Contact Us

Our Lady In Lent

Our Lady in LentIn his General Audience on Ash Wednesday, March 5, 2014, Pope Francis highlighted the special protection and help of the Blessed Virgin for the journey of Lent:
“Let us give thanks to God for the mystery of his crucified love; authentic faith, conversion and openness of heart to the brethren: These are the essential elements for living the season of Lent. On this journey, we want to invoke with special trust the protection and help of the Virgin Mary: May she, who was the first to believe in Christ, accompany us in our days of intense prayer and penance, so that we might come to celebrate, purified and renewed in spirit, the great paschal mystery of her Son.”
These words of Pope Francis help us to appreciate one reason why Mary is the perfect companion for Lent: She is the model of the perfect disciple because she entrusted herself completely to God. At the Annunciation, Mary tells the angel: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). In 1974, Pope Paul VI taught that Mary is “worthy of imitation because she was the first and the most perfect of Christ’s disciples” (Marialis Cultus, No. 35).

Lent is a perfect time to renew our devotion to Mary as our spiritual mother who cares for us in the midst of challenges and difficulties. One of the oldest known prayers to Mary is called the Sub Tuum Praesidium (“Under Thy Protection”), which goes back to the third or fourth century. One translation of it reads:
We fly to Thy protection, O Holy Mother of God;
Despise not our petitions in our necessities,
but deliver us always from all dangers,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin. Amen

Let Mary be our guide this Lent.

In the Gospel of Luke, Simeon told Mary that her heart would be pierced so that “the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed” (Lk 2:35). This prophecy was fulfilled during Christ’s passion when Mary stood beneath the cross witnessing her Son’s crucifixion (Jn 19:25–27).

Vatican II tells us that Mary “faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, 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” (Lumen Gentium, No. 58).

Lent, along with the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, (15th September), is a special time for venerating Mary as our sorrowful mother.

This is done in the Stations of the Cross, which often includes the singing of verses from the medieval hymn, the Stabat Mater,

“At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.
Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
All his bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had pass’d.
Oh, how sad and sore distress’d
Was that mother highly blest
Of the sole-begotten One!”

The Seven Sorrows of Mary

As well as the traditional Stations of the Cross, there is another Lenten Marian devotion often called the Via Matris or Way of Mary.

The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2002, states that the Via Matris harmonises well “with certain themes that are proper to the Lenten season” (No. 137).

The devotion focuses on the seven sorrows (or dolours) of Mary,
which have a sure Scriptural foundation:

  1. The prophecy of Simeon (Lk 2:34–35);
  2. The flight into Egypt (Mt 2:13):
  3. The loss of Jesus in the Temple (Lk 2:43–45);
  4. The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the way to Calvary (Lk 23:27);
  5. The crucifixion of Jesus (Jn 19:25);
  6. The descent of Jesus from the cross (Mt 27: 57–59);
  7. The burial of Jesus (Jn 19: 40–42).

How to Pray the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of Mary

To pray this chaplet in memory of Our Lady’s Seven Sorrows, the custom is to pray the Our Father once, and then the Hail Mary seven times for each of the seven sorrows.

It is suggested when praying the chaplet to say an Act of Contrition at the very beginning, in recognition of the role our sins had in Our Lady’s sufferings.

At the very end, three Hail Marys should be prayed in honour of Our Lady’s tears followed by;

V/. Pray for us, Virgin most sorrowful.

R/. That we may be made worthy of the promises of CHRIST.

Let us pray.

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, that the most blessed Virgin Mary, thy Mother, may intercede for us before the throne of thy mercy, now and at the hour of our death, whose most holy soul was transfixed with the sword of sorrow in the hour of thine own Passion. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.