Friday, August 31, 2018

How the Seven Sorrows Rosary Came into My Life

I discovered the Seven Sorrows Rosary devotion only recently and rather unexpectedly. In 2017, I was preparing to lead a Marian Pilgrimage to Portugal, Spain, and France. It just so happened that we scheduled our pre-departure Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. On our pilgrimage, as we traveled through Portugal and Spain, we saw some powerful depictions of Our Lady of Sorrows – life-sized figures, dressed in beautiful garments, with seven swords protruding from Our Lady’s heart.

In the Gospel of Luke, the Prophet Simeon states: "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" (Luke 2:34-35). The sword has been seen as a symbol of the Virgin Mary’s suffering. Historically, the Church has identified seven specific sorrows in her life, which are sometimes depicted with seven swords piercing her heart.

I took note of these imposing statues, but I did not think much of them, or of the underlying devotion, until we reached Santiago de Compostela. I was sitting at the Pilgrim’s Mass in the famous cathedral, when I started reflecting on just how much sorrow life entails. "Isn’t life one long Pilgrimage of Sorrow?" I pondered. That's when I thought of Our Lady of Sorrows, and I started reflecting on the theology behind the devotion. As the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary was more connected to Christ than any other human being, and therefore she shared in the suffering of Christ in a unique way. We can safely say that no human being, other than the human nature of Christ, suffered as much as Mary did. Therefore, she understands our sorrow full well, and, given that she is the Mother of the Church, she is always eager to help us if we call upon her.

I went away from that Mass with a sense of connection to this devotion. Later that night, as I was browsing in the shops of Santiago, I came across a statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, which I purchased for my collection of images of Our Lady. But as to just how I was to practice my newfound devotion, that answer came to me only after my return.

The same day I left on my trip with the pilgrimage group, a friend of mine had set out on a private pilgrimage to Italy, to walk in the footsteps of St. Francis. After we had both returned, we compared notes on our experiences. My friend, as it turns out, had visited the shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows in Italy, and, without knowing anything that was transpiring in my heart, she got for me a Seven Sorrows Rosary, a special type of rosary designed specifically for this devotion. She told me that she had never actually gotten a rosary before, but when she was at that shrine, she felt moved to get one for me.

Two days later, I received in the mail another one of these special rosaries from someone who had been on the pilgrimage with me. I felt like our Blessed Mother was telling me something. I quickly learned how to pray the Seven Sorrows Rosary, and I incorporated it into my daily prayer life.

In the three months following, the Seven Sorrows Rosary would be especially comforting for me. My father had been battling terminal cancer, and as he reached the final stage, I often thought of him as I reflected on the sorrows of Our Blessed Mother. I felt her give me the peace and strength I needed. I also introduced my father to this devotion, and he resonated with it at once. He started praying this special rosary while he still could in his final weeks. Though he was very weak by the end, he managed to get me a beautiful Seven Sorrows Rosary set for Christmas, as his last gift to me. During his final night, on the eve of January 2, I kept vigil by his bedside, praying. I had just finished reciting the Seven Sorrows Rosary when he passed. I am confident that Our Lady came for him to take him home to Our Lord.

I feel that I will always cherish this special devotion. I also feel moved to tell others who might have a similar inclination about the many blessings the Seven Sorrows Rosary can offer.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

How Medjugorje Transformed My Life

Almost a year ago, my wife and I traveled to Medjugorje for two days. The experience was powerfully transformative for both of us. In the video below, I describe how my life has changed since that brief visit to the town of Medjugorje.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

August 9, 1945: The Death of the Rome of Japan, the Heart of Catholicism in East Asia

Nagasaki was historically the center of Catholicism in Japan. In fact, the city was once known as the Rome of Japan and was seen as the center from which East Asia could be evangelized. St. Mary's Cathedral in the Urakami district of Nagasaki was the largest Catholic Church in East Asia. Until, that is, the second atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Japan exploded over the city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. The targeted area was just five hundred meters away from the cathedral. The cathedral, along with the entire district, was destroyed, as was the center of Catholicism in Japan.

The following articles describe the impact of the atomic bomb on Catholicism in Nagasaki:

The first one focuses on the miraculous survival of priests dedicated to praying the Rosary in Hiroshima, then recounts a similar miracle at Nagasaki.

