Today, September 15, 2012 marks the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. As I have been remembering today, the suffering of Mary as she stood at the foot of the Cross and witnessed the torture and death of her Son, I’ve been taken back to a point in my life when I was inconsolable.
March 2008. Shocked by the cold air that pierces my chest like a sword, I stagger away from the bar as fast as I can move my bulky frame. The moon is high in the sky now – blindly I stumble towards it across highway 101. The sound of an air horn blasts into my consciousness. Danger! I see nothing as I am knocked out of the street and to the sidewalk by the sharp blast of air – the wake of an eighteen wheel truck that has barreled by, just missing me. My upper right arm is smarting; there is gash in my shirt left by a loose cord that flailed off the trailer – an afterthought lashing out – renting my clothing and leaving a faint mark so that I will be reminded that I have been saved.
On my hands and knees. On all fours. Crying on the sidewalk. Pebbles are ground into my hands and knees. I am drunk, but my thoughts are clear and excruciating. I look up at the moon, waxing over the bay, highlighting the churning waves in the “jaws of death” at the end of the spit where the Siletz River meets the great Pacific Ocean. I pray. It’s not a prayer of thanksgiving for deliverance. Not a prayer for salvation, at all. It is a prayer of deep and painful regret that I am still here on this earth. It is a cry out for release from this horrible world. I pound the cement in anger and frustration while I berate God, the bastard who stole my only child from me.
In late 2008 I found myself up at the Grotto in Portland. The real name is The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother. I don’t know how or why I was drawn there.
What I do know is that when I started hanging out in that place — walking the Via Matris and meditating on each of the sorrows our Blessed Mother Mary endured — I started to heal.
My first tattoo, burned into my chest late in 2009 is the memorial that marks Bo’s time on this earth. The image is a very old symbol that depicts the seven sorrows of Mary — each a sword plunged into Her immaculate heart.
My heart is not immaculate like Mary’s, but did connect with Mary’s suffering — and the act of grieving for Mary at each of the stations that depict her suffering and asking for her compassion and help has brought me closer to our God —
Here are the prayers taken from the back of a card that was given to me by a woman I met on that path the very first time I found myself up there.
I pray today in honor of Her Feast.
1. I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the affliction of thy tender heart at the prophecy of the holy and aged Simeon. Dear Mother, by thy heart so afflicted, obtain for me the virtue of humility and the Gift of the holy Fear of God.
2. I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the anguish of thy most affectionate heart during the flight into Egypt and thy sojourn there. Dear Mother, by thy heart so full of anguish, obtain for me the virtue of generosity, especially toward the poor, and the Gift of Piety.
3. I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in those anxieties which tried thy troubled heart at the loss of thy dear Jesus in the Temple. Dear Mother, by thy heart so full of anguish, obtain for me the virtue of chastity and the Gift of Knowledge.
4. I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the consternation of thy heart at meeting Jesus as He carried His Cross. Dear Mother, by thy heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of patience and the Gift of Fortitude.
5. I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the martyrdom which thy generous heart endured in standing near Jesus in His agony on the Cross. Dear Mother, by thy afflicted heart, obtain for me the virtue of temperance and the Gift of Counsel.
6. I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the wounding of thy compassionate heart, when the side of Jesus was pierced by a lance before His Body was removed from the Cross. Dear Mother, by thy heart thus transfixed, obtain for me the virtue of fraternal charity and the Gift of Understanding.
7. I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, for the pangs that wrenched thy most loving heart at the burial of Jesus. Dear Mother, by thy heart sunk in the bitterness of desolation, obtain for me the virtue of diligence and the Gift of Wisdom.
Virgin most sorrowful, pray for us.