Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Feast of the Seven Sorrows A.D. 2002

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin and English
September 15 - Seven Sorrows
Septem Dolórum Beátæ Maríæ Vírginis

    While today would be the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, every seven years or so the 15th of September falls on Sunday, as it does today, and we commemorate the Seven Sorrows of our Blessed Lady. In fact, up until the calendar reform under Pope Saint Pius X, the feast was fixed on the third Sunday of September. The feast has been celebrated throughout the Western Church since Pope Pius VII returned from exile under Napoleon.

    But devotion to the Seven Sorrows goes back before the Church assigned a special Mass and feast day. Some of the Sorrows were already being meditated upon in the Rosary, but in the thirteenth century the order known as the "Servants of Mary" or simply the "Servites" was founded with the expressed purpose of sanctifying its members, and those with whom they came in contact, through meditation on the sorrows of our Blessed Mother standing at the foot of the Cross. Over the centuries there have been different lists of the Sorrows of Mary, at first only those surrounding the Crucifixion, but later including earlier events as well. They are usually seven in number, and today the list is more or less fixed to include the following:

First Sorrow: The Presentation of our Lord in the Temple "Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, 'Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign of contradiction, and a sword will pierce thy soul also, that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.'" (Luke ii).

Second Sorrow: The Flight Into Egypt: "Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream . He said, 'Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him'" (Matthew ii).

Third Sorrow: The Loss of Jesus in Jerusalem: "They sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions" (Luke ii).

Fourth Sorrow: Mary Meets Jesus on the Via Dolorosa: "And there followed Him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, 'Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children'" (Luke xxiii).

Fifth Sorrow: Mary at the Foot of the Cross: "When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, thy son!' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your Mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, 'E'lo-i, E'lo-i, la'ma sabach-tha'ni?' which means, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit!' And having said this he breathed his last. (John xix; Mark xv; Luke xxiii)

Sixth Sorrow: Mary Receives Jesus' Body: "But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. After this Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body." (John xix)

Seventh Sorrow: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb: "The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb, and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment" (Luke xxvii).

    The Servite practice is to meditate on each of these sorrows, much like one meditates on the Rosary. The chaplet begins with the Act of Contrition, for the primary purpose of this devotion is to call to mind that it is our sins that caused the suffering of Jesus, and consequently of His Mother, each sorrow is announced like the mysteries of the Rosary, followed by the "Our Father" and seven "Hail Mary's. There is abundant material for meditation on the Sorrows -- the Bible is the best place to start, of course. But you may also find some useful considerations in books that deal with the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross -- for obviously all three of these devotions overlap somewhat.

    But aside from being familiar with each of these events, probably the most effective way to meditate on the sorrows is to try to put one's self in the place of the Blessed Mother. Try to imagine what it must have been like to hear the prophecy of Simeon, or the panic she must have felt when soldiers were systematically murdering all of the little boys in and around Bethlehem. Try to imagine the intense sorrow that a mother would feel on meeting her son on the way to his execution, or on seeing him die the hideous death of crucifixion, and, perhaps worst of all, the unspeakable loneliness that she must have felt on that first Holy Saturday.

    Sometimes we lose sight of the ugliness and the consequences of sin. It is easy to develop the mindset that "it doesn't matter, as long as I am not hurting anybody." We live in a world that supports behavior with no reference to Almighty God. So, pretty regularly, we ought to make an examination of our conscience. And to reinforce our resolve to do better in the future we ought to spend some time in making the Stations of the Cross, or saying the Rosary, or meditating on the Seven Sorrows of our Blessed Mother.



    Information taken from the  site is gratefully acknowledged.


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