August celebrates the Queenship of the Madonna. September not only celebrates her birth, but remembers her sorrows. Our Lady is depicted in a mournful state, eyes turned towards heaven, sometimes with seven swords stabbed into her heart.
These swords are known to terrify and confuse children and newcomers.
Unlike some newer branches of Christianity, Catholicism does not shy away from the reality of pain. The theology around suffering has evolved through the years as it has been misused and misinterpreted to justify pain. One shouldn’t perpetuate suffering or suffer for the sake of suffering. Still, pain is a part of life and it is important to acknowledge that having a space for grief is important for a good spiritual life.
We must remember that Mother Mary was an indigenous woman living in a colonized state. There were rumors that Jesus’ father was a Roman soldier. Virgin birth was looked on with suspicion then as it would be now. Mother Mary’s life was full of grief.
There’s something about September that causes us to contemplate sorrow. It is during this month that the warmth of summer begins to transition into the cold of the coming months. For many, winter brings with it seasonal depression also known as SAD.
The loss of summer causes us to contemplate our own mortality.
But we must remember these words of the ‘Hail Mary’ prayer.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”Catholic ‘Hail Mary’ Prayer
Our Lady of Sorrows is offers both comfort and pain. This title of Our Lady has been an inspiration to artists for centuries. Notably, La Dolorosa is a work by Cristobal de Villalpando probably painted between 1680 and 1689.
Our Lady of Sorrows is often depicted with seven swords piercing her heart. This is in reference to Simeon’s comment in Luke 2:22 that “thy own soul a sword shall pierce.”
What are the Seven Sorrows of Mary?
- The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:34-35)
- The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13)
- The Loss of the Child Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:43-45)
- Meeting Jesus on the way to Calvary
- The Crucifixion
- The Deposition of Jesus’ Body from the Cross
- The burial of Jesus
Benefits of Devotion to the Seven Sorrows
It is a good thing to remember Our Lady’s suffering as we are her children.
Being a good mother, Mother Mary also made promises to the faithful who honor her as Our Lady of Sorrows. These are the Seven Promises:
- “I will grant peace to their families”
- “They will be enlightened about the Divine Mysteries”
- “I will console them in their pain and accompany them in their work”
- “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.”
- “I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.”
- “I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they will see the face of their Mother.”
- “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.”
It is important to honor Our Lady at all times but especially while we remember her sorrows. After all, nothing hurts more than going through trials and pain alone.