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Our Lady of Sorrows

The Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15 is a liturgical feast that commemorates the seven sorrows of the Virgin Mary. This feast is observed the day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, drawing a connection between Christ’s suffering and Mary’s sorrows. The date emphasizes the intimate bond between Jesus and Mary, particularly in their experiences of suffering.

During the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, special prayers, hymns, and Scripture readings focusing on Mary’s suffering are integrated into the Mass. The Seven Sorrows Rosary is also commonly prayed, individually or in groups. Churches may hold processions or other special services to facilitate communal reflection on Mary’s sorrows.

The Seven Sorrows are specific events in Mary’s life that cause her great anguish, ranging from the prophecy of Simeon to the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. The devotion aims to deepen one’s empathy for Mary and to draw spiritual lessons from contemplating her sorrows.

The purpose of the feast is not to dwell on suffering for its own sake, but rather to understand the role of suffering in the Christian journey. Mary’s sorrow is seen as a model of resilience and faith, and contemplating it can inspire us to persevere in our own challenges.

In summary, the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows is an opportunity to explore the spiritual dimensions of suffering and compassion, using Mary’s experience as a touchstone. The day invites Catholics to delve deeper into their faith through prayer, reflection, and community engagement.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary

The seven sorrows of Mary are:

  • The prophesy of Simeon at the presentation of Jesus in Jerusalem
  • The flight into Egypt to escape Herod
  • Losing Jesus in the temple in Jesusalem when he was an adolescent
  • Seeing Jesus as he carried his cross
  • The death by crucifixion of Jesus Christ
  • Taking the body of Jesus down from the cross
  • The burial of Jesus in the tomb

The Seven Sorrows Rosary (Seven Sorrows Devotion)

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, also known as the Servite Rosary, is a Catholic devotion that focuses on the seven main sorrows of the Virgin Mary. It’s different from the standard Rosary and is usually prayed using a specific set of beads that consist of seven groups of seven beads, with a medal and three introductory beads at the beginning.

Start by making the Sign of the Cross and then pray an introductory prayer, such as an Our Father, on the first bead near the medal. Many like to start with an act of contrition. Following that, announce the first sorrow and reflect on it for a moment. Next, pray an Our Father on the large bead before each group of seven smaller beads, where you’ll say seven Hail Marys while meditating on that particular sorrow.

After each group of seven beads, some people like to pray “My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy.” This isn’t mandatory, but it’s a common practice.

Once you complete all seven sorrows, it is customary to finish the devotion by saying three Hail Marys. These are in remembrance of the tears Mary shed because of her sorrows. Some people also end with a closing prayer, like the Hail Holy Queen, or another prayer asking for the intercession of Our Lady of Sorrows.

So, to recap, the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows consists of an introductory prayer, seven sorrows each with an Our Father and seven Hail Marys, and is often concluded with three Hail Marys and a closing prayer. It’s a focused way to meditate on Mary’s sorrows and ask for her intercession.

The Seven Graces

The seven graces for this devotion, which were revealed to St. Bridget by the Blessed Virgin Mary, are

  1. I will grant peace to their families.
  2. They will be enlightened about the divine mysteries.
  3. I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.
  4. I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.
  5. I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.
  6. I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they will see the face of their Mother.
  7. I have obtained from my divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors, will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.

Daily Mass Readings for the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

The Gospel for this memorial is proper (required). The first reading may be taken from the weekday or the reading found below. The sequence is optional.

