Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Pastor's Descant: St. Valentine, Lent prep, Ash Wednesday

In his "A Pastor's Descant" [link inactive] this week (Assumption Grotto News, February 15, 2015), Fr. Eduard Perrone writes, in part:
Observers of the traditional liturgical calendar could still celebrate in all truth Saint Valentine's Day on the 14th of this month. His feast day, however, had been excised from the revised ordo and so he lay languishing in liturgical obscurity (aside from the Tridentine liturgy) only to become celebrated by the world as a kind of religious Cupid, more an occasion of sin and scandal than of spiritual edification.

Lent is coming this week. Be prepared. Don't wait until Wednesday to figure out what you mean to do this Lent. It does take some planning to have a fruitful season of penitence. In whatever way you approach it, there ought to be prudence. Pledging heroic deeds that you can't sustain the forty days is foolish; doing little or nothing for Lent is dangerous and selfish. The self-imposed discipline is for personal gain and for readjusting the imbalance caused by your sinful deeds. Viewed in this light, you ought to welcome the approach of Lent and set about it doing something profitable. I wish to remind you here of the main points.

Every Catholic from age 14 must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent (the Fridays throughout the year are also days of abstention from meat). There are only two obligatory days of fasting which permit one full meatless meal, and one -- or even two -- smaller meal(s) taken according to need: these days are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This law of fasting binds everyone (unless one is dispensed for good cause by a priest) from ages 18 through 59. Marsh 19 (feast of St. Joseph) and March 25 (the Annunciation) are solemnitities (in the new rite calendar) wherein one may relax imposed penances. The entire forty days is a time for penance, however, and practices may vary according to prudence, personal preference and generosity. A Catholic home should undergo some noticeable change for this period and what is superfluous or boisterous ought to be omitted. Moreover, Lent is not a time for parties, movies and entertainments; rather it's the time to quit otherwise lawful enjoyments for the sake of Christ and in recognition of His suffering for our redemption....
For those of you in the area, the Assumption Grotto Gift Shop & Bookstore has an abundance of good reading material for Lent (as well as one of the best Catholic bookstores anywhere around). I found a promising book of Lenten sermons by St. Francis de Sales, which looks to make some good reading for the season; and there's much, much more.

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