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Feast Days Loss Mary Victoria K

A Space for Grief: A Reflection on Our Lady of Sorrows

our lady of sorrows

A Confusing Feast

On first look, Our Lady of Sorrows is confusing. It’s a whole day, a whole “Feast” Day, devoted to sorrow. How does one celebrate and commemorate sorrow? What’s more, Mary’s the Queen of Heaven, and Heaven’s a place of eternal happiness. How does that fit with this Lady of Sorrows? She’s a woman, draped in dark clothing, a tear falling down her cheek, a sword of sorrow piercing her heart. What do we, on our journey towards Heaven, have to learn from this woman, filled with grief?

Our Lady of Sorrows made no sense to me for a long time. But there was a lot for me to learn from our mother Mary in her time of grief. What’s more, I found that I need her in my own sorrows.

 

A Self-Realization

For me, Our Lady of Sorrows was particularly confusing because I’m really bad at experiencing sorrow. Even now I’m trying to find a joke I can attach to that statement. Like, “I know, I know, how can someone be ‘bad,’ at being ‘sad?’” Or, “I’m the life of the party at funerals.” But I’m working to not gloss over this self-realization with humor.

This realization came to me at a very specific moment. A little over a year ago, my grandfather passed away. He was joyful, intelligent, and quick with a sly smile. You never saw him without a book in hand, reading on topics ranging from ancient Greece to films from the jazz age to the intricacies of ocean sailing. As I grew older, I would listen to him explain the books he was reading at great detail, forming my budding ability at critical thought.

On the day of my grandfather’s heart attack, my father called me while I was working, overseeing about a dozen middle school students working on their homework. I ignored the first call, and then he called again, and again. On the forth call I picked up. I remember distinctly not understanding what my father was saying, I knew the words but I couldn’t piece together the meaning.

After a time, his meaning finally clicked. My grandfather, while shoveling the Minnesota snow, collapsed from a heart attack. I acknowledged that I understood what my father was saying, and little tears fell down my cheeks. After hanging up, I wiped those tears away, and got back to work.

It was like nothing had even happened.

 

No Space for Sorrow

I ignored the event, and went on with my life. So, that on its own would not have been such a big deal. Sometimes it’s important to compartmentalize, to be able to get the job done, to not fall apart.

But I never gave my sorrow any space. At all. I went home. When I told my husband, it was like I was sharing another piece of news. I prayed for my grandpa, but it was mechanical, something I did because I was supposed to. The next day I went to work, never mentioning it to anyone.

I buried it and moved on.

Everyone experiences sorrow in their own way. There’s no right or wrong way for grief to appear. But the way I had buried it inside myself was not healthy for me. I loved my grandpa immensely. I still love him, and at times I miss him with a sharp pain (A sword of sorrow pierced her heart). To go on, pretending nothing had happened, was a lie. It cheated the love I felt and owed my grandfather.

 

All the Grief Came Gushing Forth

At my grandpa’s wake, I didn’t want to approach the open casket. I had so successfully buried my grief, and I knew, I just knew, that if I saw him it would all fall apart.

But I loved him. Like Mary, longing to be close to her son, I longed to be close to my grandfather. Therefore, just as Mary stood at the foot of the Cross, I approached my grandpa’s casket.

As I did, all the sorrow, all the pain, all the hurt, all the grief, came gushing forth. I wept. After burying everything for so long, I wept in front of everyone.

Shortly thereafter, we prayed a rosary in the funeral home. My attention was caught by a particularly beautiful image of Our Lady of Sorrows on a prayer card. I felt very strongly our Mother’s compassionate presence beside me, praying for my grandpa with me.

Our Lady of Sorrows, who had confused me for so long, started to make a lot more sense.

 

A Necessary Part of Love

Now when I see Our Lady of Sorrows, I understand. In our fallen world, where death and sin are our realities, grief is a necessary part of love. If we love, we will experience loss and hurt. For our hearts to be pure, sometimes, they will be broken.

