HELPLESS!! A feeling of complete helplessness! That is what the Blessed Mother must have felt when her son was nailed to the cross. She could do nothing. Once he was fastened to the wood and set on display, there was little hope of some chance that he might survive the cruel torture of the Roman soldiers.
When Mary met Jesus on the way to Calvary, something could still have happened. Someone in authority could have changed his mind. But now it was too late.

Today, Sept. 15, is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. There are Seven Sorrows of the Sorrowful Mother that the Church commemorates, particularly on this day.

The first was the prophecy of the aged Holy Simeon when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple. “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).
I’m sure Mary received these words with wonder and joy. But then came, “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).
What could this mean? I’m sure she pondered this with much concern.

She found the answer in a very short while when in an effort to destroy the newborn king of the Jews, King Herod ordered the death of all male children under the age of two years in Bethlehem (Matt 2:13-15). Joseph and Mary then fled to Egypt with the infant Jesus. Besides the sufferings of fleeing through a desert in a foreign country, imagine her sorrow knowing that so many other women lost their infants to the sword.

At age 12 after a family pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, Jesus stayed behind while his family assumed he was in the caravan with relatives (Luke 2:41-52). Mary and Joseph went a day’s trip back to Jerusalem and searched for three days before finding Jesus listening to and questioning the Jewish teachers in the Temple. I cannot even imagine the fear and worry that went through the minds of Jesus’ parents. When I reflect on this, I always pray for parents who have lost their children, in hopes that they will be found as Jesus was.

Mary’s fourth sorrow was when she met Jesus as he carried his cross on the way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31). Imagine meeting your son after he’d been beaten and scourged. It would have been hard to recognize his face with all the blood running down it from the wounds caused by the crown of thorns. Also, it would have been swollen by the punches of the soldiers. Perhaps his eyes would have been swollen shut as well. Whenever reflecting on this mystery, I’m urged to pray that the merits gained by the meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross might save a million souls from purgatory.

We now arrive to what I imagine to be Mary’s completely helpless feeling: seeing her son crucified upon a cross, Rome’s death penalty for the worst of criminals. Here she stands at the foot of the cross watching her son slowly die an agonizing death (John 19: 25-27). Her only hope was that he had repeatedly said that on the third day he would rise.

The sixth sorrow of the Blessed Mother is when Jesus is taken down from the cross and laid in her arms (John 19:38-40). Imagine holding your dead and abused son. What anguish and love she must have experienced. This is the vision of the Pieta.

Her final sorrow was the burial of her son. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus prepared his body according to Jewish burial custom and laid him in a cave-like tomb, shutting his body behind a large stone (John John 19:41-42). Without a day’s notice her son was gone.

These are known as the Seven Sorrows of Mary. A Rosary to commemorate these seven sorrows can be found at The Friar Servants of Mary (the Servites) have been meditating on the suffering of Mary in union with the suffering of her Divine Son, Jesus, with this rosary since the 13th century.

I think there might be one more sorrow the Blessed Mother suffered–when her son ascended to heaven. For although this is celebrated as a “Glorious Mystery,” since Jesus was returning to the Father and promised he would always be with his followers, I would think she still suffered sorrow from missing her beloved son, the Son of God.

Thanks to the sorrows of Our Blessed Mother, Jesus’ mother, we can turn to her when we are suffering, particularly when we suffer heartbreak, what she must have suffered in all of those “sorrows.”