Recently on Morning Air, John Morales welcomed Father John Gordon onto the show to discuss the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, their vitality to Salvation history, and how they give insight into the way Our Lady witnessed the Passion.
The Sorrowful Mysteries are The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, The Crowning of Thorns, The Carrying of the Cross, and The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord.
Father John began by talking about the intercessory power of these mysteries. These scenes from Our Lord’s Passion present the most intense suffering, multiplied infinitely by the weight of the sins of humanity. So many people in our lives experience suffering in countless ways. What better way to pray for those in pain than to meditate on the ultimate pain undergone by Jesus.
“For example, we pray the third Sorrowful Mystery, The Crowning of Thorns,” said Father John. “I have a very dear, dear friend who suffers interminable headaches; deep, deep headaches for many years. I have another friend who suffers very often from migraine headaches. And I always think of them in particular during this particular mystery.” Jesus sustained not only agonizing pain but humiliation as they mocked His royalty. We have countless opportunities to link our lives to Jesus’s, and in doing so, we can offer our ailments for Him to bear.
In The Agony in the Garden, Jesus said, “‘My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!’” (Matthew 26:42) And even though Mary was not present in the Garden, John spoke to the fact that she must have had some supernatural sense of the suffering her Son was about to undergo. Father John referenced the Presentation in the Temple and the sword that shall pierce her heart. As St. Luke writes, she held on to these things in her heart. Call it a mother’s intuition, but Mary knew that Jesus, her Son, would be tortured and killed before her very eyes.
While she may have wished, on one level, that none of that would come to be, she also knew that this was His mission. This was the goal. This was God’s will. We should embrace our suffering the same way. We shouldn’t resist God’s plan, but we also shouldn’t accept it out of resignation. We should embrace it as a “participation in his mission”, and emulating Mary can help us.
The Second Sorrowful Mystery is the Scourging at the Pillar. One of the most brutal forms of punishment, and laid out in excruciating detail in The Passion of the Christ, John said he is unable to watch that scene without getting emotional. Mel Gibson, the director of the film, focused a lot on the sorrow of Our Lady, accompanied throughout the movie by Mary Magdalene and St. John. A mother’s greatest pain is knowing that her children are suffering, but to have to watch Him be brutally scourged before His death for our sins is unbearable.
Father John spoke to the almost impossible strength that Jesus exhibited in this mystery, not only physically, but spiritually. Once He accepted His Father’s will, He was not going to shed that mantle. He was going to suffer and die; There was no question.
John and Father spoke about the fourth Mystery, the Carrying of the Cross. On His way to Golgotha, Jesus fell three times. He also encountered His mother, Mary. We can imagine the feeling of helplessness Mary might have felt at that moment. He had been arrested, beaten, spit on, kicked, scourged, and humiliated. His body was now giving out. “A parent would do anything to take a child’s pain away. A parent often prays, ‘Lord, let me have the pain. Not them.’” But here, Mary must sustain the emotional pain and suffering of watching. She cannot take this cup from Jesus.
And then in the fifth Mystery, we see the culmination of Christ’s Passion. He is nailed to the cross and dies. Christ took our sins to the end of the line. In no way did He back out of the Father’s mission. He took every possible instance of physical pain and endured it, on top of the weight of dying for our sins. He carried with His cross the ultimate burden.
“There is nothing that He calls me to do that He has not already entered into before me. And so whatever pain I’m in, whatever suffering I’m enduring, even as I’m approaching death, He has already gone there.”
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