Today we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints (also called All Saints Day).
All Saints’ Day, All Hallows Day, or Hallowmas is solemnly celebrated on 1 November by many Western Liturgical Churches to honor, literally, all the saints, known and unknown; those individuals who have attained Heaven; all the holy men and women who have lived their lives for God and for his church, who now have attained Beatific vision and their reward of Heaven.
In early Christian history it was usual to solemnize the anniversary of a Martyr’s death for the Lord at the place of their martyrdom. Frequently there were multiple martyrs who would’ve suffered and died on the same day which led to multiple commemorations on the same day. Eventually, the numbers of martyrs became so great that it was impossible for a separate day to be assigned to each individually, but the church feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a feast day to commemorate them all on the same day.
The origin of the festival of All Saints celebrated in the West dates to the month of May in the year 609 or 610, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon at Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs. In the 730’s Pope Gregory III moved the Feast of All Saints to 1 November when he founded an oratory in St. Peter’s for the relics of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world.”
From our Readings today, we hear of the vision of St. John from the Book of Revelation:
After this, I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”
All the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They prostrated themselves before the throne, worshiped God, and exclaimed:
“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, “Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.” He said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”
Who are these nameless saints? Their anonymity teaches us that sainthood is not reached through great achievements or rare acts of bravery. Sainthood comes from simply loving God and doing our best to live our lives in a way consistent with Jesus’ commandment. I would dare say that none of the saints actually set out to be saints. They simply loved God and lived their lives to follow Him.
Revelation goes on to remind us that giving our lives over to God will not protect us or insulate us from hardship. Living in, for, with, and through God, however, will make sure that we can and will endure whatever “great distress” comes our way. In this passage of Revelation, John is speaking specifically of those who have given their lives for their faith. Christians throughout the Middle East are being martyred by forces opposed to Christianity, but in reality, it is very unlikely that any of us will be called upon to sacrifice our lives for our faith.
Our challenge, then, is to live for Christ, rather than to die for Christ. Jesus does ask to lay down our lives for Him. Peter said to the Lord, “I will lay down my life for Your sake,” and he meant it (John 13:37). Has the Lord ever asked you, “Will you lay down your life for My sake?” (John 13:38). It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God. We are not made for the bright-shining moments of life, but we have to walk in the light of them in our everyday ways. For thirty-three years Jesus laid down His life to do the will of His Father. “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).
If we are true followers of Jesus, we must deliberately and carefully lay down our lives for Him. It is a difficult thing to do, and thank God that it is, for great is our reward. Salvation is easy for us, however, because it cost God so much. But the exhibiting of salvation in our lives is difficult. God saves a person, fills him with the Holy Spirit, and then says, in effect, “Now you work it out in your life, and be faithful to Me, even though the nature of everything around you is to cause you to be unfaithful.” And Jesus says to us, “…I have called you friends….” Remain faithful to your Friend, and remember that His honor is at stake in your bodily life. We are called to remain faithful, despite the reasons the world gives us to not, despite the “great distresses” in our lives.
Who are these dressed in white robes? It is my prayer to be counted among them. What about you?
Liturgical colour: White.
Reading 1: JON 1:1–2:1-2, 11
Responsorial Psalm: JONAH 2:3, 4, 5, 8
Holy Gospel Reading: LK 10:25-37
Today, we come together as the Church to honour The Blessed Virgin Mary in her Title as Our Lady of The Rosary. May I extend my wishes of a blessed Feast of Our Lady of The Rosary to you all!
Let me begin by going through the beginning of the History of The Rosary:
On October 7th, in the year of1571 a fleet of ships assembled by the combined forces of Naples, Sardinia, Venice, the Papacy, Genoa, Savoy and the Knights Hospitallers fought an intense battle with the fleet of the Ottoman Empire. The battle took place in the Gulf of Patras located in western Greece. Though outnumbered by the Ottoman forces, the so-called “Holy League” possessed of superior firepower would win the day. This victory would severely curtail attempts by the Ottoman Empire to control the Mediterranean, causing a seismic shift in international relations from East to West. In some respects, and I do not want this claim to be overstated, the world that we know came into being with this victory. This event is known to history as the “Battle of Lepanto.”
