If human suffering is due to sin, and Mary was sinless, why did she suffer at the foot of the Cross?

So, there are some topics recently about whether Mary suffered labor pains, or suffered death, and many have stated that she did not, because human suffering and death exist as a result of sin, and since Mary was sinless, she could not have suffered labor pain, or death.

Yet, no one questions that Mary DID suffer at the foot of the Cross, during her Son’s Passion.

This doesn’t make sense to me. If the only reason for pain and suffering is human sin, and Mary was sinless, and therefore spared suffering during labor and death, then why did she actually suffer during her Son’s Passion? (One could also argue she suffered from worry and anxiety while Jesus was “lost” when he stayed in the Temple and could not be found for 3 days. She tells Him so and obviously she did not lie as she was sinless.)

Anyway, back to the Cross. Wouldn’t she have been at peace about it because she knew this was God’s Divine Will? After all, aren’t the saints supposedly NOT troubled by the suffering of damned souls in Hell, even if the damned souls are their own children or other loved ones; that they are at peace, even happy about it, because they know this was God’s Divine Will?

Mary was without sin, but there was still sin in the world and all around her. Sin can still be blamed for her suffering.

Why did Jesus weep for Lazarus? Why did he weep for Jerusalem? Love sometimes hurts. You don’t have to be sinful to grieve for those you love.

You could just as well ask “If human suffering is due to sin, and Jesus was sinless, why did he suffer on the Cross?”

Just because both were sinless doesn’t mean either was incapable of suffering.

Well a similar objection was raised in another topic, as to whether Mary died and was resurrected, or didn’t die at all. Those who believe she didn’t die state that since death is the penalty for sin and she didn’t sin she didn’t die. They acknowledge Jesus was also without sin yet he died and was resurrected, but state that He essentially CHOSE to die to save mankind, but that Mary didn’t have to do that, and so didn’t die.

Even many who think she died think “Mary chose to die and be resurrected because her Son was as well and she wanted to emulate him” but that she didn’t have to die. Though I question if Mary actually had the power to do this on her own, I guess she could have requested this from God and been granted the request.

I can also think of a poster who doubts Mary was sinless because she feared the angel and his message during the Annunciation, and he thinks only the sinful need fear. And I can’t think of any example of Jesus himself fearing anything.

Have you ever read the Book of Job, ToeInTheWater? One of the major themes of the story is that Job is not suffering because of any sin he has committed. I’m fact, God rebukes Job’s friends for thinking just this. This foreshadows what Joe pointed out: Job the suffering righteous man is an image of the Cross.

If you want to better understand what I’m getting at, I highly recommend G. K. Chesterton’s Introduction to the Book of Job: chesterton.org/introduction-to-job/

Christi pax.

From Chapter 20 of Frank Sheed’s Theology and Sanity:

