• Sarah Raad


My tears will end – my joy will not!

Virgin Mary with the Dead Jesus

Many years ago now, when the technician who had completed the ultrasound stood next to me and told me that my baby had died, I cried and cried and cried. Later, when the supervising radiologist walked into the room, to confirm these findings, I apologised for all my tears – but though I apologised, I could not stop crying. The grief was overwhelming. It was all consuming to me.

The other day I visited a dear friend of mine who is struggling with grief. I pray for this friend often, for the burden of grief is heavy. During my visit – while she was telling me an unrelated story – feelings of her own grief overflowed, and she too cried and cried and cried.

Her source of grief, which was apparently so different from mine generated an identical response in her as it had in me. It was not even the same problem that we were dealing with – she and I – but that mattered not to our tears. Her tears the other day were identical to mine all those years ago, and to the tears that have followed those first ones over the years.

It made me think… Although our grief looked different, its reality – the source of her grief and my grief – was identical…

I have been reflecting ever since on this experience of grief and loss. Every single human being who has lived on this Earth has experienced grief and loss. Some of us lose loved ones, others lose money, others lose their health or youth or beauty, still others lose their place in the world and their identity.

All of us cry.

God Himself cried tears of grief upon the Cross…

His Mother cried them too.

The same tears I cried years ago, and in the years since, the same tears my friend cried the other day, the same tears that you are crying right now, those tears are what my Beloved cried for love of us…

Our grief and our tears are caused by great love. Those tears are the signs of unrequited love. Love unrequited is love unsatisfied. It causes a restlessness, a hunger for something that we cannot express.

Love is unrequited when a loved one dies – because we cannot reach out to them physically to draw them in.

Love is unrequired when a vocation ends – because we cannot continue along the path that we love and are committed to.

Love is unrequited when we experience financial, social or political failure – because we cannot get the things that we love.

And what is strange, is that though what we love may be wildly different, our feelings of loss are so similar…

I cry for a child that I have lost for now, but who I will see for all eternity. In my tiny grief, I find great comfort that Christ – God Himself – also grieved… But how unfair I am! Christ did not grieve for a child lost for a little while, He cried for ALL HIS CHILDREN LOST FOR ALL ETERNITY.

It was for this reason that Christ said of Judas – who was damned through his sin of despair in failing to ask forgiveness after his betrayal rather than for the betrayal itself – “It would be better for him if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:24). Because Christ grieved something so magnificently big that I have not the words to express that sorrow… He grieved then and He grieves now, for ALL ETERNITY. My grief is fleeting… God’s is ETERNAL…

Saint Pope John XXIII said, “I must consider myself as the man of the cross and love the one that God gives me without thinking any further.” God calls us all to HOLINESS because “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). This is because God desires that we “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Blessed Álvaro del Portillo was a Spanish Bishop who was known for instilling calmness in others. Blessed Álvaro was once speaking to someone about a financial problem he was facing, and the person advising him worriedly told him that if the problem persisted the bishop could end up in gaol. Blessed Álvaro calmly replied, “If that ever happens, remember to bring me plenty of paper and the type-writer. I can work from there...”.

He was calm. That calmness is a sign of Grace.

No account of the Crucifixion spoke of Our Lady wailing and carrying on at the Foot of the Cross. In every account she is silent. She is calm… Heartbroken, but calm…

Why? Because there is a restlessness when we fail to see our grief for what it is. We grow impatient with it. When will this be over? When will I be rid of this pain that has destroyed my life? This has changed me, I do not like it and it is so unfair!

But Saint Augustine reminds us so beautifully… “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

Now, I seek my rest… for I see my Beloved, beckoning me through these tears. My heart longs for Him and my soul rejoices in Him. How I wish to stand within His Holy presence.

For that… I will bear any grief, I will feel any sadness, I will cry any tears…

For my grief will end – but my JOY will not!

And knowing that, I can dance along this path to Calvary – because I know that it is taking me home to eternal JOY!

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

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