Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost—15 September AD 2019
Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin
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Seven Sorrows -
Seven Sorrows - Latin
In addition to
being the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 15 each year
commemorates the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Seven Sorrows
The prophecy of Simeon
The flight into Egypt.
The loss of the Child Jesus in the
Mary meets Jesus on the way to Calvary.
The Crucifixion of Jesus.
(Matthew 27:34–50, Mark 15:23–37,
Luke 23:33–46, John 19:18–30)
The Piercing of the Side of Jesus, and
taking Him down from the Cross.
The Burial of Jesus by Joseph of
(Matthew 27:57–61, Mark 15:43–47,
Luke 23:50–53, John 19:40–42)
The first of these
sorrows comes about when Jesus was forty days old, and was presented in
the Temple, according to the Law of Moses. An old man—the prophet
Simeon—had been promised that he would not die until he had seen the
Anointed One of the Lord. He took Jesus into his arms and prophesied to
Behold this child is
set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in
Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And
thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many
hearts, thoughts may be revealed.
The sword that was
to pierce Mary’s soul is often called the “Sword of Sorrow,” referring
to the fact that Mary’s great love for Jesus would cause her great
In the early
Church—perhaps for a century or two—it was the custom to call those who
suffered persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ, “martyrs.” The
word “martyr” essentially means a “witness,” and the martyrs gave
witness to the true Faith by proclaiming that Faith in spite ridicule,
deprivation of goods or property, loss of livelihood, or even death.
Only in later centuries was the title of “martyr” reserved only for
those who died for the Faith.
In that she was a
woman of the very early Church, it is not surprising that Christian
writers refer to Mary as a martyr. The thing that distinguishes Mary
from other martyrs, is that her pains all center around the Person of
her Divine Son, rather than her own physical self. Her pains lasted for
at least the roughly thirty-three year lifetime of Jesus Christ.
enumerates seven sorrowful events in her life, three during Jesus' youth
and four more around the time of the crucifixion. The prophecy of
Simeon about the sword of sorrow and the sign of contradiction suggests
the possibility that she sorrowed from that time on until her assumption
in to heaven. One can assume that meeting her Son after His
resurrection healed her sorrow over the crucifixion—but that her sorrow
was renewed whenever she became aware of sinners who rejected
Him—sinners who rejected Jesus either by disbelief or by disobedience.
It is safe to say
that there is no suffering in heaven, so perhaps we should say that her
suffering was converted into urgent concern for all who reject
Jesus Christ. It should surprise no one that there are many accounts of
people converting or returning to the Faith through the intercession of
the Blessed Virgin. Just last week, I mentioned a number of her
miracles to protect Christians from hostile forces eager to separate
them from the true Faith by the force of the sword. Less dramatic,
perhaps, but equally important are the miracles of Faith attributed to
Marian sacramentals like the Rosary, the Scapular, and the Miraculous
Medal of her Immaculate Conception. Mary can always be counted on to
assist us against challenges to our Faith.
We live in a
society that used to be called “Christendom.” While there will always
be sin in the world, in our lifetimes the world has come to celebrate
sin! Child murder, fornication, divorce, theft, and apostasy are
touted by politicians and the media, and seen as positive goods by many
members of our society. What tries to pass itself off as the Catholic
Church pretends to find reasons why these sins are not really sins, and
can be rationalized (“discerned”) for the individual perpetrator!
We may not be
personally guilty of any of these sins, but we still have some
responsibility for the society in which we live. We are obligated to
know God’s law, and personally to obey it. As citizens we are we have
the obligation to be informed about what is going on in our society; to
support and vote only for those intending to uphold God’s Law, and to
actively oppose those who do not.
In short, we have
an obligation to support our Blessed Lady in her concern for
those who sin against belief in her Divine Son. A fortiori we
have the obligation not to be among those who sin against belief in her
Let us resolve not
to become Mary’s eighth sorrow!!