Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Praying The Seven Dolors

A Spiritual Aid During the COVID-19 Pandemic

by Professor of Philosophy & Theology, Sr. Marianne Farina, CSC


By frequent meditation on the mystery of the cross and its meaning in our lives, we unite ourselves in a special way with Christ in his passion and with Mary his mother, who stood by the cross. We mediate on her role in the Christian mysteries. The rosary, dolors, other Marian devotions, and the celebration of her feasts are ways we express our love of her.

The devotion of the Chaplet of the Seven Dolors was instituted in the 13th century. It consists of a series of meditative prayers practiced upon a chaplet made up of seven times seven beads, with three additional beads and a crucifix. Each section of seven beads represents the seven principal sorrows of Mary’s life. After each meditation, seven Hail Mary Prayers are recited. On the 3 additional beads is prayed the “Hail Mary…” in remembrance of the tears of Mary that were shed because of the suffering of her Divine Son.

Let us join with one another in prayer and solidarity as we face together this pandemic.

Chaplet of Seven Dolors

Come, Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle your love and compassion.

V. Send forth your Spirit
R. And you shall renew the face of the earth.
V. Remember, O God, your people.
R. We look to you for justice and peace.
V. O Lord, hear our prayer.
R. And let our cries come to you.

Let us pray:
Illumine our minds, we ask you, God, with the light of your wisdom, that we may discern the means and find the strength to be your compassion in the world.

First Dolor – Prophecy of Simeon

And you yourself shall be pierced with a sword—so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.(Luke 2:35)

Reflection: Words of love expressed through windows from the outside. Saying goodbye to mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and friends remotely. Waiting for the final call, news of the passing. Sadness and mystery fill our hearts.

Second Dolor – The Flight into Egypt

Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. (Matthew 2:13)

Reflection: Concerns for health and safety keep us from outside journeys, only to travel inward. It is a voyage into deeper communion with God and one another though we remain “sheltering in place.”

Third Dolor – Jesus Left in the Temple

Why did you search for me? Did you not know I had to be in my Father’s house? (Luke 2:49)

Reflection: Searching for answers, cures, plans, how will this end? God is here in the chaos, for God is merciful

Fourth Dolor – Meeting Jesus Bearing His Cross

. . . the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all. . .” (Isaiah 53:6) [and] Christ suffered for sins once . . .that he might lead you to God” (1 Peter 3: 18)

Reflection: Present to those who struggle for life, who suffer loss. Supporting those on the front lines: health care workers, rescuers, farmworkers, factory workers, grocery store clerks, migrants, essential business workers.

Fifth Dolor – Crucifixion of Jesus

Near the cross of Jesus there stood his Mother. (John 19:25)

Reflection: Standing at the foot of the cross, facing death and the unknown: O Compassionate Mother, clear our minds of doubt, impatience, and fear.

Sixth Dolor – Mary Receives Jesus Dead in Her Arms

Come, all you who pass by the way, look and see whether there is any suffering like my suffering. (Lamentations 1:12)

Reflection: Finding comfort in our realization that we are in “this together.” Staying connected though we are apart. We embrace all that is and courageously await all that will be.

Seventh Dolor – Burial of Jesus

If we have died with him we shall live with him. (2 Timothy 2:11)

Reflection: Each day and in each way, may we witness to God’s transforming love for all creation.

Closing Prayer: Pope Francis’ Prayer

O Mary,
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus' pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.

Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.

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