Pope Pius V, whose treasury bankrolled part of this military endeavour, ordered the churches of Rome to be opened for prayer both day and night, to encourage faithful to petition the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the recitation of the Rosary. When word reached the Pope Pius of the victory of the Holy League, he added a new feast day to the Roman Liturgical Calendar- October 7th would henceforth be the feast of Our Lady of Victory. Pope Pius’ successor, Gregory XIII would change the name of this day to the feast of the Holy Rosary.
It was not until the fifteen century that the Rosary was divided into three Chaplets of 50 Hail Mary’s each and that the mysteries were added to each Chaplet. By the sixteen century, the fifteen mysteries had become accepted by all as the proper way of reciting the Rosary. During that period of time, the second half of the Hail Mary was added and the “Glory be to the Father” was used to close each decade of the Rosary. In 1569, Pope Pius V officially approved the Rosary as it is known today.
Four years later, he established the Feast of the Rosary in thanksgiving to Our Lady to commemorate the naval victory of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. On that same day, the first Sunday of October, while the members of the Rosary confraternity made their procession in Rome, Don John of Austria defeated the Turkish fleet.
Following the request of the Dominican Order, in 1573, Pope Gregory XIII allowed this feast to be observed in all the Churches that possessed an altar dedicated to the Holy Rosary. In 1671, Pope Clement X extended the observance of this feast to the whole of Spain. Afterward, in recognition of the victory over the Turks by Prince Eugene on August 6, 1716, at Peterwardein in Hungary, Pope Clement XI commanded that the Feast of the Rosary be celebrated throughout the world.
Now let’s discuss The purpose of The Rosary:
The purpose of the rosary is to help us to meditate on the great mysteries of our salvation. Pius XII called it a compendium of the gospel. The main focus is on Jesus—on his birth, his life, his death, and his resurrection. The Our Fathers remind us that Jesus’ Father is the initiator of salvation. The Hail Marys remind us to join with Mary in contemplating these mysteries. They also make us aware that Mary was and is intimately joined with her Son in all the mysteries of his earthly and heavenly existence. The Glory Bes remind us that the purpose of all life is the glory of the Trinity.
The rosary appeals to many. It is simple. The constant repetition of words helps create an atmosphere in which to contemplate the mysteries of God. We sense that Jesus and Mary are with us in the joys and sorrows of life. We grow in hope that God will bring us to share in the glory of Jesus and Mary forever.
Let us pray:
To Our Lady of the Rosary
O Blessed Virgin Mary, grant that the recitation of thy Rosary may be for us each day, in the midst of our manifold duties, a bond of unity in our actions, a tribute of filial piety, a sweet refreshment, an encouragement to walk joyfully along the path of duty. Grant, above all, O Virgin Mary, that the study of thy fifteen mysteries may form in our souls, little by little, a luminous atmosphere, pure, strengthening, and fragrant, which may penetrate our understanding, our will, our heart, our memory, our imagination, our whole being. So shall we acquire the habit of praying while we work, without the aid of formal prayers, by interior acts of admiration and of supplication, or by aspirations of love. I ask this of thee, O Queen of the Holy Rosary, through Saint Dominic, thy son of predilection, the renowned preacher of thy mysteries, and the faithful imitator of thy virtues. Amen.
Holy Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do you, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Archangels. Every so often there’s a story in the news about how many Americans believe in angels. Usually it’s presented in somewhat alarmist language…”more Americans believe in angels than in evolution, poll suggests!” Or “7 things Americans think are more plausible than man-made global warming! #1 Angels!” A 2011 poll conducted by the Associated Press says 77% of Americans believe angels are real. To me, how they ask the question is important. Years ago, I was one of those polled while touring the campus at Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary, and they asked, “Do you believe in angels?” and I thought “do you mean, do I believe in little adorable, chubby-cheeked Raphaelite cherubs with rainbow wings?” No, not really. Do I believe that there are things in the universe beyond my powers of comprehension who are active in doing God’s will? Then, yes. Without a doubt! When I asked for this clarification the poll taker looked at their clipboard and said, “it just says, do you believe in angels?” Well, then. “yes.”
