“Mondays with Mary” – Holy Week with the Mater Dolorosa

Yesterday, beginning with Palm Sunday, the Catholic Church entered Holy Week also known as the Great Week. In my personal opinion, these are the best days in the entire liturgical cycle because we celebrate the High Holy Days of Catholicism.

Holy Week begins with the great imagery of palms and olive branches, which were symbolic for victory and triumphant in the ancient world. We also witness Jesus riding a colt into Jerusalem, just as Solomon rode David’s mule into Jerusalem centuries before declaring him as king. We now see the New Davidic King, Jesus Christ, enter to the words – “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our Father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mk 11:9-10; cf. Ps 118:26).

As we begin this week of suffering with Our Lord, I want you to remember the one person who was there with him, most united with him, and always prepared to lead us closer to him, yes, even into his suffering – the person is of course the Blessed Virgin Mary. As the Mater Dolorosa, the Sorrowful Mother, Mary leads us into a more complete union with Jesus, not only during the joyful and blessed times of our lives, but also during the times of suffering and pain. During this week, as we walk with Our Lord to Calvary, we must keep in mind that we also walk with Our Mother.

Mary’s role is so important during the week of Holy Week that in the Roman Missal and Calendar prior to 1970, the Church commemorated the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Friday preceding Palm Sunday. Today, this commemoration is still celebrated in Catholic parishes where the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite is celebrated as well as in the Anglican Ordinariate parishes. This special day is a day where we remember what the Mother of God witnessed and underwent as she watched her Son brutally tortured and executed.

To better prepare for this Holy Week with the Mater Dolorosa, I encourage you to read and pray with the Seven Sorrows (Dolors) of Mary. Often prayed as part of the Mater Dolorosa Rosary, these seven sorrows will lead us into the suffering Our Lady endured not only during Holy Week, but also in the childhood of Jesus.

The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady are the following:

1. The Prophecy of Holy Simeon

2. The Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt

3. The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple

4. The Encounter of Jesus with His Blessed Mother as He Carries the Cross

5. The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Mary at the Foot of the Cross

6. The Descent from the Cross, and Jesus in the Arms of His Most Blessed Mother

7. The Burial of Our Lord, and the Loneliness of the Blessed Virgin

Mater Dolorosa…Pray for Us. 

A Whole Lot of Writings on Our Lady of Sorrows

Today in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, we celebrate the Marian memorial known as Our Lady of Sorrows. This traditional devotion, which helps us understand Mary’s role in the suffering of Our Lord Jesus Christ, began in 1814 by Pope Pius VII. Many of the Church Fathers and other saints wrote on how Mary is united with Christ in his suffering and how we are to suffer with Christ as well. In this Apostolic Letter, Salvific Doloris, Pope St. John Paul II said,

“Suffering is also an invitation to manifest the moral greatness of man, his spiritual maturity. Proof of this has been given, down through the generations, by the martyrs and confessors of Christ, faithful to the words: “And do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.”

If you don’t know or haven’t realized it yet, suffering is very much a part of the Christian lifestyle, and although following Christ brings us happiness and joy, suffering is something that we all must learn to embrace. We are reminded of this every time we walk into a Catholic Church and see the crucifix in the sanctuary. As she is in all things that pertain to the Christian faith, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the perfect example for us when it comes to suffering. Although she was free of all sin because of her Immaculate Conception, she still had to endure great pains and great suffering as she watched Her Son and Our Lord suffer to and on the cross.

Our Lady of Sorrows by Carlo Dolci

Our Lady of Sorrows by Carlo Dolci

So for today’s blog post on the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, here are the many blog posts I have written in the past that speak about the Blessed Mother as the Mother of Sorrows –

1. “Mondays with Mary” – 7 Quotes by Pope St. John Paul II on Our Lady of Sorrows

2. “Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of Sorrows 

3. “Mondays with Mary” – Marian Reflections from St. Alphonsus Ligouri

4. “Mondays with Mary” – The Burial of Our Lord, and the Loneliness of the Blessed Virgin

5. “Mondays with Mary” – The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Mary at the Foot of the Cross

6. “Mondays with Mary” – The Suffering of Mother Mary

7. “Mondays with Mary” – Jesus, Mary, and the Cross

8. “Mondays with Mary” – Mary Under the Cross

9. “Mondays with Mary” – The Method of Praying the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa

10. “Mondays with Mary” – Pope St. John Paul II on the Suffering of Mary 

11. “Mondays with Mary” – The Prophecy of Holy Simeon

12. “Mondays with Mary” – Litany of the Mater Dolorosa

Our Lady of Sorrows…Pray for Us. 

