Posts Tagged ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’

Prayer and Meditation for Friday, September 15, 2017 — Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows — “I am grateful to him who has strengthened me.” — “Because I live, you also will live.”

September 14, 2017

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Lectionary: 441/639

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Our Lady of Sorrows by Sassoferrato

Reading 1 1 TM 1:1-2, 12-14

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our savior
and of Christ Jesus our hope,
to Timothy, my true child in faith:
grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father
and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord,
because he considered me trustworthy
in appointing me to the ministry.
I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man,
but I have been mercifully treated
because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.
Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm PS 16:1B-2A AND 5, 7-8, 11

R. (see 5) You are my inheritance, O Lord.
Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge;
I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.”
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you it is who hold fast my lot.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

mothercrucified3

https://www.markmallett.com/blog/category/mary/page/2/

Sequence (Optional) — 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.

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.

While my body here decays,
May my soul your goodness praise,
Safe in heaven eternally.
Amen. (Alleluia)

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary;
without dying you won the martyr’s crown
beneath the Cross of the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel 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.

Image result for Our Lady of Sorrows, art, pictures

Our Lady of Sorrows by Tianna Mallett

Or LK 2:33-35

Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
and you yourself a sword will pierce
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

https://www.markmallett.com/blog/category/mary/page/2/

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Our Lady of Sorrows – Commentary on Hebrews 5:7-9; Ps 30; Luke 2:33-35 or John 19:25-27 From Living Space

There are two choices for the Gospel reading. The first is from Luke’s account of the Presentation in the Temple. While they were in the Temple, Mary and Joseph met the holy man Simeon, who had been promised that he would not die before laying eyes on the Messiah.

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When he meets Mary and Joseph, he recognises the Messiah in the Baby she is holding. He then proceeds to make some prophecies about Jesus and, addressing Mary herself, tells her that a “sword of sorrow” will pierce her heart. He does not specify what that “sword” might be but now we can see that it particularly alludes to the suffering and death of Jesus which she witnessed. However, the “sword” can also be applied to the other painful experiences we remember in the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

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The alternative Gospel reading is from John’s account of the Crucifixion where he mentions that the “mother of Jesus” was standing by the foot of the Cross as her Son died. With her were two other women, her sister called Mary (wife of Clopas), Mary of Magdala and the “beloved disciple”.

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Seeing them there, Jesus entrusts the Beloved Disciple to the care of his Mother, while telling the Beloved Disciple that Jesus’ Mother is his also. Some would see in this scene the Mother of Jesus as symbolising the Christian community. There is to be a relationship of mutual support between the community and its dedicated members. The community exists for the well-being of the individual members and each member is committed in turn to the well-being of the community.

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The First Reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews and speaks of Jesus’ passionate prayer to his Father that he not have to go through the terrible death of the Cross. And his prayer was heard, because of his total submission to his Father. It was precisely through the acceptance of his suffering that he learnt to be totally at one with the will of his Father. And, being made perfect through his obedience, he became a source of salvation for all others who unite themselves to him.

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And who was more united to Jesus than his Mother? It is because of her acceptance of and identification with the sufferings of her Son that we celebrate her memory today.

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Related:
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Our Lady of Sorrows — The Madonna in Sorrow, by Sassoferrato, 17th century
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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
(From September 15, 2014)
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There are many ways to look at sufferings in life.   Those who are negative will look at sufferings as a curse from God.  Such an attitude can turn them bitter against God and the world.  When we try to run away from our sufferings or deny them, we will end up being miserable.

Fortunately, most of us assume a positive approach to suffering; seeing it as a pedagogy of life.  In other words, it teaches us about life and most of all, it purifies our attitude towards people.  It helps to sanctify us.  Indeed, as the letter to the Hebrews tells us, Jesus Himself learned obedience through suffering.  In other words, we can embrace suffering as part of the mystery of life or fight it.  If we fight against suffering, then we open ourselves to greater pain, like when we harden our muscles when receiving an injection.  The way to overcome suffering is to let go and embrace it as God’s will for our growth, purification and strengthening of character.

However, it is not sufficient to see suffering in this manner as it is still very much focused on the self.  Rather, suffering should teach us to reach out, for it is only in reaching out that we are able to forget our own sufferings.  The clue to reaching out is found in the gospel of St John, when we are told that “the disciple made a place for her in his home.”  In other words, like John, we are called to feel with Mary, just as Mary felt with Jesus and identified herself with Him.

When St Paul tells us that if we share in the sufferings of Christ, we will also share in His glory, and that if we share in His death, we also share in His resurrection, he is not simply suggesting that if we suffer just like Jesus, we too will be glorified and raised like Jesus.  Of course, this is true, but there is a deeper significance to this exhortation of Paul.

St Paul is telling us that in sharing the sufferings of Christ, we will understand not only what Christ has gone through, but what He has suffered for us, for our sake and for our salvation.  In other words, by sharing in His sufferings, we can now identify with Him, not just in His sufferings, but also feel the depth of His love for us.  Only when we come to know how much He has loved us, can we come to love Him even more.  If we are called to know how much He suffered, it is so that we can appreciate the extent of His selfless love for us.  It is important that we understand the purpose of His sufferings.

Suffering in itself is not redeeming unless it is experienced for love of others.  So in sharing Christ’s sufferings and understanding His love for us, we are now ready to suffer for Him in return as our grateful response to His love.  Indeed, this was the way Christ suffered.  If He could suffer so much for us, it was because He had experienced the Father’s self-emptying love for Him.

Even in human relationships, we are inclined to be more sympathetic to people whom we encounter, and those who share their sufferings and pain with us.  Without understanding their struggles, the natural reaction would be for us to apply the laws to them objectively, without taking into consideration their existential context.  But justice, especially the justice of God, requires that we apply laws within the context and circumstances of each individual, as opposed to a legalistic manner.  Indeed, when we lack contact with a person and lack understanding of his or her personal struggles, we cannot empathize very much with the person.

That is why dialogue and communion enables us to feel with and for each other.  It is not in our nature to act objectively; only robots do that.  But neither do we act subjectively, for if we do, then we are not living out the truth.  Rather, we act objectively in a subjective manner, taking into consideration both the person and his circumstances.  Compassion and justice meet in God and in the Christian.  Once we recognize the person as a person and not a thing, then we too, can help the person to transcend his struggles.

Truly, if we feel with each other, then like Jesus, we will look upon others with compassion and sympathy rather than judgmentally.  In silent tears, we pray for those who are suffering and in pain, especially for our enemies, because like Jesus, we can understand why they are acting the way they do.  Like Jesus, we are called to forget our own sufferings but instead, to look towards the sufferings of others, so that no longer will we judge them with condemnation but with mercy.  For like Christ, we are called to share not just in His sufferings but we must also share in the sufferings of our enemies.

Today, Mary is our model.  If she is so associated with the redemptive suffering of Christ, it is because as a mother she must have felt with Jesus in His mission of love.  Most of all, if she could forgive the enemies of her Son, it was also because she could feel the way He felt for His enemies.  So, if we too, can feel with Jesus in His sufferings through our sufferings, we will repent of our own sins, return to Him in love and gratitude and undertake upon ourselves the same mission of love and mercy that we have received from Jesus.

