Yesterday was the Annunciation; and today is one of the two days on which the Church commemorates the Seven Sorrows of our Blessed Mother. This one, the Friday in Passion Week, is found only in the Extraordinary Form – the other, September 15th, is of course common to both forms.
This year, though, with it falling on the day after the Annunciation, it seems to me that it is particularly appropriate to give the subject a little consideration today.
The Annunciation is, ultimately, the story of Mary’s ‘yes’ : her ‘fiat’ – ‘be it done to me according to thy word’ : and, as F. Fordham reminded the congregation at yesterday evening’s Solemn Mass at the Oratory, that ‘fiat’ is also a foreshadowing of those words which most of us, no doubt, say many times a day in Our Lord’s own prayer – ‘Thy will be done’.
Mary, of course, meant exactly what she said : she accepted God’s gift of His Son to be her child; and at the same time she accepted, ‘sight unseen’, all that would go with that gift : and in particular the Seven Sorrows which Simeon foretold when she and Joseph presented Our Lord in the Temple in compliance with the law of Moses.
I wonder how much we mean it when we say to God ‘Thy will be done’ ?
Are we really open to accept whatever it is that God sends us ?
I don’t know if you remember the hymn I posted on New Year’s Day – ‘Glorify Thy Name’ ? Well, that says that we will accept whatever God sends us, and we will accept it in order to glorify His Name . . . remember ? ‘And, in deepest woe pray on, “Glorify Thy Name”.’
‘Of course’, you say ‘I will accept whatever God sends me, but I’m not sure that I can cope with too much pain, or loss, or misery, or suffering . . .’
Our Blessed Lady was a young girl when Gabriel appeared to her, at the Annunciation : and yet she simply said ‘Yes’ . . . ‘fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum’ : and thereafter, as well as the joy of her Blessed, perfect, Son, she also had to cope with the usual sorrows of a Mother; not to mention seven exceptional sorrows unique to her . . . and yet she continued, to the end of her life when her Son took her home to Heaven, to say ‘Yes’.
Whatever we have to suffer in our lives, it will never be anything like what Our Blessed Mother suffered; still less like what Our Lord suffered for us . . . and what we suffer, we deserve; He did not.
As we consider our Mother’s Seven Sorrows today, let us reflect that they were the price of that ‘Yes’ which she said only yesterday, and for which we gave such heartfelt thanks : and let us resolve, at least for today, whenever we say the Paternoster, to mean those words ‘Thy will be done’ . . . for then we shall be at least a little bit worthy to be children of Mary, and to benefit from the prayers of our loving Mother in her sorrow.