September 15 is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. This woman and mother who was greeted by the Angel Gabriel as “full of grace,” is also the woman and mother who is full of sorrow. At weddings and religious professions and ordinations, I rejoice with the young people beginning their lives with such joy, knowing that one day they will also drink their chalice of sorrow.
Life is beautiful that way. It doesn’t allow us to run through the years of our life getting everything we want, like children in a candy store (although that would be great fun!). Sorrows add the purples and blues and deep reds to the fabric of our lives. They mature us, mellow us, strengthen us. It is in our moments of sorrow that we discover the depths of our connection with the lives of others we love and with everyone else on the planet.
When I was 24 years old, I remember driving a sister from another community to the hospital to visit her sister who was a Daughter of St. Paul. This sister was in her eighties. She had been a Provincial Superior of her own community, and so had seen her share of struggles and pain as she served her sisters. She turned to me and said, “Every moment of my life has been beautiful! I am so grateful to God!” Inside I said to myself, “Yeah, right!” Now, at 54, I understand what she was saying. Such an outlook doesn’t erase or deny the suffering in life. The wisdom that comes with age is taught to us by the sufferings that we deal with throughout the years, the sorrows that make us who we are. And thus they become, when woven into our entire life’s history, nothing other than “beautiful.”
Mary stood beneath the cross, embracing her son’s suffering and her own mission to share his work of redemption for the sake of all. It was an unspeakable sorrow that through the years of her life and the centuries of Marian devotion has woven the deep reds and purples into Mary’s beautiful life that she might be for us Our Lady of Sorrows and our Mother of Hope.
On this feast of Our Lady of Sorrows you can bring any sorrow you are carrying and sad memories of your past to Our Lady of Sorrows with this prayer:
O Mother of Sorrows, Queen of Martyrs, you stood by the cross of your divine Son and endured with him the sorrows of his passion. Look with tenderness and pity on all mothers who suffer when their children undergo physical or emotional pain. Through the merits of your Son’s sacred passion and death, together with your own sufferings, grant them your comfort and love.
Dearest Mother, intercede for me in my time of suffering [mention your request], that I may not lose heart but may remain steadfast in my devotion to your Son, Jesus. Grant that all I say and do may serve to praise and glorify God until the day I rejoice with you and all the saints and angels in heaven. Amen.
By Sr. Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP