THE SEASON OF LENT AND THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
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 forever
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.
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
The Commending of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Reconciliation
LENTEN MEDITATION 1
"and his mother kept all these
things in her heart." (Luke 2:51b)
the first of five Lenten meditations. These meditations take their orientation from the Sunday liturgies for Lent, from the five votive Masses in honor of Mary for the Lenten season, from Sacred Scripture, and from the devotional traditions that have evolved over the centuries which link Mary to the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Liturgical Readings of the Season
The Roman Catholic Church presents two covenant themes in its choice of Old Testament readings for the first two Sundays of Lent. The first is the story of Noah, "See I establish my Covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; also with every living creature to be found with you." (Genesis 9:8-9)
Noah believed God! He believed in the face of mockery, and in his belief he acted. His belief was not a passive waiting and a silent endurance. Instead, Noah built as he was instructed to do, and he activated his entire family to cooperate in this faith project.
The second Sunday of Lent tells the story of Abraham's great faith. His life had been one great journey of faith, but there was still one act of total abandonment asked of him for the sake of God's kingdom. Abraham was asked to surrender the child of the promise, the child whom he loved more than his own life. Abraham trusted. Abraham believed.
Because you have done this, because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you." (Genesis 22:17)
Abraham's faith also established an unbreakable covenant with God. Noah and his family, Abraham and Sarah believed in God, trusted God and proved their love for God by their day to day actions. The liturgy uses the stories of the Sacred Scriptures to tell us of the marvelous things God did in the past with those whom God chose, but the purpose of the liturgy is on-going, forever fresh. We are to be covenant keepers and followers in our time, as they were in their time. As the Psalms of these two liturgies tell us:
All Yahweh's paths are love and truth for those who keep his covenant and his decrees. (Psalm 25:10)
The close secret of Yahweh belongs to them who fear him, his covenant also to bring them knowledge. (Psalm 25:14)
Those who keep God's covenant and follow him will learn the knowledge of love and truth. The singer of the Psalm begs God:
Relieve the distress of my heart, free me from my sufferings. (Psalm 25:17)
Let innocence and integrity be my protection, since my hope is in you, Yahweh. (Psalm 25:21)
In the readings, we are led closer to Jesus Christ who is the answer to Noah, who teaches us active patience in our waiting for redemption. (1 Peter 18:22) Jesus is the Son who will be offered once and for all. Jesus is the Son that will be offered as the Lamb of sacrifice.
God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all ... Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? ... Nothing therefore can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled and worried... (Romans 8:31b-35)
Jesus Christ is the one like us in all things; he underwent temptation and lived the human life in all things except sin. (Mark 1:12-15) He is the Son, the Beloved, to whom we are to listen. (Mark 9:2-10)
The liturgy for the second Lenten Sunday gives yet another text for us to ponder:
Yahweh, I am your servant, your servant, son of a pious mother, you undo my fetters. (Psalm 116:16)
We do not know who the song writer is nor who his pious mother is, but our liturgical sense will link these texts to Jesus, and we may draw his mother into our reflections as well. We may ponder the Sacred Texts with Mary, as she surely did as a faithful daughter of Sion. In her sorrow at his passion and death, she may have found comfort in the Psalm that the liturgy applies to her beloved Son: