top of page

Our Lady of Sorrows

Contemplating Mary's Seven Sorrows with prayers by

Venerable Fulton J Sheen

The Prophecy of Simeon

Mary, if you had been disjointed from your Divine Son, like a quiet peaceful garden with the sun playing on it, far away from the storm-enveloped glory of Calvary, you would never have been really our Mother. How terrible the sea of human sorrows would be were not your moonlight shining upon it! But now that thou are called to co-redeem with Our Redeemer, you have become the Mother of the afflicted! Wipe away our tears, for you understand our sorrow; mend our broken hearts, for yours was broken too. Draw out all swords, for the hilt is in your hand. Mary, you are the Mother of Sorrows, but if you were not, then you could never be the Cause of Our Joy.


The Flight into Egypt

Mary, by your second sorrow teach us that God’s ways are hidden in everything, even in those things that seem as far away as Egypt. Often during our life, when we are asked to leave the peace and quiet of religious contemplation where we are so much at home, to take up those duties and tasks of a work-a-day world, which seem in comparison, like an Egyptian exile, remind us that there is nothing in life that cannot be spiritualized and turned into a prayer, provided we do it in union with thy Son! Mary, I am slow to learn, tardy to understand, reluctant to dare, but impress me with the great truth that we can make a Holy Land out of the pagan Egypt of our daily toil, provided we bring with us thy Infant Child.


The Three Days’ Loss

Mary, by this your third sorrow, teach us that if we should be so unfortunate as to lose God, we must not seek Him in new faiths, new cults, and new fads, for He can be found only where we lost Him – in the Temple, in prayer, in His Church. Those other times when our soul is as arid as a desert, our hearts seem cold, and we find it hard to pray, and even begin to believe that perhaps God has forgotten us, because He seems to be so far away, whisper gently to us the sweet reminder that even when we seem to have lost Him, He is still about His Father’s business.


Mary Meets Jesus Carrying the Cross

Mary, by this new sorrow, impress thy poor children with the lesson of cross-bearing. Remind me that I may or may not give my love to Jesus, for I am master and captain of my soul, but that I am not free to accept His cross or to leave it. The choice is not between going through life with a cross, or going through life without it. I must take it. There is no way of walking around it- the outstretched arms will not permit me to do that. The choice is whether I shall accept it like you did, or have it thrust upon me, like Simon. Shall I be impelled to embrace it, or shall I be compelled to take it? Mary, let me see that the only real cross is the refusal to take it, and that by embracing it through love like thee, it ceases to be a cross and becomes a scaffolding leading me on to the Kingdom of God.


The Crucifixion

Mary, in your fourth sorrow you showed us how we are to carry our cross, and in this, the fifth, you show us how to stand by it. Your Son has told us that only those who persevere until the end will be saved. But perseverance is sometimes so difficult. Few of us are, like you, willing to stand by the Cross for three full hours until the Crucifixion is ended. Most of us are deserters from

Calvary, half-crucified souls; impatient to sit when we are not nailed to a cross. Many of us have high resolves in the dawn; but few sustain them through the day. Your own soul did not falter, because your Son’s did not. He kept till evening the promise He had made to the morning sun rising red like blood. He had finished the work given Him to do. Beg for us the grace then, like you, to remain three full hours on Golgotha, so that when the lease on our life has ended, we can pray with Him and you: “I have finished the work you gave me to do. Now, God, take me down, and lift me up into everlasting union with Thee.”


The Taking Down From the Cross

Mary, most of us in moments of sorrow dispense ourselves from duties, refrain from work in the hour of our grieving, and look to human sympathy to ease our aching heart. But you, O sorrowful Mother, during this sixth sorrow, sought out no human consolation, in order to remind us that God loves most to come to lonely hearts which no other love can fill. Neither did you make your grief a burden to any one; you rather helped lay the Host on the Immaculate Corporal of your lap; your heart was broken, but no one knew it. By your calm resignation, dear Mother, teach us that our sorrow must never be in the way; that every cross we carry must be a cross only to ourselves; that heaven most consoles the inconsolables of earth, and that a broken heart, like your own, is the favorite sanctuary of God.


The Burial of Jesus

Mary, Mother of Sorrows, thy Seven Sorrows are like a Holy Mass. In thy first sorrow, you were appointed sacristan by Simeon to keep the Host until the Hour of sacrifice; in your second sorrow, you left the sacristy to serve the altar as thy Son’s visit sanctified Egypt; in the third sorrow, you recited the Confiteor at the foot of the altar as your Son recited His Confiteor to the Doctors of the Law; your fourth sorrow was the Offertory as you made the oblation of His Body and Blood on the way to Calvary; your fifth sorrow was the Consecration in which you didst offered your own body and blood in union with your Son’s for the redemption of the world; your sixth sorrow was the Communion when you received the body of your Son from the altar of the Cross; and your seventh sorrow was the Ite Missa est, as you ended your sorrow with an adieu to the tomb.

Mary, your heart is everything to us; it is a living altar-stone on which the sacrifice is offered; it is the sanctuary lamp which jumps with joy before its God; it is the Server, the beatings of whose broken heart are like the responses of the liturgy; it is the Paschal candle which lights the sanctuary of our souls by the sacrifice of self; it is the thurible which gives the sweet odor of incense as it burns in love for us; it is a whole angelic choir singing voiceless songs into ravished ears of the bleeding Host, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Mary, sacristan of souls as you were the sacristan of Jesus, a good life is worth nothing if it be not crowned with a happy death. We shall spend our whole life therefore asking this of you, if it be only to gain it at the end. Thy Divine Son said He would not leave us orphans. But Mary, we will be orphans unless you are our Mother.


bottom of page