Our Sorrowful Mother
(Our Lord to Berthe Petit)
The purpose of the Devotion of the Seven Sorrows is to promote union with the sufferings of Christ through union with the special suffering that Our Lady endured because she was the Mother of God. By uniting ourselves with both the Passion of Christ and His holy Mother, we enter into Jesus' Heart and honor Him greatly; He is more honored because we have so honored His Mother.
The Gospel, John 19:25, says: "Near the Cross of Jesus stood His mother." At Christ's bequest, Mary was proclaimed the universal Mother of mankind from the Cross.
Clearly, Jesus wants his disciples to see His sufferings and those of His Mother as one single, unified sacrifice for the redemption of the world. As St. Bernard's renowned student, Arnold of Chartres († 1160), instructs: "Together they accomplished the task of man's redemption… both offered up one and the same sacrifice to God; She in the blood of her heart, He in the blood of his flesh… so that together with Christ she obtained a common effect in the salvation of the world." Our Lord also had revealed to St. Bridget in another part of Revelations: "My Mother and I saved man as with one heart only, I by suffering in my Heart and my flesh, she by the sorrow and love of her heart."
Our Lord instructed Sr. Lucia that the reason for the Fatima apparitions was precisely to place the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary along side devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In sorrow, in Redemption, in veneration, it is the will of God that the Two Hearts be honored together as one.
Mary was the Queen of Martyrs, for her martyrdom was longer and greater than that of all the Martyrs.
This great torment, then, which Mary endured for us-a torment which was more than a thousand deaths deserves both our compassion and our gratitude. If we can make no other return for so much love, at least let us give a few moments this day to consider the greatness of the sufferings by which Mary became the Queen of martyrs; for the sufferings of her great martyrdom exceeded those of all the martyrs; being, in the first place, the longest in point of duration; and, in the second place, the greatest in point of intensity.
"Mary was a martyr," says Saint Bernard, "not by the sword of the executioner, but by bitter sorrow of heart." If her body was not wounded by the hand of the executioner, her blessed heart was transfixed by a sword of grief at the passion of her Son; grief which was sufficient to have caused her death, not once, but a thousand times. From this we shall see that Mary was not only a real martyr, but that her martyrdom surpassed all others; for it was longer than that of all others, and her whole life may be said to have been a prolonged death.
"The passion of Jesus," as Saint Bernard says, "commenced with His birth." So also did Mary, in all things like unto her Son, endure her martyrdom throughout her life.
Saint Bernardine of Siena goes so far as to say, "that the grief of Mary was so great that, were it divided amongst all men, it would suffice to cause their immediate death.
Now, as the soul is more noble than the body, so much greater were Mary's sufferings than those of all the martyrs, as Jesus Christ Himself said to Saint Catherine of Siena: "Between the sufferings of the soul and those of the body there is no comparison."
Saint Bernard says, "the soul is more where it loves than where it lives." Our Lord Himself had already said the same thing: "where our treasure is, there also is our heart." If Mary, then, by love, lived more in her Son than in herself, she must have endured far greater torments in the sufferings and death of her Son than she would have done, had the most cruel death in the world been inflicted upon her.
Now, Cornelius a Lapide says, "that to understand the greatness of Mary's grief at the death of her Son, we must understand the greatness of the love she bore Him."
William of Paris even says that the Blessed Virgin "loved Him as much as it was possible for a pure creature to love Him." Hence Richard of Saint Victor affirms that "as there was no love like her love, so there was no sorrow like her sorrow." And if the love of Mary towards her Son was immense, immense also must have been her grief in losing Him by death. "Where there is the greatest love," says Saint Albert the Great, "there also is the greatest grief."
Therefore Saint Ildephonsus did not hesitate to assert, "to say that Mary's sorrows were greater than all the torments of the martyrs united, was to say too little." And Saint Anselm adds, that "the most cruel tortures inflicted on the holy martyrs were trifling, or as nothing in comparison with the martyrdom of Mary." Saint Basil of Seleucia also writes, "that as the sun exceeds all the other planets in splendor, so did Mary's sufferings exceed those of all the other martyrs."
