The Church offers us the words to learn how to weep and be present.
On September 15, just after celebrating the “triumph” or “exaltation” of the cross, we turn to Our Lady under her title as the Sorrowful Mother.
The liturgy of the day invites us to pray the Stabat Mater, which in the typical English translation begins, “At the cross her station keeping, stood the mournful Mother, weeping.”
Pope Francis says that weeping and tears are a gift of grace, a way for us to enter into the suffering of others, and also to repent of our sins that caused Our Lord so much suffering.
For example, as he was preparing to go to Auschwitz, he said, “I would like to go to that place of horror, without speeches, without people, other than the few necessary … to enter alone, to pray, and to ask that the Lord may give me the grace to weep.”
Along with the solidarity of our tears, the pope has often reminded us that the way to address the those who grieve or suffer is simply to accompany them, not so much with words, but with presence, with a caress.
That is, essentially, what the Church is leading us to pray with the Stabat Mater. Here we turn to her, and ask her to allow us to accompany her in her suffering, and thus to suffer along with her.
O thou Mother! fount of love! Touch my spirit from above; Make my heart with thine accord. Make me feel as thou hast 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. Let me mingle tears with thee, Mourning Him who mourn’d for me, All the days that I may live. By the cross with thee to stay, There with thee to weep and pray, Is all I ask of thee to give.