In our sugar laden, glitzy, pink and sparkly approach to life, the solemnity of Our Lady of Sorrows could seem a bit dark and miserable. What’s with Catholics and their love of a woman they go around displaying with seven swords piercing her heart? It’s not “nice” and the most important part of comfortable life is to have everything “nice.”
But Our Lady of Sorrows is a bright light in a difficult world. She suffered through her deep love of her Son and at the hands of other people, and one time when Jesus hid Himself for her and Joseph. She took her suffering and carried it without complaint and without rancour towards those who had inflicted the pain on her.
Her seven sorrows are:
Simeon’s prophecy that a sword would pierce her heart. She knew that in giving her Fiat to the angel, she was taking on a task that would involve great suffering.
The flight into Egypt – when Herod killed the innocents at Bethlehem and the little Holy Family fled to Egypt to live as refugees until Herod died.
The Loss of Christ in the Temple: Jesus remains in the Temple and Mary and Joseph spend three awful days seeking Him until they find Him in His Father’s house. This mystery has a depth to it in that many saints have found themselves seeking Him, sometimes for a long time. Also I think it is significant that they seem to have been outside of Jerusalem before they turned back to the Holy City and the Temple to find Him.
Mary meets Jesus as He carries His cross. This is one of the stations of the cross of course. In Gibson’s movie, this moment is deeply profound, where she remembers running to her little boy as He trips and falls and here He is falling under the weight of the cross, of our sins, not hers, for she never committed any. She is the only person in history who added nothing to the weight of the cross, but whose sorrow and strength lifted the weight at little.
She then stands at the foot of the Cross with St. John and her sisters.
Jesus is taken down by Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and John and His dead body is laid in the arms of His mother. The Pieta is probably one of the most famous images we have.
Finally she walks with those who having gently wrapped her beloved Son in a shroud, take Him to Joseph’s tomb to be laid to rest.
Whatever we suffer, she understands, like a good mother and will support us, turning to her Beloved Son and asking for His graces for us. No one could possibly have loved Christ as much as she did, so we can hardly imagine her suffering. But she gave her Fiat and stuck with it, and now she’s sticking with us.