Tag Archives: Mother of Sorrows

The seven sorrows of Mary – then and now

The Friday before Holy Week is, in many parts of Latin America, the celebration of Our Mother of Sorrows – la Virgen Dolorosa.

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Icon by Father Bill McNicols

We remember especially the seven sorrows of Mary, when she experienced profound dolor.

  1. At the presentation of Jesus in the temple, when Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her heart. (Luke 2: 22-35)
  2. When the Holy Family fled into Egypt to escape the fury of King Herod. (Matthew 2: 41-50)
  3. When Jesus was lost in the temple when he was twelve years old. (Luke 2: 41-50)
  4. When Mary met Jesus when he was carrying the Cross to Calvary.
  5. When she stood at the cross of Jesus, her son. (John 19: 17-30)
  6. When the body of Jesus was taken down from the Cross. (Mark 15: 42-46)
  7. When the body of Jesus was placed in a borrowed tomb. (John 19: 38-42)

It would be good for us to contemplate these mysteries today and during the coming week, not only from the perspective of Mary almost 2000 years ago, but also from the perspective of all those who are suffering these days.

Consider what Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, said in 2015, to 100,000 pilgrims at a Marian shrine in Myanmar, spoke of “seven swords that pierce Mary’s heart in Myanmar”:

The seven swords of Our Lady of Sorrows in Myanmar, are:

  • crony capitalism, so few families have everything;
  • the refusal to resolve conflicts through dialogue, but with the use of violence;
  • unjust laws that continue to deprive the poor of their lands;
  • the criminal economy of drugs and human trafficking;
  • discrimination of ethnic minorities;
  • the destruction and looting of natural resources;
  • the lack of opportunities for education and employment for the poor.

These are also the swords that pierce the heart of our people here in Honduras and in many parts of the world.

Mother of sorrows, be with us.

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Our Mother of Sorrows

Today the Catholic world celebrates Our Lady of Sorrows – Mary, the Mother of God, sorrowful, at the foot of the Cross.

It has been an important feast for me – for many years.

In the 1960s, I helped for a few summer months in the school of the Parish of Our Mother of Sorrows in West Philadelphia, in a poor African-American neighborhood. I also played the organ for Sunday Mass a few times.

I had a strong sense then of the need to reach out to serve the marginalized, those who experienced poverty and racism. Somehow I found this parish and my short time there has left a mark on my life. Helping a teacher with kids during summer school was a real gift for me.

Later when I began to visit Central America, especially El Salvador, I discovered that La Virgen de Dolores is one of the touching ways Central Americans approach Mary. Many churches have a statue of the Sorrowful Mother that they carry in procession during Holy Week.

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The people who have suffered much see in the Sorrowful Mother a source of consolation and hope. As Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero said in a homily on December 1, 1977:

“Even when all despaired, at the hour when Christ was dying on the cross, Mary, serene, awaited the hour of the resurrection. Mary is the symbol of the people who suffer oppression and injustice. Theirs is the calm suffering that awaits the resurrection. It is Christ suffering, the suffering of the Church, which does not accept the present injustices, but awaits without rancor the moment when the Risen One will return to give us the redemption we await.”

But today is also the anniversary of the death of my father on September 15, 1999. I still miss him and dream about him and my mother (who died in January 1986).

Mother of Sorrows, comfort us in our losses and give us courage to live in love and compassion with all those who suffer.

 


The image is the statue of La Virgen de Dolores of the cathedral in Santa Rosa de Copán, carried in the diocesan Stations of the Cross, March 26, 2010.

 

Weeping mothers: Mary, Birmingham, Chile

 At the cross her station keeping
stood the mournful mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.
Stabat Mater

Today is the feast of Our Mother of Sorrows.  From the time I was a child I remember singing   verses of the medieval hymn Stabat Mater during the Stations of the Cross. The hymn calls to mind the presence of Mary at the death of Jesus, her son, on the cross.

Today we might recall the role of Mary as the weeping compassionate mother, looking on as her son was brutally crucified. Because of this, St. Augustine spoke of her martyrdom in spirit.

Fifty years ago, on September 15, 1963, in a church in the highly segregated city of Birmingham, Alabama, black children were vesting for choir after having participated in Sunday school. A bomb took the lives of four of them, the martyred children of Birmingham. Their mothers and many others mourned their death.

The children of Birmingham should not just be seen as victims of racial violence. In May 1963 the black children of Birmingham had left their classes to try to talk with the mayor. They were jailed and after they were released they returned the next day. The protest ended after dogs and fire hoses were used on them. But they had nonviolently stood up against injustice.

Forty years ago, on September 15, 1973, Victor Jara, a famous Chilean folk singer and activist, was among the thousands imprisoned in the Santiago, Chile, National Stadium by the US-supported coup. On this day he was killed, after having been beaten. His hands which had been instruments of protest on his guitar were broken. But he sang out to those in the stadium with the song Venceremos – We will win. He was then shot to death.

Mary mourned the death of her son. She is the prime example of all those who mourn the deaths of their children, those killed unjustly, the victims of war, the tortured, and those who die because they do not have enough to eat or their parents don’t have money to pay for medicine.

Mary is present there.

As the martyred archbishop of San Salvador, Monseñor Oscar Romero, once said:

Even when all despaired, at the hour when Christ was dying on the cross, Mary, serene, awaited the hour of the resurrection. Mary is the symbol of the people who suffer oppression and injustice. Theirs is the calm suffering that awaits the resurrection. It is Christ suffering, the suffering of the Church, which does not accept the present injustices, but awaits without rancor the moment when the Risen One will return to give us the redemption we await.

So too we should be there, sitting in mourning with all the mothers of the world who cry out against pain and injustice.

Our prayer is heard by God. But will the powers of this world listen, unless we cry out unceasingly.