For today’s blog post we will reflect on Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows. This is a title that many are probably familiar with, but don’t fully know or understand. The title ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’ has many variations, such as ‘Mother of Sorrows’ or ‘Our Lady of the Seven Dolours’. All these titles refer to Mary’s role as a suffering mother of Christ and the church. Mary’s is commonly depicted in artwork with Seven Swords piercing her suffering heart, with each sword representing the sorrows in her life. These Seven Sorrows are as follows:
Mother Mary is referred to as ‘Mary, Vessel of Honor’ because as Christians we are all vessels. We are all vessels, carrying the message and grace of Christ to those around us. Mary was the ultimate vessel, both physically and metaphorically, as she carried the literal body of Jesus within her and also carried his holy spirit to those she encountered. Mary did not suffer the typical martyrdom of a saint- she was not dishonored on the outside with her suffering. Instead, she was a Vessel of Honor as she interiorly was martyred while watching her son die. Watching Jesus die on the cross was the ultimate pain, the ultimate suffering. She felt every laceration and bruise of her Beloved Son, but held the pain within her. In her martyrdom she did not have to endure the humiliation of public stripping, ridicule or blows. This does not mean she did not suffer, but God did allow her to maintain her honor in her special position. Mother Mary serves as an example to us here, carrying internal pain as an offering to and for the Lord. Let us turn to Mary when we are suffering, asking her to show us how to be vessels of honor for the Lord.
These reflections on Mary’s role as the Vessel of Honor come from St. John Henry Newman.
The title Mary, Undoer of Knots originated from the Marian intercession of a German couple on the brink of divorce. Wolfgang, the husband of Sophie, prayer went to their priest Father Rem to pray with him to the Virgin Mary. During this time of prayer, Father Rem took their wedding ribbon, lifted up and began to untie it while praying with Wolfgang in front of a painting of the Virgin Mary. As Father Rem smoothed out the untied knot, it became intensely white and due to this happening, Wolfgang and Sophie were able to avoid divorce. Pope Francis called upon Mary, Undoer of Knots during his global Rosary to end the pandemic. We can pray the novena of Mary, Undoer of Knots whenever there are knots, tangles, or problems in our spiritual life or relationships that we cannot undo or fix on our own. Mary notices the knots in our lives and desires to help us undo them.
In the 13th century, Mary appeared to Saint Dominic, the founder of the Dominicans. She gave him a rosary, taught him how to pray it, and asked that Christians everywhere pray the rosary. The original rosary given to Saint Dominic had 15 decades. Now, there are 5 decades in a rosary, but we cycle through 4 different mysteries throughout the week. On Sundays and Wednesdays, we pray the Glorious Mysteries, which allow us to meditate on the resurrection of our Lord, his ascension into heaven, the decent of the Holy Spirit, the assumption of Mary into Heaven, and the crowning of Mary as queen of Heaven. On Mondays and Saturdays, we pray the Joyful Mysteries, where we meditate on the different events of Christ's conception and birth. On Tuesdays and Fridays, we pray the sorrowful mysteries, where we meditate on the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. In 2002, Saint Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries which we pray on Thursdays, where we meditate on the miracles Christ performed. Many Catholics strive to devote time everyday to pray a rosary, as Mother Mary promises protection and grace to those who pray it.