The Catholic Defender: Our Lady Of Sorrows Pray For Us
“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:35
Notice that Jesus will be a sign that will be contradicted. Remember Jesus states, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.” Matthew 10″34-36
The ravages of sin will be the cause of such division. The human condition is so infected with sin and rebellion, Jesus will turn everything over as he did the the temple area driving out all the tables and money changers (Matthew 21:12).
Also notice the sword Simeon foretold to Mary; Jesus is promising to bring the sword of division.
“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” John 19:26-27
St. Ambrose (d. 397 A.D.) recognized Mary’s sorrow at the cross as powerful testimony. Mary remained close to Jesus despite everyone else running away. In Jesus wounds Mary saw the salvation of the world. Mary would demonstrate courage and strength that would encourage the disciples who were scattered. The sorrow and horror of seeing Jesus wounds and death brought about the new and everlasting covenant between God and man. This action sealed the deal.
Jesus giving Mary to St. John was not simply to ensure that His mother was taken care of but there are some important factors to add here.
As Jesus gives St. John to Mary, she is also given to us. Mary symbolizes the Church, pure and spotless.
St. Paul viewed the Church as full of “splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
St. John represents all believers when we invite Mary into our homes. Mary is now mother to all Jesus followers.
Because of the swords promised and the battle that wages between the woman and the dragon, Revelation 12:17 states, “Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.”
Mary from the foot of the cross becomes the Mother of the Church. As Jesus died giving up His Spirit, Mary and the Spirit cooperate in begetting new children of God which becomes the fruition that all generations will call her blessed (Luke 1:48)
Mary and Jesus Spirit continues to be present throughout the ages of the Church.
We are in the age of grace and Mary’s role as Mother of the Church points us towards the accomplished work of Christ on the cross.
We are spiritually there present with Mary and St. John.
Our Lady of Sorrows opens our hearts as we reflect the sorrows of Mary.
The seven sorrows of Mary are:
1. St. Simeon’s Prophecy (Luke 2:35) 2. The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-14) 3. The Loss of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:44-52) 4. The Meeting of Mary and Jesus on the Way to Calvary (Tradition Luke 23:26-32) 5. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (John 19:16-30) 6. The Piercing of the Side of Jesus, and His Descent from the Cross (John 19:31-37 and Tradition) 7. The Burial of Jesus (John 19:38-42)
Mary’s meeting with Jesus on His way to Calvary and Mary’s holding of Jesus taken from the cross both comes from Tradition. St. John states, “It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.” John 21:24-25
St. Paul would later state, “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15
Like Mary who first said yes to God, we too must cooperate with God’s grace given us. St. Peter states, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps.” 1 Peter 2:21
According to St. Alphonsus de Liguori (The Glories of Mary) it was revealed to Saint Elizabeth that at the request of Our Lady, Our Lord promised four principal graces to those devoted to Her Sorrows:
1. That those who before death invoke the divine Mother in the name of Her Sorrows will obtain true repentance of all their sins;
2. That He will protect all who have this devotion in their tribulations, and will protect them especially at the hour of death;
3. That He will impress on their minds the remembrance of His Passion;
4. That He will place such devout servants in Mother Mary’s hands to do with them as She wishes and to obtain for them all the graces She desires.
In addition to these four graces there are also seven promises attached to the practice of daily praying seven Hail Mary’s while meditating on Our Lady’s Tears and Sorrows. These seven promises were revealed to St. Bridget of Sweden:
1. “I will grant peace to their families.”
2. “They will be enlightened about the divine Mysteries.”
3. “I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.”
4. “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.”
5. “I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.”
6. “I will visibly help them at the moment of their death — they will see the face of their Mother.”
7. “I have obtained this grace from My divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to My tears and sorrows 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.”
(Prayers and Heavenly Promises by Joan Carroll Cruz; Imprimatur: Most Rev. Francis B. Schulte, 1989, pg. 34-35)
The month of September is dedicated to the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Here is the Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows (from the Raccolta). May be said as a nine day novena and/or as a companion to the daily recitation of 7 Hail Mary prayers offered in honor of Our Lady’s Sorrows.
Each day begin with:
V. O God, come to my assistance; R. O Lord, make haste to help me. V. Glory be, etc. R. As it was, etc.
Day I. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the affliction of Thy tender heart at the prophecy of the holy and aged Simeon. Dear Mother, by Thy heart so afflicted, obtain for me the virtue of humility and the Gift of the holy Fear of God. Pray one Hail Mary.
Day II. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the anguish of Thy most affectionate heart during the flight into Egypt and Thy sojourn there. Dear Mother, by Thy heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of generosity, especially towards the poor, and the Gift of Piety. Pray one Hail Mary.
Day III. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in those anxieties which tried Thy troubled heart at the loss of Thy dear Jesus. Dear Mother, by Thy heart so full of anguish, obtain for me the virtue of chastity and the Gift of Knowledge. Pray one Hail Mary.
