Many, many titles are traditionally afforded to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Our Lady, Queen of Heaven. Our Lady of Good Counsel. Our Lady of Guadalupe Our Lady of Perpetual Help Our Lady, Star of the Sea
I was introduced to a new title this morning: Our Lady of Solitude or, more properly, Nuestra Señora de la Soledad.
This Marian attribute is popular in Spanish-speaking places, especially parts of Spain, Mexico, Portugal, and the Philippines where she is the patroness.
This attribute of Mary is given based on her experiences today, Holy Saturday. For the first time in more than three decades, her beloved son is not with her. Not only is her son missing, but he is dead—murdered, executed—and sealed in a cold, dark tomb.
She is alone.
The disciples dispersed after the crucifixion, each dealing with the crushing blow of Good Friday in her or his own way. I imagine that some of them ran off in solitude as well, needing the space and the silence to process their great grief. I imagine some of them went together, holed up in a house, telling stories of the good, old days—the days of healing and teaching and ministering, the days before the entry into Jerusalem, the days before the trial and the crucifixion.
But not Mary. She is alone this morning.
And she is alone tomorrow morning also.
The Easter narrative shows the Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles, going to the tomb early in the morning, finding the body removed, and running to tell Peter and John.
But not Mary. Not the mother of their teacher and friend. Not the one whose body formed Jesus, whose body carried Jesus, whose body birthed Jesus, whose body nursed Jesus.
Not the one whose body quaked and collapsed when Jesus hung on the cross, bloody and water flowing from the wound in his side.
Mary, more than any other, knows what it is like to be alone, confused, and afraid. She joins us in our sorrow, in our confusion, in our loneliness.
She joins us when the world doesn’t make sense, when the world actively seeks to hurt and to harm and to crush and to bruise and to maim and to kill and to crucify.
And she joins me. My life has been marked by anxiety and melancholy, especially in the last few years. The worst part of living with anxiety, I think, is the regular sense of dread. No matter how well I manage it (and I do generally manage it really well), I know in a deep part of my psyche that something could trigger the anxiety at any moment and I’ll be plunged into a really terrifying, painful experience. This is a very lonely place. Regardless of the beautiful support system I have–the wonderful friends, the compassion professionals, the wise mentors–deep loneliness absolutely accompanies anxiety for me.
While the Blessed Virgin Mary’s experience of dread and loneliness is not an excuse to ignore the tragedies of the world and the tragedies of my own life, it is reassuring to know that she joins me because she knows what I am going through.
So on this Holy Saturday, while the Church waits in anticipation for the brilliance of the Resurrection (and while Jesus is descending to Hell to open a good, old-fashioned can of whoop ass on the powers of Evil), I’m very content to sit here in the darkness, in the pain, in the anxiety, in the horror with my Mother–with the Mother of the Church, the Mother of Solitude–trusting that, on this day, more is spoken in silence than in words.