sorrowful mysteries

The Sorrowful Mysteries....In Closing


Holy Church, through Saint Dominic, has handed the Rosary down to us as a spiritual aid.  The Sorrowful Mysteries take us through the Story of Our Lord's Passion and Death.  It is difficult to contemplate these things, but as Father Benedict Groeschel once said in a Good Friday sermon, "Never think about death without thinking about the Resurrection."  The whole purpose of the Rosary meditations which accompany each set of ten "Hail Marys," is to help us toward our own Resurrection.

Stepping away and looking at the Sorrowful Mysteries as a whole, a picture begins to emerge.  It is the picture of each human being walking along his own life's path to his final destination.  The Agony in the Garden represents the MIND.  The Scourging at the Pillar, the FLESH.  The Crowning with Thorns, the IDENTITY, or the soul.  These three components comprise God's greatest creation, the one made in His own image and likeness, the Human Being. The Carrying of the Cross is the life JOURNEY....and the Crucifixion is the END.  Within the Passion of Our Lord lies an imprint of every human life for which He goes to His death.

The Sorrowful Mysteries tell the triumphant Story of the Messiah's Love for humanity and the Father's willingness to give His Only Son for our Redemption.  It is a Story which brings tears to our eyes for this great Love which it gives testimony to.  In return, we are called not merely to a humanist virtue, but to the heroism of Sainthood and Life Everlasting.

2 More to Come....

It is a custom to pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary each day of Lent.  Even better if you can pray them before the Most Blessed Sacrament or together as a family after dinner.  Wishing you continued Lenten blessings and we have 2 more meditations to this Friday and the last on Good Friday.  After that, we will begin meditations on the Glorious Mysteries!

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelic Doctor, pray for us!  Saints Perpetua & Felicity, great martyrs of Holy Mother Church, pray for us!

Image courtesy

The Third Sorrowful Mystery...

The Crowning with Thorns

The Crowning with Thorns upon Our Lord's sacred head, must be seen as part of a larger Mystery:  the Mockery of the Kingship of Our Lord.  It is one of a three-part costume the Roman soldiers dressed Him in:  the Crown, the Scepter and the Robe.  When we look at this piece of theater, the one Act upon the human stage which emanates like lightning, putting asunder all man’s theatrical fantasy.....what reveals itself to us?

The Romans performed this mockery in response to Christ’s alleged crime, “The King of the Jews.”  What motivated them to play out this obscene insult?  A fatal flaw, a deep chasm, a mortal wounding, took place in the Garden of Eden.  Our Lord's Passion is the culmination of this tragic event.  This mockery represents of every sinner’s response to God, the unwillingness to be subject to Him and give Him due respect as Creator.

One could not honestly look at Christ without seeing His innocence, especially a non-Jew, with no investment in the matter.  We know this was very clear to Pilate, which is why he “washed his hands” of it.  In order to punish so cruelly an innocent man, they had to disguise him-plunging themselves into the sin of committing the evil, whereas the Jews were guilty of ordering it.  It is common practice to dehumanize those you wish to kill.  Broken from the Scourging, blood streaming down His face from the sharp thorns of the Crown, dressed up and derided, they proceeded to carry out the death sentence.

Woven thorns, a reed, a red cloak....the makings of a King.  Why go through so much trouble?  Looking for branches of thorns and weaving them together?  Searching for a large reed and a red garment?  Why were all three components of the kingly garb so necessary?  Because they had to completely convince themselves and this can only be done by over-reaching.  We do the same with the unborn, with sexual immorality, with our quest to be Godlike in playing with every fundamental aspect of nature, whether it be biology, botany or physics.  Going beyond the pale makes it easier to commit the crime.

The Crown, the Scepter, the Robe:  three identifiers of a King.  Here we arrive at the crux of the Mockery, Our Blessed Lord’s Identity itself.  The words upon the Holy Cross were true:  “King of the Jews.”  And King of us all, only Son of the Father, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity.  This is His Identity, Whom the world must deny to commit its countless evils.  But the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith will never deny Him, the King of Kings.  The gates of Hell will not prevail against her.

