|Old Habits Never Die: the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.
The Sixth Friday of Lent.*
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 the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and, the Commemoration of Saint John Danascene, Confessor & Doctor of the Church.
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.
... or, lessons from the proper:
• Judith 13: 22, 23-25.
• John 19: 25-27.
The Sixth Saturday of the Great Fast; and, the Feast of Our Venerable Mother Matrona of Thessalonica.
Lessons from the triodion, according to the typicon of the Byzantine-Ruthenian Rite:
[For the Presanctified...]
• Genesis 49: 33—50: 26.
• Proverbs 31: 8-31.
10:00 AM 3/27/2015 — I wasn't intending to preach a homily today, since we do have Stations of the Cross after Holy Mass and I didn't want to take up too much time, given that every moment in chapel these days is something of a cross in itself, given that we still have no heat; but, I do want to make some very brief remarks about today's commemoration on this Friday of Passion Week.
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.
You may have noticed, when you come into confession, you can see through the rather transparent screen that I've got my breviary with me, but it's not the breviary that most Catholic priests use; it's the Roman Breviary as revised by Pope Saint John XXIII. Pope John, 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 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.
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;—a few of them are the same—and, because today is the last day this Lent that we will be praying the Stations, as the Shrine is closed on Good Friday, I would like to do something different for them than what we usually do. We typically use the brief meditations on the Stations as composed by Saint Alphonsus Ligori, which are the ones with which most of us are familiar, but today I would like to deviate from that and pray with you the meditations as composed by another more recent saint, Saint Josemaría Escrivá, and I think you'll find them most insightful; they're certainly very emotional, as only the Spanish are wont to be. That's the reason I didn't put out the pamphlets for the Stations we usually use.
So, as Passion Week comes to a close today and tomorrow, 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 Sixth Friday of Lent is what the Missal refers to as "Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent." Cf. the note regarding the designation of days on this site, found here.
** The Gradual and Tract are non-Scriptural:
Gradual: "Thou art full of sorrow and of tears, O Virgin Mary, standing near the cross of the Lord Jesus, Thy Son, the redeemer. O Virgin Mother of God, He whom the whole world doth not contain, beareth this torment of the cross, the Author of life made man."
Tract: "Holy Mary, the Queen of heaven and mistress of the world, stood by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, full of sorrows. O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow."