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Prayers to the Sorrowful Mother allow us to comfort someone who has given us so much consolation, the Blessed Virgin Mary! She is known in this devotion, which is very pleasing to our Lord, as Our Lady of Sorrows, the Sorrowful Mother, or Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, among other names.
These titles for her reflect the trials and tribulations she endured for our salvation as the mother of our Savior Jesus Christ. The church even has a feast day for Our Lady of Sorrows, September 15th.
It is also worth pointing out here that the exorcist Father Chad Ripperger has noted that Our Lady of Sorrows’ assistance is quite powerful in the conversion of family members by blocking demons, as mentioned here and here.
He once said in a talk that “The negative side is that you’ve got to get the demons out of their lives so that they don’t block the operations of grace and influence the individual. You also have to pray for the grace for them to start leading a moral life.” As Father Ripperger continued “Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows is the one to go to for those kinds of graces.”
Our Lady, who is full of grace, of course, can also help you with much needed graces as you strive for sanctity. Father Ripperger has also noted that, in praying to her as Our Lady of Sorrows, she can reveal your own spiritual defects, your sinful proclivities as it were, so you can fight against these sins with the corresponding virtues, such as humility over pride, temperance over gluttony, and chastity over lust, for some prominent examples.
And of course, devotion to our Lady of Sorrows, our Sorrowful Mother, is a great way to comfort her in these days when she sees Her Son and His church suffering so much indifference, opprobrium, blasphemy, and even apostasy in these dark days!
Also, it is worth noting that both our Lord and Our Lady in private revelations have both given special promises to those who honor our Lady of Sorrows in prayer in this devotion.
There are seven prayers listed below, one for each of these traditionally known Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are prayed together in succession with the Hail Mary in between each one. These seven prayers presented in this format were approved by Pope Pius VII in 1815. We will provide some additional thoughts on each sorrow on each of seven pages linked below.
There is also a 7 Sorrows Rosary, which the Blessed Mother highly recommended when she appeared in Rwanda, in Africa, as Our Lady of Kibeho in the 1980's, covering these specific events in our Lady's life.
In meditating on them in either this format below or in the 7 Sorrows Rosary linked above, we see right away how our Blessed Mother is also our Sorrowful Mother!
We’ve included links to scriptural references where appropriate as well. Together in this set of seven prayers we ask our Blessed Mother to obtain for us the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
These seven prayers start with the following introduction: (they use a familiar verse/response pattern for groups, but you can say each of these lines by yourself, of course!)
The Hail Mary is prayed a total of seven times, once after each of the seven prayers.
V. O God, come to my assistance
R. O Lord, make haste to help me
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the affliction of thy tender heart at the prophecy of the holy and aged Simeon. Dear Mother, by thy heart so afflicted, obtain for me the virtue of humility and the gift of the holy fear of God
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen
I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the anguish of thy most affectionate heart during the flight into Egypt and thy sojourn there. Dear Mother, by thy heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of generosity, especially toward the poor, and the gift of piety.
Hail Mary, etc.
I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in those anxieties which tried thy troubled heart at the loss of thy dear Jesus. Dear Mother, by thy heart so full of anguish, obtain for me the virtue of chastity and the gift of knowledge.
Hail Mary, etc.
The Fourth Sorrow: Mary Meets Jesus On The Way To Calvary
I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful in the consternation of thy heart at meeting Jesus as he carried His Cross. Dear Mother, by thy heart so troubled, obtain for me the virtue of patience and the gift of fortitude.
Hail Mary, etc.
I grieve for thee O Mary, most sorrowful, in the martyrdom which thy generous heart endured in standing near Jesus in His agony. Dear Mother, by thy afflicted heart, obtain for me the virtue of temperance and the gift of counsel.
Hail Mary, etc.
The Sixth Sorrow: Mary Recieves the Body of Jesus In Her Arms
I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the wounding of thy compassionate heart, when the side of Jesus was struck by the lance and His Heart was pierced before His body was removed from the Cross. Dear Mother, by thy heart thus transfixed, obtain for me the virtue of fraternal charity and the gift of understanding.
