Ad Te Levávi Ánimam Meam

To Thee have I lifted up my soul (Introit – 1st Sunday of Advent)

Question: Why do we celebrate before Easter?

Posted by james0235 on November 6, 2012

Ok, so I’m confused. Why do we celebrate the 40 days before Easter instead of the 40 day after the Resurrection?

We celebrate both.

The season of Lent commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting and praying in the wilderness (Matthew 4). This was in preparation for His public ministry.

40 is an important amount of time when it comes to preparing for something. Noah and his family spent 40 days on the ark in a storm before finally finding dry land and rebuilding civilization (Genesis 8). Moses spent 40 days on top of Mt. Sinai with God before giving the people the 10 Commandments (Exodus 24). The Hebrews spent 40 years wandering in the desert before they were permitted to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14). Elijah spent 40 days walking to Mt. Horeb where God instructed him to anoint a king for Israel and to anoint Elisha as a prophet (1 Kings 19).

So, we spend 40 days fasting and praying before we celebrate the Resurrection. If you count it up it is actually 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. But, we don’t count the 6 Sundays of Lent as every Sunday is like a mini Easter itself.

We also celebrate the 40 days Jesus spent on Earth after His Resurrection. This is called the Season of Easter and it actually goes through the Feast of the Ascension – 40 days after Easter – and ends on the Feast of Pentecost – 50 days after Easter.

Ok, but how do we celebrate then? Because we don’t fast or anything.

We did the fasting and praying for the 40 days of Lent in preparation for the Resurrection. Then, when Easter comes and God conquers death through death, we celebrate by living in that moment for awhile. At least liturgically, we kind of stop time in a sense. We celebrate Easter on Easter Sunday (of course). But, Easter lasts for an entire week – all the way through the following Sunday. This is called the Octave of Easter – octave meaning 8 days.

The day after Easter is often called Easter Monday, the next day is Easter Tuesday, etc. , all the way up to the following Sunday which is called the 2nd Sunday of Easter.

Things are done a little differently this whole week to highlight the fact that it is still Easter. First off after “fasting” from the Alleluia “Praise God” for 40 days it comes back on Easter.

On Easter Sunday there is a special prayer known as the Sequence read or sung right before the Gospel. The one used on Easter is called Victimae paschali laudes and it begins “Christians, to the Paschal Victim offer your thankful praises!” For the rest of the Octave this prayer is typically recited.

The “Alleluia verse” the verse of scripture that is read or sung right before the Gospel is the same all week – “Alleluia, alleluia. This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it. Alleluia, alleluia.” (Psalm 118:24)

If Eucharistic Prayer I is used it actually changes slightly to during the Octave to highlight the fact that it is still Easter – “Celebrating the most sacred day of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh…”

And finally during the Octave Mass ends differently – “Go forth, the Mass is ended, alleluia, alleluia. Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia.”

These changes stop after the 2nd Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, to show that the Octave is over and we are no longer celebrating the day of Easter. But, we continue with the Season of Easter (3rd Sunday of Easter, 4th Sunday of Easter, etc.) The season doesn’t actually end after 40 days with the Ascension. It continues for another 10 days and ends 50 days after Easter on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles.

The primary thing you will notice during the Easter Season is that the Easter candle, blessed during the Easter Vigil and representing the light of Christ, is near the altar. It will remain there, symbolizing the Risen Christ with us, until the Feast of the Ascension or Pentecost. The rest of the year it will stand next to the baptismal font and will be lit during baptisms as, representing the presence of Christ, it is a symbol of new life and rebirth (John 3:5) or it will be placed next to the coffin at funerals to represent Christ’s victory over sin and death (Romans 6:3-5).

Only 2 days of the year are special enough to require an Octave to stop time and rest in the moment for awhile: Christmas when God became man and Easter when that man conquered death.

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Vex­il­la Re­gis Pro­deunt

Posted by james0235 on April 6, 2012

The royal banners forward go,
The Cross shines forth in radiant glow;
Where he, the Life, did death endure,
And yet by death did life procure.

His feet and hands outstretching there,
He willed the piercing nails to bear,
For us and our redemption’s sake
A victim of himself to make.

There whilst he hung, his sacred side
By soldier’s spear was opened wide,
To cleanse us in the precious flood
Of water mingled with his blood.

Fulfilled is now what David told
In true prophetic song of old,
To all the nations, ‘Lo,’ said he,
‘Our God is reigning from the tree.’

Blest Three in One, our praise we sing
To thee from whom all graces spring:
As by the cross thou dost restore,
So rule and guide us evermore.

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Posted by james0235 on April 1, 2012

“They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.”

Mark 15:21
From the Gospel of Palm Sunday Year B

While listening to the Gospel reading this morning my mind began to wander a bit.

I remembered going to daily Mass during Lent 2011 at Holy Cross Catholic Church, the oldest church in Columbus. I was very early and so I just began looking around the beautiful church.

I began with the crucifixion scene over the high altar and then I moved on to the statues and stained glass windows. And then I got to the Stations of the Cross. I only made it as far as the 5th Station.

While I was familiar with the Gospel account of Simon helping Jesus to carry the cross, and I had prayed it in the Stations of the Cross many times, this was the first time I actually stopped to consider what it actually meant. Jesus tells us that we all have our own cross to bear (Matthew 10:38, 16:24Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23, 14:27). We all have our weaknesses, our sins, our addictions, our faults that we must deal with every day and sometimes they may be overwhelming. What I realized was that being overwhelmed is okay. Jesus had help carrying his cross and so there is nothing wrong in accepting help carrying ours.

Next, my wandering mind made the leap to a quote from an obscure tv show I am quite fond of. And while a long-cancelled space western doesn’t typically have much to do with the Gospel reading at Mass I thought that this one was really on target.

“When you can’t run you crawl. And when you can’t do that…you find someone to carry you.”

Firefly, The Message

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Leap Day

Posted by james0235 on February 29, 2012

In the Byzantine Catholic Church, as well as the Orthodox Churches, February 29th, leap day, is the Feast of St. John Cassian. As this only occurs every four years the Feast is often moved in other years, typically to February 28th. And in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite we celebrate this Feast on July 23rd.

And for reasons still not quite clear to me in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite whenever February has 29 days the Feast of St. Matthias the Apostle is moved from the 24th to the 25th and the Feast of St. Gabriel of the Most Sorrowful Virgin is moved from the 27th to the 28th.

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The Church Militant

Posted by james0235 on February 22, 2012

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Collect, Ash Wednesday

We kick of Lent with this, the opening prayer, or Collect, for Ash Wednesday. And what an opening it is. The Church is reminding us that we are at war and “our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:12 NAB) and our weapon in this fight is the self-restraint that is learned by disciplining the body through fasting.

The very idea of waging a “campaign of Christian service” is very evocative of Matthew 16 where Jesus tells us that the gates of hell will not be able to stand against the Church. This doesn’t just mean that the Church will not be overcome by the powers of hell. Rather, Jesus puts hell itself on the defensive. The Church brings the battle to the forces of evil and she will be victorious.

I couldn’t help but notice the different tone this prayer has compared to previous years considering the new, corrected Mass translations. The previous “translation”, rather than having us wage a “campaign of Christian service” had us asking God to “protect us in our struggle against evil”.  It really feels different to be marching to victory rather than cowering in fear.



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Abortion Clinic Closes after Exorcism

Posted by james0235 on February 21, 2012


“According to Kevin Rilott of the Rockford Pro-Life Initiative, the tide began to turn in 2009 when Bishop Thomas Doran granted priests permission to recite prayers of exorcism outside the Northern Illinois Women’s Center. At times, four priests would stand outside the four corners of the building and recite the prayers together.”

