I remember as a young person hearing the priest exhort us to make a good Lent because “for someone in this congregation it will be their last Lent.” And he was always right.
Certainly, the obvious time of year to examine our sinful ways has to be the penitential season of Lent which begins today, Ash Wednesday. The clue is in those sobering words which the priest says as he places the ashes on our forehead: “Remember, soul, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.”
Trying to find something imaginative to post here, I visited a site listing one hundred possible Lenten penances, every one of which began with the words “Give up…” Chocolate was on that list. Can you believe it?
Seriously, small sacrifices are, of course, important, but is there another angle? All ideas welcome…
Reminder: we always close to blog to comments for the duration of Holy Week.
From Rorate Caeli – What does a Catholic bishop do when government orders the end of gatherings in times of Coronavirus? This:
Northern Italy is in a state of semi-lockdown due to the spread of the current most dangerous strain of the Coronavirus, as large public gatherings have been forbidden for several days in most of the regions — including Lombardy, Veneto, Liguria, Piedmont, CEmilia-Romagna.
Since some of the local “ordinanze” (decrees) include the prohibition of “religious” gatherings, and getting ahead of the public authorities, several dioceses in the region have suspended religious activities.
Now, as the very high death toll in a few days (over 50 so far, in only a week) in the Islamic Shia center of Qom, in Iran, has shown, religious gatherings can indeed lead to widespread infection and high mortality rates. But what if there is a way to keep the worship of God while complying with public demands to avoid contagion?
The Bishop of Pavia, in Lombardy, Corrado Sanguineti, shows that is possible. His pastoral letter on the matter is a lesson in common sense, and in particular we call your attention to this paragraph:
While unfortunately having to suspend the celebration of the Holy Masses until further notice, I order that Churches remain open, for the personal prayer of the faithful, and I ask that, even on weekdays, priests celebrate daily Mass, behind closed doors, praying in the name of the whole community, signaling with the sound of the bells that the Eucharist is being offered for the living and the dead: even if we cannot celebrate publicly, the liturgical prayer must not fail, which for us priests is a daily appointment of life and is an inexhaustible source of grace for all the people of God. Priests must keep in touch with the faithful, and must not fail to continue their presence among the sick and the elderly in homes and welcoming structures.
Of course, private daily Masses “without the people” are a traditional practice, and well known to Traditional Catholics, but not very common among large numbers of clergy raised with the Novus Ordo, so the reminder is necessary. Ends
There’s another very interesting article on the subject of the Coronavirusover at Rorate Caeli – well worth reading right through, but for now, here’s an extract from the close of the piece, where the author links the miracle of the Archangel St Michael in ending that plague with the apparition of the same Archangel at Fatima…
Pope Gregory I was canonized, proclaimed Doctor of the Church and went down in history known as the “Great”. After his death the Romans began calling the Hadrian Mausoleum “Castel Sant’Angelo” and, in remembrance of the miracle, placed at the top of the castle, the statue of St. Michael, head of the heavenly militia, in the act of sheathing his sword. Still today in the Capitoline Museum a circular stone with foot-prints is kept, which according to tradition, had been left by the Archangel when he stood to declare the end of the plague. Also Cardinal Cesare Baronio (1538-1697), considered one of the greatest historians of the Church for the rigor of his research, confirms the apparition of the Angel on top of the castle. (Odorico Ranaldi, Annali ecclesiastici tratti da quelli del cardinal Baronio, anno 590, Appresso Vitale Mascardi, Roma 1643, pp. 175-176).
We note only that if the Angel, thanks to the appeal of St. Gregory, sheathed his sword, it means that it had been first drawn to punish the sins of the Roman people. The Angels in fact are the executors of divine punishments on people, as the dramatic vision of the Third Secret of Fatima reminds us, by calling us to repentance: “an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’”
Is the spread of the Coronavirus related in some way to the vision of the Third Secret? The future will tell us. However the appeal to penance remains of prime urgency for our age and the prime remedy to guarantee our salvation, in time and eternity. The words of St. Gregory the Great must resound again in our hearts: “What will we say of the terrible events of which we are witnesses if not that they are predictions of a future wrath? Think then dearest brothers, with extreme care to that day, correct your lives, change your habits, defeat with all your might the temptations of evil, punish with tears, sins committed” (Omelia prima sui Vangeli, in Il Tempo di Natale nella Roma di Gregorio Magno, Acqua Pia Antica Marcia, Roma 2008, pp. 176-177).
It is these words, not the dream of Amazzonia felix, that today are needed in the Church which appears the way St. Gregory described it in his times: “A very old ship, horrifically gashed; waves and rotted planks getting in everywhere; shaken everyday by a violent tempest, foreshadowing a shipwreck (Registrum I, 4 ad Ioann. episcop. Constantinop.)”. But way back then Divine Providence called forth a helmsman, who, as St. Pius X states: “amid the raging waves was able not only to dock in the harbor, but also secure the ship from future storms” (Enciclica Jucunda sane del 12 marzo 1904). Ends.
So… Is the Catholic response to the Coronavirus simply prayer and penance? Really? Why?
But what sort of “good books” and “spiritual reading” will help us to save our souls?
I’ve heard young Catholics raving about Lord of the Rings as a great story and a marvellous means of understanding their Faith better. Here’s author J.R.R. Tolkien: “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.”  By design The Lord of the Rings is not a Christian allegory but rather an invented myth  about Christian and Catholic truths. As one commentator noted, giving a young person Lord of the Rings as a means of communicating essential truths of the Faith is to use the same method a mother uses to feed spinach to her baby – sneaking it in via the rivetting story!
If you can think of other non-fiction works to recommend – not just for the young but for us all, as wholesome as possible – let’s hear it…
Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls. (St. Alphonsus Liguori)
There is an abundance of solid spiritual reading available; given the state of the Church right now, however, it is wise to avoid contemporary writings and stick with the tried and tested classics written by great saints, such as The Sermons of St Alphonsus…
for purchasing details, click on image…
For purchasing details click on image…
The Secret of the Rosaryby St Louis De Montfort is another classic, which I’m currently re-reading – it never fails to inspire and edify – highly recommended, although I have to admit that not everyone finds it an easy read in the beginning – but it’s worth persevering. I’ve heard it described as “transformative” – with good reason. You can read it online by clicking on the link above, at the name of the book.
For details of how to purchase a copy, click on image…
Another book which has transformed the spiritual lives of Catholics since its publication is St Thérèse of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul which, again, you can read online here
The Life of Christ by Fulton Sheen is another beautiful read; to quote the blurb on the back page of the complete and unabridged copy which describes the contents faithfully: “With his customary insight and reverence, the author interprets the scripture and describes Christ not only in historical perspective but in exciting and contemporary terms; he sees in Christ’s life modern parallels and timeless lessons. Sheen probes the hearts of many prominent New Testament figures – Joseph and Mary, Peter and the disciples, Herod, Pilate, et al – shedding new light on age-old events. The whole adds up to a masterful study: a faithful blending of philosophy, history, and biblical exegesis.”
For details of how to purchase a copy, click on image…
Share your favourite spiritual reading with us in the comments below – not least reading that will inspire us to persevere during Lent… Now, there’s a challenge, folks!
The blog will be closed to comments throughout Advent, to allow us all to prepare spiritually and materially for the Feast of Christmas.
As we all know, in Advent we prepare firstly to welcome the long-awaited Messiah into the world, in celebration of the first Christmas when He came into the world to save us from sin and eternal death. Secondly, we reflect on the Second Coming of Christ when He will come to judge the world. Salvation and Judgment, then, are themes which give us plenty of food for meditation, reflection and prayer during the four weeks of Advent.
Again, as we know, and it is good to remind ourselves, Advent, like Lent, is a time of penance – the “famine before the feast” – so, the Catholic Truth team wishes all of our bloggers, readers and lurkers, a very peaceful and productive Advent.
The blog will re-open to comments on Christmas day.
It’s now very clear today, with news of the latest Sky Data poll apparently showing a dramatic change in the public mood with more people changing their minds about leaving, and thinking we ought to stay in the EU, that my own personal prophesy, when the referendum was announced in 2016, is apparently coming true: we will never be permitted to leave the EU. The EU will see to it that we remain imprisoned in their diabolical project. Bit by bit, the media – especially the broadcasting media – have been building up their case for remaining; leading questions, ill-informed discussions, second-rate and manifestly biased commentators creating a picture of devastation outside the EU. And, it must be said, the Leave side has been weak in its response – when, that is, they are permitted to respond. So, what, if anything, can be done about it?
