Our Lady of Sorrows

Our Lady of Sorrows

OUR LADY OF SORROWS – POPE FRANCIS’ HOMILY

Due to many invasions over the centuries, the people of Slovakia always sought solace in Our Lady of Sorrows and adopted her as their patron.  On her feast day last Wednesday, the final day of his visit to Slovakia, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the small town of Sastin-Straze outside the country’s National Shrine of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows.  It was reported that about 60,000 people attended the Mass and it was live-streamed.  In his homily, Pope Francis who has a personal devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows, said:

“Mary, Mother of Sorrows, remains at the foot of the Cross. She simply stands there. She does not run away, or try to save herself, or find ways to alleviate her grief.    Here is the proof of true compassion: to remain standing beneath the Cross. To stand there weeping, yet with the faith that knows that, in her Son, God transfigures pain and suffering and triumphs over death.

Urging Slovakians to live their faith as a mission to be carried out, he encouraged them to follow Mary’s example when she journeyed to visit her pregnant cousin Elizabeth.  Pope Francis said:

“For you the Blessed Virgin is a model of faith: a faith that involves journeying, a faith inspired by simple and sincere devotion, a constant pilgrimage to seek the Lord.

In making this journey, you overcome the temptation to a passive faith, content with this or that ritual or ancient tradition.  Instead, you leave yourselves behind and set out, carrying in your backpacks the joys and sorrows of this life, and thus make your life a pilgrimage of love towards God and your brothers and sisters.

Thank you for this witness. And please, persevere on this journey. Do not stop. The faith cannot be reduced to a sweetener to make life more palatable, do not remain lukewarm about Jesus but be “signs of contradiction” within the world.

Slovakia needs Christians who can demonstrate the beauty of the Gospel by the way they live. Christians who are weavers of dialogue where hostility is growing; models of fraternal life where society is experiencing tension and hostility; bringers of the sweet fragrance of hospitality and solidarity where personal and collective selfishness too often prevails, protectors and guardians of life where the culture of death reigns.

In contemplating the Sorrowful Virgin Mary, may we too open our hearts to a faith that becomes compassion, a faith that identifies with those who are hurting, suffering, and forced to bear heavy crosses.

A faith that does not remain abstract, but becomes incarnate in fellowship with those in need: a faith that imitates God’s way of doing things, quietly relieves the suffering of our world and waters the soil of history with salvation.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord always preserve in you wonderment and gratitude for the great gift of faith. And may Mary Most Holy obtain for you the grace of a faith that ever sets out anew, is deeply prophetic and abounds in compassion.”

Before Mass, Pope Francis prayed with Slovakia’s bishops inside the basilica, reciting a prayer of entrustment to Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows.

“Mother of the Church, Consoler of the Afflicted, with confidence we turn to you, in the joys and struggles of our ministry,” they prayed. “Look upon us with tenderness and open your arms to embrace us.”

“Queen of the Apostles, Refuge of Sinners, you know our human limitations, our spiritual failings, our sorrow in the face of loneliness and abandonment: with your gentle touch heal our wounds.”