“Prayer is to get lost in God, to forget oneself, to find oneself in God. It is to consume oneself in love for Him.” (Saint Padre Pio).
These days, I have been praying most especially for those who are sick. I have included those who are physically sick and mentally sick and spiritually sick in my prayers and their families and loved ones also.
When I pray for these souls, I remind myself that some of these souls will recover their physical, mental or spiritual health – and others will not. But whether the person will recover or not, that person is equally in need of prayers, for there is great suffering in the treatment of sickness and the suffering of the sick is a terrible thing – for the person who is sick and for their loved ones who worry, help and pray for them.
As I have been reflecting on the sick, I have thought often of Our Blessed Mother. For she endured much suffering too…
The other day someone who is dear to me asked me whether Our Lady experienced a lessening of suffering when she witnessed the agony of Christ as she stood at the Foot of the Cross because she trusted the Word of God and understood the RESURRECTION and Christ’s triumph over death even as He died…
I have been reflecting on this question ever since because it is a valid one.
After all, Our Blessed Mother was perfectly connected with God through the Blessed Persons of the Holy Trinity. She was the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Handmaid of God the Father and the Mother of God the Son – and now she is Queen of Heaven… She was BROUGHT into the relationship of the Trinity through her sinlessness and through her perfect acquiescence to the WILL OF GOD – through her fiat – when she agreed to the Incarnation… “Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). And in being within that relationship, Our Blessed Mother understood – better than any other human, with the exception of Christ – the power and majesty of God.
And so, it is logical to wonder – knowing that Christ would soon triumph over death – was Our Blessed Mother’s suffering lessened as she witnessed His dying on the Cross? And the answer is... NO. It was not less because of her knowledge… It was MORE!
You see, it all comes back to those sick people for whom I pray. Many of them receive medication, have operations and/or endure treatments that are very difficult for them. For some of those people who are being treated for their sickness, the treatments can feel worse than the sickness itself. You have only to think of treatments for cancer, where very often the complications that arise from the treatment are almost as bad – if not worse – than the underlying illness itself.
And that is how the suffering relates to Our Blessed Mother…
After all, nobody would say that a person – with a good prognosis for recovery – who is receiving treatment for cancer was not suffering very much because it was likely that eventually they would recover. In fact, when we consider the sick, we very often think of people who have cancer and further still – if the patient were a very young child, who was innocent and gentle and free of corruption – it would result in even greater suffering for the child and parent who was sick.
It is the same – actually worse – for Our Blessed Mother. You see, she – like the parent of the sick child – had to watch the innocent suffer. More than that – she understood that Christ was God… And so she had to watch GOD – PERFECT LOVE – suffer.
And because her heart was so perfectly united to the Heart of God through the relationship that She had with each of the Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity – that suffering was magnified! For Our Blessed Mother knew how to pray. In the words of Padre Pio, “Prayer is to get lost in God, to forget oneself, to find oneself in God. It is to consume oneself in love for Him.”
And Our Blessed Mother – being so PERFECTLY consumed – felt every blow that He felt, endured every curse that He endured, breathed every breath that He breathed. And she did it all in silence – as a witness to the MISSION of God.
And so – to answer the question of the person who is dear to me – NO. Our Blessed Mother’s suffering was not less because she understood the Resurrection of Christ, which was to come… It was more. For having greater understanding, she knew what it was that I did to Him on that Cross… Having greater understanding she knew what it was when she witnessed her dying Son say, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).
And because she understood that – because she knew it – how much more terrible her suffering truly is…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.