In this blog post, I want to explain what led me to create A Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady. I am certain that I was supposed to complete this task as the book is selling consistently without any advertising. I hope Father Faber is pleased looking down from heaven as he and I both know that I could not have done this without his unique insights into the Blessed Mother’s sorrows. He has been my teacher, and I want to use my training as a teacher, to share his lessons with you.
Throughout my journey as a Catholic, I was aware of Our Lady of Sorrows, however it wasn’t until a priest of mine did a sermon on Father Faber’s book, The Foot of the Cross, that I began to search out more information on this devotion.
My Own Loss
I too was a mother who had lost a child, a very young child, but I wasn’t quite ready to tackle Father Faber’s 450-page book. But I did find a pamphlet on the Seven Sorrows that I purchased because of a single statement on the first page. It said, “There is a word for a woman who loses her husband – a widow, and there is a word for a child who loses his or her parents – an orphan, but there is no word for a mother who loses her child.” That jabbed at my heart!
I bought the pamphlet immediately being sure that this would contain the enlightened words that would help me make sense of the loss of our little boy Martín. Sadly, beyond that one line, the pamphlet held nothing for me and left me again, searching.
I mused on my own for a while and was able to take particular events from my son’s short life and align them to Our Lady’s sorrows. I could relate the shock of the moment when we were told our four-month-old baby boy had liver cancer to Simeon’s prophecy to the young mother Mary. I knew our bewildering nighttime drive from San Diego to the UCLA Medical Center to receive Martín’s first liver transplant fit with the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt. I too had cried all the way knowing that somewhere a mother was mourning that night so that my child could live. But I began to question whether or not I should be doing this. No matter how great my loss, nothing could be as great as losing God himself.
Fortunately, the priest I had heard preached again on our Blessed Mother’s sorrows in which he quoted Father Faber again. That did it. I finally bought the book and began to devour it- albeit not that quickly as every page was so deep, so dense, so multifaceted, that I would often read a paragraph or two and have to stop. Those few words could sometimes be enough to spark an extended time of fruitful meditation. Everything Father Faber wrote was so rich that I was afraid to read too much in one sitting for fear I wouldn’t be able to absorb and retain it all.
It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I think it took me 3 years to get through the entire book and not because I was setting it aside, but because I was reading it that thoroughly. I highlighted probably a hundred “favorite” lines, made notes in the margins. It was my constant companion at holy hour.
Coming to Terms
The book led me to come to terms with our son’s death, and ironically, to be able to look back over the four-year struggle and acknowledge God’s presence and support through it all. My husband and I would “secretly” talk about the beauty of some events we shared with Martín, knowing full well that outside of devout Catholics, few people could understand. I’ll relate more details about these spiritual milestones in later post.
Father Faber also introduced me to the martyrdom of Mary, which I will never fully grasp in this lifetime, but I do feel he gave me an opportunity to begin to understand it. So, what then prompted me to try to compile this rosary meditation?
Overcoming Spiritual Blahs
During a time of prolonged spiritual dryness, I admitted to my confessor that I was just plain blah. I didn’t want to pray, I was too tired to pray, and I was worried because I knew it was one thing to be dry, but another to altogether give up on my daily prayer life. He counseled me to go back and read something that had uplifted my spirit and had really brought me into meditation, so I went back to The Foot of the Cross, of course forgetting that I am always “there.”
I picked it up and started reading impatiently. I couldn’t even start back at page one. I went directly to the many dog-eared pages and highlighted lines desperate to quickly recapture my original experience of being in the desert or wanting to be with Magdalen gently receiving our Lord’s feet as He was brought down from the Cross, and of course next to Mary, as our Lord was laid in His crushed, but not broken, mother’s arms.
Making Father Faber Portable & Accessible
Then I realized that if I could carefully choose choice lines that bring the Sorrows to life and arrange them into a text-based rosary, The Foot of the Cross could easily be available to travel anywhere. This was not an easy task as there were so many favorite details of mine from each of the seven Dolors. It was so hard to choose, so hard to select only 7 lines per mystery! I deliberately tried to pick the most emotionally impactful lines, the ones that I felt both told the story, and at the same time explained the spirituality of Our Lady’s Sorrows which is such a large part of Father Faber’s teaching.
If you have purchased the book, I hope the rosary and the daily meditation have supported you with whatever spiritual cross you are shouldering. And if you haven’t yet purchased it, I hope you will. For me, it was a game changer.
I hope you’ll check back soon for more reflections on the Seven Sorrows devotion so Our Lady can support you in your spiritual life.