 

“Mondays with Mary” – The Burial of Our Lord, and the Loneliness of the Blessed Virgin

Today, we conclude the seven-week examination of The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady. For the past six weeks, I have focused on explaining these sorrows, which are meditated upon in the Mater Dolorosa Rosary. For today’s “Mondays with Mary”, we are going to focus our attention on the last sorrow – The Burial of Our Lord, and the Loneliness of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Burial of Our Lord or Jesus is laid in the Sepulcher is traditionally prayed as the Fourteenth Station of the Cross.

The Burial of Jesus Christ is written in all four Gospel accounts with each evangelist explaining his own account of what occurred. The one thing that stands out in all four accounts is the mention of Joseph of Arimathea. I spoke about Joseph of Arimathea in last week’s post, but essentially he was a righteous and virtuous man who was for the most part a silent follower of Jesus since he was a member of the Sanhedrin, a group that disliked Jesus and his teachings. However, at the death of Jesus, Joseph, along with Nicodemus (Jn 3:1-21,19:39) finds the courage to boldly ask for the body of Jesus to have him buried.

After confirming that Jesus died (Mk 15:44-45), Pilate then proceeded to give the body to Joseph. Our Lord Jesus Christ was buried in a tomb that is believed to have been a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, and a tomb that no one again was laid. St. Augustine says in In Ioannis Evangelium, “just as in the womb of the Virgin Mary none was conceived before him, none after him, so in this tomb none before him, none was buried after him.”

The Entombment of Christ - Caravaggio

The Entombment of Christ – Caravaggio

It’s believed that wealthy Jews had graves on their own properties meant for them and their families. Tombs in the early centuries were carved out of rock. The average tomb composed of a small vestibule in the front half of the tomb and the inner part of the tomb, or the vault, had a variety of etches carved in the walls where the bodies were laid.

In the case of Jesus Christ, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke speak about how the women were witnesses to the burial. As she was with him as he walked to Calvary, and as she stood at the Cross and watched him die, more than likely the Blessed Virgin Mary was a member of the group of women that watched Jesus be laid to rest in the tomb.

Although the Sacred Scriptures don’t speak of Mary’s loneliness after the burial of Jesus, the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in some countries that speak Spanish is known as Nuestra Senora de la Soledad or Our Lady of Solitude. The devotion to Our Lady under this title was developed as she lay in wait beginning on Good Friday, continuing to Holy Saturday till the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.

Our Lady of Solitude - Philippines

Since Our Lady of Solitude is in mourning for the death of her Son, art often depicts Mary as wearing the traditional color of mourning, which is black. She is also kneeling before the tools of death that killed Jesus – the scourge, nails, hammer, rope, crown of thorns, spear, and the INRI sign placed above the head on the cross. There are angels that flank Mary separating the curtains to show Our Lady as the Sorrowful Mother.

Let us pray that we never look upon the Fourteenth Station of the Way of the Cross without remembering the sorrow and loneliness that the Blessed Virgin Mary endured for Jesus. Let us pray that when we pray the Stations of the Cross we too may come to know the loneliness of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Passion and Death through the witness of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt

For the next seven weeks, which began last Monday, we are going to focus on the Seven Sorrows of Mary, which are prayed and meditated upon in the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa. Last week we focused our attention on the first sorrow – The Prophecy of Holy Simeon. This week we continue our studies concentrating on the second sorrow, The Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt. To learn more about the Rosary and Litany, if you haven’t read my previous posts, I would highly encourage you to do so.

