Happy Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows! Wait?!? You thought it was September 15? Silly Catholic, you are correct. However, prior to the reform of the liturgy at the Second Vatican Council, there were two Feasts of Our Lady of Sorrows…and one of them, was today.
The feast originated with the 1413 Servite Order provincial synod of Cologne and was thus locally celebrated. Since Pope St. Pius V did not include the feast in the 1570 Tridentine calendar, the Vatican gave permission for the Servite Order to celebrate it and assigned it to the third Sunday in September. It was not until 1727 when Pope Benedict XIII extended the feast’s celebration to the entire Latin Church. And, finally, in 1913, Pope Saint Pius X moved the feast to September 15 – the day after the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross.
Considering the implications
Her feast may have been moved but it is hard not to connect Holy Week and the participatory role Our Lady played in the Lord’s passion. It is easy to think that her “Fiat” just made the Annunciation possible. Just as Eve fell completely and totally with Adam so too, the New Eve must accompany the New Adam along His mission of redemption – saying “Yes” at every step along the way.
Think about it. Her “Fiat” continued throughout her life and especially at the climax of our redemption. She first humbly submitted her will and offered herself to receive the Word made flesh (Annunciation) and then release the Word made flesh during His passion. She offered her flesh first for the incarnation and then again at the cross in the form of her son. A sacrifice, by its very nature, must be intentional and deliberate.
Then, without knowing the outcome and accompanying her son to His death, she trusted with perfect faith that the Father would work this all out in the end. Did she know and expect the resurrection? No clue. Although, it is interesting to note that she did not go to look in the tomb for her to believe. Nor does Sacred Scripture mention her joining Thomas to place her hand in His side. When do we see her next? Teaching the Apostles how to pray and preparing them for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which she had already received at the angelic salutation.
Where we go from here
Maybe over this upcoming Holy Week, we might invite Our Lady of Sorrows to accompany us along this Via Dolorosa. I certainly need her to point out in passion what I need the most to grow in holiness. More importantly, I will be asking her to share the meditations of her heart so my heart may be expanded and conformed to His too. Crazy? Maybe. All I know is two things: 1) She was there and I wasn’t and 2) This upcoming week of sorrows is the foundation of our hope and joy.