Today the Catholic world celebrates Our Lady of Sorrows – Mary, the Mother of God, sorrowful, at the foot of the Cross.
It has been an important feast for me – for many years.
In the 1960s, I helped for a few summer months in the school of the Parish of Our Mother of Sorrows in West Philadelphia, in a poor African-American neighborhood. I also played the organ for Sunday Mass a few times.
I had a strong sense then of the need to reach out to serve the marginalized, those who experienced poverty and racism. Somehow I found this parish and my short time there has left a mark on my life. Helping a teacher with kids during summer school was a real gift for me.
Later when I began to visit Central America, especially El Salvador, I discovered that La Virgen de Dolores is one of the touching ways Central Americans approach Mary. Many churches have a statue of the Sorrowful Mother that they carry in procession during Holy Week.
The people who have suffered much see in the Sorrowful Mother a source of consolation and hope. As Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero said in a homily on December 1, 1977:
“Even when all despaired, at the hour when Christ was dying on the cross, Mary, serene, awaited the hour of the resurrection. Mary is the symbol of the people who suffer oppression and injustice. Theirs is the calm suffering that awaits the resurrection. It is Christ suffering, the suffering of the Church, which does not accept the present injustices, but awaits without rancor the moment when the Risen One will return to give us the redemption we await.”
But today is also the anniversary of the death of my father on September 15, 1999. I still miss him and dream about him and my mother (who died in January 1986).
Mother of Sorrows, comfort us in our losses and give us courage to live in love and compassion with all those who suffer.
The image is the statue of La Virgen de Dolores of the cathedral in Santa Rosa de Copán, carried in the diocesan Stations of the Cross, March 26, 2010.