A lot of Americans may believe in angels, but I don’t know how many of us give them much thought. Angels are one of those ubiquitous pop-culture things that show up in lots of places but I, for one, don’t spend an awful lot of time thinking about them. When I volunteered to write today’s sermon, I decided that I should do some research on angels, so I did what any self-respecting Generation-”Y”er would do…I went and re-watched the movie Dogma. Yup, you heard right!
That’s the Kevin Smith movie starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as a pair of angels who have been banished from heaven and sent not to hell, but to Wisconsin. They think they’ve discovered a loophole in Catholic Dogma that will allow them back into heaven and the movie is the wackiness that ensues as they try to enact their plan.
I enjoyed seeing it again, but I’m not sure it told me all that much about angels.
At least the angels in Dogma are somewhat closer to biblical angels than Clarence in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or Michael Landon on “Highway to Heaven,” or Roma Downey and Della Reese on “Touched by an Angel.”
At least for me, it’s hard to reconcile the “I’m just sent to help people out,” angles of those shows with the fearsome, world-ending appearance of the angels in our readings. TV angels are really pleasant, angels in scripture are really scary! Our ancestors thought much more systematically about angels. A lot of what we think we know about angels comes from a Syrian monk writing around the 5th century of the common era known as Dionysius the Areopagite. He’s the one who gives us the nine orders, or choirs, of angels.
Beginning with the Seraphim…those closest to God, the ones with six wings, two covering their feet, two covering their face, and two to fly with.
Next are the Cherubim…NOT the chubby little children that Raphael painted. These are the winged creatures with flaming swords guarding the entrance to Paradise, and represented on the top of the Ark of the Covenant. They are sometimes represented with the front quarters of a lion, and the hind quarters of a bull, the head of a man, and the wings of an eagle. Or with four-faces those of a bull, an eagle, a lion, and a human.
Then continuing down the ranks come the Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, and finally Archangels. This is where we find Michael, also Raphael, Gabriel, and sometime Uriel. At the very end, plain old angels.
It’s all quite dizzying!
Michael is one of the few named angels in scripture, and as such has attracted much devotion from a very early date. In Jewish midrash, Michael is the one who is said to have prevented the sacrifice of Isaac, saves the three young men from the fiery furnace, and the one who wrestles with Jacob. In Christian tradition, Michael is regarded as both a warrior—defeating Satan in the battle in heaven—and a healer—the earliest sanctuary dedicated to St. Michael was associated with a healing well.
Often feast days are associated with at least quasi-historical dates…often the presumed date of the saint’s death, but since angels and archangels don’t die, the association of Sept 29th with the feast of Michaelmas came from the 5th century dedication of a St. Michael’s basilica near Rome. In medieval England, Michalemas marked the end of the “husbandman’s year” when the harvest was done and accounts were settled, and hiring for the next year took place.
The fact that it takes place around the fall equinox is (I think) significant. Because in addition to angels, another thing we post-modern folks don’t think an awful lot about is the calendar. Oh sure, we are tied to our calendars but mostly to make sure that we are where we’re supposed to be when we’re supposed to be there. But our liturgical or church calendar does much more than simply mark time…it sanctifies it.
In the English Church the Feast of the Archangels would have been celebrated last night at a service called Evensong. Evensong is perhaps one of the most ancient of all prayerful actions. Our ancestors understood the necessity of marking the times of the day, the week, and the year. Those “thin-spaces” where time and eternity, earth and space, breath and Spirit flow into and out of one another. Morning Prayer at dawn. Evening Prayer at dusk. The two great hinges of every day. Weekly Sabbaths establishing times of work and rest. And yearly festivals not merely marking time but actually (re)creating and sanctifying the rhythm of existence—the rhythm of being. Michaelmas is almost an autumnal mirror of Pentecost.
In the northern hemisphere, the Triduum—the great three days of Holy Week—Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday mark the dying—the pause in the tomb and the resurrection of our Lord, who becomes the first fruits of the new and unending life.
From that single seed the Holy Spirit—in the burst of Pentecost—is poured out on us to effect our transformation and the renewal of the whole earth—in this season of growth and greenness—bringing all creation closer to God’s realm.
