The Friday before Palm Sunday is set aside as a time to recall and meditate on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s sorrows. The Friday of Sorrows is the day to remember Mary’s physical, mental, and spiritual pain upon seeing what was done to her Son.
I believe that the Reformation went too far in its reform of traditions surrounding Mary and her life. She was and is the mother of God, the Theotokos, the God-bearer, the one who brought Jesus into the world. Of all of the women of her time, God chose Mary for this honor. The Reformation has all but erased her role in all of this, and for that, I am sad.
As I wrote about just before Christmas, yes, Mary did know. Mary knew in her heart what was going to happen. She may not have known all of the details of the events of Holy Week, but she knew that her Son would eventually die. But the knowledge that death is coming does not make it any easier when it finally arrives.
In my work as a hospice chaplain, I deal with death and grief daily. The philosophy of hospice is to prepare the patient and the family for a good end. But all of the preparation in the world does not make it any easier when your loved one slips away to the other side.
Of all the images of Mary in art, and the one that shows her true sufferings is in the movie the Passion of the Christ. In that movie, we see Mary, from a distance watching all that is happening to her Son. She is present for his trial, for his whipping and beating, and yes, she is there for his crucifixion and death. She is present but cannot do anything to stop it. She, like Jesus, has consented to the will of God at that moment in her life.
As we prepare to follow Jesus during the coming days of Holy Week, let us not forget the one who gave him birth and the pain and sorrow she felt.
O LORD in whose Passion, according to the prophecy of Simeon, the sword of sorrow did pierce the most loving soul of thy glorious Virgin Mother Mary: mercifully grant that we, who devoutly call to mind the suffering whereby she was pierced, may, by the glorious merits and prayers of all the Saints who have stood beneath the Cross, obtain with gladness the benefits of thy Passion; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Collect for the Friday of Sorrows