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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Readings for 15 September 2005 (Our Lady of Sorrows)

First Reading: "Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, " (Hebrews 5:7 - 9) Psalm: Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, LORD, faithful God. (Psalm 31) Gospel: "'Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.'" (Luke 2:33 - 35) Commentary, from DailyGospel.org: St. Bonaventure tells us that the birth pains of our Lady were "felt .. later: she gave birth under the cross. " Today's Saint: St. Catherine of Genoa, an inspiration to self-denial and absolute, loving submission to the holy will of God. Her life and doctrines can be found here.
St. Bonaventure tells us that our Lady suffered her childbirth pains at the foot of the cross "from compassion and love." What was it like for her at the foot of the cross? We shall never know, for we did not give birth to our Lord, nor did we raise him up, knowing Him intimately as only a mother would. But Mary is the archetype of all Christians, she who was the first recipient of grace in Christ, the first to love and serve Christ. It is in such pain as hers that one comprehends the horror of sin -- not just our personal unrighteousness, past or present, but those of others. Then comes an understanding of the great price and love by which our salvation was purchased by Christ. St. Catherine of Genoa tells us that God may purify a soul by imparting upon him:
 'a mind occupied with great suffering; for that makes him know himself, and how abject and vile he is. This vision of his own misery keeps him in great poverty, and deprives him of all things which could afford him any savor of good; thus his self-love is not able to nourish itself, and from lack of nourishment it wastes away until at last man understands that if God did not hold his hand, giving him his being, and removing from him this hateful vision, he could never issue from this hell. And when God is pleased to take away this vision of his utter hopelessness in himself, afterwards he remains in great peace and consolation.'
Perhaps this process takes an instance, perhaps longer, but through suffering and sorrow, a soul may come out at the other end contrite, full of repentance and good resolutions, humble and much more eager to cling to the salvation of the Lord. O happy sorrow!

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