Then as the season of growth turns to the abundance of fall and harvest our focus is increasingly drawn to the fullness of the Eschaton—the edge of time—the horizon of existence. As the sun lowers in the sky, our eyes are drawn to the horizon. As the days shorten and shadows lengthen Michaelmas directs our attention to the horizon and beyond to the heavenly host—to those who are always above and beyond us—angels.
As we move toward the fall Triduum—All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints, and All Souls day—the church continues to direct us to the culmination of all things—to those who have gone before—and then the coming of Christ just before Advent. The culmination of all things, dominions, princedoms, powers, virtues, archangels, angel choirs—all things find their reason and their rest in Christ.
You see, I do believe in angels, but more in the sense that there really are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.
So for me, this year, this celebration of the feast of St. Michael and All Angels is a gift from the church in her wisdom—a reminder to keep my eyes and heart focused on these things that really are above me and beyond my ability to grasp or understand. As the earth turns, once again, her northern face away from the sun, and we prepare again to enter the time of darkening days and cooler nights, it’s helpful to think of the heavenly hosts, the powers that I still don’t and never will totally understand—but knowing that they are working and praying and guarding and guiding and enacting God’s will…and allowing and inviting us to experience God’s grace in our own lives is somehow enough.
The 8th century scholar and monk Alcuin wrote a sequence litany for Michael and the other archangels that ends like this:
Hear us, Michael,
Come down a little
From thy high seat,
To bring us the strength of God,
And the lightening of His mercy.
And do thou, Gabriel,
Lay low our foes,
And thou, Raphael,
Heal our sick,
Purge our disease, ease thou our pain,
And give us to share
In the joys of the blessed.
The First Anniversary of the Transition to the Lord of The Servant of God, Phil of Madison IOFM
Today we come to together as his church, his clergy family and his dear friends, to remember our dear brother, The Rt Rev Philip Gerboc IOFM, on this, his first anniversary of his Transition to Eternal Life.
We all dearly loved our brother Phil. He was constantly striving in doing the Lord’s service. Phil spent a lot of time in political ministry, constantly working to improve conditions for the needy, and working to get acceptance for all our dear Lgbtqi brothers and sisters.
The servant of God Phil of Madison IOFM, passed into life eternal on 2 February 2017, after a couple of weeks in a coma with a severe double stroke. He was ordained to the priesthood on 27th May 2012 and was, at the time of his transition, the Vicar General and Bishop-elect of the Diocese of the Great Lakes of the Unified Old Catholic Church.
He was born on 19 February 1962 in Cleveland, OH to the late William and Kathleen Cullen Gerboc, the youngest of 4 children. He ministered to the homeless, mentally ill, and poor in Madison, Wisconsin and was known as the “Labor Priest.” He founded The Independent Order of Friars Minor, the Franciscan Order of The Unified Old Catholic Church, as well as the IOFM Third Order. He was also instrumental in the foundation of the church itself. Philip was one who fought for the faith, no matter the cost, who stood up for the down-trodden, who continually worked for the betterment of mankind. He truly exemplified Christ’s command to feed the hungry, to house the homeless, to clothe the naked.
Like his hero, St. Francis, Fr. Phil dedicated his life to service. A dedicated, die hard Franciscan, he could quote the Omnibus at length, at the drop of a hat, ad infinitum.
And like St. Francis, Phil has left us too soon.
Phil was a wonderful example of being a true, devout and faithful servant of God, and there is such a lot about his devotion, that we can all follow in our own lives in the service of our God. He was genuine, so sincere and would stop at nothing to care for those in need. He even put his own health at risk because others came first. I know that I am only one of the people in the church who has been blessed by the example and the love and friendship of Phil. He was very protective of his dear clergy brothers and sisters, and I remember fondly the amount of times, he would hear someone was giving me a hard time, and he would come and jump to my defence, always wanting to ensure people would treat me as Phil thought I deserved.
Thank you so much dear brother for your love and friendship, and for your example. You have indeed left a light shining in all of our hearts, and I just know you are carrying on your excellent service at the throne of the Heavenly Father on high.,
I will close with this poem Written by Lisa DeVinney on November 26, 2014:
Well Done, Faithful Servant!
Well done, faithful servant!
You ran a valiant race.
