by Michaelyn Hein –
I stood in the emergency department desperate for help. Though people glanced our direction – unavoidable, really, considering the screams of my 4-year-old son – no one came to our aide. They hurried about to other rooms and hallways as I stood in line, cradling my boy.
After what felt like hours, the couple waiting ahead of me was called over to the front desk. The man kindly looked at me and ushered us ahead of him. Finally, someone to offer a little assistance.
Although we had inched forward in getting checked in, the next couple hours would be an agonizing wait in getting answers to how damaged my child’s head was from his fall to the parking lot pavement. I would spend the long minutes cradling my inconsolable child as he arched his back and wailed in pain. As he squeezed his eyes shut and refused to open them from the ache. As he deliriously begged for his mommy even as I wrapped him in my arms and assured him it was I who held him.
Through it all, I whispered the same prayer. “Please, Lord, take his pain from him and give it to me. I will take all of it. Just ease his suffering and lay it all on me.”
Three hours into the ordeal, a CT scan finally offered comfort. No skull fracture, no bleeding. Just tissue swelling and a confirmed concussion. Bad enough, but not as bad as I had been fearing.
The next morning, as I recovered from the trauma of the previous afternoon, I contemplated the events more deeply. I played the words of my prayer repeatedly in my mind and envisioned the scene: a mini-Pieta with my living, though terribly suffering, child. And I thought of Mary.
How could I not? My plea was assuredly one she would have felt as she watched her own Son endure the worst agonies. Often, she must have looked around in desperation, searching for someone to help. And when the suffering was over, I imagine she stretched her arms out, aching for her Son’s body to be cradled in them. This must be so, I tell myself, because this is the heart of a mother.
Even now, Our Lady aches. She still yearns for consolations for her Son. She still begs for His heart to be loved and not despised. She still asks us to accept and to return His love.
But Our Lady’s sorrows do not end with Jesus. Rather, it is there that her suffering only begins. Mary is the epitome of motherhood, and, so, with a mother’s heart, she gazes upon us, her children, and seeing our agony, our suffering, our sometimes walk towards hell even as we desire heaven, she holds us in her heart and begs for assistance.
Indeed, Our Lady is a mother in the emergency room of this world, her eyes searching those of passersby, desperate for at least a few to see the plight of her children and come to her aide. We are the ones she calls, though often we forget this. Or we intentionally neglect to look at our Blessed Mother’s tear-stained face in preference for happier sights. But we need not be so hard-hearted. We can choose, rather, to be like the man I met in the hospital who offered what little he could give – his place in line.
At Fatima, in July 1917, Our Lady showed the children a vision of hell in order to inspire them to be this kind of soul. Lucia recounted that just after this vision, Our Lady said, “You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If they do what I will tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.”
Our Lady’s words were those of a mother asking for assistance not in saving the physical lives of her children, not in alleviating their physical suffering as I had prayed in the emergency department over my own child; her words were of greater weight for they begged assistance in saving something more valuable: her children’s eternal lives.
About a month after that July apparition, the Blessed Mother reappeared to the children, imploring them again to assist her in saving souls.
“In a more sad way,” Lucia relayed, “the Lady said, ‘Pray, pray a great deal, and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell because they have no one to sacrifice and pray for them.’”
Mary’s request of Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta at these and so many other apparitions is a request for us all. It is a plea for our own sacrifices, an offering of our sufferings and of our lives for the salvation of other souls.
And, in effect, it is a request to console her Son’s Sacred Heart, which, as Jesus told St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in June 1675, “has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love.” In return, Jesus lamented to the saint, He receives “from the greater part (of humanity) only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the coldness and contempt” they hold for Him in the Eucharist.
We can answer these calls. We can help to heal, not with bandages, but with prayer and rosaries; with sacrifice for sinners and true reverence for our Savior in the Eucharist. And with, as far as possible, keeping First Friday and First Saturday devotions. In a word, we help save souls with love and console the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
In these ways, we can be those who ease the maternal sorrow of our beautiful and Blessed Virgin Mother, as she breathes a sigh of relief and proclaims, “At last, someone to offer a little assistance.”
Note: June 24 and 25 is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Console them each day with a rosary in reparation for the ungratefulness, indifference and offenses that wound their two Hearts.
Michaelyn Hein is a Catholic writer, spouse and mother, who resides in Hopewell, NJ.