Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows
Hebrews 5: 7-9
John 15: 25-27 or Luke 2: 23-35
Once again the Church gives us great scriptural riches to nourish our appreciation of Mary. This particular feast finds its roots in the Middle Ages in Europe. It is not a devotion that is found in the eastern churches. The first liturgical texts go back to the early fifteenth century. Up until the reform of the liturgical calendar after Vatican Council ll there were two feasts dedicated to the sorrows of Mary: one on the Friday before Holy Week and the current feast that was originally granted to the Servites in the 17th century. When the Passionists were founded in the 18th century they too celebrated the feast in a special manner. In the early 19th century the feast was extended to the whole Church.
The first reading from Hebrews and Psalm 31 center us on the suffering of Jesus. The moving hymn, Stabat Mater, and the gospel from John or Luke
focus us on Mary. The obvious conclusion is that what Jesus suffered in mind and heart were suffered by Mary his mother as well. This is also the rhythm of the liturgical calendar. Yesterday we celebrated the Triumph of the Cross. Of course the Passion of Jesus goes on in the world today. Like Mary we need to let it change our minds and hearts.
Psalm 31 is a prayer for hard times. Maybe you are experiencing one of those times now. Financial hardship or a serious illness might be weighing on your spirit. Sometimes all we can do at such times is to pray as the psalmist and Jesus prayed: "into your hands I commit my spirit". So if you are in trouble pray this psalm. As you do, you will notice how the final four verses express complete confidence that your prayer will be heard.
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.