Today’s feast, the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, invites us to pray with the seven sorrows Mary encountered as mother to Jesus: the pain of losing a child in a public place, fleeing her homeland to protect her child, and watching her child die in her arms. In many ways, it is no different than the suffering that parents face everyday. But today’s gospel reminds us that we can never forget that pain always accompanies great moments of joy.

Recently, Pope Francis invited a young Chicago woman born with a skin disease to sing for him. His message: we overcome our pain with the great joy that God has given us. In fact, the seeds and desire for that joy come from our very pain. On today’s feast, take a few moments to ask God to reveal the places where your deepest joys have erupted or matured from experiences of deep pain and sorrow.

—Jeffrey Sullivan, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic, teaches English and theology at Loyola Academy, Wilmette IL