A refugee forced from her home. A parent heartbroken over her child’s future. A mother, burying her son before his time.

All photos courtesy of Catholic Relief Services All photos courtesy of Catholic Relief Services

These are the daily struggles of women around our world. They live in refugee camps, work in schools, plow their fields and manage their own storefronts. These women are farmers, mothers, teachers and professionals. And they carry heavy burdens, great sorrows that life has heaped upon them—just like each of us.

But these descriptors point to someone else, too: Mary, our Blessed Mother. She, too, knew what it was to be forced to flee her home. She, too, knew what it was to learn that her child’s future was uncertain. She, too, knew what it was to watch her son suffer, die and be buried.

That’s why the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows — September 15 — is such an important one, and why we dedicate all of the month of September to her. In our reflection on the Blessed Mother, we see a refugee, a heartbroken parent, a mother burying her child. We see the sorrows of our world, and by contemplating them, we encounter one another in deepening solidarity.

The Mother of God—our Mother—experienced hardship, poverty and heartbreak; her fidelity to living out God’s invitation did not come without cost. And yet, suffering is not the end of her story, or of ours. God wins the day. Jesus rises from the dead. Mary is assumed into heaven. How, then, are we motivated by her example? We can bring this message of hope to each person we encounter.

Let us pray, through Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, for an end to suffering in our world, and that each person may be filled with God’s hope and peace.

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Copyright 2016 Eric Clayton for Catholic Relief Services

screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-5-06-48-pmEric Clayton is program officer in the US Operations department of Catholic Relief Services, working out of their Baltimore Offices on such programs as CRS Rice Bowl.