The dictionary defines the word “title” as “an appellation of dignity, honor, distinction, or preeminence attached to a person or family by virtue of rank, office, precedent, privilege, attainment, or lands.” It is said that the Blessed Virgin Mary has more than 1,000 titles, a handful of which are: Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Seat of Wisdom, Mirror of Justice, Vessel of Honor, Cause of Our Joy, Gate of Heaven, Morning Star, and Comforter of the Afflicted.
All the Blessed Mother’s titles identify her with dignity, honor, distinction, and preeminence. They are attached to her by virtue of her unique relationship with the three persons of the Blessed Trinity. She is the daughter of God the Father, spouse of the Holy Spirit, and mother of God the Son. No other human in the history of the world has ever been recognized by so many titles.
Of all her titles, which one do you think would be most descriptive of her life? Which one would best reflect the role she plays in our lives?
In my opinion, the one title that is most descriptive of the Blessed Virgin Mary is “Our Lady of Sorrows.” There is a feast day that is dedicated to her as Our Lady of Sorrows, which falls on September 15, the day after the Feast of the Cross.
The word “sorrow” is defined as “a deep distress, sadness, or regret especially for the loss of someone or something loved.” Synonyms for the word sorrow include “affliction, anguish, grief, and heartache.”
There is only one word that can adequately describe a mother who personally witnessed the torture and murder of her innocent son: sorrowful. The Blessed Virgin Mary understands, at a deep level, distress, sadness, affliction, anguish, grief, and heartache. Because of the personal suffering she endured — combined with her role as the mother of mankind — she is the ideal person to assist you and me with our sorrows.
There is a simple but powerful Marian devotion that is available to help us when we are experiencing sorrow, sadness, anguish, or heartache. The devotion is called “The Seven Sorrows of Mary” and focuses on seven particular events in Mary’s life:
1. The prophecy of Simeon.
2. The flight into Egypt.
3. The loss of the child Jesus in the Temple.
4. Mary’s meeting with Jesus on the way to Calvary.
5. The death of Jesus on the cross.
6. The piercing of the side of Jesus, and Mary’s receiving the body of Jesus in her arms.
7. The burial of the body of Jesus in the tomb.
The proper way to practice this daily devotion is to recite one Our Father and seven Hail Marys for each of the seven sorrows. More on this powerful devotion in the next Meditation Letter.