“There is light for the understanding both of the Church and of our own lives in this truth that the Church as a whole and we its members have some kind of share in the redemptive suffering of Christ. This truth like almost everything else relevant to membership in the Mystical Body may best be studied in relation to Christ’s mother, because she is the one perfect member of the Body. Every element in the life of the Body will be seen at its most intense in her.
In the natural order, one imagines that Christ must have been like His mother – this was one infant, at least, about Whom no question could arise as to which parent He resembled; and she found it, probably, as much of a delight as most mothers find it, that her Son was like her. But that remains in the natural order. In the supernatural order her supreme glory is that she was like her Son. That she was like Him is for any Catholic a commonplace, yet we may miss certain important elements in the likeness. He was sinless and the Man of Sorrows. She was sinless and we think of her most naturally as the Mother of Sorrows. From the moment of her Son’s birth, almost all that we know of her is shot through with grief – the flight into Egypt to save her Child from murder, the knowledge of the other mothers’ children massacred by Herod, the three days’ loss of Christ when He was twelve, his death while she stood by the cross. He suffered; she suffered; but the analysis we have just made of that strange episode in the Temple points to a relation between her suffering and His that we might otherwise have failed to see. Her suffering was related to His, but it was not merely her reaction to His, it was hers. She suffered not simply with Him, as any mother must suffer in the suffering of her son, but in her own right. Before He experienced His desolation, she experienced her desolation. He had His Passion, but she had her passion too. And while His accomplished everything, hers was not for nothing. It was part of the design of the Redemption that while the Divine Person suffered the Passion that redeemed us, a human person should suffer a passion parallel with His.
Remember that in the redemptive act itself there were two elements, the human nature in which the act was done, and the divine Person by Whom the act was done. Because it was an act in human nature, it could rightly be offered for the sin of the human race. Because it was the act of the Divine Person, it had an infinite value which no merely human act could have had. That being so, we considered the question why some lesser act in the human nature could not have sufficed and we saw how it accorded with the demand of all that is best in man that in expiating the sin of man human nature should give of its very uttermost, and in the human nature of Christ it did. In the human nature of Christ it did: but if only there, then human nature has not given of its uttermost, for in that event the rest of men would be merely spectators, the human nature that is in them contributing nothing. The infinite Person of Christ did not need so total a giving in His human nature, yet it was fitting that He should redeem us by that total giving. Similarly our redemption thus effected did not require that humanity as a whole should give what it has to give. But it was in the glorious design of God that human love should not be denied all place in the expiation of human sin, and men be condemned to be no more than spectators of their own redemption. Redeemed humanity should suffer in union with Christ, and in union with Christ these sufferings should be co-redemptive.
There is then a co-redemptive activity of the whole Mystical Body, deriving the whole of its effectiveness from the redemptive action of Christ; and in this co-redemptive activity every member of the Mystical Body plays some part insofar as He unites His sufferings with Christ’s: human nature is privileged to repeat in the persons of men what it has completed in the person of Christ. But what all of us may do according to our imperfection, Our Lady did perfectly. Even St. Paul could not make all of his sufferings available for the Church, since some at least must be set against his own sins. Our Lady had no sins, and whatever she suffered could be wholly for the sins of mankind. But how could she suffer? She could suffer like any other mother to see her Son suffer, and more than any other mother because she was better than any other and had a Son more worthy of love. But for the completion of suffering, she must have sufferings of her own, and at their highest these must be in the soul. Her Son chose for her and she chose for herself the suffering that would lead to the uttermost increase of her sanctification, and give her the most to contribute to the spiritual needs of all of us.
We all have a share in the co-redemptive suffering of the Mystical Body by uniting our sufferings with the sufferings of our Head. But when Our Lady did perfectly what we must do in our own fashion, she was suffering not simply as one of us, even as the best one, the one closest to Christ, but as our representative. We shall not see her clearly if we do not grasp this representative function of hers. And not only here. When in answer to the angel’s message that she was to bear the world’s Redeemer she said “Be it done unto me according to thy word,” she was uttering the consent of the whole human race. When she died, she was taken up into Heaven, body and soul, and there till the Day of Judgment she will be the one human person complete with soul and body standing before the throne of God. So here God allowed that the suffering of the Divine Person should be accompanied by a wholly human suffering, as earnest of the suffering of redeemed humanity that was to be spread throughout the ages. As Christ represents humanity in the Redemptive Act, she represents humanity in the co-redemptive act.”

Was she afraid? Luke 1:29 says “She was much perplexed at hearing him speak so, and cast about in her mind, what she was to make of such a greeting.”

Doesn’t sound like fear to me. Just because Gabriel said to not be afraid, doesn’t mean that she was afraid.

Jesus was afraid at Gethsemane.

Sometimes translation is not as accurate as it could be, I believe startled or surprised may be a better word than fear. God Bless, Memaw

ToeInTheWater. You mentined another poster doubting the Blessed Mother’s sinlessness becausd Mother Mary had “fear” at the time of The Annunciation.

I can also think of a poster who doubts Mary was sinless because she feared the angel and his message during the Annunciation, and he thinks only the sinful need fear. And I can’t think of any example of Jesus himself fearing anything.

There is a servile fear (sin) and a filial fear (not sinful).

Servile fear is where you are afraid of the Master.

Filial fear is fear of offending God because you love Him.

The Blessed Virgin Mary had a filial fear at the time of the Annunciation.

God bless.


All sin has victims. The innocent are not immune.

First off, we would probably need to qualify what is meant by “labor pains.” There are several ways of viewing the aforementioned.
What the Catholic Church proposes that we give our assent of faith to is that Mary was a virgin before Christ’s birth, during Christ’s birth, and after Christ’s birth. Christ’s birth was a miraculous birth - IOW “. . . ***her physical virginity was also not violated in giving birth to Christ.” ***
Fr John A Hardon, Archives ; Mary, the Blessed Virgin

In Venerable Bishop Sheen’s book The Seven Last Words,The concept of labour pains is tied in to us and our Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross - where she became the Mother of each one of us:

Nazareth passed into Calvary, and the nails of the shop into the nails of human malignity. From the Cross He completes His last will and testament. He had already committed His blood to the Church, His garments to His enemies, a thief to Paradise, and would soon commend His body to the grave and His soul to His Heavenly Father. To whom, then, could He give the two treasures, whom He loved above all others, Mary and John? He would bequeath them to one another, giving at once a son to His Mother and a Mother to His friend. “Woman!” It was the second Annunciation! “Behold thy son!” It was the second Nativity! Mary had brought forth her First-born without labor in the cave of Bethlehem; she now brings forth her second-born, John, in the labors of the Cross. At this moment Mary is undergoing the pains of childbirth, not only for her second born, who is John, but also for the millions who will be born to her in Christian ages as “Children of Mary.” Now we can understand why Christ was called “her First-born.” It was not because she was to have other children by the blood of flesh, but because she was to have other children by the blood of her heart. Truly, indeed, the Divine condemnation against Eve is now renewed against the new Eve, Mary, for she is bringing forth her children in sorrow.

Mary, then, is not only the Mother of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, but she is also our Mother, and this not by a title of courtesy, not by a legal fiction, not by a mere figure of speech, but by the right of bringing us forth in sorrow at the foot of the Cross. It was by weakness and disobedience at the foot of the tree of Good and Evil that Eve lost the title of the Mother of the Living; it is at the foot of the tree of the Cross that Mary by sacrifice and obedience regained for us the title of the Mother of Men. What a destiny to have the Mother of God as my Mother and Jesus as my Brother!

ToeInTheWater. You asked WHY the Blessed Virgin Mary would have no suffering of labor pains, but WOULD suffer at the foot of the Cross.

Yet, no one questions that Mary DID suffer at the foot of the Cross, during her Son’s Passion.

This doesn’t make sense to me.

Remember. The Church is being “birthed” at Calvary in a sense.

As the prophet Simeon intimated, Mary too would suffer on Calvary.

No pain birthing Christ.

Lots of pain united to Christ at Calvary when the Church is “birthed”.

Does this make sense? (If not I can provide more details)

Somewhat, I also see this argument being given in the “did Mary suffer labor pain” topic, that the woman who is crying out in pain while giving birth in Revelations is meant to be experiencing NOT the pains of labor while giving birth to Christ, but while giving birth to the Church itself.

I came across this article by Dr. Edward P. Sri that addresses this and argues this passage does not by itself contradict the idea of Mary not having labor pains at the actual physical birth of Christ:


If such a depiction is related to Mary, it would not necessarily be opposed to the Catholic teaching about Mary remaining a virgin while giving birth to Jesus, and thus not experiencing birth pains. In the New Testament, John’s Gospel uses birth pain imagery not to describe a physical birth, but death and Resurrection (Jn. 16:20–21). Similarly, the Book of Revelation itself uses birth imagery to portray (Rev. 1:5). Thus, 12 is likely presenting not Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, but the metaphorical birth of His death and Resurrection.

but the metaphorical birth of His death and Resurrection

Yes I think this is appropriate.

Especially since St. Paul explicitly calls the Church “The Body of Christ” 5 times.

So as Christ goes, so we would expect to see His Church that He is building.

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