The First Sorrowful Mystery
The Agony in the Garden
Luke 22: 39-53
The cup of the New Covenant, which Jesus anticipated when he offered himself at the Last Supper, is afterwards accepted by him from his Father's hands in his agony in the garden of Gethsemani, making himself "obedient unto death." Jesus prays: " My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me..." Thus he expressed the horror that death represented for his human nature. Like ours, his human nature is destined for eternal life; but unlike ours, it is perfectly exempt from sin, the cause of death. Above all, his human nature has been assumed by the divine person of the "Author of Life," the "Living One." By accepting in his human will that the Father's will be done, he accepts his death as redemptive, for "he bore our sins in his body on the tree."
Catechism of the Catholic Church 612
The Second Sorrowful Mystery
The Scourging at the Pillar
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.
In the measure in which a Christian lives by his ties with the supernatural, he will sorrow, above all, over the sorrows of Christ. The words: "My heart hath expected reproach and misery; and I looked for one that would grieve together with me, but there was none," will pierce his heart. With the Blessed Jacopone da Todi he will exclaim: "Mother, fount of love the purest, make me feel all the anguish thou endurest, to mourn with thee"(Stabat Mater). However felicitous one may be in one's personal life, this pain must never be allowed to die away. How could we forget--though the joys we experience be ever so genuine and ever so great-- the suffering of the "Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world": the suffering which has redeemed us and is the key of our eternal happiness? Far from it. He who is wounded by the love of Christ will pray: "Let me be wounded by his wounds, let me become inebriated with the cross and the blood of Thy Son." It is, in the first place, "they that mourn" for this cause whom the Lord means when he says, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."
Dietrich von Hildebrand, Transformation in Christ
The Third Sorrowful Mystery
The Crowning with Thorns
Then God said: "Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you."
Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey, took with him his son
Isaac, and two of his servants as well, and with the wood that he had cut
for the holocaust, set out for the place of which God had told him. On
the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar. Then he said to
his servants: "Both of you stay here with the donkey,
while the boy and I go on over yonder. We will worship and then come back
to you." Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the holocaust and laid
it on his son Isaac's shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and
the knife. As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham. "Father!" he
said. "Yes, son," he replied. Isaac continued, "Here are
the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the holocaust?" "Son," Abraham
answered, "God himself will provide the sheep for
the holocaust." Then the two continued going forward. When they came
to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and
arranged the wood on it. Next he tied up his son Isaac,
and put him on top of the wood on the altar. Then he reached out and took
the knife to slaughter his son. But the LORD'S messenger called to him
from heaven, "Abraham, Abraham!" "Yes,
Lord," he answered.
Do not lay your hand on the boy," said the messenger. "Do not
do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since
you did not withhold from me your own beloved son." As Abraham looked
about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So he went and
took the ram and offered it up as a holocaust in place of
And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck him repeatedly.
John 19: 2-3
Let us only, who with the Lord's permission gave the first baptism to believers, prepare each one for another baptism also, urging and teaching that this baptism is greater in grace, more sublime in power, more precious in honor, a baptism in which the angels baptize, a baptism in which God and His Christ exult, a baptism after which no one sins again, a baptism which brings to completion the increases of our faith, a baptism which immediately joins us with God as we withdraw from the world. In the baptism of water is received the remission of sins; in that of blood the crown of virtues. This thing is to be embraced and longed for and sought after with all entreaties of our prayers, so that we who were servants of God may also be His friends.
EXHORTATION TO MARTYRDOM, TO FORTUNATUS by St. Cyprian
The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery
Carrying the Cross
As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, weep instead for yourselves and your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, `Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and breasts that never nursed. At that time people will say to the mountains, `Fall upon us!' and to the hills, `Cover us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?"
Luke 23: 26-32
The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the "one mediator between God and men." But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, "the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery" is offered to all men. He calls his disciples to "take up [their] cross and follow [him]," for "Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that we should follow in his steps." In fact, Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be his first beneficiaries. This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.
Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 618
The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery
The wicked said among themselves,
Wisdom 2: 1a. 12-22
Luke 23: 33-46
It is love "to the end" that confers on Christ's
sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew
and loved us all when he offered his life. Now "the love of Christ controls us,
because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died." No man,
not even the holiest, was ever to take upon himself the sins of all men and offer himself
as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at
once surpasses and embraces all human persons and constitutes himself as the Head of all
mankind, makes possible redemptive sacrifice for all.
Hail Holy Queen
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