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Friday, March 30, 2007
Our Lady of Sorrows

From the Liturgical Year - Vol.6 by Dom Gueranger

This Friday of Passion-week is consecrated in a special manner, to the sufferings which the holy Mother of God endured at the foot of the cross. The whole of next week is fully taken up with the celebration of the mysteries of Jesus' Passion; and although the remembrance of Mary's share in those sufferings is often brought before the faithful during Holy Week, yet, the thought of what her Son, our divine Redeemer, goes through for our salvation, so absorbs our attention and love, that it is not then possible to honour, as it deserves, the sublime mystery of the Mother's com-passion.

It was but fitting, therefore, that one day in the year should be set apart for this sacred duty: and what day could be more appropriate than the Friday of this week, which, though sacred to the Passion, admits the celebration of saints' feasts, as we have already noticed? As far back as the fifteenth century (that is, in the year 1423), we find the pious feast to be kept by his people. It was gradually introduced, and with the knowledge of the holy See, into several other countries; and at length, in the last century, Pope Benedict XIII, by a decree dated August 22, 1727, ordered it to be kept in the whole Church under the name of "the Feast of the Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary", for, up to his time, it had gone under various names.

We will explain the title thus given to it, as also the first origin of the devotion of the Seven Dolours, when our "Liturgical Year" brings us to the third Sunday of September [now celebrated on September 15], the second feast of Mary's Dolours. What the Church proposes to her children's devotion for this Friday in Passion-week, is that one special dolour of Mary - her standing at the foot of the cross. Among the various titles given to this feast before it was extended by the holy See to the whole Church, we may mention, "Our Lady of Pity", "the Compassion of our Lady", and the one that was so popular throughout France, "Notre Dame de la Pamoison". These few historical observations prove that this feast was dear to the devotion of the people, even before it received the solemn sanction of the Church.

That we may clearly understand the object of this feast, and spend it, as the Church would have us do, in paying due honour to the Mother of God and of men, we must recall to our minds this great truth: that God, in the designs of His infinite wisdom, has willed that Mary should have a share in the work of the world's redemption. The mystery of the present feast is one of the applications of this divine law, a law which reveals to us the whole magnificence of God's plan; it is, also, one of the many realizations of the prophecy, that satan's pride was to be crushed by a women.

By St. Alphonsus Liguori


Who can ever have a heart so hard that it will not melt on hearing the most lamentable event that once occurred in the world? There was a noble and holy mother who had an only son. This son was the most amiable that can be imagined - innocent, virtuous, beautiful, who loved his mother most tenderly; so much so that he had never caused her the least displeasure, but had ever shown her all respect, obedience, and affection; hence this mother had placed her affections on earth in this son. Hear, then, what happened. This son, through envy, was falsely accused by his enemies; and though the judge knew, and himself confessed, that he was innocent, yet, that he might not offend his enemies, he condemned him to the ignominious death that they demanded. This poor mother had to suffer the grief of seeing that amiable and beloved son unjustly snatched from her in the flower of his age by a barbarous death; for, by dint of torments and drained of all his blood, he was made to die on! an infamous gibbet in a public place of execution, and this before her own eyes.

Devout souls, what say you? Is not this event, and is not this unhappy mother, worthy of compassion? You already understand of whom I speak. This son, so cruelly executed, was our loving Redeemer Jesus; and this mother was the Blessed Virgin Mary; who, for the love she bore us, was willing to see him sacrificed to divine justice by the barbarity of men. This great torment which Mary endured for us - a torment that was more than a thousand deaths - deserves both our compassion and our gratitude. If we can make no other return for so much love, at least let us give a few moments this day to consider the greatness of the sufferings by which Mary became the Queen of martyrs; for the sufferings of her great martyrdom exceeded those of all the martyrs; being, in the first place, the longest in point of duration; and in the second place, the greatest in point of intensity.


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