– See more at: http://www.csctr.net/15-september-2014-our-lady-of-sorrows/#sthash.Z32XBVDT.dpuf

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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September 15, 2015
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SHARING THE SUFFERINGS OF OUR LOVED ONES IN SPIRIT
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Hebrews 5:7-9Luke 2:33-35

How often do we feel helpless in helping people, especially when they are suffering?  Not only are we unable to help them financially or physically, but even emotionally.  Indeed, we are often lost for words to encourage them.  We do not know what to say to comfort them.  We look at them and we feel so helpless and useless.  There is nothing we can do to relieve the suffering.  We use means in our power to help but to no avail.  We can only watch them suffer in pain and in depression.  We feel frustrated and even angry with God, besides being angry with ourselves.  In such a situation, what do we do?

Like Mary, we are called to simply stand by the cross of Jesus.  In celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, we feel with Mary who stood by Jesus not just when He was rejected in His ministry and even thought to be mad by His relatives.  She had always stood by Him in good and in bad times.   Although alone and widowed, she did not prevent Jesus from leaving home for the work of His Father.  Mary was supportive of Jesus’ mission from beginning to the end.

But we have no sufferings that can be compared with Mary’s sufferings.  No one can and will ever be able to suffer the way Mary suffered with Jesus.  She was His mother.  He was her only son, her flesh and blood.  She was one in mind and heart with her Son.  At the wedding in Cana, she was one with the will of God and invited us to do the same, “Do whatever He tells you.”   When presented with a problem she did not once exert the obligations of filial piety on Jesus to solve it. She just informed the Son that “they had no wine” without instructing Him what to do.  She knew her Son better and trusted in His wisdom and judgement.  (cf Jn 2)

Hence, when we reflect on the death of Jesus on the Cross, it must be said, that although Mary did not suffer in body like Jesus, she suffered in spirit.  She was a martyr in spirit. St Bernard wrote, “Who are you and what is the source of your wisdom that you are more surprised at the compassion of Mary than at the passion of Mary’s Son? For if he could die in body, could she not die with him in spirit? He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his.” She suffered not so much in her body but she suffered as much as what Jesus suffered on the cross morally.  Jesus suffered because of our sins, which He carried in His body. Not only did He carry our sins but He was also condemned for our sins. Like the Suffering Servant, He was crushed for our sins.

What went through the heart of Mary when she saw her Son carrying the cross through the streets of Jerusalem on His way to Mount Calvary?  We cannot imagine how much she would have suffered, seeing her Son bathed in blood, scourged beyond recognition, losing so much blood and with raw and open wounds, carrying the cross and being paraded as a criminal.  Yet, Mary stood bravely with Jesus and moved with the crowd as she watched helplessly her Son struggling all alone with the weight of the cross and enduring the ignominy of being ridiculed and shamed by the people and mocked by the soldiers.  Yet, Mary did not utter a word against God or against His enemies.  In sorrow and in pain she shared with Jesus His sufferings in her heart.  She must have been such a strong woman to carry such pain in her heart.  Her grief cannot be compared to ours even when we lose our own loved ones.

Most of all, when she was at the foot of the cross, she had to endure the last filial act of our Lord on the Cross when He gave His disciple to Mary, “Behold your son!”  And to the beloved disciple, “Behold your mother!”  (Cf Jn 19:26f)  On the surface, Jesus was doing a filial act by entrusting the care of His mother to one of His disciples, since Jesus was her only son.  But how can the Son of God be replaced by the son of man; or a master by a disciple?  There is no substitute for Jesus.  This is true for us when we love someone dearly and deeply.  Can anyone replace our spouse, our boyfriend or girlfriend or even our dog?

Mary fulfilled the prophecy of Simeon who said that a sword will pierce her heart. “As the father and mother of Jesus stood wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’”  (Lk 2:33-35)  So deep is the wound and so sharp is the sword that no one can ever feel the way she felt.  After the death of Jesus, He no longer felt the pain in His body or in His soul, but her soul suffered the violence of sorrow.  For this reason, the Church gave her the title, Our Lady of Seven Sorrows.  Beyond the prophecy of Simeon, she suffered when she had to flee for their lives to Egypt.  She suffered the loss of the child Jesus in the Temple.  She was filled with sorrow when she met Jesus on the way to Calvary.  Certainly, she must have been so overwhelmed at the way Jesus died on the cross.  As if it was not enough to see Him crucified, Mary had to see her Son pierced on the side by a soldier’s lance.  This last action would have pierced her heart even more.  Finally, all that was left for Mary was to receive the lifeless bloody body of Jesus in her arms and leave Him in the tomb.  Such were the seven sorrows of Mary.

Yet in all these events, she was not angry with God or vindictive of the enemies of her Son.  She stood by the cross in silence and joined her sufferings with that of her Son, forgiving those who killed Him.  There was no anger but only grief for her enemies because of their ignorance.  She was so full of love that she could love beyond herself and her own pain of seeing her Son suffering.   Like her Son on the cross, she would have uttered the same words of Jesus in her heart, “Father, forgive them for they knew not what they were doing.”  Like Jesus, Mary not only forgave her enemies but she prayed for them and made excuses for their actions, reducing them to ignorance.  Such was the magnanimity of Mary.  How many of us pray for our enemies with love and compassion, much less to make excuses for them for hurting us and making us suffer?

In the light of this feast of our Lady of Sorrows, we too are called to suffer in spirit with those who are suffering, especially when they suffer innocently and unjustly.  Our blessed Mother is asking us to suffer in silence and in love for them, whether they are our friends or our enemies.  If we feel helpless like her for her Son, let us offer that inadequacy in helping our loved ones with Mary to Jesus. With those who are the cause of our suffering, we must remember what St Peter wrote, “Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called – that you might inherit a blessing.”  (1 Pt 3:9)  And again, he wrote, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God.”  (1 Pt 3:17f)

Indeed, following the example of Jesus in our weakness, we need to surrender everything to the Lord in faith and trust and in obedience.  If we surrender ourselves to Him in total obedience to His divine will and wisdom, the Lord will hear us and He will transform us.  This is all that is needed of us.  We cannot take things into our own hands.  We need to allow God to be God.  Just as He did the impossible by raising Jesus from the dead, He will do the same for us.   We only need to pray in faith.  We are called to stand by the cross like Mary.  We feel with them and for them.  Remaining helpless, we need to believe in the power and wisdom of God that He will act in His own time.

So let us obey Jesus and give a place to Mary in our home, in our spiritual life.  Like the beloved disciple, let us bring Mary to our home.  This means that we are called to accept Mary as our spiritual mother.  She is the mother of the Church represented by the unnamed disciple of the Lord.  We are called to learn from her to share the sufferings in spirit of those whom we cannot help in body.   We may not be able to take away the sufferings of the other person but we can always pray for them and offer them the hope of Christ.  Let us in faith take the assurance of Jesus to heart, “Because I live, you also will live.” (Jn 14:19)

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Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, September 15, 2015 — Our Lady of Sorrows — “Touch my spirit from above, Make my heart with yours accord.”

September 14, 2015

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Lectionary: 444/639

Art: Our Lady of Sorrows by Tianna Mallett

Reading 1 1 TM 3:1-13

Beloved, this saying is trustworthy:
whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task.
Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable,
married only once, temperate, self-controlled,
decent, hospitable, able to teach,
not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle,
not contentious, not a lover of money.
He must manage his own household well,
keeping his children under control with perfect dignity;
for if a man does not know how to manage his own household,
how can he take care of the Church of God?
He should not be a recent convert,
so that he may not become conceited
and thus incur the Devil’s punishment.
He must also have a good reputation among outsiders,
so that he may not fall into disgrace, the Devil’s trap.Similarly, deacons must be dignified, not deceitful,
not addicted to drink, not greedy for sordid gain,
holding fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
Moreover, they should be tested first;
then, if there is nothing against them,
let them serve as deacons.
Women, similarly, should be dignified, not slanderers,
but temperate and faithful in everything.
Deacons may be married only once
and must manage their children and their households well.
Thus those who serve well as deacons gain good standing
and much confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm PS 101:1B-2AB, 2CD-3AB, 5, 6

R. (2) I will walk with blameless heart.
Of mercy and judgment I will sing;
to you, O LORD, I will sing praise.
I will persevere in the way of integrity;
when will you come to me?
R. I will walk with blameless heart.
I will walk with blameless heart,
within my house;
I will not set before my eyes
any base thing.
R. I will walk with blameless heart.
Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret,
him will I destroy.
The man of haughty eyes and puffed up heart
I will not endure.
R. I will walk with blameless heart.
My eyes are upon the faithful of the land,
that they may dwell with me.
He who walks in the way of integrity
shall be in my service.
R. I will walk with blameless heart.

Sequence (Optional) – 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.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary;
without dying you won the martyr’s crown
beneath the Cross of the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel 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.

Or LK 2:33-35

Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
and you yourself a sword will pierce
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

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Our Lady of Sorrows – Commentary on Hebrews 5:7-9; Ps 30; Luke 2:33-35 or John 19:25-27 From Living Space

There are two choices for the Gospel reading. The first is from Luke’s account of the Presentation in the Temple. While they were in the Temple, Mary and Joseph met the holy man Simeon, who had been promised that he would not die before laying eyes on the Messiah.

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When he meets Mary and Joseph, he recognises the Messiah in the Baby she is holding. He then proceeds to make some prophecies about Jesus and, addressing Mary herself, tells her that a “sword of sorrow” will pierce her heart. He does not specify what that “sword” might be but now we can see that it particularly alludes to the suffering and death of Jesus which she witnessed. However, the “sword” can also be applied to the other painful experiences we remember in the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

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The alternative Gospel reading is from John’s account of the Crucifixion where he mentions that the “mother of Jesus” was standing by the foot of the Cross as her Son died. With her were two other women, her sister called Mary (wife of Clopas), Mary of Magdala and the “beloved disciple”.

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Seeing them there, Jesus entrusts the Beloved Disciple to the care of his Mother, while telling the Beloved Disciple that Jesus’ Mother is his also. Some would see in this scene the Mother of Jesus as symbolising the Christian community. There is to be a relationship of mutual support between the community and its dedicated members. The community exists for the well-being of the individual members and each member is committed in turn to the well-being of the community.

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The First Reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews and speaks of Jesus’ passionate prayer to his Father that he not have to go through the terrible death of the Cross. And his prayer was heard, because of his total submission to his Father. It was precisely through the acceptance of his suffering that he learnt to be totally at one with the will of his Father. And, being made perfect through his obedience, he became a source of salvation for all others who unite themselves to him.

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And who was more united to Jesus than his Mother? It is because of her acceptance of and identification with the sufferings of her Son that we celebrate her memory today.

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Our Lady of Sorrows — The Madonna in Sorrow, by Sassoferrato, 17th century
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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
(From September 15, 2014)
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There are many ways to look at sufferings in life.   Those who are negative will look at sufferings as a curse from God.  Such an attitude can turn them bitter against God and the world.  When we try to run away from our sufferings or deny them, we will end up being miserable.

Fortunately, most of us assume a positive approach to suffering; seeing it as a pedagogy of life.  In other words, it teaches us about life and most of all, it purifies our attitude towards people.  It helps to sanctify us.  Indeed, as the letter to the Hebrews tells us, Jesus Himself learned obedience through suffering.  In other words, we can embrace suffering as part of the mystery of life or fight it.  If we fight against suffering, then we open ourselves to greater pain, like when we harden our muscles when receiving an injection.  The way to overcome suffering is to let go and embrace it as God’s will for our growth, purification and strengthening of character.

However, it is not sufficient to see suffering in this manner as it is still very much focused on the self.  Rather, suffering should teach us to reach out, for it is only in reaching out that we are able to forget our own sufferings.  The clue to reaching out is found in the gospel of St John, when we are told that “the disciple made a place for her in his home.”  In other words, like John, we are called to feel with Mary, just as Mary felt with Jesus and identified herself with Him.

When St Paul tells us that if we share in the sufferings of Christ, we will also share in His glory, and that if we share in His death, we also share in His resurrection, he is not simply suggesting that if we suffer just like Jesus, we too will be glorified and raised like Jesus.  Of course, this is true, but there is a deeper significance to this exhortation of Paul.

St Paul is telling us that in sharing the sufferings of Christ, we will understand not only what Christ has gone through, but what He has suffered for us, for our sake and for our salvation.  In other words, by sharing in His sufferings, we can now identify with Him, not just in His sufferings, but also feel the depth of His love for us.  Only when we come to know how much He has loved us, can we come to love Him even more.  If we are called to know how much He suffered, it is so that we can appreciate the extent of His selfless love for us.  It is important that we understand the purpose of His sufferings.

Suffering in itself is not redeeming unless it is experienced for love of others.  So in sharing Christ’s sufferings and understanding His love for us, we are now ready to suffer for Him in return as our grateful response to His love.  Indeed, this was the way Christ suffered.  If He could suffer so much for us, it was because He had experienced the Father’s self-emptying love for Him.

Even in human relationships, we are inclined to be more sympathetic to people whom we encounter, and those who share their sufferings and pain with us.  Without understanding their struggles, the natural reaction would be for us to apply the laws to them objectively, without taking into consideration their existential context.  But justice, especially the justice of God, requires that we apply laws within the context and circumstances of each individual, as opposed to a legalistic manner.  Indeed, when we lack contact with a person and lack understanding of his or her personal struggles, we cannot empathize very much with the person.

That is why dialogue and communion enables us to feel with and for each other.  It is not in our nature to act objectively; only robots do that.  But neither do we act subjectively, for if we do, then we are not living out the truth.  Rather, we act objectively in a subjective manner, taking into consideration both the person and his circumstances.  Compassion and justice meet in God and in the Christian.  Once we recognize the person as a person and not a thing, then we too, can help the person to transcend his struggles.