The priests who survived the atomic bomb


The second describes the historical development of Catholicism in Nagasaki and offers a spiritual reflection on the destruction visited upon Catholicism there.

The Catholic Holocaust of Nagasaki — "Why, Lord?"


The third article describes the history of a statue of the Virgin Mary, pictured above, that survived the bombing of the cathedral.

1,000 Torch Bearers Carried the Virgin Mary in Nagasaki. Here's Why


The last entry is the Wikipedia article on Takashi Nagai, a Catholic physician, who survived the attack on Nagasaki, after which he led a life of exemplary prayer and service, earning him the title Servant of God, the first step toward sainthood.

The Life of Takashi Nagai

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Eulogy for My Father

My father died on January 2 of this year. Today would have been his 80th birthday. Below is the eulogy I wrote for the funeral back in January.

I will always remember my father for one amazing gift he gave me in the course of our time together. My dad was born in 1938 in a small Hungarian village called Tiszakürt. His name was Ábrahám Ferenc at the time. He lived through some tumultuous times. He witnessed factories exploding as the occupying Nazi soldiers were withdrawing from the country at the end of World War II, blowing up everything that could be of use to the Red Army then sweeping through Eastern Europe. He saw Hungary’s incorporation into the Communist bloc, as the hammer and sickle flag was raised by the Soviets, the new conquerors, throughout the country.

But my dad did not succumb to the lure of Communism. Instead he turned to his Catholic faith for guidance and direction, and he became active in the Church. As he grew older, his spiritual director persuaded him to join monastic life, and he became a Franciscan, although he did not feel a specific calling to this life. After several years with a monastic community, he discerned that the time had come for him to leave. He met my mom at the university, they got married, and they settled down in Budapest, the beautiful capital of Hungary. Three children were born of their union, my two sisters, Kati and Margit, and myself.

During the early years of my childhood, my dad worked as a journalist. But because he refused to join the Communist Party, his career was sabotaged, and, once again, he set off in a new direction with his life. He started a private business selling auto parts. The Communist ban on private property was just then beginning to thaw, but still my dad took a huge risk by starting a business of his own.

One day, in 1986, two weeks before Christmas, when I was thirteen, my dad and I planned to spend a weekend at the vacation home my family owned near Lake Balaton in Hungary. He picked me up after school on Friday, and as we were driving through the country, he told me some truly unexpected news. He said that he had gotten in political trouble with the Communist government, and he had to flee the country at once. He asked me to go with him, but he said we couldn’t tell anyone because then the government might find out, and his passport would be taken away. I said yes. The next day we left Hungary, and I wouldn’t return for fourteen years.

We went to Austria, where we were accepted into the elaborate refugee system the country maintained. We applied to receive asylum in the United States, and eight months later, we arrived in Seattle. At this time, my dad changed his name to Frank Abraham, and once again he started a new chapter of his life. As we moved into our first apartment, in Kirkland, he said, “If a year ago someone had told me that next year I would be painting my apartment in America, I would not have believed him.” But here we were.

He soon got a job here at St. Anthony Parish, and we moved to Renton, into a small rental house on Burnett Avenue, where we were to live for the better part of a decade. He started out as the custodian here at the parish, and in time he became the facilities director. He also took on the role of the St. Anthony IT guru, and he built and maintained the parish computer network, which, I understand, has been named after him in his honor. Our living room, in those days, would often be full of computer parts as he was building the latest machine for the parish.

In time, however, my dad was ready for yet another direction. He decided to start a new business, this time a private accounting firm. His marriage to my mom having been annulled, he also decided to seek a new partner. He met Melinda through an online dating site. He went to see her in China, and soon they were married. At this time, he changed his name to David Abraham.

His accounting business flourished over the years, keeping him constantly busy with work. But then, less than a year ago, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. While he sought treatment for the symptoms, he did not fight the underlying illness. He made peace with his imminent passing. He worked on setting his affairs in order, and he prepared for the end – or, we should say, for the ultimate new direction that his life would take. The same faith that brought him help in those dark days of Communism now empowered him to face death without fear.

