Meditations on the Sorrowful Mysteries

…O Jesus, I would press Thee, solicit Thee, importune thee…
though Thou wouldest reject my supplications, I will not leave Thy bleeding feet until Thou hearest me. Too many graces, too many mercies have come to me from Thy Blood for me not to hope, even to the end, in its efficacy….

~ From the Novena to The Precious Blood of Jesus

The Sorrowful Mysteries

The Rosary is a prayerful reflection of the Gospels. It is comprises 20 Mysteries or significant events in the life of Jesus and Mary. These events are organized into four sets of Mysteries. The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary are recited on Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the year and every day from Ash Wednesday until Easter.

In Mary’s Touch Program 2.39, Mike shares his journey of faith, which was nurtured by our Blessed Mother and by praying the Rosary. His love for Mary now inspires him to write contemplative prayers. Here, he shares his Meditations on the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.ious Mysteries of the Rosary. To open a printer-friendly version of these meditations, click here.


The Agony in the Garden (MT 26:36–46)

We pray for the gift of Contrition for Our Sins.

Then Jesus came with them to a small estate called Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples,“Stay here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with Him. And sadness came over Him, and great distress. Then He said to them, “My soul is sorrowful to the point of death. Wait here and keep awake with Me,” and going on a little further, He fell on His face and prayed.“My Father,” He said, “if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by; nevertheless, let it be as You, not I, would have it.” He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, “So you had not the strength to keep awake with Me one hour? You should be awake and praying not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father,” He said, “If this cup cannot pass Me by without my drinking it, Your will be done!” And He came back again and found them sleeping, their eyes were so heavy. Leaving them there, He went away again and prayed for the third time, repeating the same words. Then He came back to the disciples and said to them,“You can sleep on now and take your rest. Now the hour has come when the Son of Man is to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up! Let us go! My brother is already close at hand.”

Jesus suffered in many ways for you. His passion was the completion. The point had to be driven home in a way that we would always remember. Because He was human, Jesus suffered fear, doubt, rejection, frustration, hurt, and all other human emotions we associate with abandonment. Because He was God, He knew what was about to happen to Him and its significance. He was taking on the sin of the world—all that had ever been and all that would ever be. He was going to save and forgive the world for His Father—our God. What an overwhelming rush of knowledge and emotion; to in a single moment suddenly experience all that had ever, or would ever be wrong in this world. Jesus’s humanity must have suffered immensely that night in the garden. His divine nature knew what was to come. But Jesus, in all His pain, did not despair. He did not lose faith in the Father. He asked God to take away the suffering to come, but He also knew God’s will in this. He prayed for God’s will, not His own. Even with His “God-knowledge” of the terrible physical pain and humiliation He was about to suffer, with the knowledge that so many of the people He was about to die for might never believe or appreciate His sacrifice, Jesus chose God’s will, not His own. He knew this was the only way to our salvation—it was the only way we would remember and follow. He gave us the perfect model of choosing God’s will over our own. So, with all of His “God-knowledge” and His human doubt and fear, He went forward.

Do I choose God’s will over my own despite my fear and doubt, or do I try to escape? When I am suffering and in pain, do I turn to God and His will for me, or do I fall into despair and self-pity?

I pray that I can better follow His example, despite my fears and doubts. I pray that I learn to hear the voice of God in my suffering and answer His call.


The Scourging at the Pillar (MK 15:1–16)

We pray for the gift of Mortification of Our Senses.

First thing in the morning, the Chief Priests together with the Elders and Scribes, in short the whole Sanhedrin, had their plan ready. They had Jesus bound and took Him away and handed Him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” “It is you who say it,” He answered. And the Chief Priests brought many accusations against Him. Pilate questioned Him again, “Have you no reply at all? See how many accusations they are bringing against you!” But to Pilate’s amazement, Jesus made no further reply. At festival time, Pilate used to release a prisoner for them, anyone they asked for. Now a man called Barabbas was then in prison with the rioters who had committed murder during the uprising. When the crowd went up and began to ask Pilate the customary favor, Pilate answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he realized it was out of jealousy that the Chief Priests had handed Jesus over. The Chief Priests, however, had incited the crowd to demand that he should release Barabbas for them instead. Then Pilate spoke again. “But in that case,” he said to them, “what am I to do with the man you call King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” So Pilate, anxious to placate the crowd, released Barabbas for them and, having ordered Jesus to be scourged, handed Him over to be crucified.

Pilate knew Jesus was innocent. “He could find no cause in Him,” but to appease the Jews, he had Him scourged. He took the easy way out. He did what was popular rather than what was right. Jesus suffered humiliating, disfiguring, excruciating pain for Pilate’s weakness and failure to do what was right. How often do we do what is popular rather than what is right? The Jews wanted Jesus put to death, but Pilate knew this was not right, not just. So he rationalized and went along with the crowd, but not all the way—not yet, anyway. We often live right on the edge like this—rationalizing that ‘it’s not as bad as …’. The scourging of Jesus at the pillar is another model for us. Jesus was mutilated and humiliated because Pilate could not stand up for what was right. He was not willing to be unpopular with the crowd, to be humiliated himself for what was right. Jesus willingly took on Pilate’s sins at great cost and pain to Himself. When we act like Pilate (not doing what we know is right), Jesus suffers again for us.

How often do I go along with crowd, even when I know it is wrong? How often do I forgive others’ behavior toward me? Am I willing to endure and accept ridicule, pain, and suffering to do the right things?

I pray that I have the strength to follow Jesus’s example in the scourging—to do what is right—not what is popular.


The Crowning with Thorns (MT 27:27–31)

We pray for the gift of Interior Mortification.

