Tag Archives: lent

Palm Sunday 2010

Palm Sunday.jpg

Lent is not completed on our own initiative

We know by experience that we have not sufficient strength
in ourselves to bring to a successful completion our chief Lenten duty, which
is to die fully to sin in order to live fully in the risen Christ. But Christ
himself, before leaving his own, prayed to his Father to preserve them from
evil and from the evil one, from the seductions of the world and the attacks of
Satan. He taught them to ask, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from

Obviously he did not intend that his disciples be spared every kind of
temptation and danger, for this would be impossible in this life; besides, God
himself permits it to test our virtue
, but he wanted to assure them sufficient
strength to resist. The evil from which he desired to free them was sin, the
only real disaster, because it separates us from God.

Divine Intimacy

Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD

Covering statues, images & crucifixes in Passiontide

My friend George asked me the other day about the
tradition of covering the statues, images and crucifixes (sacred images) -but
not the Stations of the Cross–before Holy Week. He told me that the nuns told
him that the Church covered sacred items because Christ went into hiding before
his arrest. Well, that’s true but incomplete. The tradition of veiling finds
its source in John 8:46-59 where the Jews attempt to stone Jesus because of his
claims of being the Son of God, but he hides from view. As point of comparison,
you will notice in Mark’s gospel our focus is on the Lord’s crucifixion because
it is there that we learn the true identity of Jesus as being man and divine.
The covering of sacred images, therefore, is to illustrate the increasing
tension we find ourselves in the Liturgy as we move toward of the Lord’s own
Paschal Mystery. The veiling actually reinforces the verifiable fact of the

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Pope visit monks of Sant’Anselmo to begin Lent

B16 Notker Wolf & Elias Lorenzo.jpgMy friend Dom Elias Lorenzo, monk of St. Mary’s Abbey
(Morristown, NJ), is currently serving as the Superior and Prior of the Abbey
of Sant’Anselmo
in Rome, Italy, the headquarters of international Benedictine
 and home to the Pontifical Liturgical Institute.

In his capacity
as Father Prior of Sant’Anselmo, Dom Elias recently (February 17, 2010) welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to Sant’Anselmo
on the Aventine Hill. The Pope’s visit to Sant’Anselmo is an annual event to begin the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday with a procession from the Abbey Church to
the Church of Santa Sabina, the headquarters of the Order of Friars Preachers
(the Dominicans) where the Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated.

The Holy Father was greeted by Abbot Primate Notker Wolf (also German) and
Dom Elias, who escorted him into the basilica where he prayed before the Blessed
Sacrament. There the Pope stopped for a brief prayer, before beginning Mass at
the chair. Dom Elias said, “This is a unique liturgy in that the Pope
intones a penitential litany and the monks, visiting bishops and cardinals
process from Sant’Anselmo to Santa Sabina for the rest of the Mass.” The
pope vests for Mass at Santa Sabina.

What is fasting? What Catholics teach…

In the famous Sermon on the Mount Jesus speaks of the three important spiritual exercises: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Here I want to write about fasting. And over the many centuries that the Catholic Church has existed, there has been development in the teaching based on experience.

Jesus’ teaching on fasting is this:

*Fasting is an extremely important means –not an ends– of resisting sin and the threat of hell.

*Fasting is practiced as a memorial of Christ’s death on Good Friday; it ought to be practiced each Friday but the Church only requires fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

*Fasting is intimately linked to prayer and almsgiving as spiritual exercises.

In paragraph of 2043 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting the Code of Canon Law, states, “The fourth precept (“You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church”) ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.”

Our Church still believes that fasting is not only helpful, but is required because it forms and reforms a sense of faith, hope and charity. Serious Christians will not abandon the practice of fasting, especially before significant events in life like baptism, confirmation, marriage, ordination, etc. So what does the Church believe about fasting? Fasting means…

*There are two fast-days on which we are allowed but one full meal but person can have one full meal, take two other meatless meals, to maintain strength, according to one’s needs. Taken together these two meatless meals should not equal another full meal.

*All people over 18 and under 59 years of age, and whose health and occupation will permit them to fast. (Abstinence begins for those who are 14.) The Church, showing mercy, does excuse certain persons from the obligation of fasting on account of age, health, work, or the circumstances in which they live. Children, from the age of seven years, and persons who are unable to fast are bound to abstain on days of abstinence, unless they are excused for sufficient reason. If questions persist, please find a parish priest for consultation.

*Fast-days occur during Advent and Lent, on the Ember days and on the vigils or eves of some great feasts. A vigil falling on a Sunday is not observed.

Fasting is often seen by some people as antiquated, harmful, or a waste of time. To think that fasting is only about the legal requirements of the faith, is a serious reduction of the practice of religion to ideology. Moralism is shallow and gets us no where. I will say, fasting is an essential part of being formed in the Catholic faith, adhering closely to Christ. No one who takes seriously their faith can dispense themselves without good reason from fasting as Christ fasted. Yes, it is hard and yes it is annoying but the pay-off is profound because it opens the body, the heart and the mind to grace. Fasting allows us to see more deeply and clearly the conversion we are called to work on, and to be less satisfied with the status quo. Fasting assists our restlessness in tending towards God by stripping away sin (and a little weight comes off, all the better). 

I have to say there is a beauty in fasting because it is a method in emptying myself of that which weighs me down either with food –which makes me sluggish and at time incapable of listening to the movements of the Holy Spirit in my life– or fasting from sinful tendencies which can also make me sluggish but there is a significant risk in not fasting from sin because sin leads away from God and from the heart of the Church, the sacrament of Christ on earth.

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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