OUR LADY OF SORROWS
(A biblical reflection on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, Wednesday, September 15, 2010)
Background: The celebration of “Our Lady of Sorrows” dates from medieval times. People first find an oratory dedicated to Mary at the Cross near Paderborn, Germany, in 1011 A.D. Devotion to Mary as the Sorrowful One is found during the 12th and 13th centuries in the Cistercian and Franciscan traditions. Later there were two feasts of Mary’s Sorrows or Dolours. One appeared in Servite communities in 1668 dan was celebrated on the third Sunday of September. It was extended to the universal Church by Pope Pius VII (1814), and the date was fixed by Pius X as the day after the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (The Triumph of the Cross), that is 15 September. The other was established by the Synod of Cologne (1423) as an expiation for the actions of the iconclastic Hussites against images of the Crucified and His Mother. In 1727 it was extended to the universal Church, notably through the efforts of the Servites. This feast celebrated on the Friday before Palm Sunday was dropped in the 1969 revision of the calendar. Source: Christopher O’Donnell O.Carm., AT WORSHIP WITH MARY.
Biblical reflection on the ‘Gospel’ in the Holy Mass:
The Scripture Text:
So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing near, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” and from that hour the disciple took her to his own home (Jn 19: 25-27 RSV).
The Church today, 15 September, celebrates the memorial of “Our Lady of Sorrows”, remembering in a very special way Mary as the perfect example of one who stood by the cross of Christ. What pain coursed through Mary as she watched her Son – flesh of her flesh – go through His horrible execution! She could only look on in anguish as He suffered, unable to wipe the blood from His face as His body sagged against the nails, His muscles cramping in hard spasms. Yet through those hours of agony, Mary stood resolute.
Such an act of love reveals Mary’s willingness to endure whatever trials, hardships, and sufferings were necessary so long as she could stand firmly by her Son. Despite her grief, Mary remained with Jesus, praying for Him and supporting Him, even though it meant watching Him die on the cross.
How do we stand in the midst of life’s critical moments? In times of difficulty, it can be very hard to remain faithful to God, even though we know that He understands every situation we face. Practically, then, how can we imitate Mary’s faith? How can we stand with her at the foot of the cross?
In our hearts, we can proclaim some truths about who God is. We can recall scripture passages such as “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom 8:31). Or, we can claim as our own the promises of scripture: “The peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7). We proclaim our trust in the Lord: He loves us and is bringing us closer to Himself. We can turn to the psalms which contain beautiful, real-life cries from the heart to God in our times of trial (e.g. Psalms 31 or 73). Even as they cried out to God for help, the psalmists held fast to their faith in the One they knew well to be steadfast and kind and merciful.
However we decide to deal with the sorrows and trials of life, we must know that God is the kindest person we will ever know. Whether we feel that the words we are praying are true or not, we must believe that they are true. As we proclaim them in faith, God will come and rescue us.
Short prayer: Lord Jesus, we surrender every single situation to You. In our darkest hour, we will remain faithful to You. We have come to know You in times of joy and peace, and so we believe that You will hear our prayer and will be near to help us in times of strife and pain. Amen.
Jakarta, September 15, 2010 [Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows]
A Christian Pilgrim