Wednesday, December 29, 2010

12/29/10 - Mary's Sorrows

Luke 2:22-35
When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Lord, now let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you prepared in the sight of every people,
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
(and you yourself a sword will pierce)
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

This passage is interesting because different aspects of it have been memorialized in two rosaries.  Probably everyone reading knows that the Presentation is one of the joyful mysteries of the Dominican Rosary (ie, the rosary most commonly said).  It also contains the first of Mary's sorrows -- the prophecy of Simeon that Mary's heart would be pierced by a sword "so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

I hadn't spent much time thinking about Mary's sorrows until earlier this year.  However, when my mother passed away, I found a rosary with seven groups of seven beads each, and each group of beads separated by a medal with a picture from Mary's life.  Somehow I recognized this as a Seven Sorrows Rosary, but I didn't know anything about it.  I never even knew my mom had it, or how long it had been since she prayed it.  But there it was.

I researched its history. I read meditations of saints and one Doctor of the Church (St. Alphonsus Liguori) on it.  I learned that in the Church-approved Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Rwanda, the Blessed Mother re-introduced this rosary to the visionary, and asked her to say it.  I learned how to say it, and gave it a try.

It causes me to think about the events in Christ's life from Mary's perspective -- that of a loving parent caring for a child.  As I meditate on the mysteries, I imagine my own children in the role of Christ.  I imagine knowing from the very start that even though my children would ultimately bring joy to the world, that it would come along with sorrowful and excruciating moments for me.  I imagine the flight to Egypt, going into a completely unknown land to protect my own child from MURDER.  I imagine what it would be like to lose a child for three days.  And so on, through watching my children be nailed to a cross and crucified, receiving and caring for their bodies, and putting them in a tomb.

Since it came into my hands, I've been saying it on a fairly regular basis. I can tell you that for me at least, my rosary is more fruitful and my meditations are more memorable and vivid when I say this Rosary.  I find it to be a great "tool" for meditating upon Christ's life, and it also puts the role of the Virgin Mary in a new light for me.  And in the end, I believe this is why I received this Rosary.  It's pretty clear to me that God/Jesus/Mary gave me this rosary so I could learn this devotion. 

And he also wanted me to have a parent, I think.  My mother had been sick with Alzheimer's, and had been really "gone" for more than four years years before she died.  My father had died almost twenty years before.  Christ offered his own mother to ME, to guide me as I finally grow out of spiritual infancy.