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Mourning and Weeping in This Valley of Tears

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By Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC (Aug 6, 2018)
Catholic tradition holds August as the month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To begin this month, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, is sharing reflections and insights on the great prayer "Hail, Holy Queen." We continue with the sixth line: "Mourning and weeping in this valley of tears."

Isn't this line a little melodramatic?

It can appear a little loopy when you first read it. "Valley of tears" almost sounds poetic, like it could be the title of a film or a book. But this is a prayer of petition, to be offered when we are experiencing hardship, pain, and sorrow in this fallen world; when we're in serious need of the assistance of our spiritual mother. No matter how peachy someone's life may be right now, everyone is going to suffer someday. Many people could even write in detail all the things that have caused them to shed so many tears or have so many restless, sleepless nights. If we can't give all those concerns to our mother, what would we do with them?

Is there a sense in which it's easier to go to a mother with this sort of sorrow than to a father?

When a child falls, it's the mother who caresses and kisses the booboo. Dads generally say, "Back on your feet! Strap on those boots tighter and we'll get this done." We need maternal tenderness when we are hurting.

Does calling this world a "valley of tears" really fit the Second Vatican Council's teachings?


Definitely, because this is a fallen world. No document from the Second Vatican Council changed the fact that we still suffer from concupiscence and are in need of conversion; rather, we have the universal call to holiness. This world is not our ultimate resting place; rather, it's a training ground for us to grow in virtue. Most soldiers would refer to boot camp, not as some glorious experience, but as a period of trial where there's blood, sweat, and tears — but you grow. In this fallen world, we're going to have to do hard work to overcome our concupiscence, cooperating with God's grace and plan of salvation for us. That's going to require some real growth pains, but it's okay. That's how you become holy.

Why did our good and loving God not make everything perfect from the beginning?


Obviously, He could have, but God wants us to be His free and loving children, and love requires free will. Oftentimes, that love will be shown through sacrifice. It's a real blessing that we're able to show God how much we love Him by sacrifice, by overcoming ourselves, coming out of ourselves and giving ourselves even to the point of pain, the point of death. That's deep love.

Mary was able to remain holy all her life in this proving ground. What does that tell us about her strength?


It tells us a lot, because even though she was the Immaculate Conception, she also had free will. She always had to choose the good and sometimes even give up legitimate goods for a greater good. It wasn't as though she was a robot. No, Our Lady really was a woman of prayer, completely docile to the Holy Spirit, to divine guidance, to God's plan. Oftentimes that would mean great sacrifice, great sorrow for her. That's why we call her "Our Lady of Sorrows." She lost her Child for three days. Any parent would know that must have been a horrific experience for her. She endured the death of her spouse, Joseph. When her Son was going off on His own to fulfill His mission, she was going to be more or less alone. And she watched her Son be murdered in front of her eyes. Even though Our Lady did not sin, she was an inhabitant of the valley of tears. Yet she never lacked trust. She knew there was a reason and a purpose for everything that was happening.

What does Mary do for us as our spiritual mother?

There's a saying that a mother can't give what a mother doesn't have. Our spiritual mother is immaculate. Therefore she can help us to acquire freedom from sin and become immaculate ourselves if we cooperate with the Holy Spirit.

So we're called to be immaculate like Mary. What does that look like?

Imitating Mary in her virtues so as to become an altera Maria, "another Mary," another cooperator in God's salvific plan. We should especially imitate Our Lady in her merciful love toward others. It's a virtue — not a weakness — to be merciful. Even though we may face injustice and pain, we have to be willing to be like Jesus and Mary, and extend mercy. It doesn't mean we overlook or ignore injustice or sorrow. It means we choose love over everything.

Share the Hail, Holy Queen with your family, friends, and community with our prayercard. To order, visit ShopMercy.org or call 1-800-462-7426.


Read the whole series at marian.org/hailholyqueen

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Michele - Aug 6, 2018

Father Don, thank you so much for breaking down this beautiful prayer. Would it be possible to put this whole discussion into a little book that we could purchase?