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Our Lady of Sorrows


”Those who do not weep, do not see.
” ~ Victor Hugo

On the heels of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Church today pauses to reflect upon the Mother of the man who bore that cross and died upon it. The Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows began to take root in the Catholic Church in the 12th Century, with some tracing its origins back as far as the 11th Century and the Benedictine Monks. Though it underwent a few named changes and bounced around the Liturgical Calendar a bit, Pope Pius X established the permanent date of September 15 for the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the year 1913. It is now simply called the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary are the events in her life that caused excessive agony and torment to her Immaculate Heart, sorrows in which she was uniquely and intensely united to Jesus. Those Seven Sorrows are as follows:

The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:34-35)

The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-21)

The Loss of Jesus for Three Days (Luke 2:41-50)

The Carrying of the Cross (John 19:17)

The Crucifixion of Jesus (John 19:18-30)

Jesus Taken Down from the Cross (John 19:39-40)

Jesus Laid in the Tomb (John 19:39-42)

Our Lady promises to bestow seven tremendous graces upon those who in turn honor her and her Son by contemplating these events daily. Those graces are as follows:

"I will grant peace to their families."

"They will be enlightened about the divine Mysteries."

"I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work."

"I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my divine Son or the sanctification of their souls."

"I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives."

"I will visibly help them at the moment of their death; they will see the face of their mother."

Our Blessed Mother revealed these seven promises to Saint Bridget of Sweden in the 14th century. "I have obtained this grace from my divine Son,” Mary said to Saint Bridget, “that those who propagate this devotion to my tears will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness, since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son will be their eternal consolation and joy." On October 13th, 1917, during her last apparition and the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, Mary appeared not only as Our Lady of the Rosary and As Our Lady of Mount Carmel, but also as Our Lady of Sorrows.

Saint Ambrose saw Mary as a sorrowful yet powerful figure at the cross. Mary stood fearlessly at the cross while others fled. Of Mary’s profound grief at the foot of the Cross, St. Bernardine professed that “if all the sorrows of the world were united, they would not equal that of the glorious Virgin Mary." She looked on her Son’s wounds with pity, but saw in them the salvation of the world. Like her Son Jesus, Mary shows us that suffering has salvific value.

What makes our Blessed Mother's sorrow so unfathomable is that Jesus was not only her Son, but also her Lord and Savior. In our 1st Reading today (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31), Saint Paul engages in his mystical body of Christ discourse, wherein he explains that each member of Christ’s family, “his people; the sheep of his flock,” as Psalm 100 appropriately proclaims during today’s Responsorial Psalm, although many, serve as one body. One can’t help but think of Mary as the true and Immaculate heart of this mystical body, a heart she shares with her son, whose infant heart once beat within her womb. This pure and spotless heart would be pierced as Simeon foreshadowed in today’s Gospel (Luke 2:33-35). An angel spoke these words to St. Bridget: "As the rose grows up amongst thorns, so the Mother of God advanced in years in the midst of sufferings; and as the thorns increase with the growth of the rose, so also did the thorns of her sorrows increase in Mary, the chosen rose of the Lord, as she advanced in age; and so much the more deeply did they pierce her heart.“

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Our duty as Catholics is to know the truth, to live the truth, and to defend the truth while sharing it courageously with others. There will be times when we will be called to suffer for the truth as well. May we look to unite our hearts to the sinless and immaculate heart of Mary during our times of sorrow and heartbreak so that we may grow to be worthy of the great promises of Christ.

“We unite our hearts with yours, especially this day, Sorrowful Mother, when we recall the Seven Sorrows of your Heart. Hear our prayers, especially the prayers of those most in need of your intercession . . . through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” ~ Amen

For more on today’s 1st Reading and Paul’s teachings as they relate to the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ, please revisit my previous Reflection on the topic:



jacob on September 17, 2020:

There is only one mediator that is Jesus Christ. We are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus.

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