The First Sorrow:
The Prophecy of Holy Simeon
Mary and Joseph took their Child to the Temple to offer him to God, as was the custom of the Jewish people. Their hearts were filled with joy as they handed the child to the holy man, Simeon. But joy was turned to sorrow when Simeon said to Mary, "This child is set for the fall and the rise of many in Israel, and your own soul a sword shall pierce that thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." We can only wonder why a sword should pierce Mary's heart, but as time unfolded, we know that she experienced many sorrows. We sympathize with young parents whose joy is turned to sorrow when their child is born with physical or mental handicaps.
The Second Sorrow:
The Flight into Egypt
Mary experienced her second sorrow when Joseph was told in a dream to take Mary and the Child to Egypt because Herod wanted to kill him. The Holy Family became resident aliens, refugees, unable to live an ordered family life. Our thoughts turn to the millions upon millions of refugees in our world today who experience this sadness, and our hearts are moved to pity. Mary understands the heartbreak of the refugees.
The Third Sorrow:
The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days
On their return from Jerusalem after a feast, Mary and Joseph discovered that Jesus was not with either party. They returned to Jerusalem in search of their lost child. We can only imagine how frantic they were before they found him in the Temple with the elders. What must be the sorrow of today's parents whose children are lost, kidnapped, run-aways or just disappeared. Mary is the source to turn to for strength and comfort, for she experienced this kind of agony.
The Forth Sorrow:
Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary
He had been stripped of his garments, scourged, crowned with thorns, and was now on his painful walk to Calvary. Mary was undoubtedly with the group of women standing by the roadside as Jesus passed. Injustice walks with us on our pilgrimage today as it did then. And Mary understands the pain of those who are unjustly treated in the many ways today's world can devise.
The Fifth Sorrow:
Mary Stands by the Cross of Jesus
The Roman soldiers had completed their task of unimaginable cruelty. Jesus was nailed to the cross. "There stood by the cross of Jesus, Mary, his Mother..." Her strength then is part of our strength today as we stand at the side of a loved one who is dying. We, in turn, can share the sorrow Mary felt as she watched her Son die.
The Sixth Sorrow:
Mary Receives into her Arms the Body of Jesus
The final hour had come. A man named Joseph had gone to Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus for burial. He and friends took down the lifeless body as Mary stood at the foot of the cross. They laid her Son in her arms. We understand her sorrow, for we have lost or will lose a loved one. She, in turn, understands our sorrow and is present to us to share what we feel, to be our compassionate Mother.
The Seventh Sorrow:
Mary Assists at the Burial of Jesus
As the long day of agony closes, Mary moves with the little group of mourners to the place of burial, a borrowed tomb. We, too, have been mourners as we laid to rest a loved one. We know the pain of separation, of loss, of heartache. But we know, too, that Mary understands our sorrow and shares her love and strength with us.