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The Seven Sorrows of Mary

April 11, 2014 by  
Filed under Carmelite Spirituality, Dan Burke, Divine Intimacy, Lent, Mary

The Seven Sorrows of Mary

Presence of God – Permit me, O Mary, to remain near the Cross, that I may share with you in the Passion of Jesus.


We find in Simeon’s prophecy the first explicit announcement of the part the Blessed Virgin was to have in the Passion of Jesus: “Thy own soul a sword shall pierce” (Lk 2:35). This prophecy was fulfilled on Calvary. “Yes, O Blessed Mother,” says St. Bernard, “a sword has truly pierced your soul. It could penetrate Your Son’s flesh only by passing through your soul. And after Jesus had died, the cruel lance which opened His side did not reach His soul, but it did pierce yours. His soul was no longer in His body, but yours could not be detached from it.” This beautiful interpretation shows us how Mary, as a Mother, was intimately associated with her Son’s Passion.

The Gospel does not tell us that Mary was present during the glorious moments of the life of Jesus, but it does say that she was present on Calvary. “Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus, His Mother, and His Mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen” (Jn 19:25). No one had been able to keep her from hastening to the place where her Son was to be crucified, and her love gave her courage to stand there, erect, near the Cross, to be present at the sorrowful agony and death of the One whom she loved above all, because He was both her Son and her God. Just as she had once consented to become His Mother, so she would now agree to see Him tortured from head to foot, and to be torn away from her by a cruel death.

She not only accepted, she offered. Jesus had willingly gone to His Passion, and Mary would willingly offer Her well-beloved Son for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity and the salvation of men. That is why the sacrifice of Jesus became Mary’s sacrifice, not only because Mary offered it together with Jesus, and in Him, offered her own Son; but also because, by this offering, she completed the most profound holocaust of herself, since Jesus was the center of her affections and of her whole life. God, who had given her this divine Son, asked, on Calvary, for a return of His gift, and Mary offered Jesus to the Father with all the love of her heart, in complete adherence to the divine will.


“O Mary, Mother of Jesus Crucified, tell me something about His Passion, for you felt and saw it more than all the others who were present, having contemplated it with the eyes of your body and soul, and given it all the attention possible, O you who love Him with such great love” (St. Angela of Foligno).

“O Mary, grant that I may stand with you near the Cross; permit me to contemplate with you the Passion of your Jesus, and to have a share in your sorrow and tears. O holy Mother, impress deeply in my heart the wounds of the Crucified; permit me to suffer with Him, and to unite myself to your sorrows and His” (cf. Stabat Mater).

“O Queen of Virgins, you are also the Queen of Martyrs; but it was within your heart that the sword transpierced you, for with you everything took place within your soul.

“Oh, how fair you are to behold during your long martyrdom, enveloped in a majesty both strong and gentle; for you have learned from the Word how those should suffer who are chosen as victims by the Father, those whom He has elected as associates in the great work of the redemption, whom He has known and predestinated to be conformed to His Christ, crucified for love.

“You are there, O Mary, at the foot of the Cross, standing, in strength and courage; and my Master says to me, ‘Ecce Mater Tua.”'Behold your Mother. He gives you to me for my Mother! And now that He has returned to His Father, and has put me in His place on the Cross so that I may fill up those things which are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in my flesh for His Body, which is the Church, you are still there, O Mary, to teach me to suffer as He did, to let me hear the last song of His soul which no one but you, O Mother, could overhear” (Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity, Last Retreat, 15).

That my desire for suffering will not be sterile, help me, O sweet Mother, to recognize in each daily suffering the Cross of your Jesus and to embrace it with love.


Note from Dan: These posts are provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contain one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here:  Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.


Art: Mater Dolorosa (Sorrowing Virgin [Sorrowful Mother]), Workshop of Dieric Bouts, c.1480-1500, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1986, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Camila

    There’s a picture of our Lady with seven swords piercing her heart in my toddler’s room, right above his changing table. He loves kissing pictures of Jesus, but his first reaction when he saw Mary’s heart was “ouch!” – I said “yeah, ouch!” He kissed her picture and her ‘boo-boo’. Wisdom out of the mouth of babes, right? Here’s a little two year old, in his little way consoling our Lady. Precious.

    • Jeanette

      Very precious! Thanks for sharing.

    • My goddaughter is the same way! How beautiful!

    • Estefania

      Hi Camila. God bless him! They bring us so much joy in their innocence and simplicity. My son is also turning two soon and likes kissing pictures of Jesus and Mary also and when he sees more life like pictures of Jesus on the cross, he says,” le duele?”which means something like is he in pain in Spanish. Thanks for sharing and if you don’t mind, please pray for our family. I feel like Mary, like a sword has pierced my heart. I prayed to Mary and I felt her speak to me but I’m not sure of my own and my son’s future and I, of course, don’t have the same courage as our mother Mary.

      • Camila

        Dear Estefania,
        Yes, I will pray for you! Yo hablo espanol tambien. Vivi en Chile 5 anos!

        • Estefania

          Oh que bien! Gracias Camila. Yo nací en Rep. Dom. pero me crie aquí en EEUU. Que el Señor te siga bendiciendo.

          • LizEst

            Translation: Great! Thanks Camila. I was born in the Dominican Republic but was raised here in the US. May the Lord continue to bless you.

        • LizEst

          Translation: I also speak Spanish. I lived in Chile for five years.

  • cg

    I was brought to tears this morning reading this and picturing myself in Mary’s place with one of my sons on that cross. What she went through…

  • DianeVa

    Mary STANDING at the foot of the Cross! I so often come back to this and know how in my weakness I would be prostrate or crumpled up like a little child. But when I hit my knees in prayer, in my weakness, it helps me to remember who I am; simply His child and He loves my weakness and is drawn to it by His Sacred Heart as is Mary by her Immaculate Heart. If I could stand at the cross as Mary did, I would be full of grace as she is Full of Grace. I long for that day when I too can stand and share in His glory.

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