September is the traditional month of the Seven Sorrows of Mary. For those not as familiar with this devotion here is the list:
- The Prophecy of Simeon
- The Flight into Egypt
- The Loss of Jesus in the Temple
- The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross
- The Crucifixion
- The Taking Down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross
- Jesus Is Laid in the Tomb
Other than the fact that these are all sorrows, what is most notable is the scope of this list: we run nearly the whole course of the gospels—from the prophecy of Simeon to its fulfillment. In a sense, this devotion is comprised of a mini-Christmas and a mini-Lent packed into one. That seems a bit much to take on, doesn’t it? Most of the devotional themes in recent months have been quite focused, such as the Sacred Heart, the focus of June, or the Precious Blood for July.
It turns out the question answers itself. The breadth of this devotion seems to be the whole point. Father Frederick William Faber, a nineteenth century spiritual writer, hints at this in At the Foot of the Cross, a book that explains this devotion:
But Mary is a world, which cannot take in all at one glance. We must devote ourselves to particular mysteries. We must set aside certain regions of this world of grace, and concentrate ourselves upon them. We must survey them and map them accurately, before we pass on to other regions, and then we shall learn much, which a general view would have omitted to notice, and store our souls with spiritual riches, riches both of knowledge and of love, which will draw us evermore into closer union with our dearest Lord (At the Foot of the Cross, 2-3).
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