Friday, December 2, 2011

Joy and Sorrow

For those who pray the Rosary, Mondays typically bring meditation on the joyful mysteries. During my Monday morning reflections lately, I can’t help but notice the proximity in the mysteries of joy and sorrow. At least two of the joyful mysteries of the Rosary are closely related to two of the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

The fourth joyful mystery is the Presentation, Recounted in the second chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus to the Temple, in accordance with the Mosaic Law. Yet the joy of the Presentation is tempered by the encounter with Simeon: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:34-35) This is the first of Mary’s seven sorrows.

The fifth joyful mystery is the finding of Jesus in the Temple. This scene also comes from the second chapter of Luke, when Jesus is twelve years old. Before he was found, however, he was lost. Mary and Joseph did not find him until the third day. The search for the lost Jesus is the third of Mary’s seven sorrows.

Is there something to be learned about life here? Can we conclude from this that joy and sorrow often walk hand-in-hand?

I thought of this again while attending mass on Thanksgiving Day. The month of November starts with All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Throughout the month, our parish has a book prominently located within the sanctuary with a lit vigil candle. The book lists members of the parish who have died during the preceding year. Even on the day set aside to give thanks for God’s blessings, we were reminded that some were no longer with us. We can hope that they are in heaven, or at least being cleansed in purgatory with heaven as their ultimate destination, but we can’t know with certainty. At any rate, we are deprived of their company in this life.

Must every moment of joy be touched with a hint of sorrow?

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