Joy In Suffering
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: One of the gifts or graces that Mary exemplifies and offers to those who pray to her is joy. And this joy is unique. It has the ability to permeate every moment of our lives, even those moments that are the most painful.
Jesus did not want to suffer. Before his passion, we are told, he was “deeply troubled” (John 13:21). True faith does not mean we will never be upset. What it does mean is that underneath the disturbance there is something more profound, and that is joy. The Letter to the Hebrews tells us it was “for the sake of joy that lay before him [Jesus] endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2), and it was this joy that sustained him.
Mary knew God’s deep love for her. This was all she needed. She was free to risk everything for God because she could risk being regarded unfavorably by others.
The need for comfort lies deep within the human heart. But in this upside-down reign of God, comfort can be a dangerous desire. Those who join their sufferings to the suffering of Christ with faith and goodwill find healing and joy in God’s presence.
Mary, our Mother, helps us recognize God’s presence in our midst, especially in our pain and suffering, in our uncertainty and fear.
Ask Mary to share her joy with you so you can share it with others.—Fr. Philip Dabney, CSsR
The Icon: Ponder the Scriptures
As we celebrate Advent this year, let’s adopt a new approach to our study of the glorious Our Mother of Perpetual Help icon.
The star on Mary’s veil calls us to look to her as the one who, by the light of this star, guides us on our pilgrimage. The Gospel of Matthew puts on the lips of the Magi the question, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage” (Matthew 2:2).
The dark blue of her veil symbolizes the darkness that sometimes surrounds us and the confusion that often distracts us from a spiritually grounded life. The prophet Isaiah writes, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who live in a land of gloom a light has shown” (Isaiah9:1).
Although in this life we and the Church as a whole are bound to endure persecution and have our faith challenged, our study of iconography can guide us. “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars”(Revelation 12:1).
We place on the lips of Mary the words of St. Paul: “[Let us keep] our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 2:2).
Mary, star of the sea, guide us on our way!—Br. Daniel Korn, CSsR
Christmas Is Found in Your Inner Sanctuary
“The true meaning of Christmas is not found in the marketplace and malls but in the Word of God. We can reflect on Mary and the way in which she handled all that was going on in her young life. She remained faithful to herself, sorting out in her heart truth from fiction. She did not allow herself to be controlled or manipulated by other voices. Her only desire was to do God’s will and to be God’s servant in light of the truth revealed in her heart. Mary teaches us to do our inner work and not surrender our lives to the gods of the marketplace and malls who lure us into a state of mindlessness and addictive shopping.
“Authentic Christians experience Christmas in the sanctuary of their hearts and not in the marketplace. Christmas is about homecoming, entering our hearts where we ponder the true gift, Jesus, the Son of God.”
Adapted from Joyful Meditations for Every Day of Advent and the 12 Days of Christmas by Rev. Warren J. Savage and Mary Ann McSweeny (Liguori Publications © 2013). For more information, visit Liguori.org or call 800-325-9521.