One of my favorite places to visit while living in Missouri was Our Lady of Sorrows Shrine located in Starkenberg, Missouri. It sat in a very rural area of the state and many times when I visited there was no one else there. The quiet and solitude was beautiful. It is not a large shrine, but if you ever pass through central Missouri it is worth a visit to experience the simple message conveyed there. Take time to appreciate the stillness of the moment.
The sorrows of Mary have been have been prevalent in my prayer life. The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary have frequently been instrumental in helping me cope with my own sufferings and difficulties. When I look at everything our Blessed Mother endured, I realize that my burden of suffering is manageable.
Since the 14th century, the sorrows of Mary have typically been delineated in the number seven.
The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple must have been astounding. What was it like for Mary to hear the prophecy from Simeon? "A sword of sorrow shall pierce your heart." Mary indeed had much to ponder.
The flight into Egypt must have been frightening. Most parents will go the extra mile to protect their children. Mary was no different. That surely was a sorrowful journey.
When Jesus was lost in Jerusalem I can only imagine the growing anxiety with each passing day. Mary's question was to the point. "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you."
I cannot even fathom the heartache Mary must have felt when seeing her Son on the way to Calvary. A mother looks at her innocent Son all beaten and battered on the way to His death. The devastation of seeing her Son in such a condition had to be incomprehensible. Simeon's words must have certainly resonated in her mind during this encounter with her Son.
The crucifixion of a human being would be horrendous under any circumstances. Witnessing the crucifixion of one's own flesh and blood, especially one innocent of all wrondoing, must surely have been gut-wrenching. I remember when Mel Gibson's movie was released and the number of people who said they could not watch it because it was too violent. Can you imagine Mary watching her Son being crucified? It was not a movie; it was real life; it was real death.
Taking down the body of Jesus from the cross must have brought a flood of emotions to Mary. His physical pain and suffering was complete. Her sorrow was still very much alive. Caressing His lifeless body renewed that sword of sorrow in her life.
The burial of Jesus brings her suffering to the pinnacle. She had walked the journey of faith and it had been quite the pilgrimage. Since the Angel Gabriel's greeting reached her ears, her quiet trust in God through the years gave her strength. It had certainly not been an easy life, but it was blessed. "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." We pray this scriptural prayer frequently. Do we grasp even in a minimal way the beauty of Mary's fiat?
Reflecting on the sorrows of our Blessed Mother invites each of us to consider our own sorrows. What sorrows are due to our following Christ faithfully? What sorrows are due to our own pride and sin? If we follow Christ faithfully we will suffer. However, we will be strengthened by the love of God the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. His yoke is easy and His burden light. Let's walk with our Lord just as faithfully as did His Blessed Mother.
Our Lady of Sorrows--pray for us!