The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is celebrated on September 15th, hence the devotion to her of this month. The Collect of the Mass of Our Lady of Sorrows is:
O God, who willed that,
when your Son was lifted high on the Cross,
his Mother should stand close by and share his suffering,
grant that your Church,
participating with the Virgin Mary in the Passion of Christ,
may merit a share in his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever. Amen.
This prayer, along with the fact that the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is celebrated the day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14th), points out the union that Our Blessed Mother had with her Son as He suffered on the Cross. She, in a particularly intimate and painful way, shared in His crucifixion. This should come as no surprise to any woman who is a mother – since very often she experiences, very often very intensely and painfully – the sufferings her children endure. It is a sign of the depths of her love for them. We see in Our Lady of Sorrows not only her depth for her Son, but also, when we suffer, since she is our Mother, she shares in our sufferings as well. This can be a great source of solace for us when we suffer, but also a reminder of Christian hope, because no matter how painful the Cross, we know that by “participating…in the Passion of Christ” we “may merit a share in his Resurrection.”
In art, Our Lady of Sorrows is oftentimes depicted with seven swords piercing her Immaculate Heart. They are reminders of the Seven Sorrows that she experienced over her earthly life. They are: The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2.34-35); The Escape and Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2.13); The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2.43-45); The Meeting of Mary and Jesus on the Road to Calvary; The Crucifixion of Jesus (John 19.25); The Piercing of Jesus’ side (Matthew 27.57-59); The Burial of Jesus (John 19.40-42). It is a common devotional practice to pray one Our Father and seven Hail Mary’s daily in honor of these sorrows.
As we enter this month of September it may be of great spiritual value to spend one day on one of these sorrows of the Blessed Mother in your own prayer – join her as she experiences these things. A book that you may find helpful for reflection this month is “The Seven Sorrows of Mary: A Meditative Guide” by Joel Giallanza, C.S.C. and published by Ave Maria Press. In our next couple of bulletin articles you will find some prayers and devotions for this month.
(This article is part of a series that will appear over the course of this year on the Monthly Devotions of the Church’s year).