First Sunday of Lent

First Sunday of Lent

Lent began last Wednesday, which of course was Ash Wednesday. It is traditional to do penance during Lent, or "give up something" for Lent. While this practice is not a requirement, it is a very pious and can be very healthy, both spiritually and physically - depending on what you "gave up." So, how are you doing so far? I know, it has been less that a week, but sometimes those first few days are the hardest. Be of good cheer! Even if you "messed up" already, don't give up! Remember, it is not a requirement - and remember WHY you are doing it!

Why Do We Do Penance for Lent?

Simply stated, Jesus did a forty (40) day penance (fasting) prior to Palm Sunday. He knew what the next week (Holy Week, as we now call it) would hold in store for Him. We all know what He went through - FOR US - so remembering not only the forty days Jesus "offered up" - but also His Passion and death on the Cross, THIS is why we have "offered up" a small sacrifice, or penance, for the forty days of Lent. Each time we would have had that cup of coffee or drank that soda or ate that chocolate or ate that red meat, etc. we should bring our thoughts, even if just for a moment, upon the penance and suffering Christ went through on our behalf. When you would have had that donut at breakfast time just say "Thank you, Jesus!" and do or have something else. 

No Meat on Fridays!

Yes, no meat at all on Fridays during Lent (Ash Wednesday too but that has past now). This penance (something offered up) is a practice which ALL Catholics MUST do during Lent. Keeping in mind, ALL Fridays throughout the year we are still required to do penance (or an act of charity) and prior to 1966 that Friday penance HAD to be abstinence from meat. Now it doesn't HAVE to be meat, but it has to be SOMETHING and while it doesn't HAVE to be meat, it CAN be! So, if you HAVE to do something on EVERY FRIDAY THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, why not hold to the traditional penance of abstaining from meat? As mentioned earlier, it CAN be an act of charity, but one should exercise caution in selecting this because it is not something you do every-so-often, but EVERY Friday. Say your act of charity is to visit a nursing home and talk with the residents, fine, but be sure you do it EVERY FRIDAY! "For every Friday is like a "little Good Friday." If you're not being consistent with what you choose - then are you really picking something which you will offer up ALL Fridays throughout the year?

Is There an Exception to the Every Friday Rule?

Yes! IF a solemnity falls on a Friday then there is no fasting or abstinence requirement for a solemnity is like a Sunday, which is a celebratory day in remembrance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every Sunday is like a "little Easter," Likewise, whatever it is you have offered up for Lent you do not need to offer it up on Sundays (and shouldn't) because in celebrating your "little Easter" every week you should not be suffering.

Have a Great Lent!

Our Eastern brethren begin Lent last Sunday (they don''t do Ash Wednesday) and their Lenten penance is far more strict than typically observed in the Latin Church, (giving up meat, dairy, and eggs for ALL days of Lent, not just Fridays). For all Christians, please have a great Lent and remember WHY we "offer up" what we do during this season.


Ash Wednesday

‘Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.’

‘Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.’

On this day, the first day of Lent, we meditate upon who we are and what we are. We are nothing more than created elements of this earth sustained together by God. Our bodies came from the earth and to the earth, they shall return. That speaks of the physical body - not of the soul. The soul is eternal and after this life, the soul is judged and will spend eternity with God - or eternity without God. The latter is the state of hell, where those who refuse His redemptive gift will spend eternity, weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 22:13).

The ashes represent our mortality, and the dust we shall return to. They are a sign of penance and mourning. We mourn not for our pain and suffering, but for the pain and suffering which Jesus underwent for us during His passion and death. It is because of this passion and death that Jesus paid the price of our redemption and we can then rejoice with Him and the angels in eternity - IF - we believe in Him and confess Him among our neighbors. The penitential rite of wearing the ashes for the day of Ash Wednesday is one of those ways we confess Him before others. The ashes are a reminder of our death - and remind us to be ready for that death.

Offer up something for Lent that will continue to remind you of Jesus and the 40 days He spent fasting in the desert before He entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and then the suffering of Passion Week which culminates on Good Friday with His death on the Cross and burial in the tomb.

Also, remember - Ash Wednesday and all Fridays throughout Lent are days of fasting and abstinence from meat. NO MEAT and only ONE full meal for the day plus two smaller meals which if combined do not equal a full meal. 

