Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Marian character of the Lenten Season (2)

This second reflection is on the theme of Holy Mary, Disciple of the Lord, which is the title of one of the Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary intended for use during Lent.

The introduction to the Mass of Holy Mary, Disciple of the Lord refers to the following passage from Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus:

First, the Virgin Mary has always been proposed to the faithful by the Church as an example to be imitated, not precisely in the type of life she led, and much less for the socio-cultural background in which she lived and which today scarcely exists anywhere. She is held up as an example to the faithful rather for the way in which, in her own particular life, she fully and responsibly accepted the will of God (cf. Lk. 1:38), because she heard the word of God and acted on it, and because charity and a spirit of service were the driving force of her actions. She is worthy of imitation because she was the first and the most perfect of Christ's disciples. All of this has a permanent and universal exemplary value.[1]
The following texts from this Mass reflect the way in which Mary is an example of the disciple who hears the Word of God and answers the call that the Word makes. They can therefore be related to the aspect of Lent as a recalling of baptism.

How favoured are you, Mary! You received the angel’s message and became the mother of God’s Word. How favoured are you, for you kept in your heart those words from heaven and became the disciple of God’s Word.

Lord God, through the Blessed Virgin Mary you have shown us the example of a disciple, who is faithful to the words of life; open our hearts to receive your saving word, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit it may speak to us in our daily lives
and bring forth a rich harvest of holiness.

Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it!

Blessed is the Virgin Mary who kept the word of God and pondered it in her heart.[2]
A second group of texts emphasise more the putting into practice of a response to the Word of God:

…she is even more blessed because, as a disciple of the incarnate Word, she eagerly sought to know your will and faithfully carried it out.

Lord God, filled with the joy that comes from this sacrament, we ask that by imitating the Blessed Virgin Mary we may be true disciples of Christ, eagerly hearing his words and putting them into practice.[3]
These texts more call to mind the penitential character of the Lenten season.

The themes of this particular Mass are also reflected in the third Mystery of Light of the Rosary. In his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope John Paul II first writes of discipleship as being a friendship with Christ:
In the spiritual journey of the Rosary, based on the constant contemplation – in Mary's company – of the face of Christ, this demanding ideal of being conformed to him is pursued through an association which could be described in terms of friendship….[4]
In writing of the third Mystery itself, Pope John Paul II brings out more the penitential aspect of the call to conversion:
Another mystery of light is the preaching by which Jesus proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God, calls to conversion (cf. Mk 1:15) and forgives the sins of all who draw near to him in humble trust (cf. Mk 2:3-13; Lk 7:47- 48): the inauguration of that ministry of mercy which he continues to exercise until the end of the world, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation which he has entrusted to his Church (cf. Jn 20:22-23).[5]

[1] Paul VI Marialis Cultus n.35.
[2] Respectively, the Entrance Antiphon, the Opening Prayer, the Communion Antiphon and the Verse before the Gospel.
[3] Respectively, the Preface and the Prayer after Communion.
[4] John Paul II Rosarium Virginis Mariae n.15
[5] John Paul II Rosarium Virginis Mariae n. 21.

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