Feast Day: September 15
Patron of: Grief
Quote: “…And you yourself shall be pierced with a sword – so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare.” Luke 2:34-35
Keywords: grief, solace, mourning
When we are overwhelmed with grief, we turn to Mary, Mother of Jesus for help in our suffering. Throughout her life she endured much pain and sorrow and is fully able to empathize with anyone’s personal anguish. She endured the shame of being pregnant and unmarried, being poor, homelessness and having her only son unjustly imprisoned and executed. Most astonishing, Mary knew what was to befall her son yet had to see these events from God’s point of view and have faith that this was all for the good of mankind.
By meditating on the Seven Sorrows of Mary, a devotion from the Middle Ages, which uses scenes from the life of the Virgin Mother as a meditation on accepting the sorrowful part of life with grace.
The Seven Sorrows of Mary are:
1) The Prophecy of Simeon. As a young child, when his parents presented him in the temple, Jesus was met by the holy man Simeon who predicted everything that would happen to him in his address to Mary: “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 thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35).
2) The Flight into Egypt. In Bethlehem, after the birth of Christ, Joseph had a vision of an angel warning him of the impending slaughter of any male child under the age of two by King Herod in order to prevent the coming Messiah. The Holy Family had to travel a secretive route to Egypt and remain in that country until Herod died. Mary not only worried for the welfare of her own son but mourn for the murdered children left behind.
3) The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple. While on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the 12 year old Jesus vanished from his family. His heartsick parents finally found him three days later, arguing with elders in the temple.
4) The Meeting of Jesus with His Cross. Mary watched helplessly as her son was ridiculed and mocked as he stumbled, carrying the cross he was to be executed on.
5) The Crucifixion. As he was nailed to the cross, most of his disciples ran away. Mary never wavered as she stood at the foot of the cross, witnessing her son’s agony and death.
6) Jesus Taken Down from the Cross. Mary held her dead son’s wound covered body. This, her greatest sorrow is known as the “Pieta”.
7) The Burial of Jesus. As the stone was rolled, closing up his tomb, Mary had to say her final goodbye to her earthly son. Her faith had to be sincerely tested as there was no hint of the resurrection to come.
Symbols: Knives pricking Mary’s heart. Symbols of the crucifixion: crown of thorns, nails.
Novena to the Mother of Sorrows
Most holy and afflicted Virgin, Queen of Martyrs, you stood beneath the cross, witnessing the agony of your dying son. Look with a mother’s tenderness and pity on me, who kneel before you. I venerate your sorrows and I place my requests with filial confidence in the sanctuary of your wounded heart.
Present them, I beseech you, on my behalf to Jesus Christ, through the merits of his own most sacred passion and death, together with your sufferings at the foot of the cross. Through the united efficacy of both, obtain the granting of my petition. To whom shall I have recourse in my wants and miseries if not to you, Mother of Mercy? You have drunk so deeply of the chalice of your son, you can compassionate our sorrows.
Holy Mary, your soul was pierced by a sword of sorrow at the sight of the passion of your divine son. Intercede for me and obtain from Jesus (mention your request) if it be for his honor and glory and for my good. Amen.