The meaning of the celebration
+ On September 15, the day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Church honors the suffering (or “sorrows”) of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. This memorial is based on a special feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary first celebrated by the Servite Friars in the seventeenth century.
+ The Gospel of Luke tells us the story of the Presentation in the Temple when he was only a few weeks old. The devotions of Mary and Joseph were interrupted when Simeon, an elderly priest, took the Child in his arms and proclaimed that he was the fulfillment of the promises God had made to Israel.
+ Simeon also prophesied that Mary would have to share in the sufferings of her Son: “You yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:35). Years later, this prophesy was fulfilled as Mary courageously stood by and witnessed the execution of her Son (cf. John 19:25-27).
+ In art, the Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, is often depicted with seven swords piercing her heart. These swords represent the traditional seven “sorrows” of Mary: the Prophecy of Simeon, the Flight into Egypt, the Loss of the Child Jesus, Meeting Jesus as he carried his Cross to Calvary, the Crucifixion, the Body of Jesus being placed in Mary’s arms, and the burial of Jesus.
For prayer and reflection
“At the foot of the Cross and perfectly united with her Son, the Virgin Mary was able to share in a singular way the depth of the pain and love of his sacrifice. No one better than she can teach us to love the cross. To Our Lady of Sorrows we entrust young people and families, nations and the whole of humanity. In a special way we invoke her for the sick and the suffering, for the innocent victims of injustice and violence, for Christians persecuted on account of their faith. May the glorious Cross of Christ be for all a pledge of hope, redemption and peace.”—Pope Saint John Paul II
On this day we also remember Blessed Roland de Medici. A member of the influential banking family, Roland (who is also known as Orlando) left behind wealth and influence to live as a hermit in the region of Parma, Italy. After nearly 30 years of a life of prayer and solitude, he died on September 15, 1386. Devotion to Blessed Roland was officially confirmed in 1853.
There are numerous religious communities dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. Please pray for vocations to these communities, including:
The Trappist Monks of Gethsemani Abbey (Trappist, KY): www.monks.org
The Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows, visit: www.ols.org
The Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, visit: http://sistersofthesorrowfulmother.org/
The Marianites of the Holy Cross: www.marianites.org
The Sisters of Loretto: http://www.lorettocommunity.org/
Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows: www.olpretreat.org
Franciscan Sisters T.O.R. of Penance and the Sorrowful Mother: www.franciscansisterstor.org
Poor Sisters of Jesus Crucified and the Sorrow Mother: www.cjcbrockton.org
Mantallate Sisters Servants of Mary: www.mantellatesistersmsm.org
Servants of Mary (Servite Sisters): www.osms.org
Servite Sisters (Ladysmith, WI): www.servitesiters.org
O God, who willed
that, when your Son was lifted high on the Cross,
his Mother should stand close by and share his suffering,
grant that your Church,
participating with the Virgin Mary in the Passion of Christ,
may merit a share in his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.