Question for non-Catholics: What would "perpetual sorrow" mean to you?

What is the first thought that comes to mind?

I’m only asking this question to get the non-Catholic perspective on this concept.

Sounds kind of depressing.

It conjures up an image of a crucifix and does in fact sound very Catholic to me.

The last poster seems to have had a nerve hit. Although you wanted responses from non-Catholics, I have to say that one response might be: knowing that you are in Hell, can’t get out, and therefore would have “perpetual sorrow”, although I don’t know if those who freely chose by their lives to NOT go to Heaven even feel “sorrow”. More likely they feel anger and hate. But, perhaps they feel sorrow for their poor choices when they still had the choices!

If I hit a nerve let me clarify (though I don’t know what was said in response to my first post): There is a heavy focus on sorrow in Catholicism. When I think of Catholic theology a lot of dark, but mystical things come to mind. But there is a lot of sorrow. For example, the crucifix, as opposed to a bare cross, the stations of the cross in every church, the sorrowful mysteries, etc. Initiation into religious life focuses a lot on sorrow as well as joy. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is true that there is a heavier focus on the gritty stuff in Catholicism than in protestantism.

There is perpetual __________ many things. There is the our lady of sorrows. To a non catholic, the combination of them sounds very believable and very catholic.

BlueEyedLady: You are correct that there are a lot of things which refer to “sorrow” in the Catholic faith, but they are “sorrowful” for a reason. The “sorrows” in the Rosary are to represent the feelings of Mary, Mother of Jesus, seeing her son scourged, beaten, crucified and then dead. That is certainly a reason for sorrow for any Mother!! As for the Crucifix, I don’t know of Catholics considering that “sorrowful”. That is the symbol of our redemption. Jesus died so that we might be freed from the “sorrow” of sin and death, so I consider a Crucifix a sign of hope. The Stations of the Cross are sorrowful, but they also show how much He loved us, to go through all that willingly for us. They are sorrowful only in that He had to do that in order to bring us back to God. Those things are not “perpetual”, but the sorrows necessary to lead us to joy and freedom in God.

I totally agree with what you said. I would like to add my opinion (remember, this is just my opinion, nothing more!) that ‘sorrow’ can lead to quilt, which makes for a more submissive congregation. Sort of like “oh, I have to go to church”. Because of all this pain/sorrow, I have to do thus and thus… I view the Catholic church as a works based religion so sorrow can play a big role in getting people to ‘do’ things. Please, it’s just my opinion, don’t shoot me for it!

I think this is bunk, especially in the American context. American “works salvation” consists of being cheerful and optimistic and bustling around to save the world for Jesus through well-planned marketing initiatives.

“Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow,” although a one-sided and unhealthy kind of piety if taken alone or allowed to dominate, is an excellent antidote to this Pelagian poison.

The world is broken. The world remains broken, 2000 years after the Resurrection. And Mary weeps.

That’s not the whole story, but it’s a part of the story that we neglect at our peril.


What comes to my mind is a life that’s absent of knowing the truth about God (Allah). One of His names is ‘Al-Haqq’, which means ‘The Truth’.

When I hear “perpetual sorrow”, it makes me think of depression, guilt, and loss, and I feel sorry for anyone who has to endure it. To me, it also seems to have the connotation of one who remains in sorrow willingly, as in someone who does not try to move forward from sorrowful events or cope with them in a healthy way, and sort of almost perversely revels in it.

I don’t know a whole lot about Catholicism yet, so I assume it means something different for Catholics.

The unsaved will continue in ignorance (and blissful ignorance) until the second coming itself. At that point, only they the reprobate from then on will know the true meaning of perpetual sorrow.

And then there’s Chesterton’s bizarre and wonderful poem about Notre Dame football:

“Queen of Death and deadly weeping
Those about to live salute thee,
Youth untroubled; youth untortured; hateless war and harmless mirth
And the New Lord’s larger largesse
Holier bread and happier circus,
Since the Queen of Sevenfold Sorrow has brought joy upon the earth.”

Personally, I think he was way too naive and optimistic about football, including specifically Notre Dame football, given some of the stories I’ve heard.

But he does get at a basic paradox that it’s easy for non-Catholics, let alone non-Christians, to miss.


Heaven. Absolutely.

I really do think Earth is perfect. There is suffering, but suffering defines us. Social problems form us and give us something to do, something to work toward.

This whole concept of “a place without any problems or suffering” is, to me, the definition of real suffering.

I’d also like to note that I’ve recently lost my home, had a good friend die, and had to send my parent to a nursing home for alzheimers, in addition to my work as a crisis hotline worker. So I know quite a bit about “suffering.”

This is one major reason I am a Bahá’í. Not only has Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb revealed to us the necessity of focusing on the present and NOT on the afterlife, but what little glimpses they provide of the life beyond is one of continual change. We will never achieve perfect “heaven,” but only continue to grow and meet challenges as we ascend ever closer to God.

I wouldn’t want to be anywhere that I’m not already, and I really don’t want to go somewhere that claims to provide “perfection.” There’s nothing worse than eternal stasis with no problems.

Personally it means what I lived before I got help. Dysfunction is perpetual sorrow. Messes up your health. Once I got help in my personal life, learning my rights and boundaries, etc., I was pretty easy to evangelize. The Church was simply an extension of my therapy and so it really is my salvation from perpetual sorrow.:):D:signofcross

Religiously, I suppose it means the eternal sorrow of Mary over the unjust and the sacrificial crucifixion of her Son and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the source of our salvation. This is to my imperfect understanding. For me that sacrifice led to the end of my perpetual sorrow.

Really not over thinking this.

well if sorrow is anything like what people mean when they say sorry it does not mean that much. If sorrow means what it should. It sounds like a disheartening of the soul or the bain of the soul that is continuous and possibly ongoing forever

Me, too.

To me, it has the connotation of one who remains in sorrow, not willingly, but with an aching repentant heart, as in someone who does everything she can possibly do, pray and live to move forward from sorrowful events and still cannot cope in a healthy way, and takes no perverse revelry in it at all. Like no matter what good she is or does, she will be beaten down anyway and would really prefer otherwise, wanting instead to serve Him with gladness of heart, and not with such opressive sorrow.

First, I think of Our Lady of Sorrows, then I think of Our Lady of Perpetual Hope. Those are two real Catholic titles. Then, realizing “perpetual sorrow” isn’t an actual Catholic title, I Google it and find out where it came from…:wink:

Hello living word unity,

 For me it would boil down to a belief that we only live once.  The belief that if you never were an athlete in this life that you will never be an athlete.  If you never went to your high school prom you will never go to a high school prom.  All of your failures in this short life span will remain with you forever.  You'll never get the opportunity to redo them.  That would cause perpetual sorrow for me.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that Catholicism is perpetually sorrowful, I’m saying that given the image of Catholicism and the fact that ‘perpetual’ and ‘sorrow’ are catholic words, the combination of the two sounds very believable.

The OP started this thread as an offshoot of another. He’s upset because a show named a catholic school ‘Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow’. But frankly, to a non Catholic, that sounds like a believable and inoffensive school name.

Kind of like if you told me you needed to go to Mass for the Feast of Perpetual Adoration or the Assumption of Our Lady of the Eucharistic Angels. I’m well aware that those don’t even make sense much less exist, but I think a lot of non catholics wouldn’t give it a second thought because it those words sound catholic.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit