Sharing Mary’s Grief Divine, Our Lady of Sorrows, September 15, 2014

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Monday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
September 15, 2014
1 Cor 11:17-26.33, Ps 40, Jn 19:25-27

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 


The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today we mark for the 200th time the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The order of the Servites of Mary had been given permission to celebrate this feast since 1667, but in 1814, Pope Pius VII inserted this feast into the general liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. So today we try to celebrate this liturgical feast with particular devotion.
  • The Church has long pondered the suffering and joys of the Blessed Virgin Mary as she accompanied her Son and shared in his redeeming work. There has long been devotion to her “Seven Sorrows”: The prophecy of Simeon, when he announced not only that Jesus would be a sign of contradiction pointing to the ruin and resurrection of many but that her own heart would be pierced with a sword; the flight into Egypt after Herod’s henchmen were trying to assassinate her and God’s little boy; the loss of Jesus for three days at the age of 12; meeting Jesus on the Way to Calvary; seeing Jesus suffer and die on the Cross; receiving Jesus’ body into her arms at the foot of the Cross; and placing Jesus’ body in the tomb.
  • Today is a day, first on which we ponder Mary’s suffering for her Son, what it must have felt like to have her heart and soul pierced in these ways. As we prayed in the Stabat Mater Sequence before the Gospel, “Is there one who would not weep, ‘whelmed in miseries so deep, Christ’s dear Mother to behold?” But our meditation is not supposed to stop there. By God’s grace it’s meant to lead us to compassion, to suffering with Mary. We pray in that Sequence words we should take seriously: 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, my Lord. Holy Mother, pierce me through, in my heart each wound renew of my Savior crucified. Let me share with you his pain, who for all our 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.” Today we ask her for the grace to share her grief divine, to join our tears to hers, to bear in our body the death of Jesus so that we might in turn share his life.
  • But Mary’s heart is pierced not only by the sufferings of her divine Son Jesus, but also all her spiritual sons and daughters given to her in the Annunciation carried out by her Son hanging upon the Cross, when he, seeing Mary and his beloved disciple, St. John, at the foot of the Cross said, respectively, “Woman, behold your son” and “Behold your mother.” And like any Mother, this “Holy Mother” mourns and weeps and suffers whenever she sees any of her children suffer. A couple of weeks ago we pondered the example of St. Monica who wept for 32 years for the conversion of her husband, mother-in-law and son, St. Augustine. If she wept that much, how much more will the sinless Virgin Mary weep for the conversion of all God’s prodigal sons and daughters? How much will she weep for us when we choose against her Son? How much will she weep for those who don’t know him and his love or wander far from him, lost in life?
  • On Friday we will celebrate the Memorial of Our Lady of LaSalette, where Mary appeared to two young children in the French alps in 1846. As they were grazing their sheep, two shepherd children — Melanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud — found her sobbing. We all need to ponder that image of Mary bawling her eyes out with her face in her hands. It’s tempting to think of the Blessed Mother exclusively in the beautiful images of Murillo, crowned with stars, stomping on the serpent, with the moon under her feet. But it’s key to grasp her tears, because without them, we won’t grasp her love, and we may not be opening ourselves fully to receive that love. Her tears initially frightened the 14 year old girl and 11 year old boy, but she told them not to be afraid, to come close, because she wanted to announce to them great news. That was the great news of conversion. They had built a little shrine called “Paradise” and that’s where Mary first appeared, to show them that not everyone was on the way to Paradise. She lamented four practices that are still very common today: blaspheming the name of God; missing Sunday Mass; failing to pray, and not even taking the conversion of Lent seriously. She was calling them, and through them all of us, to do the opposite: to use our thoughts and speech to praise God; to prioritize the great gift of her Son in the Eucharist; to become people who pray; and to repent and believe in the Gospel and live a repentant life. She wore a radiant crucifix that had two symbols on it, one a hammer and another a pair of pincers, which was a sign of the freedom that everyone has, the freedom to refuse God and hammer Jesus to the Cross by sin, or the freedom to love God and take the pincers to remove the nails. That is the choice that faces every Christian. She weeps when we chose the nail, not just because of what that means for Jesus her Son but what that means for each of us with the hammer in our hand. She also wants us to share that grief divine, to learn how to mourn for others and their sins so that we may like her be blessed and consoled, as her Son promised in the Beatitudes.
  • One area for which Mary announced to Melanie and Maximin she weeps is when her sons and daughters separate themselves from her Son and their family by missing the Eucharist or by failing to live the reality of the Eucharist. In today’s first reading, we encounter St. Paul’s sorrow, too, over the same issue. He called attention to the fact that when the Corinthians were assembling on Sundays, their meetings were doing “more harm than good” because there were divisions among them, the divisions always caused by sin and selfishness. After they had celebrated Mass and become one flesh with Christ and one body and one spirit with each other, they were not living according to this union in their agape meals. People were eating separated and by class, so that “one goes ahead with his own supper, and one goes hungry while another gets drunk.” They weren’t sharing in the typical potluck so that everyone felt equal. Rather than acting as family members, they were living in a totally fallen way. How much such behavior must fill a loving Mother like Mary with sorrow and a loving Father, to witness the lack of communion among children, especially after they’ve become one in Christ. I’m sure Mary continues to be filled with sorrow that in our country, four out of five Catholics don’t come to the weekly Thanksgiving meal called the Eucharist and many others who come don’t want to pray together, don’t want to spend time together, don’t want to share their joys and sorrows not to mention their food and other blessings. I’m sure she continues to weep when we treat each other, on parish grounds or off, as anything other than beloved family members, like, for example, when we fail to offer hospitality to family members immigrating to our country, or fail to make a place for spiritual siblings who are poor and in need. Today’s a day in which, pondering her tears, we beg to share her grief divine, because we know that just as Monica was made a saint through her tears, we, too, can be sanctified by a compassion that leads us to weep with Mary over what should always fill us with holy tears.
  • As we come to pray on her feast day, we ask her to intercede for us to obtain the grace that we may console her today and console her Son by living the unity and love he seeks to bring about by what we won for us from the Cross and what he left us in this everlasting sacrifice. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
1 cor 11:17-26, 33

Brothers and sisters:
In giving this instruction, I do not praise the fact
that your meetings are doing more harm than good.
First of all, I hear that when you meet as a Church
there are divisions among you,
and to a degree I believe it;
there have to be factions among you
in order that also those who are approved among you
may become known.
When you meet in one place, then,
it is not to eat the Lord’s supper,
for in eating, each one goes ahead with his own supper,
and one goes hungry while another gets drunk.
Do you not have houses in which you can eat and drink?
Or do you show contempt for the Church of God
and make those who have nothing feel ashamed?
What can I say to you? Shall I praise you?
In this matter I do not praise you.For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my Body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my Blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.Therefore, my brothers and sisters,
when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

Responsorial Psalm
ps 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17

R. (1 Cor 11:26b) Proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R. Proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again.
May all who seek you
exult and be glad in you
And may those who love your salvation
say ever, “The LORD be glorified.”
R. Proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again.

Sequence – Stabat Mater

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, my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with you his pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,
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.

jn 19:25-27

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
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 into his home.