Monday, March 03, 2014

Some Things to Do for Lent

Lent starts up this week, since Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, so here are some things to keep in mind for it.

(1) The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch has asked for prayers this Lent for Christians in Iraq. From 2003 to 2013, more than a million Christians have been forced to flee the country, as their religious leaders have been kidnapped and murdered, their churches have been bombed, and their people have been attacked or threatened with death.

(2) If you are considering where to donate for Lent, you might consider the Africa Windmill Project, which works with farmers in Malawi to help them achieve greater sustainability and food security. They do work helping with irrigation, teaching farming practices, and collaborating with local communities on farming-related projects. Farmers in Malawi are especially vulnerable to drought, and have had to deal with the difficult work of trying to build stable and sustainable sources of food in times when it's difficult to catch any break at all. It's a situation in which little incremental improvements can go a long, long way; just being able to guarantee a moderate harvest can often mean not only that your family doesn't go hungry this year, but also that you can reduce the chances that they will go hungry the next.

(3) I liked putting up quotations last Lent, so I will be doing the same this Lent. This Lent, though, will be devoted specifically to St. Peter Chrysologus, Doctor of the Church. Peter was Archbishop of Ravenna in the fifth century. He was famous for his homilies, many of which have survived. Chrysologos, of course, means 'golden word', and it is his homilies that have given him the name. He was named Doctor of the Church in 1729 and is often called the Doctor of Homilies for the same reason. There recently came into my hands two volumes of a three volume translation of Chrysologus's sermons into English, and there are lots of things relevant to Lent in them, since fasting, repentance, and almsgiving are common themes with him. (This may have been a major reason why Benedict XIII marked him out for the honor; that pope, who was a very poor administrator and an incompetent statesman, prone to naive trust in all the wrong people, nonetheless excelled as a pious ascetic, and the primary benefit of his papacy was his constant push to eliminate worldliness from the clergy. But Chrysologus meets all the other criteria in spades; he was an excellent choice, and deserves broader recognition.) So I'll put up a bit from Chrysologus each day of Lent, not counting Sundays.


  1. Enbrethiliel8:33 AM


    I'm looking forward to the Chrysologus quotations! =)

  2. branemrys12:43 PM

    There are some good ones in the pipeline!

  3. Do you mind me asking what the name of the volume would be? is it just selected sermons? or is this another volume?

  4. branemrys6:23 PM

    Selected Sermons Volume 2 and Selected Sermons Volume 3. There was a much, much earlier Selected Sermons that I don't have, which wasn't originally intended to be a first in a series; these two volumes are intended to collect all the sermons that weren't in that original.


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