Truly, if we feel with each other, then like Jesus, we will look upon others with compassion and sympathy rather than judgmentally.  In silent tears, we pray for those who are suffering and in pain, especially for our enemies, because like Jesus, we can understand why they are acting the way they do.  Like Jesus, we are called to forget our own sufferings but instead, to look towards the sufferings of others, so that no longer will we judge them with condemnation but with mercy.  For like Christ, we are called to share not just in His sufferings but we must also share in the sufferings of our enemies.

Today, Mary is our model.  If she is so associated with the redemptive suffering of Christ, it is because as a mother she must have felt with Jesus in His mission of love.  Most of all, if she could forgive the enemies of her Son, it was also because she could feel the way He felt for His enemies.  So, if we too, can feel with Jesus in His sufferings through our sufferings, we will repent of our own sins, return to Him in love and gratitude and undertake upon ourselves the same mission of love and mercy that we have received from Jesus.

– See more at: http://www.csctr.net/15-september-2014-our-lady-of-sorrows/#sthash.Z32XBVDT.dpuf

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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September 15, 2015
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SHARING THE SUFFERINGS OF OUR LOVED ONES IN SPIRIT
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Hebrews 5:7-9; Luke 2:33-35

How often do we feel helpless in helping people, especially when they are suffering?  Not only are we unable to help them financially or physically, but even emotionally.  Indeed, we are often lost for words to encourage them.  We do not know what to say to comfort them.  We look at them and we feel so helpless and useless.  There is nothing we can do to relieve the suffering.  We use means in our power to help but to no avail.  We can only watch them suffer in pain and in depression.  We feel frustrated and even angry with God, besides being angry with ourselves.  In such a situation, what do we do?

Like Mary, we are called to simply stand by the cross of Jesus.  In celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, we feel with Mary who stood by Jesus not just when He was rejected in His ministry and even thought to be mad by His relatives.  She had always stood by Him in good and in bad times.   Although alone and widowed, she did not prevent Jesus from leaving home for the work of His Father.  Mary was supportive of Jesus’ mission from beginning to the end.

But we have no sufferings that can be compared with Mary’s sufferings.  No one can and will ever be able to suffer the way Mary suffered with Jesus.  She was His mother.  He was her only son, her flesh and blood.  She was one in mind and heart with her Son.  At the wedding in Cana, she was one with the will of God and invited us to do the same, “Do whatever He tells you.”   When presented with a problem she did not once exert the obligations of filial piety on Jesus to solve it. She just informed the Son that “they had no wine” without instructing Him what to do.  She knew her Son better and trusted in His wisdom and judgement.  (cf Jn 2)

Hence, when we reflect on the death of Jesus on the Cross, it must be said, that although Mary did not suffer in body like Jesus, she suffered in spirit.  She was a martyr in spirit. St Bernard wrote, “Who are you and what is the source of your wisdom that you are more surprised at the compassion of Mary than at the passion of Mary’s Son? For if he could die in body, could she not die with him in spirit? He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his.” She suffered not so much in her body but she suffered as much as what Jesus suffered on the cross morally.  Jesus suffered because of our sins, which He carried in His body. Not only did He carry our sins but He was also condemned for our sins. Like the Suffering Servant, He was crushed for our sins.

What went through the heart of Mary when she saw her Son carrying the cross through the streets of Jerusalem on His way to Mount Calvary?  We cannot imagine how much she would have suffered, seeing her Son bathed in blood, scourged beyond recognition, losing so much blood and with raw and open wounds, carrying the cross and being paraded as a criminal.  Yet, Mary stood bravely with Jesus and moved with the crowd as she watched helplessly her Son struggling all alone with the weight of the cross and enduring the ignominy of being ridiculed and shamed by the people and mocked by the soldiers.  Yet, Mary did not utter a word against God or against His enemies.  In sorrow and in pain she shared with Jesus His sufferings in her heart.  She must have been such a strong woman to carry such pain in her heart.  Her grief cannot be compared to ours even when we lose our own loved ones.

Most of all, when she was at the foot of the cross, she had to endure the last filial act of our Lord on the Cross when He gave His disciple to Mary, “Behold your son!”  And to the beloved disciple, “Behold your mother!”  (Cf Jn 19:26f)  On the surface, Jesus was doing a filial act by entrusting the care of His mother to one of His disciples, since Jesus was her only son.  But how can the Son of God be replaced by the son of man; or a master by a disciple?  There is no substitute for Jesus.  This is true for us when we love someone dearly and deeply.  Can anyone replace our spouse, our boyfriend or girlfriend or even our dog?

Mary fulfilled the prophecy of Simeon who said that a sword will pierce her heart. “As the father and mother of Jesus stood wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’”  (Lk 2:33-35)  So deep is the wound and so sharp is the sword that no one can ever feel the way she felt.  After the death of Jesus, He no longer felt the pain in His body or in His soul, but her soul suffered the violence of sorrow.  For this reason, the Church gave her the title, Our Lady of Seven Sorrows.  Beyond the prophecy of Simeon, she suffered when she had to flee for their lives to Egypt.  She suffered the loss of the child Jesus in the Temple.  She was filled with sorrow when she met Jesus on the way to Calvary.  Certainly, she must have been so overwhelmed at the way Jesus died on the cross.  As if it was not enough to see Him crucified, Mary had to see her Son pierced on the side by a soldier’s lance.  This last action would have pierced her heart even more.  Finally, all that was left for Mary was to receive the lifeless bloody body of Jesus in her arms and leave Him in the tomb.  Such were the seven sorrows of Mary.

Yet in all these events, she was not angry with God or vindictive of the enemies of her Son.  She stood by the cross in silence and joined her sufferings with that of her Son, forgiving those who killed Him.  There was no anger but only grief for her enemies because of their ignorance.  She was so full of love that she could love beyond herself and her own pain of seeing her Son suffering.   Like her Son on the cross, she would have uttered the same words of Jesus in her heart, “Father, forgive them for they knew not what they were doing.”  Like Jesus, Mary not only forgave her enemies but she prayed for them and made excuses for their actions, reducing them to ignorance.  Such was the magnanimity of Mary.  How many of us pray for our enemies with love and compassion, much less to make excuses for them for hurting us and making us suffer?

In the light of this feast of our Lady of Sorrows, we too are called to suffer in spirit with those who are suffering, especially when they suffer innocently and unjustly.  Our blessed Mother is asking us to suffer in silence and in love for them, whether they are our friends or our enemies.  If we feel helpless like her for her Son, let us offer that inadequacy in helping our loved ones with Mary to Jesus. With those who are the cause of our suffering, we must remember what St Peter wrote, “Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called – that you might inherit a blessing.”  (1 Pt 3:9)  And again, he wrote, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God.”  (1 Pt 3:17f)

Indeed, following the example of Jesus in our weakness, we need to surrender everything to the Lord in faith and trust and in obedience.  If we surrender ourselves to Him in total obedience to His divine will and wisdom, the Lord will hear us and He will transform us.  This is all that is needed of us.  We cannot take things into our own hands.  We need to allow God to be God.  Just as He did the impossible by raising Jesus from the dead, He will do the same for us.   We only need to pray in faith.  We are called to stand by the cross like Mary.  We feel with them and for them.  Remaining helpless, we need to believe in the power and wisdom of God that He will act in His own time.

