrow
and pain made Mary a “wounded healer”, and today’s
liturgical commemoration reminds us that her heart was molded in
suffering and made all the more capable of resonating with our own
suffering and sorrows. Sharing in spirit in her pain and sorrow
has the potential (nothing is automatic in our faith life) of making
us also “wounded healers” made more capable of resonating
with the suffering and sorrows of the people in our lives.
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