The governor’s soldiers took Jesus with them into the praetorium and collected the whole cohort around Him. Then they stripped Him and made Him wear a scarlet cloak; and having twisted some thorns into a crown, they put this on His head and placed a reed in His right hand. To make fun of Him, they knelt to Him saying, “Hail King of the Jews!” And they spat on Him and took the reed and struck Him on the head with it. And when they had finished making fun of Him, they took off the cloak and dressed Him in His own clothes and led Him away to crucify Him.

More humiliation and cruelty piled on top of a savage beating. Jesus’s torturers beat Him mercilessly, but that did not satisfy their sadistic cruelty—they needed to humiliate Him further by mocking Him. They took His truth and debased it. Jesus came into this world humbly to teach the way of salvation. But God’s way is not man’s way. God’s way is through humility: recognizing nothing good is possible without God. Man is proud, believing he can achieve greatness without God’s grace. In this pride, man is capable of great cruelty as demonstrated by the crowning with thorns. Jesus endured the humiliation and mockery of God’s way with love and tolerance. He did not despair or turn away from God’s will because it was unpopular or because the crowd made fun of Him. In loving tolerance, He forgave all of His tormenters—He saved all of mankind— past, present, and future —from the bondage of sin. We have but to follow in His path—to follow the model He presented to us when His tormentors crowned Him King of the Jews.

Do I deny God’s path out of fear of embarrassment or ridicule? Do I back down when challenged or when I am made fun of for choosing Christ’s way? How often have I joined in on the humiliation of another person?

I pray that I humbly pursue Christ’s path of love and tolerance toward those who might persecute or ridicule me; that I do not allow ridicule or embarrassment to ever deter me from Christ’s way.


The Carrying of the Cross (MK 15:20–22)

We pray for the gift of
Patience Under Crosses.

They led Him out to crucify Him. They enlisted a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, father of Alexander and Rufus, who was coming in from the country, to carry His Cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha, which means the place of the skull.

Jesus was forced to carry His Cross to His own execution. After torture and humiliation—of mind and body—beyond human comprehension, Jesus picked up His Cross and headed to Calvary. He had a mission to complete. He experienced in that short period of time all the sin and evil in this world—past, present and future—and now it was all in that Cross. He carried it to fulfill His Father’s will and to save all mankind. He did it in this way so that we could see and never forget. He gave everything, and He did not despair. And when His human body could no longer endure the abuse, He fell—but He did not despair. He allowed Simon to show charity. God worked through Simon for us to see. When, in our human frailty we fall, we must not despair. We must find God in others and accept help on the way to fulfilling God’s will for us, regardless of the pain and suffering we might be forced to endure. Conversely, when we see others suffering to fulfill God’s will, we must allow God to work through us, like Simon. He initially did not want to help. He did not want to get involved. He did not want to get dirty. However, once he started, he had a conversion and found reward in the very act of charity. We, too, must act in charity.

Do I act, like Jesus, with complete selflessness in my times of suffering? Simon did not know the “stranger” was Jesus, the Son of God. Do I see the Son of God in the strangers around me?

I pray that my eyes are opened to see Christ in those around me. I pray that I carry my cross lightly and have charity even in my own suffering. Jesus carried His Cross so that my cross might be bearable—even then, He is there to help me carry mine—for on my own, I am incapable.


The Crucifixion (LK 23:33–46)

We pray that we may
die to ourselves.

When they reached the place called ‘The Skull’, they crucified Him there and the two criminals also, one on the right and the other on the left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” Then they cast lots to share out His clothing.

The people stayed there watching Him. As for the leaders, they jeered at Him. “He saved others,” they said, “let Him save Himself if He is the Christ of God, the chosen one.” The soldiers mocked Him too, and when they approached to offer Him vinegar they said, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above Him there was an inscription: ‘This is the King of the Jews’.

One of the criminals hanging there abused Him. “Are you not the Christ?” he said, “Save yourself and us as well.” But the other spoke up and rebuked him. “Have you no fear of God at all? You got the same sentence as He did, but in our case we deserved it; we are paying for what we did. But this Man has done nothing wrong. Jesus.” he said, “remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.” “Indeed, I promise you,” He replied, “today you will be with Me in paradise.”

It was now about the sixth hour and, with the sun eclipsed, a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. The veil of the Temple was torn right down the middle; and when Jesus had cried out in a loud voice, He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit my Spirit.” With these words, He breathed His last.

The Crucifixion of our Lord is the final and ultimate indignity inflicted upon Christ. But even in death, caused by our selfishness, pride, and lack of charity, Jesus loved us enough to finish what He came for. He was tortured and humiliated, suffered, and died so that we could be with the Father. We would have everlasting life with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As everything in His life, Jesus’s death serves as a model for us.

Jesus’s death has ultimate meaning. Death is the final human act on this earth. In death, as in His life, His only thoughts were His love for God and His mission to save humanity. One can only imagine what any other person would be thinking in His place: fear, self-pity, self-preservation, resentment, despair. Perhaps the shock and trauma would be too much for any thought—maybe sheer terror would fill our minds. But not Jesus. His mind and His words were filled with forgiveness, love, and charity. Even in death He teaches us—He showed how abundant His mercy is. He forgave the thief to show we only need to ask to be forgiven and we are, even in the last moments of our life. In giving us to His Mother, and her to us, He showed ultimate charity and love. In His humanity, Jesus showed us what is possible for us—if we only have faith in God and trust in His will. Jesus’s crucifixion is not about despair—it is about hope. It is about what is possible in God. If Jesus in His humanity can display the best of all human characteristics during His trauma, can’t we emulate Him in our lives?

In my trials and tribulations, do I become a selfish, self-pitying, resentful creature? Do I despair?

I pray that I may follow Christ’s example even in my most difficult times to become more Christ-like and continue my mission of faith and hope.