You pressed with fervour toward the mark;
And always sought My face.
Well done, faithful servant!
You stayed the course with love.
You reached out to a hurting world
With grace sent from above.
Yes, well done, faithful servant!
Come, rest here at My throne.
And let Me tell you just how much
I’m glad to have you home.
And now, My faithful servant,
Come, walk along with Me;
And find the joy awaiting you
For all eternity…
We love you!!!
Within the calendar year, there is another year: the great cycle of the liturgical year, revolving around the life and ministry Christ. Each season of the liturgical year has its own particular focus, feasts, words, and colors, giving us an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the coming of Jesus, his life, and his commission to His people to be a light to the world. Since the 900s, Advent has marked the beginning of the church year, and is a season of great anticipation, preparation, and excitement, traditionally focusing on the Nativity of the Christ Child, when Jesus came as our Savior. During Advent, we as Christians also direct our thoughts to His second coming as judge.
The word Advent is from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming,” and is celebrated during the four weeks of preparation for Christmas. Advent always contains four Sundays, beginning on the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, (November 30) and continuing until December 24. It blends together a penitential spirit, very similar to Lent, a liturgical theme of preparation for the Second and Final Coming of the Lord, called the Parousia, and a joyful theme of getting ready for the Bethlehem event. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate. Scripture readings for Advent reflect this emphasis on the Second Advent, including themes of accountability for faithfulness at His coming, judgment of sin, and the hope of eternal life.
In this double focus on past and future, Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation, as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power. That acknowledgment provides a basis for holy living, arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people. As the church celebrates God’s Incarnation in the physical presence of Jesus Christ, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which “all creation is groaning , awaiting its redemption,” it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
We celebrate with gladness the great promise of Advent, yet knowing that there is also a somber tone as the theme of final judgment is added to the theme of promise. This is reflected in some of the Scripture readings for Advent, in which there is a strong prophetic tone of accountability and judgment of sin. This is also faithful to the role of the Coming King who comes to rule, save, and judge, the world.
Because of the dual themes of judgment and promise, Advent is a time of preparation that is marked by prayer. While Lent is characterized by fasting and a spirit of penitence, Advent’s prayers are prayers of humble devotion and commitment, prayers of submission, prayers for deliverance, prayers from those walking in darkness who are awaiting and anticipating a great light (Isaiah 9).
Historically, the primary color of Advent is Purple. This is the color of penitence and fasting as well as the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the King. The purple of Advent is also the color of suffering used during Lent and Holy Week. This points to an important connection between Jesus’ birth and death. The nativity, the Incarnation, cannot be separated from the crucifixion. The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world, of the “Word made flesh” and dwelling among us, is to reveal God and His grace to the world through Jesus’ life and teaching, but also through his suffering, death, and resurrection. To reflect this emphasis, originally Advent was a time of penitence and fasting, much as the Season of Lent, and so shared the color of Lent.
In the four weeks of Advent ,the third Sunday came to be a time of rejoicing that the fasting was almost over (in some traditions it is called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for “rejoice”). The shift from the purple of the Season to pink or rose for the third Sunday reflected this lessening emphasis on penitence as attention turned more to celebration of the season.
In recent times, however, Advent has undergone a shift in emphasis, reflected in a change of colors used in many churches. The penitential aspect of the Season has been almost totally replaced by an emphasis on hope and anticipation. Many churches now use blue to distinguish the Season of Advent from Lent. Royal Blue is sometimes used as a symbol of royalty. Some churches use Bright Blue to symbolize the night sky, the anticipation of the impending announcement of the King’s coming, or to symbolize the waters of Genesis 1, the beginning of a new creation. Some churches, including some Catholic churches, use bluish violet to preserve the traditional use of purple while providing a visual distinction between the purple or red violet of Lent.
The Advent wreath is a popular symbol of the beginning of the Church year in many churches. It is a circular evergreen wreath with five candles, four around the wreath and one in the center. The circle of the wreath itself reminds us of God, His eternal being and endless mercy, which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath speaks of the hope that we have in God, the hope of newness, of renewal, of eternal life.
The four outer candles represent the period of waiting during the four Sundays of Advent, which themselves symbolize the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. The center candle is white and is called the Christ Candle. It is traditionally lighted on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The central location of the Christ Candle reminds us that the incarnation is the heart of the season, giving light to the world.
The light of the candles becomes an important symbol of the season. The light reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. It also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God’s grace to others (Isa 42:6). The progression in the lighting of the candles symbolizes the various aspects of our waiting experience. As the candles are lighted over the four week period, it also symbolizes the darkness of fear and hopelessness receding and the shadows of sin falling away as more and more light is shed into the world. The flame of each new candle reminds the worshippers that something is happening, and that more is yet to come. Finally, the light that has come into the world is plainly visible as the Christ candle is lighted at Christmas, and worshippers rejoice over the fact that the promise of long ago has been realized.
As we enter this holy time of the year, we ask you to join with us in preparing for the coming of the Christ with joy, with anticipation, with prayer, and with love for all mankind. Amen.
We wish you a blessed and holy Advent.
The Order of Preachers, Independent
When he was younger, my husband loved to fish. While I don’t have the patience for this sport, I can understand the thrill of catching something with a simple string and a worm. Though now I can just go to the supermarket and buy whatever meat I wish, including fish, in St. Andrew’s time, fishing was one of the few ways to provide food for your family. So if you didn’t catch much that day, your family went hungry. Yet, St. Andrew was tasked with not only providing a meal for his family, but along with his brother Peter, providing a more filling fare for so many more people.
November 30th is the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle, who is also the patron saint of Scotland. Andrew was the older brother of the Apostle Peter and the two of them were fishing when Jesus approached them and said that He would make them “fishers of men”. Following Christ’s crucifixion, Andrew traveled around preaching the Good News (some sources say as far as Kiev and Veliky Novgorod in Russia) before he was crucified on an X-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. Andrew is the patron saint of fishermen and singers, as well as Scotland, Ukraine, Romania, Russia and Patras. The saltire, or St Andrew’s Cross, is used on the flag of Scotland.
St. John the Baptist was on the banks of the Jordan with two disciples when he saw Our Lord passing. He pointed to Him and said: ‘Behold the Lamb of God.’ Andrew and the other disciple followed Our Lord and remained with Him that day. Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and hastened to introduce his brother Peter to Him (John 1:41). Andrew told Simon Peter: “We have found the Messiah.” And he brought Peter to Our Lord. When Christ beheld him, He said, “Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas: thou shall be called Cephas, that is, rock.” And so, St. Andrew had the glory of presenting to Our Lord St. Peter, upon whom the Church would be built.
“As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw the two brothers, Simon who is now called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-20).
As in the case of all the apostles except Peter and John, the Gospels give us little about the holiness of Andrew. We do know he had a great love for the cross. As soon as he saw the cross on which he would be crucified, he saluted it with these words: “O most beautiful cross that was glorified by carrying the body of Christ! Glorious cross, sweetly desired, ardently loved, always sought, and finally prepared for my heart that has so long awaited you. Take me, o cross! Embrace me. Release me from my life among men. Bring me quickly and diligently to the Master. Through you He will receive me, He, Who through you has saved me.”
He remained two days hanging on the cross, preaching to the people. These were his last words before he died: “Lord, eternal King of glory, receive me hanging from the wood of this sweet cross. Thou who art my God, whom I have seen, do not permit them to loosen me from the cross. Do this for me, O Lord, for I know the virtue of Thy Holy Cross.”
St. Andrew not only accepted the crosses given him during his life, but he looked for them. This is clear when he said that he had “always sought” sacrifice. Then, in the hour of his martyrdom he had that marvelous reaction – he said that his “heart had long awaited” the crucifixion. Which one of us can say a thing like that? What a sublime courage St. Andrew had in saying these words, which, however, came to his lips naturally and with complete serenity because he had always lived in preparation for that. Our Lord said that there is no greater friend than one who would give his life for the other. No one can give a greater proof of friendship with Our Lord than to desire the cross like St. Andrew did.
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, “This child [Jesus] is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare.” (Luke 2:34-35).
Devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady has its roots in Sacred Scripture and in Christian piety, which always associates the Blessed Mother with her suffering Son. Today’s feast was introduced by the Servites in order to intensify devotion to Our Lady’s Sorrows. In 1817 Pius VII — suffering grievously in exile but finally liberated by Mary’s intercession — extended the feast to the universal Church.