In his final days, I would sit by his bedside and pray the Rosary for him quietly. When he still could, he would join me for parts of the prayer, just like we had often recited the Rosary together when I was younger, and we still shared a home. My dad always had a strong devotion to the Virgin Mary. As death approached, he took great comfort in knowing that he would soon see our Blessed Mother. In his final weeks, we would sometimes talk about the state of the world and the future of humanity. I told him my view, and he strongly agreed, that God has sent the Virgin Mary as his special instrument of healing for our broken world today. He agreed with my belief that the Rosary, Our Lady’s specially chosen prayer, is the key to overcoming the innumerable problems besetting humanity today.

In these final weeks, I also introduced my dad to a special Marian devotion, the Seven Sorrows Rosary, which is a prayerful reflection on the suffering of Mary, the Mother of God, who, given her special connection to Christ, participated in a unique way in the suffering of her Divine Son. My dad instantly connected with this devotion, taking comfort, as I do, in knowing that our Holy Mother, who suffered more than any other human, other than the human nature of Christ, always knows the depth of our pain and anguish and always hastens to help us in our hour of sorrow, whenever we call upon her. As the end approached, my dad was very weak, but still he managed to get for me a beautifully crafted Seven Sorrows Rosary, which consists of a unique arrangement of beads, as his Christmas present, his last gift to me.

In the evenings, when I would say goodnight to him, I would always tell him, “Remember, the Queen of Heaven is waiting for you.” On his last night, I kept vigil by his bedside, praying the Rosary, all 20 decades, followed by the Seven Sorrows Rosary. Just after I finished reciting my prayers, he passed on from this life. I am confident that the Queen of Heaven, the Queen of Peace, did come to meet him to take him to our Lord.

Many have told me what a great blessing it was for my dad and for me to be able to share this time in his final hours. Many have said what a great gift I gave to him by spending so much time praying for him during his last night on earth. But I feel that I received the greater gift from him. True, throughout his life, my dad made many mistakes. He often frustrated me, or upset me, or even hurt me, sometimes deeply, sometimes in ways that were hard for me to forgive. But despite his many flaws and shortcomings, he gave me one excellent, extraordinary gift, for which I will be forever grateful. He fostered within me a love of Our Lady, our Immaculate Mother. In his final hour, I was able to share with him the fruit of his gift by praying for him fervently to the all-holy Queen of Peace.

I am confident that my dad is now feasting with Our Lady at the heavenly banquet of Christ, so beautifully described in the Book of Revelation, together with my sister Margit, who preceded him in the transition to eternal life, and with his brother Sándor, and their parents, and their many loved ones who had gone before them. One day we will join them there, resting and rejoicing with them in unending bliss, unending peace, unending and absolute contentment.

When the cancer came for my dad, his body succumbed rapidly. But I believe, as the Church does, that the death of our body is not the end of our story. Not only does our soul live on for all eternity, but just as Christ rose from the dead, and our Blessed Mother was assumed body and soul into Heaven, so also we will be made whole, our body and soul reunited in the resurrection of the dead. In the words of Job, proclaimed in our first reading, and so beautifully put to music by Handel in his magnificent work, the Messiah, which my dad dearly loved:

I know that my Redeemer liveth,
and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.
And though worms destroy this body,
yet in my flesh shall I see God.
(Job 19:25-26)


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Saying the Favorite Prayer of Our Blessed Mother

The Catholic Church celebrates the Sunday after Pentecost as Trinity Sunday. Perhaps the most succinct and most beautiful prayer to the Holy Trinity in the Catholic tradition is the Glory Be, which goes as follows: "Glory Be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be."

I tend to think that the Glory Be is the favorite prayer of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At Lourdes, Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette 18 times. During these apparitions, as Bernadette would pray the Rosary in Our Lady's presence, Mary remained silent, except that she joined Bernadette during each Glory Be.

At Lourdes, Our Lady also stated, "I am the Immaculate Conception," which means that she was free of all original sin. The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was also free of all personal sin. Therefore, throughout her whole existence, Mary has never had a thought and has never performed an act that was in any way contrary to God's will. The Virgin Mary's entire existence has been in perfect harmony with God from the moment of her conception.

To be in harmony with God's will means that we fully open ourselves to God's love for us, and we love God with all of our being, with everything that we are, fully, completely, without reservation. Since God is absolute beauty, absolute perfection, and absolute glory, to love God also means that we glorify him, honor him, and praise him constantly, without end.

