This means that we can be Victorious in Sorrow, as was Our Lady. The point is that we must continue to love and continue to hope, even when those we love and those for whom we hope disdain us and even despise us. This way, even despite our sins and theirs, our love can redeem so much of what we do wrong and also redeem so much of what wrong is done to us.
This insight, a gift from God on this day, the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, has been a great blessing to me. For the spiritual struggles of the last few months had convinced me that my sins and the sins of others tarnished even the good that I had been trying to do, and the love I had been trying to give. Selfishness and narrow-mindedness, partisanship and meanness, uncircumcised hearts and closed minds seemed to prevail - and not only to prevail, but to define the ultimate truth of existence.
We are horrible, sinful creatures. Most Christians are exactly like the rest of the world, only worse. "Devout Catholics" can make devotions until they're blue in the face and turn on their neighbors or their brothers in Christ in a heartbeat. We're all just fine, thank you, except where the rubber hits the road and where our faith is challenged, or our friendship is called into play, or our integrity is brought to bear. Get in our way when it comes to the stuff we hoard and keep from Christ - push one of those buttons, and to hell with you. We like to think, "Our fathers killed the prophets, but we would never do such if they were among us." But Our Lord had some harsh words to say to people who thought like that.
And so things are bleak. Bleaker and meaner and nastier than we normally have the courage to admit.
So where is the Victory?
The Victory is in this.
If you do things out of love - out of love of God and neighbor - then even failure, abandonment, even sin can not defeat you.
And know this: love is always rejected at some level. Christ is always being crucified. Real love is far too demanding and far too real for our taste; we opt for comfort and safety, for the lie that is Marty Haugen and not the truth that is the eternal song of sacrifice. And the more we try to love authentically, the more we will be walking the Way of Sorrows. That much is guaranteed.
He not only "never promised us a rose garden", he promised us just the opposite. He promised us suffering and persecution. The rose perhaps comes later; the thorns for sure come now.
St. Mary of Victories / Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
And now for our Feast Day ...
|Basilica of Our Lady of Victory near Buffalo, New York.|
|St. Mary of Victories in downtown St. Louis, Missouri|
Several weeks ago, the statue of St. Mary of Victories in St. Louis was vandalized. Mary's head was cut off, stolen, and returned the following day, covered with satanic markings, and painted to look like a vampire whose mouth was dripping blood. The police have classified this act as a hate crime and have (as I understand it) made an arrest.
But now the statue has been restored, and today, on the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, Fr. Brian Harrison of the Oblates of Wisdom, rededicated the restored statue (seen on the left).
|Fr. Brian Harrison and the statue of St. Mary of Victories, restored after the satanic vandalism|
|Our Lady looks over a rough neighborhood.|
As Father Harrison said in his homily today, "Her victories are everywhere. Noticeable victories like Lepanto in 1571 and Peterwardein in 1716, both attributed to the Holy Rosary; the inexplicable withdrawal of the Soviets from Austria in 1955, after a campaign of people praying the Rosary - these are the big Victories. But in a moment we will celebrate the First Communion of one of our six-year-old members. This is a less publicized victory, but an example of the many Victories that Our Lady's intercession brings us - a small victory, but a victory nonetheless."
And may we always see these victories; may we always see the light.