Feast of the Day – Our Lady of Sorrows – September 15
Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo
The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows follows the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross by one day. On this day we remember the prophecy of Simeon when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple for the first time. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, “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.” (Lk 2:33-35)
This feast was not part of the official liturgical cycle of the Church until the mid-1600s, though it was celebrated in some locations as early as the 13th century. Sometimes it is known as the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary and includes mention of seven events from Jesus’ childhood and passion.
Our Lady of Sorrows is a title of Mary with which many women and men can identify. Bearing and raising a child is not an easy task, though it can be an extremely rewarding adventure. There are countless joys and sorrows along the way. And make no mistake about it – the commitment of parent to child is one that does not stop when the child reaches adulthood! It is a commitment for life and beyond. In our belief in the Communion of Saints and life after death, we recognize that those who went before us still care about us and look out for us. Parents who are with the Lord do not cease to be parents of those who still remain here. The relationship is just transformed.
In thinking about this feast, it came to me that surely Our Lady of Sorrows is especially close to mothers, fathers and family of those who are killed prematurely. I’m thinking of those who “disappeared” in Central and South America in recent years – victims of political violence and/or persecution for their actions in living and teaching the Gospel. I’m thinking of victims of terrorism in the Middle East – including those on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian question and those dying almost daily in Iraq. I’m thinking of those whose children were killed in wars – Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, Ruwanda, Brundi and so many, many others. We see the pictures year after year and our hearts become numb. Yet for all of them, and with all of them, Our Lady of Sorrows weeps. And so should we all.
And then … we must commit ourselves to work for peace. So that those who have given their lives will not have died in vain. So that those who believe that “might makes right” will learn that only love makes right. So that we truly become a community where we live our belief that what we do to the least of Jesus’ sisters and brothers, we do to Him.
May it be so.