Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

At the cross her vigil keeping,
stood the mournful mother weeping,
where he hung, the dying Lord
There she waited in her anguish,
seeing Christ in torment languish,
in her heart the piercing sword.

--from "At the cross her vigil keeping," 
#159 in The hymnal, 1982

One of the songs we so often sing on Holy Week actually became a link to my solo discipline of Lenten study this year.  This song, also known at the Stabat Mater, is from a 13th century devotion called The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Also known as the Seven Dolors, the Seven Sorrows incorporate four of the Stations of the Cross and three other episodes in the lives of Jesus and Mary, namely:

The Prophecy of Simeon. (Luke 2:34-35)
The Flight into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)
The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple. (Luke 2:43-45)
Mary Meets Jesus on the Way to Calvary.
Jesus Dies on the Cross. (John 19:25)
Mary Receives the Body of Jesus in Her Arms. (Matthew 27:57-59)
The Body of Jesus Is Placed in the Tomb. (John 19:40-42)

I ended up downloading some of the various translations of litanies, rosaries and stations to this devotion, and, as I studied them, I realized it has quite a bit of relevance in terms of using it much in the way people pray the Stations of the Cross, yet at the same time calling attention to issues related to women's empowerment and some of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly the ones involving women and children.

So, with that in mind, I created a set of stations for the Seven Sorrows.  Each station opens with a stanza from a version of the Stabat Mater; I used stanzas from The Hymnal 1982The Hymnal 1940, and the 1906 English Hymnal, so that the opening lines of each station can be either spoken or sung.  I'll post a station a day until finished, and then post the work in its entirety at the end.  Please feel free to share with attribution!

The First Sorrow--Simeon's Prophecy to Mary

At the cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful mother weeping,
close to Jesus at the last,
Through her soul, of joy bereavèd,
bowed with anguish, deeply grievèd,
now at length the sword had passed.

Simeon told Mary, "“This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.""

Each day during school terms, mothers all over the world send their children off to school--some on buses or in cars, some on foot.  Some wearing crisply ironed colorful uniforms, others toting the ubiquitous oversized backpack.  On each of those days, a mother's hope is that her child learns not just the things that will make them happy and successful as adults, but will also make the world a better place.  In the photos of first grade classes, we see dreams of future firefighters and doctors, farmers and merchants, teachers, nurses, veterinarians, merchants.  None of those children at age six are dreaming of being a sex worker, a drug dealer, a petty thief, or a gun-runner.  Yet, that is exactly who some of these sweet children will be when they grow up.

Each school day, mothers let their children leave the safety of home to be entrusted in the safety of school--but school is not always as safe as our hopes would like it to be.  Every day, all over the world, the safety of school is violated somewhere--school shooters, bombings, wars, coups.  Children are killed on the way to and from school by vehicles, land mines, drive-by shooters, and car bombings.  Children are abducted.  Children are molested.  These crimes against children remind us daily that the world is far from being a safe place.

The Mother of Jesus knew the sorrow of Simeon's prophesy.  Mothers throughout the world know the sorrows of the statistical probabilities in a dangerous and deadly world.  Some mothers know this more deeply than others, in the places of the world with shortened life expectancy, high infant mortality, and high maternal childbirth-related deaths.

Let us pray.  (silence)

Comforter God, the Blessed Mother of Jesus suffered the piercing sword of Simeon's prophecy; you know the swords that pierce our hearts also.  You know our fears for our children, and the fears of mothers all over the world for their children.  Hold our children and our fears in your loving embrace.  When we want so badly to draw ourselves inward and pull our children closer, aid us in letting them go forth in the world to learn and grow, despite the risks.  Help us to remember the mothers in the places where danger is more imminent.  Especially be present with the families whose child does not come home; the families whose children are lost or abducted, missing, or killed.  Help them to find hope and grace in the places that seem too full of hatred and grief.  We pray all these things in the name of your son, Jesus. Amen.



Gosh Maria, our twin-tractor beam is at work! I have been thinking of this and reading and praying what you sent me all during Lent. Then this morning I mentioned you in my blog post. How wonderful to see what you have posted here; very powerful, very beautiful.

I never cease to be amazed at the power of the Holy Spirit through our twin-tractor beam relationship, Fran. I went and read your post today, and I STILL think Danny DeVito would be the perfect Zaccheus if we ever get the screen rights to "Jesus: Fran and Maria's Version." Be blessed, dear cyber-sister!



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I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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