This feast dates back to the 12th century. It was especially promoted by the Cistercians and the Servites, so much so that in the 14th and 15th centuries it was widely celebrated throughout the Catholic Church. In 1482 the feast was added to the Missal under the title of “Our Lady of Compassion.” Pope Benedict XIII added it to the Roman Calendar in 1727 on the Friday before Palm Sunday. In 1913, Pope Pius X fixed the date on September 15. The title “Our Lady of Sorrows” focuses on Mary’s intense suffering during the passion and death of Christ. “The Seven Dolors,” the title by which it was celebrated in the 17th century, referred to the seven swords that pierced the Heart of Mary. It is dedicated to the spiritual martyrdom of Mary, Mother of God, and her compassion with the sufferings of her Divine Son, Jesus. In her suffering as co-redeemer, she reminds us of the tremendous evil of sin and shows us the way of true repentance. As Mary stood at the foot of the Cross on which Jesus hung, the sword of sorrow Simeon had foretold pierced her soul.
Below are the seven sorrows of Mary:
1. The prophecy of Simeon: “And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed.” – Luke II, 34-35.
2. The flight into Egypt: “And after they (the wise men) were departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise and take the child and His mother and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy Him. Who arose and took the child and His mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and He was there until the death of Herod.” – Matt. II, 13-14.
3. The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple: “And having fulfilled the days, when they returned, the Child Jesus remained in Jerusalem; and His parents knew it not. And thinking that he was in the company, they came a day’s journey, and sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And not finding Him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking Him.” Luke II, 43-45.
4. The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross: “And there followed Him a great multitude of people, and of women, who bewailed and lamented Him.” – Luke XXIII, 27.
5. The Crucifixion: “They crucified Him. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, His Mother. When Jesus therefore had seen His Mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, He saith to His Mother: Woman: behold thy son. After that he saith to the disciple: Behold thy Mother.” – John XIX, l8-25-27.
6. The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross: “Joseph of Arimathea, a noble counselor, came and went in boldly to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And Joseph buying fine linen, and taking Him down, wrapped Him up in the fine linen.” – Mark XV, 43-46.
7. The burial of Jesus: “Now there was in the place where He was crucified, a garden; and in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein no man yet had been laid. There, therefore, because of the parasceve of the Jews, they laid Jesus, because the sepulcher was nigh at hand.” John XIX, 41-42.
The Angelic Salutation (Hail Mary)
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Prior to the Second Vatican Council, there were two feasts devoted to the sorrows of Mary. The first feast was insitituted in Cologne in 1413 as an expiation for the sins of the iconoclast Hussites. The second is attributed to the Servite order whose principal devotion are the Seven Sorrows. It was instituted in 1668, though the devotion had been in existence since 1239 – five years after the founding of the order.
Symbols: heart pierced with a sword; heart pierced by seven swords; winged heart pierced with a sword; flowers: red rose, iris (meaning: “sword-lily”), cyclamen.
Prayer to our Sorrowful Mother for a particular grace:
O, mother most holy and sorrowful, Queen of Martyrs, you who stood by your Son as He agonized on the cross; by the sufferings of your life, by that sword of pain that pierced your heart, by your perfect joy in heaven, look down on me kindly as I kneel before you, sympathizing with your sorrows and offering you my petition with childlike trust.
Dear Mother, since your Son refuses you nothing, ask of His Sacred Heart to mercifully grant what I ask, through the merits of His sacred passion, along with those of your sufferings at the foot of the cross.
Mother most merciful, to whom shall I go in my misery if not to you who pities us poor sinful exiles in this valley of tears? In our name, offer Jesus but one drop of His most precious blood, but one pang of His loving heart. Remind Him that you are our sweetness, our life and our hope, and your prayer will be heard.
Here are seven graces the Blessed Virgin Mary grants to souls who honor Her daily by saying seven Hail Marys and meditating on Her tears and Dolors. The devotion was passed to us by Saint Bridget.
I will grant peace to their families.
They will be enlightened 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.
I have obtained (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.