During the 35 years that I lived in the US, I took the train twice. Since moving to Italy eight months ago, I’ve taken it several dozen times. Taking a train requires buying a ticket. But it’s not enough just to buy the ticket; you also have to validate it. There are little machines in and around the train stations wherein you do such. Some of these little machines seem to have better days than others. Some don’t work at all. Others are moody, so to speak, and give you trouble. Still others perform their task efficiently. And what is their task? They validate your ticket by piercing it through.
This frequent occurrence of Italian train travel is slowly being lost to the rise in technology. A smartphone ticket is validated by a simple click of the “Check-in” button in your app. But before it becomes obsolete, I want to take advantage of this image to remind us of another essential aspect of living out our Marian consecration: suffering with Mary.
Suffering with Mary can only be understood in light of her suffering with Christ. To redeem us from our sins and make of us a family of redeemed children, it was not enough in the Father’s plan to give us his Son in the flesh; He also willed that His Son must suffer in it. Christ’s role as our Redeemer had to be validated. He had to be pierced through. He had to suffer death on the cross.
This “must” was not a condition that humanity placed on God, but that He placed on Himself. It was a divine “must”. It was a condition of divine love.
A Loving Mother
In like manner, the Redeemer did not need a suffering mother to accompany Him in sorrow. But as Ven. Fulton Sheen writes, “An unsuffering Madonna to the suffering Christ would be a loveless Madonna. Since Christ loved mankind so much that He wanted to die to expiate its guilt, then He would also will that His mother should be wrapped in the swaddling bands of His own grief.”
Along the same line of thought we could say: an unsuffering slave of Mary to the suffering Ancilla Domini would be a loveless slave of Mary. As her suffering with Christ was a sign of her love for Him, so our suffering with Mary is a true witness of our love for her.
But it is not enough simply to suffer with Mary, we should learn to suffer well.
Ways to Suffer Well
- With humility by not calling attention to our sufferings so as to receive a reward for it here on earth.
- With serenity by focusing on who we are giving our suffering to, rather than how long it’s taking or how much it is costing us.
- With constancy by building the virtue of holy suffering, i.e. taking advantage of every discomfort, inconvenience, and misunderstanding as an opportunity to reaffirm our decision to suffer with Mary.
As we grow to suffer well with Mary we will connaturally suffer well with Christ.
From the Catholic perspective, Jesus and Mary are inseparable. Inseparable in God’s Providence, inseparable in the Incarnation, inseparable at the Cross, inseparable in Heaven, and inseparable in the practices of our true devotion.
Our salvation has been purchased at a great price: the spotless blood of the Lamb. It now belongs to us to validate the ticket of our own lives and board the train to Heaven. On this First Saturday of November, let us heed the call to suffer with Jesus and Mary in any way that we can for the reign of peace in our lives and in the world.
Seize the day and make it all Hers!
Fr. Christopher Etheridge, IVE
Image attribution: Gerard de la Vallée, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
 Fulton Sheen, Life of Christ, Word on Fire Classics (Park Ridge, IL: Word on Fire, 2019), 33.
 Cf. St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Contemplation to Attain Love in the Spiritual Exercises, n. 230.