Tuesday, March 18, 2014

In Honor of Our Lady of Sorrows

Michaelangelo's Pieta

A fitting practice during Lent is to recall the "swords of sorrow" which pierced the heart of Mary; meditating upon them is a wonderful way to honor Our Lady.  Traditionally the Church dedicates the Friday after Passion Sunday, this year April 11, to the Seven Sorrows of Mary, focusing on Mary's intense suffering during the Passion and Death of her Son.  One devotion honoring Our Lady of Sorrows is the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, which originated in the thirteenth century.

How to pray the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Mary
(**If praying without chaplet beads, just recite the prayers in order.**)

  • After making the Sign of the Cross, pray an Act of Contrition
  • On the large bead name the Sorrow, and then say 1 Our Father
  • On the next seven beads, while meditating on the Sorrow, pray 1 Hail Mary for each of the beads.
  • Repeat for each of the seven Sorrows.
  • On the final 3 beads recite 3 Hail Marys total in remembrance of the tears that our Mother shed because of the sufferings of her Divine Son, pleading for repentance for sins committed.
  • Pray the concluding prayer:
    • Pray for us, O most sorrowful Virgin, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.  Let us pray.  Lord Jesus, we now implore both for the present and for the hour of our death, the intercession of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, thy Mother, whose holy soul was pierced at the time of Thy Passion by a sword of grief.  Grant us this favor, O Savior of the world, Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit forever and ever.  Amen.
Seven Sorrows of Mary
1.  Prophecy of Simeon (Lk 2:25-35) -- While presenting her Infant Child Jesus in the Temple and going there for purification as was accustomed by the law, Simeon told Mary that a sword of sorrow would pierce her soul, that her Son would have to suffer, that the thoughts of many may be revealed.

2.  The Flight into Egypt (Mt 2:13-15) -- An angel of God commanded Joseph to take Mary and Jesus and flee into Egypt.  There, in exile, they would be safe from Herod.  At this time Mary already sees the words of Simeon coming true.  Already her Son, just an Infant, is being persecuted.  Trusting in God, Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt, alone and poor, until Joseph is told it is safe to return home.

3.  Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days (Lk 2:41-50) -- Returning from Jerusalem after the feast of the Passover, Joseph and Mary realized Jesus was not among them.  For three days they searched frantically for their missing twelve year old Son, whom they finally found in the Temple.

4.  Mary Meets Jesus on His Way to Calvary (Jn 19:17) -- Mary meets Jesus, bloodied and bruised, carrying the heavy cross of His crucifixion.  She is not allowed to comfort Him, nor He allowed to remain with her.

5.  Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (Jn 19:25-30) --  Her Divine Son, bleeding and exhausted, hangs on the cross where she remains at His feet.  He hangs for three hours, and her heart breaks even more.  Ponder a mother, the Blessed Mother, watching helplessly while her Son dies on the cross.

6.  The Body of Jesus Being Taken from the Cross and Laid in the Arms of His Mother 
(Jn 19:31-37) -- Mary, at the foot of the cross, must watch as the centurion pierces Jesus with a lance to ensure He is dead.  As Jesus is pierced, her heart is also pierced with the weight of her sorrows.   Ponder Mary holding her Son in her arms once more, but this time without the comfort of His Life wrapped in her embrace.

7.  The Burial of Jesus (Jn 19:38-42) -- Jesus is laid in the tomb, and the heavy stone is rolled to shut it.  Mary remains outside, separated from her Beloved Son.

***The following site, Our Catholic Prayers, provides wonderful meditations for the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

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