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Suffering, Joy, and Service

by Sep 15, 2023Friar Reflection

Sequence — Stabat Mater

At the cross her station keeping,

Stood the mournful Mother weeping,

Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,

All his bitter anguish bearing,

Now at length the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed

Was that Mother highly blessed

Of the sole begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs,

She beneath beholds the pangs

Of her dying, glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,

‘Whelmed in miseries so deep,

Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain

From partaking in her pain,

In that mother’s pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,

She beheld her tender Child,

All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of his own nation

Saw him hang in desolation

Till his spirit forth he sent.

O sweet Mother! font of love,

Touch my spirit from above,

Make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;

Make my soul to glow and melt

With the love of Christ, my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through,

In my heart each wound renew

Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with you his pain,

Who for all our sins was slain,

Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,

Mourning him who mourned for me,

All the days that I may live.

By the cross with you to stay,

There with you to weep and pray,

Is all I ask of you to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!

Listen to my fond request:

Let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,

In my body bear the death

Of that dying Son of yours.

Wounded with his every wound,

Steep my soul till it has swooned

In his very Blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,

Lest in flames I burn and die,

In his awful judgment day.

Christ, when you shall call me hence,

Be your Mother my defense,

Be your cross my victory.

While my body here decays,

May my soul your goodness praise,

Safe in heaven eternally.         Amen. (Alleluia)

Have you ever had any bad days or bad moments? Have you ever felt sad or down? Today’s feast helps us to remember all of Mary’s difficult times and helps us to remember how she and the first Christians managed all their difficulties. In the Gospels Mary is always a sign of all of us – as the Church. Today the Gospel is about the moment of the death of Jesus on the cross. That was a very difficult, sorrowful moment in life for all – Mary, the apostles, and the disciples. A group of them were right there at the cross, sharing and supporting each other during that difficult moment. We see Jesus giving his mother to his most loved apostle and giving his apostle to Mary. The first reading also shows us how the first Christians were united in prayer and united in supporting each other. Right after Jesus’ death, they return to the upper room to be united with all the other Christians.

This is a basic characteristic of our Christian faith and Church: living and sharing together, even in the most difficult moments that life throws at us. Difficulties, problems, and failures can produce in us a sadness or even depression that can lead us to want to be alone, to separation, to anger at God, or even to despair. That is not God’s desire or intention for us. The joy of the resurrection lifted-up the first Christians and even pushed them to help and serve others, specially through sharing their faith and being there for each other at all life’s moments – sad, difficult or happy, joyful. Sadness cannot be a way of life for a Christian. Despair cannot be a lifestyle for a Christian. That is why we as a Church celebrate in such a big way Christmas and Easter time. Those joyful celebrations are a sign of who we are as people, family, and Church. We are a people united and sharing together our joy that comes from Jesus’ presence in our lives through the resurrection.

Being Christian does not give us a free pass over all life’s difficulties. Christians do not have a life free of sorrows, failures, and sadness. As Christians we all have difficult days or moments in life. We find joy in living together in family and Church community serving others. It is our life as a Christian family and Christian community serving and accompanying others that lifts us up into joy – just as in today’s readings.