Cheesefare Sunday

Well, for the Orthodox this year Cheesefare Sunday or Forgiveness Sunday is not until March 1st, but in the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, since their Lent aligns with the Latin Church, TODAY is Cheesefare Sunday!

What IS Cheesefare Sunday?

Cheesefare Sunday is the culmination of Cheesefare Week, which is the last week before Lent begins and for those who celebrate Great Lent (Eastern Rite Catholics and Eastern Orthodox), this is the last day to partake in dairy products, meat, and eggs until the Pascha - Easter Sunday. The Monday after Cheesefare Sunday then begins Lent for Eastern Catholics.

Forgiveness Sunday

Another name for Cheesefare Sunday is Forgiveness Sunday. On this Sunday at the end of Divine Liturgy, the congregation lines up to go before the priest and they ask the priest for forgiveness of their sins and he says "May the Lord forgive you" then he asks each member of the congregation for forgiveness and they, one at a time, ask the Lord to forgive the priest his sins too. In this way it symbolizes starting Lent with a clean slate.

Do not then, confront your neighbor in judgment - rather do so in a spirit of forgiveness. Especially during Lent - let your confrontations be in the spirit of love and charity - and not in judgment of one another. This sentiment is not just for Lent!

Adam and Eve Cast Out of the Garden

One of the themes for Forgiveness Sunday is the casting our of Eden of Adam and Eve, but the focus, rather than on their sin, is upon their reconciliation to and through Jesus Christ.

Bp Barron on Hell

OK, I threw my hat into the ring on this discussion recently on Twitter, actually, the first time I did so was here on this blog back in January of 2014. Some have been very aggressively attacking Bp. Barron's statement of "hope" that hell could be empty - and back in 2014, I was among them.  Scripture even tells us that God desires all men to be saved (1 Tim. 3:3-4) and that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

What did Bp. (then Fr.) Barron say which is so controversial now? From the Word On Fire website:
Bishop Barron is convinced we have a “reasonable hope” that all will be saved. But the first step in assessing and critiquing a view is to understand the terms of the view as its proponent is using them. It’s important to note how Bishop Barron is using those two words in this context (“reasonable” and “hope”).
First, he means reasonable in the sense that we have good reasons to ground our hope—namely, the cross and Resurrection of Jesus and his divine mercy. He isn’t making any sort of probabilistic judgment, as if to say reasonable means “very likely” or “quite probable.”
Second, we should recognize hope to mean a deep desire and longing, tied to love, for the salvation of all people, but without knowing all will be saved, thinking all will be saved, or even expecting all will be saved.
Bishop Barron does not hold any of these alternative views. He does not know all will be saved, he does not think all will be saved, and he does not expect all to be saved   (emphasis added).
That last line summarizes Bp. Barron's position. 

I would posit to Bp. Barron a question: "Is it scandalous to express hope and even encourage a position which has undertones of apocatastics?" Bp. Barron's position is evoking scandalous attacks upon him from Catholics who are defending the Catholic faith. Therein lie the sadness and irony.

Before (or if ever) one goes public in criticizing a bishop, by name, they should attempt to have other bishops consult the allegedly errant bishop in private - or even write to the successor of St. Peter and ask him to intervene. The problem with publicly criticizing a bishop is that it can be scandalous in not respecting the office. I'm sure those criticizing are arguing that it is more important to expose error than it is to respect the office. To that, I would disagree. Two wrongs do not make a right. If we wish to attack that which we perceive to be error - then we should do our best to charitably explain why we believe such a statement is in error - without naming names. All the while, even though confronting a perceived erroneous statement or position - we must respect the office of a bishop and to not do so brings scandal upon ourselves and any such scandal may do more harm to the Church as a whole than whatever good may come from exposing error. Expose the error but let the man (or woman) face God and his/her confessor.

Quinquagesima Sunday Final Prep for Lent

Quinquagesima is the last Sunday before the start of Lent, on Ash Wednesday. The literal name means 50 days, as in 50 days before Easter Sunday. While not being precisely 50 days, Lent represents the 40 days of Jesus' time in the desert of fasting and penance, Septuagesima literally refers to 70 days and Sexagesima 60 days. Lent itself is 40 days of fasting and penance. Sundays are not counted as they are still considered feast days - every Sunday is like "a little Easter" in that respect, so there is no fasting or penance on Sundays. 

