The month of September is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. You may remember the story when Simeon prophesied to Mary, when she presented Jesus in the temple, that a sword would pierce her heart. He was prophesying the moment of Christ’s cross. The Feast Day of Our Lady of Sorrows is on September 15th, the day after the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. The Triumph of the Cross is, of course, our Parish Feast Day. So Happy Feast Day! We will be moving the celebration of this feast day to Sunday September 19th. This is so that we can celebrate with the whole church together.
The story of the origins of the feast day are pretty beautiful and very ancient. St. Helena was the first to discover the true cross of Christ on her journey to the Holy Land around the year 325 AD. When I was in the Holy Land back in 2016, our guide took us to the place where the cross was discovered. It was a deep cave below the place where Christ was crucified and use to be a trash dump. All over the walls of the cave were these little crosses that were etched into the stone by many pilgrims that visit the sight. She told us that when Helena came looking for the cross, that she took a bunch of gold coins and tossed them in the dump as an incentive for people to help her clean up the dump and to find the Cross. The true cross was discovered with two other crosses and was authenticated by a miraculous healing. There was a very deathly ill woman that was immediately cured upon touching it. Helena built a church over the place where the Cross was discovered and placed the it there. Then later it was captured by Chosroas the king of Persia. In 629 it was brought back to Jerusalem by the Emperor Heraclius. The story goes that the emperor carried the cross back to Jerusalem on his own shoulders. He was dressed in costly garments adorned with many gems. As he entered the city of Jerusalem he was unable to carry the cross any further no matter how hard he tried. The bishop of Jerusalem told him that he should take off his fine garments and dress in the cloths of a penitent. It was then that he was able to continue his journey to bring the cross to its place. This return of the Cross to Jerusalem is what we celebrate on this Feast Day.
The beauty of this celebration helps us to remember the importance of embracing repentance but also thanksgiving in order to truly carry our cross as the Lord asks of us. As we enter into this month of September let us also ask for the intercession of Our Lady of Sorrows that she may remain close to us in all our trials and strengthen us as we take up our crosses and follow after Jesus.