Debra Black finds that sharing in Mary’s sorrows has helped her to receive the love of God.
It can be difficult to understand or believe how much God loves each of us personally. Yet He lowered Himself to be among us, taking on our human ‘habit’, for just that reason. To know that He would have suffered and died for any one of us, even if we were the only person begotten of Adam and Eve throughout time, is a profound thing.
Also profound is to realize that He loves each of us as He loves His mother. Each relationship is unique and so is the special affection that He holds for each of us. But no love is held back from one person and given to the other; each of us is offered the fullness of His infinite love just as He has for His mother. We need merely to accept His love.
There are many reasons that it can be difficult for us to accept God’s love, so we turn to our Mother. Mary, the fullness of the Father’s Grace, in her perfect integrity, embodies this infinite love for us as well. As with any relationship, every moment of the day is an opportunity for us to come to know Mary’s heart. As we go through our day, we can reflect upon the highs and lows of Mary’s day too.
The Seven Sorrows, or Seven Dolors, of Mary is traditionally prayed between the Nativity of Mary on September 8 and Our Lady of Sorrows, September 15. It is also known as the Via Matris, or The Way of the Sorrowful Mother. Each reflection upon one of her sorrows is referred to as a station, similar to the Station of the Cross prayed for Jesus’ passion. The first sorrowful "station" of Mary’s Way is the prophecy of Simeon from Luke 2:22-35. What a huge shock Mary must have experienced at hearing Simeon’s sorrowful words, those of her sweet child’s passion and death. All the insults, blows, and torments He would undergo.
But a still sharper sword pierced her soul. It was the thought of men’s ingratitude to her beloved Son. (Traditional 7 Sorrows service)
We see and are taken aback by the severity of her heartbreak at watching her son’s torture and death. We see her anguish as she holds His lifeless body. And we sorrow that we are the cause of her sorrow, His having endured all of this for our sins. As the temple veil ripped (cf. Matthew 23:45), surely Mary’s heart did as well.
In spite of our sins being the sword that eventually pierces her heart, she has within her the Father’s unconditional love for us, limited only to the extent of which any human can carry. Living with perfect integrity from the moment of her immaculate conception to that of her assumption into Heaven, she carries and gives the greatest amount of perfect love of which a human is capable. Mary loves us fully, desiring to have that special, unique relationship with each of us personally.
How do I respond to that?
It is not an exaggeration to say that there have been few times in history where our own holiness is so desperately needed. The way to Jesus is through Mary, and the moment to begin to know her is now. St. Ignatius of Loyola would recommend Mass and Confession. Examine your conscience daily to find God’s presence in both small and large aspects of your life and consider your response to that. Have honest conversations with Him in mental prayer, asking for grace and guidance to overcome sinfulness once and for all.
Then ask your Mother Mary for help too. Don’t be afraid to have those same, quiet conversations with her throughout the day. Several years ago, I realized I desired to also experience this joy in Mary’s presence. I finally sat down in prayer one day and asked her how to be her daughter. Let go of any preconceived ideas you may hold about mother figures and let Mary mother you. She is already waiting for you.
Virgin most afflicted, obtain for me that the same sword which pierced thy soul may pierce mine also, that I may live and die in the love of my Lord, and share eternally in that glory, which He has purchased for me with His most precious blood. Amen.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.
Copyright 2022 Debra Black
About the Author
Debra Black is a spiritual director, perpetual member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, international educator, and businesswoman. Her public service roles have spanned city commissioner, pregnancy clinic board of directors, youth and college ministry, public citizen activism, and homeless street ministry. Her writings can be found at TheFaceOfGraceProject.com, including her latest books, The Life Confession: A Discovery of God’s Mercy and Love and Kick Butt: The Quick Guide to Spiritual Warfare.