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The Seven Sorrows of Mary, our Mother

If we are temples of the Holy Ghost; if we are made members of the Body of

Seven Sorrows of Mary
Seven Sorrows of Mary, Our Lady of Quito found at Nunc Coepi, Catholic Icons by Mary Henley

Christ at our Baptism; if the Body of Christ is our Holy Mother the Church; how much more so then is Mary both our personal model as believers, and the model of the Church?

Mary our mother had the fullness of God become incarnate of her flesh, and dwell within her for nine months. She swaddled, and suckled, and raised, and dwelt with the Most High for the first thirty years of His Life. Sadly, she was uniquely joined to His Sacrifice by the piercing of her own heart, foretold by the prophecy of Simeon. Lastly, she was given to us as our Mother by Our Lord Himself, on the Cross, for as John was the beloved, so too are we the beloved of the Lord. Mary is truly our Mother, and Mother of the Church: Militant, Suffering and Triumphant.

Because of this total giving of herself, Mary is our model of faith. With perfection, by the grace of God, she is the complete, total, unreserved giving of herself, for the sake of our God. The entire purpose of her being is to bring forth the Messiah into the world, and that purpose has never changed. She is the Magnificat; she only serves to magnify the Lord, and draw souls closer to her Son. As Christ is the Light of the World, Mary is a lens, which only amplifies our focus and devotion to the Divine Light of Christ.

I have heard of many believers, even Catholics, who shun affection and devotion to our Mother. Still more I have heard believers rebuff Mary’s devotional titles of Mediatrix of All Graces and Co-redemptrix. I believe this rebuff comes from ignorance, because calling on our Mother by those titles only amplifies Our Lord, and glorifies His already infinite glory. In giving her fiat to Gabriel, and sacrificing her life as a life of sorrow united to the Cross of Christ, Mary acted as that vessel through which God became man. That is why she is Mediatrix of all graces, not because she Mediator, for Christ alone is Mediator, but because she is the means God chose, in the fullness of time, to make Himself present in time, and in the world. She continues this role today in our devotion to her, which is used solely to amplify her Son, and draw souls ever closer to Him by His Grace. Is Mary the Redemptrix? Heaven’s no. She is Co-redemptrix because: she cooperated completely, totally, and without reserve, with the Will of God and the Redemption of man in Christ her Son; she was united to His Sacrifice her entire life by the prophecy of Simeon, so truly was her life a life of sorrows, even in the overwhelming joy of living with God made man, here on earth; and Mary our mother continues her purpose of existence in drawing souls ever closer to her Son, so that they may enjoy the fullness of His Redemption in Heaven. Truly Mary is Co-redemptrix because she alone, in a unique way, by the superabundant grace of God, cooperated in His Redemptive Life, and Act upon the Cross.

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Seven Dolors (Sorrows) of Mary. If you can, go to Mass, but no matter where you are, think of the Seven Sorrows of Mary and offer a Hail Mary for each sorrow, in thanks to her sacrifice of self, for the sake of her Son, and Savior.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary, our Mother:

1. The Prophecy of Simeon.
Reflect on the sorrow of Our Blessed Lady, when She presented Her Divine Child in the temple and heard from the aged Simeon that a sword of grief should pierce Her soul.

2. The Flight into Egypt.
Reflect on Her sorrow when, to escape the cruelty of King Herod, She was forced to fly into Egypt with St. Joseph and Her beloved Child, and pray for those who kill the children today by abortion.

3. The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple.
Reflect on Her grief when, in returning from Jerusalem, She found that She had lost Her dear Jesus, Whom She sought sorrowing for three days.

4. The Meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.
Reflect on Her meeting Her Divine Son, all bruised and bleeding, carrying His Cross to Calvary, and seeing Him fall under its heavy weight.

5. The Crucifixion.
Reflect on Her standing by, when Her Divine Son was lifted up on the Cross and the blood flowed in streams from His Sacred Wounds. 

6. Jesus’ Body is struck by a lance and taken down from the Cross.
Reflect on Her sorrow, when Her Divine Son was taken down from the Cross, and placed in Her arms.

7. The Burial of Jesus.
Reflect on Her following His Sacred Body as it was borne by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to the sepulcher. 

After meditating on the Seven Sorrows of Mary, recite three Hail Mary’s in honor of Our Blessed Lady’s tears.  Mary our Mother, Mary Mother of Sorrows, pray for us.

Seven Sorrows of Mary, found at Nunc Coepi, Catholic Icons by Mary Henley

Reflections where found at: PrayerBook Devotions 

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Faith Formation Hannah Ink Slingers Loss Motherhood Respect Life Saints Vocations

Sometimes Moms Need Their Mother, Too

Some 2000 years ago a young woman gave her yes to God.  With that yes came great joy, because when you truly follow God’s will for your life you are inevitably joyful – not to be confused with the modern notion of happiness.  That yes, however, came with a price-tag of great suffering.

