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  • Dyann Maldonado

The Fourth Sorrow of Mary

Good morning to all of you. I am Father Brian Becker. I got a call from Father Miller earlier in the week. I know you keep him in your prayers, but please continue to do. He is having a difficult weekend with his illness, and he was asking for some assistance with the masses this weekend and he gave me a call. I'm here to be with you from Saint Joseph's College Seminary. It's my current assignment and it is one of those assignments in the dioceses, which we refer to as a full contact ministry. That's the reason that I'm up here before you with a broken wing. I was playing Ultimate Frisbee with our seminarians a couple of weeks ago, broke my collarbone and now I have this great thing that I get to offer for Lent happened. If the doctor’s prognosis is correct, I should be out of this thing by about Easter. This is what happens when you're when you're late about choosing what you're going to do for Lent. God gives you a gift. Here we are now for Lent.

Father Miller said he has been preaching to you in a series of homilies on the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady. He very gently suggested to me that, you know, if I could find a good angle, I could go ahead and continue that. And I thought that was a great idea. He told me, you’re up to the fourth sorrow that our lady meets her son on the way of the cross. Now, this is this sorrow in particular is one that that lines up very nicely with our Lenten devotions, because this actually maps directly on the fourth sorrow to the fourth station of the cross, where our lady met her son Jesus, on his way of the cross and considering this mystery, I want to share with you one of the considerations from a popular form of the stations, not sure which form you guys use in your parish devotions, but one that I have been formed in from my time in seminary was the one that was composed by Saint Alphonsus Liguori.

Saint Alphonsus has this meditation on this station and therefore also on the sorrow of our lady. He says, consider how the son met his mother on his way to Calvary. Jesus and Mary gazed at each other, and their looks became as so many arrows to wound those hearts which loved each other so tenderly. This is a beautiful image. We have several writers in the spiritual life that have a poetry about the way that they write. We've seen this in in many images. You can look at your own stations and you can see a beautiful depiction of that gaze that shared between Christ and his mother. But this is a beautiful exploration of what passed between them in those moments when they looked at each other and it's a very interesting image that Saint Alphonsus uses to describe this, that their looks became as so many arrows to wound those hearts which loved each other so much. Why this image, then? Why is this a wounding that passed between them? Well, part of what Christ and our Lady are showing us here is the true nature of charity, the true nature of the love that they shared for each other. Both of them were engaging in the way of the cross, in the way that was proper to each one of them. Christ supremely bearing all the sufferings of the sins of the world, in addition to his bodily torments, was going up to the mounts to give his life for us. And our lady, being the perfect disciple, was joining him on this journey. She, more perfectly than any human, joined with her son on his way of the cross, she united her heart to his and in a sense, she died her own death there at the foot of the cross in union with her son. And in doing this, each of them was showing perfect charity. Christ, as the author of Charity himself and Our Lady, as the one who most perfectly possessed it among men and it's a mark of that charity to be so concerned with the one that you love, that they're suffering wounds you more than the suffering that you're going through yourself. Christ bearing the weight of the sins of the world when he sees his afflicted mother, the movement in his human nature is to weep for her to be wounded, in turn by the fact that she has to suffer. This along with him and our lady following her son most perfectly does the same thing. In turn, she weeps. Not so much for the fact that she has to do this with her son and fulfillment of the Divine Plan. But she weeps because the one whom she loves so much is suffering. We have this interchange, this gaze that they share, this gaze that is full of love, and yet is one that wounds. So, meditating then on this image, we have a couple of lessons for the way that we approach Lent. One of them is the nature of our own sufferings. We're all going to have moments in our practice of Lent when the things that we take on are going to become quite a burden for us and we are going to be wrapped up in the fact that I am miserable. I didn't really think this all the way through. Maybe I wasn't quite as prudent as I should have been, and now I'm regretting what I took on. In the middle of your penance, you might find yourself wallowing in self-pity and dreaming of the day when Easter comes, and you can release yourself from whatever strictures that you've been under.

What's the remedy for this? When we find ourselves wrapped up in ourselves in this way. We have to recall the reason that we are doing these things. We are not engaging in our practices of Lent primarily for the purposes of self-fulfillment. We are not fasting for the sake of losing weight. We are doing these practices out of a desire to do as our Lady did, to unite ourselves with our Savior out of love for Him to participate as fully as we can in His way of the cross. We are uniting ourselves with Christ, journeying with Him to Jerusalem there to go up and to die with him.  When we are chafed by the things that we have visited upon ourselves or that God has given to us, what are we to do in those moments? We are to very intentionally make a gift of these things to our savior in honor of our Lady. Christ is suffering so much for us on account of the sins that we have committed.  What we do in Lent is we seek to make some small return, some small participation in that suffering that we may be redeemed from our sins and that we may merit by the sufferings of our Savior to share in the joy of his resurrection.  We give these things as a gift to our Lord. And the second lesson that we take in our practice of Lent is from the nature of this charity that is demonstrated to us by our Lord and Lady. Another thing that we can do with our sufferings is that we can give them not only to our Lord, but we can also give them to others.


In a sense. In addition to making this gift of the things that you are offering up for Lent to our Lord in your prayers, also explicitly call to mind those persons for whom you are offering these tendencies. This is another great way to exercise charity by what it is that we are giving up by what it is that we are suffering. In your prayers list out these people that are in your lives, perhaps those who are suffering worse than you, those who have suffered some tragedy, some illness going through a very difficult time in their life by the gift of the Holy Spirit and the operation of God's grace. This is one of the other great things that we are privileged to share in the order of charity that offering these things to God, we can also offer them for the good of our brothers and sisters here on Earth.

This is another way to keep us from getting wrapped up in ourselves, in our self-pity. And we can give these things not only to our savior, but also to our brothers and our sisters and our friends. Remember this. This is the point in Lent when things tend to start getting a little bit difficult. The initial fervor has worn off. We're into the long slog and we need something at this point to renew our devotion to what it is that we are offering to Christ. When you find yourself flagging in your disciplines, make these movements anteriorly. Make an offering of these things to your Savior. Name those people for whom you will suffer these things. And in the order of this grace of Christ, there will be a very fruitful return on these sufferings that we ourselves and those for whom we are praying will be given great graces to enter into Christ suffering so as to merit a share in His resurrection.

Homily begins at 21:08

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