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September - Month of the Mother of Sorrows
« on: September 02, 2007, 02:51:09 PM »
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  • September, the month dedicated to Our Mother of Sorrows
    Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
    J.M.J.

    Taken from:  "The Servite Manual:  BEHOLD THY MOTHER - a Collection of
    Devotions Chiefly in Honor of Our Lady of Sorrows," compiled by The Servite
    Fathers; 6th ed; Servite Fathers, Chicago, 1947; pages xv-xxix.

    INTRODUCTION

    The Devotion and Confraternity of Our Lady of Seven Dolors

    Origin and Propagation of the Devotion to the Seven Dolors of our Blessed
    Lady

    The devotion to the Dolors of Mary is as old as Holy Church: it had its
    birth on the day of the Passion at the foot of the cross, when our Lord gave
    us His Mother to be our Mother also.  She to whom He bade us turn our eyes,
    when in the person of St. John He said to us, "Behold thy Mother," is not
    Mary in her Immaculate Conception, in her Annunciation, or her Assumption,
    but Mary plunged in sorrow and bathed in tears, the Mother of Dolors.  Thus
    we see that among the manifestations of Christian piety towards the most
    holy Mother of God, compassion for her Dolors is one of the most ancient;
    and among the oldest archaeological remains it is by no means rare to find
    her image at the foot of the cross beside that of the crucified Savior.

    Like all the devotions of Holy Church, that to the Dolors of Mary developed
    by degrees and took a more precise and definite form.  In the middle ages it
    had become extremely popular; and we may venture to say that there was no
    cathedral or principal church wherein was not exposed for the veneration of
    the faithful the image or statue of Mary at the foot of the cross, or
    holding the dead body of Jesus on her knees.  Nay more, the same was often
    found in even the humblest village churches.  But in order that this worship
    might be still more extended, God willed that there should be in His Church
    an Order especially set apart for its propagation, and in the persons of the
    Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order, of St. Philip Benizi and their
    successors, He raised up indefatigable apostles to travel through Italy and
    the whole of Europe, preaching everywhere compassion for the sufferings of
    Jesus crucified and of Mary desolate, as well as hatred for sin, the
    accursed cause of these sufferings.

    Nothing is more touching and wonderful than the manner in which this mission
    was entrusted to the Seven Holy
    Founders.  These men where seven Florentine patricians who, according to the
    custom of that period, were also engaged in commerce.  Their names were
    Bonfilius, Monaldi, Bonagiunta Manetti, Amideus de Amedei, Manettus dell
    Antella, Sosteneus Sostegni, Hugh Uguccioni and Alexius Falconieri.  They
    were enrolled in the ranks of canonized Saints by Pope Leo XIII, January 5,
    1888.

    We designate them now by the names of Saints Bonfil, Bunajunt, Amideus,
    Manettus, or Manette, Sostene, Hugh and Alexis.  Members of a pious
    Confraternity of the most holy Virgin, they were engaged in reciting her
    office on the 15th of August, the feast of her Assumption, in the year 1233,
    when she herself appeared to them in the glory of her triumph, and exhorted
    them to leave the world, in order to dedicate themselves under her auspices
    to the service of God.  They renounced their riches and their families
    without delay, and retiring to an hermitage near their native town of
    Florence, lived a life of prayer and penance in the closest brotherly love.
    God was soon pleased to manifest by a wondrous miracle how pleasing to Mary
    were these holy men.  In the following month of January, when two of them
    were traversing the streets of Florence and asking alms, infants still
    unweaned cried:  "Behold the Servants of Mary; give alms to the Servants of
    Mary."  Among these infants was St. Philip Benizi, who was to become one of
    the most glorious in the Order of Servites.  Owing to the crowds drawn to
    them by this miracle, the Seven Holy Founders were obliged to seek a more
    secluded retreat, and chose Mount Senario, a wild and desert spot about nine
    miles North of Florence.  There, after six years passed in extreme
    austerities, Mary showed them, by many miracles, the design she had in
    calling them out of the world.  First of all, in the month of March 1240, a
    time of the year in which the mountain is still covered with hoar frost, a
    young vine, which they had planted in the previous year, grew miraculously
    during the night, and was clothed at once with foliage, flower, and fruit,
    symbol of the speedy increase of their little company, as was revealed at
    the same time to the Bishop of Florence, Ardingo Trotti.  Shortly
    afterwards, on Good Friday of the same year, after having meditated and wept
    all day over the sufferings of Jesus and the Dolors of His most holy Mother,
    the Holy Founders were gathered together at eventide in their little
    oratory, when our Lady of Dolors appeared to them, gentle and majestic in
    aspect, her eyes streaming with tears, in black garments, and covered with a
    long mourning robe.  She bore in her hands habits of like color and form.
    Around her was a numerous choir of angels and heavenly spirits. One of these
    bore a kind of label, on which, in letters as of gold, glowed the words
    "Servi Mariae" (Servants of Mary), another held an open book, whereon were
    inscribed the first words of the Rule of St. Augustine, while a third gently
    waved a magnificent palm, emblem of victory.
    Looking upon them with love, while she slowly drew near, she signed to them
    to approach and take the habits which she delivered to them, saying in
    gentle tones:  "It is I, my beloved, I upon whom you have so often called.
    I have chosen you out of the world, in order that you may be my Servants,
    and under that name work in the vineyard of my Son, producing fruits of
    salvation in abundance.  Look upon the habit wherewith I am clothed; symbol
    of mourning and sadness, it indicates the profound grief which filled my
    soul at the death of my only Son.  Take this mourning habit," and as she
    said this, she gave to them the garments which she held in her hands, "this
    habit like unto mine, and, in memory of the extreme dolor which I suffered,
    when I witnessed the cruel death of my dear Son, wear it through life and
    until the hour of your death, spreading everywhere the memory of my Dolors
    and of the Passion of my Jesus."  Then she gave them the Rule of St.
    Augustine, and commanded them to observe it diligently, as also to keep
    always the name of Servants of Mary, promising as their reward the palm of
    eternal life.  Thus having spoken, she vanished from the eyes of the Seven
    Founders, leaving their hearts filled with pity, gratitude and sweet
    consolation.

    [FOOTNOTE:  These facts, as well as those which follow, are told with
    greater detail in the "Story of the Seven Holy Founders," by Fr. Ledoux
    (Burns & Oates), and in the "Storia dei Sette Santi Fondatori," published in
    Rome at Propaganda, in 1888, on the occasion of their canonization.]

    Such is the origin of the black scapular of our Lady of Dolors, such its
    touching significance.  It recalls to us
    the profound grief of the most holy Virgin, and associates us with it, in
    making us wear with her a garb of mourning. It should be still more
    venerable in our eyes from its great antiquity, since it even preceded that
    of Mount Carmel, which is often supposed to be the most ancient in the
    Church, but was given to St. Simon Stock only several years after the gift
    of that of the Seven Dolors.
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