This week is filled with Feasts and Memorials that ask us to pause and consider the passion and death of Jesus by which he saved humanity and granted access to God’s realm to all believers. Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, today we keep the memory of Our Lady of Sorrows, and if you are a member of the Franciscan Family, Saturday will be the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi.
Yesterday’s Feast was established to commemorate the return of the relic of the true cross of Jesus to Jerusalem.
Today we remember that Jesus’ mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, suffered the heartbreak of watching her son be crucified. The synoptic Gospels do not include Mary in the Passion narrative. However, St. John’s Gospel finds her standing beneath the cross alongside the Beloved Disciple. A very familiar hymn, the Stabat Mater was composed to sing of the pain and the heartbreak of a mother watching her son die.
The devotion to the Sorrowful Mother was established by the Servants of Mary (the Servites). The devotion became very popular during the Second World War when many mothers lost their sons in battle. Churches where the devotion was held found themselves crowded on Fridays as women came to pray for their sons, both those who had died as well as those who were still fighting.
In CUSA, the Sorrowful Mother is the particular patroness of those who are caregivers. The isolation that comes with chronic illness or disability is sometimes shared by parents or children who find themselves carrying for their sick loved ones. (CUSA is open to people who are caregivers even if they do not suffer a chronic illness or disability themselves.)
Today, then, we offer our prayers of thanks to God for all of our mothers, living and deceased, and commend them to the care of our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who stood with her son to the last.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator