|The Entombment by Peter Paul Rubens circa 1612|
Many Catholic moms experience the pain that comes from loved ones leaving their faith and God behind. Many of us live in guilt and shame. Many of live in fear for our loved ones. May this article be a source of comfort for you!
On the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, my Marian Mantle Prayer Group and I were praying the Rosary of her Seven Sorrows. During the sixth mystery of sorrow, while contemplating Mary holding Jesus in her arms at the foot of the cross, I pictured all of us throughout the world who pray so faithfully, year after year, for loved ones who no longer practice the Catholic faith ...
I saw that each one of us is spiritually holding our loved ones in love and prayer at the foot of the cross just as Mary held Jesus. I recognized that even though our loved ones may appear dead spiritually and that evil seems to be triumphing, that is not the Truth! Although Jesus did die, that was not the end of the story -- and neither is it the end for our loved ones. Just as we know that Jesus is resurrected, so we also know that in the power of His Resurrection, God has conquered sin and death and evil --and is able to bring the dead back to life and make all things new! (cf. Rev 21:5 and 2 Cor 5: 17)
And then, I had this inner sight, this understanding – this beautiful encouragement – that flooded my soul with joy and comfort…
I saw, not with my eyes, but in my soul … I understood … that our mother, Mary is holding each of us at the foot of the Cross as well.
She holds us as she held her Son. As our mother, she holds us.
She holds all of us who carry a cross, exhausted and pierced with the blows of Satan’s attacks…
And... as Mary holds us – she holds us as we are holding our loved ones!
All of us are in Christ! We are all one in Jesus! Therefore, in Jesus, Mary holds each of us in her arms.
As she held Jesus at the foot of the Cross - she, too, holds us closely in our sorrow. But in a sorrow that is filled with hope, seeking to comfort us by kissing our wounds and washing them with her tears. To the innermost depth of her soul, she offers her prayers for God’s will to be done in us and in our loved ones lives – never accepting that we nor our loved ones are truly dead.
Faithfully and with steadfast hope, she holds us, prays with us and awaits our resurrection.
I understood that just as she holds Jesus, and holds us in Him, she holds each of our prodigals --our loved ones --some of whom we have prayed for for many, many years -- safely in her arms.
I can’t begin to describe how consoling it is to envision Mary holding my loved ones and myself so tenderly in her arms.
She holds us with truly human arms, maternal arms, arms cradling us with limitless faith, hope and love. I can envision her looking on us with eyes filled only with infinite love and sorrow for the sins that put us at the foot of the cross – caressing us and washing us clean with her tears. I envision her fiercely protecting us with her boundless faith from Satan’s attacks, which seek to lead us to despair.
While Jesus was dying on the cross, he told Mary, “Behold your son” (Jn 19:26). In that command, He gave each of us to Mary as her sons and daughters.
God had enabled and equipped Mary. He had filled her with Grace not only to bring Christ into the world and remain faithful to Him to the last, but also in order for her to love each of us as her own children! We are her children and she loves us as she loves her beloved Lord and God --her Son -- Jesus. That is really unimaginable – it is something we can only ponder – that Mary can and does love us --we who crucify her Son daily with our sins --as much as she loves Jesus!
In the economy of Divine Love, when Jesus became man – He drew up all humanity into Himself – he took on our human nature and gave us His Divine Nature in exchange -- making us partakers in His Divinity as St. Peter writes (2 Pet 1:4). When he died on the cross – he continued to draw and elevate humanity into Himself, bearing the weight, burden and horror of our sin that keeps us from union with Him – thereby, freeing us from the wages of sin and death.
We are in Him. We are in Him through His Incarnation, through His Death and Resurrection. We are in Him through the Sacrament of Baptism, which makes us sons and daughters of God who are given an inheritance of Eternal Glory – and in which the original stain of sin is washed away from us through the Blood of the Lamb.
Jesus is God and is an Eternal Being, and thus IS beyond any limits of space and time - all time is meaningless to Him -- it all is an Eternal Now.
So we can say, in a certain sense, Jesus is forever united with Mary, in whose womb He was formed as man, taking her flesh as his own.
Thus, in Jesus, all of us are in Mary. We are in Mary and thus, we partake in her endless faith and boundless love of the Blessed Trinity. Her arms continually encircle us, and if we allow them to hold us closely to herself, we are held aloft in her faith and trust in God’s beautiful, though mysterious will. Being held in her arms is like being held in the Boundless Love of God – for it is only through Him, with Him and In Him that Mary lives; and her love and care for us are but a maternal reflection of the Heart of God -- the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and their infinite love for us and our children. She lives in God and God lives in her, and we are called into this union: “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one--as you are in me, Father, and I am in you” (Jn 17:21). If we cling to them, we will remain united to them and will be one with them.
So as we pass through the trials of this life, Mary will continue to hold us – offering up a constant vigil of prayer for us and our loved ones – continually loving and praying for us during our deepest agonies, at the foot of the cross, and outside the tomb awaiting our resurrection. She never gives up on us or ceases to pray for us until we are brought unto the Eternal Life and home of our choosing (whether it be with God or not – for He creates us with the freedom to choose). Up until we make that final choice, all is filled with hope.
Sometimes truths that we hold dear come together in our minds in a new and deeper way – in an understanding that floods our souls with grace, mercy and peace – I pray that these truths of our salvation bring you as much encouragement and consolation as they have brought to me. May we be joyful and confident, knowing that we are in God’s arms – enfolded in the arms of His Blessed Mother, whom He gave to us as our own. Though it appears to the world that all is lost, we hold onto the Hope and the Power of our Beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Resurrection.
For more information on the Seven Sorrows of Mary and on the promises given to those who meditate on them see: http://www.catholicfire.blogspot.com/2014/09/our-lady-of-sorrows-feast-day-and.html
Copyright 9-15-2014 Janet Moore