For the latest installation of the Book Club, we are reading Journey to Joy: Reflections on the 7 Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary written by my priest friend, Father Daniel Brandenburg LC.
This book is relevant for every Christian. We all have sorrows in our life, yet we are called to a life of joy in Christ. These two concepts, sorrow and joy, seem to be contradictory, however, they actually click together in a profoundly harmonious way. In fact, I would even dare to say sorrow and joy derive their meaning from one another. They cannot exist a part from the other. The existence of one enriches the other and visa versa.
God, in His omnipotent goodness and power, has a mysterious way of orienting everything in our life towards His Kingdom purpose and bringing meaning even in the midst of our deepest pains. The dark parts of our life, when touched by his grace, no longer defame us, but rather work in tandem with the bright parts of our life to paint one beautiful masterpiece of a life.
The devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows provides a perfect example for us to emulate in the way of Christian living. The testimony of her life, filled with innumerable instances of suffering, gives us a blueprint for how we too can say yes to God in the midst of our trials and find invincible resurrection joy in and through her Son Jesus. Yes we can always look to Jesus to know how to walk the way of the cross. Yet having the gentle hand of a caring mother, often provides a soothing presence as we seek to unite ourselves more deeply with her Son.
On this episode of the Book Club, available HERE for free, we discussed one of the sorrows Mary faced in here life– the loss of Jesus during their trip to Jerusalem.
Since recording this episode over a month ago, I have been contemplating this whole event of the Gospel and particular the way in which Mary and Joseph. Never had I contemplated so deeply those three days the holy couple searched for their son. Particularly, as I am preparing the step into the Sacrament of Marriage, I am observing the way in which Mary handled the chaos and fear of the event.
The fact that she did not turn her back on Joseph, despite having lost her son, is absolutely mind boggling to me and something I hope I can embody in my marriage in the very near future. Contemplating this all has ben a real gut check for me because... LADIES. We love to rub it in and get the last word, particularly in our relationships with men.
Don’t even act like you don’t love to say “I told you so” to your brother, boyfriend, husband, etc. That sly comment to undercut him and let him know that you’re right and he’s wrong. Speaking from a wounded heart here my friends. Specifically I'm thinking about a few interactions I've had with my fiancé as we plan our wedding... let's just say at times I have prioritized having things my way and being "right" rather then seeking to fortify us as a unit.
In praying about this, God has been teaching me about “anti-communion comments.” These are comments that contain an element of the truth but lack charity. You can convince yourself they are okay to say, yet the fruit of these comments is almost always broken communion and connection. These comments do not foster trust, but instead inflate my ego at the expense of my loved one.
These comments are often go something like:
"I told you so" "If you would have just ______" or "you should have done ____" "Well why would you do that? Clearly the solution was x,y,z" "That was dumb of you."
I'm all about teachable moments, but there is a time and place. Ultimately formation needs to be built on a foundation of security, in reality and the relationship. These comments above and more, coupled with a certain tone and facial expression, do not seek to support another in a moment or resolve an issue. Rather, they place the blame on another to alleviate discomfort in a stressful moment. It’s a way of coping with your own emotional distress at the expense of another.
The witness of Mary in this part of the Gospel is extraordinary because she shows us how we can seek connection and communion, even in a moment of uncertainty and anxiety. Instead of turning her back on Joseph, chiding him for being irresponsible and making him pay for his mistake, she leans in and commits to being on his team. Together they go to search for Jesus. Together they go back to Jerusalem. Together they find Jesus. Together the navigated the difficult moment.
I pray to be a woman and a wife like Mary. To be able to have dominion over my emotions, so that they might lead me closer to communion with Christ and my neighbor.
Book Club is available now! Click here to listen: https://web.tabella.app/.../681ab879abcdfb5c93cadb84ac3062bf