Day 6: Facing the Darkness
Hail Holy Queen
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy!
Our life, our sweetness and our hope!
To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To you do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping, in this valley of tears.
Turn, then, most gracious Advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Pray for us oh holy mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Suffering is part and parcel of the human experience. No one understands it, or is able to fathom its depths. It brings you face to face with the ultimate questions of life and death.
Suffering can also elicit in you any number of reactions: denial, repression, anger, guilt, resignation, acceptance, peace—and many more.
The next Reflection is offered to help move you along the way of the cross. It asks you to get in touch with the many levels of suffering in your life and even to put to God all the heart-rending questions that naturally come up in times of trial.
“Why did this have to happen to me?
Why didn’t you stop it?
Why didn’t you at least alleviate my pain?”
The purpose of these questions is not to foster despair, but to move you to a deeper experience of the cross. As you accept whatever damage is done to you in life by people or circumstances, you participate in the cross of Christ and in your own redemption.
Today’s Reflection will also encourage you to call on Our Mother of Perpetual Help; as she gazes at you from her icon, she will let you see the tender mercy in your own eyes.
Blessed Mary, there are times in my life when everything around me seems dark. Something awful happens that shakes up my world, and I do not understand why God allows it.
I know that suffering is a part of life and that, sooner or later, it will knock at everyone’s door. But knowing this does not ease the pain of its arrival. I like to think of myself as a courageous person, but deep down I know the truth about myself. I do not deal well with tragedy.
When such misfortune arrives, as it has in the past and inevitably will in the future, my whole world collapses. I ask the question: “Why me? And why now?”
Mary, please help me as I am weak and frail. Nothing in me seems as though it can withstand the dark forces that surround me and seek to destroy me.
Only by following the gentle lead of your hand will I be able to reach that place in the darkness which, for me, will turn into light—a faint light, to be sure, but a light nonetheless. You direct me to the child seated in your arms who calmly and valiantly looks toward the signs of his own darkness and suffering held by the angels.
My comfort is my belief in the Resurrection. My comfort is that you and your divine Son are present in the midst of my suffering. I cannot find real meaning in my life without this presence. I must have recourse to you. O Mother of Perpetual Help, you extend Jesus to me as the source of hope.
Mary, I pray that Jesus will come to me and help me to cast out the surrounding darkness. Help me to find even the smallest sign of His presence in these trying circumstances. Help me cling to Jesus with passion, to proclaim Him with zeal—not just in good times, but also especially in times of hardship and suffering.
Sit quietly in a room before a copy of the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, and then close your eyes. Imagine Mary’s eyes, filled with compassion and love while focused on you.
Open your eyes. Look again at Mary’s eyes. She is our source of constant comfort and hope. Her eyes draw all who look into her face toward the mystery of Redemption which she holds in her arms.
Close your eyes a second time. This time picture in your mind’s eye the child seated in Mary’s arms who calmly and valiantly looks toward the signs of his own darkness and suffering held by the angels.
Open your eyes, look again at Mary and the child she holds in her arms and say, “I unite my sufferings with those of Jesus and Mary, our Mother of Perpetual Help.”
Conclude this exercise by reciting again the “Hail Holy Queen.”