Our Lady of Sorrows

We must understand then, that even though God doesn’t always give us what we want, He always gives us what we need for our salvation. (St. Augustine)

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I took this picture on November 19, 2016. It was our 12th anniversary, and we were celebrating a getaway in New York City. I was twelve weeks pregnant with our little Teresa. I could have never known the path the pregnancy would take us to, but the memories…I cherish. The image of the Pieta has always resonated with me, but does so now on an even deeper level. I’m so thankful I have this picture, knowing that as I captured this image, my sweet little saint was growing inside me, and that almost exactly six months later, I would mirror this image as I held her body in my arms. Today, on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, I remember this image. I remember that Our Mother understands. I remember that in her sorrows, she can hold mine, too.

When I was pregnant for Teresa, my grandmother passed away, and I had the honor of receiving her statue of Our Lady of Sorrows. It is stunning. We placed it in our bedroom on a table that was also from my grandmother, but then moved the statue and table into our living room when we set out the baby bed to prepare for Teresa’s arrival. A month later, this table became “Teresa’s Table.” It holds a prominent place in our home, and on this table we keep Our Lady of Sorrows, Teresa’s memory box, a picture from the day of her funeral, and any momentos her siblings make in her honor. I could have never known.

As I look at this statue, and the seven swords* piercing Mary’s heart , I know it’s okay to be sad. I know it’s okay to suffer. I know I am not invincible. I know it’s hard to trust, yielding to the unknown. I know it’s okay to ask for help. I know tears will fall silently. But I also know that I do not stand alone. I know I am not the only one who undergoes this suffering. I know that friendships and relationships will be formed. There will be a bond created, because someone can say, “I understand.” And from that, I know joy can be mingled in with the heartache when my eyes lift from the fog, and I begin to see clearly again. And that, I have found in Red Bird Ministries.

I have found purpose in my loss, reasons to keep fighting, and meaning for my suffering. When I learn of other losses or discover someone else has “joined this club,” I feel that physical pain in my heart again. That piercing. That blade. That double edged sword. That intense, searing ache that feels impossible to recover from. It’s hard to say I feel a gratitude for my loss, but what I do feel is gratitude that my loss can be used for something bigger...for others. That God, in His Wisdom, gave me Teresa so I could also be someone who says, “I understand. Let me walk this road with you.”

Our Lady…she took on this role, too.

Our Lady of Sorrows, you see me. Our Lady of Sorrows, you understand.

A prayer I have gone back to in the midst of the heartache is the “Litany of Trust” written by the Sisters of Life It is a prayer of love and surrender. I would like to think, that if it had been written when she was living, Our Lady would have prayed these words…especially as she was holding Jesus’ lifeless body. May these words be our prayer, too.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Litany of Trust

From the belief that I have to earn Your love…

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear that I am unlovable…

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the false security that I have what it takes…

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear that trusting You will leave me more destitute…

Deliver me, Jesus.

From all suspicion of Your words and promises…

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the rebellion against childlike dependency on You…

Deliver me, Jesus.

From refusals and reluctances in accepting Your will…

Deliver me, Jesus.

From anxiety about the future…

Deliver me, Jesus.

From resentment or excessive preoccupation with the past…

Deliver me, Jesus.

From restless self-seeking in the present moment…

Deliver me, Jesus.

From disbelief in Your love and presence…

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being asked to give more than I have…

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the belief that my life has no meaning or worth…

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of what love demands…

Deliver me, Jesus.

From discouragement…

Deliver me, Jesus.

That You are continually holding me, sustaining me, loving me…

Jesus, I trust in you.

That Your love goes deeper than my sins and failings, and transforms me…

Jesus, I trust in you.

That not knowing what tomorrow brings is an invitation to lean on You…

Jesus, I trust in you.

That You are with me in my suffering…

Jesus, I trust in you.

That my suffering, united to Your own, will bear fruit in this life and the next…

Jesus, I trust in you.

That You will not leave me orphan, that You are present in Your Church…

Jesus, I trust in you.

That Your plan is better than anything else…

Jesus, I trust in you.

That You always hear me, and in Your goodness always respond to me…

Jesus, I trust in you.

That You give me the grace to accept forgiveness and to forgive others…

Jesus, I trust in you.

That You give me all the strength I need for what is asked…

Jesus, I trust in you.

That my life is a gift…

Jesus, I trust in you.

That You will teach me to trust You…

Jesus, I trust in you.

That You are my Lord and my God…

Jesus, I trust in you.

That I am Your beloved one…

Jesus, I trust in you.

Amen.


*Our Lady’s Seven Sorrows: Prophecy of Simeon; flight into Egypt; losing Jesus in the Temple; meeting Jesus on the way to the cross; Jesus’ crucifixion; taking Jesus down from the cross; burying Jesus

Kristen Dunbar