Friday, September 15, 2017

Standing By The Cross

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Standing with Our Lady of Sorrows

Sometimes darkness has its hour and there is nothing we can do to stop it. Sometimes the blind, wounded forces of jealousy, bitterness, violence, and sin cannot, for that moment, be stopped.

But, like Mary under the cross, we are asked to "stand" under them, not in passivity and weakness, but in strength, knowing that we can't stop the crucifixion but we can help stop some of the hatred, anger, and bitterness that surround it.

And, in this way, we help take away the sins of the world and continue to bring Jesus's saving death to the world.

–from Ronald Rolheiser, author of the book The Passion and the Cross


✞ "Patience smooths away lots of difficulties."
— St. John Bosco

"In this valley of tears, every man is born to weep, and all must suffer, by enduring the evils that take place every day. But how much greater would be the misery of life, if we also knew the future evils that await us! 'Unfortunate, indeed, would be the situation of someone who knows the future', says the pagan Roman philosopher Seneca; 'he would have to suffer everything by anticipation'. Our Lord shows us this mercy. He conceals the trials that await us so that, whatever they may be, we may endure them only once. But he didn't show Mary this compassion. God willed her to be the Queen of Sorrows, and in all things like his Son. So she always had to see before her eyes, and continually to suffer, all the torments that awaited her. And these were the sufferings of the passion and death of her beloved Jesus. For in the temple, St. Simeon, having received the divine Child in his arms, foretold to her that her Son would be a sign for all the persecutions and oppositions of men. ... Jesus our King and his most holy mother didn't refuse, for love of us, to suffer such cruel pains throughout their lives. So it's reasonable that we, at least, should not complain if we have to suffer something."
— St. Alphonsus Liguori, p. 222
A Year with Mary

Feast Day

Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows became widespread in the Church around the 14th century. It was revealed to St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373) that devotion to Our Lady's Seven Sorrows would bring great graces. Mary, in a unique way, willingly suffered alongside her Divine Son as he gave his life to save the world, and she felt the bitterness of his passion as only a mother can. This devotion is especially remembered during September, the Month of Our Lady of Sorrows, and during the season of Lent. The Seven Sorrows of Mary are the Prophecy of Simeon, the Flight into Egypt, the Loss of Jesus for Three Days, the Carrying of the Cross, the Crucifixion of Jesus, Jesus Being Taken Down from the Cross, and Jesus Laid in the Tomb. The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is September 15th.

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'"
Isaiah 52:7


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Our Lady of Sorrows

Saint of the Day for September 15

For a while there were two feasts in honor of the Sorrowful Mother: one going back to the 15th century, the other to the 17th century. For a while both were celebrated by the universal Church: one on the Friday before Palm Sunday, the other in September.

The principal biblical references to Mary's sorrows are in Luke 2:35 and John 19:26-27. The Lucan passage is Simeon's prediction about a sword piercing Mary's soul; the Johannine passage relates Jesus' words from the cross to Mary and to the beloved disciple.

Many early Church writers interpret the sword as Mary's sorrows, especially as she saw Jesus die on the cross. Thus, the two passages are brought together as prediction and fulfillment.

Saint Ambrose in particular sees Mary as a sorrowful yet powerful figure at the cross. Mary stood fearlessly at the cross while others fled. Mary looked on her Son's wounds with pity, but saw in them the salvation of the world. As Jesus hung on the cross, Mary did not fear to be killed, but offered herself to her persecutors.


John's account of Jesus' death is highly symbolic. When Jesus gives the beloved disciple to Mary, we are invited to appreciate Mary's role in the Church: She symbolizes the Church; the beloved disciple represents all believers. As Mary mothered Jesus, she is now mother to all his followers. Furthermore, as Jesus died, he handed over his Spirit. Mary and the Spirit cooperate in begetting new children of God—almost an echo of Luke's account of Jesus' conception. Christians can trust that they will continue to experience the caring presence of Mary and Jesus' Spirit throughout their lives and throughout history.


Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Reading 1 1 Tm 1:1-2, 12-14

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our savior
and of Christ Jesus our hope,
to Timothy, my true child in faith:
grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father
and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord,
because he considered me trustworthy
in appointing me to the ministry.
I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man,
but I have been mercifully treated
because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.
Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 16:1b-2a and 5, 7-8, 11
R. (see 5) You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, "My Lord are you."
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Sequence (Optional) — Stabat Mater

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
All his bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
'Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that mother's pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of his own nation
Saw him hang in desolation
Till his spirit forth he sent.

