Category Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

September’s Marian Devotion – Our Lady of Sorrows

OL of SorrowsThe Seven Sorrows of Mary is September’s Marian devotion.

The Marian side of the Catholic Church helps us to see the human aspect of the act of faith: do we comfort the sorrowing as they grieve the death of a loved one? Always a mother, the Church directs our attention to the seven sorrows suffered by Mary, who witnessed her Son’s death for us on the cross.

A short prayer that we can offer: Mary most sorrowful, Mother of Christians, pray for us!

The feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15 which follows feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is September 14. The Seven Sorrows  unites us to Passion of the Lord on Calvary by having a Marian feast that uses the sorrows of to point to the salvific work of the Lord.

The famous Passionist Saint Gabriel of The Sorrowful Mother, said he was never denied any petition that he confided to the Mater Dolorosa (Mother of Sorrows).

In 1815, Pope Pius VII approved of the Seven Dolors of Mary but it was well used and promoted by the Servite Order since 1668 when a feast formally approved. The Servite Order dates back to 1239. The Seven Sorrows of Mary, taken from Scripture, are:

  • The prophecy of Simeon. (Luke 2: 34, 35)
  • The flight into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13-14)
  • The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple. (Luke 3: 43-45)
  • The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross. (John 19:1; Luke 23:26-32)
  • The Crucifixion. (Mark 15:22; John 19:18, 25-27; Mark 15:34; Luke 23:46)
  • The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross. (John 19:31-34, 38; Lamentations 1:12)
  • The burial of Jesus. (Matthew 27:59; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:46; Luke 27:55-56)

Mary Immaculate, Queen of heaven and earth

Mary's QueenshipThe Latin Church using the Novus Ordo Mass honors Mary today under the title of the Queen; those praying the Missal of St John XXIII would be celebrating feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Either way, we are at the 8th day since the great solemnity of the Assumption.

The teaching is that Jesus, the King, Second Person of the Trinity, the human face of the Invisible God, exercises His kingship –given Him by God the Father– over the cosmos as servant, teacher, mediator, healer, Savior of the world. There are more Christological images to note which are quite beautiful and necessary to understand the complete package of what it means to be an adopted Son and Daughter of God through Baptism. Recall, what is said of Mary reflects directly back to her Jesus.

Jesus is Lord, His mother is Queen. We follow.

In a democratic and ideological society such as ours, regal images are hard to accept for some people with good reason. Yet, in the spiritual realm, the noble images given in our Liturgy are not crowns of money, power and fame but of a spiritual nature: service, love and humility. Because of the inheritance given in Baptism we share squarely in the divine life. Sacred Scripture reveals to us that adhering to Jesus till the end we will receive a crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4); crowns of gold will be given to “the 24 ancients (Rev 4:4).”

Mary is the new Eve, the Mother of God, Mother of the Church, Refuge of Sinners, and thus Queen above all queens. Mary as the Queen Mother wear a crown like no other. Her crown is not made of gold and precious stones; no her crown is  a crown of twelve stars (Rev. 12:1), and the only crown made up of stars mentioned in the Bible.

What is the crown of stars? The tradition tells us that her crown is given directly by God Himself: the Divine Majesty bestowing on His creature a crown of stars with cosmic importance reflecting the brilliance of God Himself. Hence we believe that the stars of the crown guide in the darkness of night, and through the dark times in our lives.

We Christians think biblically: we have 12 gates of the Temple, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles. Mary, given to the Church by the Lord from the Cross. The Queenship means for us that she the Queen of the Church: the Church Militant (on earth), the Church Suffering (in purgatory) and the Church Triumphant (in heaven). BUT this power exercised in relation to what God has given.

Mary as Queen intercedes for us with her Son, the King.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Assumuption Bartolomeo della GattaThe summer feast of Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary is known also as Marymass. The feast is about the fulfillment of the promise God made to us: to live fully and wholly with Him in heaven, to be united with Him body and soul. Neither sin nor death would grasp her being.

So, we believe that Mary, the Mother of the Incarnate Word, Jesus, did not suffer the indignity of the decomposition of the human body. In defining the dogma of the Assumption in 1950, Pope Pius XII left as an open question as to whether or not Mary died. The Greek Church calls this feast the Falling Asleep –the Dormition of Mary– pointing to the notion that Mary died and yet at that very moment she was called by her Son to the fullness of Life Eternal without delay and decay. Here is reflection by Saint John Damascene:

“It was fitting that she who had preserved her virginity inviolate in childbirth should also have her body kept free from all corruption after death. It was fitting that she who had carried the Creator as a child on her breast should dwell in the tabernacles of God. It was fitting that the bride espoused by the Father should make her home in the bridal chambers of heaven. It was fitting that she, who had gazed on her crucified Son and been pierced in the heart by the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in giving him birth, should contemplate him seated with the Father. It was fitting that the Mother of God should share the possessions of her Son, and be venerated by every creature as the Mother and handmaid of God.”

May we enter into deeper communion with the Holy Trinity so that we, like the great Mother of God, live body and soul at the end of time. Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us.

