• Sarah Raad


“There is no soul more human than one overflowing with supernatural sense... every person is her (Mary) son or her daughter.” (Saint Josemaria).

Virgin and Child in Majesty (Duccio)

I have been thinking – as I often do – about motherhood because I am, after all, a mother. Recently one of my sisters gave birth to a beautiful little boy, and as I have been observing my sister and my nephew, I have been thinking about the suffering of a mother for her children…

Mothers endure much suffering for their children both before and after their birth!

First there is the uncertainty of pregnancy, where up to one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. Then there are the various discomforts of pregnancy – morning sickness, back pain, muscle aches, tiredness.

Later, that little baby has to be born! And one thing is for sure – that birth will hurt – no doubt about it! It will either hurt in the moment of birth, or it will hurt during a period of recovery, or it will hurt in both instances!

And then – after all of that – that child needs to be cared for and fed and clothed. Mothers are sleep deprived and tired and – sometimes cranky – for years as a result of all the things they have to do to keep their child alive…

And things do not end there. Children need raising! Mothers (and fathers too) need to teach their children – by their words and deeds – what is right and what is wrong and they need to lead their children forward on the path to salvation… That is a parent’s primary purpose! To lead souls to God!

The suffering of a mother is no secret. In my own family, I often joke that each of my children took a piece of me – that I sacrificed a piece of myself for each of my children… My eldest child took my stomach – it was never the same again after he was born! My second son took my shoulder – carrying a colicky baby for months on end will wear any mother down! My daughter took my back – that seemed to be the longest pregnancy of my life! And my youngest child – the little boy who went to Heaven before he was even born – well, he took my heart, because my heart will never be whole again until I see him face to face in eternity…

And yet, I do not begrudge my children those parts of me. I willingly and joyfully give all that I am for them.

A dear friend once told me that the suffering of a mother for her children is what binds her to them because it is a sign of her great love for them. And because a mother suffers in a special way for her children by experiencing a pregnancy and birth and – typically – most of the early interventions required of a child, her love for her child is different in a way that their father cannot share...

And it is not only a physical pregnancy that binds a mother to her children. After all, Our Blessed Mother did not experience a pregnancy or physical birth when she became Mother of the Church, and yet, still she suffered to give birth to the Church. And she gave birth to the Church when she stood silently in the hardest place – at the foot of the Cross…

In this way, Our Blessed Mother became bound to the church – loving us through the agony caused by the indignity, suffering and death, and even ultimately the spear piercing the side of Christ...

“When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, ‘Woman, behold thy son!’ Then saith He to the disciple, ‘Behold thy mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” (John 19:26-27).

And Saint Bernard explains that Our Lady’s acceptance of that mean that she agreed to “exchange the servant in the place of the Lord, the disciple in the place of the master, the son of Zebedee in place of the Son of God, a man in place of God.” And I reflect upon the suffering that she accepted for LOVE of us in such an exchange…

For Our Blessed Mother sees the face of Christ in every face because “there is no soul more human than one overflowing with supernatural sense... every person is her (Mary) son or her daughter.” (Saint Josemaria).

And how could I possibly atone for the suffering that I caused to the Mother of God because she accepted Christ’s request to love me? How could I possibly atone?

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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