Decisive role of Mary in the salvation

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows
Wednesday, 24th Week in Ordinary Time
Daily Readings: 1 Timothy 3:14-16 & John 19:25-27

Reflection Date: September 15, 2021

The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows invites us to consider the decisive role of Mary in salvation history and reflect upon how she has suffered for the redemption of the world. The sufferings of Mary begin at the moment of annunciation; although not married, she was asked to be the mother of God. The sufferings which began before the birth of Jesus were multiplied after His birth.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary:

  1. The Prophecy of the aged Simeon in the temple (Luke 2:25-35)
  2. The flight into Egypt with the Infant Jesus – 300 miles (Matthew 2:13-15)
  3. The loss of Jesus in Jerusalem, when He was 12 years old (Luke 2:41-50)
  4. Mary encounters her Divine Son on His way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; Jn. 19:17)
  5. The Crucifixion of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
  6. The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross and being placed on her lap (La Pieta – Sculptural work of Michael Angelo in the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome) (Psalms 130; Luke. 23: 50 - 54; John 19: 31 - 37)
  7. His burial (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15: 40 - 47)

John 19, 25 – 27 speaks about a great woman who finds beauty and meaning in suffering. Her 'Yes' brings suffering from the moment she agrees to be the Mother of God. She becomes the symbol of a living sacrifice. It is at the moment of her Son's death that we are made her children. It re-affirms that unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it bears no fruit. We pray for the same courage and grace that Mary had to face it and not to shut ourselves away from the face of suffering.

Let Mary, our Blessed Mother, be a model and example for us in following her Son Jesus Christ. Let us ask the Blessed Virgin to intercede on our behalf to strengthen us in Her Son...

Devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady has its roots in Sacred Scripture and Christian piety, which always associates the Blessed Mother with her suffering Son.

The Servites introduced today's feast in order to intensify devotion to Our Lady's Sorrows. In 1817 Pius VII — suffering grievously in exile but finally liberated by Mary's intercession — extended the feast to the universal Church.

The title "Our Lady of Sorrows" focuses on Mary's intense suffering during the passion and death of Christ. "The Seven Dolors," the title by which it was celebrated in the 17th century, referred to the seven swords that pierced the Heart of Mary. The feast is like an octave for the birthday of Our Lady on September 8.

Excerpted from Our Lady of Sorrows by Fr. Paul Haffner (Inside the Vatican, September 2004)

This feast is dedicated to the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, Mother of God, and her compassion for the sufferings of her Divine Son, Jesus. In her suffering as co-redeemer, she reminds us of the tremendous evil of sin and shows us the way of true repentance. May the numerous tears of the Mother of God be conducive to our salvation, with which tears Thou, O God, art able to wash away the sins of the whole world.

As Mary stood at the foot of the Cross on which Jesus hung, the sword of sorrow Simeon had foretold pierced her soul.

Joseph Cardozo SJ | Contributor