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Manual of Devotions in Honor of Our Lady of Sorrows
Translated by Fr. Ambrose St. John , 1861
Devotion to the Sorrows of our Blessed Lady dates from Calvary. The Apostolic Church clung round her whom Jesus had given to be its Mother, and ever remembered that it was amid the pains, the Blood, and the agonies of the Passion, that it had become the child of Mary--literally "the child of her Sorrows." The chief characteristic, then, of the Church's first love to our Lady was a deep, tender, loving, and child-like devotion to her Sorrows, and the Apostolic age bequeathed this exquisite feeling to succeeding times. But it was reserved for the thirteenth century, in many respects the grandest period in the history of religion, to develop this intuitive aflection, by giving it, as it were, a form, and uniting those most attached to this devotion in a confraternity, strongly recommended by the Church, and richly endowed with indulgences, and other favours by the Supreme Pontiffs.
It was in the year 1234. that seven holy men of Florence, retiring from that city into the cloister founded a religious Order, under the name of the Servites, or Servants of Mary, whose especial object was to honour the Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin; nor was it long before Heaven miraculously proved that our Blessed Lord, the Man of Sorrows, was well pleased with this afifectionate devotion to her who had the most nearly and bitterly shared in His Passion.
This tender sympathy, and the consequent graces richly bestowed by Jesus and Mary, were however not to be confined to the cloister. A lay affiliation of the Servites of Mary was soon established; the habit, or scapular of our Lady of Sorrows, enriched with numerous indulgences, was eagerly sought after by thousands of all ranks. The Crown or Rosary of the "Sorrows" began to emulate the Dominican Rosary; in short, the Confraternity of the "Sorrows," like the great Society of Mount Carmel, spread through Christendom, was in like manner encouraged by holy Popes, and in like manner drew down the favours of God, and the blessings of Mary, on untold thousands of rich and poor.
The great object of this Society is to nourish a loving sympathy with our Blessed Mother in her sufferings, and with her, and through her, to unite ourselves with Jesus bleeding and dying for us.
Those who wish to practise this devotion may be divided into two classes:
1st--Those who wear the black Scapular and receive her Crown or Rosary, and join from time to time in the Offices and devotions of her Sorrows.
2nd--Those who, in addition to the above, become enrolled members of the confraternity, with a good intention of regularly observing its rules.
It is with sincere pleasure, and heartfelt gratitude, that we have seen this beautiful devotion established in this country. It has lately been regularly organized as a canonical Confraternity at St. Patrick's, Soho, London, where the first Feast of the Seven Sorrows has been solemnly kept. Of this we are certain, that in proportion as we, the Servants of Mary, compassionate her sufferings and meditate on her great Sorrows, while thus our love for her grows daily "more and more," so also will our love for Jesus crucified still more continually increase. Private devotions will multiply, public Offices will be more regularly and more devoutly attended, and, as we confidently believe, Mary will show us a grateful love, and, with her own most marvellous blessing, will bless those who, by compassionating her Sorrows, show themselves the most truly to be her children, and give the sweetest consolation to her afflicted heart.--pages 3 - 6
(The Indulgences mentioned in this Manual are taken from the Raccolta translated by Father Ambrose St. John, of the Birmingham Oratory, or from the authorized Roman Manual of the Sorrows. We hereby thank Father St. John for the permission kindly given us to use his authorized translations of various Indulgenced Prayers.)
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