Saint Albert the Great says, "that as we are under great obligations to Jesus for His Passion endured for our love, so also are we under great obligations to Mary, for the martyrdom which she voluntarily suffered for our salvation in the death of her Son." I say voluntarily, since, as Saint Agnes revealed to Saint Bridget, "our compassionate and benign Mother was satisfied rather to endure any torment than that our souls should not be redeemed, and be left in their former state of perdition." And, indeed, we may say that Mary's only relief in the midst of her great sorrow in the Passion of her Son, was to see the lost world redeemed by His death, and men who were His enemies reconciled with God. "While grieving she rejoiced," says Simon of Cassia, "that a sacrifice was offered for the redemption of all, by which He who was angry was appeased."
Therefore, So great a love on the part of Mary deserves our gratitude, and that gratitude should be shown by at least meditating upon and pitying her in her sorrow. But she complained to Saint Bridget that very few did so, and that the greater part of the world lived in forgetfulness of them: "I look around at all who are on earth, to see if by chance there are any who pity me, and meditate upon my sorrows; and I find that there are very few. Therefore, my daughter, though I am forgotten by many, at least do thou not forget me; consider my anguish, and imitate, as far as thou canst, my grief."
To understand how pleasing it is to the Blessed Virgin that we should remember her dolors, we need only know that, in the year 1239, she appeared to seven devout clients of hers (who were afterwards founders of the religious order of the Servants of Mary), with a black garment in her hand, and desired them, if they wished to please her, often to meditate on her sorrows: for this purpose, and to remind them of her sorrows, she expressed her desire that in future they should wear that mourning dress. Jesus Christ Himself revealed to the Blessed Veronica da Binasco, that He is, as it were, more pleased in seeing His Mother compassionated than Himself; for thus He addressed her: "My daughter, tears shed for My Passion are dear to Me; but as I love My Mother Mary with an immense love, the meditation of the torments which she endured at My death is even more agreeable to Me."
Four Special Graces Promised to those Devoted to the Sorrows of Jesus' Holy Mother :Revealed by Our Lord to St. Elizabeth of Hungary:
1) The grace of True Repentance for all their sins should they invoke The Blessed Virgin Mother in the name of her Sorrows before their death.
2) Jesus would protect them in their tribulations all who remember this devotion; they would have His special protection especially at the hour of death.
3) Jesus would impress upon their minds the remembrance of His Passion, and that they should have their reward for it in Heaven.
4) That He would commit such devout clients to the hands of Mary, so that she might obtain for these souls all the graces she wanted to lavish upon them.
Short Reflections on each Sorrow
The Prophecy of Simeon
The Blessed Virgin herself told Saint Mechtilde, that, on this announcement of Saint Simeon, "all her joy was changed into sorrow." For, as it was revealed to Saint Teresa, though the Blessed Mother already knew that the life of her Son would be sacrificed for the salvation of the world, yet she then learnt more distinctly and in greater detail the sufferings and cruel death that awaited her poor Son.
Father Engelgrave says, that it was revealed to the same Saint Bridget, that the afflicted Mother, already knowing what her Son was to suffer, "when nursing Him, thought of the gall and vinegar; when swathing Him, of the cords with which He was to be bound, when bearing Him in her arms, of the cross to which He was to be nailed; when sleeping, of His death." As often as she put on Him His garment, she reflected that it would one day be torn from Him, that He might be crucified; and when she beheld His sacred hands and feet, she thought of the nails which would one day pierce them; and then, as Mary said to Saint Bridget, "my eyes filled with tears, and my heart was tortured with grief."
The Flight into Egypt
O God, says Saint Albert the Great, in the name of Mary, "must He then fly from men, who came to save men?" Then the afflicted Mother knew that already the prophecy of Simeon concerning her Son began to be verified: "He is set for a sign that shall be contradicted." Seeing that He was no sooner born than He was persecuted unto death, what anguish, writes Saint John Chrysostom, must the intimation of that cruel exile of herself and her Son have caused in her heart: "Flee from thy friends to strangers, from God's temple to the temples of devils. What greater tribulation than that a new-born child, hanging from its mother's breast, and she too in poverty, should with Him be forced to fly?"
