|Photo: R. Massaro St. Luke Chuch, Danville, Ohio|
Recently, on September 15, we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. There is a beautiful devotion to Our Lady under this title that one can pray on rosary beads, it's the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows. Although I'm sure our Blessed Mother had many more sorrows than the traditional seven that are listed below, the Church asks us to meditate upon these while saying this Chaplet.
1. The Prophecy of Simeon
2. The Flight into Egypt
3. The Loss of Jesus in the Temple
4. Mary meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary
5. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
6. The taking down of the body of Jesus from the Cross (Pieta)
7. The Burial of Jesus
Here is a website that will help you to learn to say the Chaplet that is also known as the Servite Rosary:
When we read the lives of the saints, we learn that many things in life made them sorrowful. Similarly, in today's society, there are many issues that cause Catholics, Christians, and good people to be sorrowful. The saints are people who strive to console the heart of God by living a holy life and in some way try to make up for those who offend Him. Let us consider how the saints would be spiritually wounded in light of today's society (these are in no particular order):
1. God is Not Loved in the World; He is Rejected By Man.
The Prophecy of Simeon is the First Sorrow of Our Lady. While holding the Christ Child, the holy man raises his eyes to heaven and states, Now, Master, you can dismiss your servant in peace; you have fulfilled your word, for my eyes have witness your saving deed displayed for all the people to see... (Luke 2:29-31).
God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, as our Redeemer, and He is rejected over and over again by people who desire to live as they please. There is no sense of sin or thought of offending Almighty God. Even among the faithful, there are those who reject him and the Church's teachings.
2. The Lord's Day is Not Kept Holy.
On Sunday, it's business as usual in the marketplace and in our homes. Long gone are the "Blue Laws" our country once observed. While most Blue Laws or "Sunday Closing Laws" have been repealed, some laws such as the sale of alcohol remain in effect. The laws that were established in the age of Puritanism were not enacted to give people a day of rest, but were written to respect the Sabbath.
The lack of keeping the Lord's Day holy must have been a sorrow for St. Pope John Paul II, because he wrote an Apostolic Letter on this very subject. Here is a quote from his letter:
Unfortunately, when Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes merely part of a "weekend", it can happen that people stay locked within a horizon so limited that they can no longer see "the heavens". Hence, though ready to celebrate, they are really incapable of doing so.
It is clear then why, even in our own difficult times, the identity of this day must be protected and above all must be lived in all its depth. (Dies Domini, No. 4, 30).
3. Abuse, torture, and killing of God's children.
The Second Sorrow of Our Lady is the flight into Egypt. Herod desired to kill the Christ child. In our society, there are many, many, who desire to kill children while they are still living in their mother's womb. Children are abused, tortured, and starved on a daily basis in some homes. In the Middle East, Christians are being persecuted and beheaded for their faith in Jesus Christ.
4. The worship of false gods.
The third sorrow of Our Lady is the loss of the child Jesus in the temple. When Jesus was found, he boldly declared, Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business? In our society, it seems that the Father's business is none of our business. We live in an age of materialism, individualism, and relativism, spiritual illnesses in which we worship ourselves and not God.
5. Presuming on God's mercy.
One has only to speak to a neighbor, relative, or friend, or pick up the local newspaper and read the obituaries to learn that absolutely everyone is going to heaven. And not just going there by way of Purgatory, but going there directly when they die-the condition and state of being of a saint.
In our society there is a deep lack of a sense of sin, and no desire to be accountable or purified of the sins one has committed during his or her life. Then,when one dies, a funeral becomes a eulogy in which the deceased is lifted on a spiritual pedestal and canonized by the family.
6. Blasphemies against the Holy Eucharist.
Today, our Lord has many enemies. There are those who wish to desecrate the most Holy Eucharist. Churches are vandalized. Statues and religious articles are destroyed or desecrated by those claiming artistic freedom. Even among the faithful, sacrilegious communions take place.
7. The Blessed Mother is not duly honored in the world.
St. Louis de Montfort, in his spiritual masterpiece, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, writes:
It was through the blessed Virgin Mary that Jesus Christ came into the world, and it is also through her that he must reign in the world. (True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, Introduction, No. 1).
I admire good Catholics who never seem to tire of defending Our Lady and explaining her role in the Church: to bring each soul to her Son, Jesus Christ. She is our model of prayer, humility, and obedience.
At the beginning of this article, I listed the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady. Sadly, we could update and lengthen this list in light of how Our Lady is treated in the world today.
Our Lady of Lourdes spoke these tender words tinged with sorrow to St. Bernadette: I do not promise to make you happy in this life, but in the next.
Yes, Our Lady confirms what we have come to know, that life and striving for holiness is, at times, a "Valley of Tears." But in God's mercy and goodness, he gives us joys to balance our afflictions. He gives us the joy of receiving him in the Holy Eucharist. The joy of having good and holy friends to imitate, the Communion of Saints. The joy of having a Holy Mother who never abandons us, even when we are sorrowful to the point of despair over our sins. As Catholics, we have the "best of both worlds." Why? Because we have Our Lord present with us in the Blessed Sacrament and we can receive him daily if we wish. And, if we are faithful, we will be with him forever.
We have discussed the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady and of the saints. If you have the courage, consider the "Seven Sorrows" of your own personal life. Whatever our sorrows, or our great sins, if we are truly sorry, the Lord forgives us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we have repented, he then consoles us. The Holy Spirit is the great Consoler. Our Lady of Sorrows, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Consoler, pray for us!
Peace be with you!