In popular practice, September traditionally has been devoted to the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Here are some ways to practice that devotion with your family this month.
by Brian Smith
Inn the Middle Ages many Catholics began observing special devotions around a particular theme each month — the Holy Name of Jesus in January, for instance. Today, many families are reviving this practice as part of the way they observe the liturgical calendar at home. By practicing monthly devotions, the core values of the faith will become more alive within your family. The beauty of monthly devotions is that there is no set way to celebrate. So, be creative, make it fun and adapt your celebration to your own family.
Here are some ways to celebrate the popular devotion for September, the Seven Sorrows of Mary.
Talking with Kids about the Seven Sorrows of Mary
When you think of someone suffering, what do you think of? Do you think of someone who is sick, or a person without a food? These are what we call physical sufferings. Many of the saints suffered physically before they died. But there is another type of suffering too: spiritual suffering.
Aside from Jesus, no other person has spiritually suffered as much as the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary, called upon by God to bring Jesus into the world, witnessed all of the hurtful things that happened to Jesus. Mary knew that God had sent Jesus here to teach people to avoid sin and to work toward pleasing God. But because so many people rejected Jesus, Mary’s immaculate heart grew weary and sad that people were rejecting God.
The Seven Sorrows of Mary
- The Prophecy of Simeon: LK 2:25-35
- The Flight of Jesus, Mary and Joseph into Egypt: Mt 2:13-15
- The Loss of Jesus in the Temple: Lk 2:41-52
- Mary meets Jesus on the Way of the Cross: Lk 23:26-32
- Jesus dies on the Cross: Jn 19:17-30
- Mary receives the Dead Body of Jesus: Lk 23:50-56
- Jesus is placed in the Tomb Jn 19:38-42
To this day, we continue to witness many things that add more pain to Mary’s immaculate heart. We are all sinners and in God’s eye, a sin is a sin no matter what the sin may be. Even if we think a certain type of sin might not be “as bad” as another sin, all sins are displeasing to God and cause Mary’s heart to weep for us today. Mary only wants us to grow closer to Jesus. We can do this by asking her to pray for us that, by the grace of God, we might be able to overcome our own temptations
Feast Days & Memorials
The following days can be connected to this month’s devotion. Click to learn more.
21 St. Matthew
A take away for kids to memorize and/or include in their daily prayer.
This verse, spoken by Jesus, tells us that although we may not see Jesus anywhere else, we can always find him present in the Church.
Questions to help propogate the faith with your children.
- Which of Mary’s sorrows do you think about the most?
- How have you displeased God through your sins?
- How can you help other people grow closer to Jesus?
Incorporate this month’s devotion with the virtues of faith, hope and charity.
Recite the following prayer as a family.
The Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows is a prayer that recalls the grief that Mary experienced within her own life. Each sorrow is recalled followed by praying seven Hail Marys. This chaplet takes a bit longer to recite than a typical rosary. For detailed information and reflections, click here to download the instructions.
For younger children, the chaplet may be condensed as you see fit. For example, each ‘sorrow’ could be stated followed by 1-3 Hail Mary’s.
Learn about God’s infinite mercy.
In March of 1888 in Castelpetroso, Italy, Our Lady of Sorrows appeared to two women. The women reported that they had seen a bright light coming from a rock. When they approached the light, they saw a vision of Our Lady of Sorrows.
As word of this apparition spread, many people, including skeptics, traveled to the site to decide for themselves if it were true. As many as 4,000 pilgrims testified to seeing Our Lady of Sorrows appear between 1888 and 1889. Many also reported seeing Mary as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Grace and Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. Some people reported that they saw Sts. Michael, Anthony and Sebastian alongside Our Lady.
In May of 1888, a spring appeared from the rock where the light had first been seen. When a young boy with tuberculosis visited the spring in November 1888, he was cured instantly. Since then, many people have believed that the water has healing powers, much like the waters of Lourdes, France.
Many members of the clergy, including bishops, investigated the apparitions and found them to be worthy of belief. In May of 1890, the bishop of Bojano, in union with Pope Paul VI, approved the building of the Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica.
Help the church to grow within your own community.
What do you and your family pray for? It is often easy to ask God for help in our own lives. As important as it is to pray and speak with God about our personal struggles, it is also essential to pray for those around us, even if we do not know them!
We can pray for other people whenever and wherever the moment strikes us. For example, pray when:
- An ambulance drives past you
- Someone is asking for money
- A person is seeking food or shelter
- Seeing a stranger cry
- Someone who seems to be stressed out
Whatever the case may be, there are opportunities around you every day to help those around you through your silent prayers. When you witness such an occasion, simply say:
“Immaculate Mary, pray for this person, that God may bestow all the blessings and graces that they need.”
And then conclude with the Hail Mary.
For more information about monthly devotions, see the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy: #20, #32, #190-191 and the Catholic Encyclopedia: Special Devotions for Months