Any one may imagine what Mary must have suffered on this journey. To Egypt the distance was great. Most authors agree that it was three hundred miles; so that it was a journey of upwards of thirty days. The road was, according to Saint Bonaventure's description of it, "rough, unknown, and little frequented." It was in the winter season; so that they had to travel in snow, rain, and wind, through rough and dirty roads. Mary was then fifteen years of age a delicate young woman, unaccustomed to such journeys.
The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple
Weeping continually, with how much truth did she repeat with David, during those three days, "My tears have been my bread day and night, whilst it is said to me daily: Where is thy God?" Wherefore Pelbart, with reason, says, that "during those nights the afflicted Mary did not sleep; she was constantly weeping, and entreating God that He would enable her to find her Son. There are some who assert, and not without reason, that this dolor was not only one of the greatest, but the greatest and most painful of all. For, in the first place, Mary, in her other dolors, had Jesus with her: she suffered when Saint Simeon prophesied to her in the temple; she suffered in the flight into Egypt; but still in company with Jesus; but in this dolor she suffered far from Jesus, not knowing where He was: "And the light of my eyes itself is not with me." Thus weeping she then said, "Ah, the light of my eyes, my dear Jesus, is no longer with me; He is far from me, and I know not whither He is gone." Origen says that through the love which this holy Mother bore her Son, "she suffered more in this loss of Jesus than any martyr ever suffered in the separation of his soul from his body."
The Meeting on the Way of The Cross
On the one hand she desired to behold Him, and on the other she dreaded so heart-rending a sight. At length they looked at each other. The Son wiped from His eyes the clotted blood, which, as it was revealed to Saint Bridget, prevented Him from seeing, and looked at His Mother, and the Mother looked at her Son. Ah, looks of bitter grief, which, as so many arrows, pierced through and through those two beautiful and loving souls. When Margaret, the daughter of Sir Thomas More, met her father on his way to death, she could only exclaim, "O father! father!" and fell fainting at his feet. Mary, at the sight of her Son, on His way to Calvary, did not faint, no, for it was not becoming, as Father Suarez remarks, that this Mother should lose the use of her reason; nor did she die, for God reserved her for greater grief: but though she did not die, her sorrow was enough to have caused her a thousand deaths. The Mother would have embraced Him, as Saint Anselm says, but the guards thrust her aside with insults, and urged forward the suffering Lord; and Mary followed Him. But although the sight of her dying Jesus was to cost her such bitter sorrow, the loving Mary will not leave Him: the Son advanced, and the Mother followed, to be also crucified with her Son, as the Abbot William says: "the Mother also took up her cross and followed, to be crucified with Him." "We even pity wild beasts," as Saint John Chrysostom writes; and did we see a lioness following her cub to death, the sight would move us to compassion. And shall we not also be moved to compassion on seeing Mary follow her immaculate Lamb to death? Let us, then, pity her, and let us also accompany her Son and herself, by bearing with patience the cross which our Lord imposes on us. Saint John Chrysostom asks why Jesus Christ, in His other sufferings, was pleased to endure them alone, but in carrying His cross was assisted by the Cyrenean? He replies, that it was "that thou mayest understand that the cross of Christ is not sufficient without thine."
We have now to witness a new kind of martyrdom-a Mother condemned to see an innocent Son, and One whom she loves with the whole affection of her soul, cruelly tormented and put to death before her own eyes: "There stood by the cross of Jesus His Mother." Saint John believed that in these words he had said enough of Mary's martyrdom. Consider her at the foot of the cross in the presence of her dying Son, and then see if there be sorrow like unto her sorrow. Let us remain for a while this day on Calvary, and consider the fifth sword which, in the death of Jesus, transfixed the heart of Mary.
