When do you cry? I realize this is a risky move, to write a blog post about crying, addressed to guys discerning life with a community of guys. Guys don’t cry. Or at least that’s what many of us learn as we grow from children to teens to men. Yet, as I walk alongside my brothers in the Congregation of Holy Cross and as we grow in the intimacy of brotherhood, I’m finding that our shared vulnerability is an absolutely essential component of a healthy, holy, and happy life within the Congregation. I’ve cried in front of my class of temporary professed, and some have cried in front of me. Crying isn’t something to avoid at all costs in order to “be a man,” but rather, it’s a sign of the Lord working deep within, helping us to grow in love of Him. Maybe this is why our Founder made Our Lady of Sorrows the patroness of our Congregation.
Before joining to Holy Cross, I didn’t know Our Lady of Sorrows. I think I was clicking through the vocation blog for Holy Cross when I saw my first imagine of her, an icon written by the hand of Anthony Stachowski. (In icon lingo, artists say “written by the hand of” because it’s a reminder that the work is a prayer and guided by the Holy Spirit.) I thought the image was beautiful. I figured the woman was Mary, but I wondered why she had seven swords coming out of her chest. Thanks to the vocation’s webpage, I learned of Simeon’s prophesy in the Gospel of Luke, and through further research, I uncovered the rich tradition within the Church of honoring Mary under this title.
Now when I hear the name Our Lady of Sorrows, I think of a woman of strength, courage, and perseverance. She knew pain and heartache: she was given troubling news at her Son’s birth; she fled to Egypt out of fear of losing Him; she lost her Son for three days; she watched her Son carry a Cross, mount It, and die; she held His dead body in her arms, and she buried Him! I can’t possibly imagine her heartache, yet I’m comforted when I experience pain because I know she understands.
For me, Our Lady of Sorrows is more than a reminder of the importance of faithfulness and love; she’s a companion along the spiritual journey. She was Jesus’ mother, and she’s Our Mother, comforting us in our sadness and crying with us. If you find yourself in a moment of sorrow, turn to her and let her embrace you in her loving arms.
Mr. Tom Bodart is in his second year of Temporary Vows with the Congregation of Holy Cross. He currently resides at Moreau Seminary with his fellow seminarians, and is studying for his M.Div. degree at the University of Notre Dame. Tom taught for the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) in Louisiana before entering formation. He is originally from Fredericktown, Ohio.