With the coronavirus affair driving things so fast and furiously, we need to stay grounded and rooted, particularly in this season of Lent. I hope you all are finding ways to do that! Come back to peace. Find wisdom!
Today I did something that always helps me: a visit to places in what has been my second home since I was 10 years old, Centerville, on Cape Cod, about an hour from where I live. I went to Craigville Beach where the Spirit always feeds my soul, to my parents’ grave, and to Our Lady of Victory Church where, when I had been away from the Lord in my youth, He brought me home.
My music for the journey: one of my very favorite pieces, Karl Jenkins’ rendition of the Stabat Mater. This truly great 13th-century poem-prayer has been a subject of work for many of the greatest composers and there have been literally hundreds of versions. It’s a contemplation of Our Lady of Sorrows at the side of the Cross. As Our Lady of Sorrows is the Patroness of our Congregation of Holy Cross, I am Her son, and so I have prayed this poem often and deeply. Today was another time for that.
“Stabat Mater Dolorosa, juxta crucem lacrimosa …” It is what we hear often at the Stations of the Cross: “At the cross her station keeping, stood the mournful Mother weeping.” Karl Jenkins’ version sensitively yet powerfully awakens us to know that in gazing on this Sorrowful Mother at the side of this Suffering Son we are to see all sorrowful mothers and all suffering children of today. In turn, all mothers and all the suffering children of God are to see themselves, to see their hope and to understand their way to life in what happened once and for all in that event on Calvary.
“Sancta Mater,” we cry out through the poem, “Holy Mother”: as if to say, “Why? How long, O Lord?” yet at the same time, “Yes, Lord. I say YES with you, Holy Mother!” The prayer says “Make me feel His pain. Make my heart burn in the love of Christ in doing His will”: embracing our own suffering, and even more, identifying with and seeing Christ as we suffer with others so as to share in the work of salvation now with Our Sorrowful Mother.
We live in uncertain times. “How long O Lord?” Fine: pose the question to God, but with Mother Mary say “Yes, Lord!”Trust. Listen. Follow! Show us, Lord, what we are to do to help You make all things new!
I pray we can all find our way back to who we are and where we are to live. In the Son, we truly are sons and daughters of the Father. Our place is with our Mother Mary at the foot of the Cross.
About Father Jim Phalan, C.S.C.
Father James Phalan, C.S.C., is a Catholic priest, member of the Congregation of Holy Cross and the National Director of Family Rosary. He served as a missionary for many years travelling the globe to help people come to Jesus through Mary as part of the Family Rosary team. Now he is happy to be serving back at home in the USA!