The Marian Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Today in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, we celebrate the Marian memorial known as Our Lady of Sorrows. This traditional devotion, which helps us understand Mary’s role in the suffering of Our Lord Jesus Christ, began in 1814 by Pope Pius VII. Many of the Church Fathers and other saints wrote on how Mary is united with Christ in his suffering and how we are to suffer with Christ as well. Focusing on the Cross, which is how Christians should unite their suffering with Christ, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen says this,

“Unless there is a Cross in our lives there will never be a resurrection.  The Christian law of life is we have to die in order to live. Now I do not mean and He did not mean physically dying.  He meant mortification, self-denial, the application of the Cross in our lives.”

If you don’t know or haven’t realized it yet, suffering is very much a part of the Christian lifestyle, and although following Christ brings us happiness and joy, suffering is something that we all must learn to embrace. Jesus says in the Scriptures, pick up your cross and follow me. He does not say if you follow me, life will be a bed of roses.

As Catholics, we are reminded of this very concept every time we walk into a Catholic Church and see the crucifix in the sanctuary. As she is in all things that pertain to the Christian faith, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the perfect example for us when it comes to suffering with Christ. Although she was free of all sin because of her Immaculate Conception, she still had to endure great pains and mental suffering as she watched Jesus’ Passion and Death.

To wrap up today’s short blog post, here are the many other posts I have written in previous years that focus on the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Mother and Lady of Sorrows.

1. “Mondays with Mary” – 7 Quotes by Pope St. John Paul II on Our Lady of Sorrows

2. “Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of Sorrows 

3. “Mondays with Mary” – Marian Reflections from St. Alphonsus Ligouri

4. “Mondays with Mary” – The Burial of Our Lord, and the Loneliness of the Blessed Virgin

5. “Mondays with Mary” – The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Mary at the Foot of the Cross

6. “Mondays with Mary” – The Suffering of Mother Mary

7. “Mondays with Mary” – Jesus, Mary, and the Cross

8. “Mondays with Mary” – Mary Under the Cross

9. “Mondays with Mary” – The Method of Praying the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa

10. “Mondays with Mary” – Pope St. John Paul II on the Suffering of Mary 

11. “Mondays with Mary” – The Prophecy of Holy Simeon

12. “Mondays with Mary” – Litany of the Mater Dolorosa 

13. “Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Sorrowful Mother at the Cross through the words of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen 

If you are interested in hearing 5 very good homilies on suffering, I would suggest listening to the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time homilies from the our parish priests on iTunes and Google Play Music.

Our Lady of Sorrows…Pray for Us 

“Mondays with Mary” – Venerable Fulton J. Sheen on Mary and the Rosary

Since October is the Month of the Rosary, I found it fitting to write yet another blog post focusing on the importance of the Holy Rosary. Last week, I wrote a blog post, which was picked up by New Advent, on the many blog posts I have written on the Rosary. Including that one, it was eleven, and this will now be number 12. Instead of me giving you some insight on this passage before I share it with you, I am going to abstain from my usual commentary and just share with you the passage. It comes from Venerable Fulton J. Sheen’s book, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary: Lessons from Cana and Calvary The bolded words below are mine since those passages stood out for me when I first read this text.

“If you have never before prayed to Mary, do so now. Can you not see that if Christ himself willed to be physically formed in her for nine months and then be spirutally formed by her for thirty years, it is to her that we must go to learn how to have Christ formed in us? Only she who raised Christ can raise a Christian.

To develop that spiritual comradeship with Jesus and Mary, the rosary is the most effective. The word rosary means a “garland of roses” culled from the Garden of Prayer. Each decade requires only between two and three minutes; thus the whole rosary requires a little over ten minutes.

If you do not say it all at once and on your knees, then say one decade when you arise in the morning, another decade on your way to work, another decade as you sweep the house or wait for your check at the noon lunch hour, another decade just before you go to bed; the last decade you can say in bed just before falling off to sleep.

When you are under twenty-five, you have time for only one decade before falling to sleep; when you get to be forty, you will have time for two; and when you are sixty, you will have time for a dozen.

Because the “Hail Mary” is said many times in the course of a rosary, do not think of it as a sterile repetition, because each time it is said in a different setting or scene as you meditate, for example, on such mysteries as the Birth of Our Lord, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and so on. You never thought as a child when you told your mother you loved her that it had the same meaning as it did the last time you told her. Because the background of the affection changed, its affirmation was new. It is the same sun that rises each morning, but it makes a new day.

What are some advantages of the rosary:

1. If you say the rosary devoutly, and all that it implies, every day of your life, you will never lose your soul.

2. If you wish for peace in your heart and in your family and an abundance of heavenly gifts on your household, then assemble your family each night and say the rosary.

3. If you are anxious to convert a soul to the fullness of God’s Love and Life, teach that person to say the rosary. That person will either stop saying the rosary or he will receive the gift of Faith.

4. If a sufficient army of us said the rosary every day, the Blessed Mother would now, as in the past, obtain from her Divine Son the stilling of the present tempests, the defeat of the enemies of human civilization, and a real presence in the hearts of tired and straying men.

5. If the cooling of your charity has made you unhappy on the inside and critical of others, then the rosary, through meditation on Our Lord’s great love for you on the cross and your Mother’s affection for you on Calvary, will rekindle your love of God and of neighbor and restore you to a peace which surpasses all understanding.

