Our Lady of Tears
Seventy miles Southwest of Boise, in the Owyhee Mountains close to the Oregon border is the old mining town of Silver City. It is one of the best preserved and least known of the so-called ghost towns in the Western United States. It is not easy to get to. In the winter, snow blocks the road and it is impassible by car. In the summer, the road is a winding, dirt road demanding careful driving. The first building one sees from the Idaho side is the imposing church of Our Lady of Tears. It is situated on a hill overlooking the town. Beautifully preserved, it was built in the late 1800s by the Episcopal Church of Idaho and originally called St. James. In 1928, it was given to Bishop Kelly (the man, not the school) by the Episcopal bishop of Idaho. It was renamed after a very popular devotion of the early 20th century called Our Lady of Tears, now known as Our Lady of Sorrows.
The building itself has been restored, with exact replicas of its original stained glass windows. It is cared for by a group of Idaho Catholics and others, called Friends of Our Lady of Tears.
The devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows (or Tears) is celebrated on Sept. 15th. There are 7 traditional sorrows that Mary, Mother of Jesus, endured in her lifetime. Four of the seven sorrows pertain to events of the crucifixion of Jesus. (He himself is portrayed as having wept tears of sorrow, once at the death of his friend Lazarus, and again over the city of Jerusalem)
This time of year is an especially stressful time for all, especially students. Everyone knows the teen years are times of mood swings, a normal part of growing up. There are many causes: stress regarding grades, social pressures, problems in families and relationships, sexual issues, lack of healthy habits, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, and so on.
Sadness is one thing, depression is another. It’s like perpetual sadness. In the general population of the country, 1 in 8 teens suffer from clinical depression. It is treatable. Let me repeat that: it is treatable. No one needs to be perpetually sad. Everyone suffers from various degrees of sadness at some points in life.
In his 17th century classic, called Pilgrim’s Progress, the author Paul Bunyan describes the hero, named Christian, as having to pass through “Slough of Despond” (the swamp of despair). Christian sinks into the swamp, pulled out by an appropriately named character called “Help”. There is help for sadness.
In the gospel today, Jesus is saying farewell to his disciples. He says to them “you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”
He then goes on to say, “but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.
These last words of Jesus are a promise that we are never truly abandoned no matter how much we may feel otherwise. Jesus promises that our inevitable tears will be for “a little while.” God hears our cries and answers them in ways we often fail to see.