A Daily Readings Reflection
by Deacon Mike Manno
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
The Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows and the readings, particularly the Gospel, tell the story of one of our Lady’s Sorrows. In it she stands at the foot of the cross, watching and suffering along with the last agonies of her son who is dying the cruel death of a Roman crucifixion.
The memorial falls every September 15, appropriately the day after the feast of The Exaltation of the Holy Cross, thus the Church is tying together the sufferings of Jesus on the Cross and the sufferings of his holy mother as she stood witness to the events culminating with our redemption.
The feast originally honored the Seven Dolors (or Sorrows) of Mary as prophesized by the holy man, Simeon, who said to Mary during the presentation of the Lord: “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.” Luke 2:34-35. The seven sorrows, not to be confused with the five sorrowful mysteries, are: the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt; having lost the Holy Child at Jerusalem; meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary; standing at the foot of the Cross; Jesus being taken from the Cross; and the burial of Christ.
Thus, depictions of the Seven Dolors show Mary being pierced by seven swords.
So what does this all mean to us?
I think it shows the character of Mary as well as teaches us how to handle sorrow and pain without despair. What do you suppose Mary thought watching the Passion of her son? After all, the angel told her that her son “Will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:32-33.
If there was a time for despair, for Mary this was it. How could this man, beaten and bloodied, on his way to a cross have a kingdom that was to last forever? Was the angel wrong? Did Mary buy into a pipe dream? Yet in spite of it all she did not give up her faith in her son, she followed, as hard as that was to do, and she remained faithful; faithful to the promise made to her.
In this time of confusion in which we are encouraged to abandon our traditions, our beliefs, and our faith, the Church puts the sufferings of our Blessed Mother before us as an example for us to emulate. As scripture tells us over and over, “Do not be afraid!” Our God is still near, he hears us, and he will remain faithful to his promise to us, although we may sometimes doubt. But like Mary, if we remain faithful to Him we will rise one day in that kingdom where there will be no end.