I saw them as I entered the supermarket parking lot. A family of four crouched in the shade of a small tree. Two young boys sat with their mother and waved at passing cars. The father held a sign asking for assistance. I parked the car and made a mental note to buy something for them to eat before heading back home. My good intentions slipped away, however, as I made my way up and down the aisles, searching for all of the items on my list. As I exited the store the sight of the family brought me up short. I unloaded my bags and pulled out the lunch meat and rolls I bought for lunch with a friend. After handing over my meager offerings, along with a few dollars, one of the boys looked up and smiled. “God bless you,” he said.
Of all the feasts to honor Mary, the one I love most is Our Lady of Sorrows feast day (September 15).
It recalls not only the sufferings Mary experienced in her life, but also the way she consoles others in the midst of theirs. Mary, a woman who praised God for the blessing bestowed upon her, was not defeated by the sorrow that pierced her heart. She gave herself over to God’s grace, allowing herself to be transformed in the process. Her pierced and wounded heart is a sign of blessing and hope. Thus we turn to her in our own need, asking for her prayers on our behalf.
Mary’s response to our cries of pain is not unlike the little boy in the parking lot. It is a reminder that God’s merciful blessing is given to all of us, particularly in times of our greatest need. It is also a call to open our hearts to others, to be people who know sorrow and allow it to make us more generous and caring. What we have to offer may seem a pittance given the vast sum of human misery across the globe.
The life and witness of this humble woman, however, should remind us that no act of charity is insignificant and that each extension of kindness is one more ripple in the vast expanse of love that consoles us all.
For Catechists: It can be a difficult thing to know how to console children during times of grief and tragedy. Visit Sadlier’s new Catechists Café and find resources for helping children deal with grief and tragedy.
Download my Prayer for Consolation and share it with those in need of comfort and relief from their suffering.