After Jesus, nobody has loved us more than Mary, in her most pure Immaculate Heart. Also, after the sufferings of Jesus, there is nobody on earth who suffered more than Mary.
THE SEVEN SORROWS OF MARY. The Church invites us to contemplate the Passion of Jesus through the eyes and Heart of Mary. Classically, there are seven sorrows of Mary. Especially the Franciscans have a charism of promoting this powerful devotion. These seven sorrows start when Jesus is a little baby in the arms of Mary, up through Jesus’ mangled, bloody, sword-pierced Body in the arms of Mary at the foot of the cross, if you like, the Pieta of Michelangelo!
THE CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF THE SORROWS OF MARY. The following is an orderly chronological listing of the seven sorrows of Mary, from the Infancy of Jesus up to His death and laying in the arms of Mary, ending with His burial:
1. THE PROPHECY OF SIMEON—A SWORD WILL PIERCE YOUR HEART!
2. THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT—Herod in pursuit to kill the Child Jesus.
3. JESUS LOST IN THE TEMPLE—Mary’s sorrow in losing Jesus for three days!
4. MARY MEETS JESUS ON CALVARY—Mary meeting the eyes of Jesus carrying the cross.
5. THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS—Mary present and witnessing the crucifixion of her Beloved Son.
6. THE LOWERING OF JESUS IN MARY’S ARMS—After dying, the dead Body of Jesus is lowered into the arms of Mary.
7. THE BURIAL OF JESUS—The separation of Jesus and Mary with the burial of Jesus.
In each one of these seven sorrows of Mary, we are invited to enter into the mind, soul, and Heart of Mary to experience, at least to a limited degree, some of the sorrow of Mary and then to console her. If we truly love a person, we want to share our life with that person, in good times and in bad, in health and in sickness, in riches and in poverty, until death do we part (Marriage promises). Our love for Jesus and Mary can and should far transcend our love on a human and natural level. As the Song of Songs expresses it: Love is stronger than death.
Therefore, we will offer some concrete means by which we can contemplate the sorrows of Mary and at the same time offer her our consolation. The lover rejoices with the beloved, but is also willing to weep and suffer in the pains and sorrows of the beloved.
1. THE PROPHECY OF SIMEON. “A sword of sorrow will pierce your heart so that the thoughts of many may be revealed.” A concrete way in which we can console the Heart of Mary in this contemplation would be to go to confession in honor of Mary. Mary’s powerful prayers and presence will attain for us the grace to examine our conscience and reveal our inmost secrets of conscience to the priest who represents Jesus. The end result will be absolution, forgiveness, and re-birth into a life of grace. Mary, whose title is full of grace, will rejoice in your opening up your mind, heart, and soul to Jesus’ Mercy in Confession.
2. THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT. Saint Joseph got up and taking the Mother and the Child fled into Egypt… How can we console the Heart of Mary in this painful sorrow? We all live in perpetual spiritual combat, spiritual warfare. We can console the Heart of Mary by imitating good Saint Joseph in fleeing from moral evil—that we call temptation to sin. When you are tempted to sin, run to Mary; throw yourself into the arms of Mary; seek refuge in the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She is a sure refuge!
3. THE LOSING AND FINDING OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE. After three days of searching they found Jesus in the temple listening to and teaching the Jewish teachers… What might be a concrete application of this third sorrow of Mary? Many mothers and fathers over the past fifty years have lost their children spiritually. That is to say, despite the hard efforts of parents, children still wander from the faith, no longer assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and worse still, willfully choose a sinful lifestyle. Just as Jesus was lost and Mary suffered excruciating pains, so do parents suffer intensely at the moral and spiritual loss of their children, whom they love so much! Like Saint Monica and the eventual conversion of Saint Augustine, why not pray, and pray, especially many Rosaries so that these lost and wandering prodigal sons and daughters, these lost sheep of the fold, will return. In other words, through the Holy Rosary, place these children in the Heart of Mary.
4. JESUS MEETS MARY ON THE WAY OF THE CROSS. As Jesus climbs Calvary on His way to crucifixion, He meets Mary. A concrete manner in which we can console Mary is to imitate Jesus in carrying our own crosses. However, with this important stipulation: share your crosses with Mary. The mere presence of Mary contemplating Jesus with the cross on His shoulders, consoled Jesus. Dig deep into your own heart so as to identify your biggest cross as well as your smaller ones. Then bring these crosses to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. Imitating a little child in the arms of his mother, talk to Mary about these crosses. She is very interested in helping you to carry your cross with faith, confidence, trust, and love. Often our crosses are overwhelming; they are just too heavy, thorny, and splintery to carry because we are trying to carry them by ourselves, without inviting Mary to help us! We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
5. JESUS SUFFERS AND DIES ON THE CROSS—WITH MARY AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS. In this most painful mystery of the crucifixion, passion, suffering, and death of Jesus, Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, was present the whole time. Jesus spoke from the cross to John and Mary: Woman behold thy son; son behold thy mother. The disciple took her into his home. In that moment Jesus gave Mary—in the person of Saint John—to the world as the universal spiritual Mother, as your Mother! Our way to console Mary in this mystery? Imitate Saint Juan Diego and the little boy in the movie Marcelino, pan y vino. In what way? Very simple: be like a small child and tell Mary everything that happens in your life. Trust totally and unreservedly in the Maternal Presence and Heart of your loving Mother.
6. JESUS PLACED IN THE ARMS OF MARY. The artist Michelangelo depicted this masterfully in the famous Pieta. The film producer Mel Gibson presented this in the movie The Passion of the Christ in a most powerful and moving fashion. How can we console the Heart of Mary? To love Jesus is to love Mary; they are inseparable! The suffering Body of Jesus is present in His Mystical Body, the Church. In a most powerful and special way, The Body of Christ comes to us in the greatest of all the Sacraments, the most Holy Eucharist within the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The greatest single gesture that we can do on the face of the earth is to receive Jesus, the Son of Mary, in Holy Communion. Therefore, a superb way in which we can console the Heart of Mary is to pray to receive Jesus in Holy Communion through Mary’s most pure and Immaculate Heart. Nobody ever received Jesus with greater love than the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
7. JESUS TAKEN FROM MARY AND BURIED IN THE TOMB. In this last of the seven sorrows we witness the separation of Jesus and Mary, when Jesus is placed in the tomb and buried. Without a doubt, one of the best ways we can console and rejoice the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary is to beg Mary for the grace to die daily to sin—the greatest evil that exists! Then, of greatest importance, beg Mary for the grace of a holy and happy death. By constantly praying to Mary the Hail Mary and the Holy Rosary, with Mary’s help we are preparing ourselves for the most important moment in our life: the very moment that we die! This will determine our eternal destiny—eternal salvation or eternal loss. We trust that through Mary’s prayers we will gain our eternal salvation. May this be our prayer every night, and the moment we die: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, make my heart like unto thine. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I breathe forth my soul unto thee. O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine!