Today, September 15th, we celebrate the feast day of Our Lady under her title of “The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Devotion to the Virgin Mother of Our Lord as the “sorrowful mother” (Mater Dolorosa) has been part of Christian prayer over the centuries in both the East and the West. The English translation of the Latin hymn, Stabat Mater Dolorosa, is familiar to us as verses of which are interspersed between each of the “stations” in the procession and recitation of the 14 Stations of the Cross.
The sorrows of Our Lord’s mother, above all her place at the foot of the cross as witness to Christ’s passion and death, can be seen by each of us as not only her unique experience, but as a symbol of our own and every Christian believer’s solidarity with Jesus’ suffering. We find with Mary that Christian vocation of sharing with her Son, His sufferings.
Those of you familiar with the writings of the English mystic, Julian of Norwich, perhaps will recall how movingly she depicted this solidarity in Mary of all believers with the suffering of Christ, in her eighth “Shewing,” extending it to the suffering of the whole creation, groaning in solidarity in the death of the Incarnate Word of God.
Material for Meditation: Stabat Mater
The Traditional Seven Sorrows of the BVM:
- The prophecy of Simeon that a sword would pierce her soul: Luke 2:34-35
- The flight into Egypt: Matthew 2:13-15
- The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple: Luke 2:43-51
- The meeting of Jesus and His mother on the way to Calvary: implicit in Luke 23:27
- The Crucifixion: John 19
- The taking down of the Body of Jesus: Mark 15:43-46 and its placing in Mary’s arms (not related in the New Testament but part of the Tradition)
- The burial of Jesus: John 19:41-42
On Saturday each week the Christian community traditionally sets aside time for worship, prayer and meditation in reflecting on the Virgin Mary, Mother of our Incarnate Lord. Saturday is her day in the weekly cycle of devotion. During the long green season of Trinitytide, green relating to our growth in the practice of our faith in Jesus and in what we have learned from Him, you may wish in the coming seven weeks to meditate on one of the sorrows of Our Lady and your place with her in sharing in Christ’s suffering as a source for growth in holiness of life. May you continue to know of Mary’s love for you and every blessing of Him who is her Son, Her Savior and ours.