Sunday, September 09, 2007

Reflections on the Seven Dolours of Mary - preparation for the Feast of Seven Sorrows of Our Lady

"On the First Dolour - of Saint Simeon prophecy"

In this valley of tears every man is born to weep, and all must suffer, by enduring the evils which are of daily occurrence. But how much greater would the misery of life be, did we also know the future evils which awaits us! 'Unfortunate, indeed, would his lot be', says Seneca, 'who, knowing the future, would have to suffer all by anticipation.' Our Lord shows us this mercy. He conceals the trials which awaits us, that, whatever they may be, we may endure them but once. He did not show Mary this compassion; for she, whom God willed to be the Queen of Sorrows, and in all things like His Son, had to see always before her eyes and continually to suffer all the torments that awaited her; and these were the sufferings of the Passion and death of her beloved Jesus; for in the temple Saint Simeon, having received the Divine Child in his arms, foretold to her that that Son would be a mark for all the persecutions and oppositions of men. "Behold, this child is set....for a sign which shall be contradicted." And therefore, that a sword of sorrow should pierce he soul: "And thy own soul a sword shall pierce." (Luke 2: 34,35). The Blessed Virgin herself told Saint Matilda, that, on this announcement of Saint Simeon, 'all her joy was changed into sorrow.' For, as it was revealed to Saint Teresa, though the Blessed Mother already knew that the life of her Son would be sacrificed for the salvation of the world, yet she then learned more distinctly and in greater detail the sufferings and cruel death that awaited her poor Son. She knew that He would be contradicted, and this in everything: contradicted in His doctrines; for, instead of being believed, He would be esteemed a blasphemer for teaching that He was the Son of God; this He was declared to be by impious Caiphas, saying, "He hath blasphemed, He is guilty of death." (Matt 16: 65,66). Contradicted in His reputation; for He was of noble, even of royal descent, and was despised as a peasant: "Is not this the carpenter's son?" (ibid 13: 55), "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?" (Mark 6: 3). He was wisdom itself, and was treated as ignorant: "How doth this man know letters, having never learned?" (Jn 7: 15). As a false prophet: "And they blindfolded Him, and smote His face....saying: Prophesy, who is it that struck Thee?" (Luke 22: 64). He was treated as a madman: "He is mad, why hear you Him?" (Jn 7: 15). As a drunkard, a glutton, and a friend of sinners: "Behold a man that is a glutton, and a drinker of wine, a friend of publicans and sinners" (Luke 22: 64). As a sorcerer: "By the prince of devils He casteth out devils" (Matt, 9:34). As a heretic, and possessed by the evil spirit: "Do we not say well of Thee that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" (Jn 8: 48).
In a word, Jesus was considered so notoriously wicked, that, as the Jews said to Pilate, no trial was necessary to condemn Him. "If He was not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee." (ibid 18:30). He was contradicted in His very soul; for even His Eternal Father, to give place to Divine Justice, contradicted Him, by refusing to hear His prayer, when He said: "Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me" (Matt 16: 39), and abandoned Him to fear, weariness, and sadness; so that our afflicted Lord exclaimed, "My soul is sorrowful unto death (ibid 38) and His interior suffering even caused Him to sweat blood. Contradicted and persecuted, in fine, in His body and in His life; for He was tortured in all His sacred members, in His hands, His feet, His face, His head, and in His whole body; so that, drained of His blood, and an object of scorn, He died of torments on an ignominious cross.....Since, then, Jesus, our King, and His most holy Mother, did not refuse, for love of us, to suffer such cruel pains throughout their lives, it is reasonable that we, at least, should not complain is we have to suffer something.

Let us pray to the Blessed Virgin together with St Alphonsus:
Since thou has been pleased to suffer so much for me, ah, by thy merits, obtain me great sorrow for my sins, and patience under the trials of this life, which will always be light in comparison with my demerits; for I have often deserved hell. Amen.

Text after "The Glories of Mary" by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Picture is by Albrecht Duerer "Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary"

Seven Promises to those who have devotion to the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

- I will grant peace to their families.
- They will be enlightened about the divine mysteries.
- I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work
- I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.
- I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.
- I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they will see the face of their mother.
- I have obtained (this grace) from my divine son that those who propagate this devotion to my sorrows will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.

Text of the Seven Promises after Our Lady of the Rosary Library