Fernanda Moreira had a dream that changed her life, a dream that led her to a deep devotion to Our Lady and writing a book about the silent suffering the Mother of God endured in the depths of her heart, suffering only another mother could understand.
As a Catholic, she was raised with a knowledge of the Blessed Mother, but says, “I never had a real relationship with her.” During May, she would pray the rosary and honor her, but that was the extent of her devotion.
“My love for Jesus was so great that I didn’t have room in my heart for anyone else, so I stopped my devotion to Mary,” she recalled. “But as a good mother, she would not let me live in such error and ignorance.”
Then, one night she had a dream, and in the dream she became upset when saw a statue of the Blessed Mother lying on the floor.
“My heart felt such sorrow that I went and picked her up, and as I did, she embraced me,” Fernanda recalls. “I can’t express the feeling in my heart. It was like she was telling me, ‘You took me out of your life, but I am your mother, and I won’t let you go.’ And I have been in her arms ever since.”
Years later, Fernanda and her sister-in-law began a worldwide apostolate for the dying, which she says was God’s doing because she never could have spread it across America from California to Connecticut, including parishes in Shelton and Bridgeport, and to places as far away as the United Kingdom, Nigeria and the Philippines. The mission of the Apostolate for the Dying is “to pray for souls at the vital moment of death, when eternal salvation is at stake.” Fernanda and her sister-in-law Lourdes later published the “Holy Hour Devotion for the Dying,” which has been translated into five languages and distributed worldwide.
“The Silent Sufferings of Mary” is Fernanda’s most recent book. It contains 40 meditations to honor and console the sorrowful heart of Mary, and it can be used for prayer and meditation.
“The devotion and love we should have for Our Lady of Sorrows is of the utmost importance,” Fernanda says. “What child would not love a mother like our heavenly Mother? She suffered along with her divine Son for our salvation, and she truly is the most powerful mother this world will ever have because of her great suffering and love. She is our great intercessor.”
Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows has special importance during our time, Fernanda says.
“She is the Queen of Heaven and Earth and can obtain the peace and harmony the world so desperately needs and is longing for,” she said. “We are living in times of great sorrow and no one knows how to suffer like she did and still does. She has been calling us back to God for centuries, and many do not listen.”
Devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Mary is based in Scripture and Christian tradition. The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, which is observed on September 15, was introduced in 1239 by the Servites—the Order of the Servants of Mary. In 1814, Pope Pius VII extended it to the universal Church.
During Our Lady’s last apparition at Fatima on October 13, 1917, when the Miracle of the Sun occurred, she appeared as Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Our Lady of Sorrows.
One of the visionaries, Sister Lucia, later said that God wants “to show us the value of suffering, sacrifice and immolation for the sake of love. In the world today hardly anyone wants to hear these truths, such is the extent to which people are living in search of pleasure, of empty worldly happiness and exaggerated comfort. But the more one flees from suffering, the more we find ourselves immersed in a sea of afflictions, disappointments and suffering.”
According to St. Bridget of Sweden, the Blessed Mother revealed she would give seven special graces to those who honored her with a daily devotion to the Seven Sorrows by saying seven Hail Marys and meditating on her “dolors”:
- “I will grant peace to their families.”
- “They will be enlightened about the divine mysteries.”
- “I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.”
- “I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.”
- “I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy, and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.”
- “I will visibly help them at the moment of their death—they will see the face of their mother.”
- “I have obtained this grace from my divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness, since all their sins will be forgiven, and my Son will be their eternal consolation and joy.”
These are the Seven Sorrows of Mary:
- The prophecy of Simeon
- The flight into Egypt
- The loss of Jesus for three days in the Temple
- Meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary
- Jesus’ crucifixion and death
- Jesus is taken down from the cross
- Jesus is laid in the tomb
Fernanda, who also wrote “The Hidden Sufferings of Christ,” said that “God is full of surprises and when you place your life into his mighty hands, all things are possible.”
She did not intend to write about the suffering of Mary until a woman in Washington DC called her with the idea.
“I was very surprised and told her I didn’t think I could do it, but she was so convinced I could and should, that I said I would pray about it,” Fernanda recalled.
She asked the Lord to guide her and then went to talk to Fr. James Walsh, the pastor of St. Dominic Church in Cincinnati, who told her, “This is from the Holy Spirit. You have to do it.”
In his foreword to the book, Father Walsh wrote, “In this book, we are invited to get inside the mind and heart of Mary as she experienced the various Gospel events. Fernanda helps us to begin a conversation with Mary that leads us into prayer…This is a beautiful book. May it lead you to a new appreciation of Mary and a deeper relationship with her Son Jesus.”
In her introduction, she wrote, “The Scriptures don’t say much about the sufferings of Mary. So how can we know the silent sorrows in the depths of her heart? The writer of this book doesn’t pretend to know, but as a mother herself, she can easily imagine how great Mary’s suffering must have been, seeing her divine Son so mistreated and killed by those He came to save.”
The meditations take the reader from the Annunciation to the Descent of the Holy Spirit to help us understand the role Mary played in the history of our salvation. The book took her nine months to complete, and she would work on it after she had completed her daily duties as a wife, mother and grandmother.
“During the day, thoughts and inspirations came to me, but it was mostly at night that I had the chance to write,” she said. “Before I did, I always prayed and asked the Holy Spirit and Blessed Mother to give me the words I should write.” She was also assisted by her daughter Paula Dudzinski, who helped with the editing and designed the cover, in addition to finding beautiful artwork to accompany each meditation.
Why 40 meditations? “Just as Jesus, Moses and others in the Bible spent 40 days in the desert, we can spend 40 days meditating on Mary’s suffering and growing closer to her,” she said.
(To obtain a copy of the book or for more information about the Apostolate for the Dying, visit apostolateforthedying.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Apostolate for the Dying, P. O. Box 38-9185 Cincinnati, OH 45238)