As in her beautiful poem, the Magnificat, which we find in the Gospel of Luke (1:46-56), Our Lady ceaselessly proclaims the greatness of the Lord, glorifying the name of God. As we pray the Glory Be, we can safely assume that we are saying the words that give our Holy Mother the greatest joy. One day, we will join her in Heaven, where we will find our complete fulfillment in joining her in the eternal praise of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Most Counter-Cultural Thing in the World - A First-timer Reflects on the Latin Mass


I am a cradle Catholic, and I have attended the Novus Ordo liturgy all my life. Being a lay ecclesial minister by profession, and having worked full-time in the Catholic Church for over 18 years, I have taught many classes on Catholic history and theology. The question of the traditional Latin Mass has often come up, and while I have been able to talk about the Latin Mass on an intellectual level, I had not actually had the experience of being at one - that is to say, until this past Saturday.

For the first time in my life, at long last, I actually attended a Latin Mass, held under the auspices of a traditionalist parish in full Communion with Rome, using the 1962 Missal promulgated by Pope St. John XXIII for their liturgies. The community has no church building of their own, so they rent use of the worship space from a suitable Novus Ordo parish in the greater Seattle area.

I have spent the last few days reflecting on the many thoughts stirred up within me by the experience of the liturgy. The first thing I want to note is my approach to the Latin Mass. In discussions of the traditional liturgy, Catholics often speak of the Latin Mass with a dismissive and derisive attitude, sometimes going so far as to assert quite categorically that the Latin Mass was harmful to the life of the Church. But I cannot agree with such a perspective. The Latin Mass, in its various developmental phases, was the central liturgy of Western Catholicism for most of Catholic history.

The Latin Mass was inextricably at the center of the spiritual, intellectual, and cultural life of Catholics for the better part of two millennia. It was the Mass of the saints and martyrs, who lived the Catholic faith to its fullest; of the mystics and thinkers, whose writings and reflections helped to shape our articulation of the faith; of the popes and bishops, who directed the life of the Church and gave formal definition to the articles of our faith; of the multitudes of nuns and monks, who gave their lives throughout the centuries to serve the poor, the sick, all those in need; of the myriad artists who shaped the Catholic experience through paintings, sculptures, mosaics, buildings, stories, and compositions; of the Catholic kings, queens, statesmen, and political movers and shakers who helped create and maintain a Catholic society in their lands.

We could not repudiate the Latin Mass as something harmful without also repudiating the spiritual, theological, ecclesial, and cultural legacy given to us by the millions of Catholics whose lives the Latin Mass nourished, sustained, enriched, and vivified. I will therefore proceed with the assumption that the Latin Mass is a good and profitable thing, and I will seek to find the good in it, however alien the experience may seem at first to someone reared entirely in the Novus Ordo system of liturgy.

I tend to think that the key to understanding the difference between the Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo is to consider the focus of each liturgy. The focus of the Novus Ordo is the celebration of the Eucharistic meal; whereas the focus of the Latin Mass is our mystical participation in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Both liturgies have both elements, but the overarching focus is different.

In the Novus Ordo, the faithful are gathered at, and sometimes around, the altar table in order to take part in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread and the sharing of the Eucharistic cup, doing so in remembrance of Christ. The priest presides at the Eucharistic meal, serving, among other functions, as the host of the community. As the host, he naturally faces towards the people, and he naturally speaks words to which the people respond.

As the people come forward to receive Communion, the sense of the shared scared meal is maintained through communal singing. Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ offers each person spiritual nourishment, healing, and strength, and at the same time each person’s participation in Communion helps to build up the whole of the community. The act of Communion is also a sign of shared faith and shared ecclesial identity.

The scriptures are proclaimed and expounded upon in order to give context to the communal celebration of the sacred meal and to help the faithful to live out their baptismal vocation in the world after the worshiping assembly disperses. The music is, for the most part, sung together, to reinforce the sense of community.

The the text of the Novus Ordo describes the sacred meal shared by the faithful as a sacrifice. In fact, we might say that it is precisely the sacrifice of Christ that enables the faithful to be the people of God gathered around the Eucharistic table for our Eucharistic meal. The Fraction Rite, when the consecrated host is broken and the broken host is held up for the people to see, reminds us that, just as Christ was broken for us, we must also be broken for one another in sacrifice.

