Thursday, September 15, 2011

Celebrating? the sorrows of Our Lady

It's   sort of...jarring, to be reading the glorious, hyper-rejoicing psalmody of Sunday Week I while holding in mind an image of, well, "4th station--Jesus meets his sorrowful mother." Or especially, since today I used ibreviary, having just sung the hymn, which was At the Cross Her Station Keeping.   I might have been better prepared if I had read the correct office yesterday (Triumph of the Cross), but my mind was elsewhere.  Without a glance at the calendar I read the regular weekday instead, so I didn't make the usual "14th:Cross; 15th: O.L. of Sorrows" connection that I usually do.

So why is it appropriate to "celebrate" this feast with rejoicing? We're not happy that Mary had so much to be sad about. But maybe it will help to remember that each Marian feast celebrates some gift Mary received, and that each of these was a "first fruits" situation, heralding the fact that we also receive that gift, even if not in the exact manner that Our Lady did.   The feast of the Immaculate Conception anticipates or heralds our baptism, when we too will begin a new life without original sin and filled with grace. The Assumption holds out hope of the Resurrection of the Body.  

This feast is about Our Lady's privilege of being the first human being for whom suffering, joined to Christ's perfect sacrifice, could have meaning. Could have redemptive value. Our suffering is not just something to be experienced and endured. Thanks to Jesus, is something that can be offered and consecrated. Today's Divine Office frequently reminds  us of this truth:

Let us adore Christ, the Savior of the World, who called his Mother to share in his passion. (Invit. antiphon)
Let us rejoice that we have been made sharers in Christ's passion. (Morning prayer, antiphon 2)
In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. (Morning prayer, reading, Colossians 1:24)
I bear with all this for the sake of those whom God has chosen, in order that they may obtain the salvation to be found in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory....if we have died with him we shall live with him. If we hold out to the end we shall reign with him. (evening prayer reading, 2 Timothy 2:10-12)

And the closing prayer this evening is all about Mary and the church sharing Christ's sufferings so as to share in the resurrection.

So that's something to be glad about. Our Lady of Sorrows leads the way in showing that our sufferings have a use, a purpose, and a nobility when joined to those of her Son. That is a reason to rejoice.