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Your Guide To The 7 Sorrows of Mary Challenge

During Lent, the Lord calls us into the desert to rest and make space for worship. In the stillness, we have the opportunity to be transformed, to be refined in the fire of His love by pondering the Passion. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the weight of pondering the triumph of the Cross. Christ, knowing our fragility, gave us His Mother to guide us through these sorrowful mysteries of His life. Let us walk with our dear Mother, who has known the truest sorrow and can teach us how to process it all.


Litany is continuing the Dress Like Mary Challenge through Lent by pondering the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady. We love how our garments can orient us towards prayer when we intentionally seek to reflect our faith. Join us on these Fridays leading up to Good Friday to ponder like Mary, console her heart, and learn how to grieve with hope.


THE FIRST SWORD OF SORROW: THE PROPHECY OF SIMEON (LUKE 2:22-35)


Reflection: Simeon tells Mary her heart will be pierced. She knows Jesus is the Messiah. She knows that the Messiah will suffer based on learned during her upbringing a Jewish woman hearing the Psalms and prophets. Anna the prophetess is also there to witness Jesus as the Messiah in her old age—she is noted to be a widow. In a way, her state is prophetic of Mary’s on Calvary, she too will be widowed before the death of Christ. Prior to this moment is Simeon’s praise: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32). Lent is a time for rest—may we have a confident hope in the Lord as Simeon—trusting that He will keep His promise to us during these 40-days.


What to wear: Mary’s heart as united to Christ’s is often reflected in the red and blue hues in sacred art. We might choose to wear deep blues as reflective of Mary’s emotional suffering and widowhood or red pointing towards Christ’s Passion.


THE SECOND SWORD OF SORROW: THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT (MATTHEW 2:13-15)


Reflection: Mary is awakened as Joseph describes his dream with urgency. No time to plan. They are on the move going back to the place their ancestors left in exodus. Tradition holds that Joseph would have most likely utilized the gold given to them by the wisemen to provide for the Holy Family in Egypt. The pain of new parents traveling in a moment’s notice, fleeing a mass-murderer, knowing that they will not always be able to protect their child from death.


What to wear: Gold accessories to reflect their journey in the desert and God’s steadfast providence. Consider wearing cotton garments which point to the desert heat of Egypt. What would you wear if you had to suddenly jump on an airplane?


THE THIRD SWORD OF SORROW: THE LOSS OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE (LUKE 2:41-52)


Reflection: Jesus is in the Temple. This is the same area he will pass by in Holy Week, it is across from the Mount of Olives (Mark 13) on which there is the Garden of Gethsemane. Mary ponders the significance of every moment in the life of Christ, she holds all these things in her heart with the pang of Simeon’s prophecy in mind. May we learn from her to let go of control— even when we do not understand—to listen to Him.


What to wear: “Gethsemane” means “oil press” (Britannica) and it is near an olive grove. Olive oil is used throughout the Old Testament for the divine anointing of kings. Wear olive or hunter greens in preparation for what’s to come on Holy Thursday. Consider academia styled garments to reflect those who were teachers in the temple that listened and learned from the Christ child.


THE FOURTH SWORD OF SORROW: MARY MEETS JESUS ON THE WAY TO CALVARY (LUKE 23:27-31)


Reflection: We will not find any detailed passage about Mary’s encounter of Christ on the road to Calvary, it is far too scared to be written down. It is in the silence of this moment that we are able to ponder the suffering Hearts of Jesus and Mary, “Along each family’s way of the cross, Mary is the model of that silence which, even in moments of overwhelming pain, gives birth to new life” (Way of the Cross). Even in profound suffering, there is a glimmer of hope in the promise of the Resurrection. She sought His gaze and rested there.


What to wear: Simplicity in dress, particularly by wearing muted tones as a way to meditate upon Our Lady’s silent suffering in submission to the plan of Redemption and will of her Son.


THE FIFTH SWORD OF SORROW: MARY STANDS AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS (JOHN 19:17-30)


Reflection: Our Lady stands on “the Place of the Skull” receiving every blow to her heart during the Crucifixion. Christ’s seamless tunic that is casted for lots by the soldiers is likely a garment that Mary sewed for Him. She is steadfast in faith, receiving all of us as her own as Christ cries from the cross “Behold your son.”


What to wear: Any oversized shirt or seamless dress to reflect the consistency of Mary’s faith and the seamless garment of Christ. Wear shades of deep blue as a reflection of receiving Mary as our Mother from the cross. Any dark colored accessories reflecting Memento Mori and Golgotha.


THE SIXTH SWORD OF SORROW: MARY RECEIVES THE DEAD BODY OF JESUS IN HER ARMS (JOHN 19:38-40)


Reflection: Nicodemus brings myrrh—just as Mary received from the wisemen for the infant Christ—to anoint Christ’s body. Mary holds, venerates, and kisses each wound, grieving while clinging to the promise of His words.


What to wear: Reflect the anointing with myrrh by wearing shades of brown. Create silhouettes in your outfit that reflect the flowing structure of the Pieta.


THE SEVENTH SWORD OF SORROW: THE BODY OF JESUS IS PLACED IN THE TOMB (JOHN 19:41-42)


Reflection: Christ is wrapped in linen, laid in a tomb hewn out of a rock in a garden. Mary feels empty, a type of death, though she continues to hope in the Resurrection.


What to wear: Have your hair covered with a dark colored headband or scarf as a reflection of grieving. Wear linen to reflect Christ’s burial. Consider subtle floral accents in your outfit that reflect the garden with hope in the Resurrection.


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