‘By the cross of our salvation Mary stood in desolation While the Saviour hung above All her human powers failing, Sorrow’s sword, at last prevailing, Stabs and breaks her heart of love…Virgin Mary, full of sorrow, From your love I ask to borrow Love enough to share your pain. Make my heart to burn with fire, Make Christ’s love my own desire, Who for love of me was slain.’ – Stabat Mater
Anyone who loves another knows how deeply pain is experienced when our loved one is in anguish. As we reflect on the beautiful Stabat Mater hymn, we get a small glimpse into the ultimate pain and sorrow that Mary endured. At the foot of the Cross, Mary stood beside her Son, Jesus, as He gave His very life for our sins and those of the whole world. As a mother, she wanted to take upon herself His pain. Throughout her life she pondered the meaning of, and the trust required through numerous sorrowful moments. Mary’s sorrow never led her to take her eyes off God but rather continued to seal her faithful trust and surrender to God. She remained united to the suffering of Jesus, and through her intercession, we can learn how to suffer with Christ too.
As we struggle with our own anguishes and trials of life, let us look to Our Lady of Sorrows upon her feast day today – September 15. The devotion of honoring Mary has been around since St. Bridget promoted it in the 14th century.
The Church honors the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady listed below:
- The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:34-35)
- The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-21)
- The Loss of Jesus for Three Days (Luke 2:41-50)
- The Carrying of the Cross (John 19:17)
- The Crucifixion of Jesus (John 19:18-30)
- Jesus Taken Down from the Cross (John 19:39-40)
- Jesus Laid in the Tomb (John 19:39-42)
Meditation on these Seven Sorrows of Mary is done through a beautiful Devotion to Our Lady’s Sorrows. This devotion entails the basics of proclaiming the Sorrow and then praying a Hail Mary; but the fuller devotion is adding a prayer or meditation of the sorrow to enable us to better consider its meaning.
Here are two resources for praying the Devotion:
- Visit here (https://www.elizabethclareblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/seven-sorrowsof-mary.pdf) for a wonderfully compiled file of the devotion created by Elizabeth Clare, a Catholic homeschooling mom. It includes the listing of the Seven Sorrows, prayers approved by Pope Pius VII in 1815 and a beautiful image explaining the symbols of Mary’s Immaculate Heart which is certainly part of our understanding of Our Lady of Sorrow.
- Another online option is this one (https://www.catholicmom.com/articles/meditating-on-the-seven-sorrows-of-marythat) listing the Seven Sorrows along with beautiful pictures, the whole Bible passage and a meditation.
Meditation of this kind is beneficial to our souls in its very action. We learn more about trust, faith, and suffering. This type of devotion also helps a soul looking for more ways to love and grow in holiness as it seeks the triumphant path towards eternal happiness in the everlasting presence of God.
Mary, who so faithfully suffered and trusted, is eternally united with God in Heaven. In her faithfulness in all matters, she has been given the great gift of bestowing love and graces upon us – her children here on Earth. Mary is never outdone in generosity and has made Seven Promises to those who meditate daily on her Sorrows:
- “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 and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.”
Wow, what a loving and generous mother to promise so much for but a few minutes of our time each day! If we undertake meditating on her sorrow not only will we be richly blessed; but we will, ultimately, unite our suffering with Christ, be reminded that we are not alone, and come to grasp that suffering can be triumphant.
Besides walking along with Mary in her deep sorrow, let us consider this final quote below to help us take on a new understanding of how connected Mary is with our ability to love Jesus and to honor Him with more profound devotion.
“If you want to assist at Mass, with devotion and with fruit, think of the sorrowful Mother at the feet of Calvary.” – St Padre Pio
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!
Stabat Mater and St Padre Pio quotes retrieved from https://anastpaul.com/2017/09/15/quotes-of-the-day-15-september-the-memorial-of-our-lady-of-sorrows/
Author: Laura Stephens