In our previous meditation, we reflected on Mary as our Mother and recalled that it was at the cross that she received from Jesus her vocation as mother to all men. We saw in the most profound sense, that through the agony of the Passion, the labor pains that Jesus and Mary endured gave us birth into the new life of grace. The Pieta portrays the moment of delivery that opened the gates of heaven.
There is so much suffering in the hearts of mothers! As a priest, I have had the privilege on many occasions to see the love of mothers for their children. Some suffer the early death of their child, victims of violence, disease or drugs. Others mourn the spiritual distance of their children from the Faith. Others feel a deep sorrow for the distance that separates them physically (“Where is my child?” “How is my child?”). Others experience sorrow because they feel that their children no longer love them and don’t take care of them. Many would like to gather their children, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but the divisions between siblings within families cuts deep into their hearts.
To all these mothers, I ask you to look carefully at the Pieta. You will see your pain reflected in the pain of Mary. You will realize you are not alone in your suffering, that Mary has endured the same cross that plagues your heart. She will alleviate your suffering. Contemplating her will give you serenity. Mary will comfort you in that contemplative silence. You will learn from her to put the lives of your children into the hands of God. She will teach you to have hope against hope and to see light beyond the darkness.
In particular, I appeal to mothers who have lost their children through miscarriage or to those who have resorted to abortion. In both situations, you have felt life grow in your womb. In both situations, there is great desolation after the loss of your child. I invite you to put your child into Mary’s hands. Holding her own lifeless Son in her arms, she feels the pain of all mothers who suffer for their children. She contemplates the lost children of all mothers in the world, especially the children who have died because of injustice, selfishness or lack of love. She understands because that is just how Jesus died. You can trust your children to Mary, knowing that she will care for them until she can return them to you in eternity. It is worth living in friendship and the grace of God if, at the end of our pilgrimage through this world, God will reward you by returning to you the children that you once lost.
If you have committed an abortion, open yourself up to the mercy of God. Look to Mary and through her love you will find a way to communicate with your children who live in the Lord, apologize to them and begin a new life.
I also wish to speak to mothers who suffer by watching their children become lost and turn away from God. In his letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul writes: “My children, for whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you.” Many mothers suffer at seeing that Christ is not present in the lives of their children. Understand that, offered to God, your sufferings and prayers have infinite value in His eyes. Do not give in to discouragement. Understand that being a mother is not only to give birth to your children, but to accompany them as Mary did, every step of the way until the end. In our Mother you will find a source of grace for you and your children. Just as she believed that her dead Son would rise again three days later, you must believe that your children, dead in sin, can revive, resurrecting to a new life through the intercession of Mary.
God willing, may the Pieta bring comfort and peace to all suffering mothers in our community. She is a Mother who suffers, too. She will be your consolation, perhaps the only consolation, in your sorrow.