So let us obey Jesus and give a place to Mary in our home, in our spiritual life.  Like the beloved disciple, let us bring Mary to our home.  This means that we are called to accept Mary as our spiritual mother.  She is the mother of the Church represented by the unnamed disciple of the Lord.  We are called to learn from her to share the sufferings in spirit of those whom we cannot help in body.   We may not be able to take away the sufferings of the other person but we can always pray for them and offer them the hope of Christ.  Let us in faith take the assurance of Jesus to heart, “Because I live, you also will live.” (Jn 14:19)

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Prayer and Meditation for Monday, September 15, 2014 — “Behold, your mother.”

September 15, 2014

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Our Lady of Sorrows — The Madonna in Sorrow, by Sassoferrato, 17th century

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Lectionary: 443/639

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

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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.
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Sequence (Optional) – Stabat Mater

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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.

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Gospel jn 19:25-27

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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.
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or lk 2:33-35

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Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
and you yourself a sword will pierce
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

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Related:
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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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SHARING IN OTHERS SUFFERING BRINGS SOLIDARITY THROUGH COMPASSION AND LOVE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: HEBREWS 5:7-9; JOHN 19:25-27
http://www.universalis.com/20140915/mass.1.htm

There are many ways to look at sufferings in life.   Those who are negative will look at sufferings as a curse from God.  Such an attitude can turn them bitter against God and the world.  When we try to run away from our sufferings or deny them, we will end up being miserable.

Fortunately, most of us assume a positive approach to suffering; seeing it as a pedagogy of life.  In other words, it teaches us about life and most of all, it purifies our attitude towards people.  It helps to sanctify us.  Indeed, as the letter to the Hebrews tells us, Jesus Himself learned obedience through suffering.  In other words, we can embrace suffering as part of the mystery of life or fight it.  If we fight against suffering, then we open ourselves to greater pain, like when we harden our muscles when receiving an injection.  The way to overcome suffering is to let go and embrace it as God’s will for our growth, purification and strengthening of character.

However, it is not sufficient to see suffering in this manner as it is still very much focused on the self.  Rather, suffering should teach us to reach out, for it is only in reaching out that we are able to forget our own sufferings.  The clue to reaching out is found in the gospel of St John, when we are told that “the disciple made a place for her in his home.”  In other words, like John, we are called to feel with Mary, just as Mary felt with Jesus and identified herself with Him.

When St Paul tells us that if we share in the sufferings of Christ, we will also share in His glory, and that if we share in His death, we also share in His resurrection, he is not simply suggesting that if we suffer just like Jesus, we too will be glorified and raised like Jesus.  Of course, this is true, but there is a deeper significance to this exhortation of Paul.

St Paul is telling us that in sharing the sufferings of Christ, we will understand not only what Christ has gone through, but what He has suffered for us, for our sake and for our salvation.  In other words, by sharing in His sufferings, we can now identify with Him, not just in His sufferings, but also feel the depth of His love for us.  Only when we come to know how much He has loved us, can we come to love Him even more.  If we are called to know how much He suffered, it is so that we can appreciate the extent of His selfless love for us.  It is important that we understand the purpose of His sufferings.

Suffering in itself is not redeeming unless it is experienced for love of others.  So in sharing Christ’s sufferings and understanding His love for us, we are now ready to suffer for Him in return as our grateful response to His love.  Indeed, this was the way Christ suffered.  If He could suffer so much for us, it was because He had experienced the Father’s self-emptying love for Him.

Even in human relationships, we are inclined to be more sympathetic to people whom we encounter, and those who share their sufferings and pain with us.  Without understanding their struggles, the natural reaction would be for us to apply the laws to them objectively, without taking into consideration their existential context.  But justice, especially the justice of God, requires that we apply laws within the context and circumstances of each individual, as opposed to a legalistic manner.  Indeed, when we lack contact with a person and lack understanding of his or her personal struggles, we cannot empathize very much with the person.

That is why dialogue and communion enables us to feel with and for each other.  It is not in our nature to act objectively; only robots do that.  But neither do we act subjectively, for if we do, then we are not living out the truth.  Rather, we act objectively in a subjective manner, taking into consideration both the person and his circumstances.  Compassion and justice meet in God and in the Christian.  Once we recognize the person as a person and not a thing, then we too, can help the person to transcend his struggles.

Truly, if we feel with each other, then like Jesus, we will look upon others with compassion and sympathy rather than judgmentally.  In silent tears, we pray for those who are suffering and in pain, especially for our enemies, because like Jesus, we can understand why they are acting the way they do.  Like Jesus, we are called to forget our own sufferings but instead, to look towards the sufferings of others, so that no longer will we judge them with condemnation but with mercy.  For like Christ, we are called to share not just in His sufferings but we must also share in the sufferings of our enemies.

Today, Mary is our model.  If she is so associated with the redemptive suffering of Christ, it is because as a mother she must have felt with Jesus in His mission of love.  Most of all, if she could forgive the enemies of her Son, it was also because she could feel the way He felt for His enemies.  So, if we too, can feel with Jesus in His sufferings through our sufferings, we will repent of our own sins, return to Him in love and gratitude and undertake upon ourselves the same mission of love and mercy that we have received from Jesus.

– See more at: http://www.csctr.net/15-september-2014-our-lady-of-sorrows/#sthash.Z32XBVDT.dpuf

