Over the past few weeks, I have focused our attention on the Rosary and Litany of the Mater Dolorosa, prayers I learned after attending a Miles Christi Silent Retreat. In case you have not read the previous posts, the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa meditates on the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.
In order to help you say the Mater Dolorosa Rosary with more fervor and prayer, I am going to explain teachings of the Seven Sorrows for the next seven weeks. I will also draw your attention to other blog posts that I have written that underline each sorrow and its theme. For this first week, we shall examine the Prophecy of Holy Simeon.
In the Gospel of St. Luke, we read,
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” (vv. 25-35).
Simeon (along with Anna) is an elderly individual who stands in faithful anticipation for the coming of Israel’s Savior and Redeemer. They both give praise to God for allowing them to live long enough to see the hope they have waited for in the infant Jesus. In the above scriptural passage, we are introduced to Simeon, a man led by the Holy Spirit. Since it was revealed that he would see the Messiah before his death, anything that he professes is very significant. He says that Jesus is the Messiah Israel has been waiting for; he also states that He is mankind’s “light” and “salvation.” Along with these words of great hope, Simeon’s prophecy also states that Jesus’ birth will bring with it the rise and fall of many in Israel and his sign of salvation will be a sign that contradicts. It is at this point in the life of Christ that we see both sorrow and joy.
Not only would there be sorrow in the life of Christ, but Mary, the Mother of Jesus would endure great amounts of sorrow as well – “a sword will pierce through your own soul also.” Let’s clarify something – an actual physical sword never pierces Mary’s soul, but because of the great pains she would endure watching our Lord suffer in his sacrifice at Calvary, spiritually she suffers with Him. In her vocation as Mother, Mary must embrace a maternal suffering. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering” (#618).
The Catechism further states, “the sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ’s perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had ‘prepared in the presences of all peoples’” (#529).
Furthermore, in his document, Redemptoris Mater, Pope St. John Paul II says, “Simeon’s words seem like a second Annunciation to Mary, for they tell her of the actual historical situation in which the Son is to accomplish his mission, namely in misunderstanding and sorrow. While this announcement on the one hand confirms her faith in the accomplishment of the divine promises of salvation, on the other hand it also reveals to her that she will have to live her obedience of faith in suffering, at the side of the suffering Savior, and that her motherhood will be mysterious and sorrowful” (#16).
Through the Prophecy of Holy Simeon, the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph learn that not only will their child bring glory to His people, but that he will also bring salvation to all of humanity.
This event in the scriptures is the seed that would blossom into what would eventually become the Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
As we conclude today’s post, let us ask the Lord Jesus Christ to allow us to always be ready to receive him in our hearts, allow us to share in his sacrifice, and allow us to bring Him to others as messengers through the intercession of the Holy Spirit.
Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament. Ignatius Press, 2010.
The Navarre Bible – The New Testament Expanded Edition. Four Courts/Scepter, 2008.