Blogger, Westminster Fly, replies…
The EU is a spiritual problem – being freemasonic and satanic in origin, “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.”
So I think we’ve got to go all out about this – have Masses said, rosaries, novenas, and penance, that we may completely leave the EU and that it may be destroyed completely.
The battle won’t be won by clueless politicians like Theresa May, that’s for sure. Humanly speaking, I think our best bet is if they get rid of her, and Boris Johnson gets in and gets Jacob Rees Mogg in the cabinet, then we stand a chance. Both are far from perfect, but they are light years ahead of Theresa May.
Apparently, since May gave out her Chequers statement, UKIP membership has gone through the roof again. Farage is talking about coming back. God uses all these imperfect instruments, but I still think the best way for a clean break with the EU is an intensive Mass/prayer/penance campaign.
Also, it may be one of these things that isn’t resolved until the Consecration of Russia. But the signs are there. EU apparatchiks are getting worried about ‘right-wing populism’ (i.e. patriotism and common sense) resurfacing in various countries. Things are on the move… so the remedy must be spiritual.
Comments invited – share your thoughts on this Sky Data Poll – is it contrived, or fake news? Share, too, your suggestions about prayers and penances as we reflect on Westminster Fly’s contention that the BREXIT remedy must be spiritual.
There can sometimes be a failure to understand the true nature of Lent. It’s seen, rightly, as a time of prayer and penance, making atonement for sins, and reflecting on the Passion and Death of Our Lord. However, arguably, the majority of Catholics pay insufficient attention to what should be the outcome of our Lenten prayers and penances – namely, an increase in our love for Our Lord. It’s sometimes striking to reflect on the uncharitable way we behave towards others, sometimes even right after attending Mass or praying a rosary – indications that we are seriously lacking in charity, that charity which isthe love of God, made manifest in our lives…
I am ashamed to admit that I have never – ever – made a good Lent. My attempted penances over the years include the classics; giving up chocolate, crisps, soft drinks – and if I were fond of the less soft drinks, I would have, very likely, sacrificed those as well (pat on the back), but I can’t , without fibbing, claim an increased love of God, manifesting itself in increased charity towards my neighbour, as a result. The truth that no-one can stand still in the spiritual life – we either go forwards or back – terrifies me. I need help, therefore, and I’m hoping that this thread will do the trick…
As we mark the beginning of Lent today, Ash Wednesday, share your ideas for useful penances, and post any meditations, experiences, prayers, hymns and advice that you think will be helpful to us all this Lent, as we seek to grow in the love of God.
As the season of Lent calls us to a sober and reflective assessment of our lives, at the same time the principal arts festival of the Archdiocese gets underway. That apparent contradiction is explained away by casting an eye over the many elements of this year’s programme. For they are, in truth, aids to living Lent well … the Stations of the Cross rediscovered; the great drama of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection interpreted through the new prism of music and visual art; a revisiting of the theme of redemption through drama and an opportunity to deepen our appreciation of the pontificates of two great Popes soon to be canonised (John XXIII and John Paul II) through film. Lentfest is about deepening our faith through the gift of the arts. We thank those whose work will open up for us new horizons, and pray that all who are touched by the events of the coming weeks will sense the call of the Lord to repentance and newness of life.
Just a few months ago Pope Francis summed up our hopes for this year’s Lentfest very well when he said: “In every age the Church has called upon the arts to give expression to the beauty of her faith and to proclaim the Gospel message of the grandeur of God’s creation, the dignity of human beings made in his image and likeness, and the power of Christ’s death and resurrection to bring redemption and rebirth to a world touched by the tragedy of sin and death.” “What are you doing for Lent?” is a question you might be asked over the next few weeks. While our practical resolutions may involve prayer, fasting and almsgiving, our ultimate goal should be to find and grow closer to God in our lives, and to love our neighbour more generously. My wish is that in attending some of the events of this year’s festival that search for God in your life and commitment to service may be intensified and given new impetus.
“rediscovered; new; revisiting” … the same theme all the time. Everything has to be “new”, we have to “rediscover” and “revisit” every darn thing – even penance and fasting.
Is it really possible to make the message of prayer, penance and fasting more attractive through attending various entertainment shows?I can’t see it, but if you can, please explain…I’d love to be booking theatre tickets for the next six weeks as my Lenten penance, so I’m very open minded about this… 😀