Category Archives: Lent

Lent – The badge of Christian warfare

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The Church was founded to guide, guard & give life to the weak, while its detractors are left confounded in the supernaturality of an institution that will not fail. What wonder is it that the love of God is so great, to bring us to a state of grace, so that we would be able to brace for many a trial and tribulation brought on to us by Satan, the demon that hates us for being citizens of the kingdom and nation of God?  As we journey through Lent, we use the weapons of the Church which are our badge of Christian warfare – the Sacraments and devotions – to fight Satan and our evil inclinations.

“The observance of Lent is the very badge of Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, of private woe.”  ~Pope Benedict XIV, 1741 A.D

Pray and do penance so that you all do not perish.

~Damsel of the Faith

Meditation on the royal Way of the Holy Cross

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Posted below is a beautiful meditation for this Second Sunday of Lent that I wished to share with our readers.  Although the path of the cross contrasts infinitely with what most think of as “royal” today, it is the one chosen by the King of Kings Himself- The Way, The Truth, and The Life, in order that we might be redeemed from sin.  And speaking of royalty, is there nothing more royal than to rejoice at seeing Our Lord and giving glory to Him at each Holy Mass, when the Sacrifice of All Time takes place?  Let us use this Lent well that we might give great glory to our King and enjoy Eternity with Him who is Joy, who is Peace, who is Love!

Short introduction is from SSPX Canada.

~Steven C., “Knight of Tradition”

The Imitation of Christ (Latin: De Imitatione Christi) by Thomas a Kempis is a Christian devotional book. It was first composed in Latin, circa 1418-1427. It is a handbook for spiritual life arising from the Devotio Moderna movement, where Kempis was a member.

The Imitation is perhaps the most widely read devotional work next to the Bible, and is regarded as a devotional and religious classic. Apart from the Bible, no book has been translated into more languages than the Imitation of Christ.

The Imitation of Christ, book II, chapter XII

If any man will come after Me

1. That seemeth a hard saying to many, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his Cross and follow Me.[1] But it will be much harder to hear that last sentence, Depart from me, ye wicked, into eternal fire.[2] For they who now willingly hear the word of the Cross and follow it, shall not then fear the hearing of eternal damnation. This sign of the Cross shall be in heaven when the Lord cometh to Judgment. Then all servants of the Cross, who in life have conformed themselves to the Crucified, shall draw nigh unto Christ the Judge with great boldness.

2. Why fearest thou then to take up the cross which leadeth to a kingdom? In the Cross is health, in the Cross is life, in the Cross is protection from enemies, in the Cross is heavenly sweetness, in the Cross strength of mind, in the Cross joy of the spirit, in the Cross the height of virtue, in the Cross perfection of holiness. There is no health of the soul, no hope of eternal life, save in the Cross. Take up therefore, thy cross and follow Jesus and thou shalt go into eternal life. He went before thee bearing His Cross and died for thee upon the Cross, that thou also mayest bear thy cross and mayest love to be crucified upon it. For if thou be dead with Him, thou shalt also live with Him, and if thou be a partaker of His sufferings thou shalt be also of His glory.

None other way unto life

3. Behold everything dependeth upon the Cross, and everything lieth in dying; and there is none other way unto life and to true inward peace, except the way of the Holy Cross and of daily mortification. Go where thou wilt, seek whatsoever thou wilt, and thou shalt find no higher way above nor safer way below, than the way of the Holy Cross. Dispose and order all things according to thine own will and judgment, and thou shalt ever find something to suffer either willingly or unwillingly, and thus thou shalt ever find thy cross. For thou shalt either feel pain of body, or tribulation of spirit within thy soul.

4. Sometimes thou wilt be forsaken of God, sometimes thou wilt be tried by thy neighbour, and which is more, thou wilt often be wearisome to thyself. And still thou canst not be delivered nor eased by any remedy or consolation, but must bear so long as God will. For God will have thee learn to suffer tribulation without consolation, and to submit thyself fully to it, and by tribulation be made more humble. No man understandeth the Passion of Christ in his heart so well as he who hath had somewhat of the like suffering himself. The Cross therefore is always ready, and every where waiteth for thee. Thou canst not flee from it whithersoever thou hurriest, for whithersoever thou comest, thou bearest thyself with thee, and shalt ever find thyself. Turn thee above, turn thee below, turn thee without, turn thee within, and in them all thou shalt find the Cross; and needful is it that thou everywhere possess patience if thou wilt have internal peace and gain the everlasting crown.

