Stemus iuxta crucem cum María Matre Iesu, * Cuius ánima dolóris gládius pertransívit.
Let us stand by the cross with Mary the mother of Jesus, * The sword of sorrow has pierced her soul.
Thus begins Matins for today's feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The feast is II Class, so the Semi-Festive office is prayed according to the rubrics. I've heard it said that May is the month of Mary, but for me it is September. This month contains four (4) Marian feasts:
- September 12: The Most Holy Name of Mary (III Class)
- September 15: The Seven Sorrows of the B.V.M. (II Class)
- September 24: B.V.M. of Ransom (Comm.)
In the Dominican breviary, the feast is II Class as in the Roman, but it contains propers for praying the office as a I Class feast as well. This is because the feast was originally a totum duplex feast, which was celebrated on the III Sunday of the month of September. Thus we have the magnificent responsory at Vespers, which is a solemn acknowledgement of our culpability in causing the suffering of both our Lord and our Lady by our sins:
℟. Innocens et expers criminis móritur misértus hóminis. * Cum simus causa supplícii, simus et mæróris sócii: Vírginis Matris et Fílii nos urget stímulus amóris. ℣. Recolámus cum lácrimis tristítiam Genetrícis, grátiam peténtes Géniti. – cum simus. – Glória. – Vírginis.
℟. Innocent and knowing no sin, he dies pitying mankind. * Since we have caused the suffering, let us share in the sorrow; the compelling love of the Virgin-Mother and Son urges us. ℣. Let us recall with tears the grief of the Mother, and implore the grace of the Son. – Since we have caused. – Glory. – The compelling love.
There are seven (7) responsories at Matins, each one representing one of the seven sorrows (dolors) that pierced our Lady's Immaculate Heart while she lived on earth:
- The prophecy of Simeon.
- The flight into Egypt.
- The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple.
- The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.
- The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus.
- The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross.
- The burial of Jesus.
The feast ends with proper antiphons for the psalms and Nunc. dimittis at Compline, each of which are elegant supplications of souls who are suffering and are reaching out to their heavenly Mother, confident that she will hear our prayers:
Super psalmos ant. Virgo Maria, non est ulla simile passa dolorem inter mulieres, dum crucifxum cernis mori Filium. Ora prn obis, pia Dei Genetrix.
Ad Numc dimittis ant. Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genetrix: nostras deprecations ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper Virgo benedicta.
Ant. to psalms Virgin Mary, no other woman ever endured sorrow like to yours, as you watched your crucified Son die. Pray for us, loving Mother of God.
Nunc. dimittis ant. We fly to your patronage, holy mother of God. Do not despise our prayers in our needs, but ever deliver us from all dangers, O blessed Virgin.
Deus, in cuius passióne, secúndum Simeónis prophetíam, dulcissimam ánimam gloriósæ Virginis et Matris Maríæ dolóris gládius pertransívit: concéde propítius; ut qui dolóres eius venerándo recólimus, passiónis tuæ efféctum felícem consequámur. Qui vivis et regnas
O God, at your passion, according to the prophecy of the holy Simeon, a sword of grief pierced the most loving soul of the glorious Mary, virgin and mother; grant, in your mercy, that we who honor the memory of her sorrows, may gain the happy fruit of your sufferings. For you live…