The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows honors the intense suffering and grief that the Blessed Mother experienced during the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus. We commemorate Mary’s meeting of Jesus on the road to Calvary; Mary standing at the foot of the cross during the Crucifixion; the Pieta, when Mary held Jesus after He was taken down from the cross; and the burial of Jesus.
Our Lady of Sorrows is also known as Our Lady of Compassion, highlighting how Mary’s Immaculate Heart was so deeply united to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in compassionate co-suffering; her profound grief and pain were unified with her Son in trust and surrender to the Father. In each of her sorrows, the Blessed Mother is an example of trustful surrender and love, continuing her courageous fiat at the Annunciation through each trial in her life.
For many of us, our road to our personal Calvary is marked with the profound pain and grief of infertility and loss. We can identify with the difficult road to Calvary that Jesus walked amidst the jeers of the crowd, struggling as we strive to carry this cross with our spouse amidst the judgements or thoughtless words of others on our journey. Just as Mary met Jesus on the road to Calvary, giving Him comfort and compassionate support, Mary desires to meet us on this road. She longs for us to bring our brokenness, our pain, and our tears to her, letting her pick us up after we fall under the weight of this cross and allowing her compassionate presence to walk with us and intercede for us through the ups and downs of infertility.
Our Lady stood at the foot of Jesus’ cross, witnessing the agony of His Crucifixion, His surrender to the will of the Father, and His last breath. Just as Mary was a source of strength to Jesus during His Crucifixion, she too desires to be a source of strength, of consolation, and of tender motherly care for us. As Jesus suffered on the cross, He offered His mother to us as our own and she humbly accepted this call to suffer with and stand with us in our crosses and crucifixions in this life.
One of the most poignant images of Our Lady of Sorrows is that of Michelangelo’s Pieta, in which Mary holds Jesus in her arms after the Crucifixion. The Pieta captures Mary’s profoundly sorrowful yet humble, trustful acceptance of the Father’s will. Some of us may be grappling with a difficult diagnosis, the loss of a child through miscarriage, or the loss of fertility through surgery or menopause. In our profound grief, let us allow Our Lady to hold us and weep with us. Let us also learn from her example of humbly trusting in God’s love for us and ask for the grace to accept this suffering, even when we do not understand it, and to hope in His loving plan for us.
This summer, I experienced the consoling presence of Our Lady of Sorrows in a profound way as my husband and I suffered the loss of our long-awaited baby through miscarriage. As we struggled through the shock and immense grief of this loss, the presence of Mary was a source of strength for us as we clung to her motherly care. As I underwent miscarrying and delivering our baby at home, I could offer the physical pain and inner heartbreak to Mary, so that she could offer my suffering to the Father as she offered her Son to the Father. Mary, as a heavenly midwife, was there to hold me through the physical suffering of miscarriage and to deliver our baby into heaven with her loving care.
As we held our precious baby’s tiny body, I knew Mary viscerally understood the unfathomable pain of tenderly holding our lifeless child and offering our child back to God in sorrowful trust and surrender. As my husband and I buried our child, lowering the tiny coffin into the earth and standing before the site in our grief, I drew hope and consolation from Our Lady of Sorrows, knowing she stood at our Calvary as she stood at her Son’s, her presence one of silent compassionate strength. Our Lady continues to accompany us with her presence of love and peace amidst the storms of suffering and loss and invites us to hold onto hope in Resurrection amidst our grief, as she did.
God has given us the compassionate, tender presence of Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows to accompany each of us in our suffering and on our road to Calvary. In the face of profound suffering and death, Mary offers us an example of humble acceptance, trustful surrender, and hope in God the Father’s love. She also offers us her motherly care and companionship in our pain and grief. As she walked the road of Calvary with her Son, she walks with us on the road of infertility, picking us up when we fall and holding us close when this cross overwhelms us. Our Lady also stands as a beacon of hope; for even as she suffered through Jesus’ Passion and Crucifixion, she believed that God the Father would bring eternal good and Resurrection out of profound suffering. May we turn to her in our sorrows and stand with her in hope of Resurrection.
Our Lady of Sorrows and of Compassion, pray for us!
Lenore and her husband Bobby were married in 2017 and are parents to two lost to miscarriage. They live in a small town in Ohio with their Australian shepherd, Augie.