She faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross: Solemn Commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

She faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross: Solemn Commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Jerusalem, Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, 30 March, 2012

On the morning of the 30th of March at 8:00 solar time, which is used in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, the Franciscan community of the Custody of the Holy Land celebrated the solemnity of the Septem Dolorum Beatae Mariae Virginis (the seven sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary) at the altar of Our Lady of Sorrows which, at Calvary, separates the Greek Orthodox chapel and the Latin Chapel of the Crucifixion. Here, the evocative half-length image of Mary with her heart pierced by a sword fulfills the words directed to her by the aged Simeon at the presentation of Jesus in the temple: "And you yourself, a sword will pierce your soul" (Lk 2:35).

Following the liturgical schedule, the Custodial Vicar, Brother Artemio Vitores, was the principal concelebrant at the Solemn Mass preceded by Morning Prayer. Alongside him, Brother Fergus Clarke, guardian of the Holy Sepulchre, and Brother Noel Muscat, member of the Discretorium of the Holy Land concelebrated. The Franciscan family turned out in large numbers for this celebration that places us definitively in the climate of the dramatic events of Jesus' Passion, now only a few days away, in which Mary his Mother deeply and intimately took part. Also present at this important occasion were many male and female religious from various Holy Land congregations, numerous faithful from the local Christian community, and numerous pilgrims from different places who early every morning throng to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre to visit and discover it with devotion, interest and expectation.

In the liturgy, the reading from the book of the prophet Baruch (4:5-12, 27-29, 36-37) speaks of the lamentation and the hope of Jerusalem, presented as a mother who "fostered her children with joy", but now "with mourning and lament lets them go", seeing them led into slavery for their sins, for having deviated from the law of God. For this reason Jerusalem laments, "God sent me a great sorrow". But suffering does not have the last word: Jerusalem exhorts her sons to turn to God, to seek him again, "for he who has brought disaster upon you will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy." The passage from the Gospel of Saint John (19:25-27), before which the assembly chanted the Stabat Mater, takes up one of the dramatic moments of Mary at the foot of the cross: united to her Son's Passion, rent with pain, yet strong with faith and trusting abandonment to God. And on Mary's unshakable willingness to give her life to God was founded her vocation to spiritual maternity, proclaimed by Jesus on the cross in view of all believers, represented by the disciple he loved. John brought Mary into his home, the unique communion of the Church of Christ.

In the conciliar document Lumen Gentium, we read that Mary "faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, (294) 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." In his encyclical Redemptoris Mater, Pope John Paul II wrote: "Through this faith Mary is perfectly united with Christ in his self- emptying. For "Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men": precisely on Golgotha "humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross".(Phil2:5). At the foot of the Cross Mary shares through faith in the shocking mystery of this self- emptying. This is perhaps the deepest "kenosis" of faith in human history. Through faith the Mother shares in the death of her Son, in his redeeming death".

Testo di Caterina Foppa Pedretti
Foto di Doni Ferrari