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Header-Remembering Our Lady of Sorrows

 

September 15 is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

  

Pray: Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows

 

About this day, Abbot Prosper Guéranger comments how Our Lady, whom God predestined to be the Mother of His Son, was united in her person to the life, mysteries and suffering of Jesus, so that she might be a faithful cooperator in the work of Redemption.

He notes that God must consider suffering to be a great good since He gave so much suffering to His Son, Whom He loved so much. And since, after His Son, God loved the Holy Virgin more than any other creature, He also wanted to give her suffering as the richest of all presents. 


In the solemnity of this feast, we principally remember Mary on Calvary where she suffered the supreme sorrow of all sorrows that filled her life. Indeed, so great was Mary's grief on Calvary that, had it been divided among all creatures capable of suffering, it would have caused them all to die instantly.

 

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Our Lady of SorrowsIf the Church limits the number of sorrows to seven, it is because this number has always symbolized the idea of totality and universality. To understand the extent and suffering of Our Lady, one must know the extent of her love for Jesus. Her love as Mother of God only augmented her suffering. In fact, nature and grace came together to produce profound impressions on the heart of Mary. Nothing is stronger and more pressing than the love that nature gives a mother for her son or that grace gives for God.

These considerations help us understand the role of suffering in our lives.  We see we are not alone in our suffering. In fact, the immensity of the crosses suffered by Our Lady was so great that we might also say she suffered not seven, but all sorrows. She is Our Lady of All Sorrows since no one suffered more.

While it is true that all generations will call her blessed, to a lesser but immensely real degree, all generations may also call her "sorrowful."

Thus, we need to understand better that when sorrow enters our lives, it is a proof of God's love. And when we are not visited with sorrow, we do not have all the proofs of God's love for us.

It is in sorrow that our mettle is tested. Moreover, one finds a note of maturity, stability and rationality in those who suffer and who suffer much. And so we should understand that when adversity, difficulties, misunderstandings, bad health and conflicts visit us, we must not see them as things that should never happen. To suffer is normal in this vale of tears.

If she, whom God loves so much, suffered, how much more should we suffer. He, who God and Our Lady love, suffers because God will not refuse to give him that which He gave abundantly to the two who He loved most: Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Lady.

Thus, we must see temptations, trials, stress and so many other sufferings as something normal in life. We must ask that sufferings pass but when they persist, we must bless God and Our Lady.


 

Petitions to the Sorrowful Heart of Mary
The Seven Dolors of the Mother of God
 

Immaculate Heart of Mary

V. Incline unto my aid, O God!

R. O Lord, make haste to help me!

One Glory be.

1. I compassionate thee, O sorrowful Mother Mary, on account of that grief suffered by thy tender heart at the prophecy of the aged Holy Simeon. O dearest Mother, through this thy afflicted heart, implore for me the virtue of humility and the Gift of the Fear of God. One Hail Mary.

2. I compassionate thee, O sorrowful Mother Mary, on account of those distressing fears which thy affectionate heart endured on the flight to Egypt and during thy sojourn there. O dearest Mother, through this thy anxious heart implore for me the virtue of generosity, particularly for the poor, and the Gift of Piety. One Hail Mary.

3. I compassionate thee, O sorrowful Mother Mary, on account of that anxiety which thy worried heart endured in the loss of thy beloved Child Jesus. O dearest Mother, through this thy exceedingly troubled heart, implore for me the virtue of chastity and the Gift of Knowledge. One Hail Mary.

4. I compassionate thee, O sorrowful Mother Mary, on account of that horror with which thy mother's heart was stricken when meeting Jesus, bearing the Cross. O dearest Mother, through this thy exceedingly oppressed heart, implore for me the virtue of patience and the Gift of Fortitude. One Hail Mary.

5. I compassionate thee, O sorrowful Mother Mary, on account of that martyrdom which tortured thy magnanimous heart at the death-agony of Jesus. O dearest Mother, through this thy martyred heart, implore for me the virtue of temperance and the Gift of Counsel. One Hail Mary.

6. I compassionate thee, O sorrowful Mother Mary, on account of the anguish inflicted upon thy tender heart by the thrust of the lance that opened the side of Jesus and pierced His Most Adorable Heart. O dearest Mother, through this vicarious transfixion of thy own heart, implore for me the virtue of brotherly love and the Gift of Understanding. One Hail Mary.