However, having said the above, the Novus Ordo liturgy is not primarily focused on the idea of sacrifice either in its language or in its liturgical actions. By contract, the Latin Mass revolves around the concept of the Mass as a mystical participation in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. The priest, anointed in a special way for this special role, parts a mystical veil and transports us, we might say, trans-historically (my word), to the foot of the Cross. In the Latin Mass, the faithful are not gathered around a table for a sacred meal; they are in a posture of worship beneath the cross. They are looking up at Christ being crucified.

The focus of the priest is not to preside at a meal, but to offer the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, united in a mystical way, across time, with the one sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Thus, the priest’s attention is not primarily directed to the faithful present. He does not stand facing toward the people, because his focus is on the sacrifice being offered on the altar. He does not, for the most part, speak to the people, but addresses most of his words to God, sometimes in a voice inaudible to the congregation.

Since the focus of the Latin Mass is participation in the sacrifice of the Cross, the demeanor of the liturgy is, of necessity, going to be very different from that of a celebratory sacred meal. The motto of the Latin Mass might be, “If it doesn’t belong at the foot of the cross, it doesn’t belong at Mass.” Would we play lively guitar music at the foot of the Cross? Would we tell jokes at the foot of the Cross? Would we chit-chat and socialize at the foot of the Cross?

But, one might ask, what is it that the people are allowed to do? The chief objection leveled at the Latin Mass is that the faithful are merely spectators, who see and hear very little of the actions and words of the priest, and therefore cannot participate in the ritual fully. Instead, many people in the congregation might be quietly reciting the Rosary during the Mass. The Second Vatican Council famously called for the full, active, and conscious participation of the faithful at each liturgy. How could the faithful possibly be so engaged in the context of the traditional Latin Mass?

My answer is that the understanding of full, active, and conscious participation in vogue today is, in my opinion, far too limited. The popular assumption prevalent today is that the complete participation in the Mass called for by Vatican II requires speaking certain words, dialoging with the priest, and singing along with the cantor or choir, as well as seeing and hearing everything that is happening during the liturgy.

But from my perspective, there is another way to participate just as deeply and just as meaningfully. The faithful can participate in the Mass fully, actively, and consciously by uniting themselves internally, spiritually with the sacrifice being offered. The faithful are not mere spectators. They are at the foot of the Cross, worshiping Christ Crucified.

For the faithful, the Latin Mass is an invitation into a contemplation of all that the crucifixion entails – our salvation, our forgiveness, our spiritual healing, our cleansing in the Blood of the Lamb - a sacrifice of propitiation offered to God, through which the world is reconciled to its Creator. We are also invited into reflecting on what the Cross entails for each of us in our lives - the purifying nature of our own suffering, the profound value of accepting suffering for one another, the transformative efficacy of choosing forms of suffering to offer for one another.

Nor would praying the Rosary distract us from such reflections, since the Rosary is an extended meditation on the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and, therefore, the Rosary helps us enter more deeply into the contemplation of the mystery of the Cross. I would, in fact, go so far as to say that, for the properly disposed participant, far from being a distraction, the Rosary can form a symbiotic relationship with the Latin Mass.

After our contemplation of and spiritual union with the sacrifice of Christ, we then receive the fruit of that sacrifice, the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine. We become physically united with the Lamb of God offered in sacrifice on our behalf. The spiritual and ecclesial benefits of receiving Communion are vast and numerous – but one of the key blessings we are given is the strength to embrace our own cross in our own lives and to carry our cross from day to day, in union with Christ.

By focusing on the sacrifice of Christ and by transporting us to the foot of the Cross, the Latin Mass upholds and proclaims the spiritual value of suffering. As such, the Latin Mass is the single most counter-cultural thing in the world today. Our secular world, which seeks to eradicate all memory of Christianity from our culture, hates nothing more than the Cross. On the one hand, modern technology has helped us do away with much preventable suffering, which is commendable. But our culture pushes us to go much further than that. The chief message of the secular world is that we should never suffer. We must always medicate or self-medicate, we must drown out all pain, anguish, or even inconvenience and boredom, with entertainment, possessions, ephemeral pleasures. In the face of such cultural messages, the most radical thing we can do is to do as Christ commanded and willingly – fully, actively, and consciously – take up our cross. The Latin Mass guides us into exactly that.

Of course, one might object, that the image I present here of the faithful's sublime participation in the Latin Mass is overly idealistic, and that historically many people did not reach such levels of engagement with the mystery of the traditional liturgy. Maybe so. But by the same token, my description of the Novus Ordo celebration above is truly idealized and is a far cry from how most Novus Ordo liturgies are celebrated in the day-to-day life of the Church.

