Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary September 15
We commemorate the dry martrydom of Our Lady — September 15; September is devoted more specifically to her Seven Sorrows:
The Prophecy of Symeon, prophetess Anna
The Flight into Egypt, slaughter of the Innocents
The Loss of Jesus in the Temple
The Mary following down the Via Dolorosa
The Crucifixion, while standing at the foot of the Cross
The Taking Down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross
Jesus laid in the Tomb
These seven sorrows are often represented in art by a sword — or seven swords — piercing Mary’s heart. This relates to the prophecy of the old man Symeon we heard about at Candlmas, when, after Our Lady pesented the Child Jesus to him, he told her, “Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.” Both Anna the prophetess and Symeon well acquainted with our Lady in the temple since she was 3yrs old. Anna was directly responsible for her training in the temple, While Symeon was a high priest of the temple when Mary was attending with several other girls her age, as one of the Temple Virgin. Both received many signs and wonders for attending to this child (via – Mystical City of God)
In some places, a “Via Mater,” like the “Via Crucis” (“Way of the Cross”) may be found, with seven stations at which one may see artistic representations of and meditate on each of Mary’s sorrows. Such a devotion can be made in one’s Mary Garden or home if it isn’t publicly available.
Meditation on the Seven Sorrows of Mary
City uses Donald Fantz, Angelus Magazine outline ., and inserts from Dolorous Passion, with heartbreak
The First Sorrow: Cymeon’s Prophecy
Every life has elements of mixed joy and sorrow. Certainly Mary and Joseph are filled with joy and anticipation offering her Son, Mary’s First-Born to the service of His Father. According to Jewish custom, the first born has special blessings when “ransomed” Him back, and admission to the people of God, sacrificing with an offering two turtle doves as, circumcising his heart to Almighty God. The joy of Mary overflows seeing her two old friends, the aged “Cymeon, the God Receiver”, receives her in the Temple and, taking the Child from her arms, looks heavenward with praise to the Almighty for sparing him until he saw the salvation “prepared before the faces of all peoples: a light of revelation to the Gentiles and a glory for Thy people Israel.” The joy of the occasion is immediately trampled by her good friend’s ominous words.
From the height of her joy, Mary’s heart returns to sorrow, as Cymeon glances first to the Child, then straight into her eyes. “This Child is set for the rise and the fall of many … a sign of contradiction . . . thine own soul a sword shall pierce . . .” Mary knows that her Son is to suffer. She knows that He will be lifted up. She must suffer too?
Cymeon makes it painfully clear, as he reminds her of her Son’s mission. “She pondered these things in her heart.” A small Consolation is offered her, as Cymeon discharges from the temple in Praise to God for granting him this blessing – “Because my eyes have seen thy salvation,”(Lk2:30)
O, Mary, thanking you for reminding me, “to Fear our God” and the “grace of humility,” in my proudest moments.
Second Sorrow: The Flight into Egypt
Returning to Bethlehem, the Holy Family receives the Magi. Shortly after the Magi departure, Joseph is warned by an angel to “take the Child and His Mother and flee into Egypt.” When Herod and his men heard the reports the Magi left Bethlehem,and were returning home another way, avoiding his pleasure. He was enraged commanding a search through every borough. During the day, Herod’s soldiers tormented the young mothers slaughtering their babes. Meanwhile, Joseph and Mary hurry a few blocks from their temporary home to a nearby cave, where Mary nurses her Babe in what has since become known to the local people as the “Milk Grotto.” Still within sound, of the night as nearby streets filled with the cries of agony howling over the city. Knowing Mary’s heart is filled with anxiety, Joseph wants to keep moving, they will be guided by the moon light and the stars. Their journey to the Egyptian border yet 200 miles away out of herod’s reach. The terrible imaginings that her son is to die so soon, and the fear of marauders attacks en-route, possibly robbing them of their Magi treasury, rarely crossed their minds. Even Rachel mourns from her grave the Innocents of Bethlehem. Mary wonders: “Is this to be His time, at this age?” Joseph her spouse, who she hardly knows, is certain they must leave immediately in the middle of the night fleeing her home land to an unfriendly Egyptian desert, who once held her ancestors captive. She must wonder, will we survive or our escape and what will we eat, if we get there? Will a Samaritan provide for us? As she begs her Angelic guard for assistance, always seeking trust in God? Prophet Jeremia speaks for Mary: “Bitterly she weeps at night, tears upon her cheeks, with not one to console her of all her dear ones; her friends have all betrayed her and become her enemies. ‘Look, O Lord, upon my distress: all within me is in ferment, my heart recoils within me from my monstrous rebellion. In the streets the sword bereaves, at home death stalks. Give heed to my groaning; there is no one to console me.’ ” And yet, through this trial Mary still has Emmanuel with her. Mary in confidence, “all will be accomplished in God’s time”, yet compassionately weeps for the weeping mothers who watched their son be brutally murdered. This gives her the security of peace in her sorrow. Leaving her countrymen, not knowing when they can return. Inspired to keep traveling without much rest, she is reminded, by the scripture verse: “I have called My Son out of Egypt, that salvation may come to Israel.” She gives God thanks for this verse and for her dear friend’s Symeon’s fleeting words.
