Ha Jolly Ha

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lenten Reflections

"Lent, then, is a time consecrated in an especial manner to
penance; and this penance is mainly practiced by fasting. Fasting
is an abstinence, which man voluntarily imposes upon himself as an
expiation for sin, and which, during Lent, is practiced in
obedience to the general law of the Church. According to the
actual discipline of the western Church, the fast of Lent is not
more rigorous than that prescribed for the vigils of certain
feasts, and for the Ember Days; but it is kept up for forty
successive days, with the single interruption of the intervening

We deem it unnecessary to show the importance and advantages of
fasting. The sacred Scriptures, both of the old and new Testament,
are filled with the praises of this holy practice. The traditions
of every nation of the world testify the universal veneration in
which it has ever been held; for there is not a people or a
religion, how much soever it may have lost the purity of primitive
traditions, which is not impressed with this conviction-that man
may appease his God by subjecting his body to penance.

St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, and St. Gregory the
Great, make the remark, that the commandment put upon our first
parents in the earthly paradise was one of abstinence; and that it
was by their not exercising this virtue, that they brought every
kind of evil upon themselves and upon us their children. The life
of privation, which the king of creation had thenceforward to lead
on the earth (for the earth was to yield him nothing of its own
natural growth, save thorns and thistles), was the clearest
possible exemplification of the law of penance imposed by the
anger of God on rebellious man.During the two thousand and more
years, which preceded the deluge, men had no other food than the
fruits of the earth, and these were obtained only by the toil of
hard labour. But when God, as we have already observed, mercifully
shortened man's life that so he might have less time and power for
sin, He permitted him to eat the flesh of animals, as an
additional nourishment in that state of deteriorated strength. It
was then, also, that Noe, guided by a divine inspiration,
extracted the juice of the grape, which thus formed a second stay
for human debility.Fasting, then, is abstinence from such
nourishments as these, which were permitted for the support of
bodily strength."

Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year


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