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 | By Most Rev. Jacques Fabre-Jeune, CS 

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ – September 2023

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My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, 

This month we remember in a special way Our Lady of Sorrows, her pain and her unwavering trust in the Lord. In the words of St. John Paul II, “From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in all things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ, her son and the son of God!”

Mary is honored with many titles, such as Mother of God, Seat of Wisdom, Mediatrix, Queen of Heaven and Earth. We often meditate on the joyful moments in her life like the annunciation and visitation, but sometimes we can forget that she, like us, experienced fear and loss. The title of Our Lady of Sorrows highlights the pain she would have experienced as a human being from the loss of family members and her spouse, and then the death of her only child.  

As Our Lady of Sorrows, Mary is depicted with seven swords piercing through her heart. The swords represent the seven sorrows she faced in her life: the prophecy of Simeon, her flight into Egypt, the loss of the child Jesus in the temple, meeting Jesus on the way to the cross, the crucifixion of Jesus on Mt. Calvary, Jesus’ descent from the cross, and the burial of Jesus in the tomb.  

We, like her, are meant to offer our sufferings united with Jesus on the cross. Whatever challenges you may be facing in your life right now, I encourage you to “Behold, your mother” (Jn 19:27), and take comfort that she will guide you to the throne of the Christ.  

Let us also remember that Mary is not only a source of comfort but also a model for us to follow. She shows us that even amid our greatest trials, we can still trust in God’s love for us and create meaning through our pain. Mary teaches us to offer any suffering for the salvation of souls and especially those in purgatory. 

As we honor Our Lady of Sorrows, may we be reminded of the depth of God’s love, which has no limit, and the sacrificial nature of Christ’s passion. Let us imitate Mary in her total trust, surrender and obedience to God’s will and ask for her intercession as we strive to carry our crosses with courage and grace.  


In Christ’s love, 

Most Rev. Jacques Fabre-Jeune, CS 

Bishop of Charleston