October 1, 2021

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Follow Mary’s example, learn to surrender to God in all things

Patti LambRecently, I received an update on a friend who is on my daily prayer list. The update was good, but I sensed that she is still struggling, despite many mighty prayer warriors bolstering her. It’s an understatement to say that her faith has been repeatedly tested, but her hope in the Lord remains strong.

I’m grateful to work on a university campus with a Catholic community that gathers regularly for Mass. There’s a midweek Mass that I try to attend whenever possible. A few weeks ago, we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows as a small group in a classroom that wasn’t in use at the noon hour. I wasn’t especially familiar with this feast day, but the priest explained that we gathered to reflect on Mary’s intense suffering during Christ’s passion and death.

Further, he explained “The Seven Dolors,” the seven swords that pieced the heart of Mary: The prophecy of Simeon; The flight into Egypt; The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem; Mary’s meeting Jesus at the Fourth Station of the Cross; the Crucifixion of Jesus on Mount Calvary; Jesus being taken down from the cross and the burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea.

I won’t do his homily justice by paraphrasing it, but the message I walked away with was this: In this earthly life, sorrow is inevitable because of our fall from grace. But in our sorrow, we can turn to Mary, who repeatedly faced sorrow and remained faithful to God. Mary’s son suffered and died for us, redeeming us and making us worthy of eternal life. And in that, we can find some hope in suffering.

St. John Paull II said, “From Mary, we learn to surrender to God’s will in all things. From Mary, we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary, we learn to love Christ her son and the Son of God!”

I circled back to my friend’s health update, in which she shared a thought from one of her devotionals. “The secret to a happy life is not getting what you want,” she wrote. She never wanted cancer and all the treatments that accompany it. She went on to explain that happiness can come when we learn to want and appreciate what we’ve been given. She cited examples from her own life: being able to walk a little more each day; not constantly feeling nauseous; slowly regaining energy and focus; sitting with her grandkids and enjoying their company.

“God has taught me so much during this time, especially the importance of prayer,” her journal entry read.

“I am trying to accept his plans for my life and learn how to share his love and care with others,” she added.

During the homily on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, the priest reminded us that it’s OK to weep and grieve when heartache comes at us. He encouraged us to go to our heavenly mother Mary, just as a toddler gets hurt or scared and immediately reaches for his mother. Our Blessed Mother knows sorrow and is willing to share in ours.

He reminded us, however, that sorrow does not have the last word. Jesus claimed the victory over sin and death by sacrificing his life for us.

In his book Traveling Light, Max Lucado does a beautiful job of succinctly stating it.

“God is a good God,” he writes. “Though we don’t understand his actions, we can trust his heart.”

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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