Our Lady of Sorrows

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September 15th is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The Servites introduced this feast in order to intensify devotion to Our Lady’s Sorrows. 

This feast 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.

 

HISTORY & SIGNFICANCE

Five years after the Seven Holy Founders created the Servite Order, they chose the Sorrowful Mother standing at the foot of the Cross as their main devotion.  St. Alphonsus Ligouri explains why in his book, The Glories of Mary: Our Lady appeared to seven of her servants “with a black garment in her hand, and told them that if they wished to please her, they should often meditate upon her dolors (sorrows).”  These seven became the founder of Servants of Mary, the Servites.

There were several devotions to Mary’s Sorrows, though under various titles.  In 1668, The Holy See granted the Servites a feast in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows to be celebrated on September 15th after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14th) – an obvious connection.  It wasn’t until 1817 when Pope Pius VII — suffering grievously in exile, but finally liberated by Mary’s intercession — extended the feast to the universal Church.

The Servites also created two of the most well-known devotions to Our Lady of Sorrows: the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows and the Black Scapular of the Seven Dolors of Mary.  The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, also called the Servite Rosary or Seven Dolor Rosary, consists of seven groups of seven beads separated by a medal depicting Mary’s Seven Sorrows.  There are also three beads and a medal that precede the first meditation.  These beads represent Mary’s tears.  For information on how to pray the Servite Rosary, click here

The Black Scapular of the Seven Dolors of Mary originated from a vision of the Blessed Mother herself.  The following is an excerpt from the Catholic Information Network:

 

“We wear the scapular to indicate that we place ourselves under the special protection of the Blessed Virgin. We can tell to what army or nation a soldier belongs by the uniform he wears; so we can consider the scapular as the particular uniform of those who desire to serve the Blessed Virgin in some special manner. This wearing of the brown scapular is therefore a mark of special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. As it was first introduced among people by the Carmelite Fathers, or priests of the Order of Mount Carmel, this Scapular is called the Scapular of Mount Carmel. We have also a red scapular in honor of Our Lord’s Passion; a white one in honor of the Holy Trinity; a blue one in honor of the Immaculate Conception; and a black one in honor of the seven dolors of sorrows of the Blessed Virgin. When all these are joined together (not in one piece, but at the top only) and worn as one, they are called the five scapulars.”

 

Thus, both the Black and Brown Scapular are important to the Servite Order.

Another devotion instituted by Servites is the Via Matris, the Way of the Mother.  Much like the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross), the Via Matris allows the faithful to take a spiritual pilgrimage by contemplating Our Lady’s Seven Sorrows.  Here at Mt. Carmel, we pray the Via Matris Wednesdays during Lent.

 

HER SORROWS

As Mary stood at the foot of the Cross on which Jesus hung, the sword of sorrow pierced her soul as Simeon had foretold. The Seven Sorrows of Mary are:

  1. The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35)
  2. The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
  3. Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days (Luke 2:41-50)
  4. Mary Meets Jesus on His Way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17)
  5. Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:25-30)
  6. The Body of Jesus Being Taken from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37)
  7. The Burial of Jesus (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47)

 

NOVENA

The Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows begins 9 days prior to September 15th.  We call to mind the sorrows that our Blessed Mother endured during her life. We live in a valley of tears, until we reach our heavenly homeland, and so we ask our Lady to intercede for us.

She suffered greatly and can console us in our sufferings, obtaining for us grace from God. 

 

Intro Prayer (to be said each day)
O sorrowful Mother, I turn to you in total trust. You suffered the sharpest pains in life, watching your Son die upon the Cross, and yet you remained by Him to the end.

Look with favor upon me, a poor sinner, and obtain for me from your Son all the graces I need to endure the sufferings God allows me to face.

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Novena Prayers
Day 1:

On the Cross her Son was dying.
Mary stood beneath Him crying,
Sharing in His saving cross.
As He hangs, her soul is grieving,
and a sword her heart is cleaving
and she weeps the bitter loss.

O Mother of Sorrows, through thy First Sorrow, the Prophecy of Holy Simeon, intercede for me with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and grant me the favor I implore (mention request here).

 

Day 2:

O, the sad, afflicted Mother
of the Son beyond all others:
only Son of God most high.
Full of grief, her heart is aching;
watching Him, her body, quaking,
trembles as her offspring dies.

O Mother of Sorrows, through thy Second Sorrow, the Flight into Egypt, intercede for me with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and grant me the favor I implore (mention request here).

Day 3:

Who would see Christ’s mother crying
at the bitter crucifying
without tears of sympathy?
Who could see her depth of feeling —
thoughts of many hearts revealing —
and not share her agony?

O Mother of Sorrows, through thy Third Sorrow, the Loss of the Child Jesus, intercede for me with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and grant me the favor I implore (mention request here).

Day 4:

Pardon for our sins entreating,
She saw Him endure the beating.
All our guilt on Him was cast.
She stood by in contemplation
When her Son, in desolation
Breathed His spirit forth at last.