Mary has a servant’s heart.  As a young woman, newly pregnant, she walked 80-90 miles to help her aging cousin Elizabeth.  Not an easy task while pregnant.  She then had to undertake her own long journey to Bethlehem with Joseph, at which point she was heavily pregnant, and they were unable to secure a room.  They found shelter in a stable.  By today’s standards that would be tragic, but that hardship was tempered with joy because that stable became the birthplace of Jesus!

When you look at Mary’s life overall, those physical trials can seem trivial since it was not long after Jesus’ birth that the first of her Sorrows came to pass.  In Luke 2: 22-35, we read about the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple and Simeon’s prophecy.  He foretold that Mary’s soul would be pierced by a sword, saying, “Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; and thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

Simeon’s prophecy was the first of the Seven Sorrows that are a traditional devotion to Mary.  The traditional Sorrows are:  Presentation in the Temple, Flight into Egypt, Loss of Jesus for three days, Way to Calvary, Crucifixion, Descent from the Cross, and Burial of Jesus.  Given my own experience with loss, I can see another facet of sorrow that would have come hand-in-hand for Mary during the flight into Egypt:  Herod’s order to slaughter the children we know as the Holy Innocents.  While the flight into Egypt and the difficulties of starting over in a country where they had no friends and didn’t speak the language would have been difficult, the lives of those children, slaughtered because her Son was born, would weigh heavily on her.  When they were finally able return to Nazareth, the lack of children within a year or two of Jesus’ age would be painfully obvious.

We don’t hear much about their lives until the next Sorrow-  Losing the Child Jesus at the Temple.  How they must have panicked when they realized that Jesus was not in the group with which they were travelling.  Again, this suffering was tempered by the joy of finding him, but I’m sure any parent can attest that that moment of sheer terror never completely leaves you.  This Sorrow is the last of the ‘easy’ trials.  In a few years Mary’s world will be turned upside down.

In a short period of time, Mary would experience the pain and loss that make her the most excellent intercessor for women, especially those who have lost children or who have had to deal with the diagnosis of an incurable disease that will affect their child’s entire life.

Mary would have heard Pilate’s sentence: scourging, crown of thorns, and finally crucifixion.  I’m sure that those words, that moment, burned into her brain, just as hearing the doctor say my daughter’s heart was slowly giving out is a moment I cannot forget.

While she may not have been present for the actual scourging and crowning of thorns, we know that Jesus met with her on the Road to Calvary and she would’ve seen the damage done to his body – suffering from which she couldn’t protect Him.  How difficult it is for a mother to see her child suffer – and how much more so when the innocent suffers for the misdeeds of others.

Mary was at the foot of the Cross where she would’ve been witness to the cruelty of the soldiers and the jeering crowd.  It was from that vantage point that she watched her baby die.  I was blessed in that I was able to hold my daughter, to sing to her as she left us, but, Mary did not even have that comfort. She could do nothing but watch helplessly.

The sixth Sorrow is the Descent from the Cross.  Mary was finally able to hold Jesus in her arms and say her goodbyes.  She must have wept bitterly.

The final Sorrow in many ways is the hardest to handle: the Burial of Jesus.  There is a finality to burial that is difficult to bear.  You can no longer hope that there’s been a mistake…you know you will never see your living child again in this world, and Heaven is a long way from your mind when you are saying that final goodbye to your baby.

For Mary, all of her Sorrows were tempered and balanced by joy.  The sad stable became the joyous location of our Savior’s birth. She lost and then found Jesus in the Temple.  Even the sorrow of the crucifixion and burial are swiftly followed by the Resurrection.

I have had many dark moments in the days since my daughter died.  Today would’ve been my daughter’s second birthday; Memorial Day will mark two years since she left us.  Mary has been my constant companion on this journey even when I’m not aware of it.  I realized while writing this that the due date for my current pregnancy is the Feast of the Sorrows of Mary, September 15th.   Mary is uniquely qualified to walk with us mothers through our joys and sorrows.  Her mission is always to bring us to her Son, Jesus, and by uniting our sorrows with hers, we are transported to the foot of the Cross.

*******

The Blessed Virgin Mary grants seven graces to the souls who honor her daily by meditating on her tears and sorrows. This devotion was passed on by St. Bridget.

The Seven Graces:

  1. I will grant peace to their families.
  2. They will be enlightened about the divine mysteries.
  3. I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.
  4. 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.
  5. I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.
  6. I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they will see the face of their Mother.
  7. 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 and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.

The Seven Sorrows:

  1. The prophecy of Simeon. (St. Luke 2: 34, 35)
  2. The flight into Egypt. (St. Matthew 2:13,14)
  3. The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple. (St. Luke 2: 43-45)
  4. The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.
  5. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus.
  6. The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross.
  7. The burial of Jesus.

(Say one Hail Mary while meditating on each Sorrow)
The Hail Mary: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen