Tag Archives: lent

At the door on Palm Sunday

In the ancient form of the Holy Week rites (i.e., prior to the Holy Week reforms of Pius XII in the early 1950’s) there is a very brief yet beautiful ceremony that occurs on Palm Sunday when the procession goes outside the church, the doors to the church are closed. The door of the church is then knocked on three times with the shaft of the processional cross. Having served the Mass, I can say it is a powerful and moving rite of which Benedict XVI spoke:

“In the old liturgy for Palm Sunday, the priest, arriving in front of the church, would knock loudly with the shaft of the processional cross on the door that was still closed; thereupon, it would be opened. This was a beautiful image of the mystery of Jesus Christ himself who, with the wood of his Cross, with the power of his love that is given, knocked from the side of the world at God’s door; on the side of a world that was not able to find access to God. With his Cross, Jesus opened God’s door, the door between God and men. Now it is open.”

Homily of Pope Benedict XVI
Palm Sunday, 2007

Blessed Holy Week — a week of great and divine drama!

A sure sign

 

On the 4th Sunday of Great Lent in the Byzantine tradition, we remember a great monastic saint, John Climacus (579-649).

In Christ we overcame the devil

In this First Week of Lent St Augustine gives us something worthy for our reflection: In Christ we suffered temptation, and in him we overcame the devil.

Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer. Who is speaking? An individual, it seems. See if it is an individual: I cried to you from the ends of the earth while my heart was in anguish. Now it is no longer one person; rather, it is one in the sense that Christ is one, and we are all his members. What single individual can cry from the ends of the earth? The one who cries from the ends of the earth is none other than the Son’s inheritance. It was said to him: Ask of me, and I shall give you the nations as your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession. This possession of Christ, this inheritance of Christ, this body of Christ, this one Church of Christ, this unity that we are, cries from the ends of the earth. What does it cry? What I said before: Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer; I cried out to you from the ends of the earth. That is, I made this cry to you from the ends of the earth; that is, on all sides.

Why did I make this cry? While my heart was in anguish. The speaker shows that he is present among all the nations of the earth in a condition, not of exalted glory but of severe trial.

Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We progress by means of trial. No one knows himself except through trial, or receives a crown except after victory, or strives except against an enemy or temptations.

The one who cries from the ends of the earth is in anguish, but is not left on his own. Christ chose to foreshadow us, who are his body, by means of his body, in which he has died, risen and ascended into heaven, so that the members of his body may hope to follow where their head has gone before.

He made us one with him when he chose to be tempted by Satan. We have heard in the gospel how the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Certainly Christ was tempted by the devil. In Christ you were tempted, for Christ received his flesh from your nature, but by his own power gained life for you; he suffered insults in your nature, but by his own power gained glory for you; therefore, he suffered temptation in your nature, but by his own power gained victory for you.

If in Christ we have been tempted, in him we overcame the devil. Do you think only of Christ’s temptations and fail to think of his victory? See yourself as tempted in him, and see yourself as victorious in him. He could have kept the devil from himself; but if he were not tempted he could not teach you how to triumph over temptation.

From a commentary on the psalms by Saint Augustine, bishop
(Ps. 60, 2-3: CCL 39, 766)

Mortification of the flesh for the good

As the body is to be chastised at the beginning so that sin may not reign in it and we may overcome temptations, so too when the temptations have been overcome we must persevere in the same practices not only for fear of falling back but also out of desire for progress.
 
Thus through the mortification of the flesh the spirit may thrive the better and, the lighter and more slender the fetters which attach it, the more freely it may rise to spiritual things.
 
Blessed Guerric of Igny
Liturgical Sermons

Spiritual Reading for Lent 2018

We are at the beginning the season of Great Lent. May I commend to you these titles for your spiritual reading and meditation (listed in no particular order):

Alexander Schmemann, Great Lent

Richard John Neuhaus, Death on a Friday Afternoon:  Meditations on the Last Words of  Jesus from the Cross 

Flannery O’Connor, A Prayer Journal 

John Behr, Becoming Human

Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

Jean-Pierre de Caussade,  The Sacrament of the Present Moment

Frederica Mathewes-Green, The Illumined Heart

Frank Sheed, Theology for Beginners

Peter Kreeft, Your Questions, God’s Answers

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Pope Benedict XVI, Holy Days: Meditations on the Feasts, Fasts, and Other Solemnities of the Church 

Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection 

Which books would you recommend for Lent?

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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