7. I compassionate thee, O sorrowful Mother Mary, on account of that agony of soul which racked thy most loving heart at the burial of Jesus. O dearest Mother, through this extreme torment that filled thy burdened heart, implore for me the virtue of zeal and the Gift of Wisdom. One Hail Mary.

V. Pray for us, O Virgin Most Sorrowful!
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, we beseech thee that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, whose soul was pierced by the Sword of Sorrow in the hour of Thy Passion, may be our advocate at the throne of Thy Mercy, now, and at the hour of our death. Through Thee, Jesus Christ, Redeemer of the World, Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.

 


 

 The Seven Graces

 

Here are seven graces the Blessed Virgin Mary grants to souls who honor Her daily by saying seven Hail Marys and meditating on Her tears and Dolors. The devotion was passed to us by Saint Bridget.

  1. I will grant peace to their families.
  2. They will be enlightened about the divine mysteries.
  3. I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.
  4. I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the Adorable Will of my Divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.
  5.  I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.
  6. I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they will see the face of their mother.
  7. I have obtained (this grace) from my Divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and sorrows, will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son will be their eternal consolation and joy.


 

The Seven Sorrows of Mary

 

  1. The prophecy of Simeon.
  2. The flight into Egypt.
  3. The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple.
  4. The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.
  5. The Crucifixion.
  6. The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross.
  7. The burial of Jesus.

 


 

Pray: Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows

 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for November 17, 2019

I want to adorn myself, not out of worldly pride, but for th...

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November 17

 

I want to adorn myself, not out of worldly pride,
but for the love of God alone – in a fitting manner, however,
so as to give my husband no cause to sin, if something about me were to displease him.
Only let him love me in the Lord, with a chaste, marital affection,
so that we, in the same way, might hope for the reward
of eternal life from Him who has sanctified the law of marriage.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Elizabeth’s mother was murdered by Hungarian nobles, proba...

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St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Also known as Elizabeth of Thuringia, she was born in Hungary in 1207. She was a daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary and his wife Gertrude, a member of the family of the Counts of Andechs-Meran; Elizabeth’s brother succeeded his father on the throne as Bela IV; St. Hedwig, the wife of Duke Heinrich I, the Bearded, of Silesia was her mother’s sister, while another saint, Queen St. Elizabeth of Portugal, the wife of the tyrannical King Diniz, was her great-niece.

In 1211 a formal embassy was sent by Landgrave Hermann I of Thuringia to Hungary to arrange a marriage between his eldest son Hermann and Elizabeth, who was then four years old. This marriage was the result of political considerations and intended as a ratification of an alliance against the German Emperor Otto IV, a member of the house of Guelph, who had quarreled with the Church. Not long after the little girl was taken to the Thuringian court to be brought up with her future husband and, in the course of time, to be betrothed to him.

The court of Thuringia was at this period famous for its magnificence. Its centre was the stately castle of the Wartburg, splendidly placed on a hill in the Thuringian Forest near Eisenach, where the Landgrave Hermann lived. Notwithstanding the turbulence and purely secular life of the court and the pomp of her surroundings, little Elizabeth grew up a very religious child with an evident inclination to prayer and pious observances and small acts of self-mortification. These religious impulses were undoubtedly strengthened by the sorrowful experiences of her life.

In the year 1213, Elizabeth’s mother was murdered by Hungarian nobles, probably out of hatred of the Germans. On December 31, 1216, the oldest son and heir of the landgrave, Hermann, who Elizabeth was to marry, died; after this she was betrothed to Ludwig, the second son. It was probably in these years that Elizabeth had to suffer the hostility of the more frivolous members of the Thuringian court, to whom the contemplative and pious child was a constant rebuke. Ludwig, however, must have soon come to her protection against any ill-treatment and his mother, the Landgravine Sophia, a member of the reigning family of Bavaria and a deeply religious and very charitable woman, became a kindly mother to the little Elizabeth.

The political plans of the old Landgrave Hermann involved him in great difficulties and reverses; he was excommunicated, lost his mind towards the end of his life, and died on April 25, 1217, still unreconciled with the Church. He was succeeded by his son Ludwig IV, who, in 1221, was also made regent of Meissen and the East Mark. The same year, Ludwig and Elizabeth were married, the groom being twenty-one years old and the bride fourteen. The marriage was in every respect a happy and exemplary one, and the couple were devotedly attached to each other. Ludwig proved himself worthy of his wife. He gave his protection to her acts of charity, penance, and her vigils, and often held Elizabeth’s hands as she knelt praying at night beside his bed. He was also a capable ruler and brave soldier.

They had three children: Hermann II (1222-41), who died young; Sophia (1224-84), who married Henry II, Duke of Brabant, and was the ancestress of the Landgraves of Hesse; and Gertrude (1227-97), Elizabeth’s third child, who was born several weeks after the death of her father and later in life became abbess of the convent of Altenberg.

The followers of St. Francis of Assisi had made their first permanent settlement in Germany the year of Elizabeth’s marriage to Ludwig. For a time, the German Franciscan Caesarius of Speier was her spiritual director and through him she became acquainted with the ideals of St. Francis. These strongly appealed to her and she began to put them into practice: she observed chastity, according to her state of life, and practiced humility, patience, prayer, and charity. Her position, however, prevented her from living one she ardently desired: voluntary and complete poverty. In 1225, with Elizabeth’s assistance, the Franciscans founded a monastery in Eisenach.

Shortly after their marriage, Elizabeth and Ludwig made a journey to Hungary; Ludwig was often after this employed by the Emperor Frederick II, to whom he was much attached, in the affairs of the empire. During the spring of 1226, when floods, famine, and the plague wrought havoc in Thuringia, Ludwig was in Italy attending the Diet at Cremona on behalf of the emperor. Under these disastrous circumstances Elizabeth assumed control of affairs, distributed alms, giving even state robes and ornaments to the poor. In order to care personally for the unfortunate she built below the castle of Wartburg a hospital with twenty-eight beds and visited the inmates daily to attend to their needs; at the same time she aided nine hundred poor daily. It is this period of her life that has preserved Elizabeth’s renown as the gentle and charitable chételaine of the Wartburg. Upon his return, Ludwig confirmed all that she had done in his absence.

The following year he set out with Emperor Frederick II on a crusade to Palestine but died of the plague on September 11 at Otranto. The news did not reach Elizabeth until October, just after she had given birth to her third child. Upon hearing the news the queen, who was only twenty years old, cried out: “The world with all its joys is now dead to me.” In that winter of 1227, Elizabeth directed the Franciscans to sing a Te Deum and left the castle of Wartburg, accompanied by two female attendants. Her brother-in-law, Heinrich Raspe, now acted as regent for her son Hermann, then only five years old.

At Pope Gregory IX’s recommendation, Master Conrad of Marburg, a well known preacher of the crusade and inquisitor, had become Elizabeth’s spiritual guide. He directed her by the road of self-mortification to sanctity, and after her death was very active in her canonization. Although he forbade her to follow St. Francis in complete poverty as a beggar, by the command to keep her dower she was enabled to perform works of charity and tenderness.

Elizabeth’s aunt, Matilda, Abbess of the Benedictine convent of Kitzingen near Würzburg, took charge of the widowed landgravine and sent her to her uncle Eckbert, Bishop of Bamberg. The bishop, however, was intent on arranging another marriage for her, although during the lifetime of her husband Elizabeth had made a vow of chastity in the event of his death; the same vow had also been taken by her attendants.

While Elizabeth was maintaining her position against her uncle the remains of her husband were brought to Bamberg by his faithful followers who had carried them from Italy. Weeping bitterly, she buried his body in the family vault of the landgraves of Thuringia in the monastery of Reinhardsbrunn. With the aid of Conrad she now received the value of her dower in money, namely two thousand marks; of this sum she divided five hundred marks in one day among the poor. On Good Friday, 1228, in the Franciscan house at Eisenach Elizabeth formally renounced the world; then going to Master Conrad at Marburg, she and her maids received from him the dress of the Third Order of St. Francis, thus being among the first tertiaries of Germany. In the summer of 1228 she built the Franciscan hospital at Marburg and on its completion devoted herself entirely to the care of the sick, especially to those afflicted with the most loathsome diseases. Conrad of Marburg still imposed many self-mortifications and spiritual renunciations, while at the same time he even took from Elizabeth her devoted domestics. Constant in her devotion to God, Elizabeth’s strength was consumed by her charitable labors, and she passed away in 1231 at the age of twenty-four.

