The vessel of the Church, having navigated the dark and stormy seas of Lent, prepares today to enter the serene port of the Passion of the Lord. The Roman Canon calls it His beata Passio, His blessed Passion. The Passion of Our Lord is as blessed as it was bitter; its bitterness contains the source of all blessedness, that is, of all our bliss, of eternal beatitude.
The Prayer of Jeremias
The prophet Jeremias threatened, hated, and rejected by his enemies, is a figure of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In today’s Mass the Church gives us Jeremias’ prayer in great anguish:
Give heed to me, O Lord, and listen to my plea . . . Remember how I stood before Thee to speak good for them, to turn away Thy wrath from them. (Jeremias 18:19–20)
The Prayer of Jesus
The prayer of Jeremias announces the prayer of Jesus in His Passion. The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that, “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard for His godly fear” (Hebrews 5:7). From the Cross, Jesus interceded for those who hated Him, and for those who nailed Him to the awful Tree: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Down through the ages, the Holy Ghost has moved the Church to enter into the prayer of Christ: to pray as He prayed.
The Prayer of Mary
So deeply did today’s text from Jeremiah penetrate the heart of the Church that it became the Offertory Antiphon of the Mass of September 15th, the feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
Recordare, Virgo Mater Dei . . .
Be mindful, O Virgin Mother of God,
when thou standest in the sight of the Lord,
to speak good things for us,
and to turn away His anger from us.
The Church recognizes in the Mother of Sorrows the New Eve, the Woman in whom the whole mystery of the Church is contained and revealed. The prayer of Christ becomes her prayer. Mary, the spotless image of the Church and the Mediatrix of All Graces, stands with her Son in ceaseless intercession, “since He always lives to make intercession for those who draw near to God through Him” (cf. Hebrews 7:25). The prayer of Mary passes entirely into the prayer of Jesus, and His prayer passes entirely into hers.