Holy Week as a Reminder of Mary

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Hymns to Mary

Half a gazillion years ago, which is defined as half a century give or take a decade or two, my primary education was at a parochial school in Groton, Massachusetts.

Each morning, weather permitting, during the months of May and October, the student body processed out to a grotto which contained a glorious statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Each morning, we would pray the rosary and then sing one or two Marian hymns before returning to the classroom.  While there were always several hymns from which to choose, my favorite was “Queen of the May”.

After the primary school, came parochial secondary, then college, then marriage, and life, and, and. During all that time, the song was not heard again, that I can recall.

What Has This to Do With Holy Week?

For the three years of his ministry, Christ Jesus kept telling the group of twelve around him that ( paraphrasing ever so slightly ), “Look, I’m telling you I am going to suffer and die, and it ain’t gonna be pretty, but, it has to happen.”

Each year, during Lent, the Church reads the Gospel of John and we reflect upon the events leading up to his arrest, trial, punishment, and crucifixion.  We, some 2,000 years after the events, know what Christ Jesus was about to do, and we reflect upon it.  Perhaps as a result of my childhood exposure to what has become a long-held devotion to Mary, I tend to see Holy Week more from her perspective as his mother.

The Seven Sorrows rosary ( which has seven clusters of seven beads ) spends the bulk of its meditations on the Crucifixion and subsequent events, which we get to experience from Mary’s perspective.

This sharing of Mary’s perspective was brought home to me most dramatically several years ago when I first saw the Mel Gibson film dealing with the Passion.  My pains get revisited with each time I view the film.

One of the most dramatic and terrible scenes, when viewed from Mary’s perspective, happened during the scourging.  Watching Mary’s pain as the tips of the whips of the Roman soldiers dug into Christ’s flesh and then ripped out pieces of his back, arms and legs with each lashing was palpable. It is my view that the other scenes in which we get to see Mary’s pain were also dark and moving, but, not nearly as painful to watch ( for me ).

After the film, after the rolling of the credits, after the lights came up, my wife and I were finally able to get up and leave the theater in pain filled silence.  The ride home was quiet and the only sound that could be heard in the car was a Catholic radio station which was playing a variety of songs.

When we got home, I told my wife I needed to go to the store for something or other.  It makes no difference what I needed, what I wanted was a few additional moments of meditation on Mary and her pain. It was at this time Mary made her presence known to me.

How Do You Know This?

As I pulled into the store parking lot, the radio station to which I had not been paying any attention, began to play…

How dark without Mary Life’s journey would be.

O Virgin most tender, Our homage we render,

Thy love and protection, Sweet Mother, to win;

In danger defend us, In sorrow befriend us,

And shield our hearts From contagion and sin.

Of Mothers the dearest, Oh, wilt thou be nearest,

When Is life with temptation darkly replete?

Forsake us, O never! Our hearts be they ever

As Pure as the lilies, We lay at thy feet.

O, Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,

Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May,

O, Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,

Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.

Coincidence?

I find it to be well beyond coincidence that half a gazillion years after it was last heard, that a radio station would decide to play this particular song at this particular time.

I took the song to be an assurance from Mary, that she had made it, she was O.K., and not to be overly concerned. After this event, I spent some time in locating a copy of the song which was of sufficient power and beauty to be worthy of Mary. I play the song at each Marian holy day, feast or event. Each time I play the song, I am returned to a place of warmth, comfort, and peace. I am in a small, sunlit grotto, early in the morning, in front of a statue of the Blessed Virgin.

 

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