Our Lady of Sorrows
Fr. Scott A. Haynes
At Calvary, we gaze upon Jesus, the Man of Sorrows. But we also behold Mary, our Sorrowful Mother, because she shares His suffering, as the Sacred Scriptures tell us:
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala (John 19:25).
Mary was an eyewitness to the sufferings of her Divine Son. She saw Him bound to the pillar; she heard the lashing of the scourges; she saw His delicate virginal flesh writhe and quiver under the lacerating blows. She was present at the Ecce Homo scene, on the way to Calvary, and at the Crucifixion. And her anguish was further increased by the fact that she could offer no relief to her dear Son in His excruciating pains.
As Our Blessed Lady stood beneath the Cross, she saw the blood trickling from His thorn-crowned head into His eyes but could not reach His sacred face to wipe the drops away. She saw His lips parched with thirst, pale and bloodless, but was unable to give Him a refreshing drink. His head had no pillow to rest upon, yet she was prevented from supporting it or letting it repose upon her bosom. Who can comprehend the anguish endured by her motherly heart during those three endless hours of dreadful helplessness!
Another source of Mary’s unutterable grief was man’s ingratitude for Our Lord’s Passion, and the eternal perdition of so many souls for whom her Son’s Precious Blood would be shed in vain. She, the Queen of the Apostles, the Mother of the Church, saw passing before her eyes a vision of the heedlessness of mankind for sins forgiven, the relapses into mortal sin, the cold indifference, the disgust for divine things, the desecration of the holy sacraments, the rejection and abuse of grace on the part of so many souls – all consequences of the basest ingratitude.
For fifteen years after the death of her beloved Son, until her own happy departure, the Passion of Our Lord was renewed over and over again in the heart of the Blessed Virgin. It was revealed to Mary of Agreda that after the Ascension of her Son, Mary suffered inexpressibly every Friday, as do certain privileged souls who are favored with the stigmata. All these sufferings Mary endured for love of us. St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows tells us of Mary's love, faith, and constancy at the foot of the Cross:
She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to see what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her. She comes quickly and opens her merciful heart to you, embraces you and consoles and serves you. She will even be at hand to accompany you on the trip to eternity.
Devotion to the sorrows of Mary is a source of great graces because it is so pleasing to our Divine Lord. Many spiritual writers say that through her sufferings Mary placed an obligation, as it were, upon her Son, which constrains Him to grant her whatever she asks of Him. As soon as we sympathize with the sorrows of His Mother, we draw our Savior to ourselves. St. Bernard says:
“Jesus is at the disposal of those who devoutly meditate on the sufferings of His Mother.”
Our Lord said to Bl. Veronica of Binasco:
“My daughter, the tears which you shed in compassion for My sufferings are pleasing to Me, but bear in mind that on account of My excessive love for My Mother, the tears you shed in compassion for her sufferings are still more precious.”