Hail Mary, etc.
I grieve for thee, O Mary most sorrowful, for the pangs that wrenched thy most loving heart at the burial of Jesus. Dear Mother, by thy heart sunk in the bitterness of desolation, obtain for me the virtue of diligence and the gift of wisdom.
Hail Mary, etc.
After the seven prayers, we conclude with the following:
V. Pray for us, O Virgin most sorrowful
R. That we made be worthy of the promises of Christ
Let us Pray
Let intercession be made for us, we beseech Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, now and at the hour of our death, before the throne of Thy mercy, by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Thy Mother, whose most holy soul was pierced by a sword of sorrow in the hour of Thy bitter Passion. Through Thee, Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost lives and reigns, world without end. Amen.
According to St. Bridget of Sweden, the 14th century mystic to whom our Blessed Mother gave many private revelations, Mary has made promises, along with our Lord’s, as mentioned earlier, to those who practice devotion to her seven sorrows.
(Just as a side note, these private revelations are among those which have been “approved” by the Church given by God or Mary, for example, to certain people. We as Catholics are not required to believe them, but that the Church has determined they have nothing in them contrary to faith and morals. We will quote especially from our Blessed Mother’s words to St. Bridget in our treatment of the seven sorrows.)
Mary experienced great joy in her life, as we read in her prayer the Magnificat, for example. She knew, however, even when Jesus was just a baby of the inevitability of His Passion for our salvation. Clearly, our Blessed Mother was also our Sorrowful Mother!
Indeed, the devout Simeon told Mary when she presented the baby Jesus in the Temple that this child would be “a sign that would be contradicted” and also that her heart would be pierced by a sword, figuratively speaking. Simeon’s jarring premonition in the Presentation foreshadowed her excruciating heartbreak at her Divine Son's Passion years later.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen once wrote of the Seven Sorrows of our Blessed Mother as being seven thrusts of the sword into her heart and soul culminating in Jesus’ Crucifixion, which gave her emotional anguish on a par with His physical pain on the Cross at Calvary.
These words in scripture are often cited in describing Mary’s grief as our Sorrowful Mother :“O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow” (Lamentations 1:12).
Indeed, it has been said that the Church calls Mary the Queen of Martyrs “because her martyrdom surpassed that of all others. Although her body was not bruised by torturers, her heart was pierced by the sword of compassion for her Divine Son.” St. Alphonsus Liquori once noted quite movingly that Mary suffered in her heart all that Jesus endured in His body.
Our Lord Himself revealed to Sister Josefa Menendez, a Spanish nun in the 1920s, in one of His many private revelations to her, that “My Mother was present in spirit in all the torments of My Passion by divine revelation…As soon as she knew that My death sentence had been pronounced she came forth to meet Me and did not leave Me any more until I was placed in the tomb.
Mary herself helped inspire seven pious Italian noblemen to found a religious order in remembrance of her sorrows in the 13th century. This order, the Servites, is still in existence today, with members all over the world.
As a reminder, we as Catholics honor, not worship, Mary with our prayers to her. They can console her nonetheless in her grief for her Divine Son’s Passion, for fallen humanity, and for those souls who have either lost, or are in grave danger of losing, their salvation.
And, needless to say as well, prayers can help both our Blessed Mother and her beloved Son assist each of us with the graces we need for Eternal Life! Remember also that when our Blessed Lord told St. John from the cross that she was to be his mother (John 19:26-27) from that point on, she became our mother as well!
Mary once complained to St. Bridget of how few people pitied her, or even thought of her, in her sorrows. She told her “Though many forget me, do not thou, my daughter, forget me.” Let us not forget her either.
She’s done so much for us in bearing our Savior and witnessing His sacrifice at Calvary. And she wants to help deepen our relationship with Him with the graces we need! Help her to do so in your prayers. Help her to do so with your prayers!
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