Fridays are full of feelings- anticipation, accomplishment, exhaustion, and, yes, sorrow. For me, it is the end of a packed week of getting kids out the door to school each morning, helping them with homework, packing lunches, doing laundry, going to work, keeping up the house, and making sure meals are made and eaten before kids head out to their activities. There is barely enough time to exhale; then, comes Friday. Often, I feel spent. Sometimes, I even need a good cry, like I need a glass of water on a hot August afternoon. I need it that much. It’s not that I am sad or disappointed, it is just a release. And, as I often discover, my Catholic faith has an app for that: The Sorrowful Mysteries. Each Friday, when I have a moment to pray the rosary, I meditate on the sorrowful mysteries of Christ’s life. These sorrows have an even deeper meaning during this season of Lent. Over the years, I have had insights into those sorrowful events from so long ago that speak to who I am as a mother today.
1. The Agony in the Garden
Sometimes, my insights come from unpleasant exchanges that I witness at home. Usually it is a quarrel between two or more of my children over some trivial material object like a toy or an article of clothing. Seeing them value an object over the feelings and well-being of another breaks my heart. On one particular day, I was so upset; I left the house and walked the dog to calm down. It occurred to me on our walk that when Jesus was in agony in the garden, it was not only because he dreaded the physical pain of death on the cross. Rather, he was in agony because he was about to witness his children sin in awful ways, ultimately condemning him to death.
2. The Scourging of Jesus at the Pillar
Jesus’ suffering is twofold; knowing that these are His children who are torturing Him, He now also has to witness the grief in the eyes of those who love Him as He is publicly scourged. He could tolerate the physical pain of the blows knowing the value of redemptive suffering. But, knowing that because of the gift of free will, some will choose to sin and, because of this, others will grieve, Jesus’ scourging was even more painful. As a mother, I have seen my children experience name calling and I am filled with sorrow because I know that it will leave scars on them. But, through compassion and good counsel, they will learn that they are not what they have been called, but rather they are what they do. Much worse is to see them call another person a name or spread gossip about another person. That alters their character and cannot be healed with good counsel, but rather, good confession.
3. The Crowning with Thorns
Jesus is stripped of all human dignity and there is no suggestion of royalty or divinity. He is given a crown to be mocked and ridiculed. As moms, we often have a crown of thorns that we wear. It presents in the form of humiliations we have, just by being moms. I have crowns aplenty some days. I recall pulling up to the school drop-off in my old van one morning. As we approach, you can hear a rhythmic whistle of a car singing…”I am old, I am old.” As the slightly dented van door opens, there is an ugly scuffle in the back seat and I have to smile and correct my children to exit one at a time, as teachers and other parents look on. The last child drags a grocery bag full of the week’s car trash that has hooked onto her shoe and it spills onto the side of the road. Any hint of dignity is gone. I adjust my crown and pick up the trash and drive off.
4. The Carrying of the Cross
Here, Jesus carries the weight of our sins up the hill to Calvary where he will be crucified. His human body is weak but His divine spirit moves him to complete the journey. Mom’s have crosses, too. They are burdens that we know are necessary so that we can reach our ultimate destination. Moms sacrifice so much for the family. Yet, these trials of motherhood are wrought with great, worthy purpose. We cannot carry these burdens alone. We need divine assistance.
5. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
My Friday meditations of these sorrowful mysteries end with the death of Jesus. And this mystery fills me with such hope that I cannot explain in human terms. I suppose that is why they are referred to as mysteries. He loved us that much. It really is the greatest love story ever told. And, with that, I exhale and I am ready to enjoy a weekend with my family.