I was raised Southern Baptist, with an aversion to the Catholic faith. When I met and fell in love with a Catholic Marine, I was as horrified as my parents. I even went away to college to get away from the relationship. After a separation of six months, we reunited, and I agreed to go through the pre-marital classes with the campus priest to determine whether I could marry a Catholic. My goal at the time was to convert the priest who gave me my instruction. I was sure I was right.
Our Lord worked through that priest, and I was baptized in the Church the day before our wedding. My parents did not attend.
I love the Faith, but it has taken me years to realize the importance of Mary’s role in our salvation. When I first heard that Mary was referred to as the greatest martyr, I was puzzled. She didn’t die for the Faith, so why is she considered a martyr?
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I started praying the Rosary daily when a deacon at our church led us through Lent to a Consecration to Jesus through Mary. By meditating upon the mysteries of the Rosary, I came to understand how much Mary’s heart was hurt because of her love for her son, and her obedience to God’s will.
I ran across the devotion called The Seven Sorrows of Mary, and I was intrigued. The first promise to those who practice this devotion is, “I will grant peace to their families.” That alone was enough to make me want to try it. As the mother of five sons, I tried putting myself into Our Mother’s shoes. With the meditation of each sorrow, my grief and empathy grew. I began to relate in a deeply personal way. Here are Our Lady’s seven sorrows:
The prophecy of Simeon
Mary was a very young mother. Imagine her excitement at presenting her beautiful child in the Temple. Simeon prophesied all that Jesus would accomplish, but then he turned to Mary and said that her heart would be pierced by the sword of sorrow. It was a forewarning that would stay with a mother every day, leaving her to wonder when the prophecy would come to pass.
The flight into Egypt
When the angel warned Joseph to flee with his family, we imagine it to be in the dead of night. The Holy Family was among strangers, didn’t know the language, and Herod was slaughtering the innocents while seeking their son. Would someone turn them in? Surely, there were rewards for such information. Would the soldiers come for them in the night and snatch Jesus from their arms?
The loss of the child Jesus in the Temple
When Jesus was 12, he went missing for three days while his parents conducted a frantic search. Anyone who loves a child knows this fear. Despite her trust in God’s plan, Mary might have been thinking about Simeon’s prophecy as her anxiety grew.
The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross
My own heart and soul grow heavy when contemplating this sorrow. Jesus and his mother only had to look into one another’s eyes for so much to pass between them. Besides the weight of the cross, Jesus had the weight of his mother’s grief on his shoulders. And yet Mary helped Jesus carry the cross through her constant presence.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
Mary did not languish but stood at the foot of the cross to show her son that he was not alone, even though his apostles, the world and (seemingly) God the Father had abandoned him.
The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross
When the soldiers lowered Jesus’ body and laid him in his mother’s arms, the grief must have been overpowering. She could remember when he was small and she held him after a fall or getting a scrape. Now she held him in death, still clinging to trust in the Father’s will amid her grief.
The burial of Jesus
To bury your child is something no parent should have to face. Jesus’ mother tenderly prepared his body, with tears of love and sorrow as she said goodbye. My own problems pale in comparison.
As my own tears fall with empathy, I fully understand why our Mother Mary is the greatest martyr. She took on the role willingly, with no complaints along the way. I hunger for a tenth of her courage. Mary not only had to bear the sorrows but chose to give her son full support, even as her heart was breaking.
This is a simple devotion, with seven promises. Our Blessed Mother doesn’t ask for much, just seven Hail Marys while meditating upon the seven sorrows. Seek out this devotion, and earn a closer walk with Jesus and his mother.