Praying the Seven Sorrows of Mary
Known more traditionally as the 7 sorrows of Mary today’s memorial commemorates scriptural moments that depict Mary’s suffering at having been found worthy to be the Mother of God. Much like the 5 sorrowful mysteries of the rosary which recount Jesus’ passion and suffering on the way to Calvary, the 7 sorrows depict Mary as one who also suffered alongside her son.
Using this ancient devotion please pray with me for the needs of our world today.
The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:33-35)
Elderly Simeon who longs only to see the Christ Child before he dies receives his hearts desire. As he does he is connected to Mary’s heart and, in an instant, understands the suffering she will endure as a result of her “Yes” to God.
Let us pray for single mothers who must have the courage to face bearing and raising a child alone. For those to whom abortion seems like the only option. May Mary’s “Yes” to life be an inspiration and hope.
The Flight into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)
Mary must flee with her family to escape a situation she can not control. The future is entirely uncertain and only the hope of a dream and the message of an angel bring comfort.
We remember the millions of displaced families and individuals who are longing for their homeland. Those displaced by war, famine, persecution economics or politics. No one wants to leave the home they love for a future which is unsure. Yet many have no choice. May solidarity with the Holy Family bring them consolation.
The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days. (Luke 2:43-45)
Mary and Joseph looked frantically for their missing Son. They did not know that he was safe and they could only imagine the worst. As they searched their anxiety grew and as the days wore on they struggled to maintain hope.
We remember the plight of families who have lost children to the street, to drugs, to sexual exploitation. Every year hundreds of thousands of children go missing in North America and the terror of knowing that your child may never come home again is a pain worse than death. May the resolve of Jesus’ parents give these families perseverance and strength.
The Meeting of Jesus and Mary along the Way of the Cross. (Luke 23:27-28)
As Mary meets her son on the way to his crucifixion she knows that he is going where she can not follow. How she must have longed to be able to take his place and spare him the agony that he was to suffer.
So many parents struggle with seeing their children in pain. Lost jobs, divorce, addiction, lost faith. Seeing a loved one with a problem when there is nothing you can do is very difficult to bear. May the courage which Mary showed help parents to stand by their children even when all they can offer is prayer.
Mary stands at the foot of the cross. (John 19:25)
Mary realizes that Jesus is not her possession but God’s gift for the world. She understands that what we love most in our life is ultimately not ours to keep and that we can only hold on to it for a little while.
We recognize the tragedy of a mother losing a child but, in some respect, the sacrifice of all mothers for their children whom they watch emerge from their own flesh, only to grow and change and slowly move away from them, is tinged with both joy and sorrow. Let us pray for mother’s who bring life into the world and must bear the weight of knowing it is only for a while.
The Descent from the Cross. (Matthew 27:57-59)
When Mary receives her son’s lifeless body from the cross it seems as if everything that has been promised to her has been a lie. Where can this story go now that the light of the world has been extinguished? Mary holds her son in her arms and turns in blind trust to her Father in heaven.
Let us pray for those who have seen their dreams die. For people in lands torn by earthquake and drowned by flood. For those who do not see how they will rise again. May the trust which Mary showed be a beacon for them to follow.
The Burial of Jesus. (John 19:40-42)
The tomb symbolizes the darkest place in our lives in which no joy can enter and no light can escape. Yet even as Mary helps place the body of her dead son in the tomb her light is not diminished, her joy is not extinguished. Mary understands the deeper mystery of her Son’s sacrifice and she has faith that the Easter Dawn will shine.
Let us pray for those who suffer with depression, anxiety, and other conditions which cloud the mind and lead to despair. We pray for parents who have lost children to suicide and for those who think that ending one’s life is the only option left to them. May Mary’s example show them that belief in a future dawn is enough to hold on to.
Through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, May God bless you; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.