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Our Lady of Sorrows… Mary as Co-Redemptrix

“And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

Luke 2:34-35

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows… probably one of my ‘favorites’. There is a shrine in Carey, Ohio to Our Lady of Consolation. When you walk in, on the right hand side is the statue the shrine is named for… but the side the draws my attention, is the left side… Our Lady of Sorrows:

And just underneath the altar: the cause of Mary’s deepest sorrow:

Her Son, her Divine Son, Our Lord, lying in a tomb after being falsely accused, spat upon, treated with such indignities, scourged, paraded like a criminal, and then crucified between two thieves… all for love of us.

Catholic tradition sees seven sorrows (or dolors) of Mary. Seven times the sword that the prophet Simeon predicted would pierce her soul, pierced her Immaculate Heart. First, the presentation in temple where Simeon foretells the coming sorrows. Second, when the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph) must flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous rampage. Thirdly, when on their way back from Jerusalem they “lost” Jesus for 3 days whilst he was in the Temple. Fourthly, as Our Lady watched her scourged and bleeding Son carry His cross to Calvary. Fifthly, at the crucifixion as she stood beneath the Cross of her Son, pouring out His innocent precious Blood for the salvation of sinners. Sixthly, when after the death of Jesus, they lowered His bleeding Body from the Cross and she received her dead Son into her arms. Finally, when they laid the Body of Jesus in the tomb and sealed the sepulcher by rolling a large stone in front of it. Mary suffered with Jesus, as Simeon had foretold, she consented to God’s plans without knowing the details of their unfolding. One of my favorites lines from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is when he shows Mary during the scourging at the pillar, she says, “My Son… when, where, how… will You choose to be delivered of this?” She doesn’t cry out, she doesn’t seek to stop His sufferings… she trusts. And in doing so, suffers with Him.

This is what the Church means when she calls Mary Co-Redemptrix. Mary is the woman with the Redeemer. It is impossible to tear Mary from our Redemption. Our Redemption (Jesus Christ) began in her. Our Redemption came through her. She was chosen, and she consented. She stood in sorrow unimaginable beneath the Cross of Our Lord and offered Him to the Father, trusting completely in His plan of salvation.

Today especially, and always: Our Lady of Sorrows, ora pro nobis! (pray for us!)

Mother, have pity on me, who has not loved God, and who has so greatly offended Him. Thy sorrows, it is true, assure me of pardon, but that is not sufficient. I wish to love God. Who could obtain for me that grace if not thee, who are the Mother of holy love! O Mary, Thou consolest everyone; favor me also, with thy consolations. Amen. (Prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori)

Catholic reads for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows:

The Foot of the Cross by Fr. Frederick W. Faber


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