Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Today is a special feast in my home. The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. This is one that is close to my heart. Suffering is something that I have learned to embrace over the years, and Our Lady has shown me how to do this with grace and joy every step of the way. Each of us in my family love Christ first and foremost, followed by a devotion to a special friend who intercedes for us with Our Lord daily. I have dedicated each of my children to Mary. Courtney to Our Lady of Lourdes and Jonathan to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Each has great significance given the child. My husband belongs to Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. Joseph. My heart belongs to Our Lady of Sorrows.

I am constantly amazed that Mary knew what was coming and continued to walk in faith with the courage and unconditional love to do what she knew she had to. To walk through this life by her Sons side, even through the most difficult and painful part, His death on the cross.

I have always known that my life would be one set apart. I can't explain it, it's something I figured out when I was still in grade school. I never knew how it was to manifest itself, but I knew that my faith and love of Christ would be center to whatever He was calling me to do. As I look back I can see the path so clearly. I can see where Christ carried me and who He brought into my path to speak His gospel of love and friendship to encourage me on my walk.

I can see where I did not listen and fell, face first because of my pride and anger. Some of those choices still affect my life today, but through the miracle of God's forgiveness and mercy, I don't regret them anymore, but consider them part of my formation. I had to go through those things to get to the place where I stand today. God is always faithful, no matter what I do or say, good or bad, He is still there by my side.

I embrace my Sorrowful Mother because I truly understand her pain. I presented Courtney, my precious daughter, for baptism on Sunday, September 27, 1992 at the age of 5 weeks old. By that evening she was in the Bethesda Naval Hospital PICU suffering from unexplainable seizures. That day I begged Our Lady to intercede for us to her Son, to allow our Courtney to remain with us, no matter what the path. He has honored that prayer more than once in the last 16 years, through many, many dark night's. I have felt the loving arms of my Savior around me more than once and I am grateful for it.

There have been times where I have been lost and confused about how I was supposed to be the mother and wife God needed me to be. I have been afraid of losing myself in the cloudiness of being a caretaker to a severely disabled child. I cling to the hope of a miracle each and everyday for my daughter, because I know that God can say "yes" to that prayer if He so chooses. I also know that whatever happens, I will accept my cross and walk with Him, because my love for Him supersedes everything. This is not easy. This is hard work. This is not a sprint, this is the marathon of life!

Yesterday, I was attending Eucharistic Adoration as part of the Forty Hours Devotions at my home parish, St. Mary of Sorrows(no coincidence here, huh!). Courtney was with me, and was singing loudly to God, praying and praising Him as I recited the Rosary next to her. After our time before Our Lord, I was leaving and one of the long time parishioners came up to me and put her hands, very gently, on my face. Like a mother would to a child trying to get their attention. Her hands were shaking. She had been quietly in prayer for some length of time, but saw us leave the sanctuary and followed us out. She had a message for me.

She said:
"Mary, be courageous. Don't give up, have faith that God is with you and He has such miracles in store. Be courageous in your praise of Him every single day. Always praise Him no matter what."
She then laid her hands on Courtney and said quietly in her ear:
"Courtney, the miracles are coming, just wait. Jesus loves you so much and He loves your mommy. Keep believing, He is here with you"
Now it's not every day that someone comes up to me and speaks this way. I have to admit though, things like this happen all the time when Courtney is with me. This child just breathes the Holy Spirit she is so filled with grace. I am in awe of her peacefulness, even in the midst of her sufferings. She bears these pains with incredible dignity.

Why would I share this with you? What importance does this have in my life today?

Well, I had just been praying and conversing with God and His mother about how confused I have been lately about this new season in my life. I told Him how tired I was, and that I felt more fear and anxiety about the future, than I did peace. I poured out my heart to Him and laid all of it at His feet and He answered me through this faith filled woman.

I have talked before about how God whispers, while the devil shouts. This time, God was shouting through this woman, for me to have faith and be courageous, praising Him always. I need to pick up the mantle of Mary and walk as she did, knowing the difficulties ahead, but being fortified with the unconditional , never ending love of my Creator, that I can do whatever He asks of me. Courage is something I have always associated with my mother or my father, not so much myself. This comment made me think and by the time I got home, peace had filled my heart.

My wonderful husband once said in describing how he felt about caring for Courtney that he "would never leave a soldier behind in the battle field therefore he will never leave his daughter, for she fights each and everyday for her very life. As long as she chooses to fight, we shall fight along side her, and when the time comes, we will carry her from this battlefield of life and lay her down to rest in her Saviours arms as Mary did with her Son."
And so I shall walk this life with renewed courage and strength of purpose relying on Him who is everything to me. I shall rest in the arms of my loving Mother, Mary who understands all that fills my heart. I humbly encourage each and everyone of you to spend just a moment in prayer today, sharing whatever sorrows you have with the One who knows them all and the lovely woman who walked with Him until the end.

St. Mary of Sorrows, Pray for Us!
The Seven Sorrows of Mary (or Dolars as they are traditionally called are as follows:
1:The Presentation in the Temple
2:The Flight into Egypt
3:Loss of Jesus For Three Days
4:The Way to Calvary
5:The Crucifixion
6:The Descent from the Cross
7:The Burial of Jesus

The Seven Graces of this Devotion
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 dolors, will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.

Benefits of the Devotion to the Mother of Sorrows
1. To realize the value of a soul, worth the supreme Sacrifice on Calvary.
2. To work for souls, by evangelization, duty to life's duties, and
prayer for sinners.
3. To pray always, in a life of union with God; whoever has a heart similar to Jesus' and Mary's hearts, will work for the salvation of souls.

To Our Lady of Sorrows
I compassionate thee, O most sorrowful Mother!
Thy heart was pierced with a sword of grief when Simeon foretold to thee in the Temple the ignominious death and the desolation of thy divine and most dear Son, which thou west destined one day to witness.
By the great anguish of thy suffering heart, O gracious Queen of the universe, impress upon my mind, in life and in death, the sacred Passion of Jesus and shine own sorrows. Amen.

The Virgin to Her Son on Calvary
Thou goest to sacrifice Thyself as a propitiation for all men.
Peter, who said that he would die with Thee, does not come to Thee.
Thomas, who said, "Let us all die with Him," has forsaken Thee.
Not one of these is with Thee, but Thou art led forth alone, Thou who didst preserve me immaculate, my Son and my God.
They who promised to go with Thee into prison and to die with Thee have forsaken Thee and have fled.
Not one of these is with Thee, but Thou art led forth alone, Thou who didst preserve me immaculate, my Son and my God.