“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. 

“The Great Week”, Part III

As Jesus lies in the tomb, we come to my favorite part of the Sacred Triduum – The Easter Vigil. The Easter Vigil is the Mass where the new Catholic converts are welcomed into the Catholic Church. As the Sacred Liturgy begins, there is the Blessing of the Fire and the Preparation of the Candle. After the candle is prepared, the Easter Proclamation is recited. During the Liturgy of the Word, we hear the seven Old Testament readings of Salvation History accompanied with seven Psalms in response, an epistle from Paul, and then the Gospel Reading. For those of us that love the Scriptures and Salvation History, this Mass is by far the best set of readings for the entire year.

After the homily is given, the Baptismal Liturgy begins which includes the Litany of the Saints, the blessing of the baptismal water, the rite of baptism (Catechumens come forward with their Sponsors), and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises by the faithful. If you never seen an adult baptized, I encourage you to attend the Vigil. It’s a moving experience!

Once everyone is baptized and has received the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins and Mass continues and concludes as normal. The Catechumens for the first time receive Jesus Christ – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. As the Easter Vigil comes to a close, the Church finds herself in the Easter Season looking 40 days ahead to the Ascension of Our Lord and 50 days to the Great Feast of Pentecost.

On Easter Sunday, we celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection over sin and death. We cannot have the Resurrection without the Crucifixion. The Paschal Mystery – Passion, Death, and Resurrection is now complete. Jesus Christ has Risen from the Dead!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1169 states, “Therefore Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the “Feast of feasts,” the “Solemnity of solemnities,” just as the Eucharist is the “Sacrament of sacraments” (the Great Sacrament). St. Athanasius calls Easter “the Great Sunday” and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week “the Great Week.” The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him.”

If there are any converts that read this blog, please share with us your conversion story and the night you were received into the Catholic Church. In the modern era of the Church, the converts are brining life back to the Church. I know so many converts and some taught me Catholic theology in graduate school.

Holy Sepulchre – The Tomb of Jesus