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syriansThere are many days in the liturgical calendar on which Christians celebrate Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Today, the memorial of the Seven Sorrows of Mary does not seem fit for “celebration” as it commemorates the most difficult moments in Mary’s life as a mother because of the sufferings of Jesus. Never having birthed a child, I can only imagine the pain of mothers whose children have lived difficult lives in one way or another. I do count at least five “children of my heart” – all of whom are now middle-aged and one of whom (the eldest) died this year at age 58. I have celebrated and mourned events in their lives and now feel a deeper kinship with Michael’s mother whose pain of loss will likely remain until her own death.

For those interested in reflecting on these moments of Mary’s life, the Church lists the following: 1. The Prophecy of Simeon (when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple), 2. The Flight into Egypt, 3. The Loss of the Child Jesus when he was 12 years old, 4. The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross, 5. The Crucifixion, 6. Jesus’ Body Struck by a Lance as he was taken down from the cross, 7. The Burial of Jesus.

For the rest, today is a day to pray for mothers, perhaps especially those refugees who are fleeing persecution or war, trying to keep their children safe in this moment of upheaval, desiring to find a home where they can give their children a better, happier life. And, of course, for those of us who have been cared for and loved into enduring life by mothers, many of whom now abide with us in spirit, our prayer is one of gratitude.