The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady

Forget not the sorrows of thy mother with thine whole heart,

That thine offering and thy blessing may be perfected.

Let us take our stand by the Cross, in company with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

On the mountain of the sacrifice, as Mother she gave Her Son, as Bridge she offered herself together with Him; by her sufferings both as Bride and as Mother, she was the co-redemptress of the human race.

Christ dieth now no more; and Our Lady’s sufferings are over. Nevertheless the Passion of Christ is continued in His elect, in His Church, against which hell vents the rage it cannot exercise against Him. To this Passion of Christ’s Mystical Body, of which she is also Mother, Mary still contributes her compassion.

Deposition from the Cross – Jozef Janssens (Belgian)

From the Office of Matins, we read the sermon of St Bernard of Clairvaux:

The Martyrdom of the Virgin is set before us, not only in the prophecy of Simeon, but also in the story itself of the Lord’s Passion. The holy old man said of the Child Jesus, Behold, this Child is set for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; yea, said he unto Mary, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also. Even so, O Blessed Mother! The sword did indeed pierce through thy soul! for nought could pierce the Body of thy Son, nor pierce thy soul likewise. Yea, and when this Jesus of thine had given up the ghost, and the bloody spear could torture Him no more, thy soul winced as it pierced His dead Side. His Own Soul might leave Him, but thine could not.

The sword of sorrow pierced through thy soul, so that we may truly call thee more than martyr, in whom the love, that made thee suffer along with thy Son, wrung thy heart more bitterly than any pang of bodily pain could do. Did not that word of His indeed pierce through thy soul, sharper than any two-edged sword, even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit? Woman, behold thy son! O what a change to thee! Thou art given John for Jesus, the servant for his Lord, the disciple for his master, the son of Zebedee for the Son of God, a mere man for Very God. O how keenly must the hearing of those words have pierced through thy most loving soul, when even our hearts, stony, iron, as they are, are wrung at the memory thereof only!

Marvel not, my brethren, that Mary should be called a Martyr in spirit. He indeed may marvel who remembereth not what Paul saith, naming the greater sins of the Gentiles, that they were without natural affection. Far other were the bowels of Mary, and far other may those of her servants be!

But some man perchance will say: Did she not know that He was to die? Yea, without doubt, she knew it. Did she not hope that He was soon to rise again? Yea, she most faithfully hoped it. And did she still mourn because He was crucified? Yea, bitterly. But who art thou, my brother, or whence hast thou such wisdom, to marvel less that the Son of Mary suffered than that Mary suffered with Him? He could die in the Body, and could not she die with Him in her heart? His was the deed of that Love, greater than which hath no man; hers, of a love, like to which hath no man, save He.

Fra Angelico’s Mocking of Christ

Mary’s dolours were not necessary for the redemption of the world, by in the counsels of God they are inseparable from it. They belong to the integrity of the divine plan. Are not Mary’s mysteries Jesus’ mysteries, and His mysteries hers? All the mysteries of Jesus and Mary were in God’s design as one mystery. Jesus Himself was Mary’s sorrow, seven times repeated, aggravated seven-fold. During the hours of the Passion, the offering of Jesus and the offering of Mary were tied in one. They kept pace together, perfumed with kindred fragrance and lighted with the same fire and ardour of love. It was but one oblation, interwoven through the thickly crowded mysteries of that dread time, unto the Eternal Father, out of two sinless hearts for the sins of a guilty world.

Let us compassionate our Lady’s dolours, mingling our tears with Mary’s, in union with the sufferings of the great Victim. In proportion as we do this during life we shall rejoice in heaven with the Son and the Mother.

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