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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mary at the Foot of the Cross

Twenty years ago I lost my husband and my unborn child, a terrible tragedy that changed my life. For a long time I hated God. After a decade of battling Him, I surrendered to His love and mercy.
At the beginning of my healing a wise woman told me that someday I would look back on the year in which my life was shattered and be grateful for that experience. I remember thinking, “This must be what happens when you don’t drink alcohol for over 20 years; a person goes nuts.” If she thought that I would ever regard my terrible loss as something for which to be grateful, she was out of her mind.
Today I find that her prophetic words have come true. Oh, of course, there are times I wonder how my life would have been if both Fred and the baby had lived. Certainly there would have been more babies, a pretty house of my own, perhaps a dog or two. What I am not sure of, however, is whether or not I would have developed the kinship I feel today with Our Blessed Mother.
Mary knows how I feel when I see families fill the pews at Mass. She understands the pangs of sadness I sometimes experience when my girlfriends talk excitedly about their grandchildren or complain good-naturedly about their husbands. Our Blessed Lady knows my loneliness, for she stood suffering silently watching her only Child die a horrible death for the sake of all her children, past and present.
My determination over the years to try and unite my suffering with that felt by Mary has helped me develop compassion for a world I do not understand. By praying the Rosary every day, I have learned to understand that my acceptance and fidelity is more important than my worldly accomplishments or any of the ‘stuff’ I have acquired. Through prayer, I have come to believe that I have a place next to Mary at the foot of that cross.
The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary have taught me to hate the damage I cause when I sin. The Agony in the Garden demonstrates that when I offend God, it is because I am unwilling to conform to His Will for me in a particular situation. Meditating upon His scourging at the Pillar helps me endure the aches and pains of physical illness and emotional distress. When people reject me because of my Catholic Faith, I reflect upon how Mary’s only Son endured the contempt of this world when the crown of thorns was pressed onto His battered head. The days when I think I cannot face that two-hour commute (one way!) to my job in the Bay Area; I can draw upon the patience He demonstrated carrying that cross. If I feel lonely and unloved, I remember Mary’s ultimate sorrow – witnessing the death of her Son - opened for me the gates of eternal salvation.
Standing with Our Blessed Mother at the foot of the cross requires of me an assent of faith, allows for the bloom of hope and grants me the knowledge of the Love that knows no bounds.
The strength of my Catholic Faith is one of acceptance of the redemptive qualities of suffering. Nothing happens in God’s Universe in error. I may sometimes wish for the life I did not get; however I know that the life I have today is second to none.
And for that I am eternally grateful.

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