Category Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

The BVM’s 7 sorrows

Father, as your Son was raised on the cross, his
mother Mary stood by him, sharing his sufferings. May your Church be united
with Christ in his suffering and death and so come to share in his rising to
new life, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for
ever and ever. Amen.

Today’s feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary follows
yesterday’s feast of the Triumph of the Cross. As the liturgical year
progresses we see some things change in the liturgical atmosphere as we
prepare, believe it or not, for the end of the liturgical year: our focus on
the Paschal Mystery of the Lord (i.e., the life, death, resurrection &
ascension of the Lord) becomes more present to us.

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Liturgically the Church dedicates
a day to the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, Jesus’ own mother. The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows has not only a spiritual depth but a real human one: it strikes at the core of our heart. What human being goes through life
without some sort of pain? Like all mothers, Mary was wounded and pained at
various times in her life by the absence of her son and the pain and death he
had to suffer. No mother delights in her child’s misery, no mother sits by
while her child’s humanity is in jeopardy. Consider what the mothers of
soldiers go through waiting for her son or daughter to return from war. Imagine
the terrible, heart wrenching pain that many mothers felt when they were told
their child was killed in Iraq. I know of the pain my own paternal grandmother faced when her son was killed in a car accident more than 40 years ago; a pain that never truly healed nor spoken of…

The feast we observe today reminds us of the
humanity of not only Mary, but of Jesus. For as we know, Mary always points to
her son: the cross brought incredible suffering for Jesus while it saved all of
humanity by trampling down sin and death; Careful observing the suffering as Mary did requires our attention, too,
because Christ saved us in and through our humanity. This point is driven home
countless times a day as I walk past a replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta (see the pic above); I am
confronted with the sorrowing Mother Mary holding the dead body of her son in
her arms, the very arms which cuddled him as an infant.

The Cistercian monks
and Servite friars have given the Church an apt liturgical feast to indicate
the depth of humanity Mary had in standing by her son, an experience foretold
by Simeon. The feast has also be called Our Lady of Compassion, yet another
intersection of theology and human reality.

Here are the seven sorrows of

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The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)

The flight into Egypt (Matthew

Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50)

Mary meets Jesus
on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)

Crucifixion and Death of
Jesus (John 19:25-30)

The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130;
Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)

The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56;
John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)

Our Lady of Sorrows

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Stabat Mater dolorosa

iuxta crucem lacrimosa,
   dum pendebat Filius.

The grieving Mother stood

beside the cross weeping
   where her Son was hanging.

Cuius animam gementem

contristatam et dolentem
   pertransivit gladius.

Through her weeping soul,

compassionate and grieving,
   a sword passed.

O quam tristis et afflicta

fuit illa benedicta
   mater Unigeniti!

O how sad and afflicted

was that blessed
   Mother of the Only-begotten!

Quae maerebat et dolebat

pia mater cum videbat
   nati poenas incliti.

Who mourned and grieved,

the pious Mother, with seeing
   the torment of her glorious Son.

Quis est homo qui non fleret,

matrem Christi si videret
   in tanto supplicio?

Who is the man who would not weep

if seeing the Mother of Christ
   in such agony?

Quis non posset contristari,

piam matrem contemplari
   dolentum cum Filio?

Who would not be have compassion

on beholding the devout mother
   suffering with her Son?

Pro peccatis suae gentis

vidit Iesum in tormentis
   et flagellis subditum.

For the sins of His people

she saw Jesus in torment
   and subjected to the scourge.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum

morientem, desolatum,
cum emisit spiritum.

She saw her sweet Son

dying, forsaken,
   while He gave up His spirit.

Christe, cum sit hinc exire,

da per matrem me venire
   ad palmam victoriae. Amen.

Christ, when it is henceforth in need to pass away,

grant that through your Mother I may come
   to the palm of victory. Amen.

Holy Name of Mary

Thumbnail image for Humility of Mary ZStrozzi.jpgYou have been blessed, O Virgin Mary, above all other women on earth by the Lord, the Most High God, for God has so exalted your name that human lips will never cease to praise you.

Lord our God, when Your Son was dying on the altar of the cross, he gave us as our mother the one he had chosen to be His own mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary; grant that we who call upon the holy name of Mary, our mother, with confidence in her protection may receive strength and comfort in all our needs.
This feast was restored an optional memorial in our sacred Liturgy by the Servant of God Pope John Paul II when he published the 2002 Roman Missal (the translation is due out this century). The Preface of today’s Mass is worth adding to our examination of conscience today and I highly recommend using the liturgical texts to assist us here. In part the Preface reads:
“… But by Your loving providence the name of the Virgin Mary also should echo and re-echo on the lips of the faithful people who turn to her with confidence as their star of hope, call on her as their mother in time of danger, and seek her protection in their hour of need.”
The sentiments expressed by the Church’s Liturgy ought to call to mind the venerable prayer of the Memorare in which we ask Mary in confidence to be at our side at all times. Those who remain close to Mary, the Mother of God are always helped.

Good question: What Happened at Medjugorje?

A fitting look into a Marian apparition on the Feast of the Nativity of Mary at First Things, “What Happened at Medjugorje?” It’s amazing that this “apparition” of the Blessed Virgin is getting a lot of press these days.

Saint Anselm’s prayer for the Birth of Our Lady

In Honor of Our Lady’s Nativity

Saint Anselm of Canterbury

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that I may praise thee, O sacred Virgin; give me strength against thine
enemies, and against the enemy of the whole human race. Give me strength humbly
to pray to thee. Give me strength to praise thee in prayer with all my powers,
through the merits of thy most sacred nativity, which for the entire Christian
world was a birth of joy, the hope and solace of its life.

When thou wast born,
O most holy Virgin, then was the world made light. Happy is thy stock, holy thy
root, and blessed thy fruit, for thou alone as a virgin, filled with the Holy
Spirit, didst merit to conceive thy God, as a virgin to bear Thy God, as a
virgin to bring Him forth, and after His birth to remain a virgin.

Have mercy
therefore upon me a sinner, and give me aid, O Lady, so that just as thy
nativity, glorious from the seed of Abraham, sprung from the tribe of Juda,
illustrious from the stock of David, didst announce joy to the entire world, so
may it fill me with true joy and cleanse me from every sin.

Pray for me, O
Virgin most prudent, that the gladsome joys of thy most helpful nativity may
put a cloak over all my sins. O holy Mother of God, flowering as the lily, pray
to thy sweet Son for me, a wretched sinner. Amen.

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]
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