Our Lady of Sorrows gives us a place for our sadness, our distress. She sits with us in the moments that can’t be fixed, that can’t be made better by ignoring them. Like a loving friend, she empathizes with our grief. She doesn’t judge or chastise, or tell us to “cheer up” or “get over it.” She listens, all the while pointing back to the hope that only her Son can provide.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

 

Looking for more reflections on this beautiful devotion?  Check out two reflections on The Seven Sorrows of Mary, Remembering Our Lady’s Sorrows and Seven Quick Takes: The Seven Sorrows of Mary.

You can also find a beautiful prayer and reflection here.

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7 Quick Takes Christi Domestic Church Feast Days Ink Slingers Mary Saints

Seven Quick Takes Friday: Great Feasts for September

quicktake7septsaintsI can’t believe that we are already in September and thus a new school year is upon us. As we unpack our new school supplies and possibly fill our shelves with new books many of us are, sadly, packing away the swim suits and getting as many days out of our shorts and tees as we can before the cooler temps force us to pack those away too.

With a new month upon us this also meant that Quick Take Seven was looming just around the corner and thus I needed to think of something interesting to “quick take” to the press!

I toyed with the idea to showcase first day of school pictures from around the country but one, I figured we will see a bunch of cute preschoolers, adorable “betweens” and handsome freshmen in our various newsfeeds! And secondly, for my first two quick takes my fellow scribblers were more than generous in sharing photos, favorite books and authors, therefore l decided it was time to do one all by myself.

There was just one problem, I pulled a complete blank when I searched my imagination for something interesting to write about. So I reached out to Kerri for some ideas. We bounced a few ideas back and forth, resulting in my pocketing a really fun one for November. You have my permission to wait with bated breath for it! In the meantime, I will share with you another great idea we came up with- few great feasts, along with some really neat Saints found in the month of September!

Quick Take One

Sept gregorywithdove

September 3rd- St Gregory the Great, now tell me what could be more appropriate than a patron saint of teachers in September. I certainly didn’t realize he favored teachers and with our school semester starting this coming Monday, I think l might be calling on him –  a lot! Read more about this great saint here.

 

 

Quick Take Two

sept Nativity_of_the_Mother_of_God

Quick take two is a beautiful feast,that of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, which falls on September eighth and is one of the only three birthdays our church celebrates. We just celebrated one of them at the beginning of summer-  John the Baptist‘s birthday and the one we ALL know about, the Nativity, is much closer than many of us want to acknowledge. Where does the time go?

This is an Icon of the Nativity of the Mother of God, egg tempera on wood, Central Russia, mid-1800’s.

 

 

 

Quick Take Three

sept st-john-chrysostom-11

September 13th brings us to St John Chrysostom. Chrysostom is greek for golden mouth and he was thus nicknamed due to his eloquence of speech. Born in Antioch at about 347 AD he lived an incredibly fruitful life with great zeal for preaching the truth. This led to his death after being exiled by the Empress Eudoxia in 407 AD.

 

 

Quick Take Four

sept exaltationofthecross

This quick take brings us to Sept 14th and the Exaltation of the Cross. This feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher. According to an eyewitness of the fourth century, during an observation of Good Friday “the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered place over Jesus’ head.” You can read more about this feast day here.

 

 

 

Quick Take Five

sept our_lady_of_sorrowsImmediately following the Exaltation of the Cross we celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15th. This feast day was at one time celebrated on the Sunday following September 14th but finally Pope Pius the tenth fixed it permanently to the Roman Calendar on the 15th.

 

 

Quick Take Six 

sept_archangelsl

I think the feast day of the Archangels must be a favorite one for so many people. I know it’s a special day in our family, given we have two children bearing the name of two of these great angels and one child was actually born on this date. On this day we celebrate the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

 

 

 

Quick Take Seven

Given this is the month in which we recall the archangels I thought it would be fitting to end with the history of the St Michael prayer. On October 18th of 1884, Pope Leo XIII fainted during a consultation with the Cardinals. At first it was thought that he been taken ill but in a very short time the pope revived and shared something of the terrible vision he had experienced of the spiritual attack the church was soon to undergo. He had also seen how the Archangel Michael was prevailing against the evil spirits that were in warfare against the church. It was shortly after that that he composed the Prayer of Protection of St Michael. This prayer until very recently was evoked after every Mass and, in some churches, this practice is coming back.

In preparing for September’s quick takes I examined a few different calendars of saints and feast days and thought I would thought I would share  one of them on the chance you might like to be able to read and learn about the many various saints that our church recalls during the month of September.

I would like to close with the prayer to Saint Michael before bidding you adieu.

sept st michael prayer
See you next month…

7_quick_takes_sm1

Thanks to Jen at Conversion Diary for hosting 7 Quick Takes!! Check out her post and the many, many links at the end for lots of 7 Quick Takes posts from all over the blogosphere.

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Domestic Church Ink Slingers Motherhood Prayer Rosary Shiela Spiritual Growth

The Sorrowful Mysteries and a Good Friday Cry

rosaryFridays are full of feelings- anticipation, accomplishment, exhaustion, and, yes, sorrow. For me, it is the end of a packed week of getting kids out the door to school each morning, helping them with homework, packing lunches, doing laundry, going to work, keeping up the house, and making sure meals are made and eaten before kids head out to their activities. There is barely enough time to exhale; then, comes Friday. Often, I feel spent. Sometimes, I even need a good cry, like I need a glass of water on a hot August afternoon. I need it that much. It’s not that I am sad or disappointed, it is just a release. And, as I often discover, my Catholic faith has an app for that: The Sorrowful Mysteries. Each Friday, when I have a moment to pray the rosary, I meditate on the sorrowful mysteries of Christ’s life. These sorrows have an even deeper meaning during this season of Lent. Over the years, I have had insights into those sorrowful events from so long ago that speak to who I am as a mother today.

1. The Agony in the Garden

Sometimes, my insights come from unpleasant exchanges that I witness at home. Usually it is a quarrel between two or more of my children over some trivial material object like a toy or an article of clothing. Seeing them value an object over the feelings and well-being of another breaks my heart. On one particular day, I was so upset; I left the house and walked the dog to calm down. It occurred to me on our walk that when Jesus was in agony in the garden, it was not only because he dreaded the physical pain of death on the cross. Rather, he was in agony because he was about to witness his children sin in awful ways, ultimately condemning him to death.

2. The Scourging of Jesus at the Pillar

Jesus’ suffering is twofold; knowing that these are His children who are torturing Him, He now also has to witness the grief in the eyes of those who love Him as He is publicly scourged. He could tolerate the physical pain of the blows knowing the value of redemptive suffering. But, knowing that because of the gift of free will, some will choose to sin and, because of this, others will grieve, Jesus’ scourging was even more painful. As a mother, I have seen my children experience name calling and I am filled with sorrow because I know that it will leave scars on them. But, through compassion and good counsel, they will learn that they are not what they have been called, but rather they are what they do. Much worse is to see them call another person a name or spread gossip about another person. That alters their character and cannot be healed with good counsel, but rather, good confession.

 3. The Crowning with Thorns

Jesus is stripped of all human dignity and there is no suggestion of royalty or divinity. He is given a crown to be mocked and ridiculed. As moms, we often have a crown of thorns that we wear. It presents in the form of humiliations we have, just by being moms. I have crowns aplenty some days. I recall pulling up to the school drop-off in my old van one morning. As we approach, you can hear a rhythmic whistle of a car singing…”I am old, I am old.” As the slightly dented van door opens, there is an ugly scuffle in the back seat and I have to smile and correct my children to exit one at a time, as teachers and other parents look on. The last child drags a grocery bag full of the week’s car trash that has hooked onto her shoe and it spills onto the side of the road. Any hint of dignity is gone. I adjust my crown and pick up the trash and drive off.

4. The Carrying of the Cross

Here, Jesus carries the weight of our sins up the hill to Calvary where he will be crucified. His human body is weak but His divine spirit moves him to complete the journey. Mom’s have crosses, too. They are burdens that we know are necessary so that we can reach our ultimate destination. Moms sacrifice so much for the family. Yet, these trials of motherhood are wrought with great, worthy purpose. We cannot carry these burdens alone. We need divine assistance.

5. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus

My Friday meditations of these sorrowful mysteries end with the death of Jesus. And this mystery fills me with such hope that I cannot explain in human terms. I suppose that is why they are referred to as mysteries. He loved us that much. It really is the greatest love story ever told. And, with that, I exhale and I am ready to enjoy a weekend with my family.

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Catechism Crafts Domestic Church Erika D Faith Formation Homeschool Ink Slingers Raising Saints

Holy Week: Helping Our Children Walk with Jesus

Holy Week is around the corner. Do you feel like your children are ready for Holy Week? Are they ready to walk with Jesus? A couple of years ago, I had been stirring because I felt like my children were not really ready for Holy Week and the Crucifixion and, of course, Easter! Yes, we’ve been doing things all during Lent but I felt like now, they needed something more. One night I woke up in the middle of the night and the Holy Spirit gave me an idea! I say He gave me the idea because it was so perfect and brilliant that it could only be from God. So the next day, I put this together for our classroom! I am so proud of our children because they were so into our lesson as we talked about the days of the week and our Holy Week Journey to Easter Sunday! I really enjoyed making this and also loved its simplicity! What I wanted to accomplish with this was a visual of what Jesus, our Lord, went through during Holy Week. I wanted to help them walk with Jesus.
Materials:
3 pages of white cardstock
three laminating sheets (not needed but if you want them to last for years to come)
large butcher paper for the path (mine was about two feet by four feet approximately)
ink for the printer
glue/tape
Directions:
  1. Print all of these out on card stock. {this will get you to the link} If you don’t have cardstock, hen I would recommend that you laminate, I would recommend you do that so that you can save it to use in the future.
  2. Create a path, road, or something to that effect on a large paper to post in the room. Another option is to print these small and to make a file folder out of them and have each child make their own to take home {more for CCD or school settings}
  3. Glue/tape the days of the week down first at the top of your path/road.
  4. As each day passes, read the Readings for that day and talk about these stories by using the events cards.
  5. I placed stations at the bottom. You can purchase these here:http://www.catholicartworks.com/
  6. The little children walking the path are from http://www.thatresourcesite.com/
The road has the days of the Holy Week on top, and the events at the bottom of the road…leading from Palm Sunday to the Resurrection.
At the bottom of this I moved our Stations of the Cross {I bought those here}
I took this opportunity to review the days of the weeks with the smaller children:

 

Here are two other looks from different angles:

 

Then we used our little children Let’s Climb Closer to Heaven {from our school room door} found at That Resource Site to walk the road through Holy Week:

 

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Alessandra Catechism Current Events Doctrine Faith Formation Feast Days Liturgical Year Mary Mass Ordinary Time Prayer Saints

The Seven Sorrows of Mary, our Mother

If we are temples of the Holy Ghost; if we are made members of the Body of

Seven Sorrows of Mary
Seven Sorrows of Mary, Our Lady of Quito found at Nunc Coepi, Catholic Icons by Mary Henley

Christ at our Baptism; if the Body of Christ is our Holy Mother the Church; how much more so then is Mary both our personal model as believers, and the model of the Church?

