Remember man thou art dust
and to dust thou shalt return
Oh Beloved, I don’t know that I’ll ever get over it – believing, that is – being Catholic – having been led into all that Judaism promised and into the full measure of Christianity, the fullness of all that Our Blessed Savior has given us this side of Heaven.
Having journeyed through 18 years of a fervent Evangelical Protestantism, I was quite floored at the response of many Catholics who bemoaned having to attend Church on Sunday because it was their obligation. “Obligation?” I thought to myself. How could you keep a Catholic away?! It’s a chore to go to Church? . . . to go to the One Who loved us and gave Himself for us??
Then came my first Lent as a Catholic (there was no recognition of Lent in my non-denominational experience). I began to hear, from Catholics, the language of “dread,” of “giving things up,” of suffering through this season.
How on earth, I thought? Do those who dread this season of fasting, penance and prayer have any true knowledge or understanding of the privilege Our Lord has given us in inviting us to share in His very sufferings, in His 40-day fast in the wilderness while experiencing every temptation that the devil would throw on Him – and which God allowed and purposed Him to go through?
For me, dear ones, now after almost 23 years a Catholic, and for our community of sisters, it is a blessed, prayerful, and, please God, transformative time, a time filled with the certainty of Our Savior’s love and of His call for us to be in the world and not of it, to grow deeper into union with Him, and to console that “Heart that so loved the world and is so little loved in return.”
For those who may wish a fuller understanding of or refresher on the history and customs of this blessed season leading all the way to the Resurrection of the Passover Lamb, I would refer you the wonderful article (complete with recipes) from the fisheaters.com website below.
From all of us here at the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel’s Hope, we wish you and your loved ones a most holy and blessed journey through the awful wilderness with the Son of God made Man.
Mother Miriam and Daughters
|Theme:||Christ in the Desert, the Babylonian Captivity continued from Septuagesima|
|Symbols:||Cross, crown of thorns, three nails, Chalice, Host|
|Length:||Ash Wednesday to Vespers of Holy Saturday|
Lent (the word “Lent” comes from the Old English “lencten,” meaning “springtime) lasts from Ash Wednesday to the Vespers of Holy Saturday — forty days + six Sundays which don’t count as “Lent” liturgically. The Latin name for Lent, Quadragesima, means forty and refers to the forty days Christ spent in the desert which is the origin of the Season.The last two weeks of Lent are known as “Passiontide,” made up of Passion Week and Holy Week. The last three days of Holy Week — Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday –are known as the “Sacred Triduum.”
The focus of this Season is the Cross and penance, penance, penance as we imitate Christ’s forty days of fasting, like Moses and Elias before Him, and await the triumph of Easter. We fast (see below), abstain, mortify the flesh, give alms, and think more of charitable works. Awakening each morning with the thought, “How might I make amends for my sins? How can I serve God in a reparative way? How can I serve others today?” is the attitude to have.
We meditate on “The Four Last Things”: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell, and we also practice mortifications by “giving up something” that would be a sacrifice to do without. The sacrifice could be anything from desserts to television to the marital embrace, and it can entail, too, taking on something unpleasant that we’d normally avoid, for example, going out of one’s way to do another’s chores, performing “random acts of kindness,” etc. A practice that might help some, especially small children, to think sacrificially is to make use of “Sacrifice Beads” in the same way that St. Thérèse of Lisieux did as a child.