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Reflection
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• Today, feast of Our Sorrowful Mother, the Gospel of the day presents the passage in which Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Beloved Disciple, meet at Calvary before the Cross. The Mother of Jesus appears two times in the Gospel of John: at the beginning at the wedding feast in Cana (Jn 2, 1-5), and at the end, at the foot of the Cross (Jn 19, 25-27). These two episodes, only present in John’s Gospel, have a very profound value. The Gospel of John compared to the other three Gospels, is like an X-Ray of the other three, while the other three are only a photograph of what has taken place. The X rays of faith help to discover in the events dimensions which the human eye does not succeed to perceive.
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The Gospel of John, besides describing the facts, reveals the symbolical dimension which exists in them. Thus, in both cases, at Cana and at the foot of the Cross, the Mother of Jesus represents symbolically the Old Testament waiting for the New Testament to arrive, and in the two cases, she contributes to the arrival of the New Testament. Mary appears like the step between what existed before and that which will arrive afterwards. At Cana she symbolizes the Old Testament; she perceives the limits of the Old Testament and takes the initiative so that the New one arrives. She tells her Son: “They have no wine!” (Jn 2, 3). And in Calvary? Let us see:
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• John 19, 25: The women and the Beloved Disciple, together at the foot of the Cross. This is what the Gospel says: “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala”. The “photograph” shows the mother together with the Son, standing up. A strong woman, who does not allow herself to be discouraged. “Stabat Mater Dolorosa!” Hers is a silent presence which supports the Son in his gift of self up until death, and the death on the cross (Ph 2, 8). But the “X-Ray” of faith shows how the passage from the Old Testament to the New Testament takes place.
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Like it happened in Cana, the Mother of Jesus represents the Old Testament, the new humanity which is formed beginning from the lived experience of the Gospel of the Kingdom. At the end of the first century, some Christians thought that the Old Testament was no longer necessary. In fact, at the beginning of the second century, Marciones rejected all the Old Testament and remained with only a part of the New Testament. This is why many wanted to know which was the will of Jesus regarding this.
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• John 19, 26-28: The Testament or the Will of Jesus. The words of Jesus are significant. Seeing his Mother, and at her side the beloved Disciple, Jesus says: “Woman, this is your son”. Then he says to the disciple: “This is your mother”. The Old and the New Testament must walk together. The request of Jesus, the beloved Disciple, the son, the New Testament, receives the mother in his house. In the house of the Beloved Disciple, in the Christian community, the full sense of the Old Testament is discovered.
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The New Testament cannot be understood without the Old one, neither is the Old one complete without the New one. Saint Agustin said: “Novum in vetere latet, Vetus in Novo patet”. (The New one is hidden in the Old one. The Old one blooms in the New one). The New one without the Old one would be a building without a foundation. And the Old one without the New one would be like a fruit tree which could not bear fruit.
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• Mary in the New Testament. The New Testament speaks very little about Mary and she says even less. Mary is the Mother of silence. The Bible only keeps seven words of Mary. Each one of those is like a window which allows one to see inside Mary’s house and to discover how her relationship with God was. The key to understand all this is given by Luke: “Blessed are those who receive the word of God and put it into practice” (Lk 11, 27-28).
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1st Word: “How can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?” (Lk 1, 34).
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2nd Word: “You see before you the Lord’s servant; let it happen to me as you have said”. (Lk 1, 38).
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3rd Word: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour (Lk 1, 46-55).
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4th Word: “My child why have you done this to us? Your father and I were worried looking for you” (Lk 2, 48).
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5th Word: “They have no wine!” (Jn 2, 3.)
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6th Word: “Do whatever he tells you!” (Jn 2, 5).
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7th Word: The silence at the foot of the Cross, more eloquent than one thousand words! (Jn 19, 25-27).
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Personal questions
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• Mary at the foot of the Cross. A strong and silent woman. How is my devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus?
• In the Pieta of Michelangelo, Mary seems to be very young, younger than the crucified Son, and she must have been about fifty years old. Asked why he had sculptured the face of Mary as a young girl, Michelangelo replied: the persons who are passionate for God never age!” Passionate for God! Is that passion for God in me?
Concluding Prayer
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Yahweh, what quantities of good things you have in store
for those who fear you,
and bestow on those who make you their refuge,
for all humanity to see.
Safe in your presence you hide them,
far from human plotting. (Ps 31,19-20)
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Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15, 2012)

September 15, 2012

Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15, 2012)

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.

John 19: 25-27

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2012-09-15

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This feast dates back to the 12th century. It was especially promoted by the Cistercians and the Servites, so much so that in the 14th and 15th centuries it was widely celebrated throughout the Catholic Church. In 1482 the feast was added to the Missal under the title of “Our Lady of Compassion.” Pope Benedict XIII added it to the Roman Calendar in 1727 on the Friday before Palm Sunday. In 1913, Pope Pius X fixed the date on September 15. The title “Our Lady of Sorrows” focuses on Mary’s intense suffering during the passion and death of Christ. “The Seven Dolors,” the title by which it was celebrated in the 17th century, referred to the seven swords that pierced the Heart of Mary. The feast is like an octave for the birthday of Our Lady on September 8th.

—Excerpted from Our Lady of Sorrows by Fr. Paul Haffner (Inside the Vatican, September 2004)

This feast is dedicated to the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, Mother of God, and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son, Jesus. In her suffering as co-redeemer, she reminds us of the tremendous evil of sin and shows us the way of true repentance. May the numerous tears of the Mother of God be conducive to our salvation; with which tears Thou, O God, art able to wash away the sins of the whole world.

As Mary stood at the foot of the Cross on which Jesus hung, the sword of sorrow Simeon had foretold pierced her soul. Below are the seven sorrows of Mary:

  1. The prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
  2. The flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
  3. Loss of the Child Jesus for three days (Luke 2:41-50) 
  4. Mary meets Jesus on his way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
  5. Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
  6. The body of Jesus being taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
  7. The burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)

Symbols: heart pierced with a sword; heart pierced by seven swords; winged heart pierced with a sword; flowers: red rose, iris (meaning: “sword-lily”), cyclamen.

Patron: people named Dolores, Dolais, Deloris, Dolorita, Maria Dolorosa, Pia, and Pieta.

Things to Do:

    • Teach your children the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Read more about this devotion. September is traditionally dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows.
    • Present different art pieces of Our Lady of Sorrows, or illustration of one of her sorrows, for meditation and discussion. There are so many different pieces from all different eras, countries and mediums. Search words for art titles would be Lamentation, Deposition, Pieta, Dolorosa, Sorrows, etc. Some samples:

       

    • Discuss why Mary is called the Queen of Martyrs.
  • Make a heart-shaped cake for dessert, decorated with the swords piercing the heart.
  • Think of ways to make reparation to Mary for the sins committed against Our Lord.
  • Pray the short prayer or ejaculation, Holy Mother, imprint deeply upon my heart the wounds of the Crucified.
  • Read or sing the Stabat Mater, perhaps incorporating it with the Stations of the Cross.
  • In Italy, the title of Our Lady of Sorrows is Maria Santissima Addolorata. This devotion began in the 1200’s. She is the patron of many Italian cities. In southern Italy there is La Festa della Madonna dei Sette Dolori (the festival of the Seven Sorrows of the Madonna), instituted in 1423, also called Madonna dell’Addolorata Festival. The food connected to this festival is cuccia salata, wheat berries cooked in meat broth and layered with goat or pork.

From Mother Adela, SCTJM

http://www.piercedhearts.org/mother_adela/mary_john_foot_cross.htm

First of all, we need to understand the authentic meaning of faith: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1).

Faith is an infused virtue (given by God to the soul) by which we firmly believe in the truths that God has revealed – “Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit for anything as coming from us; rather, our qualification comes from God” (2 Cor 3:5). However, even though it is an infused virtue, faith needs to be nourished, strengthened and matured by acts of obedience, surrender, and abandonment to the will of God manifested in the events of our lives. “For we know that all things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

On the virtue of faith depends our Christian perfection, our fidelity in times of tribulation, and our perseverance, since we “walk by faith not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7) and “we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:18).

To have faith, to believe, has never been easy since it implies the renunciation of our own thoughts, ways, and wisdom in order to accept the thoughts, ways and wisdom of God, which are infinitely superior to ours.

In these times, marked by a spirit of unbelief, secularization and materialism, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us the same faith of Mary’s Heart, so as to be able to stand with Her at the foot of the Cross in fidelity to Her Son and His teachings.

Mary’s Faith

At the event of the Visitation, Elizabeth praised Mary for Her faith: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45).

It is my perception, by meditating on the Holy Scriptures, that St. Luke, like St. John, wanted to manifest clearly in his writings that Mary lived, acted, and moved always in the ambit of faith.

