Sermon for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost and Addendum, September 22, 2019 by Monsignor Patrick Perez
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Monsignor began the sermon by reciting a Hail Mary.
……Just some notes on last Sunday’s feast – I want to start by pointing out the last two Sundays we have had feast days that superseded the Mass of the Sunday. Two weeks ago we had the feast day of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary which took precedent over the Sunday. Last week we had Our Lady of Sorrows which likewise took precedent over the Sunday. I want to point it out because this is one of the glories of the tradition which we adhere to specifically at our chapel, that we use the pre-1955 Missal because in 1955 the Novus Ordo changes started to become obligatory. In 1962 those who used the ’62 Missal would not have celebrated the feasts that we celebrated in the past two Sundays. And why that’s important is because the ’55 Missal, the ’62 Missal, were incremental steps towards writing the Novus Ordo and implementing a totally different and changed Missal. You need to know when the frog is being boiled as they say. What does that mean? Frenchmen understand. Boiling a frog is to put a frog in water – now if you throw him in boiling water he is going to jump out. But if you turn on the gas a little at a time and he starts to think this is nice, it’s like a spa, well before long he’s boiled to death before he realizes what’s going on and that’s what the people who were changing the Mass and the liturgy did to Catholics over the years. They did the boiled frog thing.
So what was changed? Well, in 1962 they made it so none of these feasts could be celebrated on a Sunday. Why would that be wrong? Because traditionally the time in green, that is, the Sundays after Epiphany, the Sundays after Pentecost, it’s not a season. You see, in the Novus Ordo it’s a season but when you see a priest in green it’s a sign that nothing else is going on. This is a place marker, this is a non-feast. And so when you get a feast – not every little feast – but when you get a feast day like Our Lady’s birthday or Our Lady of Sorrows, which is of a certain importance, a certain class feast. It takes precedence over the non-season Sunday. In the ’62 N.O., you simply suppress all these feasts that we’ve been celebrating for years.
Last Sunday in particular, we had the Mass of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, the Seven Dolors. I wanted to say just a couple words about the Seven Dolors and that particular devotion. Before I get into the devotion of the Seven Sorrows or the Seven Dolors (it means the same thing – Sorrows is probably a little more modern term for it) I want to just talk about devotions in general. A lot of times people find themselves going back to confession sometimes for serious sins and repeating the same confession over and over again. And I say what are you doing to stop this sin? Well, I don’t know. Are you saying your daily rosary? Well, no. Okay, part of the Sacrament of Confession is what we call a firm purpose of amendment. It means when you go in there you have to be determined to do what it takes to stop the sin you are doing, okay? Now if you are going to confession time and time again and you have no real purpose of amendment, meaning you are not really doing anything to stop the sin, it questions whether your whole confession is serious or even valid.
What I’m getting to here is what can you do? Now I have in the past, of course, and still do, suggest a daily Rosary, but I know some people find daily Rosaries may be intimidating. It all goes back to what a devotion is worth and what it’s worth usually depends on what heaven says it’s worth. So the minimum devotion – okay, you’re making the same confession over and over again, you’re sick and tired of it, you’ve got to do something about it, where do you start? There’s a devotion called The Three Hail Mary’s, okay? Everyone who has any kind of inclination towards developing a devotional life and doesn’t know where to start, start with the devotion of The Three Hail Mary’s. Look it up, but what it consists of is, in the morning you get out of bed, you get on your knees and you say Three Hail Mary’s and a little prayer, “By thy pure and Immaculate Conception, make my body pure and my soul holy. My Mother, keep me from mortal sin, etc.” Before you go to bed at night and in the morning you drop to your knees, you say the Three Hail Mary’s; the very minimum. But what does heaven say that’s worth? Our Lady has promised that you will get the graces, if you’re not in the state of grace, to be returned to the state of grace very soon and you will persist in it with the gift of final perseverance, okay? Worth your three Hail Mary’s twice a day? If you can’t do that, three Hail Mary’s twice to stop the sins you’re doing, you don’t deserve salvation. I’m sorry; you don’t deserve to go to heaven. You deserve to go to hell for your sins if you won’t do that, okay? How much easier can heaven make it for you? So a word to the wise!
