Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Every Sept. 15, we honor our Blessed Mother on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Honoring our Blessed Mother in this devotion began in the 13th century.
In some following centuries, it was celebrated twice a year, under different titles. But in 1913, Pope St. Pius X permanently set the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows in the Roman calendar on Sept. 15.
It is a most fitting day, because it immediately follows the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Surely, under the cross, Our Lady’s heart was bonded with her Son Jesus’ heart. Her heart was pierced by the sword of sorrow prophesied by Simeon.
St. Alphonsus Ligouri wrote: “Thus also did Mary suffer all those torments, scourges, thorns, nails and the cross, which tortured the innocent flesh of Jesus, all entered at the same time into the heart of this Blessed Virgin to complete her martyrdom.”
He also explained that “two hung upon the cross,” referring to Mary’s deep suffering with Jesus.
St. Augustine observed how “she cooperated through charity in the work of our redemption.”
That was one of her seven sorrows, which are remembered in a special way on this feast (and should be remember by the faithful throughout the year).
The Seven Sorrows of Mary:
1. The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:35)
2. The Flight Into Egypt (Matthew 2:13)
3. Losing the Child Jesus in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-50)
4. Meeting her Son Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31)
5. The Crucifixion and Death of her Son Jesus (John 19:25-30)
6. Jesus Taken Down From the Cross and Placed in Her Arms (Luke 23:50+; John
7. The Burial of Jesus (Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42)
What visionary Pope St. Pius X, who set this feast before the beginning of World War I, said around that time surely applies today: “Truly we are passing through disastrous times, when we may well make our own the lamentation of the prophet: 'There is no truth, and there is no mercy, and there is no knowledge of God in the land' (Hosea 4:1). Yet in the midst of this tide of evil, the Virgin Most Merciful rises before our eyes like a rainbow, as the arbiter of peace between God and man.”
In light of those words, we can turn to an age-old devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows for her help. The devotion consists of a simple meditation and a Hail Mary on each of the seven sorrows.
If the times look disastrous, Our Lady knows how to bring us to peace. Let us look to her.