The Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been an integral part of Catholic prayer life for centuries. Following in the footsteps of Jesus while walking side by side with Mary is a priceless gift that we should never take for granted. It has been the subject of the writings of saints and of various Popes and a great source of consolation and strength for all who are devoted to its recitation and the contemplation of the mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. In my own life, I have always found a particular connection with the Sorrowful Mysteries and it on this that I would like to focus.
The first Sorrowful Mystery is the Agony in the Garden.
My soul is sorrowful even to death. Mt 26:38
No matter how much sorrow I have for my sins, it could never be enough. Every sin, however venial, is an offense against an infinitely good God. Thus, it took God Himself in our human nature to experience the contrition that we owe our God.
My God, for the sake of His sorrowful passion and through the intercession of Mary, grant us the grace of perfect contrition.
The second Sorrowful Mystery is the Scourging at the Pillar.
But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. Is 53:5
According to Our Lady of Fatima, “More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.” Yet, Jesus took my sins against purity and had them torn from his own sacred humanity for my sake.
My God, for the sake of His sorrowful passion and through the intercession of Mary, grant us the grace of purity of mind, body and soul.
The third Sorrowful Mystery is the Crowing with Thorns.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him. Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. Mt 27: 27-30
How often have we mocked your kingship by our pride and refusal to trust you in all things? You saw these sins from eternity and paid the price by suffering the humiliation that truly belongs to us, your sinful creatures.
My God, for the sake of His sorrowful passion and through the intercession of Mary, grant us the grace to be truly humble.
The fourth Sorrowful Mystery is the Carrying of the Cross.
And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him. As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of the Skull), they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall. But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink. Mt 27: 31-34
With the love only God who is Love can give, Jesus quietly and patiently carried the burden and shame of sin on His torn and bruised body so that we could be free. So ardent was His desire to free us, he would not stop His journey of love despite falling three times along the way. How often have we failed to pick up our own crosses and follow Jesus? How often have we complained about our burdens despite the example of the Lamb of God who remained silent? Do we seek to rise up right after we fall by seeking reconciliation with God?
My God, for the sake of His sorrowful passion and through the intercession of Mary, grant us the grace to persevere in trials.
The fifth Sorrowful Mystery is the Crucifixion
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. John 19: 26-30
His Mother and the “disciple whom (Jesus) loved” followed Jesus in His footsteps all the way to the cross. Not only was the debt of our sin paid, but also we were given another gift whose value we often fail to appreciate-we share the same Mother as our brother, Jesus. Do we fully appreciate the fact that the cross of Christ makes us part of the family of God?
My God, for the sake of His sorrowful passion and through the intercession of our Mother Mary, grant us the grace to fully appreciate the gift of family, especially the gift of our most holy Mother whom you gave us in your hour of agony to console us in our crosses as she stood by your side as you suffered your cross for our sake.
The sorrowful mysteries are a demonstration of the disfiguring horror of sin and the depths of God’s love for His creatures whose debt He pays for no other reason than His desire to live in eternal communion with us. Let us follow with Mary in His holy footsteps and see through her eyes the love He has for us.
They will have the two-edged sword of the word of God in their mouths and the blood-stained standard of the Cross on their shoulders. They will carry the crucifix in their right hand and the rosary in their left, and the holy names of Jesus and Mary on their heart. The simplicity and self-sacrifice of Jesus will be reflected in their whole behaviour. —Saint Louis Marie de Montfort