Fall in Jerusalem: Nativity of the Virgin Mary, the Exultation of the Cross, and Our Lady of Sorrows
Updated: Sep 15
September looks forward to the liturgical celebrations of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Exultation of the Cross, and Our Lady of Sorrows.
by Fr. David Steffy, LC. Chargé of the Holy See
September 13th, 2022
Greetings from the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center as we begin the month of September and look forward to the liturgical celebrations of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Exultation of the Cross, and Our Lady of Sorrows.
Photo - Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center
September also marks the start of the new school year and the end of the summer vacation period in many countries. Here in Jerusalem, pilgrims are beginning to return in large numbers and the city and Notre Dame Center take on a new dynamic and spiritual dimension.
What better way to start this time of transition both in your personal lives and the life of the Church than remembering with gratitude the birth of our Blessed Mother.
She was the woman who accompanied Jesus and supported him in the most crucial moments of his life. The loving glance of Mary greeted him as He entered the world. It was her steadfast strength that helped steel his resolve through his passion and death on the cross. She was at the foot of the cross along with John when Jesus told them, “Women here is your son” then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother” (NRSV, JN 19:26-27). This was the moment where Mary’s role transitioned from that of the mother of Christ to that of also being the mother of the apostles and the Church.
I do not doubt that part of the reason so many pilgrims experience a unique sense of peace here at Notre Dame is due to her spiritual presence that transcends time and space. As many of you know, Saint John Paul placed the Notre Dame Chapel under the patronage of Mary as Mother of peace. A mother who helps bring peace to the individual heart and the entire world. Just as her physical presence filled Jesus and the apostles with a sense of peace as only a mother’s love can, we too can find in her a spiritual companion who brings us peace amid our hectic and busy lives. As Jesus experienced human love in the tender glance of Mary, we too can turn to her for that loving affirmation from heaven where she is seated next to her Son.
Mary also sets the example of how to endure the crosses of life.
In the Gospel we read, “Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This Child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too” (NRSV, LK 2: 34-35).
On the 14th of September, we celebrate the Feast of the exultation of the Cross, and on the 15th, Our Lady of Sorrows. Jesus’ passion and death on the cross is a moment of great sorrow and grief but also a moment of supreme hope and victory over death. Mary models what it means to experience sorrow without losing hope or joy because she always trusted in the loving plan of God over her life. And, of course, He never let her down.
My prayer is that each of you find in Mary, a spiritual mother who accompanies you in your day-to-day lives and who reminds you of the power of the saving love of Jesus.
She was the first person to receive the grace of redemption and the first witness of the transforming power of Christ’s love unto death on the cross. Our lives can be transformed if we constantly echo in our hearts those powerful words of Mary, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to your word (ASV, LK 1:38).
You can count on the prayers of the community of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center. I ask you to remember the Holy Land in your daily prayers and especially the local Christian men and women who keep hope alive in circumstances that can be overwhelming at times.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. David Steffy, LC
Chargé of the Holy See