I myself have, as mentioned above, attended Novus Ordo liturgies all my life. I have experienced Novus Ordo Masses on four continents, in over a dozen countries, in many different languages, using a wide range of liturgical styles. The quality of those liturgical celebrations also spanned a wide spectrum. Ironically, the chief complaint I hear from participants in the Novus Ordo, which seeks so hard to engage the participants, is boredom. I must confess that I too have often been bored at Novus Ordo Masses, until I would receive Communion, when a profound peace would wash over me, and the boredom of the prior hour would be worth it. But I have also had many experiences of profound, transcendent, uplifting beauty. As I write this reflection, the Triduum liturgies celebrated at my Novus Ordo parish during Holy Week are still fresh in my mind. They were not just the best Triduum I have experienced, but quite possibly the best Novus Ordo liturgies I have ever participated in.

Whatever happens to the future of Catholic liturgy, there is much beauty in the Novus Ordo that I would be loath to part with completely. At the same time, I believe that the Latin Mass has much to offer to us as a Church and to our society. Whatever liturgical developments are to unfold in the Catholic Church in the future, I believe that one change should without question be made to the Novus Ordo - the recapturing of the centrality of the sacrifice of the Cross for our worship. The Catholic Mass, I believe, as did most Catholics for most of Church history, should focus first and foremost on Christ Crucified. From our embrace of the Cross, individually and collectively, flows healing - the healing of our souls, the healing of our Church, and the healing of our deeply diseased society.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Seven Sorrows Rosary


The Origin of the Devotion

Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows has a long history in the Catholic Church. The specific Seven Sorrows Rosary prayer was entrusted to the Church by Our Lady when, in the 13th century, she appeared to a group of men who later formed into the Order of Servites. The devotion has received ecclesial approval and support.

Over the years, Our Lady has encouraged devotion to her Seven Sorrows in various apparitions. In more recent times, in 1982, she appeared in Kibeho, Rawanda, urging us to pray the Seven Sorrows Rosary.

In the Gospel of Luke, the Prophet Simeon states: “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” (Luke 2:34-35). As the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary was more connected to Christ than any other human being, and therefore she shared in the suffering of Christ in a unique way. No human being, other than the human nature of Christ, suffered as much as Mary did. Therefore, she understands the depth of our sorrow, and since is she the Mother of us all, she is always eager to help us if we call upon her.


Praying the Seven Sorrows Rosary

Make the Sign of the Cross.

Opening Prayers on the large medallion or cross:

Introductory Prayer: My God, I offer you this rosary for your glory, so I may honor your Holy Mother, the Blessed Virgin, so I can share and meditate upon her suffering. I humbly beg you to give me true repentance for all my sins. Give me wisdom and humility, so that I may receive all the indulgences contained in this prayer.

Act of Contrition: My God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, but most of all because they offend you my God, who are all good and deserving of my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.

One Hail Mary on each of the first three beads, in honor of the tears of the Virgin Mary.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Most Merciful Mother, remind us always of the sorrows of your son, Jesus.


The First Sorrow: The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:22-35)

Reflection: Mary, being sinless, lived her life in perfect conformity to the will of God. The knowledge that her Divine Son would be rejected and contradicted pierced her heart with anguish. Today Christ continues to be rejected and contradicted in the world, more so than ever before. In our own lives too, unlike our all-holy Mother, we often fail to live in complete conformity with the will of God, succumbing instead to the lure of the world. Let us beseech our Immaculate Mother for the healing of the world and of our hearts.

One Our Father for the small medallion or standalone bead: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

One Hail Mary for each of the seven beads: Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

At the end of the set: Most Merciful Mother, remind us always of the sorrows of your son, Jesus.


The Second Sorrow: The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)

Reflection: God led the Israelites out of Egypt into the Promised Land. But now the Messiah has to flee from the Holy Land to Egypt. Mary is grieved by the rejection of her son and the suffering he will endure during their escape. She feels anguish for the Holy Innocents whom Herod slaughters in the attempt to take the life of Jesus. Today, many Christians have to flee their homeland because of anti-Christian persecution. More Christians have been martyred in our era than ever before. The faith is forced out of the public square more and more forcefully in our society. After his exile, Jesus returned from Egypt to the Holy Land. May faith in Christ return to our society as well.

