Some thoughts on Our Lady of Sorrows
To many Catholics, the title of Our Lady of Sorrows is, amongst many other titles of the Blessed Virgin Mother, one of preference. This title of Our Blessed Mother spans the whole course of Our Divine Lord’s sojourn on this earth and in it we can see the hand of God disposing of circumstances according to His Divine Will, leading, forming, and tempering the soul of the Blessed Mother as He prepared it for the exalted place she was to merit in eternity.
It is interesting to note that in the Society of St. Pius X our founder, Archbishop Lefebvre, gave the Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X Our Lady of Sorrows as their special patron. They celebrate this feast day on the Friday of Passion Week. The Oblate Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X were given Our Lady of Sorrows, whose feast day is on 10th September, as their special patron.
Yes, Our Blessed Mother never suffered the least shadow of sin to pass over Her most pure Heart, for she actively willed never to offend the God she so truly loved above all things. In this unblemished correspondence with divine grace the sanctity of Her soul progressed day by day at the greatest possible rate permitted by God for an human soul on this earth, but God wished to multiply in Her Heart Her merits by permitting the circumstances that would allow Her to practice in reality the love of God, thus she would, one day, be truly Co-redemptrix with Her Divine Son and truly Mother of the Church. Virgin Mother of the Infant Jesus, Head of the Mystical Body of Christ, without pain of childbirth at Bethlehem and then Mother in the deepest of pain at the birth of Her children in the mystical body of Christ at the foot of the Cross. God had told Eve that “Because you have done this, I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children..” (Gen, 3:16), Mary was going to suffer that punishment. No Mother would ever be as fruitful, but no Mother would suffer as much either.
In the Catholic Faith we count the most relevant sorrows of Our Blessed Mother as being 7 in number:
1) the Prophecy of St. Simeon (Luke 2:34-35)
2) the Flight into Egypt (Matt, 2:13-15)
3) the Loss of the Child Jesus (Luke 2:41-50)
5) the Crucifixion and Death of Our Blessed Lord (John 19:25-30)
The progression is remarkable in so far as it shows a gradual preparation of the Heart of His Blessed Mother for the acceptance of, and thus the corresponding with, the separation that was to come.
1. Prophecy of St. Simeon
Firstly, through the prophecy of St. Simeon Mary was pre-warned about the sorrows that would test her most pure heart, and she through Her beautiful prayer life prepared Her soul, thus allowing the Holy Ghost to strengthen Her virtues and Her resolve to love God alone. St. Simeon was a priest of the Old Testament and thus the keeper of the Law and the Doctrine of the prophets. Mary took his words to heart because they were revealed through the usual channel that God used to communicate with His people. The sage words of St. Francis De Sales come to mind: “we must attach ourselves to the God of Consolations, not the consolations of God!”. Mary was to attach Herself to God alone and not His appearance in human form.
2. Flight into Egypt
In the flight into Egypt one can comprehend the sorrow of a mother’s heart at the real prospect of someone seeking to take the life of the child that she had so lovingly borne. Not only was this Child her beloved only begotten Son, but He is also the Son of God the Father. How could such a tyranny and such evil hatred of God exist that could threaten to kill the Son of God? Fear and disquietude of soul attacked Her pure heart, she could still embrace and protect Her beloved Treasure, drawing from His presence the grace of acceptance of and compliance with the Holy Will of God.
3. Loss of the Child Jesus
In the loss of the Child Jesus at the age of 12 years we touch the greatest of human sorrows, the pain of the loss of God. This is the greatest of sufferings possible to a human soul, yet it is the least understood by people living on this earth. This pain of loss of God is the very essence of the sufferings of the damned in hell, it is the greatest torment of the souls in purgatory, and even on this earth the loss of a loved one can even blot out physical and all other pains. Who can fathom this sword of sorrow that cruelly pierced the pure Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mother? With what pain but intense eagerness did she earnestly seek out Her Beloved? To whom could she turn but to God the Father in prayer for help, strength and courage? What an example she gives us of seeking God and His Grace when we have lost them through sin!
4. Meeting of Our Lady and Our Lord on the way to Calvary
It is in Our Lady’s comportment during the Passion of Our Divine Lord that we see the ripe fruits of the sanctity of Her beautiful soul. Here we see the blossoming of the plenitude of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost that had flooded Her Heart since Her Immaculate Conception. Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom and Council in contemplation had honed Her untarnished Intellect since they had never been countered or disregarded, thus no other would ever understand Her Son’s mission of love better than She. Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord had perfected Her Will to the exact mould of that of Her Divine Son. She would partake in His Passion so actively so as to assist Her Son to accomplish in all perfection the Divine Will of His Father “fulfilling in Her Body those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ”. (Col 1:24). Eve ‘assisted’ Adam in the fall, Mary would ‘assist’ Christ in the reparation. Who could fathom the sorrow in Her Heart as she met Her Son as He carried His cross, but still more, who could fathom the encouragement and support she afforded Him in the supreme task of renewing all things in Himself for the love of His Father and of souls that had not been giving God His proper due? She knew the Heart of Her Son and she knew the Father through constant lifelong prayer and she knew this was the Will of the Father.
5. Crucifixion and Death of Our Blessed Lord
Mary was made Mother of all members of the mystical body of Christ when from on the cross He gave Her the mandate to take St. John as Her son. St. John was at that moment a priest having received the sacerdotal character at the last supper and therefore he stood as an ambassador of the whole mystical body of Christ and therefore stood in for all the members of the mystical body of Christ. What a poor exchange; an host of sinners in the place of Her Divine Son, miserable, culpable sinners in exchange for the victim! She knew this was the Will of the Father and of Her Son and therefore she pronounced her ‘fiat’ once again. Bidden by the Angel and with quickened Heart she had first pronounced that word and thus she became Mother of Christ, now bidden by Her Divine Son in the sorrow of His death, with corresponding pangs of childbirth of Her new children, she pronounced it once again for the whole Christ. Christ had filled Her soul with His Charity, she was now to exercise that Charity for Her Son.
Our Blessed Mother stood at the foot of the cross, far beyond tears and suffering the ultimate pain of loss of Her Divine Son, but undaunted, she stood and offered His life to His Father unto the remission of our sins. To whom could Our Blessed Mother turn in the sorrows of living the reality of the cruel death Her Son was suffering but to God who she knew was the very same Son dying on the cross?
6. Taking down of Our Lord’s Body from the Cross
Who cannot weep copiously at the sight of this Queen of the Universe as she held the broken, torn and bloody body of Her Son as it was taken down from the cross. Those hands she had so tenderly kissed when they were small were now dug through with the wounds of the nails that sacrificed Her Son on the wood of the Divine Justice, His most beautiful countenance, the beauty of which was the ravishment the holy angels, was now most uncomely with blood, sweat and spittle, His whole body was torn with the lashes of men’s sins and His feet were no longer able to follow the wayward sinner, that Heart so warm with the Charity of the Divine life was now cold and lifeless...
7. Burial of Jesus
The Law of the Sabbath required the burial to be expediently done, yet how loathe were Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to take Our Lord’s body away from His most sorrowful Mother. Mary knew what it was to obey God’s Law and so she gave Him up so they could bury Him. Mary’s Heart now broken with the plenitude of the seven sorrows left Her Son’s body. The only support she had was the flame of the love for Him Who she knew by unwavering Faith He would rise on the third day.