For couples who long to have children of their own, infertility can be one of the greatest struggles they face.
The diocesan Office of Family Life hopes to offer these couples some spiritual comfort with a special online event scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 15. Participants can join together via Zoom at 7 p.m. to pray a virtual Seven Sorrows Rosary and then take part in a meditation for those dealing with infertility.
The rosary and meditation will be live-streamed on the Natural Family Planning Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NFPSC
Kathy Schmugge, director of the Office of Family Life, said the date was chosen to coincide with the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on Sept. 15, which commemorates the seven sorrows Mary faced during her life as the mother of Christ.
The Family Life Office also provided a list of Mass intentions for the day to all parishes and asked that they be prayed for couples dealing with infertility.
Schmugge said the rosary and the Mass intentions are designed to bring attention to the struggles of infertile couples. Those struggles will also be at the center of HOPE Infertility Support, a new program sponsored by her office to help couples in the diocese.
“We’re working to develop ways to help couples with the physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of this heavy cross of infertility,” Schmugge said. “We want to get these couples together as a community united in Christ where they can walk together and seek healing.”
Janelle Florendo, a member of Immaculate Conception Church in Goose Creek, will lead Tuesday’s rosary and the meditation. She said the event is important to her because she and her husband struggled with infertility for several years before welcoming their now 9-year-old son.
Florendo, who is an instructor on the Creighton model of natural family planning, is currently pregnant with her second child. She said her memories of being unable to conceive for so long led her to help others dealing with the problem.
She said the meditations she will offer are based on “Waiting With Mary,” a devotional for women dealing with infertility. The meditations are based around the seven sorrows of Mary and include prayers for the Blessed Mother’s intercession in helping those who suffer.
“I also suffered from infertility so it has been always on my heart since then to give help to others dealing with it because I know how they feel,” Florendo said. “Through this devotional, Mary is joining them in their suffering because she suffered for each one of us at the foot of the cross. She knows our pain and prays along with us.”
Florendo said she will also be involved in launching Hope Infertility Support and hopes that the meetings will eventually move from an online platform to in-person gatherings once the novel coronavirus pandemic has passed.
What is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows? This day commemorates the seven sorrows that Mary faced during her life: Simeon’s prophecy; the flight to Egypt; losing the child Jesus in the temple at Jerusalem; Mary meeting Jesus on his way to the cross; Jesus’ crucifixion; the piercing of Christ’s side and his descent from the cross; and Christ’s burial. Devotion to the seven sorrows first developed in 1232 among members of an order that later became the Servants of Mary. The feast day was celebrated by various groups and on different dates in Europe. Pope Pius VII formally added it to the Church calendar in 1814 and Pope Pius X formalized the date of Sept. 15 in 1913.