One Our Father for the small medallion or standalone bead: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

One Hail Mary for each of the seven beads: Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

At the end of the set: Most Merciful Mother, remind us always of the sorrows of your son, Jesus.


The Third Sorrow: The Losing of the Child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52)

Reflection: As Mother of God, Mary had the singular honor of being with our Lord throughout his childhood. The separation of losing Jesus in the Temple pierces her heart with great sorrow. Jesus teaching in the Temple foreshadows the longer separation they must have in later years when he begins his earthly ministry as an adult. Losing Jesus for three days also foreshadows the three days in the tomb, after the anguish of Calvary. Mary never stopped worshipping Christ during their physical separation. But today, so many in the world do not know Christ and have no knowledge of his healing love. Mary found Jesus after her search. May our society, which, unlike our Holy Mother, keeps searching for answers in futile ways, also come to find Jesus.

One Our Father for the small medallion or standalone bead: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

One Hail Mary for each of the seven beads: Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

At the end of the set: Most Merciful Mother, remind us always of the sorrows of your son, Jesus.


The Fourth Sorrow: Mary Meets Jesus on the Way of the Cross (Luke 23:27-31)

Reflection: Mary is filled with great anguish at seeing her Divine Son led away to execution, rejected by the jeering crowds. Today, the Church, the Body of Christ, is mocked, jeered at, and persecuted, almost entirely crushed in many lands formerly Catholic. As churches close and faith in Christ is displaced, we share in the grief of Mary, the Mother of the Church. But as Christ rose from the dead, may the Church of Christ experience new life in the face of ever-increasing persecution.

One Our Father for the small medallion or standalone bead: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

One Hail Mary for each of the seven beads: Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

At the end of the set: Most Merciful Mother, remind us always of the sorrows of your son, Jesus.


The Fifth Sorrow: Jesus Dies on the Cross (John 19:25-27)

Reflection: As the Mother of God, Mary is more closely connected to Christ than any other human being, and thus, she experienced the suffering of Christ on the cross in a unique way. Her suffering was greater than that of any other human, other than the human nature of Christ. Therefore, she knows the anguish of our suffering, and, being our Mother, she is always ready to help us when we call upon her help. Let us always turn to her in our hour of sorrow.

One Our Father for the small medallion or standalone bead: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

One Hail Mary for each of the seven beads: Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

At the end of the set: Most Merciful Mother, remind us always of the sorrows of your son, Jesus.


The Sixth Sorrow: Mary Receives the Body of Jesus from The Cross (John 19:38-40)

Reflection: Mary’s heart is filled with profound pain as she holds the body of her dead son in her arms. Her prompting of Jesus at the wedding of Cana to start his public ministry has led to this necessary moment. Although she believes in the ultimate triumph of her son over death, for this time, she is filled with sorrow. As we experience loss and death in our own lives, let us bring our sorrows to Mary, who knows our pain.

One Our Father for the small medallion or standalone bead: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

One Hail Mary for each of the seven beads: Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

At the end of the set: Most Merciful Mother, remind us always of the sorrows of your son, Jesus.


The Seventh Sorrow: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb (John 19:41-42)

Reflection: Who can console a mother who has to see her own son placed in the tomb? The separation foreshadowed by the losing of Jesus in the Temple has come true. Mary, who was granted more time with our Lord in her earthly life than any other human in this world, now has to suffer the anguish of being without him. In our own lives, may we always yearn for the presence of Christ with the same desire that our Holy Mother had. Let us seek him in the good works he enjoined upon us, in the reading of the Sacred Scriptures, and in the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist.

One Our Father for the small medallion or standalone bead: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

One Hail Mary for each of the seven beads: Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

At the end of the set: Most Merciful Mother, remind us always of the sorrows of your son, Jesus.

Conclusion:

After the Seventh Sorrow, pray the following:

For the holy souls in Purgatory:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Concluding Prayers: Queen of Martyrs, your heart suffered so much. I beg you by the merits of the tears you shed in these terrible and sorrowful times, to obtain for me and for all the sinners of the world the grace of complete sincerity and repentance. Amen.

Mary who was conceived without sin and who suffered for us, pray for us. (3 times)

Make the Sign of the Cross.


Please note: The pictures in this post are from Google images and are not my own.