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And a sword will pierce your very soul

Updated: May 8, 2023

There’s a story in the Bible about Mary and Joseph bringing the baby Jesus to the temple for his dedication. Nowadays, we would relate to it as a baptism in a similar-but-not-quite kind of way. There happened to be an older man there, a prophet named Simeon, who was full of the Spirit and who had been promised by God that he would see the Savior of the world before he died. Simeon sees the baby, holds him, lifts him in prayer, and prophesies about this child: destined to be the Messiah. Then Simeon gives the baby back to Mary, telling her how important her child is, and concludes by saying, “and a sword will pierce your very soul”.

What? Did she really need to hear this so soon in the game? Did she really need to ponder these words for the next 33 years?

And then it actually happened:

A sword did pierce her very soul.

After my son Chad died, several trusted friends would comfort me (and it did help, I must say) by telling me to think about Mary’s loss. That she knows the pain I’m going through because she went through the worst. I couldn’t disagree with that line of thinking, and spending time in the quiet imagining Mary and all these things was sort of helpful. But after a few times of doing this, I started thinking.

And in my less-than-benevolent moments, I thought: “Yeah but she got to see her son again a few days later.” As if she had it better than I. As if there is such a thing as comparing pain. And as if one should do that with the ultimate Mother, for goodness sake. After a while, my heart softened. I invited her into my quiet time again, asking for her prayers, for her strength, for some insight.

And then I had a moment of realization. Her son may have risen three days later, but then he left again! She still had to live without him. She still had to hang out with all his friends, which couldn’t have been easy. She still had to walk in the moccasins that I now walk in. And chances are her moccasins were more worn out than mine.

I mean, most of the people in her community thought her kid was crazy and probably whispered (or worse) about him behind her back.

She, me, all of us.. with our stories.. some seeming better, some seeming worse, some with a heavier “stigma,” none that can or should be compared.

And yet here we all are:

With a sword that pierced our very souls.

Hey Mother Mary, if you have a minute, please say a prayer for us down here.

Help our bleeding-out-souls. Because, as you probably already know, there's an emergency down here - and we're it.

(originally posted on July 31, 2021)

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I don't know how I missed this one, it is so relatable. Rita, I love your honesty; I too have those less than benevolent thoughts ... and then when I remember that Mary the mother of Jesus also endured the loss of her son...I know I can be there for other mothers with her help.


Lani Bogart
Lani Bogart
May 02, 2023

Ahhh, the prophecy of the sword piercing Mary's heart! It sort of angers me that each and every moment of bountiful joy must also be tinged with sadness. Couldn't Simeon have just allowed that moment without the hard truth? Perhaps that's me wanting to escape into denial? But, now there is no escaping it. Every celebration, every baptism, every wedding, every birthday, every Mother's Day, every holiday for the rest of our lives will be tinged with the sadness that our son is not here to add his loud obnoxious jokes.

I'm asking Mary to help me make peace with this reality.


I did not know this story until this post. As I read it, I could feel a wave of grief welling up. Though I did not have a Simeon to tell me of my own son's fate at his birth, I always had a feeling throughout his childhood that I wouldn't be able to keep him. There was no reason to have this feeling, for all intents and purposes he was a healthy child. He was precocious and always a little too "smart" for his own good, but no different than other boys his age. As the years rolled on, I could feel a sort of panic, desperation, even dread growing within myself. And the months preceding his passing, this…

Sep 04, 2021
Replying to

Appreciate your honest sharing Cherra. I'm sure everyone who reads this will have their own unique resonance with your words. Thanks for commenting here - it helps all of us to be reminded that we're not alone. 💜


My daughter died suddenly in 2018 and with so much unresolved in her life and our relationship. The sword that pierced my soul lingers still and twists every once in a while, driving me to God. Only in Him can I find peace and the grace to know all is well. And hope returns...

Sep 04, 2021
Replying to

What profound words Doris. Our suffering is awful but thank goodness it often drives us to God. A rough road, but as you said "hope returns". Thank you.

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