Behold, your mother: Our Lady of Sorrows
Although it was several years ago now, I vividly remember going to confession after missing Sunday Mass. The Sunday when I missed Mass, I was unable to get out of bed. It was difficult to go to church and see the growing families fill the pews and my infertility grief took over. Instead of growing closer to God, I was growing further away. I justified my anger by convincing myself that God had turned His back on me. It had been over four years of trying to get pregnant and I had yet to see a positive pregnancy test.
It took all that I had to go to confession. Looking back, it was truly something divine that got me there. As I entered the confessional, I got on my knees and started to cry. I confessed to missing Mass and then shared that I had been feeling depressed because of my infertility. After I was done speaking, the priest said with such candor, “You missed out on what you needed the most, the Eucharist.” He then said to place myself under the mantle of the Virgin Mary and gave me the penance of saying nine Hail Marys.
At first, I was angry because it felt like he dismissed what I said. As I walked back into the church, I knelt in front of the tabernacle to complete my penance. With each Hail Mary, my anger faded. I started to realize that the priest wasn’t dismissing me, I had simply been thinking too much about myself. From that point on, there was a shift in my prayers. I had been praying for a baby but after this encounter, I started praying for the strength of Mary to overcome the pain of this cross. I completed my penance, lit a candle beneath Our Lady of Guadalupe and repeated what the priest had told me: “I place myself under your mantle”. When I left the church that day, I committed to praying the rosary daily.
As I meditated upon the Sorrowful Mysteries, I kept thinking about Mary and her strength. She watched her only son being persecuted; she watched him die. I kept praying for even a fraction of her strength to carry me through my infertility journey. As I continued to pray for Mary’s intercession, I learned more about the Seven Sorrows of Mary. The Seven Sorrows, also called the Seven Dolors, include the Prophecy of Simeon and Anna, the Flight into Egypt, the Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple, Meeting Jesus on the Way of the Cross, the Crucifixion, the Retrieval of Jesus’ Body from the Cross, and the Burial of Jesus. Although I had learned about the Seven Dolors of Mary throughout my religious education, this was the first time I truly meditated upon them.
Mary suffered before seeing Jesus persecuted and crucified. Meditating on the Seven Sorrows is a way to understand how Mary suffered and also a way to invite her along when we are suffering. While I do not recommend skipping Mass, who knew how much my heart would change after that penance? If you want to grow closer to Mary, a great place to start is praying the rosary, reading about Mary and Marian apparitions. When you are ready, you can complete either the Preparation for Total Consecration according to St. Louis de Montfort or 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-it-Yourself Retreat. Each year I complete the Total Consecration in preparation for the Queenship of Mary. However, it is a private devotion where you become spiritually ready to be consecrated to Jesus through Mary. We grow closer to Jesus through Mary.
Our Lady of Sorrows: pray for us.