A mother’s kind of broken

A mother’s kind of broken


Recently, I had a close encounter with a woman in the narthex of my parish. After Mass some stayed as always to pray, say the rosary and light candles in the chapel while making silent appeals to the Holy family. It was all very usual until the silence was broken by muffled cries. There in the back row, was a woman not much younger than I whom one might have mistaken for Hannah since, “in her deep anguish this woman  prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. ” 1 Samuel 1:10

People turned to look at her, then looked at one another with an unspoken question in their eyes: Should we do something? But, before anyone could make a move she stood up to leave. I would have sat with the rest and continued praying except for a strong prompt in my spirit which indicated I should get up and go to her. A few feet ahead of me, she was almost out the door when I softly called to her, ” Would you like to take a minute and pray?”

We found a place off to the side and what poured out of this woman was an emotional brokenness that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. It was all about her failed marriage, wayward children and grandchildren and the terrible sins that all their lives were caught up in. She was almost inconsolable. Even after praying with so many people in the hospital, it was all I could do to keep her calm.

She was a mother’s kind of broken.

Every mother who has ever lived devoting her whole life to her family, yet watching it fall apart before her eyes knows exactly what kind of crippling pain this woman was experiencing.

Someone coming along on the scene might have assumed the woman was … well, they might have asked her,

How long have you been drunken? Put away your wine from you.

But Hannah answered,

Do not take your servant for a worthless woman; all this time, I have been speaking from the depths of my grief and resentment.

1 Samuel 1: 14, 16

She humbled me by her willing humiliation, trusting a total stranger to say I know it looks hopeless, but please don’t despair. In that moment she may have looked–even sounded–the fool to others, but there wasn’t an ounce of pride in her.

It had been washed away in her brokenness. 

Not long after that encounter, I had a mom’s kind of broken day.  I thought back to that woman and the terrible humiliation she suffered in front of so many people that day. I longed for someone to tell me I wasn’t a worthless woman—don’t despair, it will be alright. This too shall pass.

After she left, I walked back into the church and stopped along the wall by the thirteenth station of the cross where the body of Jesus is taken down from the cross and laid in His mother Mary’s arms.

There was a price to pay for her fiat: Be it done to me according to thy word.

In the mystery of redemption their hearts were inseparable; united in the ransom paid by the Son of God. Mary, though enriched by so many graces, hearkened back to Simeon’s words:

“And a sword will pierce through your heart, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:35)

Mary paid with her heart. She held Jesus as a babe in the stable in Bethlehem, now outside the walls of Jerusalem on a Mount called Calvary, once again, she holds her Son in her arms.

It was a mother’s kind of broken.

When I look upon Mary, I cannot imagine what inexpressible sorrow she suffered; I turn to her for understanding and to fill every mother– no matter her pain– with hope.




  • Photo: William Key Lamentation of Christ (16th century)



  1. Carol
    Feb 28, 2016

    Beautifully written and done!

  2. Carol
    Feb 28, 2016


    • Caroline
      Feb 28, 2016

      Thank you so much, Carol.. Prayers offered for you as well ..+

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