九月份是開學的月份：主角當然是學生，但請別忘了教師、神父的勞力。人類歷史中，最佳導師莫如耶穌基督，最優秀的學生莫如聖母瑪利亞。九月份內，我們會慶祝兩個聖母的節日 —— 九月八日是聖母誕辰瞻禮日，九月十五日是痛苦聖母瞻禮日。
聖母的誕辰，等於向這失落的世界宣佈喜悅和救恩的臨近。本慶日早課的對經讚美着：「身為天主之母的貞女, 你的誕辰給普世帶來了喜訊, 因為由你生出了正義的太陽 —— 我們的天主基督; 祂為我們除去了咒罵, 帶來了幸福, 戰勝了死亡, 賜下了永生。」
Feastdays of Mother Mary
In this country September means back to school. The focus at this time of year, of course, is on the students, but we mustn’t forget the dedication and effort of our teachers and priests. In human history, the greatest teacher is Jesus Christ, and the best student is Our Lady. In this month the Church celebrates two beautiful feasts in Our Lady’s honour: the birth of Our Lady, on Sept. 8, and Our Lady of Sorrows, on Sept. 15.
The Birth of Mary
The Church celebrates the birthdays of three individuals in her liturgical calendar: the birth of Jesus on Dec. 25, the birth of Mary on Sept. 8, and the birth of St. John the Baptist on June 24. These three individuals were born without original sin. Jesus, the Son of God made man, was sinless. In view of the merits of Christ, Mary was free from original sin in the first moment of her life.
Nine months ago, on Dec. 8, we celebrated the sinlessness of Our Lady with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. St. John the Baptist was conceived with original sin, but he was sanctified in his mother’s womb, coming into the world sinless.
The body of Our Lady is a temple of God. The construction of this temple began at the Immaculate Conception and was completed at the birth of Mary. Our Lady was full of grace when she was born and she was perfected by grace. We were full of grace when we were baptized and we are going to be perfected by grace as well.
The birth of Mary announced joy and the near approach of salvation to a lost world. At the antiphon of Morning Prayer for the feast, we pray, “Your birth, O Virgin Mother of God, proclaims joy to the whole world, for from you arose the glorious Son of Justice, Christ our God; He freed us from the age-old curse and filled us with holiness; He destroyed death and gave us eternal life.”
Our Lady of Sorrows
On Sept. 14 the Church celebrates the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. The next day we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The closeness of these two feasts reminds us that the sorrow of Our Lady is the result of her love and closeness to her Son.
Jesus and Mary had no stain of original sin from the first moment of their earthly lives. They were to be the new Adam and the new Eve working for the salvation of the human race. Jesus won the grace of salvation for all people through His sufferings and Our Lady helped apply the grace of salvation to mankind through her sorrows.
Here on earth we cannot avoid suffering and pain. When we suffer we are invited to imitate Our Lady by offering up our sufferings to God. Thus the grace of salvation is applied to souls in need of God’s mercy.
A good daily practice, recommended by St. Bridget of Sweden, is to say seven Hail Marys each day. This honours the Seven Sorrows and tears of Our Lady. These are:
- The prophecy of Simeon.
- The flight into Egypt.
- The loss Jesus in the temple.
- Meeting Jesus on the way to Calvary.
- Mary at the foot of the cross.
- Jesus being taken down from the cross.
- The burial of Jesus.