In the Gospel of St. Matthew, we read,

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

The Flight into Egypt by the Holy Family recounts the typological connections between Jesus and some of the Old Testament figures that also fled into Egypt. In the Book of Genesis, we see Jacob and his entire family flee into Egypt (46:1-7). In the Book of Exodus, we see the entire Israel nation; descendants of Jacob (also known as Israel) come from the land of Egypt (12:37). Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel and is considered the New Israel. With him, the new People of God come into being as the Church. Furthermore, we see the connection between Jesus and Moses, both were saved through God’s divine will as infants only to lead and establish the Lord’s people (Ex. 2:1-10).

the-flight-into-egypt-1650

At the command of God, Joseph, as head of the Holy Family and protector of their lives, takes the child and his mother and escapes the onslaught of what’s to come due to Herod’s fury (see Mt 2:16-18). During the New Testament centuries, there were large Jewish communities in the Egyptian colonies of Alexandria and Elephantine where Jesus, Mary, and Joseph could hide and feel protected from the hand of Herod.

To fulfill what the Lord had spoken in Hosea, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son “(11:1), St. Matthew anticipates that return of Jesus as the Son as the fulfillment of this scripture verse in two ways. First, Hosea should make us think back to the Book of Exodus when God calls Israel his “first-born son” (4:22). It is here where Israel is freed from the slavery under Pharaoh. Second, it brings us forward knowing that Jesus is the eternal first-born son (Rom 8:29) who is delivered from the tyrannical rule of Herod and comes out of Egypt to return to Israel.

Regarding the Flight into Egypt (and the Slaughtering of the Holy Innocents), The Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

“The flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents make manifest the opposition of darkness to the light: “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.” Christ’s whole life was lived under the sign of persecution. His own share it with him. Jesus’ departure from Egypt recalls the exodus and presents him as the definitive liberator of God’s people” (#530).

As we continue our examination of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, let us pray for the intercession of the Holy Family that we may have the strength and courage to stand against all those who seek to destroy our lives as faithful Catholic Christians. Let us also ask for the intercession of St. Joseph, who was the Protector of the Child Jesus and Mary and is the Protector of the Holy Catholic Church.

“Mondays with Mary” – Litany of the Mater Dolorosa

Last week’s “Mondays with Mary” focused on The Method of Praying the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa. I took the time to explain the history of the rosary to you a bit as well as the traditions of it throughout the course of Church history. Along with the history, I also provided you the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady. It is the Seven Sorrows that should be prayed using the Seven Sorrows Rosary. To purchase a rosary, I have provided up-to-date links for you.

For this week, I provide you with the Litany of the Mater Dolorosa. After reciting the rosary, this litany should be recited connecting the two.

If you didn’t get the chance to read last week’s “Mondays with Mary”, I would encourage you to read that one first and then come back to read/pray the Litany of the Mater Dolorosa. In a sense, this is part two of last week’s blog post.

Pieta by William Adolphe Bouguereau  (1876).

Pieta by William Adolphe Bouguereau (1876).

Lord , have mercy…Lord , have mercy 

Christ, have mercy…Christ have mercy

 Lord have mercy…Lord have mercy

Christ hear us…Christ hear us,

Christ graciously hear us…Christ graciously hear us,

God the Father of heaven…Have mercy on us

God the Son, Redeemer of the world…Have mercy on us

God the Holy Spirit…Have mercy on us

Holy Trinity, one God…Have mercy on us

Holy Mary,

Pray for us (repeat for all)

Holy Mother of God,

Holy Virgin of virgins,

Crucified Mother,

Sorrowful Mother,

Mournful Mother,

Afflicted Mother,

Forsaken Mother,

Desolate Mother,

Mother bereaved of thy Son,

Mother pierced by a sword,

Mother overwhelmed by grief,

Mother filled with anguish,

Mother crucified in thy heart,

Mother most sad,

Fount of tears,

Mass of suffering,

Mirror of patience,

Rock of constancy,

Anchor of confidence,

Refuge of the abandoned,

Shield of the oppressed,

Conqueror of the incredulous,

Solace of the wretched,

Medicine of the sick,

Haven of the shipwrecked,

Calmer of tempests,

Recourse of the needy,

Terror of the treacherous,

Inspiration of the Prophets,

Treasure of the Faithful,

Staff of the Apostles,

Crown of Martyrs,

Light of Confessors,

Pearl of Virgins,

Comfort of Widows,

Joy of all Saints,

V. Lamb of God , who takest away the sins of the world, R. Spare us, O Lord

V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, R. Graciously hear us, O Lord.

