Embracing the Solemnity of Our Lady of Sorrows: A September Devotion

September 14, 2023

Fall is in the air. At Malvern Retreat House, fall is a particularly beautiful time. The leaves on Malvern’s campus are just starting to change color. Mornings are a bit crisper. The evening air has changed. Our serene, wooded acres are particularly beautiful as the leaves on our trees turn from green to bright shades of red, orange, and yellow.

As summer fades and fall emerges, Catholics around the world recall Our Lady of Sorrows. The Catholic Church has dedicated the month to Our Lady of Sorrows. Through this devotion, we are called to reflect on the profound suffering endured by the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows gives us a unique opportunity for contemplation, empathy, and connection to the heart of Mary’s experiences.

The History of the Devotion

The earliest Christians were devoted to Our Lady of Sorrows. During the Middle Ages, this devotion gained prominence. During the 13th Century, the Order of Servites was established. This Catholic religious order is dedicated to meditating on Mary’s seven sorrows.

It is worth noting that this devotion is not meant to focus solely on Mary’s sufferings. But the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows recalls Mary’s unwavering “yes” to God’s calling in her life. We recall and are inspired by Mary’s strength and compassion.

In the 18th century, the Catholic Church formally recognized the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Pope Pius VII dedicated September 15th for this solemnity. The feast commemorates seven significant moments in Mary’s life that caused profound sorrow. These include:

  • The prophecy of Simeon
  • The flight into Egypt
  • The loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple
  • Meeting Jesus on the way to Calvary
  • The crucifixion and death of Jesus
  • The taking down of His body
  • Jesus’ burial

The Significance of September

September is the appropriate time for the Feast of the Our Lady of Sorrows. The changing seasons also reflect transitions in life. The changing seasons and the changing times in our lives, in turn, remind us of the heights of joy and depths of sorrow experienced by the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Through our devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows, we recall Mary’s role as our spiritual mother. She understands us. She walks with us in moments of suffering. She intercedes for us to her Son and the Father. In the midst of our pain, we can find strength in Mary.  By dedicating this month to Our Lady of Sorrows, we open our hearts to the profound lessons she offers, inviting her maternal guidance into our lives and finding solace in her unwavering presence.

A Prayer to Our Lady of Sorrows

Dear Mother Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows,

In this month dedicated to your compassion and strength, we turn to you with hearts full of reverence and trust. You, who walked the path of sorrow beside your beloved Son, understand the depths of human suffering. Your unwavering faith, your enduring love, and your willingness to stand at the foot of the cross inspire us to face our own trials with courage and grace.

Mary, tender mother, teach us to embrace our sorrows as a means of drawing closer to your Son. As we reflect on the seven sorrows you experienced, may we find comfort in your presence and consolation in your intercession. Help us remember that through every tear and ache, you stand beside us, guiding us toward the light of your Son’s love.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us, that we may find strength in our weaknesses, hope in our despair, and the peace that only Christ can provide. Amen.

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