Today, April 12, is the Commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus, His Mother.” St. John, 19, 35. The Church in her wisdom recalls us to this most salutary devotion twice each year, in April and again in September.
However, it does us absolutely no good to commemorate these seven sorrows if we fail to correlate them with the magnitude of sin, for make no mistake, these sorrows, like Our Lord’s own sorrows, are the result of the outrage of sin; an outrage against God’s justice. Although the world, — and this horrid, worldly church which has eclipsed the true church — refuses to consider God’s Justice, it is offended greatly and Our Blessed Mother and Our Lord Jesus Christ are bearing the tremendous burden of suffering for the sorrows we, ourselves refuse to bear.
Father Gabriel reminds us that although Mary’s grief was immeasurable, it was surpassed by her love, “a love so great that it could encompass that vast sea of sorrow.” (Divine Intimacy).
The Seven Sorrows of Mary
Prophecy of Simeon And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was in him… And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: 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. (Luke 2, 25-35)
The Flight Into Egypt
…behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the Child and His mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the Child to destroy Him. Who arose, and took the Child and His mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod: That it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called My Son. (Matt. 2, 13-15)
The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple
And not finding Him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking Him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions….And His mother said to Him: Son, why hast Thou done so to us? Behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said to them: How is it that you sought Me? did you not know, that I must be about My Father’s business? And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them. And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And His mother kept all these words in her heart. (Luke 2, 45-51)
Mary Meets Her Son Jesus, Carrying His Cross
“Consider the meeting of the Son and the Mother which took place on this journey (Via Dolorosa). Jesus and Mary looked at each other, and their looks became as so many arrows to wound those Hearts which loved each other so tenderly.” (St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Way of the Cross).
The Crucifixion of Mary’s Son, Jesus our Savior
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, His mother … When Jesus therefore had seen His mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He saith to His mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, He saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother… (John 19, 25-27)
Mary Holds Her Son’s Body at the Foot of the Cross.
Our Lord having expired was taken from the cross by two of His disciples, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who placed Him in the arms of His sorrowful Mother. (The Way of the Cross)
Jesus is Placed in the Tomb
And Joseph buying fine linen, and taking Him down, wrapped Him up in the fine linen, and laid Him in a sepulchre which was hewed out of a rock. And he rolled a stone to the door of the sepulchre. (Mark 15, 46).
† . † . †
The beautiful hymn, Stabat Mater, is especially appropriate in our Lenten devotions to the Sorrowful Mother. It is one of the most hauntingly beautiful hymns of our Church, when chanted in Latin.
At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.
Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.
O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.
Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.
Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?
Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s pain untold?
Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
she beheld her tender Child
All with bloody scourges rent:
For the sins of His own nation,
saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.
O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:
Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.
Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:
Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.
Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:
By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.
Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;
Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.
Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;
Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.
Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
by Thy Mother my defense,
by Thy Cross my victory;
While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
safe in paradise with Thee. Amen.
“The Cross is suffering viewed in the supernatural light of faith as an instrument of salvation and sanctification, and therefore, as an instrument of love.” (Fr. Gabriel, Divine Intimacy). It is why we call Good Friday good. As He was dying, Our Savior entrusted us to His Mother and entrusted her to us. Mary, the Mother of Sorrows, has so much to teach us as we join her at the foot of her Son’s cross. Mary calls us today, in these dire moments, to prayer and reparation.
Mary’s heart, like Christ’s whole crushed and bruised being , was transformed with anguish by the sins of mankind…Mary became the Queen of martyrs because, after Jesus, she has endured the greatest martyrdom of heart…her sufferings are fruitful for us in a way that we can scarcely suspect…(from Father Garrigou-Lagrange, Mary, the Model of Reparation).
Devotion to the Sorrowful Heart of Mary is a sign of predestination and among the many graces bestowed on those who practice this devotion, are the following:
- True repentance for our sins before death.
- The grace of deeper insight into Christ’s sorrowful passion.
- The grace to become devout children of Mary, close to her in this life and especially in the next.
- It bestows a permanent awareness of the agony of sin felt by Jesus and Mary in His Passion.
- It imprints on our hearts the image of the crucified Christ, giving us strength to endure our own sufferings with holy resignation to the will of God.
- And finally, according to Father Faber, devotion to the Sorrowful Heart of Mary leads us directly into the depths of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with unfailing love.
So, the closer we are to Mary, the closer we are to her Son. But our devotion must be more than superficial, lukewarm practices that leave the passions unchecked, it must be a sincere effort of imitation of Mary’s Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart. Let us live our devotion to Mary, whom Christ Himself gave us for our Mother, by total consecration to her Immaculate Heart, by the brown scapular and above all, by her rosary.
† Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us, pray for our priests!
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
~ by evensong for love of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary and the most Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, King.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin, give me strength against thine enemies.