September is the Month of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, since we celebrate on September 15 the feast of the sufferings she endured in the culminating events of salvation history. The mystery of Our Lady’s suffering in union with her Son, our Savior, is most profound. It shines light also on the meaning our own sufferings can attain in imitation of her compassion with her Son.
In the first of her Sorrows, Our Mother receives the prophecy of Simeon that a “sword shall pierce” her own heart, even as her Son is to be “a sign that will be contradicted.” The piercing of the heart of Mary is at the center of the mystery of her suffering with Jesus. It was His Heart that was physically pierced by a sword at the Cross, after He had died. And yet Simeon prophesies that Mary’s heart will be pierced with His!
We begin to see in this prophecy and its fulfillment a glimpse of Our Lady’s profound suffering. All that happens to Christ in His Passion and Death – all that He suffers in His body and soul for our salvation – she suffers with Him in her spirit. Thus the Mother of the Redeemer is truly the New Eve, His Helpmate, the Socia Redemptoris.
When Christ sweats blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, Mary shares His anxiety unto death in her own Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. When Christ is scourged, she is scourged; when Christ is crowned with thorns and mocked for His Kingship of the Universe, the Queen of the Universe is crowned with thorns in her heart and suffers His mockery with Him.
When Christ takes up His Cross, Mary picks it up with Him in her own heart, deeply consoling Him along the way to Calvary. When Christ is nailed to the Cross, her heart is pierced through by each blow of the hammer. When Christ hangs in agony, offering to the Father the eternal Sacrifice of our redemption, she stands with Him at the foot of the Cross, His true co-offerer in spirit, offering spiritually to the Father the same Sacrifice that Christ is offering in His own flesh. When Christ dies on the Cross, our Sorrowful Mother also dies in her heart, the Queen of the Martyrs.
When Christ’s Sacred Heart is pierced through by Longinus’s lance, our Mother’s heart is pierced by the sword. Our Sorrowful Mother holds the dead Body of her Divine Son in her arms and places Him in the tomb, having offered with Him the saving Sacrifice. She appears before us truly as our Co-redemptrix, always in a subordinated and participatory manner, offering spiritually with Christ the one Offering of the Cross.
In this way, our Sorrowful Mother teaches us to suffer with her Son and with her in our own lives. She teaches us especially how to assist at Mass, in which the faithful stand with her at the foot of the Cross, offering in their hearts the one Sacrifice of the Altar. She teaches us to give our sufferings to Jesus, Who makes them fruitful through Mary in our daily lives. She teaches us the spiritual power to be found in humbly and lovingly offering our struggles and pains to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world. Sorrowful and Immaculate Mother, pray for us!
Fr. Joseph Previtali