Holy Land Pilgrimage

Meeting Mary in Suffering

February 29, 2020

We started our pilgrimage today by visiting St. Anne’s Church in the Old City of Jerusalem. This church is considered by tradition to be the birthplace of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary’s parents were St. Anne and St. Joachim. St. Anne and St. Joachim’s main home was in Nazareth, a three days journey North of Jerusalem, but Joachim is believed to have been a Jewish priest, so he would have spent much of his time in Jerusalem to fulfill his Temple duties. It was during one of these trips to Jerusalem that Mary was born.

St. Anne’s is a beautiful Church that was built by the Crusaders. During our visit, we pilgrims had a wonderful opportunity to praise the Lord, through Mary, by singing the Salve Regina together near the sanctuary. After this, we went down into the crypt of the Church were we able to ask for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s powerful intercession at the spot of her birth.

St. Ann’s Church Crypt where Mary was born

Moving on from St. Anne’s, we came to the beginning of the Via Crucis which means “the Way of the Cross.” This was the route that Jesus took on His was to His death on Calvary. We arrived at the Fourth Station where Jesus meets His mother Mary. The Mary portrayed at this place was very different from the infant Mary surrounded by her joyful parents that we encountered as St. Anne’s Church. Mary is shown now more advanced in age. Over the past three years, she had watched her son work miracles, forgive sins, proclaim the Kingdom of God, call for repentance, and gather and teach disciples. Now she watches as her son suffers the time of His passion.

At this station, there is a small chapel with a beautiful statue of Jesus carrying His cross and Mary holding him. Mary is looking at her son with tender love but also with deep pain and sorrow. She wants to console him. She wants to be with her suffering son as His mother.

In our own moments of suffering, we can begin to feel all alone while we walk our own way of the cross. As Christians, we want to unite our sufferings to Jesus, but loneliness seems too overwhelming at times and we struggle to believe that Jesus is still with us. When this happens, believe that Mary is at your side too. Mary will never leave our side because she never left the side of Jesus during His passion and death. We are encouraged that Mary will run to meet us, offering her consolation as a loving mother as we carry our cross in life. We can cry out to Mary, “I am your son! I am your daughter! Help me mother, please!”

There is no doubt about it, Mary will obtain the graces we need from her son to help us. We are never alone! Jesus is with us even if it seems like He has withdrawn from us. Jesus loves us so much that He gave us His mother at the foot of His cross to be with us during our suffering too. Jesus wants us to be close to His mother so that we may have another way to remain filled with faith, hope, and love during the times we are tempted to despair.

It would good for all of us this Lent to begin, renew, or continue a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Whether this is praying the rosary, doing a Marian consecration, or just setting aside a little silent time each day to pray with Mary. There are many ways we can meet Mary, our loving mother, while carrying our own crosses this Lent. We can live in her love as her son or daughter.

Martin Coolidge
Archdiocese of Dubuque

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