Day IV. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the consternation of Thy heart at meeting Jesus as He carried His Cross. Dear Mother, by Thy heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of patience and the Gift of Fortitude. Pray one Hail Mary.
Day V. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the martyrdom which Thy generous heart endured in standing near Jesus in His agony. Dear Mother, by Thy heart afflicted in such wise, obtain for me the virtue of temperance and the Gift of Counsel. Pray one Hail Mary.
Day VI. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the wounding of Thy compassionate heart, when the side of Jesus was struck by the lance and His Heart was pierced. Dear Mother, by Thy heart thus transfixed, obtain for me the virtue of fraternal charity and the Gift of Understanding. Pray one Hail Mary.
Day VII. I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, for the pangs that wrenched Thy most loving heart at the burial of Jesus. Dear Mother, by Thy heart sunk in the bitterness of desolation, obtain for me the virtue of diligence and the Gift of Wisdom. Pray one Hail Mary.
V. Pray for us, O Virgin most sorrowful, R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
Let intercession be made for us, we beseech Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, now and at the hour of our death, before the throne of Thy mercy, by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Thy Mother, whose most holy soul was pierced by a sword of sorrow in the hour of Thy bitter Passion. We ask this through Thee, Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
Pray for the Suffering Women of the World
Labor day usually brings to mind images of factory workers, farmers or heavy equipment operators. Yet we also use labor to describe the first work which brought each one of us to birth: those first hours of maternal sacrifice which brought us into the world. It’s too easy to forget that and all the other sacrifices which the vocation of motherhood entails. Pray for the mothers in labor today. Those who give birth. Those who work two jobs to support a child. Those who go without so their child’s needs are met. Those whose patient endurance is a sign of God’s love upon the cross.
Pray for Mothers who will Give Birth Today
‘At first I was scared,’ Sarah told me. ‘I was scared, excited and filled with the most incredible expectation. It was like those words we hear at Mass: we wait in joyful hope. I thought of all those women who feel the first kick, the stirrings of life deep within them. I prayed for them, that they would love their child, cherish their little baby and know that in being a mother they are involved in something so much bigger than themselves. They have been chosen by God to be custodians of the mystery of life. At first I was scared, and then I just cried … with joy.’
Pray for Fathers at the Birth of their Child
‘At first I was petrified”, Jon told me. “Petrified that I would faint or get in the way or not know what to do to help Sarah. But then I prayed to Mary. I know, praying to Mary is something you?d think a mother would be doing. But somehow, I think Mary understood Saint Joseph more than anyone else. She probably saw the fear in his eyes and sensed the restlessness of his heart. She probably spent a lot of time praying for him as well. And when I prayed to Mary for my child about to be born, I knew she understood and heard me and prayed for me to her son. At first I was petrified, and then I put everything into God’s hands.”
Pray for All Children
The eyes of a child are an infinite well of life, hope and goodness. If you doubt the value of life, look into the eyes of a child. If you are worn by life’s worries, look into the eyes of a child. If you want to see tomorrow, look into the eyes of a child. And what you will see is the divine spark which brought beauty out of chaos, the infinite beauty, which is the presence of the Creator in his creation.
Pray for Families
I know of a family which prays each night. Since the kids were little they are gathered from their games and their grumbling to the couch in the living room. There they pray for those whom they love and those they have a hard time loving. They pray for the unborn and for little babies. They pray for the sick and the dying. They pray for the Church and for their priest. Many a night it was the knowledge of those prayers that gave me hope and peace and a good night’s sleep.
Prayer for Life Begins in the Home
I know of another family which used to pray for unborn children every Friday night. They chose Friday because that’s when Christ, innocent and without sin, was sent to the cross. There’s no prayer more powerful than that said over little folded hands asking God to take care of all the babies who you’ve made.
We look all around us at Church and see them: all the people whose kids never seem to scream and who look like they haven’t a problem in the world! But what if we really knew them? We would see the ‘secret sufferings’ that mirror our own. Mass is the gathering of those who have looked at the their own brokenness through the lens of the cross, and live! Today is the perfect day to pray for all God’s broken children and especially those who are tempted to break the lives of others.
The Holy Cross
Each time I pray, I am called to join my prayer with Christ’s perfect prayer upon the cross. It is easy from the vantage of the cross to see the world clearly. To see how easy it is to join the suffering of the innocent to the suffering of him who is without sin. We should work for an end to all the forms of violence which threaten life. That is a wonderful good. But it is even more important to stand with the Virgin Mother and to beg her son to come to our aid.
Our Lady of Sorrows
We end as we began nine days ago: with Mary, weeping silently beside the cross. Weeping for the innocent child so violently taken. Weeping for the nation which has let him die. Weeping for her child and for our, we place them both in her arms.