Weekly Features: Week of March 30, 2015

By Ann Zlotnik

Features for Holy Week, the week of March 30, 2015.

Season of Lent

The Three Easter Days

Passion Plays

Passion Poetry

The Sorrowful Mysteries

Mary and Animals

March Commemorations

April Commemorations

 Lenten Resources

The commentary in the Sacramentary of the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the votive Mass, "Holy Mary, Disciple of the Lord," says about Lent:

Lent is a "journey" for the faithful, during which they "more diligently listen to the word of God and devote themselves to prayer with greater earnestness" (SC 109}, and during which they are ready to bear the cross with greater zeal, so that with minds and hearts renewed they may reach a more worthy celebration of the Easter festival. In this way they show themselves true disciples of Christ, hearing his words and seeking to make them their own (see Luke 8:15), following in his footsteps in self-denial (see Matthew 16:24), and striving to stand by his cross in faithful witness (see John 19:26).

The Blessed Virgin Mary was such a disciple. One of the prefaces in the Marian Mass, "The Commending of the Blessed Virgin Mary," sums up the Marian outlook for Lent:

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks.

At the foot of the cross of Jesus,
by his solemn and dying wish,
a deep bond of love is fashioned 
between the Blessed Virgin Mary 
and his faithful disciples:
the Mother of God is entrusted to the disciples 
as their own mother,
and they receive her 
as a precious inheritance from their Master.

She is to be for ever 
the mother of those who believe,
and they will look to her 
with great confidence in her unfailing protection.
She loves her Son in loving her children,
and in heeding what she says 
they keep the words of their Master.

Through him the angels of heaven 
offer their prayer of adoration 
as they rejoice in your presence for ever.
May our voice be one with theirs 
in their triumphant hymn of praise.
(Preface 13)

The Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Masses are arranged according to the divisions of the liturgical year. There are five votive Masses for Lent.

Holy Mary, Disciple of the Lord
The Blessed Virgin Mary at the Foot of the Cross, I
The Blessed Virgin Mary at the Foot of the Cross, II
The Commending of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Reconciliation

HAP Grieshaber's Polish Stations of the Cross
The stations are accompanied by reflections from Rev. Johann G. Roten, SM.

Poetry for Lent

"Mother of Sorrows," "She Shall Crush Thy Head," "Communion of Reparation (for Our Lady of Sorrows)," "To the Sorrowing and Immaculate Heart," "Lady Most Pitiful," "The Passion," and many more...

Poetry for Passiontide:

This poetry section concentrates on the final days of the Lenten season.udayton.edu/mary/resources/poetry/passp.html

Thomas Merton's, "Evening: Zero Weather" - Written in 1947

Here in the zero days before Lent -
(We are already binding up our sheaves of harvest
Beating the lazy liturgy, going up with exultation
Even on the eve of our Ash Wednesday...)

The Rosary

The Sorrowful Mysteries, to be said on Tuesdays and Fridays, as well as Sundays during Lent.

Marian Music Collection – Lent

For the season of Lent see a selection of chant, traditional, contemporary, ecumenical, and art songs at udayton.edu/mary/resources/music/mus_words/lent.htm

Marian Antiphon for Lent

Ave Regina Caelorum – Marian Antiphon for the Time After the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and Lent. 

Akathistos of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God

Sung on the fourth Sunday of Great Lent in the Eastern Rite Church. The article contains a link to the Akathistos in English.



Easter, the greatest solemnity of the Christian liturgy, is celebrated step by step on three great days, a triduum, as they are called. These three great days, from Holy Thursday evening, through Good Friday, until vespers [later afternoon or evening prayer] on Easter Sunday, the Church commemorates the Paschal Mysteries, that is, the passion, death, and resurrection of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

At the second Vatican Council, the first document to include a statement on Mary, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, states:

In celebrating this annual cycle of Christ's mysteries, holy Church honors with especial love the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, who is joined by an inseparable bond to the saving work of her Son. In her the Church holds up and admires the most excellent fruit of redemption, and joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless image, that which she herself desires and hopes wholly to be [SC103].

Not only was Mary present at the Crucifixion, the Church teaches that she was and continues to be "joined by an inseparable bond to the saving work of her Son." Mary herself is "the most excellent fruit of redemption."

The Constitution on the Church from Vatican II also describes Mary's place in the Easter mysteries:

He [Jesus Christ] declared blessed those who heard and kept the word of God, as she was faithfully doing. After this manner, the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, grieving exceedingly with her only begotten Son, uniting herself with a maternal heart with His sacrifice, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth [LG 58].
Later in the Constitution, the Church teaches:

She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ; she presented Him to the Father in the temple, and was united with Him by compassion as He died on the Cross. In this singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the work of the Savior in giving back the supernatural to souls [LG 61].
During the great Triduum, the liturgies of the Church — for example, the intercessions at vespers for Marian feasts — refer to Mary as one who is filled with joy because of the resurrection of her divine Son. The Marian antiphon sung during the Easter season, Regina Coeli, also celebrates her joy: "O Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia! For he whom you did merit to bear, alleluia! Has risen as he said, alleluia!"

Regarding the Paschal days, however, popular devotion stresses Mary's sorrow more than her joy, as can be found in countless versions of the Stations of the Cross and numerous images of the sorrowful mother and Pietà. Mary's place is stressed during the first part of the triduum, with apparently less note of Mary in connection with the resurrection. This would seem to be in accord with the fact that there is no mention of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in the gospel resurrection passages.

In keeping with this Marian note, according to Article 74 of the circular letter concerning the preparation and celebration of Easter [January 16, 1988], the Congregation for the Sacred Liturgy noted that Marian images such as the sorrowful mother, the Pietà, and other devotional images referring directly to the suffering of Christ and Mary's share in it, may be placed in churches on Holy Saturday.

The question arises, do we and may we incorporate our love for Mary in the great mystery of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? In order to answer that question, we need to prepare for its answer by looking into the traditions of the past, which incorporate Mary in the Easter mysteries.


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In the News: Posted March 28, 2015

Read recent items about Mary in both Catholic and secular news, as well as International Marian Research Institute news and updates.
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Weekly Features: Week of April 6, 2015

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