There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother Mary, who knew grief and was a Lady of Sorrows. She is our special patroness, a woman who bore much she could not understand and who stood fast. To her many sons and daughters, whose devotions ought to bring them often to her side, she tells much of this daily cross and its daily hope (Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross, 8:120).
We know, love and honor her by many titles: Our Lady of Perpetual Help … The Immaculate Conception … Our Lady of Guadalupe … Notre Dame du lac …
But it is this title, Our Lady of Sorrows, that speaks most poignantly to us in Holy Cross. Before us stands the Mother of Sorrows, her heart pierced by seven swords, yet she remains steadfast in faith as she bears her Son, the Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3), for the world.
Our founder, Blessed Basil Moreau, was himself in his own way a “man of sorrows,” giving to the world a religious family called to walk as members of the Mystical Body in the footsteps of Christ. He entrusted his new community to the maternal care of Our Lady of Sorrows, whose feast we celebrate this Saturday, September 15.
We join in solidarity with the schools, parishes and missions of Holy Cross around the world in celebrating our patronal feast: from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame … to Parroquía Nuestra Madre Santisima de la Luz in Mexico … to St. André Bessette Parish in Portland, Ore., … to Holy Cross Parish in Bugembe, East Africa … from the hills of Santiago, Chile … to the barrios of Lima, Peru … and the missions of India and Bangladesh! Wherever Holy Cross is present, Our Lady of Sorrows is being honored.
And what message do we receive?
Consider the Prophecy of Simeon … one fleeting appearance in Sacred Scripture … one single prophetic utterance … but completely memorable. His message must have chilled the heart of Mary, for he spoke of her Child as a “sign of contradiction” and that her “heart would be pierced with the sword of sorrow (Lk. 2:35).”
Perhaps in the message of Simeon and through Mary’s response we have the “what” and the “how” for religious life in Holy Cross today.
For in Simeon we hear that Mary’s Child is to be a “sign of contradiction” to the world (Lk. 2:34). Through the vows we profess, we, too, are called to be prophetic signs: to live our vows in such a way that our lives call into question our world’s fascination with pleasure, wealth and power (5:45).
Mary teaches us the “how” as well. For Luke tells us that Mary “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Lk. 2:19). Like Mary, we are called to open ourselves “… to be drawn into His love … learning to take that same love to heart” (3:30).
So today we pray, from the Holy Cross Directory of Devotional Prayers: “Hail Mary, Mother of Sorrows, at the foot of the Cross, you witnessed your Son’s total giving of self to the Father. Strengthen those who wish to abandon all in His holy name.”
Fr. Ken Molinaro, C.S.C., served the past 12 years in Provincial Administration for the Indiana Province and then the United States Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross. He wrote this reflection on Our Lady of Sorrows in anticipation of her feast day, September 15. Learn more about the patrons Blessed Basil Moreau chose for the Holy Cross priests, brothers, and sisters. And discover more about the Holy Cross spirituality that animates our mission today.