Every year as the month of September comes, Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales are reminded of two important days – 15th and 30th September. On 15th September, we celebrate the solemnity of the Mother of Sorrows, our Patroness and on 30th, we commemorate the Founder’s Day as we mark the passing of Fr. Peter Mermier from this world to the next in heaven.
Our Blessed Mother Mary is known to us by so many different names such as Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of Good Health, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima and so on. But our Founder had chosen Mary, the Mother of Sorrows as the Patroness of the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales, that is Mary sitting at the foot of the Cross with the lifeless body of her son Jesus Christ. That’s the 6th sorrow of the seven which we meditate through the special Rosary of the Seven Dolors.
Traditionally, this suffering was not limited to the passion and death event; rather, it comprised the Seven Dolors or seven sorrows of Mary. These seven sorrows of our Blessed Mother included the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt; the loss and finding of the child Jesus in the Temple; Mary’s meeting of Jesus on His way to Calvary; Mary’s standing at the foot of the cross when our Lord was crucified; her holding of Jesus when He was taken down from the cross; and then our Lord’s burial. In all, the prophesy of Simeon that a sword would pierce our Blessed Mother’s heart was fulfilled in these events. For this reason, Mary is sometimes depicted with her heart exposed and with seven swords piercing it. More importantly, each new suffering was received with the courage, love, and trust that echoed her fiat, let it be done unto me according to Thy word, first uttered at the Annunciation.
Church invites us to celebrate this feast for several reasons:
- a) First, “to be closer to the Crucified Christ, through a life of complete surrender and total dedication to the Father’s will and to be more ready to suffer the consequences of standing for the values of the Kingdom of love, justice, peace and reconciliation”.
- b) Our Blessed Mother, “through her closeness to Christ and by her perfect discipleship she becomes the model for our closeness to Christ and our discipleship”.
- c) To constantly remind us to be compassionate with others to the extent that our commitment to Christ and His Kingdom finds expression in our apostolic commitment even at the cost of our own lives.
- d) To identify ourselves with the sufferings of humanity as we realize that God suffers in those humans who suffer.
- e) To urge us to proclaim the Good news of liberation and wholeness at all times and in all places.
Therefore, as we honor our Blessed Mother, our Lady of Sorrows, we honor her as the faithful disciple and exemplar of faith. Let us pray as we do in the opening prayer of the Mass for this feast day: Father, as your Son was raised on the cross, His Mother Mary stood by Him, sharing His sufferings. May your Church be united with Christ in His suffering and death and so come to share in His rising to new life. Looking to the example of Mary, may we too unite our sufferings to our Lord, facing them with courage, love, and trust.