O Mother of Sorrows, through thy Fourth Sorrow, meeting thy Jesus on His Way to Calvary, intercede for me with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and grant me the favor I implore (mention request here).

Day 5:

Font of love, O Blessed Mother,
lend me tears to mourn my Brother.
Never let my ardor dim.
Let my heart be burning freely,
Christ my God be pleased to see me
all on fire with love for Him.

O Mother of Sorrows, through thy Fifth Sorrow, standing beneath thy dying Son on Mt. Calvary, the Flight into Egypt, intercede for me with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and grant me the favor I implore (mention request here).

Day 6:

This I ask, O Holy Mary,
that His wounds I too may carry:
fix them deeply in my heart.
Mine the burden He was bearing;
let me in His pain be sharing;
of His suffering take a part.

O Mother of Sorrows, through thy Sixth Sorrow, thy Jesus is laid in thy Arms, intercede for me with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and grant me the favor I implore (mention request here).

Day 7:

Let me join in your lamenting,
through my life weep unrelenting
tears for Jesus Crucified.
Let me stand and share your weeping,
all the day death’s vigil keeping,
glad to stand close by your side.

O Mother of Sorrows, through thy Seventh Sorrow, the Burial of thy Jesus, intercede for me with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and grant me the favor I implore (mention request here).

Day 8:

Queen of all the virgin choir,
judge me not when I aspire
your pure tears to emulate.
Let me share in Christ’s affliction —
death by bitter crucifixion —
and His wounds commemorate.

We give God thanks for the exaltation of His holy Cross, and ask dear Mother of Sorrows that you pray for us (mention request here).

Day 9:

Let me taste the pains He offered,
drunk with love for Him who suffered.
May His wounds become my own.
On the day of Christ’s returning
may my heart be lit and burning.
Virgin, aid me at His throne.

May His Cross be interceding
and His death my vict’ry pleading.
May He hold me in His grace.
When my flesh by death is taken,
may my soul to glory waken
and in heaven take a place. Amen.

Blessed Mother, on this last day of our novena to you we entrust ourselves to your heart, pierced with love for your Divine Son (mention request here).

 

Concluding Prayer for each day
The Memorare
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother. To you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your clemency, hear and answer me. Amen.

 

Understanding the Sacrament of Confession

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What is it?

It is one of the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church in which sins are forgiven. It involves three elements: confession, penance, and reconciliation. In confession, the penitent makes a verbal admission of his/her sins. Afterwards, the priest absolves the penitent’s sins and asks him/her to perform an act of reparation or penance for the sin committed. Finally, the penitent is reconciled with God and the church.

Why is Confession important?

It’s no exaggeration to say that we are all sinners. At it’s core, sin damages our relationship with God, with others, and with ourselves. With a good confession, this damage can be repaired by God’s infinite love and forgiveness. Not only that, but through this Sacrament, we receive the grace to resist sin and we learn humility by having to confess our mistakes to another person. In addition, confession better prepares us to receive the Holy Eucharist! 

Where did this Sacrament come from?

The origin of Confession can be traced back to the New Testament. In Matthew 3:2, John the Baptist shouts, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” Jesus Christ continued to spread this message by forgiving the sins of people He encountered. Recall the woman who was caught in the act of adultery (John 8). After saving her from being stoned, Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more” (John 8:11). Even after Jesus’ Resurrection, He told the Apostles to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins in His name to all the nations (Luke 24:47).

How do I make a good Confession?

A good Confession is humble, sincere, and complete. In order to be humble, we must be willing to accuse ourselves of sin with deep sorrow for hurting our Lord (perfect contrition). To be sincere, we must tell all of our sins honestly without exaggerating or excusing them. To be complete, we must confess all of our sins, including the number of times we committed each one.

How should I prepare for Confession?

Before entering the confessional, it’s a good idea to prayerfully examine your conscience. Some review their behavior by the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, or by the Seven Deadly Sins. However, we shouldn’t only focus on how we broke God’s “rules,” but also on how we have damaged our relationship with God and others and how we hurt ourselves. The Internet has many excellent resources for examining one’s conscience. Here is a great one to help you get started:

Examination of Conscience

There are also some great resources available on our Parish App.  Click here to download the app.

Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest?

It’s true that only God has the power to forgive sins; however, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit upon His apostles, giving them God’s power to forgive sins. He told them that whatever sins they forgive are forgiven and whatever sins they retain are retained (Jn 20:21-23; Mk 2:7). Since the apostles were unable to read minds, the only way they would know which to forgive and which to retain is if people told them their sins. Jesus thus established the essential structure of the sacrament of confession. Just as He uses priests to give us His Body and Blood at Mass so He uses them to give us His mercy in Penance.

How often should I go to Confession?

As Catholics, we have a duty to receive this Sacrament at least once a year. If you have committed a mortal sin, it is important that you get to Confession right away! Once a month is recommended to grow in holiness.

When can I go to Confession?

