September 15: “The Feast Day of our Lady of Sorrows.”
Today is a feast day for Catholics called to ponder the sorrows of the mother of Jesus and to spend some time with her at the foot of the cross. It’s a perfect way to reignite feelings of compassion and love for Jesus and to give thanks for the great sacrifice he made out of love for us!
It is impossible not to feel something of what it must have been like for Mary to watch her own Son die in such a horrific way whenever we consider her at the foot of the cross. She watched a man who by the admission of the very man condemning him to death at the behest of the Jewish leaders, Pontius Pilate, said had no guilt in him!
Who but a devil could consider such a mother in such a situation and not be moved to let their own hard heart soften just a little? How could it not soften… gazing upon such a gentle, courageous, weeping and broken woman?
If softening our hearts’ is what God wants of us so we can then receive the Word of God incarnate [Jesus] as a ‘seed’ in the ground of our heart, as we’re told is the case elsewhere in Scripture [“Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21)], and in doing so be transformed, saved from sin and death, and brought into the very life of God, then it’s not really that hard to see the Wisdom in Jesus directing his Mother to “behold” him in those final moments before His death, but then immediately instructing John, his beloved disciple, to BEHOLD his mother Mary!
“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, BEHOLD your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “BEHOLD your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” [Matthew 19-26-67].
Not to worship her of course, which no Catholic I know ever did or could do (although we do take the ‘honour your mother and father’ commandment seriously with our heavenly mother as well as earthly mother).
Mary is human like us, not a god to worship. We don’t ‘adore’ Mary, we venerate and honour her and recognize that she is full of grace given freely by God, and made splendid as a result of her complete submission to receiving that grace.
By saying ‘yes’ completely to receiving Jesus into her body from God, Mary became a vessel receiving a full measure of the transforming power, love and light of God that then manifested in and through her as God’s Will. Her witness to us is that we are all capable of acquiring such grace and radiating such life if we but follow her example in being completely surrendered to God.
When we look to Mary, we see a person radiating the glorious life of her Son Jesus in her spirit, as she described the situation herself:
“…my soul magnifies the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour!” [Luke 1:46].
Mary is the mother of our Lord and Saviour Jesus. Think about that for a moment. Why are there so many malicious ‘mother’ jokes posing as humour: ie., “…your mother’s so ____________ [fill in the blank with a nasty word]”. I’ll tell you why: because the devil has set his sights on attacking the family in these end-times to win the souls of an entire generation of children and those to come after, and without mom around, well… that becomes a heck of a lot easier!
Recognizing and honouring Mary’s role as Mother of us all, but especially protector of vulnerable children who are under such threat and attack from evil forces is of critical importance to our spirituality in these end times.
Parental rights are under attack in the material world so malicious and demonic outcomes can be realized. And ‘parental’ rights are under attack in the spiritual realm as well, as the model of womanhood Mary represents is denigrated. Let’s not forget that Scripture tells us that it will be a woman who ‘crushes the head’ of the devil that brought sin into the world through temptation.
Don’t be deceived into thinking with abstracted ideas that take you into your own imagination and out of the concrete reality of life which diminishes the importance of Mary or of honouring Mary as our mother. We would benefit greatly from having an active, healthy relationship with her in our spiritual life and prayer.
Salvation isn’t a private, ritualistic or mechanical affair…it’s a ‘family’ affair! And we’re part of that family of God to the extent to which we live as true brothers and sisters of Jesus – the Son of God AND the son of Man….the Son of Mary.
Recall as well that the ‘brothers and sisters’ of Jesus were with Mary after His ascension into heaven in the days leading up to Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In telling us that in the Acts of the Apostles, notice that the apostles ‘self-identify’ as brothers of Jesus:
“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, AND HIS BROTHERS.”
What imaginary world do Christians who think that there are some ‘benefits’ to exiling a loving mother from the home live in? Making her sleep out in the barn is completely against both scripture, common sense, and human deceny,…as if mom was a threat to us rather than a great helper who loves and cares for us, wanting to help us in our difficult journey through this evil world to her Son and to heaven!
It’s just another trick of the devil to further weaken protection for children to make us think of Mary the mother of Jesus as ‘unimportant’ or a distraction from Jesus! It’s impossible to get closer to Mary without getting closer to Jesus at the very same time, and to the same degree.
The devil knows the power Mary has to help us and bring us closer to Jesus, and he wants her gone to make it easier for him to target human children for evil formation.
This undermining and denial of parental rights is happening in the increasingly-lawless world with the exclusion of parents being involved in major life-changing and evil decisions affecting the lives of their children.
Parents and their God-given rights and responsibilities for their own children are denied and they are rendered unable to rescue and protect their own children from such influences!
If we are truly brothers and sisters of Jesus, co-heirs with Him of eternal life, then we are also the ‘spiritual’ children of Mary, ie., to be siblings of Jesus is to be children of the same mother would you not agree?
Look to the mother at the foot of the cross looking up to her Son hanging on a cross to have your heart softening and transformed by the love and mercy of Jesus our Saviour, Mary’s babe born in a stable in Bethlehem, the eternal Word of God, the only-begotten Son of the Father, the child through who creation came into being who Mary brought into that very creation with her great ‘fiat’ to God’s big ‘ask’ to do so which was delivered to Mary one glorious night by the angel Gabriel.
Stabat Mater Dolorosa is considered one of the seven greatest Latin hymns of all time. It is based upon the prophecy of Simeon that a sword was to pierce the heart of Our Lord’s mother, Mary (Lk2:35).
At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.
Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.
Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole-begotten One!
Christ above in torment hangs;
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying glorious Son.
Is there one who would not weep,
Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?
Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother’s pain untold?
Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child
All with bloody scourges rent.
For the sins of His own nation,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.
O sweet Mother! font of love!
Touch my spirit from above;
Make my heart with yours accord.
Make me feel as you have felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ our Lord.
Holy Mother, pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Saviour crucified.
Let me share with you His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.
Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.
By the cross with you to stay,
There with you to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of you to give.
Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request
Let me share your grief divine.
Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of yours.
Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it has swooned
In His very blood away.
Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful Judgment day.
Christ, when you shall call me hence,
Be your Mother my defense,
Be your cross my victory.