The world will try to tell us who we are, who it wants us to be.  Our own pride will delude us-we sew our own costumes, make our own crowns.  But it is only in confessing the Kingship of Our Lord and entering into the humility of His Crowning with Thorns, that we can ever know our own true identities....who we were created to be.  O my Jesus, Who asked of Thine Apostles, “Whom do you say that I am?,” I in turn ask this of Thee.  Amen.

The Second Sorrowful Mystery...

The Scourging at the Pillar

The Scourging of Our Lord was so terrible, it is difficult to contemplate.  But we must, because it is an important part of the Story-His story and humanity’s story.  Of all stories, this is the ONE we must pay attention to.  This is the ONE we may not fall asleep listening to.  The rest of the world may forget.  But we, as recipients of the fruit of His sufferings, those redeemed by His Blood, must never forget.

Pontius Pilate, Roman Procurator of of the world....who would expect him to be so naive?  He thought a brutal scourging would appease the enemies of Our Lord, but even this would not appease them.  Even the broken, battered Man brought before them once again, one last chance, would not change their corrupt hearts.  But we, looking at this same Man, are moved to pity and sorrow, not only for Christ, but for His mother and also His Father in Heaven.  “Why?” we ask, “Why must this have happened?  And what is this story to me?”

The unabashed chastisement of the sacred Body of Our Lord seems to enfold within itself every sin of the flesh ever committed-whether it be sexual sin, over-indulgence or simply the desire for comfort at too high a cost.  This perfectly describes the current state of the western world, deconstructed Christendom-a miserable field of debris, from sparkling, glowing screens to the body parts of unborn babies.  We must all enter into Our Lord’s Scourging because we are all guilty.  Having passed through it, we are made pure again.  In Holy Communion, we receive this same Body, bloodied for our Redemption-this Precious Blood, which soaked the ground of Jerusalem. 
As rainwater hydrates the earth, the Blood of Christ creates a substantial change, which requires something of all who walk upon it.  It is ignored at one’s own peril.  The glory of the Passion of Christ is that we are resurrected with Him.  It is the Story with the happiest ending.

Seductive images which stand in contrast to the image of our Scourged Savior, sacrilegious sacraments of matrimony, all manner of impurity....we must stand up and be a light to the world, reminding all of the sacredness of the body.  O Jesus, cruelly scourged for my sins, give me strength to stand against the tide of this corrupt culture, to rescue those drowning in the onslaught and bring them home to Thee.  Amen.

Lenten Meditations on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

Several years ago, I began writing a series of meditations on the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.  I published them on the former Nomen Christi Apostolate website.  The project went very well and was well received, but I never finished it.  I did complete the Sorrowful Mysteries, which I will re-publish here, starting with "The Agony in the Garden" today.  This Friday, I'll post the next Mystery and so forth on the remaining Fridays in Lent.  I am doing some slight editing in this re-publishing.  I will resume this project one of these days and complete all 20 Mysteries. 

These meditations are very personal for me, since I draw on many of my own life experiences, including some of the most difficult.  The only research I do is the reading of Scripture, since I wish these thoughts to be as original as possible.  With each meditation, I am seeking to uncover a fundamental aspect or nature of the event and to show some practical application to our own daily lives.  I hope you find these meditations enriching and please feel free to share them with others.  Come back this Friday for the next one!

The Agony in the Garden

It seems strange that Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, would feel fear so intense, that it would produce the Bloody Sweat of His Agony.  One might expect Him to approach His death with greater stoicism.  Why would He suggest to the Father that this “cup” be taken from Him?  What was the nature of this Agony and what do we have to learn from it?

