Calvary is still quiet on the morning of Friday, March 18. Br. Rodrigo checks on the details of the celebration with four other seminarians: where to go, where to put the cross after the procession … Celebrating the liturgy in the Holy Sepulcher is only possible thanks to very careful organization that is respectful of the Status Quo. The Franciscans have not yet arrived, the pilgrims are few, and the religious who have come to attend the celebration are silently praying.
The solemnity of Our Lady of Sorrows, also known as Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, is celebrated at the Holy Sepulcher at the Latin altar of the Sorrowful Virgin with the Pierced Heart. This is the altar between the Latin site of the Crucifixion and the Orthodox site of the Elevation of the Cross. In a reliquary, one can see a statue of the Virgin mourning Her Son’s death. The recent restoration of the mosaics on the ceiling and on the walls has led to their rediscovery. This is where the gathering took place, facing the scene of the Crucifixion and the statue of Mary, who is in tears next to the Cross.
The mass was presided over by the Custodial Vicar, Br. Dobromir Jasztal, as is required by Franciscan tradition. “What characterized Mary was her faith and her courage to face the responsibility and the suffering that accompanied her Son’s mission. Through suffering, God strengthened her humble and faithful heart so that it could become a refuge and an inspiration for Christians in the midst of trials or persecution.” Citing Jesus’ words: “‘Woman, behold your son Behold your mother,’” Br. Dobromir insisted: “it is the gift that each of us receives when we stand at the foot of Christ’s Cross. Our sufferings, united to the Cross and Our Lady of Sorrows, can only strengthen our faith, our courage and our obedience to the Word of God. And above all, they make us witnesses of the kingdom of justice, love and peace for all.”
This is only the beginning of the Easter celebrations. The joy of Palm Sunday approaches, but already we can join in Mary’s suffering during Her Son’s Passion.
The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary:
The prophecy of Simeon about the infant Jesus. (Luke 2: 34-35)
The flight of the Holy Family in Egypt. (Matthew 2: 13-21)
The disappearance of Jesus in the temple for three days. (Luke 2: 41-51)
The meeting of Mary and Jesus on the Via Crucis. (Luke 23, 27-31)
Mary contemplating the suffering and death of Jesus on the Cross. (John 19: 25-27)
Mary holds her dead Son in her arms during the Descent from the Cross. (Matthew 27: 57-59)
Mary leaves the body of Her Son during the burial. (John 19: 40-42)