Homily – 9/13/20 Sr Eileen Custy – Standing at the Foot of the Cross with our Suffering World

September 13, 2020

This community is called to be Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross. That title has resonated with me often since both Lynn Levo and Mary Pellegrino talked about it in their presentations. So, as we look forward to the Feast of the Seven Sorrows next Tuesday, I would like to reflect on it with you.

The basic desire to be united in love with God, with one another, with all people, and with all creation shapes this community of faith. #20, IATW

During this period of cultural upheaval in our lives, that call to stand at the foot of the cross takes on even stronger meaning. There is so much suffering in our world: the pandemic creating sickness and death in numbers that are almost beyond imagination, grieving, hunger, prejudice, hatred, poverty, homelessness, loneliness, unjust detention and imprisonment, unjust treatment of immigrants and the list goes on and on. Jesus suffering on the cross, Jesus suffering today. Mary standing beneath the cross and standing with all who suffer in our world today. A black man pleads for his life simply because he is black: “Mama, I can’t breathe.” His black mother grieves for her son.

During the period when we were not able to receive communion, I found it very meaningful to sit in silence and contemplate people, especially the suffering people, who are our companions on this earth. This became the reception of communion for me, so much so that when were once again able to have Mass, I pondered what my belief about Eucharist had been. What does communion really mean? How conscious was I, through this act, of my call to be united with all people on this earth and beyond? Standing with Mary at the foot of the cross pulls it together – standing there before God with the dying Jesus and Mary with all the suffering peoples of the earth.

The Loretto Congregation, Loretto Community and Loretto Link are all part of this community of faith called to be sisters and brothers standing with Mary at the foot of a cross that includes all suffering humanity.

Thanks to the pandemic, (and our age) we here at the Motherhouse and elsewhere are not able to join in the peaceful protests or visit the border which we might have been doing in our younger years. What we can do is be with them in spirit. We can somehow be loving and compassionate even if we have no idea with whom we are standing on any given day. In some mysterious way God’s love flows through us to others. God is love and we are privileged to share in that love and pass it on.

In her book The Source of All Love, Heidi Russell refers to how we get so caught up in what is  going on around us that we can become unaware of what is really needed. She writes: “Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone’s responsibility and not our own.” That is not where we want to be, it is not in keeping with our call to stand at the foot of the cross and be in union with all God’s people. It requires attention and thoughtfulness on our part, a way of life at which we all keep working.

A perfect world, the beautiful world that was meant to be, would be one in which everyone has enough food to eat, a comfortable place to live, enough water, neighbors who care about them and peace. It would be a world that recognizes that all forms of life have a right to exist and that we already have an example from the natural world which works together as a healthy community until humans interfere.

In the midst of this world as it exists now and always, is LOVE in capital letters. LOVE revealed itself in Jesus who taught us how to live through his own example of concern for all types of people. That revelation took hold in some people and aggravated others so much that Jesus ended up hanging on a cross, suffering just as people experience suffering today. And below that cross stood Mary.

Over the body of her dead son, George, stands a mother, weeping as Mary did. At her daughter Briana’s grave, another mother weeps. Outside the hospital window of a parent dying alone from CoVid 19 stands a family separated from their lobed one at a tie when they most feel the need to be with him or her. In a crowded migrant camp with no means of escape stand persons separated from family, home and a life worth living. May we, a community called to be Friends of Mary at the Foot of the Cross, stand with them.


Eileen Custy