Lent has commenced again! While not an exclusively Catholic liturgical practice, becoming a Catholic in 2017 has really helped me to dive into Lent to experience the wonderful benefits of this season.
This year, I’ve started working through the readings of the 1962 Missal (I.e. the readings from the Traditional Latin Mass). I’m also in the process of trying to complete my total consecration to Mary for the third time (the first two times were complete failures – it’s true that the spiritual attacks increase when you undertake this project). On a secular level, I have commenced undertaking a Certificate III in Micro Business Operations via the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS), as well as a Life Coaching course with a group that is a subsidiary of Life in Balance careers.
Some of my reflections from the last few days as we commence this season are as follows:
When compared to Catholics prior to Vatican II, we have the lowest levels of fasting imposed upon by the Church in over 1,500 years (and possibly since its establishment by Christ). That’s not to say that all Catholics upheld the fasting requirements properly in former times, nor does it mean that we should cease to keep the fasts at the levels previously prescribed. Rather, it simply means that keeping up the high levels of fasting previously required are now to be performed out of charity (love), rather than out of necessity.
A friend called me late on Ash Wednesday to let me know that he had been doing a recruitment drive in his role for the Navy and had been working that day at a Catholic school. He had then said to some of the students, ‘What is that drawn on your forehead?’ Apparently his colleague asked them something similar. The children were able to explain that the day was a day of fasting and that you get ashes put on your head at Church.
My friend didn’t realise until that point that the ashes part of Ash Wednesday was a literal thing, but a quick Google search was able to clarify a lot for him and his colleague. I was also able to clarify that the children were still eating that day because the fast is only a reduction in food and an abstinence from meat, not a giving up on food in its entirety for the day.
A related point was that we reminisced on his experience in the Navy a few years ago . The Church on the base apparently had pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, which he enjoyed and was able to remember the context of (namely, that it was in preparation for fasting during Lent by using the last of the flour, etc. in one’s house). These are great little examples of evangelisation and education surrounding the faith.
Prayer can extend one’s lifespan
The Epistle reading from the Traditional Mass for Thursday after Ash Wednesday is taken from Isaiah 38:1-6. It is no longer a reading used during the season and it appears that is a shame, as it makes apparent that prayer can extend one’s life. Note: I am not saying prayer will extend one’s life, but rather that this is a documented case of prayer extending a person’s life. The passage is as follows:
“In those days Ezechias was sick even to death, and Isaias the son of Amos the Prophet came unto him, and said to him: Thus saith the Lord: Take order with thy house, for thou shalt die, and not live. And Ezechias turned his face towards the wall, and prayed to the Lord, and said: I beseech Thee, O Lord, remember how I have walked before Thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight. And Ezechias wept with great weeping. And the word of the Lord came to Isaias, saying: Go, and say to Ezechias: Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy Father: I have heard thy prayer, and I have seen thy tears: behold I will add to thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of the Assyrians, and I will protect it, saith the Lord almighty.”
The introduction to this reading in the 1962 Missal says the following:
“The Epistle of today inculcates the spirit of prayer which forms part of the forty days’ penance. It was by prayer that Ezechias obtained a prolongation of his life. It is by prayer that we shall obtain from God the strength to mortify ourselves in order that we may gain pardon of our sins and win the healing remedy for our souls unto life everlasting.”
This reminds me of the verse quoted by Jesus when he was being tempted by Satan; “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Consider these benefits, and trust in the Lord to help you through this season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Obedience to the law of God results in blessings
I see so many people I know that have so much more potential than they are currently fulfilling, but are hindered in their success by their refusal to be obedient. This obedience applies chiefly to the law of God and to His Church, but also to natural law, the laws of society, obedience to cultural expectations, upholding one’s responsibilities within the family and obedience to a boss. It may not be the cause, but it seems to be the case that almost all of these people that have issues with authority also come from families where the father either left or was absent from the home, and was not a great role model. Unfortunately, for those who are now parents, most of them are repeating the cycle, rather than breaking the pattern and attempting to be more noble and honourable in relation to their children than their own father was to them.
The reading from Deuteronomy this morning at the Ordinary Mass shows that obedience to God’s law brings many blessings. It would be wise for these friends and acquaintances of mine to reconsider their position as it relates to obedience, for it could very well change their lives for the better.
Rosary and the Brown Scapular
I joined the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary back in October (7th October – Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary), and on St Valentine’s day (14th February) I joined the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular. I have found both helpful in fighting sin, but especially the Brown Scapular has been really helpful the last few weeks in achieving victories in areas where previously I was falling short. I’m now undertaking my total consecration to Mary according to the method of St Louis de Montfort, and I am encouraging most Catholics I speak to that are not part of either of these confraternities to join them.
That’s it for now friends. I’ll keep you posted on how things progress as we move further through Lent. God bless.