|Standing with Our Lady in the Shadow of the Cross (or, how many footnotes should a weekday homily have?).
The Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Lessons from the proper,* according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Hebrews 5: 7-9.
• Psalm 31: 2-6, 15-16, 20.
• Sequence: Stabat Mater dolorósa …
• John 19: 25-27; or, Luke 2: 33-35.
The Second Class Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and, the Commemoration of Saint Nicomedes, Martyr.
Lessons from the proper,** according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Judith 13: 22-25.
• Dolorosa et lacrimábilis …***
• Stabat sancta María cœli Regina…†
• Sequence: Stabat Mater dolorósa …
• John 19: 25-27.
If a Mass for the Martyr is offered,†† lessons from the common, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Wisdom 10: 10-14.
• Psalm 111: 1-2.
• Matthew 10: 34-42.
The Seventeenth Tuesday after Pentecost; a Post-Festive Day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross; the Feast of the Holy & Great Martyr Nicetas; and, the Feast of our Venerable Father Symeon, Archbishop of Thessalonica.
First & third lessons from the pentecostarion, second & fourth from the menaion,††† according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• Ephesians 2: 19—3: 7.
• II Timothy 2: 1-10.
• Mark 11: 11-23.
• Matthew 10: 16-22.
8:42 AM 9/15/2015 — Today's memorial, Our Lady of Sorrows, used to be—and still is in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite—the Second Class Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I'm not altogether sure how the commemoration is improved by making it non-specific, as devotion to the Seven Sorrows has a long history in the Church. While the feast wasn't placed on the Church's universal calendar until 1814 by Pope Pius VII, it was already being celebrated locally in many places for a long time as a liturgical outpouring of what was already a very popular devotion on the part of the faithful.
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 fourteen Stations the Cross; a few of them are the same. And it is not a coincidence that this observance follows directly after the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross; for, how can we contemplate the scene of the Crucifixion of our Blessed Lord without being conscious of our Mother and His as she weeps at the foot of the Holy Cross, and see our Blessed Mother as the chief example of how to process the Passion of our Lord in our prayers: with love, with resignation and with complete abandonment to the Divine Will? We can only do so with the hope—as we will pray in today's Post-Communion Prayer—“that, honoring how the Blessed Virgin Mary suffered with Her Son, we may contemplate, in the sufferings of Christ, what is lacking in ourselves.”‡
* Only the Gospel lesson, for which there are two options, is truly proper to this memorial; the first lesson and the psalm, while provided in the proper, may be replaced by the ferial readings.
** In the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Seven Sorrows of Mary are commemorated liturgically twice: once on the friday of Passion Week, and once today. The Masses on both days are practically identical, except for the addition of the Sequence today.
*** The Gradual is non-Scriptural: "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."
† The Tract is non-Scriptural: "Holy Mary, the Queen of heaven and Mistress of the world, stood by the cross of our Lord Jesus, full of sorrows. 'O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow' (Lam. 1: 12)."
†† The Mass for the Seven Sorrows must be offered. An additional Mass for the Martyr Nicomedes may be offered for a good reason, e.g., if the parish is named for him, but must be a Low Mass and must not be the only Mass of the day; otherwise, the commemoration of the Martyr is made only at Lauds.
††† The first & third lessons are for the feria, the second & fourth for the Martyr. There are no lessons for the Archbishop Symeon.
‡ This is my own translation, based on the Latin text. The translation of this prayer in the Roman Missal Third Edition is confusing, and seems to indicate, by the way the clauses are ordered, that there is something lacking in the sufferings of Christ.