Though I could have walked down the hall from my room and checked the boards that list the names of all the deceased sisters, I am just presuming that sometime in your history there has been a sister by the name of Dolores. The name is familiar in the Latino culture and is really a shortened form of the liturgical memorial that we celebrate today: Maria de los Dolores. I know only one woman who bears that name, but I am sure that it, like many names, has become less popular at the present time.
Today we liturgically remember a mother’s grief and anguish at the death of the One she loved most, executed unjustly, and also a compassionate solidarity on the side of the disciple who took her under his care. We do not grieve today for Mary, except liturgically, because her own pain and anguish are now over. But we can try to resonate with what she went through at that moment, resonating with gratitude for her having accepted to take us all under her care, as in today gospel narrative, Jesus commended the disciple to her: there is your mother.
None of us is a stranger to grief. The loss of our parents, our siblings, our relatives is usually accompanied by a period of grieving. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “The pain now is a result of the love before.” However, he didn’t stop there. He also wrote, “The joy which will be is the result of the grief before.”
Mary’s grieving is finished. Yet we continue to remember it and reflect on it as we process our own grief. The introduction or invitation to prayer in the Church’s “Vigil for the Deceased,” reminds us that we believe that all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout our lives do not unravel with death.” The first time I had occasion to use that particular rite many years ago occasioned a response from one of the bereaved who came to me after the service and spoke of how his mother had spent a great part of her life knitting and crocheting. The invitation to prayer put a smile on his face and soothed his grief a little as he thought of his mother being connected to him even though she was now gone.
One day we too will join Mary and her Son in heaven. On that day we will remember how our lives have been knit together with theirs through our faith and our life of prayer.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator