Thursday, March 21, 2013

Friday in Passion Week

Tomorrow is Friday in Passion week, a rare day in which the Church permits a festive Mass to be celebrated during Lent, the Mass "Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary." Because next week is dedicated to Our Lord's Passion and the week after to his glorious Resurrection, the Church provides a time for us to consider the sufferings endured by His Mother in union with Him, as where is the Mother there is the Divine Son. Our Lady's Seven "Dolours," or "Wounds," are:
  1. The Prophecy of St. Simeon when Our Lord was presented at the Temple (Luke ch. 2)
  2. The flight of the Holy Family into Egypt (Matthew ch. 2)
  3. The disappearance of Jesus for three days in the Temple (Luke ch. 2)
  4. The Blessed Virgin meets Her Son on the way of the Cross
  5. The Death of Jesus on the Cross (John ch. 19)
  6. The deposition of Jesus from the Cross and His placement in Mary's arms (Matthew ch. 27)
  7. The burial of Our Lord in the Tomb of St. Joseph of Arimathea (John ch. 19)
A Russian Orthodox icon of Our Lady of Sorrows

The Gospel of the Mass, St. John's account of the Crucifixion, when Jesus says to John "Man, behold thy mother" and to Mary "Woman, behold thy son," reminds us that <an, represented by the young Evangelist, was given to Mary as her child. As the new Eve, Her too redeemed by Christ, has a unique role in humanity before God. She is what Eve should have been and more. While She was born sinless, like Eve, She not only did not sin, but Her union with the sufferings of Christ give Her a paramount place in God's creation. Indeed, She is above anything else God has created, even the Angels. Therefor, having maintained her virginity, purity, sinlessness, and being united to Our Savior in His Passion, the Virgin is a powerful intercessor with Her Son and with the Father for us.

The offertory chant of the Mass, taken from chapter 18 of the prophecy of Jeremiah, sums up her purpose for us succinctly:
Be mindful, O Virgin Mother of god, when you stand in the sight of the Lord, to speak good things for us, and to turn away His anger from us.

Lastly, Mary's sufferings are commemorated a week before Good Friday, fittingly. This Mass is an opportunity to take our minds off our fasting and penance, the purpose of which is to aid us in listening to God, and turn our attention to Our Lord's impending Passion. The time of preparation is ending. The time of the Cross is about to begin.

I will leave you with the sequence from the Mass and a translation I like.

At the Cross her station keeping,Stood the mournful Mother weeping,Close to Jesus to the last.
Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearingNow at length the sword had passed.
Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessedOf the sole begotten One!
Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangsOf her dying, glorious Son. 
Is there one who would not weep‘Whelmed in miseries so deepChrist’s dear Mother’s pain untold.
Can the human heart refrainFrom partaking in her pain,In that Mother’s pain untold?
Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,She beheld her tender Child,All with bloody scourges rent. 
For the sins of His own nationSaw Him hang in desolationTill His spirit forth He sent.
O sweet Mother! fount of love,Touch my spirit from above,Make my heart with yours accord.
Make me feel as you have felt;Make my soul to glow and meltWith the love of Christ, my Lord.
Holy Mother, pierce me through,In my heart each wound renewOf my Savior crucified.
Let me share with you His pain,Who for all our sins was slain,Who for me in torments died.
Mix’d with yours let my tears be,Mourning Him Who mourned for me,All the days that I may live.
By the Cross with you to stay,There with you to weep and pray,Is all I ask of you to give.
Virgin of all virgins blest!Listen to my fond request:Let me share that grief of yours.
Let me, to my latest breath,In my body bear the deathOf that dying Son of yours.
Wounded with His every wound,Steep my soul till it has swoonedIn His very Blood away.
Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,Lest in flames I burn and die,In this awful judgment day.
Christ, when You shall call me hence,Be Your Mother my defense,Be Your Cross my victory.
While my body here decays,May my soul Your goodness praise,Safe in heaven eternally.Amen.

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