From the Annunciation to the Cross, Mary always assented with the same obedience of faith to all revelation, to all the designs of God. Every moment of Her life was an invitation to act on Her faith, and as a fruit of Her obedience, She in turn, deepened Her faith and understanding of Her role and participation in the plan of salvation. That is why we can truly say that Mary had a pilgrimage of faith from the Annunciation to Her Assumption, and that this pilgrimage climaxed on Calvary.

At the moment of the Annunciation, Mary was presented with two different and amazing revelations: first, that She was full of grace, and second, that She was being chosen to receive the greatest invitation a creature had ever received – to become the virgin mother of the Messiah, the Son of God. This conception was to be accomplished by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, a miracle! Something impossible for men but not for God. It was precisely this human impossibility and this divine possibility that called Mary to open Herself totally to the gift of faith – and She believed in Her God, a God that could do that kind of miracle, a God that chose His lowliest servant for such a dignified and exalted vocation and mission.

St. Augustine said that “Mary first conceived in her heart by faith and then in Her womb” (cf. Sermon 293).  Mary’s response, “may it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38), is a sign of Her full assent to the will of God, to the revelation received, to Her role in this redemptive mission. Only a heart full of faith like Mary’s can give that kind of assent to such a vocation and to all the unexpected events that would form that reality – a series of events that were far beyond human intelligence or human calculations.

From that moment, faith became for Mary the only pillar on which to sustain Her whole life and the only way to embrace, not only Her own mystery, but the mystery of Her Son: a gift of mercy from God the Father for the salvation of all humanity. All other events in Mary’s life could only be comprehended in the light of faith, a faith that allowed Her to perceive the hidden sense of things and situations and helped Her discover in all things the provident will of God, His presence and His mysterious designs.

Many times the external appearances of situations could have seemed enough to prove false Her faith. It was precisely at these moments when Mary “kept all things in her heart” (Luke 2:51), allowing the Holy Spirit to enlighten, to strengthen and to deepen Her faith. This reverent act of Mary of keeping all things in Her heart, especially those She did not fully understand, was an honest search for the hidden sense of the events that She knew by faith must exist, since the Lord could have never abandoned or misled Her.

The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, presents Mary on a journey, on an itinerary of faith, that was manifested in all the different stages She lived during Her earthly life: “Embracing God’s salvific will with a full heart and impeded by no sin, She devoted Herself totally as a handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of Her Son, under Him and with Him, by the grace of almighty God, serving the mystery of Redemption…. freely cooperating in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience” (no.56).

Mary’s faith did not only sustain Her life, but it gave abundant fruit for our redemption since, as Lumen Gentium describes, by Her faith, Mary freely and fully cooperated in the work of human salvation. “For, as St. Irenaeus says, She ‘being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race…The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience; what the virgin Eve bound through Her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith’” (ibid).

Mary at the Foot of the Cross

“Standing by the foot of the Cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. 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 his disciple, ‘Behold your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:25).

I believe that St. John, in this passage, wants to exalt Mary’s faith by presenting two elements in reference to this event:

First, Mary’s presence at the foot of the Cross. It is precisely at this place where the faith of the disciples and, logically, Mary’s faith, is put to the hardest test. Her presence manifests Her fidelity, Her constant abandonment to the designs of the Lord’s will, and a faith that is undiminished, unchanged and unaltered even in the darkest hours.

Second, in the words of Jesus, “Behold your son,” Mary is invited to expand the horizon of Her faith and the understanding of Her role, since Her motherhood is now moving beyond Her dying son; it is been extended to the reality of a spiritual maternity for all the children of God. This last will of Jesus on the Cross became, for Mary, a new annunciation of a conception and birth: The Church.

Mary’s faith was constant, not only present in the times of “apparent glory” when Her Son was performing miracles and had many disciples that believed in Him; it was just as strong when there was no “apparent glory,” when there were no supernatural manifestations or happenings to attract attention, and even when there were not that many disciples to believe – except one, the one that was with Her at the foot of the Cross.

The same faith that Mary had at the birth of Her Son was the one She had at the Cross. It required much faith to have in Her arms that defenseless baby, and to put him in the manger and believe that He was the God-man. It also required much faith to see Her Son totally disfigured and defenseless on the Cross, waiting for him to be placed in Her arms, to then be put in the sepulcher. Her faith allowed Her to continue to believe that, regardless of what appeared to be, He was the God-man.

In Cana Jesus proclaimed that it was not his “hour,” and Mary’s faith and intercession, manifested in the form of a petition, achieved the first miracle, the miracle of the wine. At the Cross, when it was in fact Jesus’ Hour, Mary’s faith and intercession, now manifested in silence, also witnessed the outpouring of the new wine, the blood of Her Son being shed for our salvation, to quench our thirst for God and His divine life.

“The Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the Cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, grieving exceedingly with her only begotten Son, uniting herself with a maternal heart with His sacrifice, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim which she Herself had brought forth” (Lumen Gentium, 58)

Mary’s faith is a model for the Church: just like Mary, the Church has Her own itinerary and Her own journey to travel. It is Mary’s faith that will teach the Church to be faithful, undivided, perseverant and trustful in times of glory and in times of suffering.

John at the Foot of the Cross

John’s faith was put to the hardest test not only at the Cross, but from the moment of the Last Supper. This disciple was known to be especially loved by the Lord. When painful revelations were given by the Lord in that Supper, he, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, wanted to have some answers, some understanding about what was happening. Maybe, by this act, he also expressed his fear and his confusion at the announcements of treason, disloyalty, suffering and death. His faith was shaken to the point that, when Jesus was arrested, John run away just like the other apostles.

It is very interesting to me that, even though John was also afraid, doubtful and running away from suffering, he appeared at the event on Calvary, at the foot of the Cross with Mary. Could we try to imagine what happened in John’s heart that made him gain the courage to be faithful to Jesus on the Cross?

Where did John go after Gethsemane? Where did he go to find some meaning to all that darkness? To whom did he run? Maybe, just maybe, he went to Mary. He knew the kind of unshaken faith and fidelity She had, and at that moment he needed to have that kind of inspiration and model. Could it be that Mary went looking for him, to help him be faithful to Her Son at the time He needed the fidelity and courage of His most beloved disciple?

We do not really know what happened; all we do know is that at the foot of the Cross – where nothing seemed to make sense, where darkness seemed to have overcome light, where death seemed to have overcome life, where the messianic power seemed to have been lost, where goodness seemed to have been overcome by evil – there, at the foot of the Cross, were Mary and John, expressing the hardest thing that could have been expressed at that moment: faith in Jesus Christ, Savior, Messiah, Redeemer. The Son of God.

Conclusion

Mary’s faith was the most perfect one. The sublime truths were presented to Her and She assented to them with promptness and constancy. She was called to manifest a heroic faith. It is true that the Lord did “great things in her” (Luke 1:49), but we cannot forget that She was also required to live up to those graces for the fulfillment of Her very difficult vocation and mission. The heroism of Her faith refers not only to Her virginal and divine maternity, but also to Her capacity to live permanently with the mystery of Her own person, Her Son and the plan of salvation.

She believed with promptness, never doubting that the things revealed to Her would be fulfilled; and She believed with constancy, being firm in times of tribulation and darkness, just like a rock in the midst of a turbulent sea.

