Quadragesima - The Forty Days

A term we may not hear often is that of Quadragesima - which is the Latin name for the forty days of Lent.  Today (Sunday) is not counted in the Quadragesima - since all Sundays are solemnities, and we are not obliged to participate in fasting and abstinence on solemnities.  If you count the days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, omitting the Sundays, you have forty days - the Quadragesima.

Best Lent Ever!

What did you give up for Lent?  You haven't yet?  You've already messed up?  Well, it's not too late!  Yes, Lent began on Ash Wednesday, but it's never too late to join in the penance!  An alternative to "giving something up" is to "take something up!"  Matthew Kelly has a program you can sign up for which will send you a little quote to meditate on throughout the day, or perhaps a 2-3 minute video.  He promises to make this your "Best Lent Ever!"  If you're not already doing something, or you've not been successful at it - or if you would just like to add these meditations to your existing practice, give it a try!  Matthew Kelly is very dynamic and inspiring, I think you'll like him!


Carnival The Time to Put Away the Flesh

With Fat Tuesday right around the corner, the Feast of Carnival is upon us.  This is an unofficial feast in Catholic countries and localities.  One of the most well known is the Mardi Gras of New Orleans. 

The original purpose of the Carnival was to rid yourself of all the excesses you might have - some of the extra "treats" you might have left over from Christmas.  Now is the time to have a party and consume all that you can, for on Ash Wednesday we begin 40 days of penitential observance as we prepare for Easter Sunday and the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

The former tradition (still practiced among Eastern Orthodoxy) was to rid your household of all meat products.  No beef, no chicken, no fish, no butter, no milk, no cheese - in short, it was a very vegan holiday.  There still are good reasons, healthy reasons, to give up all meat products for 40 days per year.  The current law in place for Latin Rite Catholics is fasting and complete abstinence from meat (fish is allowed) on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent.  The fast allows for one full meal and two smaller meals, which if put together do not equal one full meal - and no snacking in between.  Sundays remain solemnities, and therefore fasting and abstinence is not required on Sundays (though you still could do so).  Those who are required to participate in the fasting are those who have reached 18 years old and not yet reached 60.  There is no age on abstinence, all Catholics are required, regardless of age, to participate in abstinence (unless there is some medical necessity).

Then there's the "What You Gave Up For Lent" tradition.  Again, this is not an official mandate of the Catholic Church - but it is very popular among Catholics and other Christians too.  The purpose is to give up something, easy or hard, that you would normally partake in on a daily basis.  When you would have partaken in whatever that is, you think upon the penance Jesus did for 40 days in the desert before beginning His public ministry and/or meditate on something from Passion Week, where He suffered immensely for our sins, eventually to be wholly humiliated and crucified.  Lent is a time of "putting away the flesh..." a time of "carnival."
from medieval Latin carnelevamen, carnelevarium ‘Shrovetide,’ from Latin caro, carn- ‘flesh’ + levare ‘put away.

The problem we have is that Mardi Gras has become a secular "holiday" and many people engage in excess just for the sake of being excessive.  Unfortunately, this may (and often does) include other sinful acts.  While much of what goes on in places like New Orleans is not done by Catholics, many Catholics are drawn in by the excitement and temptations of the excesses, so what started out as a means to rid ones self of excess, it has become a day which invites excess where there may not have been any to begin with - it becomes an excuse to be sinful.

Catholic In Good Standing?

