Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows (Mater Dolorosa) is an ancient tradition of the Church. Our Blessed Mother suffered intensely during the passion and death of her Son on the Cross. Seven of her sorrows have been chosen for special veneration. The seven sorrows of Mary are the seven swords which pierced her maternal Heart. By meditating on her Seven Sorrows, we meditate on the sufferings of Mary in union with her beloved Son, Jesus. The Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows is celebrated on September 15th.
The Servites (Order of Servants of Mary) began reciting the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows in the 13th Century. After the Church-approved Marian apparition in Kibeho, Rwanda, the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows gained new popularity. It is also known as the Seven Swords Rosary. We can console our dear Mother by praying this rosary and uniting ourselves to her immaculate heart and thus sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Our Lady has promised many graces for those who devoutly recite this rosary and meditate on her sorrows.
Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary
Begin with An Act of Contrition:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell;
but most of all because they offend Thee, my God,
Who are all good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace,
to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
The First Sorrow of Mary – The Prophecy of Simeon
Reading Luke 2:22-35.
When Mary and Joseph presented the infant Jesus in the temple forty days after his birth, Simeon received the Divine Child in his arms and praised God. He predicted that a “sword” (of sorrow) would pierce Mary’s soul.
The Second Sorrow -The Flight into Egypt
Reading: Matthew 2:13-15.
When King Herod ordered the death of all male children age two or younger, Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt with the infant Jesus. The journey was a dangerous one and comforts were none. Instead of asking her son for a miracle, she knew it was the will of God and they lived in Egypt for seven years – strangers in a foreign land.
The Third Sorrow -The Child Jesus Lost in the Temple
Reading: Luke 2: 41-50.
When Jesus was twelve years old, he went with his parents to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. After losing the child Jesus on the return journey, Mary and Joseph searched for Him with agonizing sorrow for three days, finding Him at last in the temple.
The Fourth Sorrow – Mary meets Jesus carrying the cross
Reading: Luke 23: 27-29.
As Jesus made His way to Calvary, condemned to crucifixion, he met His dear mother. He was bruised, derided, cursed and defiled and her sorrow was absolute as Jesus dragged His own cross up the hill of His crucifixion.
The Fifth Sorrow – Mary at the foot of the cross
Reading: John 19: 25-30.
Mary stood at the foot of the Cross near her dying Son unable to minister to him as He cried out “I thirst.” She heard Him promise heaven to a thief and forgive His enemies. Mary watched her Son die a shameful death after three hours of pain on the Cross. She was devastated with grief and pain. Truly her heart has been pierced with a sword.
The Sixth Sorrow -Mary receives the body of Jesus
Reading: Psalm 130.
Jesus was taken down from the cross and His body placed in Mary’s arms. The passion and death are over, but for His mother, grief continues. Just as in the days of Bethlehem, she held him close to her heart but now His flesh was torn to pieces, gaping wounds covered His body, and the blood completely disfigured His adorable countenance! Mary herself was transfixed with such a sword of sorrow that her relatives and friends feared she would die of grief then and there. All who looked at the Mother of God in her sorrow were
stricken with ardent love and compassion.
The Seventh Sorrow – Mary witnesses the burial of Jesus
Reading: Luke 23: 50-56.
Mary wrapped the body of Jesus in the Holy Shroud which covered His Bloody wounds. The body of Jesus was laid in the tomb. As she bid farewell to her Son, her heart suffered so much anguish and grief.
Recite Three Haily Marys in remembrance of the tears shed by Our Blessed Mother. These are said to obtain true sorrow for our sins.
V. Pray for us, O most sorrowful Virgin.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray
Lord Jesus, we now implore, both for the present and for the hour of our death, the intercession of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Thy Mother, whose holy soul was pierced at the time of Thy passion by a sword of grief. Grant us this favor, O Saviour of the world, Who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the Holy Ghost, forever and ever. Amen
Virgin Most Sorrowful, Pray for Us – Say 3 times.
Detailed Meditation on the Seven Sorrows can be found here. I encourage you to read it.