Do you think that in honoring Our Lady with the rosary you are neglecting Our Lord. Did you ever know anyone who ignored you by being kind to your mother? If Our Lord said to you, “Behold thy Mother,” it well behooves us to respect her whom Our Lord chose above all the creatures of earth. In any case remember, even though you wanted to, you could not stop with her. As Francis Thompson put it:

The celestial Temptress play, And all mankind to bliss betray; With sacrosanct cajoleries And starry treachery of your eyes, Tempt us back to Paradise! 

I hope the words of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen has helped you to understand the importance of the Holy Rosary, Mary’s role in it, and how it leads us closer to Jesus.

Feel free to share this post with your family and friends. I know many people adore Archbishop Fulton Sheen and are waiting with great anticipation for his elevation to Sainthood by the Catholic Church.

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen…Pray For Us.

Our Lady of the Rosary…Pray For Us.


Saint Therese, Fulton Sheen, and Eleven Sermons

Over the past five weeks every Tuesday morning from 10:00am to 11:30am, over thirty parishioners and friends of Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church gathered to reflect on 11 sermons given by Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen on the words of St. Therese of Lisieux now in book format titled, St. Therese: A Treasured Love Story. The Catholic Book Study and Reflection is an element of our Porta Fidei Adult Faith Formation program.

In late August, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it came to me that the next book study needed to focus on St. Therese of Lisieux, as her feast day was quickly approaching. One of the great modern day, and now, timeless saints, St. Therese reaches the heart of the faithful on countless levels and on sundry paths. So many of her words truly penetrate not only the heart, but also our very soul. Through the articulate tongue of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, reading this book is like reading a Doctor of the Church while consuming a high protein shake.

If you have a devotion to St. Therese and know Fulton Sheen or desire to read something by him, then I can’t recommend this book enough for you. In the Introduction, Fr. J. Linus, O.Carm of the Carmelite Community at Terenure College in Dublin, Ireland says, “This is a book that will be a rich resource for anyone’s spiritual reading or meditation and extraordinarily, it is as relevant to today’s spiritual life as it as when first delivered 33 years ago.” Nothing could be closer to the truth than that statement. It’s truly an extraordinary text that could have been written just this month.

Now that I have salivated your spiritual palate a bit, let us consume a slice of the words of both St. Therese and Fulton Sheen, in the hopes that you will someday soon devour this book for your own spiritual nourishment. After each of the 11 quotes for the 11 sermons in this book, I will label whose words they are by using their initials, S.T. for St. Therese and F.S. for Fulton Sheen.

St. Therese of Lisieux

1. “I am sure you will agree with me that we are living in trouble times. Ever since we Americans split the atom, the whole world has been split. Disturbances occur all over the world…How are we going to live in these troubles times? There is really only one answers: We have to become saints.” – F.S.

2. “I’ll take everything…This became the rule of my life. I wanted everything. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to be God’s.” – S.T.

3. “Now then, if you are praying for certain favors, be prepared for love’s delay, but keep on praying. Do not give up…Never lose heart. After all, isn’t that what courtship is? A young woman plays hard to get in order to draw out love. So does God sometimes play hard to get.” – F.S.

4. Speaking about death as a thief in the night: “I don’t need any resignation to die, I need a resignation to live. I have lived for our Lord, I want to die for him. This is my Love, and I want to be with the Beloved.” – S.T.

5. Fulton Sheen says if St. Therese wants to work for us in Heaven, we should put her work since she said, “…I should spend my time in heaven doing good upon earth, since the angels in the full enjoyment of the Beatific Vision keep watch over us, I shall never rest till the end of the world.” – S.T.

6. “Oh, my Beloved, I understand to what combats You have destined me. It is not on the battlefield I shall fight. I am a prisoner of Your Love. Freely have I riveted the chain which unites me to you and separates me forever from the world. My sword is love and ‘I shall chase the stranger from the Kingdom. I shall make You to be proclaimed King’ in the souls of men.” – S.T.

7. “We’re very fond of talking peace today, but all we mean by peace is lack of disturbance. Our Lord said, ‘I came not to bring peace.’ God HATES PEACE! And He love those are who are destined for war. And we are destined for war, spiritual war. We’ve forgotten that we’re in a combat. We are in a genuine combat.” – F.S.

8. “In other words, there are certain things in life that we waste: we are seemingly prodigal about them. The Little Flower was that way about own life…[she wasted it for Jesus]…This is the secret of being a good Christian, to be His. What difference does it make, really, what we’re doing? Too often we think that we have to be in a noble position to please the Good Lord.” – F.S.

Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

9. “On each occasion of combat when the devil desires to challenge me, I conduct myself valiantly, knowing that to fight a duel is an unworthy act. I turn my back upon the adversary without ever looking him in the face. Then I am ready to run to Jesus and tell Him I am ready to shed every drop of blood in testimony of my belief that there is a heaven.” – S.T.

10. “To offer oneself as a victim to Divine Love is not to offer oneself to sweetness and to consolation but to every bitterness, for love lives only by sacrifice. And the more a soul wills to be surrendered by Love, the more must she be surrendered to sacrifice.” – S.T.

11. Speaking on the spiritual childhood and humility: She said, “To remain little is to recognize our nothingness.” “Now that’s the point I want to emphasize. It might be just enough to read this line. Read it again…To remain little is to recognize our nothingness.” – S.T. and F.S.

I dedicate this post to the parishioners and friends of St. Mary Magdalene who attended the 5-week Catholic Book Study and Reflection. Thank you for your openness to learn and your active participation.