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IHS Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost—15 September AD 2019 Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Ave M

In addition to being the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 15 each year commemorates the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Seven Sorrows

The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:34–35)

The flight into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13-23)

The loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:43–45)

Mary meets Jesus on the way to Calvary. (Traditional)

The Crucifixion of Jesus. (Matthew 27:34–50, Mark 15:23–37, Luke 23:33–46, John 19:18–30)

The Piercing of the Side of Jesus, and taking Him down from the Cross. (John 19:34)

The Burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea. (Matthew 27:57–61, Mark 15:43–47, Luke 23:50–53, John 19:40–42)

The first of these sorrows comes about when Jesus was forty days old, and was presented in the Temple, according to the Law of Moses. An old man—the prophet Simeon—had been promised that he would not die until he had seen the Anointed One of the Lord. He took Jesus into his arms and prophesied to Mary:

Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.[1]

The sword that was to pierce Mary’s soul is often called the “Sword of Sorrow,” referring to the fact that Mary’s great love for Jesus would cause her great emotional turmoil.

In the early Church—perhaps for a century or two—it was the custom to call those who suffered persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ, “martyrs.” The word “martyr” essentially means a “witness,” and the martyrs gave witness to the true Faith by proclaiming that Faith in spite ridicule, deprivation of goods or property, loss of livelihood, or even death. Only in later centuries was the title of “martyr” reserved only for those who died for the Faith.

In that she was a woman of the very early Church, it is not surprising that Christian writers refer to Mary as a martyr. The thing that distinguishes Mary from other martyrs, is that her pains all center around the Person of her Divine Son, rather than her own physical self. Her pains lasted for at least the roughly thirty-three year lifetime of Jesus Christ.

The Church enumerates seven sorrowful events in her life, three during Jesus' youth and four more around the time of the crucifixion. The prophecy of Simeon about the sword of sorrow and the sign of contradiction suggests the possibility that she sorrowed from that time on until her assumption in to heaven. One can assume that meeting her Son after His resurrection healed her sorrow over the crucifixion—but that her sorrow was renewed whenever she became aware of sinners who rejected Him—sinners who rejected Jesus either by disbelief or by disobedience.

It is safe to say that there is no suffering in heaven, so perhaps we should say that her suffering was converted into urgent concern for all who reject Jesus Christ. It should surprise no one that there are many accounts of people converting or returning to the Faith through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. Just last week, I mentioned a number of her miracles to protect Christians from hostile forces eager to separate them from the true Faith by the force of the sword. Less dramatic, perhaps, but equally important are the miracles of Faith attributed to Marian sacramentals like the Rosary, the Scapular, and the Miraculous Medal of her Immaculate Conception. Mary can always be counted on to assist us against challenges to our Faith.

We live in a society that used to be called “Christendom.” While there will always be sin in the world, in our lifetimes the world has come to celebrate sin! Child murder, fornication, divorce, theft, and apostasy are touted by politicians and the media, and seen as positive goods by many members of our society. What tries to pass itself off as the Catholic Church pretends to find reasons why these sins are not really sins, and can be rationalized (“discerned”) for the individual perpetrator!

We may not be personally guilty of any of these sins, but we still have some responsibility for the society in which we live. We are obligated to know God’s law, and personally to obey it. As citizens we are we have the obligation to be informed about what is going on in our society; to support and vote only for those intending to uphold God’s Law, and to actively oppose those who do not.

In short, we have an obligation to support our Blessed Lady in her concern for those who sin against belief in her Divine Son. A fortiori we have the obligation not to be among those who sin against belief in her Divine Son.

Let us resolve not to become Mary’s eighth sorrow!!


[1] Luke ii:34–35

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