Maybe it's because my father died earlier in the year, I was very ill in the summer, and am going through economic uncerainty at work -- maybe it's because of the recent deaths of a friend and Patrick Swayze -- or maybe it's because I'm getting sappy in my old age, but although I've celebrated this feast in past years, I'm finding that it is resonating with me today in a way it never has before.
After sending out Nameday greetings to our Carmelite Friar, Br. Robert Julian of Our Mother of Sorrows, I was chuckling about the absurdity of wishing someone a "happy" feast of Our Lady of "Sorrows" -- sort of like saying "have a good time" to someone on their way to a funeral -- and I got to thinking about the resonance the devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows has with so many people. One of the wonderful things about our faith is that we can look to Christ and those around him and see that they went through the same things we did. The Incarnation sanctifies our whole life -- Christ is fully God and fully human, and by living in Christ, our whole life is "divinized" and made holy through our relationship with Christ. As Mary bore Christ, so we are called to bear Christ. As Mary suffered through seeing her Son put to death, and then saw that suffering redeemed in the salvation of the world -- so we can join our sufferings to hers, and to Christ's sufferings on the Cross, and know that there is a greater purpose, and that through the glory of the resurrection we will be saved and know happiness and an end to our suffering, even as we trust that God can work through our sorrow to make us more compassionate, more Christlike, more whole.
I also thought about how, just as this devotion has sustained Catholic Christians through the centuries, so many Evangelical Christians have had a similar devotion to Christ as the one who understands and walks with us through our sorrows -- often expressed in hymns, such as "What a Friend We Have in Jesus":
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there. Amen.
Nothing original, nothing millions of Christians haven't felt through the ages. But I'm feeling it in my bones today in a way I haven't as much in the past.