Tuesday, May 8, 2018

May 8: Blessed Virgin Mary - Mediatrix of All Graces, III Class

Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar, we celebrate the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Mediatrix of All Graces.  The feast is III Class, so the Ordinary Office is prayed.  Like many III Class feasts in the Dominican Breviary, this office contains the a significant amount of beautiful propers, as if the feast were II Class.  At Lauds, the Psalms of Sunday are prayed.

May is the month of Mary, our blessed Lady and Mother of God.  Today we celebrate a wonderful Marian feast, with a beautiful Office. It honors our Blessed Lady's role in the salvation of mankind as mother of our Savior, and recognizes her universal mediation in the dispensing of all graces that come to us from Our Lord Jesus Christ.  In his encyclical Octobri Mense (On the Rosary, September 22, 1891), Pope Leo XIII declared "We may affirm that nothing, by the will of God, is given to us without Mary's mediation, in such way that just as no one can approach the almighty Father but through His Son, like wise no one, so to speak, can approach Christ but through His Mother".
Interestingly, this feast never made its way into the liturgical calendar of the Roman Rite.  It is included in the 1962 Roman Missal as an optional feast, for use in certain places and diocese.  As best as I can tell, it first appeared on the Dominican liturgical calendar in the 1940's, and it moved around a bit until it finally landed on May 8 in the 1961 calendar.  The 1949 Completotori Libellus has the feast on May 31.  The 1955 English translation of the Dominican Martyrology has the feast on May 31.  The 1959 St. Dominic Missal has it on June 7.  Today, it has been removed from the calendar of the Order, which now celebrates the Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 8.

The Dominican Office for this blessed feast day contains many beautiful versicles and responsories.

Inv. at Matins:  Christ, the Redeemer, who will that we receive all benefits through Mary, * come, let us adore.

Lesson iii at Matins is taken from a "Prayer to the Mother of God" by St. Ephrem of Syria:
My Lady, most holy Mother of God, full of grace, inexhaustible ocean of divine favors and graces which surpass description, treasury of all good things, net to the Trinity you are queen of the world; next to the Counselor you are a second comforter; next to our Mediator you are the mediatrix of all mankind.  Behold my trust in you and my God-given devotion towards you!  Do not despise one so unworthy, nor let the rankness of my deeds stay your immense mercy, Mother of God - the title that I love most of all.  There is, indeed, no more certain guarantee of victory than your aid.  You have wiped away all tears from the face of the earth, you have lavished on man benefits of all kinds; you have brought joy to heaven and salvation to the earth.  Through you we hold the surest pledge of our resurrection; through you we hope to reach the heavenly kingdom; through you, who alone are immaculate, is drawn down all glory, all honor and all holiness on the apostles, the prophets, the just and the humble of heart, since the first Adam to the end of the world.  And so all men find joy in you who are full of grace.
At Lauds, the Psalms of Sunday are prayed.  
 Before Lauds:  V. Our most powerful Mediatrix, pray for us, alleluia.  R.  That we may be made worth of the promises of Christ, alleluia.
Ant. 1:  The Lord made the blessing of all men and his covenant to rest upon her head, alleluia.
Ant. 5:  Virgin Mother of God, when you stand before the Lord, remember to speak favorable things on our behalf, alleluia.
At Vespers the Psalms for common feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary are prayed (Psalms 109, 112, 121, 126, 147)
Ant. to Psalms:  The Lord made the blessing of all men and his covenant to rest upon her head, alleluia.
Magnif. ant:  Our welfare is in your hands; look but upon us and we will joyfully serve the Lord, the Kings, alleluia.

Lastly, at Compline, the Nunc dimitis antiphon is proper, and is taken from the common of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
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, allaluia.
The collect prayer wonderfully echos the declaration from Pope Leo above, on Mary's role in the economy of salvation:

Lord Jesus Christ, our mediator with the Father, you have been pleased to make your mother, the most blessed Virgin, our mother also and our mediatrix with you; grant, we beseech you, that whoever seeks your favors, may be gladdened by receiving them through her intercession. For you live and reign with the same God the Father...