HE CHRISTMAS CYCLE OFFICIALLY ENDS with the Feast of the Purification on February 2. In the Extraordinary Form, we don’t just jump straight into Lent. We have the season of Septuagesima as our time of preparation. Septuagesima isn’t technically a penitential season. But the violet vestments, suppression of the Gloria, and replacement of the Alleluia with a Tract help us transition from Christmas joy to Lenten penances.
Regardless of which Mass you attend, you’re probably thinking about spiritual practices to adopt during Lent. If you’re in the market, allow me to recommend the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.
For each of the seven sorrows, we are to pray an Our Father and seven Hail Marys (so they’re not decades, strictly speaking). It’s customary to pray introductory and concluding prayers, too, although these seem to vary from one source to the next.
If you’d like to gain a thorough understanding of the Seven Sorrows and can spare an hour, look to Fr. Chad Ripperger:
Why pray the Seven Sorrows Rosary? It’s a venerable practice. The Servite order developed a devotion to Our Lady’s sorrows shortly after their founding in the thirteenth century. The Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been celebrated regionally since the fifteenth century. Benedict XIII added it to the general calendar in 1727.
The Seven Sorrows Rosary puts us in touch with Our Lord’s Passion, seen through the eyes of Our Lady. It can ease our burden in tough times. It can pierce the heart to make us more tender and compassionate. It has been a lifeline for me during these troubling times. I’ve never had a closer relationship with Our Lady than I do now, simply because I began praying this special rosary daily last summer.
We don’t want to pray out of pure self-interest. But it’s hard not to be impressed by the seven promises Our Lady made to St. Bridget of Sweden for those who pray this rosary daily:
I will grant peace to their families.
They will be enlightened about the divine Mysteries.
I will help them in their work and console them in their pains.
I will give them as much as they ask for, as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.
I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the devil and protect them at every instant of their lives.
I will visibly help them at the moment of their death—they will see the face of their mother.
I have obtained this grace from my divine Son: those who propagate this devotion will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness, since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son will be their everlasting consolation and joy.
Our Lady of Sorrows answers prayers. I’ve found that she sometimes answers smaller requests with almost hilarious promptness. And for larger requests, she is generous about sending little signs of progress and hope.
There are special rosaries designed for this devotion. Some websites and apps provide helpful meditations for each sorrow. I like this app for iOS, though it contains several unfortunate typos.
Notice that last promise to St. Bridget: those who promote this devotion can skip Purgatory. So don’t just pray the Seven Sorrows Rosary. Pass it along.