Friday, March 14, 2008

Commemoration of Our Lady of Sorrows

The Church celebrates two festivals in honor of the Sorrowful Virgin. One of these feasts is celebrated on September 15th, the day following the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Yet always solicitous of her children, and knowing the benefits to be received from remembering how that most loving Mother suffered while witnessing her own Son's Passion and Death, holy Church gives us this commemoration of Our Lady of Sorrows on the Friday before Holy Week.

As Mother of the Redeemer, intimately united with her Son, Mary participated in the redemptive suffering of Christ. After our Lord, no one suffered more than she, for, with a mother's love, she endured the Passion in her heart even as her Son suffered in his body. Truly her participation in the suffering and death of her Son was such that we can call her co-redemptrix along with her son. Every step, every revilement, every bitter pain Jesus suffered Mary also suffered. For how could a mother not suffer seeing her innocent Son condemned to the ignominious death of the cross?

Not only did Mary suffer because of her intimate union with Christ, she suffered also on account of our sins for they were the cause of her Son's suffering. As our spiritual mother, she suffered on behalf of us, her children, given to her by our Lord when he was hanging on the cross in the person of St. John.

Today let us contemplate Mary as she follows her Son to Calvary. Let us console her as she sees her beloved Son mistreated and abused, jeered and spat at, flesh rent from the cruel scourges and thorns. Let us stand with her at the foot of the cross where, after an agonizing death, the Son she held in her arms in Bethlehem she holds again. And let us support her at the tomb where, with her own hands and tender ministrations, she lays her Son on the cold stone.

Prayer to the Mother of Sorrows

To what shall I compare thee, O most Sorrowful Mother? To what shall I equal thee, that I may comfort thee, O Virgin Daughter of Sion? For indeed great as the sea is thy destruction; who shall heal thee? I wish, O afflicted Mother, I wish I could weep with thee in these thy most cruel sufferings, with tears of blood, thus to blot out my iniquities, which were the accursed cause of the anguish and desolation of thy soul. I beseech thee, most compassionate Virgin, by the torments of thy Divine Son and these thy bitter Sorrows, obtain for me grace to hate sin, to become thy devoted servant, and to console thee by a holy life. Deign also to assist me in all my necessities, spiritual and temporal; but, above all, stand by me at the hour of my death, that by thy powerful protection I may reap the fruit of so great sufferings, and bless my loving Savior and thyself, my Sorrowful Mother, with eternal gratitude in the heavenly Kingdom. Amen.

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