Now what I want to talk about was last Sunday’s feast specifically. Another devotion – and I don’t want to dump devotions on you all at once. If you are at the point where you would like to do this devotion or are doing it, wonderful. If you haven’t gotten to the three Hail Mary’s phase yet, okay, do that. And when you’re all set move on to other devotions, the Rosary and what not.
Now devotion to Our Lady’s Sorrows is of apostolic origin. It goes back as far as anyone can find in the Church. But specifically as we have them delineated here, the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows which is also known as the Servite Rosary because it was put in its’ form with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order and that goes back to the founding of the Servites in the 13th Century, okay?
When we talk about rosary in the Church now we think automatically Dominican Rosary for the most part, but the Servite Rosary was as equally indulgenced as the Dominican Rosary and at one time in the history of the Church, as popular if not more popular than the common rosary that we think of today, the Dominican Rosary. So it has a long history. And what about the Sorrows of Our Lady – I’ll delineate them for you, I’ll list them – but most of them except for one they are described by the two evangelists/apostles who were closest to Our Lady, St. Luke and St. John. Of course, St. John took Our Lady in and cared for her until the end of her life; St. Luke was a good friend of the Blessed Virgin Mary and, in fact, he was a painter and painted the first portrait of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The other one is St. Matthew, it mentions one of these.
The first of the seven is the prophecy of St. Simeon — now let me mention it. This Rosary of Seven Sorrows, dead simple. It can be very complicated which is why I’m distilling this for you and redacting it and telling you about it. Why? Because if you look it up on the internet no one including two Servite websites can agree on exactly what I call the “trimmings”. The guts are the same for the most part but the trimmings vary wildly. I will tell you the essence. The essence is you make the sign of the cross, you announce you’re saying the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, you announce the first sorrow, you say Our Father, 7 Hail Mary’s and at the end of it Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us. You go on to the next sorrow of Our Lady. There are seven of them, seven groups of one Our Father and seven Hail Mary’s. So in the regular rosary we’d call that a decade, but it isn’t a decade because there’s only seven so it would be a heptade technically. You say seven heptades, although if I said to say a heptade of the rosary they’d think I was hiccupping in the confessional or something. You do that with the next mystery. At the end of it, Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us at the end of every heptade and then you have three Hail Mary’s in remembrance of the tears of Our Lady, and then another Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, etc., and at the end you say a prayer.
Now what prayer? Nobody agrees on the internet let me tell you straight off. Go to the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, there are two, and use the oration from that Mass or else once you get the gist of it make up one. There’s no de fide way of doing the prayer at the end, as to which one it has to be. Find one on the internet you like or do the prayer from one of the two feasts of Our Lady of Sorrows or in the end make up your own.
Now why do I say they’re wildly different? Because you know by Divine Providence there was an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, in Rwanda of all places in the 80’s and she advocated a renewal, a revival of the devotion of the Seven Sorrows. But out of this apparition came a multitude of trimmings. So you don’t have to do the trimmings, you don’t have to do the whole Rwanda thing, just do the basic one.
What are these dolors, these sorrows that we’re listing? The first is the prophecy of Simeon. They take the Baby Jesus to the temple to perform the prescribed actions prescribed by Moses, they did the sacrifice of the two turtle doves and there was someone there named Simeon who was one of the priests that week. He had been promised by Our Lord he would not see death until he saw the Messiah. So that’s where we get the Nunc Dimittis from, the prayer: Now let Thy servant go in peace according to Thy word. But also he said to Our Lady, A sword shall pierce your heart, okay? This is the first. So you meditate on that sorrow of Our Lady. Imagine being told in the temple by this guy out of the blue like this, that a sword was going to pierce your heart and how that set the tone for Our Lady who was essentially Our Lady of Sorrows throughout her entire life.
