Yesterday my community began its preparation for our Institute’s Feast Day, Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15).
The stage of Mary’s sorrow is set at the moment of most women’s joy. She carries Jesus to offer her Son to the Lord in the temple. The holy man Simeon, tells her, “And you yourself a sword will pierce” (Lk 2:35). It is these in these words, Mary is seen as the Mother of Sorrows, pondering the life of her child in her heart. There are various events in the Bible that give light to the Mary’s sorrow. Seven of them are traditionally recalled in the Chaplet of our Lady of Sorrows:
1. Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:22-39)
2. The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-21)
3. Loss of Jesus for three days in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-52)
4. The Way to Calvary (Luke 23:26-31)
5. The Crucifixion (John 19:25-30)
6. The Descent from the Cross (John 1931-37)
7. The Burial of Jesus (John 19:38-42)
These seven commemorations took the place of the Divine Office for the Canossian Daughters of Charity, since its beginning in 1808 through as late as 1944. It was understood that to walk with our most holy Mother of Sorrows throughout the day, setting aside seven moments of prayer, was a means to help us live through our own suffering with the same trust and serenity found in Mary’s example, and at the same time keep with tradition of “seven times a day I will offer my praise” (Psalm 118).
Mary always leads us to her Son. These seven commemorations follow the life of Jesus from his infancy to the tomb. Following step by step the hours of the day with the life of Jesus, with Mary, each Canossian forms herself to a spiritual life that learns from her two models: Christ Crucified and our Lady of Sorrows.