Our Lady of Sorrows falls one week after the birthday of the Blessed Virgin and the day after the Exaltation of the Cross. This co-inherence of feast days hints at the con-inherence of the whole of life in God’s plan. Mary is born. The Cross intervenes. Mary suffers with her Son.
It is her destiny. This is foretold by the prophet Simeon when he said the Virgin, “and a sword will pierce your own heart also.” I first began to meditate on these mysteries when I was asked to lead a healing retreat for a community in Illinois called Our Sorrowful Mother’s Ministry. Like many other Catholic devotions, this was not something I understood. Indeed some of the Catholic writings on the Blessed Mother’s joint suffering with her Son I found to be extreme and overstated.
The more I thought about it, however, the more I started to understand. In order to understand we have to first accept just exactly who the Blessed Virgin Mary is. She is the human mother of Jesus Christ. He took the fullness of his humanity totally from her. Their bond was closer, therefore, than any other bond between mother and son. Furthermore, she was not only his mother, but she was, by the special grace of God, preserved from sin. She was whole and perfect and complete. She was, therefore, the perfect mother. If a mother sympathizes and feels for, and with her children, then Mary did so more than any other mother.
When we realize the extraordinary closeness between Christ and his mother we begin to understand why his passion was felt so deeply by his mother, and that through this divine/human transaction new waves of compassion and mercy are released into the world for the world’s salvation. Here is something else: without going over the top with psycho babble, it is true that all of us are conditioned one way or another by our mothers.
This can’t help but be true because the very foundations of our lives–those first stages when our bodies, minds and souls were in formation–were done physically within her body. Mama’s a powerful person in our lives. However, nobody’s Mama is perfect, so consequently, whether we like it or not, her imperfections become part of our own basic matrix of personality. Our feelings, our thoughts, our way of being is woven into and comes from hers.
Therefore, it is through the rosary and through devotions like the Seven Sorrows of Mary that we identify and draw closer to the perfect Mother–the one Jesus himself gives us from the cross–“Behold your Mother.” As we do so the “Mother Wound” can be healed and we can come into a closer and more mysterious understanding of the healing work of Christ on the Cross.
For more on this theme check out my book, Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing.