The editorial of the month
Jubilee Year of Mercy: The Mother of Mercy by Rev. Peter John Cameron, O.P
What would we do without the Mother of Mercy?
Where would we turn when undone by the anguish of life?
We are lost if we do not have recourse to the Mother of Mercy. Ours is the cry of Jesuit poet Father Gerard Manley Hopkins:
No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs,wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
We have been made to expect relief from the Blessed Virgin in our moments of utter agony.
The Mother of Mercy
Dominican spiritual master Father Bede Jarrett, o . p . († 1934) explained the graced logic of confiding in the Mother of Mercy:
Desolation, distress, disappointment, bereavement were the constant attendants of Mary’s life: no one, then, can approach her without feeling that she will understand their own woe. As the nearest and most faithful follower of the divine fount of mercy, we come to her in our distress—confident, indeed, we are, that she will understand by the sad experi- ence of her own troubled life on earth—confident also that, understanding, she will desire to help—we turn to her. The love of God, that has worked the great deeds of pity since the world began, cannot exist in her without effect. Not merely does Mary sympathize with sorrow, but she is filled with long- ing to ease and allay it—the consoler, we say, of the afflicted. She not only understands and desires to help, but she has far more than any other the power to show that in the fullest way.
Look how natural it is for us to turn to a mother when we are beset with sorrow and affliction and woe—and worse! Something deep in us tells us that we need a mother to ease and allay it.
A mother of mercy
For example: Andrew Rice lost his elder brother David in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Three months later, the mother of one of the hijackers (Zacharias Moussaoui) contacted a group called Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation. She had an outrageous request: she wanted to meet some of the families of the 9/11 victims and ask for their forgiveness.
The meeting was arranged. As a small group of the victims’ families waited in a private university building to meet Madame al-Wafi, one mother—whose son was killed in the World Trade Center—did something extraordinary. She got up and walked down the hall to meet the mother of her son’s killer. Andrew recalls the moment: “We heard footsteps, then silence. Then we heard this…sobbing. Finally they both came into the room—both mothers with their arms around each other. By now we were all crying.”
Andrew says, “Madame al-Wafi reminded me a lot of my own mother, who had cried so much after David died.”
And then Andrew says:
One day I’d like to meet Zacharias Moussaoui. I’d like to say to him, You can hate me and my brother as much as you like, but I want you to know that I loved your mother and I comforted her when she was crying.
Andrew had discovered the transforming, unsurpassable power of invoking a sorrowful mother.
In the beautiful new film Full of Grace, the Mother of Mercy speaks to the assembled Apostles shortly before her Assumption into heaven. What she says to them (and to us) is:
My children, if you do nothing more in this life, remember the moment Jesus first looked upon you. Your soul rejoiced, for salvation was upon you. Darkness was lifted, and you saw the great Light. Remember that moment, and everything you do will glorify the Lord.
O Mother of Mercy, we are trapped in the double darkness of our guilt and our vindictiveness. Do not let us give way to vengefulness. Never let us succumb to despair. O Mother of Mercy, walk down the hall to meet us.