Friday, September 15, 2006

our lady of sorrows

Today is the commemoration of Our Lady of Sorrows, or in former times, the Seven Dolours (or Sorrows) of our Lady. Now, before you Evangelicals get outraged about this sort of thing, think about what it is. Devotion to, and the commemoration of, the "Seven Sorrows" of our Lady, is just sort of a channel for your piety, and it leads right to the incarnate Savior, because all of our Lady's sorrows have to do with various aspects of the Incarnation of Christ. There's nothing more "evangelical," in the strict sense, than internalizing the gospel, which empowers you then to preach it (our Lord first heals the deaf mutes ears, and then loosens his tongue). Contemplating our Lady's Seven Sorrows, is therefore just a way to focus our minds on seven gospel events, seven aspects of Jesus' life and death. And focusing on his life and death, in prayer, is a pretty important and fruitful thing to do. Our Lady always points to our Lord.

The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin are:

1) The Prophecy of Simeon, from Luke 2.34ff: "...and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, 'Behold, this child is set for the fall nad rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also [hence the swords in Marian iconography]), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.' "

2) The flight of the Holy Family into Egypt, from Matthew 2.13ff: "...behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.' And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, 'Out of Egypt have I called my son.' "

3) The Loss of the Child Christ for Three Days in the Temple, from Luke 2.43ff: " ...and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day's journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days they found him in the temple..."

4) Jesus, Carrying the Cross, Meets his Mother, from Luke 23.27ff: "And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, 'Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, "Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!"...' "

5) Mary Watches Jesus Suffer and Die on the Cross, from John 19.25ff: "But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Mag'dalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home."

6) Mary Receives the Body of the Lord, Taken Down from the Cross, from Matthew 27.55ff: "There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him; among whom were Mary Mag'dalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zeb'edee. When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathe'a, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed. Mary Mag'dalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulchre."

7) Mary Watches Jesus' Body Being Laid in the Tomb, from Luke 23.55f: "The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb, and how his body was laid; then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment."

Now I know this isn't the best historical-critical methodology at work here (though its not as bad as you might think); but anyway, who cares? Your missing the point, if that's the point you want to make. Just like people who read the first part of Genesis and start talking about (for or against) Evolution, are missing the point. The point here is to contemplate the great mystery of the Incarnation, and to contemplate it through the eyes of one who loved Jesus deeply -- for our contemplation is always to be infused with love -- that is, in order for your contemplation to be effective, it must be affective, and devotion to our Lady's Seven Sorrows is a way of intentionally sublimating your intellect to love, a way that likewise engages the imagination. It is a very rich devotion.

1 comment:

First Apostle said...

Quite right, Father. Good post.