The second is the Flight into Egypt. Herod wanted to kill all the babies because the three kings didn’t go back and tell him where Our Lord was, so he is going to kill all the babies, the massacre of the Innocents. An angel appears to St. Joseph and says take the Child and the Mother and go into Egypt and stay there until Herod is dead and then it will be safe to come back. Well now, there is a lot to meditate here. We have no idea if the angel appeared to Mary too and she said you’d better tell my husband because if I tell him we have to get up and go to Egypt he’s not going to buy this or something like that. Or if he just appeared to St. Joseph in order for Our Lady to practice more humility by obeying her husband when she didn’t really understand what was going on right off the bat, this kind of thing. In any case they had to leave everything – in those days you couldn’t text your family and say oh, by the way, we’re going to Egypt. They had to leave everything and everybody, their home – they didn’t go back home to pack. They left from where they were and they went straight to Egypt and stayed there until Herod was dead and this was a great sorrow, not to mention an inconvenience for the Holy Family.
The third one – it’s interesting because some of these are contained within the mysteries of the Rosary – like the first one, the prophecy of Simeon would be in the Presentation in the Temple of Our Lord. The third one we know from the Joyful Mysteries, we have the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple, number five, but number three is if you find Him you have to have lost Him so the loss of the Child Jesus for three days before they found Him in the Temple, a lot to think about there.
The fourth is Our Lady meets Our Lord on the Way of the Cross. Now this is in the Stations of the Cross; St. Francis de Sales the way he puts it is, their eyes met and their looks became as so many arrows to pierce the hearts of those who loved each other so dearly, okay? So that would be the fourth.
The fifth is also the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary, the Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord.
The sixth, Our Lord is taken down from the cross and placed in the arms of His mother.
The seventh, Our Lord is placed in the tomb.
Now you can meditate on these without end really, there are so many things. Even placing Our Lord in the tomb, even though she held Our Lord’s lifeless body when it was taken off the cross. She was never separated from Him in that way from His conception until that point. And she knew who He was and what He was and loved Him because she was the Immaculate Conception in a way that nobody else could love.
So why do you want to pray it? Just because it’s nice to think about the sorrows of Our Lady? Well, in one way it is nice, however, it is good to do it because of what we’re promised. St. Alphonsus Ligouri in a book The Glories of Mary which I think you would all like – it’s widely available. In fact, all of it is on line if you want to read it that way. But in The Glories of Mary he says that Jesus has four promises to those who devote themselves to Mary’s seven sorrows. This is why you do it. We do these things not because it seems like a nice thing to do and to add another devotion but because Our Lord and Our Lady have promised us things we need and need sometimes very, very, soon and very, very, badly by doing these devotions, okay? So what does Our Lord Jesus promise? He said that those who invoke the Divine Mother by her sorrows before death will merit to obtain true repentance of all their sins, that He will protect such in their tribulations, especially at the hour of death, that he will impress upon them the memory of His passion and that they shall have their reward for it in heaven. Fourth, that He will commit such devout servants to the hands of Mary that she may dispose of them according to her pleasure and obtain for them all the graces she desires. That’s what Our Lord promises.
Our Lady promises through St. Bridget of Sweden – there are some that pertain precisely to her seven Dolors, and she said that if you have a devotion to the seven sorrows, first I will grant peace to their families. Now how many times do I hear about families that don’t have peace. Oh this one’s gone off or that one’s gone off, this one’s doing this, this one’s doing that. Okay! Who doesn’t need peace in their families, all right? So, I will grant peace to their families. They will be enlighted about the divine mysteries. I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work. I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my Divine Son or the sanctification of their souls. I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives. I will visibly help them at the moment of their death. They will see the face of their Mother. (And I’ve heard of this multiple times, I have heard of people that I have attended who were dying speaking to Our Lady right before they breathed their last breath who had these devotions. This happens. People who have these devotion and they are promised by Our Lady “I will come to you at the hour of death” sometimes we actually see them seeing Our Lady, their face changes and talking to her before they pass away and, God willing that will be us too.) I will obtain this grace from my Divine Son that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and sorrows will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son will be their eternal consolation and joy.
So my dear faithful if you don’t know anything or haven’t known anything until today about the devotion of the seven sorrows of Our Lady and you’re at that point, and you are at that point where you can look into another devotion in your life, please think of what Our Lady and Our Lord promised and consider doing this in the one-week anniversary of the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.