Exorcism prayers preceded closing of Illinois abortion clinic

Bishop Doran might be on to something here. Maybe this will catch on and more bishops will allow priests to exorcise the gods of the culture of death.

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Question: Hades/Sheol/Gehenna

Posted by james0235 on March 16, 2011

Are Hades/Sheol and Gehenna the same place? And if they are two different places, what happened to Hades after Christ resurrected?

Sheol/Hades, and Gahenna are all words for hell used in the Bible but they mean very different things.

Sheol is the Hebrew word for the realm of the dead used in the Old Testament. It is sometimes translated as “the netherworld” and it is the resting place of the good (Genesis 37:35) and of the evil (Numbers 16:30).

When the OT was translated from Hebrew to Greek around 200BC the word Hades was used. Today it is still common to see Hades used over Sheol in English translations of the OT because in the early Church (and really for most of Christian history) the Greek OT was the preferred version. Of the 350 OT quotes in the NT (mostly made by Jesus and Paul) around 300 of them quoted from the Greek OT and around 50 quoted from the Hebrew OT.

Sheol/Hades is the same place as the “bosom of Abraham” where both Lazarus and the rich man found themselves after death (Luke 16:19-31). By the Middle Ages it was most commonly referred to as Limbus patrum or the Limbo of the Fathers. It is where the righteous and the unrighteous alike were gathered in death until the Resurrection of Christ. Until Christ redeemed mankind heaven was not reachable. At his death Jesus entered Hades and took the righteous dead with him to heaven. This is known as the “Harrowing of Hell” and is what is meant by “He descended into hell” in the Apostle’s Creed and is likely what is referred to in 1 Peter 3:19 and 4:6.

Gehenna is the Greek word used in the New Testament that corresponds to what we typically think of as hell, sometimes called perdition. It is the eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46; Mark 9:42-48; Revelation 14:11, 20:10; etc.) of the damned.

The book of Revelation shows Hades (Sheol, the bosom of Abraham, the Limbo of the Fathers) itself being cast into hell (Gehenna) at the Final Judgement. (Revelation 20:11-15)

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Posted by james0235 on June 6, 2010

This seemed a fitting quote as we approach the end of the Year of the Priest:

Who then is the priest? He is the defender of truth, who stands with angels, gives glory with archangels, causes sacrifices to rise to the altar on high, shares Christ’s priesthood, refashions creation, restores it in God’s image, recreates it for the world on high and, even greater, is divinized and divinizes.

St. Gregory of Nazianzus, quoted in Catechsim of the Catholic Church 1589

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St. Justin Martyr

Posted by james0235 on June 1, 2010

Today, in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite as well as in the Byzantine Rite, is the Feast of St. Justin Martry. St. Justin wrote an apology, a defense of the Christian faith, to the Emperor of Rome. His description of the worship of the early Church is especially interesting:

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.

St. Justin Martyr, First Apology to the Roman Emperor, Chapter LXVII, 150 A.D.

Sound familiar?

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Octave of Pentecost

Posted by james0235 on May 24, 2010

“After Easter, the Solemnity of Pentecost is the second most important day in the Church year.”

Bishop Peter J. Elliott, Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year 325

If Pentecost outranks Christmas on the Liturgical Calendar (or,  I know it might be argued, is equal to it) then why is it that Christmas has an Octave but Pentecost does not? It appears that even the pope who approved the elimination of the Octave of Pentecost had no idea what was going on. Fr. Z explains what a Liturgical Octave is and tells the story of the Octave of Pentecost in a podcast found here.

On the older Liturgical Calendar the Octave Day of Pentecost is Trinity Sunday. This is always a great time of year to re-familiarize yourself with what the Catholic faith teaches us about the Holy Trinity:

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith”. The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men “and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin”.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 234

The Trinity is a mystery of faith in the strict sense, one of the “mysteries that are hidden in God, which can never be known unless they are revealed by God”. To be sure, God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament. But his inmost Being as Holy Trinity is a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 237

and it is a great time to recite the Athanasian Creed.

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