Black Madonna of Częstochowa

July 8, 2012

Father Philip Majka, who just recently retired from St. James Parish in Falls Church, Virginia, told us about Our Lady of Sorrows, Queen of Poland; also known as The Black Madonna of Częstochowa.

The icon of Our Lady of Częstochowa has been intimately associated with Poland for the past six hundred years. Its history prior to its arrival in Poland is shrouded in numerous legends which trace the icon’s origin to St. Luke who painted it on a cypress table top from the house of the Holy Family.

Father Majka, in case anyone doesn’t know, is Polish-American. In fact, he learned Polish, as I recall, not so much in the family but afterward so he could converse with fellow  Polish-Americans.  And this language skill meant he could better connect to his Polish roots.

In fact, when the future John Paul the Great, Karol Wojtyła, came to the United States and visited us here in the Diocese of Arlington, the future Pope befriended Father Majka (or father Majka befriended him or both).

Father Majka toured the future Pope around Washington DC and the Diocese of Arlington and even took him to dinner in Old Tow Alexandria’s “Gatsby’s Tavern”!

Back to Our Lady of Częstochowa.

According to stories in the Catholic Church, the Disciple St. Like first painted the “Black Madonna” on linden or cypress wood: a wood not native to the Holy Land of Jesus’ times.

St. Luke Many believe St. Luke  painted The Madonna on a cypress table top from the house of the Holy Family.

How’s that for an historic icon!

While painting the Madonna on the table made by Jesus himself, the story goes, The Virgin Mother told St. Luke all about Jesus: and these stories became the basis for the Gospel accoring to St. Luke.

We pick up the story using Internet sources:

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=2996

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Madonna_of_Cz%C4%99stochowa

St. Luke painted a portrait of the Blessed Virgin on the table made by Jesus Himself when He was an apprentice carpenter under the paternal guidance of St. Joseph. After the Crucifixion, this table was brought to Jerusalem; when the Holy City had fallen to the Romans the disciples kept it hidden during their wanderings.

It was St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, who while searching for the Holy Cross found the picture of the Mother of Christ and took it to Constantinople. The venerated portrait of the Virgin thus remained from the third to the eighth century in Constantinople in a church built for the purpose of housing the precious relic. In the troublesome eighth century the picture was again in great danger and was carried to the wilderness to be hidden in remote places like the forests of Belsk, in Eastern Poland.

File:Helena of Constantinople (Cima da Conegliano).jpg

Above: Saint Helena, Mother of Constantine the Great

Even in that part of Europe there was no real peace, because of the migrations from the East, which constantly moved westward. During the first Tartar invasion of Europe the picture escaped harm. In 1382 the Tartars occupied Belsk, murdering and looting, but the portrait of the Holy Virgin was not discovered by the heathen invader, for a mysterious cloud enveloped the chapel. After the Tartars returned to their Asiatic homeland the Prince of Belsk was ordered in a dream by an angel to take the picture to an insignificant, obscure village named Czestochowa. There it was confided to the custody of the monks of St. Paul of the Desert who have guarded it down to the present day.

Comparative calm reigned around Czestochowa until 1430 and the renown of the miraculous picture grew. During this time King Jagiello united Poland and Lithuania and himself became an ardent Christian. He built a great Gothic cathedral around Our Lady’s chapel and kings, princes, noblemen and peasants provided the sanctuary with precious and priceless votive offerings. In 1430 a new danger appeared on the horizon as religious wars began to ravage this part of Europe. These were first the wars between the followers of Jan Hus and the Catholic princes. The Hussites attacked Czestochowa, murdered, burned, robbed and took the Holy Picture. There is a story that as they bore it away their horses stopped at the limits of the village and no beating could incite them to move forward. Thus the picture of the Virgin was saved. When the pious monks found the picture, retaken from the Hussites, it lay in the mud covered with earth and blood. They immediately wanted to clean it but found that all wells had gone dry in fighting the fire. It was at this time that a miraculous fountain sprung up, a spring that has since healed thousands and thousands of sick and has supplied water to millions of pilgrims.

The Polish nation attributes its very existence to the help of the Virgin of Czestochowa. The veneration of the picture of the Madonna is the expression of the Polish nation’s faith and gratitude. After the Hussite invasion the Poles fought for three hundred years with the Teutonic Crusaders, and all the decisive victories won by the Polish nation in these battles are attributed to the miraculous help of the Holy Virgin. Thus the safety of the shrine of Czestochowa is identified with the very safety and independence of the whole nation. During the wars with the Swedes in the seventeenth century Czestochowa was besieged by the whole Swedish army for more than six weeks, but the army of the enemy was defeated and the invader driven from Polish soil. Thus Czestochowa again defended Polish unity and independence. The following year, 1656, the Holy Virgin was acclaimed Queen of Poland and Czestochowa became the spiritual capital of the nation. But there was little peace around Czestochowa for warfare continued first against the Princes of the Reformation and then against the Turks who, having enslaved the whole Balkan Peninsula and the greater part of Hungary, had arrived at the very doors of Vienna. It was the last minute help of the Polish king Sobieski that saved Vienna and the West. Before Sobieski and his army undertook their crusade he and his knights gathered at Czestochowa and dedicated themselves to their Mother in Heaven.

After the partition of Poland between Austria, Prussia, and Russia the Polish people, although divided into three different states under foreign domination, remained undivided in their faithfulness to Mary, Queen of Poland. In every Polish church there was and there is still a reproduction of the Madonna of Czestochowa. When in 1919 Poland regained its independence the newly organized Soviet Russian Red Army immediately invaded the unified country and again the whole of Poland had recourse to its protectress. The Holy Eucharist was carried in procession in every city and every village, novenas were held to Our Lady of Czestochowa in each church. On September 14, 1920, the Russians stood at the Vistula and threatened Warsaw. According to the legend, on September 15th, the day of Our Lady of Sorrows, the Madonna appeared in the clouds above Warsaw. This day was the turning point in the war. In Polish history this victory is called “the Miracle at the Vistula.” During the Nazi invasion and subsequent occupation, people came only secretly to Czestochowa because Hitler prohibited the pilgrimages. The chapel was damaged during World War II but was later repaired and in 1945 half a million pilgrims came to express their gratitude for liberation from Nazism. On September 8, 1946, 1,500,000 persons participated at the National Shrine in the rededication of the entire nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In 1947 an even greater crowd of faithful gathered to implore the aid of the Holy Virgin against a new danger: the increasingly violent Communist penetration. Although the Communists with the help of the Russian army overpowered Poland through force, violence and deceit, as they did Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Rumania and the other Central-East European countries, they could not overcome the spiritual resistance of the people. Old and young still cling to their faith and rely in absolute devotion on the ultimate help and intercession of the Virgin. The Bolsheviks are fully aware of this inner strength and resistance of the people, and the shrine of Czestochowa, like many another shrine of Our Lady in Central and Eastern Europe, has remained unharmed up to the present, although pilgrimages to it are for the most part prohibited.

There! Now you have one of the Great Father Majka Stories!

This item 2996 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org