Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Preparing for Lent

* So I usually do a quotation series for Lent; I think I will be doing passages from biblical commentaries by Church Fathers and Doctors of the Church. They tend to be overlooked. They are often not very easy to quote, but I have quite a few lined up; besides those available online, of which there are quite a few, I have a significant portion of Thomas Aquinas's biblical commentaries, commentaries by Bede on Revelation and on the Catholic Epistles, Bonaventure on John (if I can find it), Bellarmine on the Psalms, and perhaps a couple of others, so it should get me all the way through.

* If you want to stir up some heated arguments, ask the question: How many days are in Lent? We talk about the forty days, but there is no actual definite answer -- the Church has more than one calendar, and Lent is not one of the constant features. Latins on the Roman Rite, of course, start on Ash Wednesday, which is a Latin custom; Eastern Rites have already started their Lent; I believe Latins on the Ambrosian and Mozarabic Rites start theirs next week. And in all these cases 'forty days' is a round number. The Roman count, for instance, has (just short of) forty-four days in Lent -- Ash Wednesday to the Mass of the Lord's Supper exclusive. I have literally counted them through with people who then refuse to believe it. And there are all sorts of elaborate hypotheses about how the count ended up the way that it did, or make it so that there are really forty days in some special sense. (E.g., counting backwards from Easter while skipping Sundays, despite the fact that Triduum is not part of Lent and Sundays are, or counting forward only to Palm Sunday, despite the fact that most of Holy Week we are still in Lent). None of it matters. 'Forty days' is not important for literal count but for what it symbolizes in Scripture -- trial and preparation.

* If you are looking for a place to donate to for Lent, consider the Africa Windmill Project.

* From the Hoosoyo (Prayer of Forgiveness) of the Maronite liturgy for the First Weekday Cycle of Lent (and thus celebrated on Ash Monday and, when liturgies are celebrated on Ash Wednesday in Maronite Churches, for Ash Wednesday as well):

O Christ, Lover of all people, you gave the Church the holy season of Lent as a shield of protection and a healing remedy. Your fasting and sacrifices taught us to fast, and to understand the purpose and essence of life, the meaning of the world and its existence, and the greatness of your love and compassion. Shower your mercy on all people that they may repent, and soften their hearts that they may return to you, know you, and love you.

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