September 15, 2017
(Our Lady of Sorrows)
“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” – Simeon to Mary, Lk_2:33-35
Today, I thought I’d give you a really brief history and background on the memorial that we’re celebrating today. Our Lady of Sorrows was instituted into the Church calendar by Pope Pius the 7th, in 1817; although the history of our devotion to the sorrows experienced by the Blessed Virgin Mary date all the way back to the 12th Century.
The title, Our Lady of Sorrows, was given to our Blessed Mother because it focuses on the intense suffering and grief that she endured, through the passion and death of her Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ. That suffering, however, was not just limited to the passion and death of Jesus; but it was also described as the Seven Dolors, or Sorrows of Mary.
The two primary Bible references derive, first, back to the words of Simeon, that we heard in Luke’s Gospel today, where Mary’s heart would be pierced for the sufferings that her Son would have to endure; and second, to the words of Jesus from the Cross in John’s Gospel, where He designated the Apostle John as Mary’s new son and caregiver, confirming Mary’s presence at the crucifixion. Jn_19:25-27
Throughout the ages many famous artists have depicted Mary’s Sorrow with a sword or seven swords piercing her heart, in reference to Simeon’s prophesy. Those Seven Sorrows include:
- Simeon’s Prophesy (of the sword piercing Mary’s heart.) (Luke 2:34–35)
- The Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt and Herod’s massacre of the children of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:13)
- Mary and Joseph’s 3-day loss of the Child Jesus in Jerusalem. (Luke 2:43–45)
- The Meeting of Mary and Jesus as he carried His cross to Calvary (4th Station of the Cross, Tradition)
- The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus.
- The Piercing of the side of Jesus and the Removal of His body from the Cross. (Matthew 27:57–59)
- And the Burial or entombment of Jesus.
These Seven Sorrows are often prayed-over in a devotion similar to the rosary, but they’re not the same as the rosary’s Sorrowful Mysteries.
There is also – an optional Sequence to the Mass which is based on a 12th century hymn called the Stabat Mater Dolorosa, or Sorrowful Mother Standing, which was believed to have been written by a Franciscan mystic named, Jacopone da Todi.
Lots of history.
All in remembrance of the cost that was paid in pain, for our salvation.
And only because our awesome God and Creator loves us so incredibly much!
It’s both our JOY and our Sorrow too, because so much of our world just does not understand!