Bear the Cross

5. If thou willingly bear the Cross, it will bear thee, and will bring thee to the end which thou seekest, even where there shall be the end of suffering; though it shall not be here. If thou bear it unwillingly, thou makest a burden for thyself and greatly increaseth thy load, and yet thou must bear it. If thou cast away one cross, without doubt thou shalt find another and perchance a heavier.

6. Thinketh thou to escape what no mortal hath been able to avoid? Which of the saints in the world hath been without the cross and tribulation? For not even Jesus Christ our Lord was one hour without the anguish of His Passion, so long as He lived. It behooved, He said, Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and so enter into his glory.[3] And how dost thou seek another way than this royal way, which is the way of the Holy Cross?

The life of Christ was a cross

7. The whole life of Christ was a cross and martyrdom, and dost thou seek for thyself rest and joy? Thou art wrong, thou art wrong, if thou seekest aught but to suffer tribulations, for this whole mortal life is full of miseries, and set round with crosses. And the higher a man hath advanced in the spirit, the heavier crosses he will often find, because the sorrow of his banishment increaseth with the strength of his love.

8. But yet the man who is thus in so many wise afflicted, is not without refreshment of consolation, because he feeleth abundant fruit to be growing within him out of the bearing of his cross. For whilst he willingly submitteth himself to it, every burden of tribulation is turned into an assurance of divine comfort, and the more the flesh is wasted by affliction, the more is the spirit strengthened mightily by inward grace. And ofttimes so greatly is he comforted by the desire for tribulation and adversity, through love of conformity to the Cross of Christ, that he would not be without sorrow and tribulation; for he believeth that he shall be the more acceptable to God, the more and the heavier burdens he is able to bear for His sake. This is not the virtue of man, but the grace of Christ which hath such power and energy in the weak flesh, that what it naturally hateth and fleeth from, this it draweth to and loveth through fervour of spirit.

We do not love the cross

9. It is not in the nature of man to bear the cross, to love the cross, to keep under the body and to bring it into subjection, to fly from honours, to bear reproaches meekly, to despise self and desire to be despised, to bear all adversities and losses, and to desire no prosperity in this world. If thou lookest to thyself, thou wilt of thyself be able to do none of this; but if thou trustest in the Lord, endurance shall be given thee from heaven, and the world and the flesh shall be made subject to thy command. Yea, thou shalt not even fear thine adversary the devil, if thou be armed with faith and signed with the Cross of Christ.

10. Set thyself, therefore, like a good and faithful servant of Christ, to the manful bearing of the Cross of thy Lord, who out of love was crucified for thee. Prepare thyself for the bearing many adversities and manifold troubles in this wretched life; because so it shall be with thee wheresoever thou art, and so in very deed thou shalt find it, wherever thou hide thyself. This it must be; and there is no means of escaping from tribulation and sorrow, except to bear them patiently. Drink thou lovingly thy Lord’s cup if thou desirest to be His friend and to have thy lot with Him. Leave consolations to God, let Him do as seemeth best to Him concerning them. But do thou set thyself to endure tribulations, and reckon them the best consolations; for the  sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us,[4] nor would they be even if thou wert to endure them all.

Thou shalt find peace

11. When thou hast come to this, that tribulation is sweet and pleasant to thee for Christ’s sake, then reckon that it is well with thee, because thou hast found paradise on earth. So long as it is hard to thee to suffer and thou desirest to escape, so long it will not be well with thee, and tribulations will follow thee everywhere.

12. If thou settest thyself to that thou oughtest, namely, to suffer and to die, it shall soon go better with thee, and thou shalt find peace. Though thou shouldest be caught up with Paul unto the third heaven,[5] thou art not on that account secure from suffering evil. I will show him, saith Jesus, what great things he must suffer for My Name’s sake.[6] It remaineth, therefore, to thee to suffer, if thou wilt love Jesus and serve Him continually.

Worthy to suffer

13. Oh that thou wert worthy to suffer something for the name of Jesus, how great glory should await thee, what rejoicing among all the saints of God, what bright example also to thy neighbour! For all men commend patience, although few be willing to practise it. Thou oughtest surely to suffer a little for Christ when many suffer heavier things for the world.

