|A Stab from the Past, Times Seven.
The Sixth Friday of Lent;* and, the Commoration of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop & Doctor of the Church.
Lessons from the feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Jeremiah 20: 10-13.
• Psalm 18: 2-7.
• John 10: 31-42.
Passion Friday; the Commemoration of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor of the Church; and, the Commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.**
Lessons from the feria, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Jeremiah 17: 13-18.
• Psalm 34: 20, 22.
• Psalm 102: 10.
• John 11: 47-54.
The Sixth Friday of the Great Fast; and, the Feast of Our Holy Father Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem.
Lessons for the Presanctified, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:***
• Genesis 49: 33—50: 26.
• Proverbs 31: 8-31.
8:58 AM 3/18/2016 — Sometimes, when I'm standing here pontificating about the Holy Scriptures, I give the impression that I know everything about everything, and I don't; and, I was reminded of that when I sat down to reflect on today's Holy Mass and noticed that the Missal provides two collects for today's Mass: one which is the usual run-of-the-mill collect for the Friday of Passion Week, and one which makes mention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is the one that I used today. But I didn't remember why until I got up this morning and prayed Matins and Lauds from the Divine Office.
Pope Saint John XXIII, during his brief pontificate, did a very mild liturgical reform, making some adjustments to the Missal of Saint Pius V in 1962, as most of you know, but he also did a revision of Saint Pius X's Breviary in 1960; and, in his motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict gave to Catholic priests the right to not only use that Missal in the celebration of Holy Mass, but also the right to use that 1960 breviary in fulfilling their obligation to pray the Divine Office. And it was in the Office this morning that I was reminded that today, Passion Friday, is observed as the commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.
And, while the current Roman Missal no longer presents to us the feast of the Seven Sorrows anymore on this day, it does throw us a bone in the form of this alternate collect which the priest may use, which makes reference to the Mother of God in Her contemplation of the Passion. I even displaced the collect of poor Saint Cyril of Jerusalem to make way for it.
The Seven Sorrows—or Dolors—of our Lady are all taken from Holy Scripture: the prophecy of Simeon from Luke 2, the flight into Egypt from Matthew 2, the loss of the Child Jesus in the temple from Luke 3, the meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross, the crucifixion, the taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross, and the burial of our Lord. The good Saint Bridget, who spread this devotion, informs us that there are also seven graces the Mother of God promises to those who meditate on Her Seven Sorrows: peace in their family life, understanding of Divine mysteries, consolation in their sufferings, easier abandonment to the holy Will of God, defense against the assaults of the Devil, help at the moment of death, and a special advocacy when standing before the throne of judgment.
As you can see, the Seven Dolors bear close resemblance to the Stations of the Cross;—a few of them are the same—and, because today is the last day this Lent that we will be praying the Stations, by popular demand—because you seem to like them so much—we will be using the meditations on the Stations composed by Saint José María Escrivá. And take notice—if you didn't notice it before—that our Lady is, more or less, present in some way in every one of those meditations, not just because of Msgr. Escrivá's profound love for the Mother of God, but because She is there with Her Son in every step He takes up Calvary, just as we should be.
Inasmuch as tomorrow is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Passion Week comes to a close today, with Holy Week beginning on Sunday; so, we can use this day, the traditional commemoration of our Lady of Sorrows, to see our Blessed Mother as the chief example of how to process the Passion of our Lord in our prayers, with the hope—as the words of today's collect pray—that “in contemplating the Passion of Christ, … through Her intercession … we may cling more firmly each day to Your only Begotten Son and come at last to the fullness of His grace.”
* The Roman Missal Third Edition designates this day "Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent." Cf. the post here for an explanation of how the days of Lent are identified on this site.
** Saint Cyril's commemoration is always observed on March 18th; Our Lady of Sorrows always on Passion Friday. Both commemorations are observed at Lauds, and with two additional collects at Holy Mass.
In point of fact, the Seven Sorrows of Mary are commemorated liturgically three times in the extraordinary form: on the Friday of Passion Week, on March 28th, and again on September 15th.
*** In the Byzantine Tradition—as in most Eastern Christian traditions, both Orthodox and Catholic—the Eucharist is not celebrated on the weekdays of the Great Fast. In some traditions, the faithful are expected to fast from the Blessed Eucharist during this time, abstaining from Holy Communion except on Saturdays and Sundays.
In other traditions, including the Ruthenian recension, Holy Communion may be distributed to the faithful daily provided that the Divine Liturgy is not celebrated. On Wednesday and Friday evenings, the Divine Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts is celebrated, consisting of a form of Solemn Vespers coupled with a Communion Service in which the Eucharist confected on the previous Sunday may be received by the faithful. On the other weekdays, another service—usually the Sixth Hour of the Divine Office or a simpler service called "Typica"—may be celebrated at which Holy Communion may also be offered to the faithful. Notice that the readings for these services do not include a Gospel lesson; a Gospel would only be sung on significant Holy Days or during the Presanctified Liturgies of Holy and Great Week.