Saturday, 15 September 2012

Our Lady of Sorrows

Icon, "Jesus reads the Prophet Isaiah", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Today is the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.  So, I thought this would be a good opportunity to show you a recently written icon of the Blessed Mother and her Son. 

In the icon above, we see Our Lady listening as her Son reads to her from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, starting at chapter 53, verses 4-6 -- a portion of the "4th song of the suffering servant" (this "song" usually runs from chapter 52:7 to 53:12).  Following is what Our Lady would be hearing her little boy read to her, possibly in Aramaic:

[. . .]
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—everyone—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
[. . .]
How Our Lady's heart must have ached as she pondered these things --wondering, imagining, hoping against hope that her strong intuitive sense was all wrong -- hoping that her son would be able to live a long life of peaceful joy and happiness; yet, all the time knowing the words He was reading to her had been written about Him.

Listening to her Son read these frightening prophecies until He had them memorized, must have reminded Our Lady of Simeon's prophesy made when she and St. Joseph had presented the baby, Jesus, in the temple.  Simeon spoke of the sufferings Jesus would endure and then prophesied that a sword would pierce Blessed Mary's soul as well.  The sorrows of Our Lady are often pictured as seven swords piercing her heart as you can see in this icon I presented to you a number of months ago.
Icon, Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows,
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

Through the centuries the Church has tried to imagine the nature of the sufferings of Our Lady.  One attempt to do this led to the composing of one of the saddest hymns ever written.  It is called the Stabat Mater [the Mother stood] and is traditionally sung on Good Friday and many churches also include it in today's liturgy.  It is a long hymn but here are five of the verses which speak most clearly to me about Our Sorrowful Mother:
  • Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled, she beheld her tender child, till His Spirit forth he sent.
  • O, thou Mother, fount of love, touch my spirit from above, make my heart with thine accord.
  • Make me feel as thou has felt; make my soul to glow and melt with the love of Christ our Lord.
  • Holy Mother, pierce me through; in my heart each wound renew of my Saviour crucified.
  • Let me share with thee his pain, who for all my sins was slain, who for me in torments died.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.  Help us to increasingly comprehend how your Son suffered for our salvation so that, like you, our hearts may be filled with gratitude even in the midst of sorrow.  Amen.


Braden's Tummy Pillow

Braden has something called a "tummy pillow".  Every so often he spends time on it lying on his tummy.  I am not familiar with these pillows as they weren't around back in the days when I was taking care of babies, but they look like a good idea as they encourage the baby to strengthen the neck and the back and probably lead to stronger arms as the baby tries to push himself upwards over time.

Anyway, it seems to me that Braden is still getting used to his tummy pillow as photos continue to show him looking a bit puzzled and uncomfortable at first, but then he seems to enjoy the experience.  This is shown clearly in the following photos:

"I am all trussed up like a duck ready for the oven! 
Come on Mom and put one of my cool outfits on me, OK?"

"Well, now I am dressed -- I just didn't expect to be put on this tummy pillow.
Are you sure this is necessary, Mom?"

"You know, it feels really funny -- sort of like being upside down. 
Are you sure this is good for me?"

"Wow!  Did you hear that big burp, Mom?  Now I feel a whole lot better"

"Actually, this is turning out to be lots of fun -- especially when you sit and make funny faces.   Come on, Mama, make another funny face at me."



What it is like for me when I try to read a book!
(used with permission)
Friends wonder why I so frequently now turn down their offer of the loan of a new book.  It is because Suki is one of these cats shown in the cartoon to the left.  There seems to be something about a book that brings out certain behaviours in Suki!
I make myself a coffee, grab my book, sit down in my recliner and begin to read.  Just as the book begins to get really interesting, here she comes.  How does she know is my question?  If I am just sitting there watching TV or sleeping, she doesn't bother with me, but just let me have a book in my hand and there she is.  She seems to think that the hard edge of a hardcover book or the top of the spine of a paperback were both created as hard edges on which she is supposed to rub her cheekbones.  As you can imagine, this makes it impossible for me to read.

[I wonder what she would do with a Kindle?  Would she realize that it was a book or would she leave me alone?  I just thought of this and it really is worth investigating as this might just solve the problem!]

Meanwhile, I have now gotten used to listening to books instead.  The biggest problem with audio books, however, is that too few of the ones I want to read have been recorded.  Ah, well, just one more of the joys of living with a clever cat!

I seem to be doing all right otherwise.  At the moment I am casting an occasional eye on the TV screen as EWTN and Salt and Light are both showing the Holy Father's visit to Lebanon.  I pray that no one will try to hurt him and that his efforts for peace in the Middle East may bear some fruit.

It is time for me to get ready and go to the gym.  I allowed the gray skies yesterday to encourage my natural laziness and I ended up napping the afternoon away.  Not so today.  I feel the need of a good workout -- the rush of those feel-good endorphins!  Seriously, my pain is lessened by exercise so it is always worth the effort in the long run.

So, on the day when we remember the sorrows Our Lady suffered so willingly as she gave her Son to us for the salvation of our souls, let us continue to ask her to intercede on our behalf so that we, too, will willingly give ourselves for the salvation of others.  "Anyone who would be My disciple must deny themselves, pick up their cross daily and follow Me."

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