Her Doctrine and Morals

Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

15 September 2019


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Dear Friends,

Sorrows and joys seem to go hand in hand with each other. One appears to arrive on the heels of the other. Sometimes we even experience them together at the same time. The scriptures tell us that sorrow fills the heart of the woman about to give birth because the time of her labors has arrived, but that soon joy fills her hear that a child is born.

When we consider the life of Jesus Christ we see great sorrow and suffering, especially when He hung upon the cross. This was the cruelest suffering that men could imagine. Jesus was filled with sorrow, not because of His sufferings, but rather, for the souls of men that were being lost. However, in this very act of sacrificing His Life, Jesus was opening the gates of Heaven. He removed all the obstacles preventing us from entering into the Kingdom of Heaven. This was a cause of joy.

The life of the Blessed Virgin Mary was also filled with great sorrows as well as great joys. In today's Gospel, we see her standing beneath Jesus' Cross. Who can even begin to imagine the sorrow and pain in her heart as she watches her Son — the Son of God — lay down His life in sacrifice? The scriptures clearly state that she stood. She did not swoon or faint. She did not fall to the ground. Bravely, and resolutely, she stood next to Jesus with an inner strength surpassing all the martyrs.

When there is a reason or purpose to our suffering or our sorrows, it is easy for joy to accompany them or follow immediately upon them. Jesus knew the reason for His suffering and sorrow and willingly embraced it. Mary knew why Jesus was there upon the cross, and bravely stood by His side. Sacrifice, suffering, pain, sorrows - all have a purpose. When we know this we find the strength to continue. We are able to look beyond the immediate pain and anticipate future joy. In this way, we can experience true joy even amid great agony.

This also works the other way. When we are experiencing the greatest joys or pleasures we can anticipate the future sufferings and sorrows. All the joys in the life of Jesus and of Mary were moderated by the understanding that Jesus came to this world to suffer and die for the sins of men.

When we examine this we find that God has given us the means to avoid being crushed by suffering and sorrow, as well as to not be carried away by joy and pleasure. Moderation is made available to us if we will only take advantage of it. We simply need to remind ourselves that all things in this life are passing away. We need not fear pain and sorrow, because these will shortly pass away. We should not allow ourselves to be carried away by pleasure and joy because these also will soon fade away. With our understanding, we can foresee a future that is opposite of the situation we currently find ourselves in. In this way, we not only see a succession of one and then the other, but we are also able to experience both joy and sorrow simultaneously.

Our sorrows will soon be turned to joy if we receive them well. This will give us the courage to embrace our crosses as well as the strength to bravely and resolutely endure them even to the bitter end. This resoluteness is made possible by love. It was love that led Jesus to the Sacrifice of the Cross. It was love that allowed Mary to stand beside Our Lord in His greatest agony and not faint away. Love helps us to find a purpose for pain and suffering. When we understand the reason why our pain and suffering is necessary, we can look beyond the suffering to the reward that will follow it. Understanding the reason and loving the outcome of our sorrows, enables us to turn them into meritorious sacrificial offerings to God.

Jesus has invited us to deny ourselves and to take up our cross daily and follow Him. He has shown us the way and has given us an example. Mary has followed Him and likewise shown us the way. He has given her to us to encourage and comfort us on the way. They have embraced these sorrows for the love of God's holy Will and the love of us. We are called upon to not only accept, but embrace, our own crosses for the love of God as we imitate them. If we turn to Jesus and Mary in our sorrows, we will find meaning and purpose in sorrow; we will find a reason to even love our sorrows; in this, we will gain the strength and courage to bear them patiently and willingly, and thus render them joyful.

In taking up our crosses we will find rest and joy for our souls. Jesus has promised to make our crosses light and sweet if we will embrace them for the love of Him. Let us beg of Mary our mother the help we need to find and hold on to this love in both joys and sorrows.

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