Anytime! We offer Confession every Saturday from 3:30pm – 4:00pm or by appointment. During Advent and Lent, we offer penance services as well.  You may also call the Parish Office at 303-455-0447 to schedule an appointment.

Why Bazaar Season is So Important

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For many of us, summer is bazaar season.  Catholic churches across the Denver metro area and beyond host 3-day feasts with food, games, and rides.  Coloradans consider our bazaar in particular a yearly celebration of Italian-American culture.  Italians built our parish back in the late 1800s in an area of north Denver formerly known as Little Italy.  We are proud of our Italian heritage and it shows during our annual Bazaar.  

The Italian colors are everywhere, from our posters to our booths wherein we peddle a host of Italian goods – salamis, cheese, bowls, and more.  Above the din of the crowd, you’ll hear our musician singing, “Volare,” and “That’s Amore,” taking us back to the glory days of Italian-American crooners.  Symbols of Italy are everywhere, but nothing is as prominent as the food.  In true Italian-American style, there is enough to feed an army and then some .  We serve sausage sandwiches, pizza frittas, meatball subs, gelato, pizza, etc.  The list goes on.  

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Our typical Bazaar crowd

There’s no doubt that our Bazaar is completely and undeniably Italian.  However, does anyone ever wonder why we have a Bazaar?  Is it to celebrate our Italian heritage?  Is it to raise funds for the church?  Is it simply a summer tradition?  The answer is yes to all, but that only answers what our Bazaar is.  The real, more important question is why do we celebrate every year around the 16th of July?  What is so special about this particular day, that we would plan our biggest church event around it?  

The answer to that lies in what we are.  First and foremost, we are a Catholic church, whose mission is proclaim and live the Gospel.  July 16th is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our namesake and patroness.  Back in the 13th century, the Blessed Virgin appeared to St. Simon Stock, holding the baby Jesus in one arm and the brown scapular in the other.  St. Simon Stock had been a member of the Carmelite Order and was living with a group of hermits on Mount Carmel.  At the time, the Carmelites faced persecution and oppression from its fellow clergy and they turned to the Blessed Mother for help.  She appeared to him on July 16, 1251, the day that would eventually become her feast day.  Our Lady gave St. Simon Stock the Brown Scapular with the following promise, “This shall be to thee and to all Carmelites a privilege, that whosoever dies clothed in this shall never suffer eternal fire.”  Since then, the Brown Scapular has been one of the most popular and celebrated of Roman Catholic devotions.

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Our Lady giving St. Simon Stock the Brown Scapular

Fast forward to 1904.  Our church was just rebuilt after being destroyed by a fire and was ready to be dedicated.  Mother Cabrini advised Bishop Matz to invite the Servites, an Italian-American order based in Chicago, to tend the new parish.  The Servites, more formally known as the Order of the Servants of Mary, are known for their staunch devotion to the Blessed Mother.  Thus, the order proved to be a perfect match for our parish.  It’s a blessing that the Servites continue to staff our parish 112 years later.

Although the community has come to know our annual Bazaar as an Italian summer fest, it’s important to remember the why.  Our Bazaar is a celebration of our patron’s feast day – the Lady of Carmel.  In fact, on the 3rd day of the Bazaar, we honor our mother, Mary, with a procession through the streets of north Denver in which we carry her statue and recite the rosary, much like churches in Italy do.  Back in the early days of our parish, masses of people participated in the procession.  It was not only an impressive testament to our faith, but a shining example of the verse, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18: 20).  Unfortunately, the purpose of the Bazaar has since been forgotten and the procession hasn’t been what it once was.  Only a few faithful remain who remember the reason for the Bazaar.

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The Procession circa 1922

Therefore, I urge every parishioner, every Catholic, every person who loves and attends our Annual Bazaar to understand why we do it.  It is not simply an Italian feast, a church fundraiser, or a summer tradition.  It is a tribute to the Blessed Mother, our patron and treasured intercessor.  It is done in thanksgiving to her for the Brown Scapular and to pray for her intercession.  

I challenge you all to think about this every time you attend a church Bazaar.  Nearly every Catholic church in the Denver metro area and across Colorado hosts their Bazaar around their patron’s feast day.  Take the time to learn about our patrons.  There is a reason parishes were named after someone/something important in the Catholic faith.  For us, it is because Italians hold a special devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  Our church is rooted in the Catholic faith and from that stems our Italian culture.    

Lastly, I invite you all to join us for our Procession.  It is a beautiful custom that is still practiced in Italy today.  It is imperative that we continue this tradition to revive our faith and to preserve our vibrant heritage.

Our Annual Bazaar is July 13th-15th.  July 13th from 6pm to 10pm, July 14th from 5pm to 10pm, and July 15th from 4pm-9pm.  We will have a special Mass to honor Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 15th at 2pm.  The Procession will follow.  Because of this special Mass, there will NOT be a 9am or 11am Mass on Sunday.

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Read more about Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Servite Order:

http://www.servite.org/