The seven swords in the icon each designate one of the following sorrows:
1. The prophecy of Simeon . 2. The flight into Egypt , 3. The Boy Jesus leavng his parents to visit the Temple in Jerusalem . 4. The Mother of God’s meeting her Son on the Via Dolorosa . 5. The Crucifixion of Christ. 6. The deposition from the Cross . 7. The Entombment of Jesus.
The first three sorrows afflicted Mary during Our Blessed Lord’s Infancy, and the last four were her deep sorrows during her Beloved Son’s Passion, Crucifixion and Death. Today’s meditation is on the fourth sorrow of Mary: “The Mother of God’s meeting with her Son on the Via Dolorosa”.
“O all you that pass by the way, look and see, was there ever a sorrow to compare with my sorrow!” (Lam 1:12).
In the narrow streets of old Jerusalem, with the crowds shouting and pushing each other as they hurry by, it was here that tradition tells us that Mary came face to face with her Son. Simeon’s prophecy has been fulfilled: “thy own soul a sword shall pierce” (Luke 2:35). She sees him now – a Man despised, the One whom the people can’t bear to look at so disfigured does He look. She is not now listening to the Rabbi reading the prophet who speaks of the Suffering Servant. No here before her eyes that prophecy is being fulfilled. In this moment, wordless in their grief for each other that “there is a ceaseless and incomprehensible breathing between them” – just as the air receives the rays of sunlight so Mary, because of her oneness with Him was able to penetrate His Heart with courage and love. No words were spoken – they would have only been an intrusion. They were conscious only of each other. Mary the mother longing to spare Him from the torture that awaited Him on the hill. No she must not do this, her place was to help Him to carry on, in spite of His weakness, in spite of the prods the soldiers gave him with their spears. She must strengthen Him to fulfill the Father’s will to the bitter end. She knows that her Son has need of her and she is there waiting. Devotion St. Thomas tells us means the will to give oneself readily to God’s service. Mary you have surpassed all in your readiness to say again, though in very different circumstances, “Here I am Lord I come to do your will”.
“We too are asked to take up as readily and as devotedly as possible the little crosses that come our way, to bear them with Him and for Him, and to go on unflaggingly – to go on if necessary to the mountain of myrrh, to the darkness and the burial: that is the way to know something of the inexpressible joy of that other, later meeting of Son and mother, when the day indeed had broken, the dawn indeed had come, and there was only joy for them now, and the shared happiness of their love, the love that, having gone down in silence together to the very depths of human agony, now rose together to the heights of more than human glory, to that joy of which no tongue can tell, but which is promised in degree in God’s mercy to all those who, in company with Mary, try to love and follow and serve her Son to the end.” Gerald Vann OP
“There is a law that is not in nature, at least, not in raw nature, namely, we who are strong should bear the infirmities of the weak and not please ourselves. It is here that Christianity makes its most unique and distinctive pronouncement and gives the supreme example of divinity, dying for the weakness and sinfulness of humanity. The Christian law is not the survival of the fittest, but the survival of the unfit!” (From ‘Guide to Contentment’ by Ven. Fulton J. Sheen.
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.