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Sunday:       Our Lady of Sorrows
Date:         September 15, 2011
Year:         A
The readings: [Heb. 5:7-9; (Lk. 2:33-35 or Jn. 19:25-27)]
The message:  The spiritual martyrdom of Mary.
Prepared by:  CATHOLIC DOORS MINISTRY
Total words:  1021

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** The readings follow the sermon.

Welcome friends, my brothers and sisters in Jesus, to today's celebration of he Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Over the centuries, the Holy Catholic Church celebrated two similar feasts during the liturgical calendar? The purpose of those feasts was firstly to commemorate the spiritual martyrdom of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son.

Secondly, it was to commemorate today's Feasts that is called "Our Lady of Sorrows" in devotion to the seven dolors of Mary. The dolors of Mary are:

1) The prophecy of Simeon,
2) The flight into Egypt,
3) The loss of the Child Jesus at Jerusalem,
4) Meeting Jesus on the road to Calvary,
5) The standing at the foot of the Cross,
6) The descent of Jesus from the Cross, and
7) The burial of Jesus.

Today's special Feast was originally set on the third Sunday of September. Now it has a date of its own, that being September 15 th.

In 1239, five years after having established themselves, the seven founders of the Servite Order took up the sorrows of Mary who stood under the Cross as the main devotion of their religious Order.

On June 9 th and September 15 th, 1668, the Feast of the "Seven Dolors of Mary" was granted to the Servites with the object of commemorating the sorrows of Mary.

This Feast was extended to Spain in 1735 and to Tuscany in 1807. On September 18, 1814, after returning from his exile in France, Pope Pius VII extended this Feast to the whole Latin Church.

The other Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, held on Friday before Palm Sunday, was originally kept on the Friday after the third Sunday after Easter. Known under the title of, "Commemoratio angustix et doloris B. Marix V," this Feast commemorated the sorrows of Mary during the Passion and death of Christ. Instituted in 1413 by the provincial synod of Cologne, its object was to expiate for the crimes of the iconoclat Hussites.

On April 22, 1727, Pope Benedict XIII extended this Feast to the entire Latin Church under the title of "Septem dolorum B.M.V." This last Feast did not have originate through the Servite Order.

Today's Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows draws our hearts towards the Blessed Virgin Mary in compassion for the motherly sufferings that she endured during the life of Jesus on earth. Early in the life of Jesus, Simeon prophesied that the soul of Mary would be pierced by a sword. [Lk. 2:35] Many may view the statement of Simeon as a horrible thing to say to a young mother. But others view this as the first step to prepare Mary for what was to come.

After all, not long after the visit to the Temple, having been warned by an angel in a dream, Mary and Joseph had to escape to Egypt to protect Jesus from king Herod who massacred all the children under the age of two. [Mt. 2:13-18]

This event parallels what is going on in many countries that are torn by civil war. How many families are living in refugee camps or had to immigrate to foreign countries to escape those who are kidnapping and murdering the fathers, the mothers and even the children? How many families had to escape from their homeland to protect their daughters from being raped by mercenaries and soldiers who have no morals whatsoever? These families can associate with the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It was not until about ten years later that Mary suffered her next greatest sorrow. Returning home after participating in the festival of the Passover in Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus was not with the group of travellers. They had to return to Jerusalem and look for Him. [Lk. 2:41-52]

Many parents can associate with this frightening experience. How many parents have lost their child in a supermarket, at a campground or even experienced an incident where their child wondered away from the back yard and could not be found for a few hours? How many parents have experienced the loss of a child due to a messy separation and custody battle? How many parents have permanently lost their child, not knowing his or her whereabouts? Such traumatic events truly pieces the soul of the person involved. This is something that many cannot perceive unless they personally experience it.

Over and over the aforementioned, the soul of Mary was pierced when she saw the condition of Jesus on the road to Calvary, when He was crucified, when she stood at the foot of the Holy Cross, when the body of Jesus was taken down from the Cross and when Jesus was buried.

These events remind many parents of their personal family experiences. Some parents have seen their son or daughter beaten so badly that his or her face could no longer be recognized. Some had to identify the body of their child who was murdered in a random shooting. Many parents in war ridden countries had to care for their sons after they had been kidnapped, beaten and even mutilated. How great is the suffering of these parents. How much greater was the suffering of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For she who enjoyed the fullness of her immaculate state could never conceive doing such deplorable crimes.

Through life experiences, many have compassion for Mary, being able to associate with her life sufferings that resembles a spiritual martyrdom. How many times can one pierce the soul of a person without leaving eternal scars? Only once! Yet, the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary was pierced seven times!

During the remaining of the day, let us reflect upon the sufferings of the Mother of God. For those who continue to endure similar sufferings, let us pray that they may receive from God the strength that they desperately need to continue to carry their spiritual crosses.


The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]
First Reading...

"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, Jesus became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him." [Heb. 5:7-9]


Gospel Reading # 1

"Mary and Joseph were amazed at what was being said by Simeon about Jesus. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, 'This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opened so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed, and a sword will pierce your own soul too.'" [Lk. 2:33-5]

OR

Gospel Reading # 2

"Standing near 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 whome he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, 'Woman, hwere is your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home." [Jn. 19:25-7]





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