Ad Te Levávi Ánimam Meam

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

Archive for the ‘lent’ Category

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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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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Lenten Practices

Posted by james0235 on February 17, 2010

In past few years I have steadily increased my Lenten practices. At my peak last year and the year before I was praying at least one office from the Liturgy of the Hours daily, doing other spiritual reading, attending Mass on at least 2 weekdays, attending Stations of the Cross weekly, and I did a 24 hour fast at least once a week – but more often than not is was every Wednesday and Friday of Lent.

This year I am not nearly as prepared. I am not exactly sure of the reasons but I am just not up for all of that. But, I will be trying to pray the Liturgy of the Hours a bit more often than I have been lately – everything has to start with prayer. And then I will have to see where to go from there.

I was once very, very briefly part of a group that met once a week to pray Vespers together. There were 3 of us and we would meet and pray in front of the tabernacle. By week 2 there were 2 of us. And by week 3 it was only me. I think that part of the reason why I don’t seem to be able to pray the LOTH consistently – I pray it for a few months and then take a month or 2 off before taking it up again – is that it really is designed as community prayer and that is how it works best. It does work well as private prayer for an individual. But, that it not how it is intended – it’s not the ideal.

I’ll just have to see how far I can get this year.

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Blessed Is The Wood

Posted by james0235 on April 10, 2009

I first came across this one a few years ago. And it never seems to be far from my mind in Holy Week:

For blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes.
Wisdom 14:7 RSVCE

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Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?

Posted by james0235 on March 21, 2008

More from the Farther Along Octet. These guys are well on the way to becoming my favorite musicians.

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Adoramus Te, Christe

Posted by james0235 on March 21, 2008

We adore Thee, O Christ, And we bless Thee, Who by Thy holy cross have redeemed the world, Who have suffered for us! Lord, Lord, have mercy upon us!

Adoramus Te, Christe, et benedicimus Tibi, quia per sanctam crucem Tuam redemisti mundum, Qui passus es pro nobis, Domine, Domine, miserere nobis!

The text (or a variant) is commonly used during the Stations of the Cross. It is derived from an Antiphon sung during communion on Good Friday in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The tune was composed by the great Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.

The singers, the Farther Along Octet, are students at a Mennonite College. If Mennonite college students can do this then certainly we should be seeing a little more of this in Catholic parishes. This is our musical heritage.

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Reflections On The Seven Last Words

Posted by james0235 on March 21, 2008

Over the past several weeks Tim Glass has posted a series of reflections on the Seven Last Words of Christ:

1. “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

2. “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

3. “Woman, behold, your son.”

4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

5. “I thirst.”

6. “It is finished.”

7. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”.

They are all definitely worth a read.

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An 8th Century Tradition

Posted by james0235 on March 21, 2008

From Paraclete Press:


Christians around the world relive the final days of Christ’s life on earth this week. Our observances of these ancient events are as varied and as personal as each of our relationships with Him, and serve to prepare our hearts for the unspeakable gift of his suffering, his death, and his glorious resurrection.

You are invited to take part in a tradition that dates back to the eighth century, with the chanting of the Passion Narrative according to Saint John on Good Friday. Take half an hour apart from the events of the day, and listen to these sacred words, chanted by monastic members of the Gloriae Dei Cantores Schola in Gregorian chant.

Hear the voices of the Narrator, Christ, and the Synagogue, in this noble narration which brings to life with a dramatic immediacy the events of the Passion, as the Gospel account unfolds. Meditate on the English translation as you listen, and allow the ancient language of the text, and the special Gregorian chant tone reserved especially for this holy season, to add a new depth and solemnity to your understanding of this familiar story. to-st-john.html

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