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Mini Meditations on the Sorrowful Mysteries
| SPIRITUAL LIFE | SPIRITUALITY
A resource for praying the Rosary hand-in-hand with Mary.

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First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden

Luke 22:42-44. Kneeling down, He began to pray, "Father if it be your will, take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done"...In His anguish he prayed even more intensely, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: #612

Reflection: Christ’s “hour” had finally arrived. As the new Adam, Christ was reversing Adam’s first no to God, as well as the many great and little “no’s” we say to God with our personal sins. At the same time, he was also making an act of expiation for the nucleus of our every sin: our lack of trust in God’s goodness. Jesus’ act of self-surrender in the garden was a big “I trust” to the Father. It was an act of self-abandonment to God’s plan, no matter how ugly and foreboding that plan looked. Sometimes in our lives too, we can be surprised by how our lives unfold. Children dream of a fairy-tale life where everything will unfold in a magical and beautiful way—or at least in a way that measures up to our basic recipe for happiness. When our life turns out to have its dark patches, the temptation can be to turn away from God, blaming him for the crosses we have to carry: sickness, financial difficulties, a strained relationship, failure at work or in school… In this mystery, Mary can help us to find the strength to trust God under the weight of our cross. She can teach us to create a more beautiful story with the way we respond to the cards we were dealt.

Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar

Matthew 27:26. Pilate released Barabbas to them. Jesus, however, he first had scourged; then he handed Him over to be crucified.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: #602

Reflection: In the scourging, Mary’s heart was flayed to pieces alongside Jesus’ body. Yet both of them were not just victims of their suffering. They were taking it and offering it, lash by lash, in reparation for our sins. Without special assistance from God, most people would simply be crushed in body and spirit, broken under a load too heavy to carry. Others would find their souls burned by a desire for revenge and an all-consuming hatred of the oppressors. But Mary and Jesus received the grace to forgive. And this was no easy forgiveness. The soldiers and the Pharisees were not sorry for what they were doing. How does one forgive an evil person who is not sorry for torturing the one you love most?  Only God can do this, and only a heart sustained by his grace could ever have the strength to rise above and forgive in the moment. Mary understands why sometimes we want to keep grudges or block certain people out of our lives. Forgiveness is costly, and it can offend our innate sense of justice. But it is the way of God. Without forgiveness, we nourish a cancer in our own hearts, and this cancer eats away at us a little more each day. In this mystery, Mary can help us to begin walking the road of pardon and peace, which is the way of our own healing.

Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns

Matthew 27:29-30. Weaving a crown of thorns they fixed it on his head, and placed a reed in His right hand. To make fun of Him they knelt before Him saying: "Hail, King of the Jews." They spat on Him, and took the reed and kept striking Him on the head.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: #615

Reflection:  Mockery is an attack on the dignity of another person, and Jesus suffered it in silent solidarity with all of those who have borne it throughout all of time. In this case, the mockery was joined with torture suffered in a hidden place where no one except his tormentors could find him. In our times, too, there are thousands, perhaps millions of people, who live hidden away in captivity – in jails, in slavery, in war zones, in places of torture, or even in homes – and whose cries for help go unheard by the rest of the world. They find themselves completely at the mercy of their captors, who attack them in soul and body with mockery and torture. Why does man do this to man?  What is it inside him that drives him to pour out such hatred and venom on a defenseless victim? It is like an accumulation of evil inside, and evil flourishes where love is lacking. Then, all too often, the tortured and abused become the next generation of torturers. But Jesus puts the vicious cycle to an end: he takes the worst, most hideous and demonic acts of aggression and extinguishes the evil in his merciful heart. He becomes a fountain of healing for both the tortured and the torturers. In this mystery, we can pray especially for people who suffer abuse, and also for those who inflict it on them.

Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross

Matthew 27:31, Luke 23:26. When the soldiers had finished mocking Him, ... they led him away to crucify Him. On the way they laid hold of a certain Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and upon him they laid the cross to bear it after Jesus.

Catechism of the Catholic Church: #618

Reflection: In our churches, we mark fourteen stations in sequence along the way of the cross. Each station has its own particular story, with specific people who were destined from all eternity to encounter Christ along that dusty road, in the midst of the confusion, noise, and heat of a Jerusalem day. Mary, Veronica, Simon, the Roman soldiers, the rubberneckers among the crowds… they were all given a privileged glimpse into the Savior’s great work of redemption. Some saw nothing more than a surface appearance: here was just another unfortunate criminal getting what he deserved. But some, like Simon of Cyrene, grew into a deeper understanding of this man because they were enlisted to walk beside him and help him. This story plays itself out in our times too. Christ lives in other people, and different versions of the fourteen stations unfold in the lives of the people around us—even in our own lives. At times, we have the experience of observing from the outside, making a snap judgment, and moving on – like the indifferent observers in the crowds who had other, more important things to do that day. But sometimes life brings us closer to a suffering person because we are asked to listen and help. And only when we listen do we find a new sympathy and understanding growing in our own hearts. Today’s Simons of Cyrene are the people who stop to listen. In this mystery, we can ask for the grace not to miss the chance to help the Christ “in disguise” who is walking his fourteen stations right by our door or on the other end of the phone.

Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion

Luke 23:33-34,44,46. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified Him ...Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing"...There was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour...and Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church: #607, 616

Reflection: The place of the Skull, also called Golgotha, was just a garbage heap outside the gates of the sacred city of Jerusalem. So, when Jesus was led outside the walls to die in the city dump, the Jewish leaders were exiling him not only from their city, but also from his unique heritage as a son of Israel. He was being cut off from his own people and from a place deeply associated with his cultural identity. At the same time, Jesus experienced a profound interior darkness on the cross, a descent into the experience of total abandonment by his Father. Because God is holy and Jesus was the Lamb burdened with all of human sin from the start of human history to the end, his punishment was to be exiled from the presence of the Father, and to die in that darkness, buried under the trash of all our sins. He was cut off from both his people and his God. What tremendous, aching solitude he must have experienced! And what a sense of being rejected, unwanted, and stripped of everything that was most sacred and beloved to him.

As human beings, we need relationships in order to be whole and complete. We need others, and most of all, we need God; these relationships make us whole, human, and happy. Some people inflict a terrible isolation on themselves by turning away from God or by making themselves inaccessible to other people. At times, this can be the result of sin—inflicted or received—or it could be a way of guarding one’s own wounds, punishing oneself or others, or acting out a twisted self-concept of unworthiness. But self-imposed isolation has the unfortunate consequence of shielding people from the experience of being loved and understood by others, of belonging, and even of being redeemed. We discover our own value not by self-appraisal, but by experiencing how we are loved and valued by God and by others; our identity is illuminated by our relationships. A life lived without God and others is a kind of living death. In this mystery, we can pray for all those who live their days in the darkness and loneliness of a personal Calvary.

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PUBLICATION DATE: 2009-11-13


 
 


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