A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Reflection on Our Lady of Sorrows

By Bridget

I have always had a great affection for Our Lady. Once, on retreat, I was talking of my love of icons and my observation that Our Lady always looks so sad in those depictions. My spiritual director reflected on what must have been her terrible sorrow over the Slaughter of the Innocents – what we might today call ‘survivor guilt.’ Innocent babies killed in an attempt to rid the world of her Son, who was seen as a threat by King Herod. That set off a train of thought for me about the sorrows that Mary endured during her life as the Mother of God on earth.

Watching a Vatican ceremony, I was introduced to the devotion of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, the details of which were hitherto unknown to me. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the devotion was revealed to St Bridget! The Seven Sorrows, like other devotional prayers, remind us of significant events in the Life of Mary, but, for me, it is more helpful to contemplate the totality of Our Lady’s life and her relationship with her Son.

Since then I have thought of how Our Lady must understand me, especially as a parent myself. Clearly she is unique in that she has a message from God telling her that her Son would be conceived by the Holy Spirit, but in other ways she shares so many bittersweet experiences. The joy of the new child, yet knowing that this is the beginning of separation and letting go of that child to find his own way in life; being frightened that some harm will befall the little one; the responsibility of guiding a young person, of teaching them the right way to lead their lives; providing a safe home; the terror of thinking one has lost a child in the crowd; the mystery of one’s child, now grown, who is beautiful, assured, and competent, all seemingly without the parents’ aid; the difficulty of realising that maybe they won’t follow the path one had planned; the sense of never giving up the role of parent; the worry that persists; the grief when things go wrong. And how, of course, she suffered what most of us will never experience, although there are mothers in other lands who will know this agony – the murder of her Son, because of who he was.

That’s a little about why I am so devoted to Mary – to Our Lady of Sorrows.

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