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  • Sarah Raad

Simultaneously

The Blessed Virgin saved a multitude of souls by offering her grief for the salvation of sins.

The Entombment of Christ (Caravaggio)

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation, which we rememeber in the First Joyful Mystery of the most Holy Rosary. And today, I have been reflecting on grief... Because though all of Heaven and Earth rejoiced at the Virgin's Fiat (when she said YES to the Angel), Her FIAT, though it brought Her joy, also brought her unimaginable grief to her soul...


The other day I was talking with a dear friend who was suffering the terrible effects of grief.


Grief is one of those dreadful things that a person simply must experience to really understand. You see, for a person who has not experienced deep, sustained and profound grief – from the outside, so to speak – there is something almost romantic about grief. When I use the word romantic in this sense, I mean idealised and sugar-coated, where the grief appears as a gentle melancholy that quickly fades over time…


If you have never felt the devastation of shattered dreams and hope, grief can appear to be a sort of idealised experience. For the uninitiated, grief can appear to be an experience where it is easy to imagine a small feeling of nostalgia that is a little bothersome at times, but which can be pushed aside and out of the way so that it is not distracting at inconvenient times.

The reality of grief is somewhat different – at least in my own very limited experience… You see, for me, I found grief overwhelming and all encompassing. And just when I thought that I had a handle on it – so to speak – I would be submerged under a wave of sadness so unexpected that I was sure I would never surface from it again in this lifetime.

Part of the reason for this idealisation of grief is because often, we see very beautiful and dignified examples of grief within our communities. People carrying unbearable burdens of grief get up in the morning, get dressed, go to work and come home and cook dinner in the evening. They somehow manage to interact with others during the day, and they smile – though often reservedly – through their day so that few (and sometimes no) other people know what it is that they struggle with or grieve…


I was praying the Stations of the Cross during Lent. And I was reflecting most particularly on the thirteenth station of the Cross, where Christ’s body is removed from the Cross… You see, in that Station, Christ’s sacrifice was over – it was “finished” to use the last words of Christ Himself... “‘It is finished.’ With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30).


But, though Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross was “finished”, the sacrifice of His Mother was far from finished. It was She – and some small group of friends – who had to un-prise the rusted nails from His Blessed Hands and Feet. It was She – and some small group of friends – who had to wipe the blood and dirt and spittle from His Sacred body. It was She – and some small group of friends – who had to lift the bruised and beaten and broken Body of God into their arms and carry Him to the tomb…


And the reflection upon which I was meditating directed my thoughts to this grief of the Virgin… You see, the Blessed Virgin saved a multitude of souls by offering her grief for the salvation of sins.


And I have been thinking of this too…


You see, if I too could unite my grief to that of the Blessed Virgin – for the Glory of God – then imagine how many souls that could be saved…


Because if that was what I could do, I would be able to be simultaneously sad and happy in this lifetime - just as the Blessed Virgin was in Her perfect FIAT...


And I have come to believe that the Blessed Virgin's example, really is the only way to grieve…


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

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