O Mary, help me with the gift of Piety and the necessity of virtue of generosity when others so need.
Third Sorrow: The Loss of Jesus
How many years could they NOT return, having to live among gentiles, and away from my home in Nazareth. Joyfully, I thank God for the Temple in Jerusalem for the annual feast. These were especially happy times for me and my family, a time to reunite with our relatives, fellow temple daughters and our race. So was the custom of the Hebrews the men traveled in advance of the women who followed close behind. It was if the harvest festival never ends until everyone returns to their front doorways. The feast ends; the return to Nazareth commences in the early morning. The caravan of women moves ahead north of the Holy City. Singing Psalms praising God, we exchange news and laughter, as the trip progresses. Both groups meet in their encampment at the end of the day. As night falls, Mary and Joseph find each other and realize with horror that Jesus was not with the other, nowhere to be found, in their company. We searched throughout both camps to no avail. Asking everyone, “can you recall seeing him during the journey?, “Have you seen Him? He is young man, about this tall, twelve years old.” Each time the reply is no, no one recalls seeing Him. Feeling terror and panic, I am consoled. It is then, I recall the words of Cymeon and the lamentations of Jeremia the Prophet: “The Lord has done as He decreed: He has fulfilled the threat He set forth from days of old; He has destroyed and had no pity, letting the enemy gloat over you and exalting the horn of your foes. Cry out to the Lord; moan, O daughter of Sion! Let your tears flow like a torrent day and night; let there be no respite for you, no repose for your eyes.” God trusted me with His only begotten son” she thinks, and I lost Him. I ponder, why the angels did not avail her of this Sorrow and distress? The boy was always was within my shadow, until now? The agony and the hurt, flows over me, and I am tormented again being reminded of fleeing Herod on our flight to Egypt. But this time its much different, Jesus remained in my loving arms. Now, for the first time, He has vanished from her. Nonetheless, I am consoled in knowing, that the Eternal Father knows all things, and this gives me great peace within, until we can begin the search for him in the light. Her confidence is rewarded on the third day later when Joseph and I find Jesus in the midst of the Doctors of the Law in the Temple. Upon the relief in finding him, I queried my Son, “is this how you treat and honor your father and mother?” Jesus responds with, “my Father asked that I stay in his house. You did not know?” In understanding, I am consoled, by this lesson to be more mindful of my Lord, and Savior, now I realize, he is becoming a man and a Rabbi. Then my old friend, from days of Temple sisterhood, “Serephia” explains, (she is now the wife of Sirach, a councillor of the Temple), upon finding Him (Jesus) in the Temple conversing with her husband and other priests, and she invited Him to their home each night for supp and rest. Until you could return to find Him. In thanksgiving, praising God, for Serephia’s love. Hence forth I will keep my friend in my prayers. (Serephia one day, soon is known to be Veronica)
Fourth Sorrow: Mary meets Jesus along the Via Dolorosa
I can sense the City’s mood changing. It was just yesterday I could hear the happy chants over all of Jerusalem, receiving my Son as King of the Jews. It was the priests at the temple especially the Pharisees had become increasingly emboldened towards Him. While pondering upon this, a knock comes at the door with a frantic voice, “They have taken Him! They have taken Him!