Saturday, September 15, 2012

Our Lady of Sorrows

Truly, O blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart. For only by passing through your heart could the sword enter the flesh of your Son. Indeed, after your Jesus—who belongs to everyone, but is especially yours—gave up his life, the cruel spear, which was not withheld from his lifeless body, tore open his side. Clearly it did not touch his soul and could not harm him, but it did pierce your heart. For surely his soul was no longer there, but yours could not be torn away. Thus the violence of sorrow has cut through your heart, and we rightly call you more than martyr, since the effect of compassion in you has gone beyond the endurance of physical suffering.

Or were those words, Woman, behold your Son, not more than a word to you, truly piercing your heart, cutting through to the division between soul and spirit? What an exchange! John is given to you in place of Jesus, the servant in place of the Lord, the disciple in place of the master; the son of Zebedee replaces the Son of God, a mere man replaces God himself. How could these words not pierce your most loving heart, when the mere remembrance of them breaks ours, hearts of iron and stone though they are! 

 Do not be surprised, brothers, that Mary is said to be a martyr in spirit. Let him be surprised who does not remember the words of Paul, that one of the greatest crimes of the Gentiles was that they were without love. That was far from the heart of Mary; let it be far from her servants. 

 Perhaps someone will say: “Had she not known before that he would not die?” Undoubtedly. “Did she not expect him to rise again at once?” Surely. “And still she grieved over her crucified Son?” Intensely. Who are you and what is the source of your wisdom that you are more surprised at the compassion of Mary than at the passion of Mary’s Son? For if he could die in body, could she not die with him in spirit? He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his.

St. Bernard , Abbot, from the Office of Readings for the Day

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From the time I was about four until the end of the sixth grade I lived in Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, so this was where my most important Catholic formation took place. My grandparents and my aunt and uncle with their eight children also lived in the parish, so it in my mind, it's intricately interwoven with my family. 

Oddly enough, though, I don't remember ever really thinking about what the name Our Lady of Sorrows meant. I don't remember anyone ever explaining it, nor do I remember our taking any special notice of her feast day, although we may have. 

The first thing that pops into my mind when I hear the name Our Lady of Sorrows is a gold medallion of the above image that my grandmother used to wear all the time. It was about an inch in diameter and was very nice. I've never seen another one like it. I looked on eBay and in Google images just now and didn't see anything like it. When she died, I was the only one who cared anything about it, so it came to me and I wore it all the time. By that time I was in my mid-thirties, and was familiar with the devotion. I don't have it anymore, but that's another story and it's not a sad story, so I think it's where it belongs.

There are a lot of beautiful images of Our Lady in this video. I don't find all of them appealing, but I love seeing her through the eyes of all these artists.


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