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Friday, April 2, 2010

A Good Friday Prayer for Mothers (and Fathers)

Roma Viva - Detail_of_Pietà_by_Michelangelo

There are so many wonderful reflections on Good Friday and the Cross of Christ that I was wondering what I might contribute through this blog. I am spending these days of Triduum assisting at St. James parish in Conway, SC and Resurrection in Loris, SC. I just finished witnessing a dramatization of the Stations of the Cross done by the youth of Resurrection parish here at St. James in Conway. It was indeed a moving presentation. I am always moved when the story of the Lord's Passion and Death is presented well. Often it is one particular part of Jesus' journey that strikes me and this year it was the Thirteenth Station--Jesus is taken down from the Cross and placed in the arms of His mother.

This moment is perhaps best captured by Michaelangelo in his famous sculpture, the Pieta' which is displayed at St. Peter's basilica in Rome. (click on the link above for a view of this great masterpiece.) While I have always been moved when I have visited this great work of art, and touched by this particular station of the Cross, I believe that this year I experienced it in a unique and personal way--in light of the many stories of mothers and fathers who have suffered and struggled over the deaths and other sad and tragic events in the lives of their children. I beleive that it is the mother though who suffers especially for it is she who bore the child. When one looks at Michaelangelo's masterpiece (and looking at the photo hardly does it justice) one amazed at his ability to capture in marble the anguish and sadness of Mary holding her dead Son in her arms.

During my years of priestly ministry I have sat with and wept with mothers who lost children to war, to tragic auto accidents, to childhood illness and even outright murder. I have felt the sadness and anguish of mothers who feel powerless as they watch children going through painful divorces or who see them living self-destructive lives, wasting away with drugs and alcohol or just the effects of foolish and bad decisions. I have prayed with mothers who see little children suffering from illness and who hope that God, the doctors or someone somewhere can bring about healing.

Then there are the little, but nonetheless real sufferings of every mother, such as the worry that they'll be OK at school, especially as they go off on their own for the first time, or venture on a field trip, or begin to choose friends who may not be a good influence on them. In so many ways this celebate priest has come to realize that to be a mother or a father, is to suffer. I pray that this moment in the life of Jesus and Mary brings comfort and hope to mothers everywhere.

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