Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Catholic Nook: Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary (The Servite Rosary)

We recently passed the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, which I've blogged about before, and so I thought it was a fitting time to mention the special rosary dedicated to this devotion.

So, sorrows. Yes I know, it's a bit of a downer.  But I think that this devotion can speak to us in so many different ways: for women in our role as mothers, whether that be a physical role or not, and for all of us as we navigate painful times in our lives.

In a nutshell, the seven sorrows of Mary are:

(1) The Prophecy of Simeon that Jesus would be instrumental in the resurrection of Isreal, and that Mary's heart would be pierced by a sword. (Lk 2:34-35)

(2) The Flight into Egypt when Herod ordered the slaughter of all baby boys. (Mt 2:73-74)

(3) The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple. (Lk 2:43-45) 

(4) Meeting Jesus as He Carries His Cross. (Lk 23:26-27)

(5) The Crucifixion. (Jn 19:25-27)

(6) Taking Jesus' Body Down From the Cross. (Mt 27:57-59)

(7) Jesus' Burial. (Jn 19:40-42)

Her life was a bit...difficult, to be sure. And certainly these are some important moments for us to meditate on in the context of salvation history.

The Servite order adopted these seven sorrows into a special Rosary of Our Lady of Sorrows, and it became an important devotion within their communities. The rosary consisted of seven groups of seven beads, each separated by a medal depicting one of the sorrows. In recitation of this rosary, each sorrow would be announced and meditated upon, followed by an Our Father and seven Hail Marys. The rosary is concluded with three Hail Marys with a request to model our life on the faith of Our Lady. The very bottom of the rosary features a medal Our Lady of Sorrows, her heart pierced by seven swords. The crucifixion scene often appears on the reverse side of this medal.

Eventually, this became a private devotion that laypeople prayed as well. The photo at the top of this post is a single segment chaplet for this devotion, similar to a one decade rosary, which you simply reuse again and again to make your way through all of the mysteries. You can see the front of the Our Lady of Sorrow medal on the far right, and it does in fact have the crucifixion scene on the other side. It was made by the lovely Carm at Unbreakable Rosaries

This is obviously a nice Lenten devotion, but now in the fall, with the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows fresh in our memory (Sept. 15th) and Advent approaching on the liturgical calendar, it's a good time to reflect on the suffering before the joyful anticipation. We have some powerful saint feast days approaching, which is another nice tie in to remembering with Our Lord did for us and dedicating our lives, in whatever way we can, to Him.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us and our special intentions.

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