Mary our mother had the fullness of God become incarnate of her flesh, and dwell within her for nine months. She swaddled, and suckled, and raised, and dwelt with the Most High for the first thirty years of His Life. Sadly, she was uniquely joined to His Sacrifice by the piercing of her own heart, foretold by the prophecy of Simeon. Lastly, she was given to us as our Mother by Our Lord Himself, on the Cross, for as John was the beloved, so too are we the beloved of the Lord. Mary is truly our Mother, and Mother of the Church: Militant, Suffering and Triumphant.

Because of this total giving of herself, Mary is our model of faith. With perfection, by the grace of God, she is the complete, total, unreserved giving of herself, for the sake of our God. The entire purpose of her being is to bring forth the Messiah into the world, and that purpose has never changed. She is the Magnificat; she only serves to magnify the Lord, and draw souls closer to her Son. As Christ is the Light of the World, Mary is a lens, which only amplifies our focus and devotion to the Divine Light of Christ.

I have heard of many believers, even Catholics, who shun affection and devotion to our Mother. Still more I have heard believers rebuff Mary’s devotional titles of Mediatrix of All Graces and Co-redemptrix. I believe this rebuff comes from ignorance, because calling on our Mother by those titles only amplifies Our Lord, and glorifies His already infinite glory. In giving her fiat to Gabriel, and sacrificing her life as a life of sorrow united to the Cross of Christ, Mary acted as that vessel through which God became man. That is why she is Mediatrix of all graces, not because she Mediator, for Christ alone is Mediator, but because she is the means God chose, in the fullness of time, to make Himself present in time, and in the world. She continues this role today in our devotion to her, which is used solely to amplify her Son, and draw souls ever closer to Him by His Grace. Is Mary the Redemptrix? Heaven’s no. She is Co-redemptrix because: she cooperated completely, totally, and without reserve, with the Will of God and the Redemption of man in Christ her Son; she was united to His Sacrifice her entire life by the prophecy of Simeon, so truly was her life a life of sorrows, even in the overwhelming joy of living with God made man, here on earth; and Mary our mother continues her purpose of existence in drawing souls ever closer to her Son, so that they may enjoy the fullness of His Redemption in Heaven. Truly Mary is Co-redemptrix because she alone, in a unique way, by the superabundant grace of God, cooperated in His Redemptive Life, and Act upon the Cross.

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Seven Dolors (Sorrows) of Mary. If you can, go to Mass, but no matter where you are, think of the Seven Sorrows of Mary and offer a Hail Mary for each sorrow, in thanks to her sacrifice of self, for the sake of her Son, and Savior.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary, our Mother:

1. The Prophecy of Simeon.
Reflect on the sorrow of Our Blessed Lady, when She presented Her Divine Child in the temple and heard from the aged Simeon that a sword of grief should pierce Her soul.

2. The Flight into Egypt.
Reflect on Her sorrow when, to escape the cruelty of King Herod, She was forced to fly into Egypt with St. Joseph and Her beloved Child, and pray for those who kill the children today by abortion.

3. The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple.
Reflect on Her grief when, in returning from Jerusalem, She found that She had lost Her dear Jesus, Whom She sought sorrowing for three days.

4. The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.
Reflect on Her meeting Her Divine Son, all bruised and bleeding, carrying His Cross to Calvary, and seeing Him fall under its heavy weight.

5. The Crucifixion.
Reflect on Her standing by, when Her Divine Son was lifted up on the Cross and the blood flowed in streams from His Sacred Wounds. 

6. Jesus’ Body is struck by a lance and taken down from the Cross.
Reflect on Her sorrow, when Her Divine Son was taken down from the Cross, and placed in Her arms.

7. The Burial of Jesus.
Reflect on Her following His Sacred Body as it was borne by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to the sepulcher. 

After meditating on the Seven Sorrows of Mary, recite three Hail Mary’s in honor of Our Blessed Lady’s tears.  Mary our Mother, Mary Mother of Sorrows, pray for us.

Seven Sorrows of Mary, found at Nunc Coepi, Catholic Icons by Mary Henley

Reflections where found at: PrayerBook Devotions