The Many Faces of Mary: A Man’s Guide to Marian Devotions with a Spotlight on Our Lady of Sorrows

The Many Faces of Mary: A Man’s Guide to Marian Devotions with a Spotlight on Our Lady of Sorrows - The Catholic Woodworker

Life throws curveballs that you didn't see coming. One minute you're feeling like a rockstar, and the next you're wading through the muck, trying to balance work, relationships, and your own well-being.

If you're a guy who's found himself at the crossroads of life, grappling with questions about your purpose, your goals, or your role as a husband and father, then I invite you today to delve into the world of Marian devotions with a close-up look on Our Lady of Sorrows.

A Rundown of Marian Devotions

Marian devotions stretch back to the earliest days of Christianity, evolving through time and cultures. They're rooted in Scripture and Tradition, but they are also living testaments to how believers have found solace and guidance through different aspects of Mary's life and virtues.

While the Rosary remains one of the most well-known devotions, Marian feasts like the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Lourdes each offer their unique spiritual richness. Among them, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows holds a special place.

Celebrated every September 15th, it zeroes in on seven heart-wrenching events in Mary's life, known as the Seven Sorrows. They invite us to look at faith through the lens of real, raw human experience—pain, loss, and, most importantly, resilience. We're finding strength in Our Lady who faced unthinkable hardship and emerged unbroken.

Step into the Devotion — No Experience Needed

1. Find a quiet spot.

2. Go through the Seven Sorrows of Mary and think about how they apply to your daily struggles. 

a. The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35): Shortly after the birth of Jesus, when Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus to the temple, they met Simeon, who predicted that a "sword will pierce" Mary's soul.

Reflect on the anticipation of challenges and how you can emotionally prepare for them.

b. The Flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15): Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt with the baby Jesus after an angel warned them that King Herod intended to kill the infants in that area.

Consider the sacrifices you’ve made for your family's safety and well-being.

c. The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-50): Jesus, at the age of twelve, was lost for three days when the family visited Jerusalem for the Passover.

Ponder on times you’ve felt lost or distanced from your spiritual connection, and how you found your way back.

d. Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary (Luke 23:27-31; John 19:17): While Jesus carried His cross to Calvary, Mary encountered Him on the way and shared in His suffering.

Think about shared sufferings with loved ones and the emotional strength it takes to endure.

e. Jesus Dies on the Cross (John 19:25-30): Mary watched as Jesus was crucified and died.

Meditate on life’s ultimate sacrifices and what they mean for your spiritual journey.

f. The Pieta: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross (Psalm 130; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:31-37): After the crucifixion, the dead body of Jesus was taken down and placed in Mary's arms.

Reflect on the times you've held the burden of loss and how you’ve coped with it.

g. Jesus is Laid in the Tomb (Isaiah 53:8; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42; Mark 15:40-47): Mary experiences another wave of sorrow as Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Think about the concept of finality and new beginnings, even in the face of sorrow.

A Personal Note

As a cradle Catholic, I sometimes overlook the thought of having a personal conversion. Don’t get me wrong, my faith has waxed and waned but I never viewed it as a falling away, conversion or reversion. However, upon reflecting on the devotion of the Seven Sorrows, it struck me that this devotion has played a significant role in my spiritual journey, and just how rocky, bumpy and messy the journey was and still is.

While I won’t dive too far into detail, it was around 2010 and in the midst of trying unsuccessfully to loosen the bonds of habitual sin that I felt a stirring to start praying the rosary. During that time, I came across a prayer booklet on the devotion to the Seven Sorrow of Mary and it drew me in.

What I learned and still need to apply daily is that the circumstances of our life are rarely easy. We can be very quick to feel sorry for ourselves or even complain about real or perceived problems. However, I found that regularly meditating on the Seven Sorrows of Mary changed my view of life's struggles and most importantly, gave meaning to them.

If Mary could carry these sorrows in her heart but still live with joy, then I could do the same! The truth is, the struggle is still real and there are days when this perspective is the farthest thing from my mind, but when those moments come, I know just the antidote to my complaining!

Wrapping It Up

Marian devotions are not a checklist of prayers or feasts. They're spiritual tools—each uniquely designed like the different tools in a Swiss Army knife—to help you navigate the complexities of faith and life.

And among these, the devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows stands out like a lighthouse in a stormy sea—guiding us, comforting us, and most of all, reminding us that even in sorrow, there's an underlying current of divine love and strength.

Your Action Items

1. Mark the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on your calendar—September 15th. 
2. Attend a Mass and / or reflect on the Seven Sorrows and how you can relate to them. 
3. Ask for the intercession of Our Lady in finding the strength to navigate your trials.

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