Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Honoring the Sorrows of Mary: An Invitation

This Lent, I have been especially mindful of the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Although this isn't a specifically Lenten devotionbringing together as it does events drawn from the entire life of Jesusit nonetheless invites us to reflect on the role Mary played in the full story of salvation, particularly in those times of sadness and fear that are an essential part of the Gospel story.

A strong tie of faith binds Mary’s sorrows to those we experience throughout life. Her faith, resilience, courage, and (especially) hope allowed her to find the hand of God at work, even in the most devastating events of her life.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary are:
1. The Prophecy of Simeon (cf. Luke 2:34-35)
2. The Flight into Egypt (cf. Matthew 2:13-14)
3. The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple (cf. Luke 2:43-45)
4. Meeting Jesus As He Carries the Cross (cf. Luke 23:27)
5. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus (cf. John 19:18, 25-27)
6. Jesus Is Taken Down From the Cross (cf. Mark 15:43-46)
7. The Burial of Jesus (cf. John 19:41-42)

Traditionally, the Church has remembered Mary, the Mother of Sorrows, during the liturgy on the Friday of Passiontide (the Fifth Week of Lent). This year (2016) this commemoration falls on March 18.

As an act of devotion in these final days of the Lenten Season, I would like to invite you to join me in making a novena in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows beginning on Thursday, March 10, and ending with Mass and/or Stations of the Cross on Friday, March 18.

Here are two possible prayers for use during your novena:

1. A Traditional Novena Prayer in Honor of Our Lady of Sorrows +
Most holy and afflicted Virgin, Mother of Sorrows and Queen of Martyrs! You stood motionless at the foot of the Cross beneath your dying Son. Through the sword of grief which pierced you then, through the unceasing suffering of your life of sorrow, and the bliss which now fully repays you for your past trials and afflictions, look upon me with a mother's tenderness and have pity on me, as I [pray before your image to] venerate your sorrows, and place my request with childlike confidence in the sanctuary of your wounded Heart.

I beg of you to present to Jesus Christ, in union with the infinite merits of His Passion and Death, your sufferings at the foot of the Cross and through the power of both, to grant my request: (Mention your request here).

To whom shall I turn in my needs and miseries, if not to you, Mother of mercy? You drank so deeply of the chalice of your Son that you can sympathize with the sufferings of those who are still in this valley of tears.

Offer to our Divine Savior the sufferings he bore on the Cross that the memory of them may draw His mercy upon me, a sinner. Refuge of sinners and hope of all humankind, accept my petition and grant it, if it be according to the Will of God.

Lord Jesus Christ, I offer you the merits of Mary, Your Mother and ours, as she stood beneath the Cross, in order that by her loving intercession I may obtain the happy fruits of Your Passion and Death. Amen.
- Taken from A Treasury of Novenas
(Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1986)

2. A Prayer In Honor of the Sorrows of Mary +
O God, who in this season
give your Church the grace
to imitate devoutly the Blessed Virgin Mary
in contemplating the Passion of Christ,
grant, we pray, through her intercession,
that we may cling more firmly each day
to your Only Begotten Son
and come at last to the fullness of his grace.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
- from The Roman Missal
Alternate Collect for Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

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