Although I have never birthed a child I have, in my years of teaching and then ministering in a parish, come to understand the joys and sorrows of motherhood. I have watched mothers love their children through celebratory days in church and school and family life. I have listened to mothers lament behaviors that they did not understand in the lives and loves of their adult children and on occasion I have suffered with them because I loved their children too. Love has a way of breaking us open both in joy and sorrow, taking us out of ourselves to a greater capacity than we could ever imagine in ourselves.
Today is the feast of Our Lady or Sorrows, formerly called by the Church “the Seven Sorrows (or Dolors) of the Blessed Mother.” No wonder so many mothers have devotion to Mary. Just think of what she went through with Jesus! I don’t often think of the everyday life of Mary: the immediate connection that she had when she first held Jesus in her arms, how she felt when he said his first word or took his first step, the pride she must have had as he grew and when she heard him preach…We only have what the gospels and Tradition have recorded for us and know few of her moments of fear for him or her intense grieving at his crucifixion. Can you even imagine her joy and the tenderness between them in their meetings after the Resurrection? There is a lot to imagine and we are able to do so because of our own experiences of such love as she had for her son.
So again today I find myself praying for mothers, in all their moments of light and dark, of peace and pressure to “give in,” in all their woe and willingness. I pray that they may know a certainty that I read this morning in a short prayer verse of Thomas Merton: O God of holiness, grant us to seek peace where it is truly found! In your will, O God, is our peace!