In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice, set me free,
hear me and speedily rescue me. (R.)
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a mighty stronghold to save me,
for you are my rock, my stronghold.
For your name's sake, lead me and guide me. (R.)
Release me from the snares they have hidden
for you are my refuge, Lord.
Into your hands I commend my spirit.
It is you who will redeem me, Lord. (R.)
But as for me, I trust in you, Lord,
I say, "You are my God. My life is in your hands,
deliver me from the hands of those who hate me." (R.)
How great is your goodness, Lord,
that you keep for those who fear you,
that you show to those who trust you in the sight of men. (R.)
The child's father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, "This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed--and a sword will pierce your own soul too."
The title, "Our Lady of Sorrows," was first given to Our Lady to recall her intense grief during the passion and death of our Lord. Gradually, the scope of this title was not limited to the sacred Passion and was extended to comprise "the seven dolours" or "seven sorrows" of Mary, as foretold by the old prophet Simeon, while the child Jesus was presented in the Jerusalem temple.
This devotion is popular in the Catholic Church, many of whose faithful like to meditate on her Seven Sorrows, and there is a corresponding devotion to the Seven Joys of Mary . In Irish tradition the lamentation "Caoineadh na dtri Muire," commemorates Mary's share in the Passion of Jesus. The Seven Sorrows are these:
The liturgical feast of the Our Lady of Sorrows was proclaimed in Cologne (1413) as a response to the Christ-centred reductionism of the Hussites. The new feast was called: Commemoratio angustiae et doloris Beatae Mariae Virginis. Until the 16th century, the feast was celebrated only in Northern Europe. Earlier, in Tuscany (1233), seven young men founded the Servite Order (OSM or "Order of the Servants of Mary"). Five years later, they named the sorrows of Mary under the Cross as the principal devotion of their order. They developed the two most common devotions to Our Lady's Sorrows, namely the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows and the Black Scapular of the Seven Dolours of Mary.
When someone we love suffers, we suffer along with them. The more we love someone, the more we suffer when they suffer. This is especially true of parents when their children suffer. When a son or daughter is suffering physically or emotionally or mentally, the mother and father is suffering just as much as their child is suffering, and sometimes even more so. When you give your unconditional love to someone, sooner or later it can lead to heartbreak, if only through the final parting of death. There is no love without suffering. The only way to avoid that kind of suffering is to lock up your heart and become impervious to the feelings of others.
Sometimes it is tempting to retreat into an ivory tower, refusing to give our heart to anything or anyone, so that it never gets broken. But to opt for the ivory tower is to be only half alive. The fuller way to live is to take the risks of love and to accept the suffering that love can bring.
Today we celebrate the suffering love of Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows. When Jesus was crucified, Mary's heart was broken. Michelangelo's Pieta captures her sorrow very powerfully. The devout Simeon also made prophetic the link between Jesus' suffering and Mary's. Since her son was destined to be a sign that is rejected, so his mother would suffer in empathy with him. 'A sword will pierce your own soul too.' When we must taste in our turn our share of life's sorrows, we can look to Our Lady of Sorrows as our inspiration and our support.