14. Know thou of a surety that thou oughtest to lead the life of a dying man. And the more a man dieth to himself, the more he beginneth to live towards God. None is fit for the understanding of heavenly things, unless he hath submitted himself to bearing adversities for Christ. Nothing more acceptable to God, nothing more healthful for thyself in this world, than to suffer willingly for Christ. And if it were thine to choose, thou oughtest rather to wish to suffer adversities for Christ, than to be refreshed with manifold consolations, for thou wouldest be more like Christ and more conformed to all saints. For our worthiness and growth in grace lieth not in many delights and consolations, but rather in bearing many troubles and adversities.

15. If indeed there had been anything better and more profitable to the health of men than to suffer, Christ would surely have shown it by word and example. For both the disciples who followed Him, and all who desire to follow Him, He plainly exhorteth to bear their cross, and saith, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me.[7]So now that we have thoroughly read and studied all things, let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.[8]

First Sunday of Lent

Instruction for the First Sunday of this Penitential Season. Our prayer & penance is underway, as we trudge along the Via Dolorosa.

Damsel of the Faith & Knight of Tradition

Fr. Goffine’s instruction for the First Sunday of Lent:

INVOCABIT – This Sunday is called Invocabit, because the Introit of the Mass begins with this word, which is taken from the ninetieth psalm, wherein we are urged to confidence in God, who willingly hears the prayer of the penitent:

INTROIT –  He shall call upon me, and I will hear him; I will deliver him, and glorify him; I will fill him with length of days. (Ps. 90:15-16) He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most high shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven. (Ps. 90:1) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT – O God who dost purify Thy Church by the yearly fast of Lent; grant to Thy household that what we strive to obtain from Thee by abstinence, by good works we may secure. Through our Lord, etc.

EPISTLE – (II…

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He fasted for our salvation

 

Fasting can save a people. A nation. By prayer & fasting, the people of Nineveh were saved from God’s wrath on their city. Esther fasted to save her people from destruction. Casting out today’s demons can only be done through prayer and fasting – penance, penance, penance. Our Lord Jesus Christ fasted in the desert for 40 days, doing penance to His own body, for our sake, to atone for the sins we all would commit until the end of time. Christ’s life was a continual martyrdom, culminating in the Crucifixion.

Penance to the body shows our willingness to atone for our sins so that the God of Justice will have mercy for the crimes committed against Him. By dying to self, we learn to live for Him, the reason that we were born into the world – to know, love, serve and live for God, in the battleground of this earthly life. Win or lose the battle is the ultimate choice.

Lent is the time given us by the Church to prove our love for God, making reparation for our sins by hearing Mass, received Holy Communion in the state of grace, making use of the Sacrament of Comfession by making a good Comfession of our life, practicing various devotions of the Lenten season, such as the stations of the cross, doing violence to our body by fasting in whatever way we are able, abstaining from meat on the days appointed, all of this in joyful anticipation of the Resurrection of Our Lord.

To begin this Lenten season, I post a vision from Ven. Mary of Agreda, found in the Mystical City of God. She recounts details of Our Lord’s tempting in the desert and even offers an unknown insight, namely that Our Lady joined with Jesus in fasting for 40 days back home. A beautiful meditation, that I highly recommend. In closing, I wish everyone a blessed and fruitful Lent!

~Damsel of the Faith

“Without delay Christ our Lord pursued his journey from the Jordan to the desert after his Baptism. Only his holy angels attended and accompanied Him, serving and worshipping Him, singing the divine praises on account of what He was now about to undertake for the salvation of mankind. He came to the place chosen by Him for his fast: a desert spot among bare and beetling rocks, where there was also a cavern much concealed. Here He halted, choosing it for his habitation during the days of his fast (Matth. 4, 1). In deepest humility He prostrated Himself upon the ground which was always the prelude of his prayer and that of his most blessed Mother. He praised the eternal Father and gave Him thanks for the works of his divine right hand and for having according to his pleasure afforded Him this retirement. In a suitable manner He thanked even this desert for accepting his presence and keeping Him hidden from the world during the time He was to spend there. He continued his prayers prostrate in the form of a cross, this was his most frequent occupation in the desert; for in this manner He often prayed to the eternal Father for the salvation of men.

