Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

“If anyone does not wish to have Mary Immaculate for his Mother, he will not have Christ for his Brother.” – St Maximilian Kolbe

The title, Our Lady of Sorrows, given to our Blessed Mother focuses on her intense suffering and grief during the passion and death of our Lord. Traditionally, this suffering was not limited to the passion and death event; rather, it comprised the seven dolors or seven sorrows of Mary, which were foretold by the Priest Simeon who proclaimed to Mary.

  1. The Prophecy of Simeon. Luke 2:34-35
  2. The escape and Flight into Egypt. Matthew 2:13
  3. The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem. Luke 2:43-45
  4. The Meeting of Mary and Jesus on the Via Dolorosa.
  5. The Crucifixion of Jesus on Mount Calvary. John 19:25
  6. The Piercing of the Side of Jesus with a spear, and His Descent from the Cross. Matthew 27:57-59
  7. The Burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea. John 19:40-42

History of the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

The Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows grew in popularity in the 12th century in the Middle Ages, also thanks to the constitution in 1233 of the Order of the Servants of Mary. By the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the feast and devotion were widespread throughout the Church. In 1667 the Servites obtained official approval for the celebration of the “Seven Sorrows of Mary”, a number based on as many episodes narrated in the Gospels  

Interestingly, in 1482, the feast was officially placed in the Roman Missal under the title of Our Lady of Compassion, highlighting the great love our Blessed Mother displayed in suffering with her Son. The word compassion derives from the Latin roots cum and patior which means to suffer with.

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ANGELICO, Fra_La Virgen de la Humildad, c. 1433-1435_7 (1986.10)

 If the land that Jesus walked on is Holy, imagine the tomb that bore Him

 The Madonna of Humility is a painting by the famous Fra Angelico. Born Guido di Pietro, the honorary epithet of ‘Fra Angelico’ or ‘the Angelic Brother’ was attributed to the painter after his death in 1455. His love for Christ led him to join the religious order of the Dominicans between 1418 and 1421. 

Vasari, the great author of the ‘Lives of Artists’ (1550), describes Angelico as a ‘simple and most holy man who painted with facility and piety’. The art historian adds, ‘Fra Angelico never set his hand to a brush without first saying a prayer. He never painted a crucifix without tears streaming down his cheeks. He befriended the poor and now is befriended by Heaven’. Holding to Vasari’s words, in 1982, St. Pope John Paul II proclaimed the beatification of this ‘Blessed’ painter. He recognized him as the ‘Saint of all Artists’.

The beauty and essence of the painter’s life are reflected in today’s canvas. Titled ‘The Madonna of Humility’, the composition belongs to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. It is currently conserved on loan at the National Art Museum of Catalonia, Barcelona.

Unlike popular medieval representations, the Blessed Virgin is not seated on a majestic Gothic throne. Rather the Virgin of humility rests against a cushion directly placed on the ground. She is cloaked in blue (divinity), red (humanity), green (life), and gold (glory). Executed with meticulous foreshortening, her flowing drapery lends movement to the still image. A little star twinkles upon her right shoulder. Could it serve to remind us of the guiding star of Bethlehem? Further does it not hail Mary as our guiding star, who continues to lead us to her Son Jesus?

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Today the idea of basking in the sunshine at a mountain top or an open beach surrounded by a loved-ones seems but a distant dream. However, with technology at our disposal, we can journey through time and space.

A quick background before we embark upon this virtual picnic. It is important to note that the daily life of a Parel seminarian was filled with activities that fostered holistic formation. However, not only does physical and mental health require periods of relaxation, but also personal and spiritual formation demands that an important role is given to games, hobbies, outings, and the like.

At the Parel Seminary, group picnics were scheduled regularly in the year. The House-Picnic of the year, whose site was carefully selected and whose arrangements were enthusiastically undertaken, was that in honor of the Rector.

As recorded in the seminary magazine, the Diwali holidays (October – November) were spent in the hills of the verdant Khandala with great eagerness. The activities included daily swims, strenuous hikes, campfires, etc. culminating with the Seminary Sports on the grounds of St. Mary’s Villa.

Though the times and places have changed, through the following picture-trail we offer you a glimpse of the past picnics.   

     

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The Blessed Virgin Mary is certainly the most recognized woman in history. The tender images of the Madonna and Christ Child have inspired artists across all ages and arts-forms. Most of us are familiar with her conventional depictions in art – fair-skinned, blue-eyed, blonde and cloaked in blue. She is an epitome of virtues that endears to every soul.

However, lesser-known is the contentious representation of the Blessed Virgin called the Black Madonna. We may at once gravitate naturally to question – ‘Why is she black?’ But before we associate faith to colors, let’s understand the background and devotion towards the icon of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, also known as, Our Lady of Czestochowa.

The painting is executed in tempera on primed canvas. The Blessed Virgin is seen in a standing posture with Christ Child in her arms. She bears an oval face distinguished by a long narrow nose, tiny lips, and deeply expressive eyes. The half-closed eye-lids lend an almost melancholic and contemplative expression to her beautiful face.

The Blessed Virgin gazes at us while pointing to her Son as the source of salvation. This traditional theme was well known in the East and was called ‘Hodegetria’ – meaning – ‘the One Who Shows the Way’. In turn, Christ Child extends his right hand in benediction while in His left hand He holds a closed book symbolizing Wisdom. The fact that the Infant Jesus holds a codex as opposed to the earlier scroll could serve as an indication that the symbol was a later addition.

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 The words ‘Seminary’ and ‘Sports’ can hardly be mentioned in the same breath. For isn’t the Seminary a supposed island of holiness, a field of prayer and a reservoir of theology? Can sports share any space in a pious place? The answer is a hearty yes! The formation of a seminarian includes over-all personality development and the Parel Seminary did believe that games provided not only healthy entertainment but also valuable insights into a seminarian’s character. Their motto was ‘mens sana in corpore sano’, Latin for ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’.

Games were compulsory for the Parel Seminarian. Volleyball, hockey, basketball, and football were played in the season. Long walks were mandatory on Thursdays. The seminarian had to enlist on the ‘Sport’s Board’ for the game of one’s choice. Even those who preferred the library to the playground were obliged to spend some time on the volleyball or the hockey field. For those who couldn’t play, regular physical exercises were highly recommended.

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