September 28, 2018

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Cry out to Mary in times of suffering

Sean GallagherOver the years, my wife Cindy has not only been able to distinguish the particular cries of our five sons, she’s also noted when one of them is crying in distress.

Whenever that sound reaches her ears, she instinctively stops whatever she’s doing and runs to that child to find out what’s wrong and to help and comfort him in whatever way she can.

While I appreciate and admire this quality in Cindy, I know that it’s not unique to her. It seems to be universal that mothers have a keen sense of when their children are suffering and a driving desire to alleviate it.

In our broken world, particular circumstances may limit a mother’s ability to care for her children. Relationships between a mother and her children can be strained and make it hard for her to express her natural desire to care for them.

Certainly our home isn’t a perfect one. There are times when a wrongdoing of one of our boys may make Cindy a little slow in showing him compassion when that fault results in hardship for him. (Sometimes sin is its own punishment.) But time and again, I’ve seen Cindy realize that, no matter how frustrating one of our sons’ behavior might be, the thing that he needs the most is just a hug, letting him know that he is loved.

Now if this is the case for mothers living in this broken world, how much more true is it for the mother of us all, the Blessed Virgin Mary who is full of grace and free from the stain of original sin?

This can be a consolation for us in the Church at this difficult time of the current clergy sexual abuse crisis.

There are many among us who are suffering at present. First, of course, are the abuse victims. Surely their cries reach out to heaven. And those cries will re-echo for a long time, since healing from such unspeakable evil can take a lifetime.

But all of us among the faithful bear our own share of pain. This may be especially true for clergy who have remained true to their calling, but bear a heavy weight of shame because of the failings of others among the ordained.

Mary hears the cries of all of her suffering children. She knows particularly when they are in distress. And when she hears those cries, she runs to our side to comfort us and lift us up.

Mary does this without fail and hesitation, no matter how much we may have marred by our sins the image of God—the image of her Son—in which we were created.

And she comes to comfort us as one who has borne a pain that we cannot even begin to image. The suffering laid upon her shoulders when she stood at the foot of the cross of her Son helps Mary all the more console us in our trials.

The more we grow in awareness of how much Mary wants to help us in our distress, the more we might seek out her tender care.

The month of October that will begin in a few days has been traditionally dedicated to Mary, and to the rosary in particular. The memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated on Oct. 7.

The rosary can be a way for us, at this time of suffering in the Church, to cry out to Mary for the consolation that only our spiritual mother can provide.

So consider during the month of October to pray the rosary more often, perhaps daily if possible. Cry out to Mary in praying it for your own suffering, but also for others bearing heavy crosses at this time in the Church.

Such prayers will surely bring us not only closer to Mary, but also to all the faithful, renewing us as the family of faith in which Mary is the mother of us all. †

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