After the Savior had begun his fast He persevered therein without eating anything for forty days, offering his fast to the eternal Father as a satisfaction for the disorder and sins to which men are drawn by the so vile and debasing, yet so common and even esteemed vice of gluttony. Just as our Lord overcame this vice so He also vanquished all the rest, and He made recompense to the eternal Judge and supreme Legislator for the injuries perpetrated through these vices by men. According to the enlightenment vouchsafed to me, our Savior, in order to assume the office of Preacher and Teacher and to become our Mediator and Redeemer before the Father, thus vanquished all the vices of mortals and He satisfied the offenses committed through them by the exercises of the virtues contrary to them, just as He did in regard to gluttony. Although He continued this exercise during all his life with the most ardent charity, yet during his fast He directed in a special manner all his efforts toward this purpose.

A loving Father, whose sons have committed great crimes for which they are to endure the most horrible punishment, sacrifices all his possessions in order ward off their impending fate: so our most loving Father and Brother, Jesus Christ, wished to pay our debts. In satisfaction for our pride He offered his profound humility; for our avarice, his voluntary poverty and total privation of all that was his; for our base and lustful inclinations, his penance and austerity; for our hastiness and vengeful anger, his meekness and charity toward his enemies; for our negligence and laziness, his ceaseless labors; for our deceitfulness and our envy, his candid and upright sincerity and truthfulness and the sweetness of his loving interactions. In this manner He continued to appease the just Judge and solicited pardon for us disobedient and bastard children; and He not only obtained this pardon for them, but He merited for them new graces and favors, so that they might make themselves worthy of his company and of the vision of his Father and his own inheritance for all eternity. Though He could have obtained all this for us by the most insignificant of his works; yet He acted not like we. He demonstrated his love so abundantly, that our ingratitude and hardness of heart will have no excuse.

In order to keep informed of the doings of our Savior the most blessed Mary needed no other assistance than her continual visions and revelations; but in addition to all these, She made use of the service of her holy angels, whom She sent to her divine Son. The Lord himself thus ordered it, in order that, by means of these faithful messengers, both He and She might rejoice in the sentiments and thoughts of their inmost hearts faithfully rehearsed by these celestial messengers; and thus They each heard the very same words as uttered by Each, although both Son and Mother already knew them in another way. As soon as the great Lady understood that our Redeemer was on the way to the desert to fulfill his intention, She locked the doors of her dwelling, without letting any one know of her presence; and her retirement during the time of our Lord’s fast was so complete, that her neighbors thought that She had left with her divine Son. She entered into her oratory and remained there for forty days and nights without ever leaving it and without eating anything, just as She knew was done by her most holy Son. Both of them observed the same course of rigorous fasting. In all his prayers and exercises, his prostrations and genuflections She followed our Savior, not omitting any of them; moreover She performed them just at the same time; for, leaving aside all other occupations, She thus profited by the information obtained from the angels and by that other knowledge, which I have already described. Whether He was present or not, She knew the interior operations of the soul of Christ. All his bodily movements, which She had been wont to perceive with her own senses, She now knew by intellectual vision or through her holy angels.

While the Savior was in the desert He made every day three hundred genuflections, which also was done by our Queen Mary in her oratory; the other portion of her time She spent in composing hymns with the angels, as I have said in the last chapter. Thus imitating Christ the Lord, the Holy Queen co–operated with Him in all his prayers and petitions, gaining the same victories over the vices, and on her part proportionately satisfying for them by her virtues and her exertions. Thus it happened, that, while Christ as our Redeemer gained for us so many blessings and abundantly paid all our debts, most holy Mary, as his Helper and our Mother, lent us her merciful intercession and became our Mediatrix to the fullest extent possible to a mere creature.

Christ the Savior permitted Lucifer to remain under the false impression, that He was a mere human creature though very holy and just; He wished to raise his courage and malice for the contest, for such is the effect of any advantages espied by the devil in his attacks upon the victims of his temptations. Rousing his courage by his own arrogance, he began this battle in the wilderness with greater prowess and fierceness than the demons ever exhibited in their battles with men. Lucifer and his satellites strained all their power and malice, lashing themselves into fury against the superior strength which they soon found in Christ our Lord. Yet our Savior tempered all his actions with divine wisdom and goodness, and in justice and equity concealed the secret source of his infinite power, exhibiting just so much as would suffice to prove Him to be a man so far advanced in holiness as to be able to gain these victories against the infernal foes. In order to begin the battle as man, He directed a prayer to the eternal Father from his inmost soul, to which the intelligence of the demon could not penetrate, saying: “My Father and eternal God, I now enter into battle with the enemy in order to crush his power and humble his pride and his malice against my beloved souls. For thy glory, and for the benefit of souls I submit to the daring presumption of Lucifer. I wish thereby to crush his head in order that when mortals are attacked by his temptations without their fault, they may find his arrogance already broken. I beseech Thee, my Father, to remember my battle and victory in favor of mortals assailed by the common enemy. Strengthen their weakness through my triumph, let them obtain victory; let them be encouraged by my example, and let them learn from Me how to resist and overcome their enemies.

During this battle the holy angels that attended upon Christ were hidden from the sight of Lucifer, in order that he might not begin to understand and suspect the divine power of our Savior. The holy spirits gave glory and praise to the Father and the Holy Ghost, who rejoiced in the works of the incarnate Word. The most blessed Virgin also from her oratory witnessed the battle in the manner to be described below. The temptation of Christ began on the thirty–fifth day of his fast in the desert, and lasted to the end of the fast, as related by the Evangelists. Lucifer assumed the shape of a man and presented himself before the Lord as a stranger, who had never seen or known Him before. He clothed himself in refulgent light, like that of an angel, and conjecturing that the Lord after his long fast must be suffering great hunger, he said to Him: “If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread (Matth. 4, 3). By thus cunningly resting his advice on the supposition of his being the Son of God, the demon sought some information on what was giving him the greatest concern. But the Savior of the world answered only in these few words: “Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from mouth of God.”

Lucifer found himself repulsed by the force or answer and by the hidden power which accompanied it; but he wished to show no weakness, nor desist from the contest. The Lord allowed the demon to continue in his temptation and for this purpose permitted Himself carried by the devil bodily to Jerusalem and to be placed on the pinnacle of the temple. Here the Lord could see multitudes of people, though He himself was not seen by anybody. Lucifer tried to arouse in the Lord, the vain desire of casting Himself down from this high place, so that the crowds of men, seeing Him unhurt, might proclaim Him as a great and wonderful man of God. Again using the words of the holy Scriptures, he said to Him: “If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down, for it is written (Ps. 90, 11): that He hath given his angels charge over Thee, and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest perhaps Thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Matth. 4, 6). The heavenly spirits who accompanied their King, were full of wonder that He should permit Lucifer to carry Him bodily in his hands, solely for the benefit of mortal man. With the prince of darkness were gathered innumerable demons; for on that occasion hell was almost emptied of its inhabitants in order to furnish assistance for this enterprise. The Author of wisdom answered: “It is also written: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Deut. 6, 16). While giving these answers the Redeemer of the world exhibited a matchless meekness, profoundest humility, and a majesty so superior to all the attempts of satan, as was of itself alone sufficient to crush Lucifer’s arrogance and to cause him torments and confusion never felt before.

Being thus foiled, he attacked our Lord in still another way, seeking to rouse his ambition by offering Him some share in his dominion. For this purpose he took the Lord upon a high mount, from whence could be seen many lands, and said to Him with perfidious daring: “All these will I give to Thee, if falling down, Thou wilt adore me” (Matth. 4, 9). Exorbitant boldness, and more than insane madness and perfidy! Offering to the Lord what he did not possess, nor ever could give, since the earth, the stars, the kingdoms, principalities, riches and treasures, all belong to the Lord, and He alone can give or withhold them when it serves and pleases Him! Never can Lucifer give anything, even not of the things of the earth, and therefore all his promises are false. The King and Lord answered with imperial majesty: “Begone, satan, for it is written: The Lord thy God thou shalt adore, and Him only shalt thou serve.” By this command, “Begone satan,” Christ the Redeemer took away from Lucifer permission further to tempt Him, and hurled him and all his legions into the deepest abysses of hell. There they found themselves entirely crushed and buried in its deepest caverns, unable to move for three days. When they were permitted again to rise, seeing themselves thus vanquished and annihilated, they began to doubt whether He, who had so overwhelmed them, might not be the incarnate Son of God. In this doubt and uncertainty they remained, without ever being able to come to certain conviction until the death of the Savior. Lucifer was overcome by hellish wrath at his defeat and was almost consumed in his fury.

