February 23: Strengthen while Bearing Witness to Suffering

Updated: Apr 1

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

February 23, 2021

When I was a child, I spent the summers with my grandmother, who is one of the most devout Catholics I know.


There are so many things that make her who she is, but I can’t help but think that her absolute goodness might have something to do with her devotion to Mary, our Blessed Mother. Twice a day, every day, Abuela retreats into a room in the house where she won’t be bothered and prays the rosary.


I personally have struggled with the rosary as a form of prayer: my mind inevitably wanders during the rote recitation of Hail Marys and Our Fathers. In recent months, however, the beauty of the rosary has been made clear to me as I pray it weekly with my future husband and his family every Sunday evening over Zoom. It has become a point of connection with family, a form of community prayer rooted in the Truth of Jesus’ life on earth.


I want to invite you in, this Lenten season, to step into the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary with me. Each Tuesday, we will bear witness to the suffering of Jesus and pray for the wisdom to notice where in the world today we may be called to bear witness to the suffering of our earthly family in Christ.


It is often tempting to turn our gaze away from suffering, to close our eyes to it, and avoid pain. But when I think of Mother Mary, forced to watch on as her only son, the Light of the World, endured the great sorrows we encounter in these mysteries, I can’t help but think that perhaps we may be strengthened this Lent by watching on with her.


Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


Paola Montalvo Ayala, MSW, first found a home in the Shrine community when she was an undergrad student at Georgia State University. She served as an alto in the choir from 2015 to 2018.


These reflections are meant to challenge us in our journey through Lent. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments with us.

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