O sweet Mother! font of love,
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with you his pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,
Mourning him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the cross with you to stay,
There with you to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of you to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of yours.

Wounded with his every wound,
Steep my soul till it has swooned
In his very Blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In his awful judgment day.

Christ, when you shall call me hence,
Be your Mother my defense,
Be your cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul your goodness praise,
Safe in heaven eternally.
Amen. (Alleluia)


R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary;
without dying you won the martyr's crown
beneath the Cross of the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 19:25-27

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son."
Then he said to the disciple,
"Behold, your mother."
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

or Lk 2:33-35

Jesus' father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
"Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
and you yourself a sword will pierce
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."


Meditation: John 19:25-27

Our Lady of Sorrows (Memorial)

Standing by the cross of Jesus was his mother. (John 19:25)

Have you ever attended the funeral where a mother was burying her child? It is nearly impossible to bear. Or perhaps you have lost a child yourself. It's the kind of thing that makes us want to run away so that we can avoid the pain. Whenever we face distress like this, we can find matchless help in Our Lady of Sorrows. Mary can help us follow her example. Through her intercession, we can find the grace to endure in hope and trust in God during indescribable sorrow.

Not all mothers will endure the death of a child, but every mother knows what it's like to suffer over her child. Whether it's a serious illness, rejection from a dear friend, challenges in school, or even the consequences of a child's own poor choices, mothers feel it all. It's love that causes them to carry these burdens. And that's where Our Lady of Sorrows can bring us hope.

Mary couldn't flee. She couldn't diminish her torment as she stood at the foot of the cross. And that's the point. She didn't try to. She accepted her own "cross" at Calvary: trusting that somehow God would bring salvation through the horror of her son's death. By showing us what grace-filled acceptance looks like, Mary also shows us that it's possible.

But Mary is more than just an example for us. She stands with us in our suffering. As our mother in heaven, she comes alongside us, supports us, and leads us through. As Mother of the Church, she is uniquely able to understand what we're going through.

That makes the foot of the cross a good place to approach Mary. When we find ourselves staggered by sorrow, she can intercede for us. When our child is bullied and we hurt for them emotionally, she can help us trust that God will bring good from it somehow. When we are up all night with a sick child, she can keep vigil with us.

As she comes to our side, Mary brings us the gift of her motherhood. She helps us find consolation. Her sorrows can be a source of blessing for us.

"Holy Mary, thank you for your example of trust and abandonment to God's will. Thank you too for the help of your intercession. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us."

1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-14
Psalm 16:1-2. 5, 7-8, 11


Let's get one thing out and clear here: Jesus, you are a marvelous marvel of creation...and to have come to us through this marvelous creation of a mother you chose and designed is inexplicable.
There, it has to be said, God is the unexplained, and therefore, as a gift, we stand in awe before Him.
"...I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man,
but I have been mercifully treated" said Saint Paul. Last night at Ultreya, a visiting man said repeatedly "I would not be here today if I had not been transformed by the Lord...I might not even been alive this day". His is a life of gratefulness, a love of God. Mercy does marvelous things.

We pray " You are my inheritance, O Lord. I bless the LORD who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me. I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed." A thought hit me right before writing to you "what if this whole of life, the scriptures and the Lord seemingly would have asked the whole time ' how much do you love Me'?

We heard Jesus dying on the cross and still says these most unexplainable words "he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." The depth of these words shall not remain shallow. Jesus means tons and tons. That son He spoke of makes him HIS brother. That son He asks her to take is not her blood, but now she inherits HIS friend, His brother, and both He is dying for Love of them. Forever the Lord asks this to be. Behold your mother in Heaven. We have a mother like no other. Yesterday during Holy Mass, a song wanted to hit me, and it was me singing to God "I Want to be like You"... Whoa! Who wants to be like our Lord? We should all desire. Not this individuality the world teaches, not this uniqueness. No. We should be like Our Father. Our Mother suffered the greatest of sufferings. I agree, a mother losing a child is a mind boggling blow. I remember my cousin's wife vividly, about I don't know, 20 years ago, they lost their 2 year old son, struck by a train, truly she was inconsolable, and to this day it hurts to remember that day I saw that pain. Forget the tears, I could feel the pain in that room, that house, that town, the grief would go down forever. And I remember fumbling with meager words as I approached her "You truly have an angel in Heaven" and the child's name was "Angel".

This is why we honor this day of our Blessed Mother. She is blessed, and the crown of glory she deserves more than all.

All we can do is request from her now....a blessing. And she does, because she can and because she cares. A true lover does....always



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