sorrowful mysteries in a time of grief

Last Friday, I prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries as is customary. I was and still am in a state of active grief and emotional upheaval, and it turns out that as usual, the rosary was just what I needed. If there were only one spiritual tool I had access to for the rest of my life I’d want it to be the rosary, that’s how profound and deeply transformative it has been for me.

Johnnette S. Benkovic and Thomas K. Sullivan, in their book The Rosary Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare say that the rosary is a contemplative prayer that we pray through the eyes of Mary, in order to see Jesus, and as such leads to mystical experience with Jesus. I have found this to be true for me. They also argue that every encounter with Christ is transformative, and that the rosary is an encounter with Christ every time. I agree with these sentiments as this has been my own experience.

The first Sorrowful Mystery is The Agony in the Garden, the fruit of which is contrition for sin. In this situation (of being a pregnant 11-year-old child concieved through incest, and a 12-year-old child in the same situation, and a 13-year-old child in the same situation), there is no sin on my part. I was a child who was raped by a family memeber and the rapes resulted in pregnancies. I was then made to have a forced abortion. None of this was my doing and I had a choice in any of it, and I have dreamed about this for twenty-five years, thinking of myself as evil.

In the Garden of Gethsamane, Jesus submitted to the will of the Father, and then went on immediatly to the events of his Passion, being betrayed by a friend. I was betrayed by my family, and have suffered significant consequences as a result. I did realize while praying this mystery that as the whole situation was out of my control and I was powerless to change it (something I have to constantly revisit in recovery), I can still give the whole mess to God for God to deal with. I can ask Jesus to help me forgive myself for condemning myself all these years, I can kneel and pray and say “I commend my soul to God my creator…”

In the second Sorrowful Mystery, The Scourging at the Pillar, the fruit of which is purity, I can trust that Jesus understand that this was forced upon me and that he can redeem this situation and I need to leave it to him to do so.

The Third Sorrowful Mystery is The Crowning with Thorns. The fruit of this mystery is moral courage. This is where I realized that sometimes things are just messed up and there’s nothing I can do about it. It takes me courage to give myself permission to grieve, and it takes courage to face what happened and let Jesus heal it.

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery is The Carrying of the Cross, in which Jesus needed help to carry it because he kept falling. A random man, Simon of Cyrene, was compelled to carry the cross. The fruit of this mystery is patience. I have spent twenty-five years trying to bear this all alone and I’ve been unable to do it. Jesus, however, knows what I’ve been through. Jesus was always there with me, but it still seemed like I was alone. In my grief today, I’m thankful for the people close to me who are helping me carry the grief. I am used to being the one who carries grief for others, as I literally absorb it, but I’m not used to being cared for in my own grief. It helps so much to have others help me through this, and I need to let them do so.

The fruit of the fifth Sorrowful Mystery, The Crucifixion, is perseverence. In this mystery, there was darkness as Jesus died and commended his soul to his father. I am going to find a way to commend the souls of my unborn children to Jesus. Jesus’ mother, Mary, was at the foot of the cross, going through this darkness with him, suffering terrible grief. Mary knows the pain of losing a loved child. That’s why she has been undoing the knots in my life, breaking up untanglements with the darkness, and showing me Jesus. She’s carrying me through this and telling me to rely on her son.

Reference:
Benkovic, Johnnette S, and Thomas K. Sullivan, The Rosary Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare, 2017. Servant.

Published by MaryClare StFrancis

MaryClare StFrancis is a writer who sounds as boring as hell but who is intimately acquainted with the horrific and the sacred. For a long time, darkness has been her friend, but she now walks in the light of Christ. As a committed Episcopalian, her main contribution to the church is her ability to make the priests facepalm or swear, depending on the day and context. MaryClare has a Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing and lives in Mississippi with her four children.

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