Very soon after the death of Elizabeth miracles began to be worked at her grave in the church of the hospital. By papal command examinations were held of those who had been healed and at Pentecost of the year 1235, the solemn ceremony of canonization of the “greatest woman of the German Middle Ages” was celebrated by Pope Gregory IX at Perugia.

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The Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

Born in 1814, Alphonse Ratisbonne was from a family of wealthy, well-known Jewish bankers in Strasbourg, France. In 1827, Alphonse’s older brother, Thèodore, converted to Catholicism and entered the priesthood, thus breaking with his anti-Catholic family whose hopes now lay in the young Alphonse. At 27, Alphonse was intelligent and well mannered. He had already finished his law degree, and decided to travel to Italy before marrying and assuming his responsibilities in the family business. However, God had other plans for him.

While in Rome, Alphonse visited works of art, and strictly out of cultural curiosity, a few Catholic churches. These visits hardened his anti-Catholic stance, and nourished his profound hatred for the Church. He also called on an old schoolmate and close friend, Gustave de Bussières.

Gustave was a Protestant and several times had tried, in vain, to win Alphonse over to his religious convictions. Alphonse was introduced to Gustave’s brother, Baron de Bussières, who had recently converted to Catholicism and become a close friend of Father Thèodore Ratisbonne. Because of the Baron’s Catholicism and closeness with his turncoat brother, Alphonse greatly disliked him.

On the eve of his departure, Alphonse reluctantly fulfilled his social obligation to leave his calling card at the Baron’s house as a farewell gesture.

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Hoping to avoid a meeting, Alphonse intended to leave his card discreetly and depart straight away, but was instead shown into the house. The Baron greeted the young Jew warmly, and before long, had persuaded him to remain a few more days in Rome. Inspired by grace, the Baron insisted Alphonse accept a Miraculous Medal and copy down a beautiful prayer: the Memorare. Alphonse could hardly contain his anger at his host’s boldness of proposing these things to him, but decided to take everything good-heartedly, planning to later describe the Baron as an eccentric.

During Alphonse’s stay, the Baron’s close friend, Count de La Ferronays, former French ambassador to the Holy See and a man of great virtue and piety, died quite suddenly. On the eve of his death, the Baron had asked the Count to pray the Memorare one hundred times for Alphonse’s conversion. It is possible that he offered his life to God for the conversion of the young Jewish banker.

A few days later, the Baron went to the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte to arrange for his friend’s funeral. Alphonse reluctantly went with him, all the while making violent criticisms of the Church and mocking Catholic practices. When they arrived, the Baron entered the sacristy to arrange the funeral while Alphonse remained in the church.

When the Baron returned just a few minutes later, the young man was gone. He searched the church, and soon discovered his young friend kneeling close to an altar, weeping.  Alphonse himself tells us what happened in those few minutes he waited for the Baron: “I had only been in the church a short while when, all of a sudden, I felt totally uneasy for no apparent reason. I raised my eyes and saw that the whole building had disappeared. Only one side chapel had, so to say, gathered all the light. In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar. She was grandiose, brilliant, full of majesty and sweetness, just as she is in the Miraculous Medal. An irresistible force attracted me to her. The Virgin made a gesture with her hand indicating I was to kneel.”

When de Bussières talked to Alphonse, he no longer found a Jew, but a convert who ardently desired baptism. The news of such an unexpected conversion immediately spread and caused a great commotion throughout Europe, and Pope Gregory XVI received the young convert, paternally. He ordered a detailed investigation with the rigor required by canon law, and concluded that the occurrence was a truly authentic miracle. 

Alphonse took the name Maria Alphonse at baptism, and, wishing to become a priest, was ordained a Jesuit in 1847. After some time, and at the suggestion of Pope Pius IX, he left the Jesuits and joined his brother Thèodore in founding the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. Father Theodore spread his congregation throughout France and England, while Father Maria Alphonse went to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, he established a house of the congregation on the plot of land where the praetorium of Pilate had formerly stood.

The two brothers died in 1884, both famed and well-loved for their exceptional virtues.  

By Armando Santos  

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In the midst of this splendor, the Virgin Mary appeared standing on the altar"

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