What Will Be Your Penance for Lent?

Traditionally, in remembrance of Jesus' penance - we offer up something during Lent in communion with His suffering. It does not need to be something severe, as the purpose is to bring to mind Jesus' 40 days each time we would have partaken in that which we have offered up for Lent. Even something simple, for the first few days, can seem rather easy to give up - but it still brings to mind that when you would have eaten, drank or done that which is your penance, specifically, Jesus' suffering in the desert and generally His ultimate Sacrifice for you on the Cross. As the days turn into weeks, even the most simple of penance can become harder to resist, and become an even greater reminder of why you offered it up.

Anecdotal Examples:

In previous Lenten observances, this writer has given up something as simple as "dark soda." No colas, root beers, Dr. Pepper, or the like - leaving things like 7 Up, Fresca, and sparkling waters. Another year it was red meat, leaving chicken and pork. Another year, fried foods. By the end of Lent, the cravings were quite high for a real Coke or a nice steak or french fries! No matter how simple it may seem - it can be a valuable lesson and practice. In past days the tradition was to give up all leaven, eggs and meat (still observed in Eastern Orthodoxy, and their Lenten season is several weeks longer than in the West/Latin tradition). Giving up eggs for Lent is one of the reasons we have "Easter Eggs" - for it was such a treat to be able to eat eggs again - and in order to preserve the eggs for the season, they were boiled.


Generally, we do not do any celebrating during Lent, as it is not a time for such. If your birthday falls in Lent (which it does for this writer almost every year!) then any recognition of the birthday should be done on the closest Sunday, for again, Sundays are not days of fasting and penance.

More Catholics in Germany than Protestants

In a recent PEW survey conducted in Germany, Catholics now outnumber Protestants. At first this sounds like great news to Catholics – in the nation which was, for all intents and purposes, the birthplace of Protestantism, Catholicism is bigger than all forms of Protestantism (Lutherans, Baptists, etc.). Upon closer reflection both Protestants and Catholics have really gone down in the percentage they hold in Germany and those who claim to be not religious has grown, taking some from the other two groups (Evans, 2019). Protestants have lost more ground than Catholics - but both have lost ground to those who claim to have no religious affiliation - and also according to church attendance roles.

Catholics only hold a slight edge on Protestants, but the bigger story here is how many both have lost. Religion is losing out to non-religion, not to mention the growth of Islam in Europe too, which is also taking its toll on Christian church attendance. 

No doubt, the sex scandals of recent years/decades has coloured the eyes of many who have left the Church over these. Part of our mission is to educate them and bring them home. Just because there were some bad men IN the Church does not make the Church herself to be bad. 

Outside the Catholic Church there is no valid Eucharist. Outside the a valid apostolic succession of bishops - there is no forgiveness of sins (John 20:21-23). Jesus sent out His apostles to do what He did, celebrate Eucharist being right at the top of the list. Then breathing on them, He tells them whose sins YOU forgive, are forgiven and whose sins you do not forgive (retain) are not forgiven.

This is a call, not just for Germany's former Catholics and Protestants, but to the same throughout the world!  


Evans, J. (2019). Once a majority, Protestants now account for fewer than a third of Germans. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

SSPX Excommunications Were Remitted


In a letter of 15 December 2008 addressed to Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", Mons. Bernard Fellay writing also in the name of the other three Bishops consecrated on 30 June 1988 requested once again the removal of the excommunication latae sententiae formally declared by a Decree of the Prefect of this Congregation for Bishops on 1 July 1988. In his letter, Mons. Fellay stated, among other things, that "we continue firmly resolute in our desire to remain Catholics and to put all our strength at the service of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept her teachings in a filial spirit. We firmly believe in the primacy of Peter and in his prerogatives, and for this reason the current situation causes us much suffering".
His Holiness Benedict XVI in his paternal concern for the spiritual distress which the parties concerned have voiced as a result of the excommunication, and trusting in their commitment, expressed in the aforementioned letter, to spare no effort in exploring as yet unresolved questions through requisite discussions with the authorities of the Holy See in order to reach a prompt, full and satisfactory solution to the original problem has decided to reconsider the canonical situation of Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, resulting from their episcopal consecration.
This act signifies a desire to strengthen reciprocal relations of trust, and to deepen and stabilize the relationship of the Society of St Pius X with this Apostolic See. This gift of peace, coming at the end of the Christmas celebrations, is also meant to be a sign which promotes the Universal Church's unity in charity, and removes the scandal of division.
It is hoped that this step will be followed by the prompt attainment of full communion with the Church on the part of the whole Society of St Pius X, which will thus bear witness to its genuine fidelity and genuine recognition of the Magisterium and authority of the Pope by the proof of visible unity.
On the basis of the powers expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, by virtue of the present Decree I remit the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae incurred by Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, and declared by this Congregation on 1 July 1988. At the same time I declare that, as of today's date, the Decree issued at that time no longer has juridical effect. (emphasis added)