Our Lord was fully God, but also fully man.  His Agony shows us how very human He was and how much He understands our sufferings, particularly those of the mind.  The drama in the Garden of Gethsemane comes down to the two qualities of God that are wholly unique:  omniscience and omnipotence, the two things desired by Adam and Eve.  This is another garden where the reverse struggle plays out, only now, the right choice is made.  Rather than man attempting to assume the qualities of God, God assumes the weakness of man.  This right choice is precisely the moment which leads to our Redemption, secured on the Cross, reversing the curse of our first parents.  The moment before Our Lord was physically apprehended, presents the Mystery of the Agony in the Garden.  This is where the final yielding of His Spirit occurred, when He speaks the words, “Thy Will be done.”  All work begins in the mind and our Redemption was no exception.  Once Our Lord was apprehended, there could be no turning back.  He was then fully prepared to enter into His Passion.

Our Lord possessed in that garden, the complete knowledge of what awaited him.  Man’s ignorance makes it easier for him to approach fearful situations.  Complete knowledge made it excruciating for Christ.  He also possessed the power to run away, the power to obliterate the enemy coming for Him.  At the very moment when humanity’s Redemption was held in the balance, surely all hell’s power was leveled against this one Man.  It must have been excruciating for Satan as well-never before or since would a task require more of him.  If the right choice was made, so many souls would escape his grasp.  So here may lie the nature of the Agony in the Garden:  to proceed in spite of Divine Knowledge and to withhold Divine Power.

What must I do in spite of my fear and how must I withhold my power?  It has been said that our age has no lack of virtue, only a lack of heroism.  Dear Jesus, make me stand firm in my own little agonies, that I may receive the Redemption Thou hast so grievously won.  Give me the courage to say, "Thy Will be done."  Amen.


The Sorrowful Mysteries in a New Light....

I would like to share my time with Jesus and Mary last night....

I curled up on the couch and told the Blessed Mother I was about to pray the rosary for pro-life intentions. A minute later, I was hanging my head, half asleep. I said to her, "I'm too tired!" I received the inspiration to simply meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries as I rested. So I started thinking about the Agony in the Garden. Immediately I felt, "I'm not in the mood for this-I want to think about happy things." Then I got the ispiration to find something positive in each Sorrowful Mystery. I was confused at first, but I tried. What could be good about Our Lord's Agony? I thought of the times in my life when I have suffered with anxiety, sadness and other unpleasant emotions. As I imagined Our Lord kneeling in His bloody sweat, I realized that indeed, He walks before me always. He does not expect anything from us that He was not willing to suffer Himself. And I felt great comfort.

As I contemplated the cruel scourging of Our Lord, I thought of my own physical suffering with chronic pain. All my pain has been nothing compared to His in those awful moments. And the Crowning with Thorns...what could that mean? I thought...humiliation, mocking, persecution. Yes, I've suffered that my pro-life work and also for simply being a faithful Catholic. But to place a crown of thorns upon the sacred head of the King of Kings....and for Him to bear it humbly....for me, for my this as well, He walks before me.

What of the Carrying of the Cross? This is the one thing we truly cannot bear-the weight of sin. We are forced in the Sacrament of Penance to give it over to Him, to place the weight of our guilt into His hands. So I thought of my sins, the very worst ones....and great comfort came over me, knowing that this too, He has taken upon Himself, leaving me free once again to run and leap through the fields of life. And the Crucifixion. Death itself. Even this, we are not to fear because He takes this upon Himself as well.

So where does this all leave us? There is nothing in life or death to fear if we walk with Christ because...He walks before us always! Our Blessed Lord's Passion encompasses and embraces every suffering we will ever have. Our pain is small within the vast expanse of His Heart. My half-asleep meditation on the Sorrowful Mysteries was one of the best ever....a source of great peace and even joy. When we take the time to put God first and exercise the spiritual life, we are never disappointed. He always gives in abundance and so much more than we even imagined. This must be a foretaste of Heaven:

"...eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him." ~1 Corinthians 2:9