Our Lady of Sorrows
Fr. Paul P. Pang O.F.M.
? Of all the women, you are the most blessed!§ That is what both Angel Gabriel and cousin Elizabeth said to Mary. But when her Son finally came into the world and was brought to the temple to be consecrated to the Lord, Simeon said to the same mother: ? Behold, this child is destined for the fall and the rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed§ (Lk 2:34-35). In all her life this sword accompanied her, piercing her heart almost incessantly.
From the very beginning the Church venerates the sorrows of Mary, knowing very well how she accompanied her Son in his suffering for the salvation of the world. Pope Pius VII extended this devotion to the whole Church before Saint Pius X turned it into a feast in 1912 and established it on September 15th, the octave of the Nativity of Our Blessed Mother (September 8th).
Being a traditional young Jewish girl, well educated by her pious parents, Mary must have learnt how the Messiah must suffer (Cfr. Ps. 22 and Is. 53). And this suffering started following her as soon as she conceived him in her womb, so much so that even her ? just§ spouse Joseph wanted to leave her quietly. Then followed the humiliating birth in a manger, a threat to his life, an escape by night to a foreign land, to live under the shadow of death, the seemingly meaningless long years working as a silent carpenter, the hostility coming from the established Jewish hierarchy against his works and teachings and finally the ignominy of being arrested, scourged, condemned, crucified and died a criminal ? s death on a cross. How heart-broken must this mother be! Yes, it is exactly through this co-suffering between the Mother and the Son that our salvation resulted.
Oh, sorrowful Mother, we continue to offer you the sufferings of the Church so that we may be united with You and Your Son to accomplish the salvation of the whole humankind. This suffering will continue as long as the pilgrim Church marches on toward the heavenly home till all of our human family return to the House of the Father, to be united with the Holy Trinity, and with You Mother Mary and with all the angels and saints of the celestial kingdom in the eternal beatitude. Amen!