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What are the Seven Sorrows of Mary?
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Catholics around the world are called to meditate on the seven sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. These sorrows provide a poignant reflection on Mary's life and her deep connection to the suffering of her Son, Jesus Christ.
Photo credit: Boudewijn Huysmans
The first of the seven sorrows revolves around the prophecy of Simeon, a devout man in Jerusalem who encountered the infant Jesus. During this encounter, Simeon foretold the suffering that Mary would endure throughout her life. He proclaimed, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Luke 2:34-35).
Each of the subsequent sorrows that Mary experienced also centers on her beloved Son, Jesus. These sorrows include her flight into Egypt to protect the Christ Child, the anxiety of losing Jesus in the Temple for three days, her heartbreaking encounter with Jesus on the road to Calvary, her unwavering presence at the foot of the cross during His crucifixion, the sorrow of witnessing her Son's lifeless body being taken down from the cross, and the grief of laying Jesus' body to rest.
Pope Francis, reflecting on Our Lady of Sorrows in Slovakia in 2021, emphasized Mary's response to these sorrows. He highlighted her unwavering presence at the foot of the cross, where she stood with profound faith and compassion. The Holy Father stated, "Here is the proof of true compassion: to remain standing beneath the cross. To stand there weeping, yet with the faith that knows that, in her son, God transfigures pain and suffering and triumphs over death."
Amidst her sorrows, the Blessed Mother offers hope and consolation. In the 14th century, St. Bridget of Sweden received seven promises from Mary for those who recite seven Hail Marys daily while meditating on her tears and sorrows. These promises include granting peace to families, enlightenment about divine mysteries, consolation in times of pain, spiritual protection, defense against spiritual adversaries, visible assistance at the moment of death, and the assurance of eternal happiness.
Catholics can also seek the intercession of Our Lady of Sorrows through the seven sorrows rosary, also known as the chaplet. This devotional prayer consists of seven sets of seven Hail Marys, each set focusing on one of the seven sorrows of Mary. It provides a profound way to connect with the Blessed Mother's experiences and seek her guidance and intercession in times of sorrow and difficulty.
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