As you drive by many churches, you will probably see a statue of Our Lady – portrayed as the beautiful, peaceful, and prayerful Mother that she is. Of course, it’s so beautiful to see our Mother portrayed like this! However, rarely do these depictions show the deep suffering and intense emotions that characterized the life of Our Lady. Ask yourself, have you ever encountered the sorrowful heart of Mary? How her heart fully embraced the cross with all its bitterness, and the sufferings that she endured with Christ throughout her earthly life?
The reality of Mary is that she is fully human and experienced all the sorrows that the human heart feels.
When we experience the sufferings of our lives, where do we turn? Do we turn to Christ in our sorrows, or do we drown it out with distractions? So often we turn to things that don’t fulfill us, and we forget that Jesus experienced all these sufferings Himself.
The Mother of Our Savior also understands our hearts. One title of Mary is Our Lady of Sorrows. Although Mary had a life filled with the joys of raising the Savior, there were many sufferings that she bore throughout her earthly life. Because of this, she understands our pain and suffering. When we find ourselves amidst anguish and sorrow, run to Our Mother who understands completely what we are going through.
Mary is with us in all our sorrows: struggling to find our place, hardship in families, battling stress in school, dealing with our own wounds, and the list goes on. Whether big or small, Our Lady of Sorrows can comfort you in these sufferings.
One way to increase your devotion and draw closer to Our Lady of Sorrows is by praying the Seven Sorrows Rosary. This devotion is similar to the normal rosary, but it has a focus on seven different points of sorrow, or “swords” in Our Lady’s life. These seven swords include:
- First Sorrow: The Prophecy of Simeon
- Second Sorrow: The Flight Into Egypt
- Third Sorrow: The Loss of Jesus in the Temple
- Fourth Sorrow: Mary Meets Jesus Carrying the Cross
- Fifth Sorrow: Mary Stands at the Foot of the Cross
- Sixth Sorrow: The Descent of Jesus from the Cross
- Seventh Sorrow: The Burial of Jesus in the Tomb
All of these places are beautiful but painful parts of Our Lady’s life. By praying this rosary, not only do we find consolation in Our Mother with our own sorrows, but we are also drawing ever closer to Jesus through Mary’s heart.
Throughout the next few blog posts, we will be walking through these seven sorrows of Mary. We invite you to draw close to Our Mother and dive into these places with her. We will start with the first sorrow here:
The First Sorrow of Mary: The Prophecy of Simeon
As Mary is faithful to the Law of the Lord, she took her Son to the Temple to be offered to the Father. Imagine what was going on in Mary’s heart: rejoicing over her newborn Son, uncertainty about what Jesus’ life holds, hope in the Lord’s promises. As she presents her Son in the Temple, she is met with the prophecy of Simeon “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:34-35
When this was prophesied, how was Mary feeling? Was she afraid? Was she unsure of what this prophecy meant for her and her Son? Of course, we know that Mary was always in line with the will of God and never strayed. But this doesn’t mean that she didn’t suffer and experience the weight of these words.
How much did Mary’s heart sorrow at hearing that her Son would be rejected by so many? That so many would not believe in the love that Christ has for them? That not only will Christ be rejected, but that a sword will pierce her own soul, too.
Let us look at the ways that we have turned away from Christ. Not in a self-condemning manner, but rather in a way to allow us to run to Our Mother and console her in her sufferings. Maybe we struggle with loving our roommates, with pursuing excellence in our classes or work, with keeping a daily life of prayer, etc. Bring these to Jesus. How I’m sure Our Mother feels great joy seeing us, her broken and weak children, running back to Christ through her loving intercession!
Imagine our young, faithful Mother pondering the words Simeon spoke…but ultimately resigning herself to the will of the Father. How can we unite our sufferings to the Lord? If we don’t know how to give over our sorrows to the Lord, we can run to Mary. Our Mother’s heart was always given over completely to the Lord, so she is the perfect person to help us hand over our hearts to God.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us!