Our divine Conqueror Christ then sang hymns of praise and thanks to the eternal Father for having given Him this triumph over the common enemy of God and man; and amid the triumphal songs of a multitude of angels, He was borne back to the desert. They carried Him in their hands, although He had not need of their help, since He could make use of his own divine power; but this service of the angels was due to Him in recompense for enduring the audacity of Lucifer in carrying to the pinnacle of the temple and to the mountaintop the sacred humanity of Christ, in which dwelt substantially and truly the Divinity itself. It would never have entered into the thoughts of man, that the Lord should give such a permission to satan, if it had been made known to us in the Gospels.”

~Taken from The Mystical City of God (online)

Death

Lent is a good time to meditate on our death and the four last things.

Damsel of the Faith & Knight of Tradition

A sermon from St. John Vianney during this Holy Season of Lent:

A day will come, perhaps it is not far off, when we must bid adieu to life, adieu to the world, adieu to our relations, adieu to our friends. When shall we return, my children? Never. We appear upon this earth, we disappear, and we return no more; our poor body, that we take such care of, goes away into dust, and our soul, all trembling, goes to appear before the good God.

When we quit this world, where we shall appear no more, when our last breath of life escapes, and we say our last adieu, we shall wish to have passed our life in solitude, in the depths of a desert, far from the world and its pleasures. We have these examples of repentance before our eyes every day, my children, and we remain always the…

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Preparing for Lent

keeping-a-holy-lent

The Church, in keeping with her motherly love and wisdom, has given her children these two and a half weeks before Lent to prepare and focus ourselves for this penitential season.  One cannot reasonably expect an immediate transition from the celebratory times of Christmas and Epiphany to the season of Lent.  God Himself, as the Master of all order, always has a Divine Plan in place to ensure this order.  He IS order is essence.  As such, He provides, through His Church, time for all of us to plan and prepare for each great and jubilant Church season.  Unfortunately, there will be some who reject this grace and will party away Shrove Tuesday to such an excess that they will enter Lent in the state of mortal sin.  What a terrible way to begin Lent!  But we must even avoid entering this holy season in a state of lukewarmness as well!

This time of preparation is also reflected well in the liturgy.  There are many even largely unknown customs in the liturgy, such as the Depositio of the Alleluia, which is still done in some traditional communities today.  You can read here for more if you’re interested:  http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2010/01/farewell-to-alleluia.html

For every successful plan, it is necessary to know exactly what is the goal of our preparations.  How should we thus enable ourselves to better commemorate the Passion and Resurrection?  Fr. Goffine explains:

As according to the teaching of St. Leo, the main thing in fasting is not that the body be deprived of food, but that the mind at the same time be withdrawn from wickedness, we should endeavor during Lent, not only to be temperate in eating and drinking, but especially to lead a modest life, sanctifying the days by persevering prayer and devoutly attending church.”

During Lent, we must strive first of all not to fall into a spirit of lukewarmness.  Today, the Lenten fast and abstinence has been reduced to such a minimum that it often seems hardly like a penance at all.  Abp. Lefebvre explained the reason for such a change:

At the Council, the bishops requested such a diminution of fast and abstinence that these prescriptions have practically disappeared. We must recognize the fact that this disappearance is a consequence of the ecumenical and protestant spirit which denies the necessity of our participation for the application of the merits of Our Lord to each one of us for the remission of our sins and the restoration of our divine affiliation [i.e., character as adoptive sons of God].”

It is true that the fasting and abstinence laws are laws of discipline, and not laws of doctrine, so these are in fact the official laws of the Catholic Church that bind under pain of mortal sin.  However, is this all we will do?  Especially in these days?  We are always called to do more than the minimum requirements anyway!  Otherwise, we would barely have a foot in the door to Heaven.  Most Catholics aged 21 and over with fully matured bodies and without physical impediments(e.g. pregnancy, diabetes) should be able to handle a longer period of fasting.  That being said, all Catholics should fast in many ways during Lent.  Fast with all of the five senses!

