Our Lady of Sorrows

John 19: 25-27 or Luke 2: 33-35
1 Cor 11: 17-26, 33 / Ps 40: 7-10, 17

“Woman, behold your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother.”
(John 19:26)

What was once a great mystery
Was that “sign of contradiction”,
But soon Christ’s Word revealed to me
That His cross was our salvation.

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34Then Simeon* blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed, 35and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:33-35.)

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. ” (John 19: 25-27.)


Today we commemorate the feast of our Lady of Sorrows. As Mary bravely stood at the foot of the cross where Jesus hanged dying, our Blessed Mother must have recalled the words of old Simeon in the temple: “…and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”(Luke 2:35) She had kept these things in her heart, and now she recognized their fulfillment.

Traditionally, our Church recalls the “Seven Sorrows of Mary” as: the prophecy of Simeon; the flight into Egypt; the 3-day separation of the child Jesus in Jerusalem; the Via Dolorosa, where Mary meets Jesus on the way to the crucifixion; the crucifixion; receiving Jesus’ body from the cross, and the taking down of His body for burial. Today’s feast of Our Lady of Sorrows calls to mind the pains that our Lady had to endure as part of her vocation being the Mother of the Redeemer. No one is closer to Jesus than Mary, consequently no one has participated more intimately in the redemptive suffering of Christ than His Blessed Mother.

Our Lord wanted to console His mother, and in that poignant moment before His death He gave her to John’s care (“Behold your mother”). But in truth, He really gave her to us as our Mediatrix of graces. In that moment in Calvary, her role as a co-mediatrix of her Son, with Whom she shared so much pain, had been clearly defined.

Whenever we undergo our own doses of daily suffering, it somehow becomes a little more bearable when we recall that the Mother of God herself wasn’t spared of life’s miseries. She had to endure first a farcical trial of her Son, and then His tragic execution by crucifixion. Her heart must have really been pierced with a sword when His Body was taken down from the Cross and placed in her arms. But only for a brief moment, because He would be laid in the tomb, and her grief would be complete.

Many swords still continue to pierce the heart of our Blessed Mother today. The continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have killed thousands; the oppression of her children in Islamic countries; the violence and degradation caused by crimes, especially human trafficking and narcotics; corruption in high places; and even our own apathy or indifference to the poverty around us —all the sins happening daily against love, justice and peace.

As we go to Our Lady of Sorrows, let us ask for her intercession to help us imitate her and her Son, Who endured so much pain and sorrow for our sake. Every day, let us include praying at least seven Hail Marys in honor of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.

Let us pray: “O Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Amen.

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