The Catholic Defender: Our Lady of Sorrows Day 1
For a while there were two feasts in honor of the Sorrowful Mother: one going back to the 15th century, the other to the 17th century. For a while both were celebrated by the universal Church: one on the Friday before Palm Sunday, the other in September.
The principal biblical references to Mary’s sorrows are in Luke 2:35 and John 19:26-27. The Lucan passage is Simeon’s prediction about a sword piercing Mary’s soul; the Johannine passage relates Jesus’ words from the cross to Mary and to the beloved disciple.
Many early Church writers interpret the sword as Mary’s sorrows, especially as she saw Jesus die on the cross. Thus, the two passages are brought together as prediction and fulfillment.
Saint Ambrose in particular sees Mary as a sorrowful yet powerful figure at the cross. Mary stood fearlessly at the cross while others fled. Mary looked on her Son’s wounds with pity, but saw in them the salvation of the world. As Jesus hung on the cross, Mary did not fear to be killed, but offered herself to her persecutors.
John’s account of Jesus’ death is highly symbolic. When Jesus gives the beloved disciple to Mary, we are invited to appreciate Mary’s role in the Church: She symbolizes the Church; the beloved disciple represents all believers. As Mary mothered Jesus, she is now mother to all his followers. Furthermore, as Jesus died, he handed over his Spirit. Mary and the Spirit cooperate in begetting new children of God—almost an echo of Luke’s account of Jesus’ conception. Christians can trust that they will continue to experience the caring presence of Mary and Jesus’ Spirit throughout their lives and throughout history.
Beloved Mother, so stricken with grief, help us to bear our own suffering with courage and love so that we may relieve your Sorrowful Heart and that of Jesus. In doing so, may we give glory to God Who gave you and Jesus to humanity. As you suffered, teach us to suffer silently and patiently.
The seven sorrows of Mary are:
1. St. Simeon’s Prophecy (Luke 2:35)
2. The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-14)
3. The Loss of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:44-52)
4. The Meeting of Mary and Jesus on the Way to Calvary (Tradition Luke 23:26-32)
5. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:16-30)
6. The Piercing of the Side of Jesus, and His Descent from the Cross (John 19:31-37 and Tradition)
7. The Burial of Jesus (John 19:38-42)
According to St. Alphonsus de Liguori (The Glories of Mary) it was revealed to Saint Elizabeth that at the request of Our Lady, Our Lord promised four principal graces to those devoted to Her Sorrows:
“I will grant peace to their families.”
2. “They will be enlightened about the divine Mysteries.”
3. “I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.”
4. “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.”
5. “I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.”
6. “I will visibly help them at the moment of their death — they will see the face of their Mother.”
7. “I have obtained this grace from My divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to My tears and sorrows 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.”
The month of September is dedicated to the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Here is the Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows (from the Raccolta). May be said as a nine day novena and/or as a companion to the daily recitation of 7 Hail Mary prayers offered in honor of Our Lady’s Sorrows.
Each day begin with:
V. O God, come to my assistance;
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
V. Glory be, etc.
R. As it was, etc.
Pope Pius VII approved another series of prayers in honor of the Seven Sorrows for daily meditation in 1815:
O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me. Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Day I. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the affliction of Thy tender heart at the prophecy of the holy and aged Simeon. Dear Mother, by Thy heart so afflicted, obtain for me the virtue of humility and the Gift of the holy Fear of God. Pray one Hail Mary.
V. Pray for us, O Virgin most sorrowful,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
Let intercession be made for us, we beseech Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, now and at the hour of our death, before the throne of Thy mercy, by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Thy Mother, whose most holy soul was pierced by a sword of sorrow in the hour of Thy bitter Passion. We ask this through Thee, Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
Pray for the Suffering Women of the World
Labor day usually brings to mind images of factory workers, farmers or heavy equipment operators. Yet we also use labor to describe the first work which brought each one of us to birth: those first hours of maternal sacrifice which brought us into the world. It’s too easy to forget that and all the other sacrifices which the vocation of motherhood entails. Pray for the mothers in labor today. Those who give birth. Those who work two jobs to support a child. Those who go without so their child’s needs are met. Those whose patient endurance is a sign of God’s love upon the cross.