Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

In a way, today’s feast is a strange one. Very often, eight days after a great solemnity or feast, another feast will be celebrated as either an official or unofficial conclusion to an octave of celebration. After Easter comes Divine Mercy; after Christmas comes Mary, Mother of God; after the Assumption comes the Queenship of Mary. Today, however, eight days after we celebrate the Nativity of Mary, we do not have a great, triumphant feast. We do not commemorate the octave of Mary’s birth with the feast of Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, Our Lady of Victory, or even Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom. We commemorate the octave with the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Yet there is something fitting about today’s feast. Often, it is said that an approach to Jesus is “ad Jesum per Mariam”–to Jesus through Mary. In the Magnificat, Mary herself says that God “has cast the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.” As we saw yesterday, the lifting up of the lowly happens above all at the lifting up of Jesus on the Cross. More than any other human, Mary was able to enter the suffering and sorrows of her Son. Lacking sin to dull her compassion, her sorrows were as intense as anyone’s. Her heart was pierced, and in images of her Immaculate Heart, a sword is present to show that it is still pierced. It is not only the victorious, the regal, or the wise who can go to Jesus through Mary, but above all the sorrowful. Those who are in greatest need of going to Jesus through Mary may do so because of her own unique experience of the Cross. And so, eight days after we celebrate the birth of Mary, we celebrate her sorrows.

September 15th, 2014