Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Mother of God Soothe My Sorrows

THE ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD Soothe My Sorrows appeared in 1640. During bouts of the plague in the 18th century the icon became known as wonder-working; copies of it were spread all over Russia and churches were dedicated to the Mother of God under this title. 

There is a tradition which says that Mary lived in a solitude of pained sorrow after the Ascension of Jesus until she experienced the joy of her Dormition (Assumption). I can't say I understand that. Rather, I would say Mary lived in the joy of her Son's Resurrection and Ascension. And why in solitude instead of community? There's a thread found in the stories of many Christian women that tends to turn them into nuns or quasi-nuns. Apparently the Mother of God is no exception.  

But in this icon Mary's Easter joy is indicated in the placement of her Son. Jesus (always the Lord) isn't held by Mary, but he seems suspended or to float over her maphorion - foreshadowing his Resurrection-Ascension!

But what can we say of the Mother of God here  in the disposition of her sorrow? She is contemplating the words of Simeon at the Presentation in the temple:
 "This child is destined to be a sign which men reject; and you too shall be pierced to the heart. Many in Israel will stand or fail because of him, and thus the secret thoughts of many will be laid bare." Luke 2: 35
And what are the secret thoughts that will be laid bare? Whether people accept or reject Jesus. Over the happy scene of the Presentation a shadow has passed, and the Child's rejection and the Mother's pain are foretold. 

But there is more! In this moment of sorrow, holding her hand to her head, Mary contemplates the sorrows which her other dear children (humankind in all places and times) will endure - things unspeakable, unthinkable, unbearable. And our personal sorrows too: our own struggles, pains, tears, sickness and losses. 

C.G. Jung wrote:
"Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity."
Perhaps the antidote to the world's suffering is given to us in the scroll held by the Holy Child. It reads:
Each show mercy to one another, do not offend widows and orphans, and do not keep malice in your heart towards your brothers and sisters. 
~ ~ ~

Here is a link to last year's post titled Mother of God, Soothe My Sorrows


  1. There is such truth in Jung's statement. We cannot truly appreciate the goodness around us unless we have experienced harder times. Without the comparison to reference to, the human mind becomes complacent and expectant. When we bear witness to the darkness, it makes dawn all the brighter. Thanking you always for these reminder Father.

  2. Mother of God, a beacon of light for us all, help us through the darkness and call us toward our own salvation from sin. I could not live without the thoughts of Jesus and His Holy Mother in heaven, waiting to greet us. How sad for those who give up on their faith and look for nothing after death.

  3. When I can feel patience and composure during the trials of life, I know God is assisting me through it. I always want Him to know how grateful I am.

  4. Sometimes when Iook upon this icon, it helps me to get past my own feelings of inadequacies. If the Blessed Mother had sorrows to overcome, then if course we should also. She brings a sense of hopeful peace to my life.