During this month of September, Catholics are encouraged to grow in our devotion to the Triumph of the Holy Cross of our Lord Jesus (the feast is September 14 each year) and the Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the memorial is September 15). This week I would like to dedicate our attention to the Sorrows of our Blessed Mother.
First a refresher on the Sevens Sorrows of the Heart of our Blessed Mother:
1. The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35): This sorrow happened when Mary and Joseph presented the infant Jesus in the temple. They were met by the prophet Simeon. Simeon foretold the destiny of Jesus and the sorrow that would pierce the Heart of Mary. 2. The Flight to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15): This sorrow concerns the command God gave to St. Joseph to take the child Jesus and His Mother, Mary, into Egypt because Herod was seeking to kill Jesus. 3. Loss of Child Jesus for three days, later found in His Father's House (Luke 2: 41-50): This happened when Jesus was 12 years old. Jesus, Mary and Joseph went to the temple to worship God and Jesus stayed behind in the Temple rather than return to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph. Mary and Joseph anxiously looked for Jesus for three days until finding Him in the Temple. 4. Mary Meets Jesus as He Carries His Cross (Luke 23: 27-29): Mary met Jesus on His way to Calvary to be crucified. In this moment the love of Mary’s Heart met the love of Jesus’ Heart and Mary’s pain increased as she shared in the suffering of her Son. 5. Mary at the Foot of the Cross (John 19: 25-30): Mary was not only a witness of the bitter suffering of Jesus on the Cross, but she also shared in His intense pain. 6. Jesus’ Body is Taken Down from the Cross and Given into the Arms of His Mother (Psalm 130): Mary was again pierced with pain as she received His body from the cross after He expired. 7. Mary Witnesses the Burial of the Body of Jesus (Luke 23: 50-56): Mary is present when Jesus’ disciples bury His body and her heart feels intense grief.
I have learned a special devotion to the Our Lady of Sorrows through the apparition of our Blessed Mother in Kibeho, Rwanda (Africa). The messages of Our Lady have been approved by the Catholic Church. One of the visionaries, Nathalie, summarized our Blessed Mother’s desire for all to pray over her Seven Sorrows:
"The Holy Virgin insisted on the need for prayer. She said that the world is bad. It is necessary to pray, to pray, to pray a lot for this world that is bad, to pray for sinners, to pray for their conversion. She insisted a lot on the need for conversion: Convert to God! Convert to God! Convert to God! While saying that people don't respect God's commands, that people have a hard heart, she also asked us to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary and to recite it every day. She also taught us the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows. She asked us to pray it every Tuesday and Friday. She asked us to obey the Church, to love God in truth, and to love our neighbor in humility and simplicity. She spoke of the need for mortification, a spirit of penitence and sacrifice. She also spoke of the need for suffering, to bear our sufferings every day. She said that no one enters heaven without suffering. She also told us that acts of charity for the poor make us beautiful flowers that God likes. She wanted a chapel to be constructed here in Kibeho, so everyone would remember her visit and pray for the Church and religious. Holy Mary spoke to us in Kinyarwanda [the language of Rwanda] with her very soft voice." (from www.marian.org)
The Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Mary is normally prayed on a special chaplet consisting of seven groups of seven beads each, but it can prayed in a regular rosary if one is able to keep track of the method of praying this Chaplet. Each group of seven begins an ‘Our Father’ and is followed by seven ‘Hail Marys’. During each group of seven ‘Hail Marys’ one meditates on the corresponding Sorrow of Mary’s Heart. Many people begin the Chaplet with an ‘Act of Contrition’ as way of deepening one’s heart in sorrow for sin and asking that Mary may share her purity and love for Jesus with the soul.
Through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Joseph, and St. Columbkill, may God bless our families and all our parishioners!