UPDATE: 15 Sept: Seven Sorrows of Mary, Mater Dolorosa, Queen of Martyrs – Queen of Clergy

UPDATE 16 Sept

I received a request from a priest in Germany for the base artwork.  He wants to translate the prayer and make cards in German.

And so it begins.

Originally Published on: Sep 15, 2018 @ 09:56

Today is the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Can you name them?

Many priests and bishops chose to have some kind of piacular event yesterday, Exaltation of the Cross.  To my mind, however, today may be even more appropriate.

Mary stayed there and suffered, and her particpation in the Cross of her Son was transformative and exemplary.

Here the entry from the Roman Martyrology:

Memoria beatae Mariae Virginis perdolentis, quae, iuxta crucem Iesu adstans, Filii salutiferae passioni intime fideliterque sociata est et nova exstitit Eva, ut, quemadmodum primae mulieris inoboedientia ad mortem contulit, ita mira eius oboedientia ad vitam conferret.

In the older, pre-Conciliar Missale Romanum we find this wonderful Collect for today’s Holy Mass.


Deus, in cuius passione, secundum Simeonis prophetiam dulcissimam animam gloriosae Virginis Matris Mariae doloris gladius pertransivit: concede propitius; ut qui dolores eius venerando recolimus, passionis tuae effectum felicem consequamur.


O God, at whose Passion, according to Simeon’s prophecy, the most sweet soul of the glorious Virgin, Mary our Mother, was pierced by a sword of sorrow: mercifully grant that we who observe her sorrows by veneration may attain to the happy result of Your Passion.

Also, in the old Communion Antiphon we have a connection between the great sorrow of Mary at the Cross and how she merits to be called Queen of Martyrs:


Felices sensus beatae Mariae Virginis, qui sine morte meruerunt martyrii palmam sub Cruce Domini.

Sensus is an incredibly complicated word. It means, among other things, the faculties of sensing and perceiving, but also of the sentiments of the heart and mind. In a collective “sense” sensus stands for “the common feelings of humanity, the moral sense”. Sensus is also our disposition of mind or humor and inclination. It signifies understanding of the thinking faculty, in the sphere of reason.


Blissful the sentiments of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which beneath the Cross of the Lord, without death merited the martyr’s palm.

This antiphon underscores how the totality of Mary’s being, “magnified” by God at every point of her life, was united with her Son as He endured the sufferings of the Cross.

This counter-intuitive feast reminds us that there is a path to holiness through the sufferings and sorrows we endure. 

We must learn to unite them to the sufferings of our Lord.  Mary teaches us to do this.  The martyrs teach us to do this.

Here is something that I wrote for the best Catholic weekly in the UK, the Catholic Herald in my column “Omnium Gatherum”:

September is traditionally designated for devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Mary, a feast celebrated in the heart of the month, the 15th, immediately after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. These feasts, together with other traditional observances, imbue the whole month with a somber tone.
Speaking of somber, other traditional September observances might deepen the penitential and reparative spirit without which our Catholic identity is enervated and incomplete.
For example, in September’s third full week on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, we have the Ember Days, moments of fasting and penance. Bishops can even yet today, using the post-Conciliar Ordinary Form calendar, assign Ember Days observances in the dioceses entrusted to them. This year, for example, in the wake of horrifying new clerical scandals some bishops in the United States have called for people to penance on Ember Days. Bishop Morlino of Madison in Wisconsin has invited people to fasting and abstinence, “in reparation for the sins and outrages committed by members of the clergy.” “Some sins, like some demons, can only be driven out by prayer and fasting,” the bishop wrote.
What we face as a Church right now surely has a strong demonic content and intent. We have to tackle this crisis with all the spiritual tools at our disposal. Fasting is recommended by the Lord. Without chosen penance, we cannot be who our Lord calls us to be as Catholics.
This week, on 17 September, we celebrate the Feast of the Impression of the Stigmata on St Francis of Assisi at La Verna in 1224. Francis, like other great saints such as Padre Pio, Catherine of Siena, Gemma Galgani, and perhaps the Apostle Paul (Galatians 6:17), received the wounds of the Crucified Lord. Francis was fasting during the annual “St Michael’s Lent”, 40 days stretching from 15 August, Assumption of Mary, to Michaelmas, 29 September, the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St Michael the Archangel on Mount Gargano in Italy.
Somber September, with our celebration of the Lordly Cross and Marian Sorrows, with its saintly Stigmata and seasonal Ember Days, with its Lent of St Michael, was traditionally a time of fasting and penance for our forebears. Why shouldn’t it be also for us?
The Church’s laws are greatly relaxed, but, given what is going on, who of us are exempted from some form of regular acts of penance, fasting and abstinence?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. clare joseph says:

    Late this afternoon I picked up my copy of “To the Priests, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons” (Our Lady’s messages to Fr. Gobbi) to see what messages I might find for today’s feast. I discovered that there was a locution received on September 15 for 14 of the years from 1975 to 1996. The first of these, received in 1975, includes the striking statement that
    ” … nothing contributes so much to the triumph of my Immaculate Heart as a priestly heart which suffers.” – !!
    So take heart, you good priests who are suffering. Offered to Our Lady (or to the Lord through Her, whichever manner), your sufferings are powerful to accomplish the greatest of all possible designs.

  2. FN says:

    Dear Fr Z, I wish you would do a “how to” post on fasting for Ember Days and other occasions. Does it literally mean not eating all day? I have seen some directives that recommend two small meals and one regular one, but that hardly seems like a sacrifice at all. Or should we aim to give up our favorite indulgence as during Lent? (Don’t take away my coffee!)

  3. My granddaughter was married on this Feast Day. Most brides and grooms bring flowers to Our Lady during their wedding, but my granddaughter chose to take her flowers to a niche by the altar, or a small prayer room, where there is a life size Pieta, Our Lord and Our Lady. It was beautiful.

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