by Catherine Moran, Ph.D.
At Fatima, on October 13, 1917, during the miracle of the sun, the children saw Our Heavenly Mother appear as Our Lady of Sorrows. In the Gospels, we read of Our Lady of Sorrows at the foot of the cross watching her Son die. Most of the material for this article is taken from Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, especially his book, “The World’s First Love.” It is the same title that Archbishop Sheen, who died December 9, 1979, called Our Lady. Archbishop Sheen said the Rosary every day of his life, and from the day of his ordination he never failed to offer a mass every Saturday in honor of Our Lady, in thanksgiving and for the protection of his priestly vocation. He also spent one hour everyday in front of the Blessed Sacrament. This shows where love and devotion to Our Lady leads to—her Son, Jesus Christ!
If you wish to know and love Jesus more, get to know and love His mother more. St. Louis de Montfort says: “The more a soul is consecrated to Mary the more it is consecrated to Jesus!”
But who is Mary? This magnificent masterpiece of God’s creation was Immaculate from the first moment of her conception. She was conceived without the stain of original sin upon her soul. She was never at any moment under the power of Satan. Her will was always in perfect union with the Will of God. How else could there be enmity between her, the woman, and the devil, between her seed and his seed as quoted in Genesis, “She shall crush your head.”
She is the Co-Redemptrix. She cooperated perfectly with our Lord for our redemption. Her great grief was watching her Beloved Son die on the cross and not being able to die instead of Him. But Our Lady’s greatest affliction is the ingratitude of men toward Our Lord’s great sacrifice and death. She alone knows and understands completely what Our Lord endured for our salvation. She alone realizes and comprehends the horror of sin and how much one sin offends God, who is infinite goodness, love and mercy. She alone fully understands that God is the source of all goodness; that man, who was created out of nothing, can do no good on his own. All the good we do, all the grace we possess, comes from God. In order for that grace to work in us, we must cooperate with it.
The only gift that we own completely and can give to God is our free will, and Our Lady knows this. That is why in the gospels, when St. Elizabeth said, “Blessed art thou among women,” our Heavenly Mother responded, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Creator, for He that is Holy has done great things for me and Holy is His Name.”
Her love for mankind is great because she loves us as God loves us. Her love for us is shown beautifully in her Seven Sorrows. Tradition says that Mary’s heart was pierced seven times with seven swords of sorrow. This constitutes her seven dolours. Yet, Archbishop Sheen says that these seven swords were indeed seven thrusts of one double-edged sword—the sword being Jesus Christ Himself—one edge going into His own Sacred Heart first and the other edge going into her Immaculate Heart. Archbishop Sheen continues saying, an unsuffering Madonna to a suffering Christ would be a loveless Madonna. Who is there who loves, who does not want to share the sorrows of the beloved? Mary could not wipe away the tears of her children unless she herself had been their fountain. She has rightly earned the title Mother of the Afflicted.
St. Paul tells us that we cannot be partakers of His Glory unless we partake in His crucifixion. Being the Mother of God has made Mary no less exempt from this law of sacrifice.
The seven swords that pierced the Immaculate Heart of Our Heavenly Mother are:
1) Simeon’s Prophecy
2) The flight into Egypt
3) The three days loss in the temple
4) Meeting Jesus with His cross
5) The crucifixion
6) Taking Jesus down from the cross
7) The burial of Jesus
Mary’s heart was one with her Divine Son’s Heart. Her sorrow was not for what she suffered, but for what He had to suffer. Love never thinks of itself. If Jesus belonged to the sinner, then so would she.