V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, R. Have mercy on us.

Let us pray,

O God, in whose Passion, according to the prophesy of Simeon , a sword of grief pierced through the sweet soul of Thy glorious Virgin Mother Mary: grant that we, who celebrate the memory of her Sorrows, may obtain the happy effect of Thy Passion. Who livest and reignest, world without end.

R. Amen 

“Mondays with Mary” – The Method of Praying the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa

Over this past weekend, I experienced for my first time a silent retreat focused on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola led by Miles Christi. The retreat came at the perfect time, which has renewed and reformed my prayer life. It also gave me some rather excellent insights and resolutions on how to minister to the parish.

As I viewed the retreat schedule on Saturday morning, I noticed that there was a Rosary set for a particular time, but it was something I had never heard of before – the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa. I knew that Mater Dolorosa meant Sorrowful Mother, but I never heard of this rosary nor had I prayed it before. I should note that Miles Christi has a particular devotion to Mary under this title and considers her one of their Heavenly Guardians.

The devotion to the Mother of Sorrows has its origins in the beginning of the Church. At the foot of the cross, we see St. John the Apostle with Mary in Sorrow as she weeps for the death of her Son on the cross.

It was always part of the traditions of the Church, however, it was on Good Friday 1239 where Our Lady appeared to the founder of the Order of Servites and requested that a religious community be founded upon this devotion. Their lives should be of prayer and penance. The first seven men all had dynamic devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On request of Our Lady, the seven men of the Servites began to meditate on the seven sorrowful accounts of Our Lady’s life in relation to Jesus Christ’s Passion and Death. It is here where the Chaplet (or Little Rosary) of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary developed.

Countless saints and Doctors of the Church have praised this Rosary, among them St. Albert the Great, St. Bridget, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and St. Alphonsus Ligouri. In 1724, Pope Benedict XIII, promulgated and fortified the practice of this devotion when he conferred many indulgences when this rosary is recited by the faithful.

Our Lady of Sorrows.Carlo Dolci

The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady are the following:

1. The Prophecy of Holy Simeon

2. The Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt

3. The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple

4. The Encounter of Jesus with His Blessed Mother as He Carries the Cross

5. The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ and Mary at the Foot of the Cross

6. The Descent from the Cross, and Jesus in the Arms of His Most Blessed Mother

7. The Burial of Our Lord, and the Loneliness of the Blessed Virgin

The Method of Praying the Rosary of the Mater Dolorosa –

V. In the name of the Father…I believe in God… R. I believe in the Holy Spirit…

V. Our Father… R. Give us this day…

V. Hail Mary… R. Holy Mary… (Recited 3 times)

V. Glory be to the Father… R. As it was…

Today we will meditate on the Sorrows of our Lady.

In the first sorrow let us contemplate The Prophecy of Holy Simeon.

V. Our Father… R. Give us this day…

V. Hail Mary… R. Holy Mary… (Recited 7 times)

V. Glory be to the Father… R. As it was…

Fatima Prayer: O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy!

In the second sorrow let us contemplate…

At the end of the seventh sorrow say:

Let us pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, in order to obtain the holy indulgences (Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be)

V. Hail Holy Queen… R. Mother of Mercy…

The Holy See has granted to the members and to all the faithful in some way linked to Miles Christi, the same indulgences granted to the standard Rosary (Loreto).

The Litany of the Mater Dolorosa may be recited at the end of the Rosary.

This Rosary may be prayed on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

There are rosary beads that accompany this prayer, but at this time I can’t locate any online. If you know where we can purchase them, let me know in the comment box and I will update this blog post.

Update: Here are a two sites you can purchase the Mater Dolorosa Rosary. Thank you to my readers who suggested these sites. Immaculee’s Website and Gifts Catholic Inc.

Update #2: One of our awesome parishioners, and also a friend of mine, dropped off a Seven Sorrows Rosary to me at the parish office. Thank you Maggie!

Our Mother of Sorrows…Pray For Us.

Sources:

Prayers. Miles Christi, 2013. Third Edition.

The Devotion of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fatima.org.