“ I grabbed my night veil tightly around my head and hurried into the night with my friend. Reaching Caiphas’ house, to watch, Jesus chained, and prodded up the stairs. Then I hear a familiar voice, it’s Simon’s: “I know not the Man!” At the temple doors, I spot the young man John, who leads me towards the praetorium of of the temple. Returning home after the Counsels verdict “Blasphemer”, I await praying through the night, only to hear reports of Jesus’ scourging. Once again Cymeon’s words thrust at me, his arrows. I have recourse to the psalm: “My heart has become like wax melting away within my bosom.” Suddenly, it’s morning, I am compelled to walk to the Roman scourging yard, and the pillar. My torment bursts into agony, as I mop up the precious blood spilled from the floggings of His chest and legs. By this time, the Romans had returned my son, to Pilate, when I hear Pilate’s words reverberating to the crowd from the archway: “Behold, ‘Ecco Homo!’ and the mockery that followed from the gathered crowd. Saddened, I scarcely recognize Him, the crowd begins to chant for His crucifixion. My distant image is blended into the crowd, I am thankful He doesn’t see my tears, as I hide my agony from my son. I want it that way— not to be the cause for more of His torment. Pilate washes his hands before the crowd, a moment of relief overcomes me, ‘he is not going to execute Him and bow down before those evil priests’. But only an instant passes, as my next vision is Jesus dragging the cross-timber to a point below an outer archway, leading to Calvary. As I watch all this, I overhear the soldiers laugh at their prisoner marching to his death carrying his Cross for them…, my heart is contracts with pain. He can scarcely walk, from the standing all night in a small cave, then the flogging, the beating of chest and limbs,Oh, He stumbled, He falls, — opening his wounds wider! His seamless robe, I wove for Him years ago, is now a but mass of blood and flesh clinging to His Body. His face is misshapen and swollen. How do I bear more it? Frozen, I cannot move, as if paralyzed. He is pushed forward by the soldiers. He walks a few more steps, and then He sees me! The last thing I wanted was for Him to see me like this. But I can’t restrain myself. I kiss Him softly through my tears. At that moment he was like my little boy needing is mother’s caress. He reminds me of His love for me. Did he read my face”, my thoughts, I kept asking myself, “Why this,this way?” “Our looks toward each other became as swords, wounding our hearts, recalling our love for each other,tenderly.” A moment of consolation granted once again…but now even this consolation, I can NOT bare! Nothing will soften the heartbreak of the inevitable scene at the top of Calvary, he has submitted to it ALL. In my understanding, this must be God’s will. Where is my fortitude, to be as brave and submit to this world of barbarism.
O, Mother of God, ask your Son that I have the virtue of patience and increase in the gift of fortitude to bear my sufferings as you did.
Fifth Sorrow: Mary Sees Jesus Die on the Cross
“Yes, truly, O Blessed Mother, the sword pierced your soul. Only by passing through your soul could it penetrate to the body of your Son. When Jesus your Son had given up His spirit, when the cruel spear pierced His heart no longer touch His soul, it transfixes hers. So God ordained that you too are to suffer, a dry martyr through your love. which made you suffer with your Son, brought pain of soul far more exquisite than any pain of body.
How do I bear to live without you? Totu Tuus, I am Yours, you are my life. Why is everything torn away? Then He says to me.
“Woman, behold thy Son”— so keenly these words pierced my soul! “All alone, He leaves me, into the hands of a mere boy. And; Where were the rest of those with the palm branches praising their King? Begging to take part in your Glory? The blind that see? the lame now walking?, the deaf that hear?, Even the lepers made clean, Where are they? Hiding? All these left, My Son to bear his cross alone! Only me and this boy, no one else is left, loyal, faithful, enough to watch over your mother?, This is your plan? If Only, He had done one more miracle and came down from the Cross, like some of the men mockingly chided us? Could this have changed things?
