26. What is the Collection of Masses of the BIessed Virgin Mary?
The Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary, published by the Congregation of Divine Worship in 1986, is a set of forty-six Masses intended for use at Marian shrines and for communities who wish to celebrate the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin on Saturday. Originally published in two volumes, a Missal (Sacramentary) and a Lectionary, its status as an official liturgical book confers an authority both on the individual Masses as well as the principles contained in the "General Introduction".
The Collection was approved by the Congregation of Divine Worship in response to those who wished to a have a greater variety of texts for celebrating Mary's participation in the mystery of Christ through every season of the liturgical year. The texts come from a number of sources: early sacramentaries, the Roman Missal of Paul VI, and formularies recently composed by religious congregations and dioceses and submitted to the Congregation for approval. (Among the religious orders whose texts were used are the Servites and Passionists. The Marianists' proper for the Holy Name of Mary was included, along with a new preface.) Some texts were composed by members of the Congregation of Worship.
These new Masses can be considered an enlargement of the Marian texts found in the Missal of Paul VI. The most frequently used Marian Mass the Common of the Blessed Virgin has been described as "theologically thin and thematically monotonous." The Collection now provides a rich variety of Scriptural and liturgical texts for celebrating the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin on Saturday or for votive Masses in harmony with the liturgical year. Many of the references to Mary are taken from Paul Vl's Marialis Cultus (1974): dwelling place of the Spirit, Mother of the Church, disciple of Christ, model of faith, our sister, the new woman, etc.
The forty-six Masses are arranged according to the divisions of the liturgical year: Advent (3), Christmas (6), Lent (5), Easter (4), and Ordinary Time (28). The Advent season celebrates "the two comings of the Lord: the first in lowliness when... the Lord took flesh of the Virgin Mary... and the second in glory, when... the Lord will come to judge the living and dead and to lead the just... where Mary has preceded them in glory." During Lent, Mary is "the model of the disciple who faithfully listens to the word of God and follows the footsteps of Christ to Calvary..." (Since the suppression in 1960 of the feast of Seven Sorrows of Our Lady in Passion Week, many requested a liturgical commemoration sometime during Lent of the one "associated to the sacrifice of her Son with a maternal heart.") In the Easter triduum, she is the "new woman" who stands by the tree of life... as the companion of Christ and as the spiritual mother into whose maternal care the Lord entrusts all his followers." In the Easter season, she is "devoted to prayer with the apostles in trusting expectation of the gift of the Holy Spirit." The many formularies for the Ordinary Time have one object: "the work God has accomplished in Mary in relation to Christ and the Church."
The General Introduction (Pracenotanda) of the Collection develops Mary's role and presence in liturgy. "Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary have their meaning and purpose from her close participation in the history of salvation." Every commemoration of Mary is above all a celebration of "the events of salvation in which, by God's salvific plan, the Blessed Virgin was involved in view of the mystery of Christ." The Lectionary of Scriptural texts from the Old and New Testament is based on the conviction that the entire Scripture forms "a single corpus that is permeated by the mystery of Christ." Through the mystery of Christ present in the Scripture, the Virgin Mary is reflected.
The General Introduction outlines Mary's presence throughout the history of salvation. In the first age - the Old Testament - the figure of Mary is suggested or foreshadowed in many ways. "Certain events, figures, or symbols of the Old Testament foretell or suggest in a wonderful manner the life and mission of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the glorious daughter of Zion and the Mother of Christ." Mary is prefigured in the woman of Genesis; in Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Anna, Judith, Esther; in the mother of the seven Maccabees; in the spouse of the Canticle of Canticles, the daughter of Zion, the burning bush, the ark of the covenant, the city of God, and the temple of Jerusalem.
In the second stage salvation fully revealed in Christ Mary is the "one intimately involved in all of the saving deeds of God." She is present in the mysteries of Christ as "mother of Christ, our God" (Mass 26); as "first fruits of the new creation" (Mass 20); as "mother and companion of the Redeemer" (Mass 30); as "servant of the mystery of Redemption" (Mass 22); and as "partner in his passion" (Mass 12).
In the third stage of history, the "time of the Church,'' Mary is the "model of the Church" (Masses 16,17); "perfect pattern of the Church at prayer" (Mass 25); the one "who cares for the pilgrim Church with a mother's love" (Mass 25); the "shining model of true worship" (Mass 16).
The forty-six formularies in the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary come from different periods and sources. Some represent a particular moment in the history of Marian devotion or a mystery or title of particular significance to a diocese or religious order. By making these texts available to all, the Collection presents new possibilities for devotion to Mary with the liturgy. We can hope that the many new images, titles, and contexts in which the Virgin Mary appears will also influence popular devotions and shared prayer, poetry, texts for new hymns, and art.
Currently available in English translation are twelve of the forty-six Masses in the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary (New York, NY: Catholic Book Publishing, 1988). The remaining Masses will be available as soon as the translations, submitted by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, are approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of Sacraments.
Advent and Christmas
Lent and Easter masses
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