The American Czestochowa

Our Lady of CzestochowaA look at the influence of our devotion to Mary, the Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of Czestochowa. She is not only the Queen of Poland, but the Queen in America.

Here is a terrific documentary produced in 2005, the “American Czestochowa.

If you can make it to Jasna Gora, going to the National Shrine in Doylestown, PA, is a wonderful way to honor the Mother of God.

Our Lady of Czestochowa’s feast day is August 26.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

OL Mt CarmelToday, the Church honors the Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This feast, historically, is clearly a feast recognizing Mary’s patronage of the Carmelite order. What does this feast say to us today? The Marian feast of Carmel is pointing us to Mary’s interior life, her life of prayer –her contemplation by holding all things concerning her Son in her heart. The Church gives witness that all Christians are called to pray and to enter into contemplation according to the grace given by God.

Only later did the feast get connected with the giving of the brown scapular to Saint Simon Stock for the members of the order, and later to the laity. According to Stock’s vision of Mary, in use of the brown scapular Mary there’s the promise to the wearer that she will intercede with her Son to have mercy at the time of death. The scapular is the outward sign (a sacramental) of the consecration one makes to the Blessed Virgin who leads the person to the Savior.

The Congregation of Divine Worship (at the Holy See) said in 1996, “Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is bound to the history and spiritual values of the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and is expressed through the scapular. Thus, whoever receives the scapular becomes a member of the order and pledges him/herself to live according to its spirituality in accordance with the characteristics of his/her state in life.”

Moretto da Brescia BVM of CarmelDiscalced Carmelite Father Kieran Kavanaugh, said,

“The scapular is a Marian habit or garment. It is both a sign and pledge. A sign of belonging to Mary; a pledge of her motherly protection, not only in this life but after death. As a sign, it is a conventional sign signifying three elements strictly joined: first, belonging to a religious family particularly devoted to Mary, especially dear to Mary, the Carmelite Order; second, consecration to Mary, devotion to and trust in her Immaculate Heart; third an incitement to become like Mary by imitating her virtues, above all her humility, chastity, and spirit of prayer.”

As you know, all Marian theology points to Christ. Key in historical theology is the work of Saint Leo the Great who does not speak to the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel but he does contexutalize our teaching on Mary’s role in salvation history by making the crucial criterion of understanding her role viz. giving the Eternal Word, the Savior of All, human personhood.

Saint Leo is credited with forming the dogma of the Incarnation and taught by the weight of the argument and only then by his office the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon regarding the person of  Jesus Christ: that Jesus has two natures—divine and human—united in one person, “with neither confusion nor division,” known in technical theological language as the hypostatic union.

What follows is a portion of a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, a Roman pope who reigned from 440 to 461; his feast day is November 10; the first to be called “Great.” Mary points to Christ, our Savior!!!

Mary conceived in her soul before she conceived in her body

A royal virgin of the house of David is chosen. She is to bear a holy child, one who is both God and man. She is to conceive him in her soul before she conceives him in her body. In the face of so unheard of an event she is to know no fear through ignorance of the divine plan; the angel tells her what is to be accomplished in her by the Holy Spirit. She believes that there will be no loss of virginity, she who is soon to be the mother of God. Why should she lose heart at this new form of conceiving when she has been promised that it will be effected through the power of the Most High? She believes, and her faith is confirmed by the witness of a previous wonder: against all expectation Elizabeth is made fruitful. God has enabled a barren woman to be with child; he must be believed when he makes the same promise to a virgin.

The son of God who was in the beginning with God, through whom all things were made, without whom nothing was made, became man to free him from eternal death. He stooped down to take up our lowliness without loss to his own glory. He remained what he was; he took up what he was not. He wanted to join the very nature of a servant to that nature in which he is equal to God the Father. He wanted to unite both natures in an alliance so wonderful that the glory of the greater would not annihilate the lesser, nor the taking up of the lower diminish the greatness of the higher.

What belongs to each nature is preserved intact and meets the other in one person: lowliness is taken up by greatness, weakness by power, mortality by eternity. To pay the debt of our human condition, a nature incapable of suffering is united to a nature capable of suffering, and true God and true man are forged into the unity that is the Lord. This was done to make possible the kind of remedy that fitted our human need: one and the same mediator between God and men able to die because of one nature, able to rise again because of the other. It was fitting, therefore, that the birth which brings salvation brought no corruption to virginal integrity; the bringing forth of Truth was at the same time the safeguarding of virginity.

Dearly beloved, this kind of birth was fitting for Christ, the power and the wisdom of God: a birth in which he was one with us in our human nature but far above us in his divinity. If he were not true God, he would not be able to bring us healing; if he were not true man, he would not be able to give us an example.

And so at the birth of our Lord, the angels sing in joy: Glory to God in the highest, and they proclaim peace to his people on earth as they see the heavenly Jerusalem being built from all the nations of the world. If the angels on high are so exultant at this marvelous work of God’s goodness, what joy should it not bring to the lowly hearts of men?

(Sermo 1 in Nativitate Domini, 2.3: PL 54, 191-192)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory