Our blessed Mother is close to those who suffer. She was close to the couple at the Cana wedding feast when noticed their need and called on Jesus to help. At the foot of the Cross she stands strong, the woman of faith, to help her beloved Son to endure until the very end.
Mary has always been close to me. I reclaimed my relationship with her when I was a senior in college when she helped me to make a significant confession after I visited the Fatima Shrine in Milwaukee (68th and Stevenson). These days, however, Mary has been significantly more present to me than ever before. I so look forward to praying the daily rosary with my parents every evening at 6:30pm. What a blessed moment. I feel her maternal closeness with me in a special way. What would the Cross be without Mary?!
Even though she does not take away pain, she does help us to endure it, to accept it, to live with it, to see it as a help to eternal salvation! This is how she ministered to Jesus on the Way to the Cross AND while he was on the Cross. She is the sorrowful Mother who stands strong with the suffering Christ. She loves him intensely and enters into his suffering in a profound way, in a way that only a perfect and pure love can. She is with him taking upon herself his pain, struggle, rejection. In this way, she carries the cross with him and makes the load "lighter," or more bearable. I have felt this myself. Whenever I am in the depths of some painful crisis these past months, turning to Mary has ALWAYS helped in some way or other. She opens doors for us and helps us to get through whatever it is we struggle with.
OUR POINT OF ENTRY
We can see Mary as God's smile upon us. God has sent the blessing of his smile to us through her. Pope Benedict reflects on the smile of Mary when he last visited Lourdes: "Here in Lourdes, in the course of the apparition of Wednesday 3 March 1858, Bernadette contemplated this smile of Mary in a most particular way. It was the first response that the Beautiful Lady gave to the young visionary who wanted to know who she was. Before introducing herself, some days later, as “the Immaculate Conception”, Mary first taught Bernadette to know her smile, this being the most appropriate point of entry into the revelation of her mystery." Those of us who have suffered and have called upon Mary, instinctively know this smile. We can feel it. She is with us and delights in being with us.
In another way, Mary's smile is also the smile of God. It is the "point of entry" for us to approach God. Who can resist the smile of the beautiful pure woman of Mary? It is a smile of peaceful acceptance of our weak humanity. I need this smile regularly. I need to feel it and know it. It might do us some good this Lent to think about how we allow "stuff" to get in the way of this smile. It is a smile for each of us and God has given us this smile through his most Blessed Mother.
Friend of Arise