DAY 6: “COMFORTER OF THE AFFLICTED” (CONSOLATRIX AFFLICTORUM)
In the context of the current affliction of humanity and the Church, I wish to propose a reflection on a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary that evokes consolation and succour – “Comforter of the Afflicted,” (Latin, Consolatrix Afflictorum) on this sixth day of our October Devotion. This is the third of a series of four similar invocations in the Litany of Loreto: “Health of the Sick,” “Refuge of Sinners,” “Comforter of the Afflicted,” and “Help of Christians.” They all profess the belief that Mary has the gift of helping us at all times: in sickness, in sin and in affliction, etc. it is worthy of note that this particular title of the Blessed Virgin Mary “Consolatrix Afflictorum” (Comforter of the Afflicted) was one of the ancient titles in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is originated in the Shrine-Basilica of the Holy House of Loreto. Now, why do we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Comforter/Consoler of the Afflicted, while St. Paul already refers to God the Father as the “Father of all consolation who comforts us in every hardship…through Christ…?”
A consoler is not just one who only wipes away the tears of those who cry; it also includes, giving strength, courage, comfort in agonizing moments. While the term “afflicted” means to experience pain and suffering. Every mother has a special way of comforting her child. It is common to see that scene of the baby crying on the laps of relatives and friends. Most often than not, only the mother’s bosom is capable of stopping the child from crying and even induce that child to sleep with that pleasant feeling of security. Being our Mother, Mary also consoles each of us in our afflictions. When we are facing the crosses of life, we must look for the mother’s lap. There, we will get peaceful sleep and the feeling of childlike security.
Since St. Paul proclaims in his epistle: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all consolation. He comforts us in all our afflictions, so that, with the consolation we ourselves receive from God, we can comfort those who are in any and all afflictions. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow into our lives; so too does the encouragement we receive through Christ. So if we have hardships to undergo, this will contribute to your encouragement and your salvation; if we receive encouragement, this is to gain for you the encouragement which enables you to bear with perseverance the same sufferings as we do.” (2 Cor 1,3-6). It follows then, that, our Lord Jesus Christ, is the greatest consolation that the Father sent to the afflicted of heart (see. Is 61,1-3.10-11); and that is why he proclaims “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mat. 5:4). Nevertheless, we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary as the “Consolation/comforter of the afflicted,” because she participated in the adventure of the faith, uniting herself with her beloved Son. Needless to say, Mary experienced affliction as did no other human person. We see her as a pilgrim, going to Bethlehem at the end of a pregnancy (cf. Luke 2). She also went into exile with Joseph and the Child, experiencing the pain and consolation that come from carrying out God’s will (Cf. Mat. 2:13-14). As a comforter of the afflicted, having seen the plight of the bride and groom in Cana, made the grace of Jesus’ first miracle, the miracle of joy (cf. Jn. 2). At the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn. 19:25-27), she suffered martyrdom in her soul, together with her Son. It is worth accepting the teaching of Saint Bernard of Claraval: “Do not be surprised, brothers, that it is said that Mary was a martyr in her soul.” In the Cenacle, in preparation for Pentecost, praying with the Apostles, Mary asked and waited confidently for the “Comforter” (Holy Spirit). Therefore, it can be said that Mary studied long in the school of affliction, and having been consoled by God, knows how to comfort us in all kinds of afflictions and pains.
Thus, it becomes pertinent to look up to her as “Comforter of the afflicted” because, through her spiritual martyrdom, she has become in a special way a consoler of all men struck by the affliction of sin and its consequences. It was by her own experience of sorrow that she was taught the sympathy which enables her to comfort her children in all their afflictions. God gave her a mighty and sympathetic heart for this great task. She became the Consoler of the Afflicted for she herself experienced affliction by enduring the sufferings of being the Mother of God as her way collaboration to the God’s Plan of Salvation.
Dear friends in Christ, it is true that we naturally would not choose to experience pain and suffering; however, it is an unavoidable part of the human condition, for each person is given a cross to carry by which he can prove by actions and words that he loves God and his neighbour; and in this spiritual struggle, it becomes needful to invoke the presence of this powerful woman – “Comforter of the Afflicted” to grant us the consolation that comes from God. Above all, we rest on the expression found in the “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church” – Lumen Gentium (# 68): “In the interim just as the Mother of Jesus, glorified in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come, so too does she shine forth on earth until the day of the Lord shall come,(304) as a sign of sure hope and consolation to the people of God during its sojourn on earth.”
Let us pray
O God, you willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should participate in the sufferings of your Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and consoled by your grace, she becomes a comforter of the afflicted humanity. Grant, we pray that by imploring her intercession, we might be consoled in all our sufferings and pains in order to achieve eternal life, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Oh “Comforter of the Afflicted” (Consolatrix Afflictorum) pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?