Mater Dolorosa: Mary Leads Us to Her Son
April 9th Readings Reflection: Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Traditionally, this week before Holy Week is called Passion Week. The Church covers paintings and statues with purple cloths, not to be unveiled until the Solemn Easter Vigil liturgy. During this week, as well as next week, the Gospel readings bring us closer and closer to Jesus’ Passion and death. All of this is intended to help the faithful draw ever closer to Jesus in His Passion, spiritually walking alongside Him on the road to Calvary.
Yet through this all, it is important to remember the one who walked alongside Him physically during this time, who shared His sorrows more intimately than any other person — the Virgin Mary, His Mother. Traditionally, the Friday before Palm Sunday — that is, yesterday — is the first feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the second is September 15). On this first feast, the Church commemorates Mary’s compassion, through which she shared so intimately in Christ’s Passion.
The first line in today’s Gospel mentions Mary by name. St. John says:
“Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in [H]im.”
The Jews came to Mary, seeking to learn more about Jesus, and she did for them what she continues to do for all the faithful who turn to her: she led them to her Son. It is for this reason that the Church so strongly encourages the faithful to have a strong devotion to Mary; she is the means through which God desires men to attain salvation.
We know from Scripture and Tradition that Mary remained with Jesus through His entire Passion. She shared His sorrows and pain in her Immaculate Heart, pierced with swords as she saw her divine Son enduring the cruelest sufferings to redeem mankind.
In this upcoming Holy Week, let us turn to Mary and ask her to let us walk with her spiritually along the road to Calvary. Let us ask her to allow us to experience the same holy sorrow and love she felt for her Son as she knelt beneath the Cross. May we thereby come to repent of our sinfulness and allow the love of Christ to fill our souls and draw us ever closer to Himself, through His Mother.
“Holy Mother, pierce me through, / In my heart each wound renew / Of my Savior crucified.” (From the 13th century hymn, “Stabat Mater.”)