Of course, as Fr. Goffine notes, the main purpose of fasting is not to starve ourselves, but to strengthen our will against the things of this world.  This goes particularly for our passions, which God gave us to use for good.  However, indulging them continuously all year puts us in more danger of falling into all types of sin.  All soldiers must go through boot camp and training!  They would otherwise be at risk for becoming lax.  Why should the same not be true for soldiers of Christ?

What is most essential in Lent is that we improve ourselves in ways that are lasting.  Many Catholics wish to temporarily deny themselves a certain pleasure they enjoy, such as chocolate.  While the intentions here are praiseworthy, one should primarily strive to do penances that will stay with us and become habitual even after Lent.  After all, the person giving up chocolate will probably make up for it sufficiently after Easter.  An even greater penance, for example, would for us be as like a “chocolate” to our neighbor, as Mother Angelica would say.  This would help us to develop a greater charity.

Lent is also a splendid time to correct little faults and to turn towards the habit of the opposite virtue. For example, one who is in the habit of using swear words to “vent” his anger may focus particularly on improving this for Lent.  Fr. Goffine also made a point of mentioning a great prayer life and devout attendance at Mass.  During Lent we must resolve to persevere ever stronger in prayer and to meditate on the Passion and Death of Our Lord.  Frequent attendance at Mass and reception of Holy Communion is also to be much encouraged if possible.  If a Traditional Mass is not available during the week, then a daily spiritual communion should be done.  As St. John Vianney said, if we ever feel our love for God growing cold, immediately make a spiritual communion!

Finally, we must remember that the ways of God are always wholly good and are never meant to make us bitter or stoic.  One of the best works we can do during Lent and at all times is to be joyous, both to God and to our neighbor.  A gloomy saint is no saint at all.  A Lent well-spent is only a means for ever greater joy for now and eternity as we grow in our love of God!

~Steven C, “The Knight of Tradition”

The Cross – our hope and salvation

Remember that the Crucifixion of Christ bought our salvation. Remember that there is no Resurrection without a Good Friday.

“Let no one, my brethren, blush at those sacred and adorable marks of our redemption. The cross of Jesus Christ is the source of every blessing; it is through that we live, through that, we are what we are. Let us carry the cross of Jesus, and adorn ourselves with so glorious a crown. It is the zeal and fulfillment of everything which appertains to our salvation. If we are regenerated in the waters of baptism, the cross is there present; if we approach the table of the Lord to receive His holy Body, it there appears; if we receive the imposition of hands to consecrate us as ministers of God, it is still there; in fact, we see in everything that adorable sign which is, at once, the cause and emblem of our victory. We have it in our houses, we hang it and paint it on our walls, we engrave it on our doors, and we should ever carry it in our hearts; for the cross is a sacred monument which recalls to memory the work of our salvation, the regaining of our ancient freedom, and the infinite mercy of Jesus Christ. When, then, you make the sign of the cross on the forehead, arm yourself with a saintly boldness, and reinstall your soul in its old liberty; for you are not ignorant that the cross is a prize beyond all price. Consider what is the price given for your ransom, and you will never more be slave to any man on earth. This reward and ransom is the cross. You should not, then, carelessly make the sign of the forehead, but you should impress it on your heart with the love of a fervent faith! Nothing impure will dare to molest you on seeing the weapon which overcometh all things. Be not, then, ashamed of the cross, in order that Jesus Christ be not ashamed of you, when He will come, clothed in the Majesty of His glory, accompanied by this sign of our redemption, which will then, shine more brilliant than the sun. Engrave it in your heart; lovingly embrace that which procured the salvation of our souls; for it is the cross which has saved and converted all the world is that which has banished heresy and unbelief, which has reestablished truth, which has made a heaven on earth, and which has transformed men into angels. It is by means of the cross that the devils have ceased to appear formidable, and are now only to be despised; it is through that, that death is now no longer death, but only a long sleep. In fine, it is through the cross that all our enemies have been conquered. If you find, then, any one who says, ‘What! you worship the cross?’ answer him with a tone of voice that betokens firmness, Yes, I do worship it, and shall never cease to do so. If he laugh at you, pity him, and shed tears for his blindness; and say boldly, We protest before heaven and earth that our glory is in the cross, that it is the source of all our blessings, our every hope, and that it is that which has crowned every saint.”   ~St. John Chrysostom