Reflections on Each of the Seven Dolors of Mary
On the First Dolor, Of Simeon’s Prophecy
In this valley of tears, every man is born to weep, and every one must suffer those afflictions that daily befall him. But how much more miserable would life be, if every one knew also the future evils which are to afflict him! Too unhappy would he be, says Seneca, whose fate was such. The Lord exercises his compassion towards us, namely, that he does not make known to us the crosses that await us; that if we are to suffer them, at least we may suffer them only once. But he did not exercise this compassion with Mary, who, because God wished her to be the queen of dolors, and in all things like his Son, and to see always before her eyes, and to suffer continually all the sorrows that awaited her; and those were the sufferings of the passion and death of her beloved Jesus. For St. Simeon in the temple, after having received the divine child in his arms, predicted to her that this child was to be the mark for all the opposition and persecution of men; “Set for a sign which shall be contradicted;” and that therefore the sword of sorrow should pierce her soul: “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce.”
The blessed mother, although she knew before this that the life of her Son would be sacrificed for the salvation of the world, yet she then learned more particularly and distinctly the sufferings and cruel death that awaited her poor Son. She knew that he would be contradicted in all things. Contradicted in doctrine; for instead of being believed, he would be esteemed a blasphemer for teaching that he was the Son of God.
Contradicted in his reputation, for he was noble, of royal lineage, and was despised as a peasant: “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” He was wisdom itself, and was treated as an ignorant man: “How doth this man know letters, having never learned? As a false prophet: “And they blind folded him and smote his face…. saying: Prophesy who is this that struck thee.” He was treated as a madman: “He is mad, why hear you him?” As a wine-bibber, a glutton, and a friend of sinners: “Behold a man that is a glutton, and a drinker of wine, a friend of publicans and sinners.” As a sorcerer: “By the prince of devils he casteth out devils.” As a heretic and possessed person: “Do we not say well of thee, that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?
The nearer the time of the passion of her Son approached, with so much greater pain did that sword of sorrow, predicted by St. Simeon, pierce the heart of the mother.
If, then, Jesus our King and his most holy mother did not refuse, for love of us, to suffer during their whole life such cruel pains, there is no reason that we should complain if we suffer a little.
Text from St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1888).