"My dear Jesus was breathless, exhausted, and in His last agony on the cross; His eyes were sunk, half-closed, and lifeless; His lips hanging, and His mouth open; His cheeks hollow and drawn in; His face elongated; His nose sharp; His countenance sad: His head had fallen on His breast, His hair was black with blood, His stomach collapsed, His arms and legs stiff, and His whole body covered with wounds and blood." All these sufferings of Jesus were also those of Mary: "Every torture inflicted on the body of Jesus," says Saint Jerome, "was a wound in the heart of the Mother." Saint Bernardine writes, "At the same time that the Son sacrificed His body, the Mother sacrificed her soul."
The Piercing of the Side of Jesus and His Descent from the Cross
Mary was still weeping over the death of her Son, when she saw these armed men advancing towards her Jesus. At this sight she first trembled with fear, and then exclaimed: "Ah, my Son is already dead; cease to outrage Him; torment me no more, who am His poor Mother." She implored them, writes Saint Bonaventure, "not to break His legs." But while she thus spoke, O God! She saw a soldier brandish a lance, and pierce the side of Jesus: "One of the soldiers with a spear opened His side, and immediately there came out blood and water." At the stroke of the spear the cross shook, and, as it was afterwards revealed to Saint Bridget, the heart of Jesus was divided in two. There came out blood and water; for only those few drops of blood remained, and even those our Savior was pleased to shed, that we might understand that He had no more blood to give us. The injury of that stroke was inflicted on Jesus, but Mary suffered its pain. "Christ," says the devout Lanspergius, "shared this wound with His Mother; He received the insult, His Mother endured its agony." The holy fathers maintain that this was literally the sword foretold to the Blessed Virgin by Saint Simeon: a sword, not a material one, but one of grief, which transpierced her blessed soul in the heart of Jesus, where it always dwelt. Thus, amongst others, Saint Bernard says: "The lance which opened His side passed through the soul of the Blessed Virgin, which could never leave her Son's heart." The divine Mother herself revealed the same thing to Saint Bridget: "When the spear was drawn out, the point appeared red with blood: then, seeing the heart of my most dear Son pierced, it seemed to me as if my own heart was also pierced." An angel told the same Saint, "that such were the sufferings of Mary, that it was only by a miraculous interposition on the part of God, that she did not die." In her other dolors she at least had her Son to compassionate her; but now she has not even Him to pity her.
The Burial of Jesus
"O, how willingly would Mary have there buried herself alive with her Son, had such been His will!"-for this she herself revealed to St. Bridget. But such not being the Divine will, there are many authors who say that she accompanied the sacred body of Jesus into the sepulchre, where, according to Baronius, the disciples also deposited the nails and the crown of thorns. In raising the stone to close up the entrance, the holy disciples of the Savior had to approach our Blessed Lady, and say: Now, O Lady, we must close the sepulchre: forgive us, look once more at thy Son, and bid Him a last farewell. Then my beloved Son (for thus must the afflicted Mother have spoken); then I shall see Thee no more? Receive, therefore, on this last occasion that I behold Thee, receive my last farewell, the farewell of Thy dear Mother, and receive also my heart, which I leave buried with Thee. "The Blessed Virgin," writes St. Fulgentius, "would ardently have desired to have buried her soul with the body of Christ." And this Mary herself revealed to St. Bridget, saying: "I can truly say that at the burial of my Son one tomb contained as it were two hearts."
Excerpts from Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus De. Liguori
For more reflections on each Dolor go to this site, they are perfect to help you reflect on our Mother’s Sorrows.
Our Lady directly reveals the amazing graces granted by her Son for all those who daily pray seven Hail Mary's while meditating on her seven dolors and tears: She said that she will:
1. "She will grant peace to our families."
2. "We will be enlightened about the Divine Mysteries."
3. "She will console us in our pains and She will accompany us in our work."
4. "She will give us as much as we ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of her Divine Son or the sanctification of our souls."
5. "She will defend us in our spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and She will protect us at every instant of our lives."
6. "She will visibly help us at the moment of our death—we will see the face of our mother."
7. "She has obtained this grace from her divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to her 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."
What great promises and we obtain them all when we make our daily prayers for our paralytics. I do recommend you also pray the Seven Dolors at other times as well to get more graces for you and yours.
Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary Pray for us!
Keep up the Great Work!
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