On this day, the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, a few reflections taken from an Advent piece I wrote several years ago:
"But," it might be objected, "what does Mary really know about sin and death? Didn't she escape both?" It's true that because she was immaculately conceived–a gift of God's grace–Mary was saved from sin. But because she is full of grace and in perfect union with her Son, Mary is able to see with utter clarity the human condition and the effect sin has had on the world and on mankind.
She truly rejoiced in God her Savior (Lk 1:47) because she knew what sin was, even while she remained untouched by its stain. And she stood at the foot of the Cross and experienced the heart-wrenching pain of seeing her Son and Savior die a death due to the sins of the world (cf. Lk 2:35).
So it is fitting and comforting that the mother of the Son of God prays for her sons and daughters at the hour of their deaths. The Mother of God, from whose faith and body the Redeemer was born, prays that men and women will have the faith to become true children of God, born of the Spirit. The Woman, who experienced the death of her Son, prays that they will die to themselves so that they will live to Christ (cf. Gal 2:20).
Some theologians have suggested that the Immaculate Conception was a doctrine meant to awaken the modern world to the fact that human perfection and salvation cannot come from technology, science, or ideology, but only by God's initiative, mercy, and grace. Modern man denies that he is a sinner in need of salvation. Contrast that to Paul, who exclaims that "it is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all" (1Tim. 1:15).
The true disciple of Jesus Christ must admit his need and his inability to save himself. He is then invited to become a son of God by grace and through divine adoption. This is the incredible reality of deification–man sharing in the freely offered life of God. In the words of St. Hilary of Poitiers, "Everything that happened to Christ lets us know that, after the bath of water, the Holy Spirit swoops down upon us from high heaven and that, adopted by the Father's voice, we become sons of God" (CCC 537). ...
Mary has experienced every joy and pain imaginable. She clasped in wonder the newborn Christ in her weary arms. She held in sorrow the bloody body of that same Son, grown and violently killed. She stands in heaven and patiently waits for her sons and daughters to come home.