Devotion to the Mother of Sorrows

O thou Mother, Fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with thine accord.
-from Stabat Mater

Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother is encouraged and practiced frequently by many Catholics. In honor of this devotion, the Church observes two feasts each year in honor of the Seven Dolors (sorrows) of our Lady: Sept. 15 and the Friday before Good Friday.

Today is September 15.

What are the seven sorrows?

  1. Prophecy of Simeon (Lk 2:35)
  2. Flight into Egypt
  3. Loss of Child Jesus in Temple
  4. Jesus on his way to Calvary
  5. Jesus dies on the cross
  6. Mary holds dead body of Jesus
  7. Jesus is placed in the tomb

We will never know the sorrows of our Lady. They are inconceivable.

And yet, with humble servitude and fortitude, she conformed to God’s will. Her sorrows did not drive her.

Let us not forget that Mary endured her sufferings and sorrows for our salvation. Think of it: she saw the sins of the entire world right in front of her, killing her son.

It is because of the gravity of her sorrows that she is now known as the Queen of martyrs. That’s really something: all the sufferings of the martyrs do not surpass Mary’s seven sorrows.

It’s been said that Mary’s sorrows are in proportion to her holiness. Thomas Aquinas wrote that there could never be a “greater greatness” than Mary. Aside from Christ, no one has ever sacrificed more, loved greater, given more freely, obeyed so fully, followed so completely. No one!

And so, the picture above of Our Lady kneeling at the foot of the cross teaches us that pain and love go together.

One of the greatest sorrows, I’ve read, is not one of the seven. But the reality that Mary’s sorrow increased Christ’s agony must have added to her own sorrow. What a cycle.

And yet, despite her own sorrow, she knew that most of the world didn’t give it thought.

Our Lady of Sorrows demands our devotion. Pope Pius IX encouraged this devotion greatly and approved what is sometimes called a “new Hail Mary”:

Hail Mary, full or sorrows, the Crucified is with thee; thou art pitiable amongst women, and pitiable is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of the Crucified, implore for us, the crucifiers of thy Son, tears of contrition, now and at the hour of our death.

I’ll end with that.