  • First ReadingHebrews 5:7-9: In his earthly life, Christ Jesus offered prayers to God, learning obedience through suffering. Although a Son, he was made perfect through this process, becoming the source of eternal salvation for those who obey him.
  • Responsorial PsalmPsalm 31: In me, O LORD, find your refuge and never be ashamed. I will rescue you swiftly, be your rock and fortress, and guide you. Trust in me to control your destiny and show great goodness.
  • Sequence Stabat Mater: The mournful Mother stands near the cross, sharing Jesus’ anguish. She watches her son, tortured and dying for the sins of his nation. She prays to share in his pain and for eternal salvation through him.
  • Gospel John 19:25-27: Jesus sees his mother and a beloved disciple near the cross. He tells his mother to regard the disciple as her son, and instructs the disciple to consider her as his mother. The disciple takes her home from then on.
  • Alternate GospelLuke 2:33-35: Jesus’ parents are amazed by Simeon’s words. Simeon tells Mary that Jesus is destined to impact many in Israel, will be a subject of contradiction, and that she too will suffer, revealing people’s thoughts.

Homilies and Reflections

Word On Fire: Entrusting Mary’s Role

In the reflection for Our Lady of Sorrows, Bishop Robert Barron talks about the moment Jesus entrusts Mary to his disciple John while on the cross. Bishop Barron notes this supports the ancient tradition that John took Mary with him to Ephesus, where they both lived out their days. Mary is not just a historical figure or a spiritual example; she remains an active presence in the life of the Church. By entrusting Mary to John, Jesus essentially entrusts her to all his followers throughout history, emphasizing her ongoing role.

USCCB Reflection: The Sorrowful Mother

This USCCB video commemorates the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, emphasizing the significance of Mary’s sorrow as she witnessed her innocent son’s sacrifice on the cross. Despite her Immaculate Conception, Mary’s suffering was profound. We remember the moment when Jesus entrusted Mary to the disciple whom He loved, symbolizing Mary as the mother of the Church. We must unite our sufferings with the Cross of Christ and cultivate a devotion to Mary, who desires to be present in our times of suffering to help us find solace and align our suffering with the glory of God.

Why Our Lady of Sorrows?

In this reflection from Word on Fire, Fr. Steve Grunow discusses the concept of Our Lady of Sorrows, focusing on the sacrifices and pain Mary endured as the Mother of God. He mentions poet Wendell Berry’s view that love inevitably involves sacrifice and pain. Fr. Grunow emphasizes that the Incarnation is a real, flesh-and-blood event that includes real love and therefore real pain. He states that Mary’s deep relationship with Christ didn’t shield her from life’s painful experiences; instead, it amplified them. Yet, through her faith, she exemplifies that divine life can be accessed even in suffering, teaching us about the depths of true love.


Get Behind Me Satan – A Lesson Plan on Avoiding Pain

This lesson plan explores the concept that accepting the Christian life involves facing challenges and even pain. It delves into the significance of Mary’s willingness to say yes to God despite understanding that love often entails sacrifice. It discusses the passage where Jesus rebukes Peter by saying, “Get behind me Satan,” emphasizing that avoiding pain can be a temptation that hinders the path of discipleship. This reflection is particularly relevant for the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, which commemorates Mary’s deep sorrow and sacrifice in her journey as the mother of Jesus.

Why Do Catholics Have Devotions to Mary?

This lesson plan provides an explanation of Catholic devotions and prayers directed towards the Blessed Mother and the saints. It underscores the belief that all baptized individuals are part of the mystical body of Christ, emphasizing the interconnectedness within the faith community. The practice of praying for one another is highlighted, drawing from biblical references that encourage such intercessory prayer. The lesson plan also clarifies the Catholic tradition of seeking the prayers of the Blessed Mother and the saints, offering insights into the significance of feasts like Our Lady of Sorrows in fostering a deeper understanding of this aspect of the faith.

Quotes and Social Media Graphics for Our Lady of Sorrows

Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows

Let us bind ourselves tightly to the Sorrowful Heart of our Heavenly Mother and reflect on it’s boundless grief and how precious is our soul.

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Frequently Asked Questions

What date Is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows?

It is observed annually on September 15. The memorial is observed the day after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It’s a liturgical feast that emphasizes Mary’s suffering as a way to explore the role of suffering in the Christian journey and to reflect on the bond between Mary and Jesus.

What are the Mass readings for the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows?

The Gospel for this memorial is proper (required). The first reading may be taken from the weekday or the reading found below. The sequence is optional.
First Reading – Hebrews 5:7-9: Christ’s Suffering and Salvation
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 31: Seeking God’s Refuge
Sequence – Stabat Mater: A Mother’s Grief
Gospel – John 19:25-27: At Jesus’ Cross
Alternate Gospel – Luke 2:33-35: Simeon’s Prophecy
See the readings section of this page for a longer summary of these readings for the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows and links to the readings.

What is the significance of Our Lady of Sorrows?

The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows commemorates the extreme sorrow that the Blessed Virgin Mary experienced during the life, passion, and death of Jesus Christ. Even though Jesus was resurrected, the trauma of seeing her son die would have had a lasting impact on our Blessed Mother.

What is the Seven Sorrows Devotion?

The Seven Sorrows devotion is a prayer where a person meditates on the seven sorrows of our Blessed Mother. Mary experienced tremendous suffering during the life, passion, and death of her son, Jesus Christ. It serves to deepen one’s understanding of her suffering, emphasizing her human and maternal qualities.

What are the Seven Sorrows of Our Blessed Mother?

The prophesy of Simeon to Mary
The flight into Egypt
When Jesus was separated from his family in Jerusalem
When Mary encountered Jesus as he carried his cross to Calvary
The death by crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which Mary witnessed
Removing the body of Jesus from the cross
Laying the body of Jesus in the tomb

How is the Seven Sorrows devotion observed?

Many Catholics pray the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows or participate in services on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, which falls on September 15. Some also meditate on artwork depicting these sorrows or read scriptural passages about them.

What is the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows?

This is a specific type of Rosary consisting of seven sets of seven beads, with each set dedicated to one of the Seven Sorrows. An Our Father is prayed on the large bead, followed by seven Hail Marys on the smaller beads, while contemplating a particular sorrow.

How does the devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows relate to other Marian devotions?

This particular devotion emphasizes Mary’s role as a suffering mother, complementing other Marian devotions like the Immaculate Heart and Our Lady of Lourdes which focus on different aspects of her life and role.

Can the Seven Sorrows devotion be practiced individually?

Absolutely. While group prayers and church services are common, many people pray the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows or reflect on Mary’s sorrows individually.

Is the Seven Sorrows devotion recognized by the Vatican?

Yes, the devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows has Church approval and has been promoted by various popes. The Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15 is part of the General Roman Calendar.

What are the benefits of practicing this devotion?

The devotion is thought to deepen empathy, increase resilience, and help in understanding the role of suffering in the Christian life. It’s also considered a way to grow closer to Mary and through her, to Jesus.

Who is St. Bridget and what’s her connection to Our Lady of Sorrows?

St. Bridget of Sweden was a 14th-century mystic and saint. She is said to have received a promise from the Virgin Mary related to the Seven Sorrows, which grants special graces to those who meditate on them.

What exactly is Our Lady’s promise to St. Bridget concerning the Seven Sorrows devotion?

According to tradition, the Virgin Mary promised to grant seven graces to those who honor her by meditating on her Seven Sorrows. These graces range from personal spiritual growth to intercession in times of need.

What are the seven graces of the Seven Sorrows devotion?

The specific graces include gaining a greater understanding of Mary’s suffering, receiving protection from Mary in life and at the time of death, and experiencing a deeper sense of sorrow for one’s sins.

Is this promise of seven graces recognized by the Catholic Church?

While the devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows is recognized, the specific promise to St. Bridget is more a matter of popular piety. It doesn’t have formal Church approval but is accepted in the realm of private devotion.

Are there specific communities or orders dedicated to the Seven Sorrows devotion?

The Servite Order, founded in the 13th century, has a special commitment to the devotion of Our Lady of Sorrows. Many of their practices and prayers are focused on this aspect of Mary’s life.

Is the Seven Sorrows devotion more popular at certain times of the year?

While the devotion can be practiced year-round, it gains special prominence around the Lenten season and particularly on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15.

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