On 15 September, the Canossians celebrate our Principal Feast: The Solemnity of Our Lady of Sorrows. St Magdalene considered Mother Mary as the Foundress of the Canossian Institute and placed the Canossian Daughters and Sons of Charity, both religious and lay, under the maternal patronage of Our Lady of Sorrows.
It seems an irony that we celebrate sorrows. Humanity knows that the greatest sorrow one experiences is to see a loved one suffering. We often hear parents who wish they could take the place of their suffering child. Indeed, it is tough, It is painful.
Mary suffered with her Son, Jesus, when He was hanging on the cross. Oh what a comfort it must have been for Jesus to have Mary standing by the Cross when everyone else abandoned Him! At the last moment of His life Jesus was left only with His mother, a disciple, and a few other women who used to follow Him.
Are there reasons for celebrations In the midst of the pandemic, when the world is suffering and living in fear? We have to ask the question in the right context: Is there ever a time in human history when the world does not suffer? Is suffering not a part of our human conditions?
The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows follows the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14 September). For Christians, the Cross is the sign of victory and hope for our salvation in God. In the midst of sorrows, there is hope. In the midst of the pandemic and the world grounded to a near halt, there is also so much hope.
Mother nature could finally breathe fresh air when factories had to close and pollution was reduced. Children and the elderly became more aware of each other’s presence. Those who frowned upon technology as gadgets which weakened human relationship saw the integral role it played in connecting people across the globe. Those who previously did not have access to technology discovered how it could connect them to people whom they would otherwise never meet. Choirs consisting of members from different corners of the world sprang up online, and songs of hope were shared. Parents worked from home and were able to spend more time with their children. When in-person classes were suspended, children continued to learn through home-based learning.
There was so much more of sharing and caring from strangers, and everyone extended a helping hand. In a time when many lost their jobs, others who had the means stepped up to support. Even the poor who were helped made it a point to share what they received with those worse off than them.
Masses were held online, and the Faithful became more aware of their spiritual poverty and their desire for the Eucharist and fellowship with others, something which was always taken for granted. We began to experience the universality of the Church. Online Rosaries and prayer sessions connected the world into a praying community across the globe. Catholics worldwide in different time zones joined the Pope in prayers. The Canossians both lay and religious gathered to celebrate this Feast online and heard the message of the Congregational Leader on Zoom.
In the midst of pain, Mary the Mother of Sorrows held so much hope in her heart. She knew that in her Son’s suffering and death, there would be life eternal. Hope would flourish, and she would never be alone. The Holy Spirit would continue to be her Guide and she, in turn, began to gather the disciples of her Son together. It gave them so much hope to continue living and loving.
Mary, Mother of Love at the foot of the Cross, pray for us to your Son Jesus.