Commemoration of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Did you know that tomorrow, Friday in the Fifth Week of Lent (Passiontide), is the Commemoration of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin Mary? The 2002 edition of the Missale Romanum restored this most fitting commemoration to the Roman liturgy.
To this end, a new Collect was composed:
O God, who during this time graciously grant to your Church devoutly to imitate blessed Mary in contemplation of the Passion of Christ, grant us, we pray, through the intercession of the same Virgin, to cling each day more firmly to your Only-Begotten Son,and to come at length to the fullness of his grace. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.
The Roman Missal of 2002 also added to the chants of the Good Friday adoration of the Cross, the well-known sequence, Stabat Mater, thus marking in another way the presence of the sorrowful Mother close to that of her suffering Son.
These two commemorations of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin, the first on the Friday Within the Fifth Week of Lent, and the second, a week later, on Good Friday, invite us to stand by the Cross of Jesus with Mary his Mother, whose soul a sword of sorrow has pierced.
In our General Intercessions at Holy Mass, mindful of the "widowed Church" of Mosul in Iraq, we will pray:
That the Holy Catholic Church in Iraq,
suffering and crucified with her Lord and Bridegroom,
may take comfort in the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
and find in her all-powerful intercession a source of perpetual help,
let us entreat the Lord. R. Look upon us, and have mercy.
The most famous image of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the miraculous icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, also known as the Virgin of the Passion. Be sure to visit Father Scott Bailey's Mother of Perpetual Help website. Look for three characteristics in the icon of the Virgin of the Passion:
1) The depiction of the instruments of Our Lord's Passion, the Lance and the Sponge, the Cross and the Nails, carried by the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel.
2) The movement of the Child Jesus who gazes towards the instruments of His Passion, and seeks comfort in the arms of His Most Holy Mother. The sole of one of His feet is exposed, His sandal having fallen loose as He hastened to His Mother. The sandal hangs by its laces from His foot.
3) The Mother of God gazes out of the icon into what lies beyond it. She contemplates not only the sufferings of her Infant Son, but also the sufferings of the members of His Mystical Body. The compassion in her eyes is directed to all who, according to the word of her Crucified Son, became her children on Calvary. "Woman, behold thy son" (Jn 19:26).