Rome, from the Congregation for Bishops, 21 January 2009

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re


Sexagesima and the Fruitful Seed

In Matthew 13:18, Mark 4:13, and Luke 8:4-15. Jesus tells us of the parable of the sower who spread seed. Some of the seed fell on the path and the birds swooped down and ate it up. Some fell upon rocky soil, where the roots could not take hold and they soon withered and died. Some fell among thorns and as the seeds sprouted up - the seedlings were choked out by the weeds. Then some of the seed fell on good soil and it produced a great crop.

The seed is all good!  The seed is the Catholic Faith and the different soils are the different (types of) people who are given the Catholic Faith. For some, the Faith is given but they are unwilling to receive it and it is soon taken away (the path). For others, they receive the Faith - but they have not removed the obstacles (the rocks) and the Faith cannot flourish, and it dies. Similarly, some who receive the Faith are in a bad place and do not surround themselves with others who will help them - rather they are among those who will choke out the Faith when they see it growing. But for those who receive the Faith and are in good company, together they cultivate the Faith and help spread the Gospel to the world.

Which kind of soil are you?

In the Extraordinary Rite (Traditional Latin Rite) the Gospel this Sunday is from Luke 8:4-15 where Jesus tells the story above. As we prepare for Lent (in 2 weeks) we should be asking ourselves if we are the good soil - and if not, what can we do about it? Pray to the Lord to bring you into the good soil where His Faith, the Catholic Faith, can grow and flourish and that you too can be an apostle (one sent) to spread more seed and continue to grow His Kingdom.

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Septuagesima Sunday

Septuagesima is the ninth (9th) Sunday before Easter and the third (3rd) before the start of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday.

Farewell to the Alleluias

In the Latin tradition, the Saturday before Septuagesima Sunday is the last time the "Alleluias" are said in Mass until Easter and in place of the Alleluias the "Laus tibi Domini" is added. Also of note, the "Gloria in Excelsis" is omitted completely (Mershman, 1912).

Preparation for Lent

Our lessons are focused upon Genesis and the fall and misery of Man preparing us for our Lenten penance and ultimately the joy of mankind with the culminating event of the Incarnation, the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord!


Mershman, F. (1912). Septuagesima. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved February 9, 2020 from New Advent:

OK, Christmastide Ends Today

Today is Candlemas, traditionally celebrated as the Feast of the Purification and the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. In today's Gospel it is the last reading related to the Nativity, and with this - Christmastide ends for this liturgical year.

Luke 2:22-24
And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord: As it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord: And to offer a sacrifice, according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons
Of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary did not need purification, but she fulfilled the requirement of the Law, for to not do so would have been scandalous and could even have been called sinful. 40 days after the Nativity is the required time (for the birth of a son, it is 40 days, 33+7, for the birth of a daughter it is 80 days, 66+14) and after this time the mother is able to be present at the Temple for the presentation (Mowczko, 2018).  
This is the picture of a mikveh, similar to that which the Blessed Virgin would have been immersed in 40 days after the birth of Jesus (this one is at Magdala):

And here is a mikveh found on the Temple mound:  

After the purification ceremony, the mother is permitted to go to the Temple to present her son to the Lord, which is why we also celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple on this day.

Time to Take Down Christmas Decorations!

OK, so how many of you waited to take down your Christmas decorations until today?  Please comment below!


Mowczko, M. (2018). Periods of purification after childbirth (Leviticus 12:1-8). [Blog article]. Retrieved from 

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