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In Times of Sadness

Updated: Apr 19

This article was originally posted on and was written by Michael Cunningham, OFS, Executive Director of San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville, CA.

The Sorrow of Mary (Mater Dolorosa, Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, CA) 

We can feel great sadness at various times in our lives, in particular when something difficult presents itself: illness, loss of a job, financial problems, separation from family and friends, and, of course, the loss (or impending loss) of a loved one.

Times like these often cause us to oscillate between anger and sadness, just as if we are grieving. In a way we are, our soul wants a response. We want to understand the why of our circumstances, looking around for someone to blame for it. If not others, then even ourselves. We begin to regret actions taken or not taken, and spend time looking backward or into the near future about what we can do to avoid what may be an inevitable outcome.

More than anything, we should understand two things. One, we are never alone. God is always with us (Matthew 28:20), God is within us, always holding us. We can lean into God. He will hold us up.

The second is our nature. We are eternal beings. There will be an end to our physical life, even the suffering we or others endure, but then we continue. It is hard to remember this when we have so much of our lives focused on our healthiness, prestige in the world, and our possessions. The only possession worth anything is our relationship with God and the others he placed us near. This is all steeped in love. Love is God’s channel of communication. We are assured of this.

Connecting these two elements can give us great solace when we are feeling down or sorry for ourselves or others. Remember, even Jesus had his Blessed Mother to remind him of His humanity at the most difficult time in his mission. We can lean on Him and lean on those around us (who lean on Him.)

Lean In

A prayer for times of distress

Lean in hard to God.

He will provide the support when you are exhausted.

He will help you when you are helpless.

He will love you when you have spilled yours to all around you.

Lean into His love.


Lean In.

Copyright 2024 Poem, image, and reflection Michael J. Cunningham OFS


Dr. Michael Cunningham, OFS, completed his MA in Ministry at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, MA, and his Doctorate in Ministry at Catholic University in Washington, DC. He is the Executive Director of San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville, CA. Michael is married with four children and eleven grandchildren and is an avid writer, photographer and motorcyclist. Michael is a Retreat Master and Spiritual Director. Previously, Michael was the retreat center director at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California, for five years. The team there held over 90 retreats each year for prayerful meditation and spiritual development in the Catholic tradition and a thriving outreach Food Ministry which was founded in March 2020. Spiritually, he is a proponent of the Everyday Presence of God in Our Lives as an evangelization strategy.

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“He will love you when you have spilled all of yours to all around you”, as Mothers and Grandmothers this really hits home and is a wonderful reminder of our need to lean on God’s love at all times. Thank you for sharing


Thank you for the reminder. We are truly eternal beigns, just passing through, having a human experience that one day will end.


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