The Art of Suffering

The Sorrowful Mother

Many of us are familiar with the Book of Job. Job was highly favored of God; his life exemplified a hallowed commitment to God.  He was tested to the point of death, but Job had a secret weapon: he knew the God he served. Though through his testing he wanted to die and cursed the day of his birth, he never blasphemed God.  Satan was well aware of all of Job’s blessings and wanted an opportunity to bring Job down to prove that without his blessings Job would curse God. The Devil needed God’s permission to torment Job. Because God truly knew the heart of His servant, He allowed Satan to afflict him

Job had three friends; Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. When Job’s friends heard of his terrible, unfortunate plight, they came to his side. These men were from the region of Edom, an area renowned for its wise men.

Job 2:12-13

12 But when, at a distance, they lifted up their eyes and did not recognize him, they began to weep aloud; they tore their cloaks and threw dust into the air over their heads. 13 Then they sat down upon the ground with him seven days and seven nights, but none of them spoke a word to him; for they saw how great was his suffering.
The best medicine for supporting someone who is in deep emotional pain is to be there for them in person. All of Job’s friends knew that he had lost everything, including all of his children. An act of love is listening and supporting in prayer when it is needed most. For seven days and seven nights, Job’s friends did not open their mouths.
The number seven has a great spiritual significance; it is used in the Bible about 600 times. Seven is the number of perfection and completeness; God completed the earth in seven days. This is the reason we rest on the seventh day and honor God by attending church.
Job’s story takes many wild twists and turns; his own wife blasphemed God and tells Job to, “Curse God and die.”
Then his wife said to him, “Are you still holding to your innocence? Curse God and die!”  10 But he said to her, “You speak as foolish women do. We accept good things from God; should we not accept evil?” Through all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
These are truly the words of someone sold out to God. We should all be so blessed to have Job’s reverent attitude in the midst of our greatest trials.
Blessed Mother Mary
Life was never easy for the Mother of God. During her pregnancy Joseph, her husband, had to take her and flee to Egypt. The Lord picked Joseph to be Jesus’  foster father because God knew that Joseph would protect the Holy Family. Mary always allowed her Son to take His rightful role in life, because she understood who He was. Mary was the elect of God from her Mother’s womb. She is the mother of us all.
For many years I portrayed the Blessed Mother on Good Friday on the Via Dolorosa (“the way of suffering”) in Jerusalem. Nothing can be more painful than a mother seeing her child suffer and being unable to help.  A mother’s pain can only be described as not being able to breathe because of a crushed heart. Mary, meeting her Son Jesus at the Fourth Station of the Cross, and knowing that she could do nothing to save Him from His Crucifixion felt the pain of deepest wound a mother can experience. Her entire life was that of a loving, nurturing mother, but now she must see her only Son as he is beaten to the point of death. This particular Station of the Cross is symbolic of the suffering a mother goes through with her own children. The bond of a mother and child is powerful, and the agony that a mother feels for her child is the absolute description of love. I had never acted in my life, but each time I met Jesus at the Fourth Station of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa my heart swelled with pain and the re-enactment brings tears of sorrowful emotions that I can not control.

Imagine seeing your son go through such agony! Mary was there when the Roman soldiers pounded the nails into His feet and hands. She was there when they pierced His side. Our sorrowful Mother Mary was at the foot of the Cross; she never abandoned Jesus. From His birth to the Cross, she suffered His every pain. That is the true heart of a mother. The Romans were savages when it came to Jesus’ Crucifixion. The Jewish law permitted only 39 lashes because it believed that the 40th lash would kill the man before his crucifixion. To both the Jews and the Romans this was a morbid celebration; they hated Jesus and felt that He was a great threat. What the Romans did to our Lord still brings me to my knees.

AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)Via Dolorosa on Good Friday stock photo

Via Dolorosa on Good Friday Jerusalem, Israel - March 29, 2013: Catholic Good Friday - a group of actors presenting the crucifixion of Christ near Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Old City, of Jerusalem. 2013 Stock Photo

Me portraying the Blessed Mother Jerusalem, Via Dolorosa 2019

The Crucifix

One of my favorite churches to visit in the Holy Land is the Church of Flagellation. This small chapel is located in the Muslim Quarters in the Old City of Jerusalem. As you gaze up to the dome, the crown of thorns  is embedded into the design of the mosaic golden dome. I love to sit there and pray.
Catholics have a special devotion to the Passion of Christ because we need to be reminded of the pain that He endured for us. We feel the fullness of what Jesus did for us; we are connected with Jesus through His suffering. How else can we truly comprehend His agony?
My Prayer:
Dear Lord, we ask for the prayers of Your Blessed Mother Mary to intercede on behalf of all mothers going through trials with their children. These mothers cry out to You, Lord, for the physical and emotional crosses that their children must bear. Look down on them with great mercy, and deliver them from the snares of the Devil. Just as Your beautiful Mother met You at the foot of the Cross, meet these families who have heavy crosses to bear. Lighten their loads, and help them carry their crosses with Your beautiful, nail-scarred hands. Amen.

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