As on the Friday in the passion week, so again in mid-September, the Holy Church commemorates Our Lady’s great Sorrows.
Today’s feast was first granted to the Servites in 1668, and when Pope Pius VII came out of exile in 1814, he extended it to the Universal Church in gratitude.
Mary was too close to the Cross of Christ to be ignored in the history of salvation and that is exactly why the Church does not waste time to crown her as the Queen of heaven, in line with the revelations of the scriptures, Rev. 12:1-17.
According to St Bernard, “He (Christ) died in the body through a love greater than anyone had known. But She (Mary) died in the spirit through a love unlike any other.
The Church chronicles the 7 sorrows of Mary as follows:
1. The prophesy of the aged Simeon, (Lk 2:34):- ‘Look, he is destined for fall and rise of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is opposed – and a sword will pierce your soul too’. That revelation was like a second annunciation but this one was painful yet symptomatic of her role of spiritual motherhood. From that moment, she became the associate colleague of Christ’s passion.
2. The 300 mile flight into Egypt carrying the infant Jesus, (Matt 2:13-15):- This was quite a harrowing experience knowing the pains which insecurity of a new home can cause young mothers.
3. The loss of Jesus at the age of 12 in Jerusalem, (Lk 2:4-5):- This was another sorrowful experience. She must have heard false rumours and plots against Jesus by the Jews long before the real actualization.
4. Mary’s encounter with Jesus on his way to Calvary, (Jn. 19:26):- This must have been full of tears seeing all the wounds meted on her only son. The abandonment by the disciples and the shouts of the Jews ‘Crucify him, Crucify him’ must have baffled our Lady most.
5. The crucifixion:- The crucifixion experience was the climax of her sorrow. Mary watched the nailing. She must have felt the pain of each piercing nail.
6. The taking down of his body from the cross was such a disaster, (Jn. 19:26):- He was placed in the hands of his afflicted mother who received him with unutterable tenderness and pressed him to her blossom.
7. His burial was full of sorrowing and weeping:- All these were for a purpose – to teach us believers, in the moment of our sorrows that we are not alone – ‘your brothers all over are suffering the same faith’, (1Pet 5:8-9).
As Christ learnt obedience through suffering, Heb. 5:7-9, so also do all Christians learn virtues through their sorrows and sufferings.
We ask our blessed mother Mary to help us. O Lady Mother of Sorrows pray for us and teach us how to bear sorrows!