On a discussion board elsewhere a person I was debating with claims he is a Catholic in good standing with the Church.  I found that rather curious, as this person obstinately denies SEVERAL dogmatically defined (infallible) teachings of the Catholic Church.  My response back to him was that he's either flying under the radar of his local bishop - or - he's too weak or liberal to take action.  The fact is if one who is validly baptized "obstinately denies" even ONE de fide teaching of the Catholic Faith, then he is a heretic. 
Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith  
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2H.HTM (Code of Canon Law)
 Can. 1364 §1. Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 194, §1, n. 2, an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication; 
http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P52.HTM (Code of Canon Law)
So, one does not need to be exposed to their local bishop.  If one who has been baptized has demonstrated to be in obstinate denial or doubt then they incur an automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication.  So there can be little doubt, actually NO doubt for this person to whom I refer.  Below is a partial list of the teachings he obstinately denies:
  • The inerrancy of Scripture
  • The Immaculate Conception
  • The Nativity Narratives
  • The Virgin Birth of Christ
  • The Divinity of Christ
  • That Jesus started a Church
  • Papal Infallibility
  • Infallibility of Ecumenical Councils
  • The Blessed Trinity (as Three Divine Persons in One God)
  • The Bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
These are not all the teachings this person denies, but for a baptized Catholic to obstinately deny even ONE of these teachings equates to heresy and an heretic is automatically excommunicated, no official action need to be taken by their local bishop (but he could act, if he so chooses).  

My recommendation to this person, who still claims to be a Catholic in good standing:  My friend, you are not in good standing with the Catholic Church!  You need to go to your confessor and confess these sins (each heresy IS a mortal sin!) and sincerely repent of having committed these offenses and sincerely resolve not to commit these sins again.  Be humble and submit yourself to the due and proper authority which Jesus Christ left His Flock.  It is ONLY through His bishops and/or one whom they have authorized (such as priests within their jurisdiction) who have the ability/authority to forgive your sins.  It is my prayer that you come back to full communion with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.


Quinquagesima Sunday

Latin for "50 days" - we're quickly approaching the season of Lent!  This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and so begins Lent 2015.  Lent is actually 40 days which symbolize the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert in fasting and penance before beginning His public ministry.  It is also prefigured by the 40 years the people of Israel wandered in the desert before God allowed them to enter the Promised Land.   Quinquagesima is for "50 days" - which mathematically it does not add up, like Quadragesima (40 days) does for Lent (beginning Ash Wednesday, minus the Sundays = 40 days till Easter Sunday).

On the modern calendar, Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima Sundays are not observed as such - in fact, they are part of "Ordinary Time."  To me, this is sad for we lose a special season which is anything but "ordinary!"  During these three weeks before Lent we can begin our Lenten preparations and plans.  This is one of the reasons I prefer the Extra-ordinary Rite, where the traditional lectionary is still observed.  We don't lose these weeks to "Ordinary Time."

Ordinary Time?
Every so often I like to point out as well that "Ordinary Time" is anything but "ordinary" too!  It is unfortunate that name is used.  Ordinary was taken from the previous tradition of calling the weeks between Epiphany and Septuagesima as the "ordinal" weeks or "counting" weeks after Epiphany.  This allows us to hang on to Christmas that much longer too as we recall the Epiphany of the Three Wise Men.  We return to "ordinal" or "counting" weeks after Pentecost, which last throughout the rest of the liturgical year - when Advent begins.  In the modern lectionary the weeks after Pentecost continue with where the weeks after Epiphany ended and are weeks in "Ordinary Time" - which makes them sound, well, "ordinary."  Again, if we look at the readings and follow the seasons, Ordinal Time is anything but ordinary!

What are YOU offering up for Lent this year?
Lent is a time for fasting and penance and traditionally Catholics, as well as many other Christians, "give up something" for Lent.  Some make it hard on themselves, so they actually feel some suffering, while others make it "easy" but something they would normally partake in every day so that when they would have partaken in it they are reminded of what Christ went through for us to redeem us from our sin.  So, you don't have to be hard on yourself - and sometimes even "easy" things get a bit "difficult" after 40 days!  So, choose wisely!   Pick something you'll actually stick to so that your penance not only has meaning, but you will have that feeling of accomplishment on Easter Sunday.

Only A Few Days Left!
Sounds like a sale!  Well, the fact is - Lent begins this Wednesday!  During Lent we do not have parties and celebrations - (kinda tough on those of us who have birthdays in Lent!) - or if we do, we can have such celebrations on Sundays.  Sundays are "feast days" and just like every Friday (throughout the year, not just Lent) are like "little Good Fridays," Sundays throughout the year are like "little Easters."  We do not fast or abstain on Sundays or other solemnities.  Sometimes these last days before Lent are full of rabble-rousing, in fact "Fat Tuesday" was/is an unofficial Catholic holiday.  Fat Tuesday was like THE day to get all your partying, and sweets, and deserts, etc. over with, because for the next 40 days - we do without these things, again excepting Sundays (in Eastern tradition the lenten penance is still observed even on Sundays).

Sexagesima Sunday

Today is Sexagesima Sunday!  The name is representative of "60 Days" before Easter.  It doesn't work out to 60 days, but close.  What this really means is Lent is quickly approaching!  Next Sunday is Quinquagesima Sunday (50 days), which is the last Sunday before Lent and that begins on the Wednesday following Quinquagesima, Ash Wednesday.  Have you given any thought to what you will be offering up for Lent?  Something difficult?  Something easy?  The point will be is to offer up something that when you would have partaken in it, you meditate for a moment (or longer!) upon the 40 days of fasting which Jesus Christ went through just before Palm Sunday and Passion Week.  You don't have to suffer for what you're giving up - just think about Jesus Christ and what He did and does for you.

Today, as we learn of the Sower - the Seed is the Word of God, what kind of "Soil" are you?  Are you preparing for Lent?


(According to the Extraordinary/Traditional Rite)

COLLECT -O God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do: mercifully grant that by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles we may be defended against all adversities. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth . . .

2 Corinthians 11: 19-33; 12: 1-9
Brethren, You gladly suffer the foolish: whereas yourselves are wise. For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be lifted up, if a man strike you on the face. I speak according to dishonor, as if we had been weak in the past. Wherein if any man dare (I speak foolishly), I dare also. They are Hebrews, so am I. They are Israelites, so am I. They are the seed of Abraham, so am I. They are the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise), I am more: in many more labors, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea: in journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren: in labor and painfulness, in much watching, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness; besides those things which are without, my daily instance, the solicitude for all the Churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is scandalized, and I am not on fire? If I must needs glroy, I will glory of the things that concern my infirmity. The God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for ever, knoweth that I lie not. At Damascus the governor of the nation under Aretas the king, guarded the city of the Damascenes, to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands. If I must glory (it is not expedient indeed) but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, whether in the body I know not, or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth, such a one caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man, whether in the body or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth: that he was caught up unto paradise, and heard secret words which it is not granted to man to utter. For such a one I will glory: but for myself I will glory nothing but in my infirmities. For though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish: for I will say the truth: but I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me. And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, and angel of Satan, to buffet me. For which thing, thrice I besought the Lord that it might depart from me. And He said to me: my grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Psalm 82: 19, 14
Let the Gentiles know that God is Thy Name: Thou alone art the Most High over all the earth. V.: O my God, make them like a wheel, and as stubble before the wind.

Psalm 59: 4, 6
Thou hast moved the earth, O Lord, and hast troubled it. V.: Heal Thou the breaches thereof, for it has been moved. V.: That they may flee from before the bow: that Thine elect may be delivered.

GOSPEL Luke 8: 4 - 15
At that time, when a very great multitude was gathered together and hastened out of the cities unto Jesus, He spoke by a similitude: The sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And other some fell upon a rock: and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other some fell among thorns, and the thorns growing up with it choked it. And other some fell upon good ground: and being sprung up yielded fruit a hundredfold. Saying these things, He cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And His disciples asked Him what this parable might be. To whom He said: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to the rest in parables: that seeing they may not see, and hearing may not understand. Now the parable is this. The seed is the word of God. And they by the wayside are they that hear: then the devil cometh and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. Now they upon the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no roots: for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation they fall away. And that which fell away among thorns are they who have heard and, going their way, are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. But on the good ground are they who in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience.

Auschwitz - Never Again!

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Feast of the Assumption

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