When we invoke the Blessed Mother under specific titles, she bestows on us particular graces related to that title. As Our Lady of Sorrows, she reveals what is hidden in our hearts (based on Simeon’s prophecy — “so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” from Luke 2: 35). Why is that important? If we want to grow in holiness and deepen our interior journey, we will long to understand our primary defects that have caused us to sin in various ways.
Develop a devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows. Meditate on each mystery by imagining how Our Lady dealt with each situation, then ask her for a portion of her heart and participation of her grace.
As I turned to Our Lady of Sorrows during Lent one year, I thought of what particular grace pertained to each mystery of the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Here are my reflections on each, to guide you in your own burgeoning devotion to her under this title.
The prophecy of Simeon – total abandonment to Divine Providence
Imagine the Blessed Mother happily approaching the Temple with two turtledoves and Jesus in tow, St. Joseph by her side. They were celebrating a happy occasion — the Presentation of the Child Jesus. Yet she was taken aback as Simeon and Anna prophesied about her role in Jesus’ life and death.
She heard that her heart would be pierced, and it was — at that instant. Instead of being filled with sorrow, she remained undaunted and surrendered whatever suffering that lay ahead to her heavenly Father.
Ask her to help you surrender to God’s providence when you are afraid of what He is asking of you, when you are suffering through a great trial, or when you worry about the uncertainty of your life.
The flight into Egypt — obedience with perfect humility
The Holy Family was sound asleep when, suddenly, St. Joseph frantically told Mary to arise and get Jesus ready to travel to Egypt. Instead of groggily grumbling or getting angry, Our Lady immediately and without reservation did as St. Joseph instructed.
She trusted the authority of her husband in the family, because she knew that he was a man of God and that God was warning them for a reason. We, too, can grow in obedience to all whom God has placed in authority over us – for wives, your husbands; for everyone, bosses and superiors and all ordained men of the Church.
Ask her to help you grow in humility, because then you will automatically submit yourself to the authority figures in your life.
The loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple — trust
If you’re a parent, you understand how natural it would be to panic if you lost your child for days! Since the Blessed Mother was perfect in virtue, she didn’t worry. Her confidence in God never wavered.
Imagine staying calm while you searched through infinite crowds of strangers, desperately hoping and praying for a miracle. Her prayers were calm and steady, just like her faith.
As a mom, I think of the times in life when my children might be “lost” — wandering away from the Faith, rebellious, estranged from the family, and so on. Will my trust in God be undaunted like Our Lady’s?
If you ask her to help you trust God to bless and keep your children — no matter their life choices — then you will maintain interior peace as she did.
The meeting of Mary and Jesus on the Way of the Cross — fortitude
I think of the scene from The Passion of the Christ when Mary pauses for a moment before running to console Jesus as He dragged the Cross, weary from the scourging and spitting and spite. She wasn’t afraid to confront her suffering as she witnessed the excruciating pain of her Son.
Most of us run away from our pain, even if it involves accompanying someone else in their own grief. What if we faced everything that is difficult and ugly and painful and uncomfortable with courage and strength instead?
The crucifixion and death of Jesus — fidelity
When Jesus died, He did have His Mother and St. John the Evangelist (along with a couple of Mary’s) standing faithfully at the foot of the Cross as He expired. Everyone else had fled, out of fear, shame, confusion, or embarrassment. What if you were among the few faithful disciples who never left Jesus’ side, even at the moment of His death?
We’re all called to make that journey of following Jesus wherever He leads us – and sometimes that means down a path we wouldn’t choose. Ask Our Lady for the fidelity to follow Jesus all the way to the Cross and to the end of your life.
The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross — charity and clemency with devotion to His Sacred Wounds
Think of the sublime image of the Pieta with this mystery. Our Lady tenderly caresses her Son’s limp body, His flesh hanging everywhere. She venerates His wounds with such reverence and love, cleaning them with her tears.
We are also called to assuage the Sacred Wounds of Christ in our own way. I once heard Fr. Ripperger say on a talk about healing our psychological and spiritual wounds that, if we have been injured a lot in our life, it’s because God wants us to “excel in charity and clemency.” Ask the Blessed Mother to offer up your own wounds in atonement for the ones Jesus offered for your salvation.
The burial of Jesus — hope
As the stone rolled over Jesus’ grave, the Blessed Mother watched without losing sight of hope. What if you’ve had to bury a loved one, your dreams, a life you wanted? Imagine that the stone is rolling in front of this grave containing everything you’ve ever lost in life — and all seems lost, impossible.
Our Lady never believed that Jesus’ burial was the final word. She knew the Resurrection would occur. Her hope in God making the impossible, possible, was certain. Ours must be, too.
The little resurrections come to us every day. Look for them. Seek them. And even when all seems dire, continue to hope.