Do not wonder, my brethren, that Mary is said to be martyred in spirit. Want of affection was far from Mary’s heart. O, may it be equally far from those of her servants! Christ died in body. Could she not die with Him in her heart? His death was brought about by a love greater than any man has; hers by a love no other mortal ever had, except she.” (partially from the Sermon of St. Bernard on the Twelve Stars.)
Through you, O Virgin Mother, forgiving in virtue of temperance the ingratitude of others, may I draw from this gift of Counsel from this lesson in your motherly suffering.
Sixth Sorrow: Mary Receives Jesus’ Body into Her Arms
“Joseph of Arimathaea, left my side to request from the Governor, the body of Jesus, which had been taken from His cross. As His Mother, alone I received his lifeless body into my arms. This terrible grief filled my motherly bones as they laid My Son across my shaking knees”. No one could console me, as I look up, I see Cassuis, standing, as if triumphantly with several soldiers, one word from his mouth, my heart would burst, as my Son’s had moments before.
What a sea of tears and sorrow
Did the soul of Mary toss
To and fro upon its billows.
While she wept her bitter loss,
In her arms her Jesus holding.
Torn so newly from the Cross.
Oh, that mournful Virgin Mother!
See her tears how fast they flow
Down upon His mangled body,
Wounded side, and thorny brow;
While His hands and feet she kisses
Picture of immortal woe.
Oft and oft His arms and bosom
Fondly straining to her own;
Oft her pallid lips imprinting
On each wound of her dear Son;
Till in one last kiss of anguish
All her melting soul is gone.
Gentle Mother, we beseech thee
By thy tears and troubles sore;
By the death of thy dear Offspring,
By the bloody wounds He bore;
Touch our hearts with true sorrow
Which afflicted thee of yore.
(Hymn of the Divine Office of the Feast)
Through you, O Virgin Mother, dripping in Fraternal Charity lacking in others, may I be consoled with this gift of Understanding from this lesson in your motherly suffering.
Seventh Sorrow: Mary Places Jesus’ Body in the Tomb
From there they carry the body to the tomb granted by Joseph of Arimathea. What is this?, Cassius, after stabbing my Son, comes now to approach me, whatever for? But his face appears radiant, full of tears? He lay’s at my feet, four nails that bound my Son to His Cross, and kissed my wet blood soaked hand. It is then, I realize, I am at His tomb, the holy women had returned. I hadn’t noticed they left! As per our custom each are either wrapped in a long fine linen cloth or holding balm vases of myrrh, towels, sponges and basins of water,unction, spices, and several leathern bottles. The ladies planned on preserving the blood soaked water from his body in these leathern bottles. Finally the priests poured, water of myrrh over his entire body. Nicodemus brought a sweet smelling powder and sprinkled it over His body. We place my son’s’ body on a stone and anoint his wounds with herbs. The tomb is closed and the few mourners leave. Leave me alone there outside the tomb. “Depart from me, I will weep bitterly; labor not to comfort me. There is in Him no stately bearing to make us look at Him, nor appearance that would attract us to Him. From the sole of the foot to the head, there is no sound spot in Him.” “To what can I liken or compare you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What example can I show you for your comfort, O Virgin daughter of Sion? For great as the sea is your downfall.” Yet Mary’s deep sorrow did not overshadow her faith in Jesus or her hope in His promise. His death was her hope of resurrection.
God of mercy, let us run
Where yon fount of sorrow flows;
Pondering sweetly, one by one,
Jesus ‘s wounds and Mary’s woes.
Ah, those tears Our Lady shed,
Enough to drown a world of sin;
Tears that Jesus ‘s sorrows fed,
Peace and pardon well may win!
His five wounds, a very home,
For our prayers and praises prove;
And Our Lady’s woes become
Endless joys in Heaven above.
Jesus, Who for us did die,
All on Thee our love we pour
And in the Holy Trinity
Worship Thee forever more. Amen.
(Hymn from Lauds of the Feast)
O, Virgin Mary, may your many sorrows but an example for need in virtue of diligence and make let me rejoice in this gift of Wisdom of the Heavenly Kingdom, as you did.
Narrative Outline taken from: / https://www.fisheaters.com/customslent10.html , and The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord, Anne Catherine Emmerich.